Relax, it’s not that difficult. In fact, if you employ the right analytics team, you can get all the knowledge you need while you snooze.
Gopal Ratnam wants to get 24 hours of productivity out of you every day. Can’t go without sleep, you say? Need to eat once in a while? What about bathroom breaks?
Relax, you can have all those and a life outside the office. As head of Genpact’s analytics business in India—the information-crunching unit that helps organizations make sense of all kinds of data—Ratnam contends that U.S. business leaders can leverage his company’s knowledge-process outsourcing (KPO) capabilities around the clock to get a competitive market advantage. So even while you’re out like a light, a dedicated support team halfway around the world is shedding light on your business.
If you’re not familiar with it, KPO is the latest outsourcing phenomenon to make inroads into the corporate world. Dominated by firms such as Genpact in India, these service providers take massive amounts of data—whether it’s your customer’s buying habits, service feedback, or even employee input—and detect patterns or reveal trends. They often generate original research in their quest for answers so you don’t have to.
According to Indian BPO provider Satyam, the global KPO market in 2005 was estimated at around $1.2 billion, but with growth pegged at 46 percent, it could reach $17 billion by 2010. The type of work undertaken by Genpact and others include competitive intelligence, campaign management, program tracking, customer relationship management, customer value mapping, research, database generation, and others. Armed with huge teams of Ph.D.s and master’s degrees, KPO providers are a restless bunch with a goal of helping clients make money—compared with the goals of HRO and FAO providers, who want to save clients money.
“Fundamentally we analyze data to help customers make important decisions,” said Ratnam, who holds three graduate degrees and joined Genpact—then GECIS—in 2003. “In terms of driving impact and delivering value to customers, the kind of work we do is the highest in the value chain.”
Indeed, analytics require a different skill set than HRO or FAO. While the latter focuses more on data processing, the former requires analytical thinking, interpretation skills, and market savvy to help customers achieve their goals. While analytics are aimed at growing revenues, some companies are also employing analytics vendors to help with improving HR operations, assess supplier quality, and tap into other operational efficiencies.
For instance, the analytics group helps perform hiring and attrition analysis, takes employee satisfaction surveys, and conducts compensation, claims analysis, and benefits modeling. Related are its work on call-volume forecasting, capacity planning, and contact center evaluation.
As part of Genpact, Ratnam’s unit is also a complementary arm to its main business: outsourced finance and accounting services. About half of its business still comes from parent company GE, which last year divested about 60 percent of its ownership in Genpact. And it was only in 2004 when the business unit began to sell its services to external customers. However, Ratnam wants to impress on clients that the analytics business caters to both internal and external customers and adds value to plain F&A or HR services. Analytics, he says, bring both knowledge as well as create processes for organizations.
For instance, research that clients ask for is sometimes used to create new business processes, either on the customer-facing side or in the back office. Other times, analytics results are compiled to improve customer relationship management—both internal and external. That means employers can also look to analytics vendors to help measure their HR effectiveness.
Outsourced financial processes “really focus on what happens today. What we actually do is look at the history behind what’s happening today,” he said, adding that his firm has a staff of nearly 1,200, of which more than 90 percent has advanced degrees. Moreover, employing an outsourced analytics team means injecting best practices and techniques into the fray, allowing buyers to identify and solve problems quickly. While data from different projects are always kept apart, he said many of the same analytical tools are used.
Most importantly, he contends, is offshoring’s ability to turn an organization’s workday from eight hours to 24 hours because of the time difference (Mumbai is 9.5 hours ahead of New York). So even when the business day is over in North America, MBAs, economists, and other researchers continue to slash away at data and research to give their North American clients an edge in the
So next time you’re up at night, Ratnam wants you to relax and think about how you, too, can employ a team of Ph.D.s and master’s half a world away putting together the pieces that will hopefully give you an edge over competitors down the street.