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Over the past decade so much has changed in the way business is done managed and controlled. One could never image that I would cater to the needs and demands of someone across seven seas. All this from the realms of a swank office in the outskirts of a metro city. This person would buy, pay bills, get himself or any else he owns. Insured and even resolve a technical snag of his computer or mobile.  All this would be done by me or one of my colleagues. We proudly stand a staggering 2 million + workforce in this country. In all probability the single largest number of people employed in an industry. Welcome to the world of B.P.O the acronym stands for business process outsourcing.

This industry came on our shores about a decade and half back, thanks to change in government policies. Way back in early 80’s some airlines started a back office operations centre One of the several were BA(British Airways) out of which came WNS in 2002. At the same there were some banks too they too wanted an opportunity to make their balance sheets look better. Here it was American Express. The mega giant GE also got into the act way back in the 90’s. By the turn of the century EXL services came into being and had a good run till Conseco went bankrupt. But EXL if I may use the phase rose from the ashes and went shopping for talent and resources. In time got back its glory.

The outsourcing world had come here to stay and was getting bigger everyday in all aspects. What had begun as back office (document handling) was now taking leaps and bounds where telephony too became the part of this world. People were being trained in accent, mannerism, and to extent thought as well pseudo names were given Jeevan became James, Mahesh to Mike, Jyoti was now Jane, and Pratima would call herself Pat. Nights became day and days became night. When folks at home prepared to retire for the night Jeevan gets into formal attire and walks out of the house to cab waiting to transport him “to James”. It was daybreak for him and off he goes” Good Morning, I am James how may I help you today”. He would now go over the motions and phases all through the night in a almost repeated manner till the clock on the wall said 5:00 p.m eastern time next to it was 6:00 a.m it was here when many got up from a good night’s rest our Jeevan alias James walks to the transport area where a pre decided cab would transport him back to “Jeevan” and his house. At home morning tea is being served, but” James” devours the dinner kept aside for him yesterday night. It’s time to hit the sack. Welcome to the world of outsourcing or shall we say BPO.

Outsourcing had come of age if I could use the phase. From humble beginnings of back end office tasks to handling the working of an entire process. Right from selling services or products to customer care to updating and renewing the proposal. All that goes into making the business a success is being done today. It has defiantly come a long way. Till recently there were people who were of the opinion that this industry is short lived and outsourcing will go back to the host nations. I think they can eat their words now.

Outsourcing is one of the biggest revenue earners in the country and there is no denying that in times to come newer avenues will be added to this in times to come. There is already what we know as KPO and LPO, Knowledge Process Outsourcing and the latter lawyers Process Outsourcing these are fast catching up and there is no stopping back.

The world is fast changing and these are the effects of globalization. In changing face of the world this I think of the song “Imagine” by John Lennon.

Wish the world would be one.  

The world of BPO started way back in the 80’s with back end office work that was outsourced the developing nations where the overall costs were less than where it came from. It surely was proved to good business strategy and in turn increased the earning of the company. Along came a host of other things the opening up economy and technology employment to tens of thousands of people who educated and had the power of language within them primarily English. The barriers between nations and cultures came down thanks to the constant interactions. On the face of it we see youngsters earning far more than they could fathom at a young age (mid 20’s). They today wear the designer clothes eat out in the best of places take holidays and party hard at the same time work real hard. Their outlook towards most of the things has changed so has their attitude. Being more aware of other counties their cities, holiday destinations, lifestyle, cultural, beliefs and everything else.
Many are under the impression glamorous lifestyle, highly paid, with many perks like transportation, medical, working 5 days a week and just take phone calls in air conditioned office. Partly it is correct there is no denying it that these are some of the things that are there. This is just a small part of the BPO world at large. Look at the other side of the coin every minute is accounted for, every mistake has an impact be it financial or otherwise. Nothing is forgotten nor is it pushed under the carpet. Time is one factor that is of prime importance and essence. One cannot be late, nor can one keep talking for long durations, nor can they be leaves more than approved. A very rigid and tight regime is followed and adhered to. Strict parameters are in place to keep everyone on their toes and they keep changing with time and situation. Agreed life is good. This is one side of the story.

Getting people on time before their shift is another mammoth task. A fleet of private taxies or minivans ply the road zipping from one end of the town to the other, ferrying employees to and from work. The vehicle move in a synchronized manner 24*7*365. Can you imagine what efforts go into this making it a success? Each employee is transported from his home after collect 3 to 13 more people well before his shift time to the office that too safely. Think of the logistics that involved. The route of the car of minivan is planned in a manner so that they can collect all co passengers in that shift and the shortest route taken to get them to work the same goes after they finish their days work. Imagine 2000 + employees of a building working in different time slots all have to be brought and taken back home that too in time. This is just the tip of the iceberg, think of 2000+ computers all connected have to work 24*7. That goes without saying no glitches allowed. Think of the people who take care of the infrastructure that is in place be it in form of technology, furniture, electrical, housekeeping. All this does play a significant role. These are guys behind the curtain but they play a more important part than the ones who take the calls exchanging pleasantries, information, or resolving queries. Talking of caterers they too have grown and have started serving a variety of dishes that was never on their menu they might not be aces at it but yet they do and that round the clock at the same ensure that food is fresh. Since people have become more health conscious they have understood the needs and prepare food in accordance. Talking of medical staff that is there in every BPO doctors and nurses also work around the clock. There is mini hospital at every facility and quite capable of taking care of any emergency. Most common medicines are available and it does not cost an employee anything to get them.

Give a moment and think of the number of job avenues that have opened up directly and indirectly by the coming of this industry. The sales for vehicle has gone up there are more people who can drive a four wheeler today there are more people who are  training themselves to be computer hardware professionals, there are more caterers, electricians, mechanics, carpenters, security agencies  in the market today than they were say 6 or 7 years back when BPO was an infant. Imagine indirectly how many people earn their living via this industry. Today BPO is a toddler who is growing fast and I am sure that in a couple of years he will be a handsome teenager.

In way It would be justified to say that this is single largest industry in the country. Leaving behind the Ambani’s, Tata’s, and the Birla’s.

Three cheers to the world of BPO. Show the world we care thus can dare. We can catch the bull by the horn. We can do it better than you since you could not do multi tasking we are. Not to forget we are good very good at setting things in order. We are the backbone of your showroom.

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