Discuss, debate and exchange ideas on latest trends and opportunities in the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) landscape. Deliberate on adding “business value” to clients, vendors, employees and various other stakeholders to enhance customer satisfaction and sustain long term partnerships.

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April 25, 2014

Kano and the Art of Customer Delight

Kano's model talks about three customer needs - basic, performance and delighters...it is easy to convert an angry customer to a delighted one.


Watches don't agree they say. Mine was just a few seconds away from 6 PM. I was taking big hurried steps towards the meeting room for an important client call. Just then my BlackBerry rang! It was an unknown number. I was in no mood to take this call but I took it anyway. The voice at the other end was not sweet enough to excite me but I continued. It introduced itself as an agent from a customer care unit of Toyota, asking whether I had gotten my car serviced anytime in the previous 3 months. "Yes" I roared, eager to end the conversation. The voice patiently asked me, whether I would be interested to be picked up and dropped at the nearest Toyota showroom the next day. "Why?", I had answered angrily. . .

It didn't take me much time to realize that I had given a 6 on 10, for bathroom cleanliness on the post servicing feedback that car companies generally obtain from customers, immediately after a car service. In fact, it was a rating my son gave after he used the rest room when we had both visited their swanky showroom in Bangalore. I had concurred with him! This had happened 2 months back. The customer care call wasn't unrelated.

Through a subsequent call that the showroom sales GM made to me, I was called over to inspect their bathroom (2 months later!) and give them my feedback. I was even picked up and dropped, and was even offered tea and snacks during this exercise! I couldn't help but give a 10 on 10 this time around. But wait! I didn't give them a 10 for their hospitality. I gave them what I gave, for the tremendous pains they had undertaken to make changes to the bathroom - the freshness and the crispness, the mirror and all the other detailing. . . . . . Of course, it might be that this change was already in the offing and coincided with my rating! Whatever it might be, I was actually rating them for their customer focus.

Kano's model talks about three customer needs - basic, performance and delighters. Having brakes on a car is associated with a basic customer need. Performance needs are those for which customers are willing to pay more for higher performance. For instance, I am ready to pay higher for a 150 PS horsepower engine, than that I am for a 80 PS engine. Last but not least, the delighters are the most powerful ones since they provide a supreme level of delight to the customer. Greeting a customer with a glass of wine as she enters the showroom is a delight!

The chairman of the famed (arguably!) Bata shoe company, it is said, had visiting cards that read "Chief Shoe Salesman". This a great symbolic representation of what a solution designer or a salesman is trying to bring to the table. Even making small notes during a discussion with a customer itself is Customer Centricity to me. I never miss it. It is simple but has a great effect, at least symbolically on what the customer thinks about you.

A genius is the capability to take immense pain . . . let us take some . . .  for a customer. . .it is easy to convert an angry customer to a delighted one . I shall be more than happy to hear your perspectives. Thanks for being my customer!!

April 8, 2014

Any content, anytime, anywhere, any device

Infosys has created a '4A intersection framework' that blends cloud implementation with insights from social media and advances in content search.


Four aces in a winning strategy for media and entertainment enterprises

Measuring up to today's digitally savvy customers who consider ubiquitous content consumption a fundamental right requires more than just technology. In my experience, 'Any Content, Anytime, Anywhere, on Any Device' or 4A is both a challenge and an opportunity for media and entertainment (M&E) companies.

The challenges in implementing 4A:

  • Anytime: More of a technology challenge as M&E companies try to improve their content delivery methodology in a manner where they can make use of existing customer bandwidth to deliver a satisfactory customer experience.
  • Anywhere: Similar to 'anytime,' with rights management, regulatory compliance and content format issues thrown in for good measure.
  • Any device: Catering to varied content formats that suit the customer's device of choice.
  • Any content: Converting any content into an 'all devices' compatible format. Since the device of choice for content consumption is most likely to be a digital one, the content also will need to be in the digital format. The device has to be equipped to showcase the content and since most of the content is subsidized through advertising, continuing to serve brands without compromising on customer experience is another critical aspect.

I believe that the cloud will play a major role in the implementing 4A. And as enterprises move to leverage the advantages that cloud offers, there are two corollary trends that appear with potential implications for content providers. One is the rise of social media, and the second is the need for instant search gratification.

As capitalizing on social conversations become increasingly important, a 'social media command center' can prove to be beneficial in interpreting social data and providing insights that enterprises can make use of to create products and tailor solutions. And the first steps in the holy grail of instant search gratification are enriched tagging and recommendations.

This is where a BPO partner with strong technology capabilities can help. And to meet these expectations, Infosys have created a '4A intersection framework' that blends cloud implementation with insights from social media and advances in content search. What it delivers is an intuitive and relevant content delivery framework that unlocks the monetization potential of 4A. Helping media and enterprises become more relevant among today's digital consumers and in "making them an offer they can't refuse".

To know more about our 4A framework, download our view point

PPM - Assisting LatAm Clients Meet Transformational Objectives

The PPM framework comes at a very good moment, especially for markets like Latin America where clients are looking for partners who can help them to innovate, transform and automate.

What clients expect from transformation?

As a Business Development Manager for Latin America I have been interacting with my clients in the last couple of years with regards to their difficulty in achieving business outcomes and also challenges with respect to servicing their internal stakeholders and end customers. One of the reasons I found relates to the competitive world those clients are facing, a world that is no more the one they face locally but definitely a world that includes competitors from all around the world. This is compelling the organizations to think about how they can innovate, transform and re-invent themselves and their businesses. My reading for such a scenario is that those clients are looking for methodologies and tools as well as for domain experienced people to partner with along their transformation journey. And that is the way I believe innovators like Infosys can assist clients in addressing some of their challenges.

PPM's role in addressing transformation?

Infosys BPO's Process Progression Model (PPM) framework comes at a very good moment, especially for markets like Latin America where clients are looking for partners who can help them to innovate, transform and automate, as I explained right above.  When you look into PPM you see a very comprehensive framework that explains and sets with the client a step by step approach which leads for transformation objectives, no matter how mature the client's processes are. PPM demonstrates how each business competences should be driven and operated in order to achieve real business outcomes. I believe Infosys is doing a very good job in that direction and I am sure we are going to exceed our clients' expectations on transformation by implementing PPM along the partnerships.

April 2, 2014

PPM is Enabling Infosys to Move from Being an 'Executer' to a 'Transformer'!

PPM is a framework which is very comprehensive and at the same time very simple. It allows us to move across three levels using a very practitioner led and structured approach.


What clients expect from transformation?

Transformation is a much used and in some sense much abused buzz word. But I will try and capture what I have seen in the last several meetings that I have had with the various clients in North and South America. Client are expecting us to be a lot more involved in their businesses. Our operations have a direct impact on businesses, and therefore, our decisions are now mostly taken at the CXO level. Clients expect outcomes as compared to effort. Especially in Latin America, FTE based pricing (and labor arbitrage) is not a viable option any more. Clients expect a higher degree of risk from us (more skin in the game) and are willing us to share benefits (higher reward). They also expect us to infuse their business processes with tools and technology to drive productivity. I consider this as the first aspect from a transformation perspective.

The second as aspect that I want to share is, today clients are being forced to evolve at an unprecedented pace. There is almost no predictability, and things change dramatically from one quarter to the next. CXO changes are routine, and M&A activity is at an all-time high. This means that clients have little patience, and the time for transformation is very limited.  We need to not only ensure that we go in with a thorough and well-priced solution, but we also target the exact problem points that the customers have.

One of the biggest differences that we see today from a few years ago, is the client's intent and desire to push the boundaries, and create 'innovative' revenue streams. Clients are asking us to come and co-create with them; they are saying "we want to be in certain geographies that we are not and you are, we want to create certain new lines of business, and need someone like you to help create the capability". "Here is IP that we have, and here are the capabilities we don't that you can bring to us". Interestingly, a lot of these capabilities are from different industry verticals. E-Commerce solutions in retail are relevant to the Banking industry. Mobility solutions created for Field Sales in CPG industries are relevant to the manufacturing industry. We are seeing a fantastic opportunity to transform the company's business through co-creation and co-created solutions!

This also takes us to the 3rd point, where the clients are looking to monetize the assets that they have already. These assets might range from shared service centers (SSC) that were created a few years ago, to IP in unique line of business. Most clients went down a pat in shared services - initially they centralized, then standardized, then optimized and finally outsourced. So they had a framework for SSC and today what they are looking to do is they are trying to add a fifth component which is monetizing that! 'Can they take a SSC and can they make it a profit center from a cost center?' Which means, can they take some of these solutions and services and make money out of it? They are asking us some of these very interesting questions and we are coming to the table to create such services.

I think finally, from a client perspective, they are asking us to be partners to them. They are asking us to walk the journey with them! It is a very great time for us from a transformation perspective.

PPM's role in addressing transformation

So what is happening more and more is it that the clients are expecting a lot from us. Now Infosys Process Progression Model (PPM) is a framework that allows us to move from being an executer to a Transformer! Infosys has a large history of executing ON time, ON or UNDER Budget and clients now expect us to be 'Advisors' and advise them on their business strategy as compared to being executers.  PPM is a framework which is very comprehensive and at the same time very simple. It allows us to move across three levels using a very practitioner led and structured approach. Level 1 - get the basics right, then improving the process and augmenting it and infusing it with robotics, with automation and with technology and ultimately transform the process! I think the exciting thing about PPM is you are NOT doing it alone primarily just as Infosys but you are working very closely with the client to get an alignment, assessing the operations, coming close to them, working with them to really audit and look at the processes and confirm with them that they are indeed moving up the progression cycle!

April 1, 2014

The NEER Future

As the industry is set to explore new competencies for enterprises to differentiate in the backdrop of intense competition in market place, the expectation from the "supply chain" goes to the next level.


The Global Environment

The global nature of the current business landscape is impacting the overall business management and governance in terms of managing business delivery and also transactions at the most local level. This is bringing about a change in consumer behavior driving new trends in the industry value chain.

The governing forces of these trends can be attributed to the NEER factors:  New Technology Adoption (RFIDs, social media, OTT usage etc.), Economic (emerging markets: BRICS), Ecological (natural resources and environment sustainability), and also Regulatory (new compliance - carbon footprint, growing emphasis on corporate social responsibility). All of these have put a significant pressure on the overall marketplace today in terms of more demanding and stringent expectations of customers. The demand is for faster processing schedules and shorter TAT for flow of product and services, directly making the Information flow also complex in terms of maintaining overall transparency and visibility in the industry supply chain, as well as driving the requirement for real time information for quick decision making.

The Future Challenge

The level and extent of collaboration and integration today between the stakeholders - both internal and external, of a supply chain has led to a wide diversity and mix of data types handled at any instance in the chain, making it far more complex in terms of factors of predictability (for e.g. demand) or analytics (for e.g. risks). This has led to a need for increased level of speed of interaction between the various elements of the chain. Moreover on account of dissolution of stakeholder boundaries, there is a need for a new governance model with ideal metrics in measuring the various aspects of performance of the chain.

The  Opportunity

As a result, enterprises are today looking for various avenues of differentiation to achieve sustainability in the backdrop of stiff competition. Market consolidation as an immediate fall out of this in various industry segments is picking up with new environment of business, market and requirement for people to leverage right skills and competencies for delivering value. This opens up a couple of possible opportunities for the area of supply chain (especially in fulfillment) industry aligned to the market need with inbuilt end-to-end collaborative capabilities amongst its stakeholders. The following are few potential areas:

  • Collaborative Logistics - Shared storage and transportation, Cross docking, integrated Hubs, etc.
  • Demand Fluctuation management - a "pull" supply chain
  • Product  Identification - Product Master Data handling, labelling
  • Asset Efficiency - reverse logistics for asset disposal & value recovery

As the industry is set to explore new competencies for enterprises to differentiate in the backdrop of intense competition in market place, the expectation from the "supply chain" goes to the next level under the influence of NEER factors.

"Collaboration for Excellence" gradually becomes a preference in this area for enterprises to maintain sustainability by leveraging the scale of pooled competencies and at the same time continuing to deliver "value" to the end consumer. Let us be a positive contributor to this "value arbitrage".

If you Don't Dig, the Silver Remains in the Mine

Tail spend is like a genie in the lamp, you would need to rub it in order to benefit from it.


While procurement professionals are busy concentrating in generating value through a focus on core areas of high spend, strategic or key suppliers, there is still spend which is not actively managed. This spend which normally is wrongly assumed as trivial or not so important spend is referred to as tail spend. While having lesser suppliers for large spend can be a strength, yet it is observed for majority of the organizations that 80% of the suppliers are present in lowest 20% of the spend.

Organizations have a lot to lose in case tail spend is not managed well, such as:

  • Costs - the costs of managing tail spend suppliers from onboarding , PR, PO, Risks ,Invoices processing works out to be same or even greater than managing the larger and more strategic suppliers.
  • Risks - the inherent risks of managing a large number of small suppliers is huge. Tail spend management enables better Compliances as it reduces maverick spend.
  • Efficiencies - the company does not take advantage of scale of economies and pricing discounts. 
  • No results inspite of efforts - buyers spend a lot of time firefighting, non-strategic but noisy spend
  • Savings - there is a potential which has not been explored.
  • Spend Transparency - a penny saved is penny earned. Put every penny spent in the umbrella of addressable spend.

Challenges: The challenges of tail spend includes low spend visibility, lack of effective controls, limited market coverage, low potential savings, lack of stakeholders interest ,large number of categories with low value, unique one off items & lack of category expertise.

Tail  Spend Management Framework: When we focus on tail spend in a manner which is professional, systematic and use the right combination of e-procurement along with external expertise or managed services, we can attain significant savings.

Tail Spend _ Tina Wahi.jpg

Supplier Classification: In order to provide a better visibility to tail spend suppliers & understand where it falls we recommend categorization applying the Kralijic model which classifies suppliers on the basis of spend & supply exposure' or 'business risk' defined across four quadrants - strategic security, strategic critical, tactical acquisition and tactical profit. Using this framework, a sourcing strategy should be drawn for tail spends as a commodity. Procurement goals will also enable you to know the quadrant in which your maximum tail spends lies.

Supplier Rationalization: We all realise that urgent one time purchases & emergency purchases lead to increasing numbers of business suppliers. For example, stationary, packaging, small computer supplies have several suppliers, where for small price discounts new suppliers are introduced.

Spend Analysis: When tail spends are analyzed there will be an ongoing spend, periodic spend or spend which can be moved to existing core category which provide savings opportunities. There will be also be spend which will be actually tail spend, which cannot be negotiated to lower or better.

Tail spend management tool: A tail spend management tool Integrates POC suppliers of Blue chip companies and marketplaces. It also increases scalability due to supplier self-service & provides faster turnaround time using proprietary workflow tools, improved MSP efficiency, increased user adoption driven by friendly UI and Non-intrusive system, and quick go-live.

Catalogues & Authorisation Channels: Low-value spend can be moved to  platforms as procurement cards, online catalogues, e-commerce through internet ,consolidation of purchase requests between units, electronic data interchange and punch outs, enabling a better visibility and control over tail spend.

Consolidators: This can be one of the best solutions as solves the problem of tail spend as well as the problems that traditional approach of managing tail spend do.

Tail spend is like a genie in the lamp, you would need to rub it in order to benefit from it. But in case its challenging for an organisation to manage Tail spend from a cost & headcount perspective it can be always delegated to a  managed service provider who has knowledge & resources to deliver benefits of tail spend management.

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