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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May 29, 2015

The New Avatar of BPO: A Partner in Risk, a Financial Engineer and a Trusted Executer

With need for greater agility resonated by all clients, BPO is getting ready for its new avatar!


Introduction

Change is accelerating. Companies are adapting to the new pace of change by becoming more agile in order to be able to react to change rapidly and stay relevant to their clients. This need for agility is cascading on to the BPO providers. Are BPOs embracing the change? Apparently not. BPOs are still working with old rigid frameworks in their operations and financial engineering. However, with need for greater agility resonated by all clients, BPO is getting ready for its new avatar!

Becoming more agile by design

Larger shared services centres, better equipped recruitment teams, technology enabled training and development teams are all playing their role in making BPO more agile.  And this has enabled BPOs to operate optimally over a wide range of demand and respond to client needs at much shorter timelines. However there is scope of improvement:

  • The traditional governance models that are driven by monthly, quarterly, annual meetings are not agile. There is an immediate need to design a more flexible governance model that fosters greater agility.
  • There is a need for better relationship management. Today's typical hour glass like intersection between client and BPO impedes smooth and quick flow of information. Need of the hour is to allow various stakeholders at both clients and BPO partners connect at different levels.
  • Clients need to integrate the BPO support groups with company's own support group to ensure more integration, which allows for greater agility.
  • Clients need to demand advisory service along with BPO services (transactional) in order to ensure vision and execution are matched at regular intervals.

The new Avatar

Operational agility has limitations. To provide next level of service BPOs need to look at alternate ways of addressing clients' needs and challenges. One way to achieve this is by financial engineering where operations demand volatility risks are amortized over all clients. This will be like companies trying to take insurance against market volatility and insurance premium is the transaction mark-up. However, like insurance differs depending on demography, transaction premium too needs to be spread fairly.  For this, BPOs need to gauge industry and risk of market volatility in different industries/geographies to appropriately premium for transaction for different companies.

Traditionally BPOs have shared a 'customer-vendor' relationship where they asked for all information from the client and merely played a role of executioner. But as a risk mitigator, this role is not appropriate. BPOs will need to undergo paradigm shift from an executioner to a consultative role. 

My wild imagination hints the next level of financial engineering, where companies will commit a fixed percentage of their revenue for operations and BPOs could handle the whole operations on their own. For instance a company may call BPOs for a bid process where companies will need to quote a percentage of company's revenue for managing the operations. One could imagine bidder A bidding 2.22% of revenue while bidder B bids for 2.84% of revenue. 

May 8, 2015

Pervasive Learning - Technology, a great lever

Technological advances, access to the internet, mobile phone penetration (particularly, smart phones) are playing a significant role in enabling scalable access of learning across the globe.


Our L&D world has been evolving over the years and quite rapidly over the last 4-5 years. The earnest initiation of You Tube/video sharing based learning has evolved into a movement through the Khan Academy.

Look at how rapidly the MOOCs (massively open online courses) movement is taking shape. Then there is learning delivered via smart phones and tablets, Cloud based applications and not to mention, the surge in Webinars, Podcasts and Social Media based offerings across the digital world.

Jane Hart, a leading learning professional from UK recently initiated a survey with learning professionals across the globe on top 100 learning tools. According to the survey, responded by close to 1500 professionals, the top 10 learning tools of 2014 have been:

  1. Twitter
  2. Google Docs/ Drive
  3. You Tube
  4. PowerPoint
  5. Google Search
  6. WordPress
  7. Dropbox
  8. Evernote
  9. Facebook
  10. LinkedIn

A recent article in Forbes Asia mentions that a large IT company provides only 20% training through the traditional classroom based delivery. The balance 80% is delivered by the various digital initiatives mentioned earlier. They call it a "Millennial Friendly" strategy.

It is predicted that the smart phone and wearable technology will reshape the future in the Learning area as well.

I am very excited about the changes that we are fostering in our organization in the L&D space. Some of notable ones include:

  • Any Time Learning Kiosks
  • Deployment of WebEx based learning sessions especially to enhance our reach to the global centers
  • Using Tablets with pre-loaded learning material that can be utilized as a pre read or as reinforcement aids.
  • Launch of iWatchLearn, a digital learning offering  for our employees
  • Cloud based offerings that allow learners to access learning anytime and from anywhere
  • Setting up of Learning Lounges that serve the purpose of distribution and access to learning across our global centers
  • Simulation Labs to provide a simulated business floor environment that aids learning
  • Deployment of tools for objective and timely assessments

Technological advances, access to the internet, mobile phone penetration (particularly, smart phones) are playing a significant role in enabling scalable access of learning across the globe.

However, while Learning is becoming pervasive and progressive, and organizations have started investing in this area, why is it that we continue to see low adoption? I still observe a carrot based approach to drive in trainees into the classroom or to access e learning. In fact, I struggle motivating some of the trainers to adopt the new world order!

In my view, to help scale up and to make our learning programs effective and impactful, we need to focus on the following:

  • customized/ personalized learning
  • contextually curated content
  • action learning projects
  • peer based learning
  • connects with problem solving networks (LinkedIn and Google plus are playing an important role here)
  • simulations and gamification based learning
  • enhancing learner autonomy by providing a pervasive learning ecosystem that focuses on blending with formal, informal and social media aided learning

I am also observing a move from linear text based to simulations and model based learning. Tool based Efficient Assessments are being promoted. (i.e. Go Ambition, Pearson's assessments).

Also noticeable, is the focus on Analytics in areas such as:

  • Scientific and objective training needs analysis
  • Training effectiveness measurement
  • Learning style identification

We are living in the social age which is all about iterative learning and willingness to question everything. The new world has moved on from promoting IQ and EQ to CQ which is the Curiosity Quotient. Our openness to learn, share our success as well our failures will help drive a bigger change.

Technology alone will not help move the needle. It is all about being curious and to constantly seek answers from the learning environment, seniors, peers and even juniors (reverse mentoring) that would help drive the change we are seeking. Technology will continue to enable us to do so.

According to a senior L&D professional of a large global IT organization, by 2025, a lot of our current jobs would be taken over by machine learning and artificial intelligence. We may see various methods and tools for new knowledge acquisition.
L&D's role will be:

  • to evolve as a  "curator" of the most useful knowledge
  • to play the role of a Human performance specialist

However, I believe that while Technology is helping us big time in scaling up and aiding in global distribution, it is also in some way, dehumanizing transactions. How many of us remember the movie "Up in the Air" where a video conference based solution on lay off discussions by an enthusiastic HR professional back fires!

Another senior professional in the HR space, commented recently that while data and information will provide much of the knowledge that people require to be successful, experiences will become even more important. People will need to interact more frequently with one another, not just machines!

While I am a techno optimist, I continue to believe that "blended learning" will be here to stay and will continue to enhance learning effectiveness through technology aided solutions and class room based interactions.

In my view, the following changes will shape our L&D world:

  • The Learning Profile will continue to undergo a major shift
  • Learning will become more personalized and pervasive
  • Internet, better broadband speed and artificial intelligence will be great levers
  • Contextual learning will become a norm and learner centered environment will be given the right importance

Would be keen to hear views from our learning community.

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