News.com (Knowledge@Wharton) has an interview with Raman Roy of Spectramind (which has bought last yera by Wipro). Roy talks about how he built up the business process outsourcing (BPO) firm. BPO is seen as a hot ticket in India now, with almost every leading IT company having initiatives in the area. Roy, who head earlier set up GE’s call-centre business in India, talks about the challenges of managing in India:
There are certain aspects of India that the local managers learn to live with. We grow up our phones not working for some part of the time. We grow up knowing that, after you order equipment, there can be a six-month delay before it is delivered.
We learn to function, despite the processing of approvals moving at less than lightning speed. We cut our teeth on battling the poor infrastructure and related obstacles, and learn to work through and around these problems. Some international corporations find it very difficult to get used to all this, because it is so radically different from their business environments.
A second aspect is handling the Indian work force, which has its own idiosyncrasies. Indians who work in such jobs are well qualified, highly educated people. They are not a transient work force marking time while waiting for other things to happen. For them, BPO is a full-time career, and they expect some serious thinking on the part of the employers in terms of creating career paths for them. They also believe that holding on to a job is important. Therefore, what they ask for in a job and in a working environment is very different from the expectations and needs of workers doing similar work in other markets.