Clients willing to trust BPM companies with complex activities: Hinduja Global CEO

The company's CEO Partha DeSarkar talked about why BPM is doing well at a time when its sister industry IT services is reporting slowing growth year after year


As automation becomes ubiquitous at all businesses, process management providers are focusing on building talent pools that are highly skilled and can focus on more high level work.

In an interview with Moneycontrol, Hinduja Global Solutions' Chief Executive Officer Partha DeSarkar spoke about how the BPM provider is focused on its healthcare business, which is nearly 50 percent of its revenue. He also talked about why BPM is doing well at a time when its sister industry IT services is reporting slowing growth year after year.


Edited excerpts:

Q: How has HGS' business model changed in the past two years?

A: The business world has undergone a sea change in the last couple of years, led by new technologies. Clients are looking to enhance customer experience while their customers seek different kinds of services or channels.


The focus today is on connecting with an individual and to be instantly available to him or her. To cite a study by Oracle, 43 percent ofrespondents ranked direct responses from businesses as the most important feature of their customer experience.


In a scenario like this, it was imperative for HGS to change too… from its solutions, approach and the profile of people delivering services. We have evolved from being a voice-based and claims processing service provider to offering a range of services that can help our clients to deal with the changes happening.

This includes non-voice services such as chat, email, video, social media even as we leverage technologies like AI-led Robotic Process Automation (RPA), analytics and digital. The strategy is to create value addition for our clients and ensure that we deliver better impact.

Q: How are you thinking about people management in this context?


A: On the people front, HGS is not an IT company but we are investing in building technology-led capabilities by recruiting several technology professionals – business analysts, developers, data scientists etc. to help us align to the transformation that’s happening.

Q: Where do you see growth from the most? How much of the business is voice-based, and what are the other areas you are now focusing on?


A: While voice still accounts for a majority of HGS’ revenue (over 70 percent), there has been significant growth in non-voice business, which covers services such as email, chat, social media, web, self-help and other technologies.

This is driven by sectors that are consumer-focused like e-commerce, retail, consumer products and BFSI verticals who are looking to create an omnichannel and personalized customer experience.

We are focused on growing these opportunities even as we drive a shift toward more premium lines of business in our legacy verticals such as telecom.

Q:  Which verticals and geographies are you looking at for expansion?


A:  Healthcare will continue to be our biggest focus vertical as it contributes almost 50 percent of HGS' current overall revenue.


The recent acquisition of AxisPoint Health adds a strategic capability to our healthcare portfolio and will open up further opportunities in newer areas such as clinical services, coding and nursing triage.

In our biggest market - the US, verticals like BFSI, consumer and telecom are getting lot of traction while public sector pipeline is encouraging in the UK.

In terms of geographies, we continue to be focused on right shoring, where we are leveraging a mix of onshore, near shore and offshore delivery. Apart from expanding in our current geographies, we are also looking at opportunities in Latin America, Eastern Europe, etc.

Q: How is automation working to the advantage of BPM providers like HGS?

A: BPM companies typically face two major challenges today – first is the constant demand from clients and their customers to innovate and offer optimized solutions instead of simply providing plain vanilla services; second is a continuously increasing cost base.

Various companies are responding to these in their own ways.

HGS realized pretty early on that technology has a multiplier effect and saw ample scope in changing the portfolio mix of our traditional BPM services towards more innovation-led solutions. Automation or RPA is a big part of this differentiation as it allows us to make multiple kinds of impact across processes for clients.

We leverage logical algorithms and analytics to drive increased efficiency, higher productivity and better accuracy for enhanced customer experience even as we generate significant cost savings. Currently, we work closely with over 20 clients across RPA-related engagements, and the interest from clients is only growing.

Q: What would you say are the main reasons for the growth of the BPM sector, even as the larger IT business grapples with slower growth?


A: IT and BPM sectors operate in completely different scenarios. BPM is related primarily to business processes and customer support at both the back-end and front-end of an enterprise, and thus not linked to spending cycles or technology launches.

BPM is also driven by opex (operational expenditure) spend by the clients, which helps in expanding the bottom-line, as opposed to capex (capital expenditure) spend that is discretionary. Hence, there will always be demand for BPM services.

The crux today is that buyers of BPM services are looking for services that allow them to do more for less and drive faster and better customer engagement or experience. This means that BPM players have to adapt and innovate faster from delivery models to new solutions.

I think the industry has been pretty quick in this transformation to create higher value for clients, though there is always scope for doing much more.

Clients too are more willing to trust BPM companies with complex activities like creation of new revenue models or re-engineering of existing processes by leveraging technology.

Publication: Money Control