The Indian business process outsourcing (BPO) market has come in for some stick lately – sources including us have suggested that a business that’s big on numbers of people when people are by now seen as an overhead than an asset is bound to start suffering.
The best way to answer your critics is by quietly proving them wrong. Numerous Indian organisations including Nasscom have said, at our own event last year for example, that they would be focusing on the higher-value end of the market and doing well in it. Their view has been borne out, if this report in the Economic Times of India is anything to go by; recruitment in the ecomomy overall is up 4%, with BPO and BFSI (banking and financial services industry) increasing a whopping 24%.
So what’s going on?
Reality is not as quick as our reports
The first possibility that needs to be acknowledged – let’s get this out of the way quickly – is that we were wrong. Simple as that: we goofed, the BPO industry was never in as much trouble as we and a lot of analysts thought.
We suspect it’s a bit more nuanced than that. When people like Nasscom said they were focusing away from the commoditised, transactional areas of the business, they meant it. Movement has started and people are indeed looking at recruiting in the more profitable value-add areas.
The other important thing to remember – and this is for analysts and journalists rather than practitioners – is that although forecasts and trends are one thing, the speed at which large organisations can change their direction is another. The change is on the way – but for the moment the Indian economy is riding it out pretty efficiently.