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  1. BPOs are reinventing themselves

    At the concluding session of Nasscom’s BPO Strategy Summit in Bangalore recently, 24/7 Customer’s co-founder S Nagarajan made an unusual and passionate plea.

    He asked the large audience to write letters to newspapers whenever they found articles that portrayed the BPO industry in a negative light.

    “If you have different experiences from that stated in the articles, you should all write to the editors concerned,” he said.

    The reference was clearly to articles that have highlighted issues like sex and drugs at the workplace, much of that said to be provoked by the young age of those who work in such jobs, and the fact that most BPO jobs involve working through the night.

    We won’t get into the merits of that here. But the reason Nagarajan was provoked to make that statement was this: He believes those articles are exaggerated, and, more importantly, he believes if there is anything that can put the brakes on the industry’s growth, it’s people’s belief that BPOs aren’t ‘good’ places to work in.

    Parents will discourage their children from entering the profession. In short, the industry won’t get the talent it requires.

    That’s certainly not good for Nagarajan’s firm, and especially now when the industry believes it’s at the threshold of super-growth.

    While most admit that the coming year will see a slowdown on account of what looks like an inevitable recession in the US, the country from where most offshoring work comes, the industry’s medium term projections are likely to beat that of most businesses.

    A study conducted this year by Nasscom and research firm Everest estimates “conservatively” that between 2008 and 2012, the industry will see a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 28-30 per cent. But it believes this could go up to as high as 45-50 per cent if supply constraints are eased.

    “Supply is the constraint, not demand,” says Pramod Bhasin, CEO of one of India’s biggest BPO companies Genpact. India, he says, is already creating the biggest pool of business reengineering talent in the world and is fast consolidating its position as the No. 1 BPO destination.

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