Chain reaction- Digitization of business processes

A young farmer in an early growth soybean field at sunset records crop data on his tablet computer. This represents the next generation of young farmers using the latest technology in farming operationsJob creation is the number one priority for India today and our Prime Minister has listed it as his prime goal.  In this blog post Milan Sheth , Partner and Technology Leader-Advisory Services, shares his views on the changes triggered by digitization and its impact on business processes.

As planners go about programs for job creation, big focus will be on the service industry and that too export oriented services. One would assume with right policies, the template which has worked in the past will work again and abundant supply of talented human resources will get gainfully employed. Well, script may not unfold as in the past as we have a new player in the form of SMAC (social, mobile, cloud and analytics) technologies. Below the surface these technologies are slowly revolutionizing servicing across industries and its direct impact will be on people employed in the industry.

Let’s go deeper in to this silent phenomena.

One of the largest global Business Process Services (BPS) providers during their scenario planning sessions encountered an interesting situation from one of their customers. A large telecom company was planning to reduce its servicing team currently handled by the BPS provider, by 75% in next 5 years. The telecom company was neither tapering its operations nor planning to short change its subscribers. Then the question that arises is why they would ask the offshore provider to plan for much lesser hiring numbers over the next few years. Well answer lies in the digitization of the processes.

Social technologies and mobility technologies are rationalising several jobs and processes which were earlier performed in an off-line mode. If you are a regular user of net banking and if you do turn up at a bank branch sometimes in the metro cities, you would have observed that service executives are spending lot more time selling products then servicing transactions. Digitization of processes is dramatically reducing volumes in call centres and help desks for various service oriented businesses. Self-serve is an accepted norm and cost to serve a customer constitutes more self-service technology than adding more people or physical infrastructure.

Does this pose a threat to employees in service business in India? It may possibly take time to overcome the legacy of slower IT adoption. Will this impact the off-shore processing industry? The answer is a resounding yes.

Business process providers will need to reinvent themselves and at a faster pace. BPS providers will have to combine three faculties of analytics, consulting and processing to help their customers traverse the digitization journey. They will need to rapidly build skills in high-end consulting as well as domain led analytics to stay relevant to their customers. Companies not doing so will see their work force and margins shrinking in the next 3-5 years. They will need to re-orient their sales force as well as senior management to address the changing landscape.

Off-shore BPS in the last couple of years was almost getting predictable and was falling prey to habits that were no longer relevant in the changing technology landscape. These new developments are pushing the companies to redefine themselves by adapting to more efficient systems for their sake and for their employees. Industries need not just add people to their service factories; they are forced to think beyond the obvious. Survivors in this churn will define new business models and will re-establish and energise businesses affecting more and better skill oriented job creation in the country.



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