These are indeed exciting times for the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry. The days of young graduates in call centers, earning fast money and living faster lifestyles have now matured into a business that weighs in on C-suite decisions.
Since its beginning in the 1980s, the outsourcing industry picked up rapidly during the 90s. Economic deregulation during this time and reduction in import tariffs attracted investments from multinational companies fueling the phenomenal growth in business process outsourcing. At 70% growth between 2001 and 2002, BPO was dubbed as the fastest growing industry in a NASSCOM-McKinsey report. Since then, there has been no looking back.
Today, where information technology is wedded to every business process, BPO offerings become critical to business outcomes and are being sourced along with IT functions. With speed and complexity of businesses increasing, labor arbitrage is losing out to faster approaches like drag-and-drop software apps, cognitive analytics and robotic process automation(RPA).
In such demanding environments, agility plays a key role in business process management with organizations developing solutions that are more effective and responsive to changing circumstances. Agility is also at the core of customer-centricity which drives organizations to innovate. Wipro, for instance, has met the challenge of creating lasting client experiences through 'Pragati' - progress in Hindi - an organization-wide initiative rewarding solutions that enhance business value. Since its inception 14 years ago, this initiative has brought to the fore numerous technology-enabled interventions to automate manual steps. These have required very little IT investments but have led to the development of several automation components that reduced repetitive human actions for mundane tasks (e.g., OCR, reconciliation, duplication check, screen scrapping). With time, as the market matured and clients became more demanding, scalable rapid automations were implemented to drive transparency and productivity. Today, clients can leverage full suite of solutions which are of industrial strength and have been successfully deployed in several client engagements across the globe. This, in fact, has strengthened our capabilities in RPA. And, also shaped how next generation business process services will be delivered not only in Wipro but across the industry.
RPA performs straight-through processing tasks by reading applications through dedicated APIs on an operating system either prior to application display or on the screen. Besides the ability to work on different kinds of applications, these robots are able to organize the procedural knowledge learnt over a period of time into a shared library to be used by other robots.
In doing the above, they create a gold mine of opportunities for businesses. No longer will IT departments, especially in large organizations, be burdened with IT and process legacy. No longer will tactical needs wait in queue for IT department’s nod and budget approvals. And, process re-engineering will not take as long as it does today. BPOs will now use their industry insights into creating automated vertical-specific solutions while passing on the cost benefit to their clients. Their own labor will be reskilled for tasks requiring intelligent decision-making.