Indian call centres going multinational

Tuesday, 25 February 2003, 08:00 Hrs
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From multi-city operations Indian call centres are going multinational, with one becoming operational in Mexico and two looking at acquisitions in the Philippines, the West Indies or South America.

BANGALORE: MSource, the BPO unit of software exporter Mphasis, has started billing its U.S.-based financial sector client since opening the Spanish language-based 350-seater at Tijuana in Mexico.

And the Bangalore-headquartered ICICIOnesource as well as Gurgaon-based Daksh are seriously looking at acquisitions over the next 12 months in the Philippines for instance to become Indian multinationals.

The BPO sector is expected to grow by 60 percent to $2.4 billion according to a latest Mckinsey report to Nasscom presented last week.

"Clients would like us to handle not just English but other languages too (for voice services). For Spanish language support, we need to have centres outside India," K. Ganesh, president, ICICIOnesource, told IANS.

"Nearly 18 percent of the calls to the toll-free 1800 from the U.S. are in Spanish. So we set up the greenfield call centre at Tijuana in 75 days flat, including training and going operational with 50 agents to start with," said Ravi Ramu, group CFO, Mphasis-MsourcE.

"More than geography, for us it was language. This quarter ending March 31, our balance sheet will show revenue from Mexico," said Ramu.

"India remains the best location in terms of quality, cost and availability of manpower, unbeatable by any other location. But large clients seek some country risk mitigation strategy," added Ganesh. "Maybe 10 to 20 percent of the work to be done outside India."

"It is still early days. But I suppose wherever there are extra costs, they would be covered with higher billing rates," Ramu added.

The Mckinsey report has pointed out that the challenges India's growing BPO sector faced were: geo-political risk, threat of war and political backlash of the U.S. federal governments.

The latest move, led by MSource and soon to be followed by ICICIOnesource and Daksh, delivers a strong message to the global companies outsourcing work that Indian BPOs can also function as MNCs outside the country.

But will all this demolish the campaign against outsourcing work to India as epitomized by the controversial New Jersey legislation?

"We are not affected by the legislation. We are not seeking U.S. government work," asserted Ramu.

"Outsourcing is a business imperative and the need to cut costs, increase productivity and efficiency for corporations to be strong and healthy. A weak, loss making company is more detrimental to the economy and the people that some processes being off-shored (to India)," remarked Ganesh.

"Manufacturing off-shoring helped in bringing the price of goods down in the U.S. and Britain and made it affordable for the masses to get the goods (there). The same logic applies here," he added.

Source: IANS

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