SSON speaks to Susir Kumar (MD & CEO, Intelenet) and Suresh Ramani (President – North America Sales & Operations, Intelenet) about outsourcing trends for the next year, acquisition of captive centers by BPO and how changes in the U.S. healthcare represent opportunities for Intelenet.
SSON: Let’s start with a look at BPO generally. We’re just seeing the back end of a global recession – how has this affected Intelenet over the past few months?
Susir Kumar: OK. A BPO is basically the back end of a company’s operations, so we handle their customers’ transactions. Through the recession period we have seen, for example, banks issuing a lesser number of credit cards; banks giving fewer mortgages; the new accounts that are being opened up have reduced. We are the back-end supporter of these clients of ours: the volumes coming in from these clients of ours have actually gone down, so if we were issuing 60,000 cards a month for a particular client it perhaps went down to as little as about 5,000. We became extremely concerned about issuing any further loans [while] people were just not willing to spend money or buy things, and all of that had a significant impact on the number of transactions and the number of calls coming in.
What we first saw in this initial phase of this whole recession was volume reduction, and a whole lot of companies being extremely concerned about whether they would survive through this phase of recession or not. So everyone started strategizing around how to survive. We had a set of companies which thought by taking certain actions they would survive, and then we had a set of companies which were pretty concerned about their survival. So in some companies we actually saw some drastic measures being taken, and now people were not expecting the traditional outsourcing deals. They were asking us “Tell us how you can accelerate the cost savings process? I know you can give us 50% reduction of costs after 18 months: is there a way that you can give us 30% right now?” So it was a completely new expectation that came in, and I think after the first six months of recession we saw a lot of companies coming out with the question, [so] we had to change our value proposition or our offers to clients and prospects… Then we started observing, over the next six months to about nine months, that these companies were making faster decisions: in the past it would take anything between six to 18 months to take a decision on outsourcing or offshoring, but during this phase we were seeing companies taking decisions as quick as maybe two or three months.