Thursday, October 18, 2012

BPO is not a 4 letter word!

When one thinks of Business Process Outsourcing (or BPM as Genpact has called it for 5 + years now ) the tendency is to think of call centers, commoditized low value work, boring – repetitive tasks, night shifts and so on.

That picture isn’t too far from reality – but it’s a picture that was reality circa 1995 when this industry first started. Some of us who started the industry had the vision to take this picture and elevate it to a different level altogether, improving it dramatically to deliver real, measurable impact.

Cut to 15 years later – today this is a radically different industry that delivers services across a range of processes from the mundane to very complex and high value-add services. A pretty significant chunk – almost 40% – of what we do requires high skills, deep knowledge and sometimes at least 10+ years of experience to deliver high-end services like closing books of organizations, filing 10ks for US corporations, analyzing and detecting credit card & insurance fraud, warranty management and managing spares for aircrafts … there are hundreds of diverse examples.

The career paths of people in this industry tell this story …. of an upward swing in skills and certifications. People who started out making collection calls get CA or CPA certified during their tenure and switch career paths to start delivering high end financial work for global organizations. It’s fascinating to see how one individual can explore multiple career paths across industries, domains , functions and geographies… all within the same organization !!

One hears from the skeptics how there is little room for innovation in this industry. But let’s talk about what innovation really is – it’s not just designing the next Apple product, right? Most people limit innovation to product innovation. While that’s probably one of the more visible forms of innovation, it’s the not-so-visible innovation in processes or services or business models that truly lives up to its name. Ours is an extremely innovative industry when it comes to people management. Our talent retention and development practices are the most sophisticated compared to any industry anywhere in the world… for a simple reason… we are forced to do it! The war for talent is crazy… we hire 15,000 people in a year… we train 40,000 people… and we also lose 15,000 people !! In such a situation you are forced to innovate people practices that attract, retain and engage the best talent in the world. If you make a list of the best HR leaders in China or Philippines or India or South Africa or Latin America , I guarantee you they will come from this industry. The same goes for the best Lean Six Sigma or long-term client facing relationship builders, or finance people who understand finance across verticals and geographies – the diverse nature of our industry hones our talent to produce world-class leaders.

The trick however is that you have to last in this industry and build a career in order to really derive its true value.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Like, Love, Own

The Facebook ‘Like’ button modernized the way we endorse brands and now a Minneapolis-based 'social shopping' company is seeking to add icons like “want”, “love” “own” etc. to FB, taking PDA (public display of affection) of the marketing kind to a whole new level !!

Is this propagating laziness amongst consumers… who knows (and we'll probably hear enough debate on this in the coming weeks) but for the time being I wanted to share a comparatively more laborious exercise that we did at the company I work in … to tell the world what we 'like' about it... in words.

With FB clearly emerging as one of the more efficient ways to tap into the talent pool out there (we aggressively use it to recruit), we asked employees to post in less than 200 characters what they “like” about us on our official FB a way to tell potential recruits what they can expect when they join us.

It worked quite well with interesting "value propositions" coming out from various employee groups. The big things that jumped out at us from the 200 posts with 1900 likes and several emails (for the social-media shy) we got were…Plenty of learning & growth opportunities; Great work culture with flexible timings, safe & secure environment, friendly & approachable leadership; Employee centric company with friendly policies, respect for and values employees, has faith in them; Unyielding integrity with a strong hold on values.

I couldn’t agree more!! But I do have a few of my own personal “likes” …Undying passion for everything we do, action-oriented-execution-driven-never-say-die attitude; risk-taking abilities, and finally our completely boundary-less approach to work. These are the things that drive and energize me every single day.

So in less than 48 hours we had pulsed our global organization of over 55,000 employees across 20 countries to be able to make meaningful conclusions with actions... that's the power of the world we live in today!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

What makes an organization intelligent?

A question that I have constantly thought about is what makes individuals intelligent , humans intelligent …. “Understanding intelligence” is a quest that has driven humankind for centuries. But what about Organizational and Enterprise Intelligence ?

What makes an organization ‘intelligent’?

Organizations do two things; they run and they make decisions. It doesn’t matter what industry they’re in or what their size is… running and making decisions are fundamental to every enterprise.

The economic turbulence and resulting uncertainty in today’s environment has forced them to re-evaluate the way they do both.

They are now looking for ways to drive innovative solutions to capture opportunities when they occur, while not adding cost. They need to be smarter in today’s slow-growth phase in developed economies, while ensuring they capture the high-growth emerging markets for future success.
This combination of forces at play in this volatile environment is really forcing organizations to become smarter, find ways to grow revenue and capture new market share, while ensuring they don’t increase capacity themselves and instead build an ecosystem of partnerships.

So how does a high-performing organization differentiate itself? They build the ability to anticipate needs, have the dexterity to adapt to change and the spirit to innovate. They are effective in diverse markets and are alert to evolving stakeholder requirements. They are intelligent.

So what makes an organization intelligent? In working with a bunch of high-performing, successful organizations that have adapted themselves to today’s environment, here are 4 attributes that are common to all.

They are Globally Effective. They are able to address different markets and run equally well anywhere in the world. And they deliver better outcomes for themselves and for their customers !!

They are Connected. They pick up needs faster and use all the tools and technology available to build insights faster. They connect the dots across the enterprise and ecosystem faster and build cost effective relationships faster.

They are Innovative. They find novel ways to address both opportunity and uncertainty for competitive advantage using all the knowledge gathered through being connected.
And finally, they are Adaptive. They respond to change with agility. In fact, they thrive on change... they want change!! Because they know they outcompete with others when change is needed.

And therefore, organizations that are intelligent and are able to leverage their ecosystem of partners are the ones who dramatically improve the way they run and take smarter decisions !!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Birds of a feather... MUST NOT flock together!

Modeled on and in partnership with the famous TED conference, the INK conference brings a very eclectic group of people associated with varied walks of life like art & culture, non-profits, education etc and provides them with a terrific platform to tell their stories. Last month I had the opportunity to attend and present at the INK conference in Jaipur and meet with a fascinating bunch of people across three days… I was amazed at the richness of their stories… the amazing work they’ve done… and the ability they had to tell their stories in such an interesting manner.

One of the stories that stayed with me was of Aisha Chaudhary, a 15-year-old girl who was diagnosed with an incurable immune deficiency disorder at the age of six months, following which she underwent bone marrow transplant. In her incredibly simple and touching way, Aisha took us through her early days when she was wheelchair ridden and destined to inhale oxygen with the help of a tube clipped to her nose. Her story drew thunderous applause and a standing ovation as she told us about the 5 lessons she has learnt during this phase; 'Believe in miracles', 'Live in the moment', 'Opportunity in difficulties', 'Dare to dream' and 'Pets are the best medicines'!!

In 5 minutes one could learn much more from a brave young girl than what many would go through an entire lifetime and probably miss altogether! That really got me thinking how most of us tend to stick to and interact with people who are similar to us… do the same kind of work… and even think the same way.. limiting the potential of expanding one’s mind.

But when you walk into an event like this, not only are you faced with a bunch of issues that you probably never thought about but you also get to know people who have dealt with these issues in a very different and inspiring way. What excites and motivates them is very different from what motivates most of us. So it really makes you stop and think and walk out side your comfort zone. It makes you forget your regular problems and the standard approach one tends to take to deal with those problems.

What’s interesting is that one doesn’t attend such events with the objective of doing a business deal… but rather to pick up experiences and ways of thinking that one can bring into one’s own situations. That’s the real benefit.

During the conference, I also got the opportunity to talk about the birth, growth and evolution of Gurgaon and the human stories behind its growth that has changed millions of lives. It's a story of hope for the future for a country like India, provided we can replicate all the good things that have happened and find solutions for the problems that still exist. The only way it can happen is if the partnership between citizens, their employers and the local government further strengthens and takes it forward.

But being an optimist, I am convinced it will happen - we will find incredible ways to drive inclusive growth!!