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Upgrading Systems: Increasing technology adoption by ITeS/BPO enterprises

April 25, 2017
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Enterprises in the IT-enabled services (ITeS)/ business process management (BPM) industry have been early adopters of information and communication technology systems for enhancing business efficiencies. Companies in this space have been leveraging technologies like audio and video-conferencing, cloud computing and big data analytics to ensure timely delivery of services and provide cutting-edge technology solutions to clients. The next wave of technological growth will be driven by automation and artificial intelligence. Leading enterprises in this space talk about their IT strategies, technology trends, and challenges in implementing new technologies. (From left to right - Sachin Goel, Chief Information Officer, HCL Infosystems; Rakesh Kumar, IT Head, Admiral Technologies; and Subramanyam Putrevu, Chief Information Officer, Mindtree)

What is your company’s telecom and IT blueprint? What are some of the ongoing and planned IT initiatives and how are these helping the organisation?

Sachin Goel

HCL Infosystems is focusing on digital and emerging services as a core area to deliver business-aligned and technology-enabled offerings to clients. For example, in the emerging technology area, we have developed multiple internet of things (IoT) pilot solutions for specific clients across diverse industries such as FMCG, healthcare and manufacturing.

Going forward, we intend using advanced IoT applications, which would not only be a significant new line of business but could also enhance the value of some of our existing services such as managed infrastructure.

Rakesh Kumar

Admiral Technologies supports the Admiral Group businesses in Europe, the UK and the US. In a globally competitive market, where we interact with different teams from all over the world for requirements, discussions, document sharing and deliveries, we use an entire gamut of communication technology. We have been serving our clients by using Skype, GotoMeeting, video-conferencing, a company-wide intranet portal, team foundation server, exchange server, share-point server, leased lines, broadband, mobile hotspots and Wi-Fi routers. We primarily use Microsoft solutions, but we also work with I90, mainframe systems, guidewire system (policy centre and claim centre which help us manage our insurance businesses better). Over the years, we have seen a steep rise in the mobile traffic on our websites, so we have concentrated on making applications for mobiles and found innovative ways for customer engagement. For our deliveries, we use hosting providers, content delivery networks, virtualisation and cloud platforms. We have also made advancements in the use of mobiles for our platforms and have developed a fleet management system along with GPS to manage our staff transport.

Subramanyam Putrevu

Directionally, we want to provide efficiency to the end-user to use whatever we have at our disposal and deliver the end-product. Many of the initiatives that we are taking revolve around this. We want to make sure that we have a standardised platform on which users can access the company’s resources. We are standardising primarily using Microsoft technologies that would enable us to go in the direction we want to take.

We are one of the early adopters of the Microsoft Office 365 suite, which is one of the enterprise solutions that have enabled us to deliver a bottomless experience to our end-users. For example, we use Microsoft SharePoint for document sharing within the organisation or as a document record engine that one can use for searching. We also use Office 365 videos wherein our entire learning portal is developed. It caters to our needs within the organisation for learning and capability building. Then, we use Skype for Business for collaboration across teams and other tools like the Microsoft platform for analytics and deriving data insights. Now, we are planning to adopt Microsoft Teams to facilitate collaboration within a smaller group.

Looking at IoT and the solutions that we are building, we have our global learning centre in Bhubaneswar. As a part of that campus, we have initiated IoT in two areas, one in water conservation and the other in temperature management.

For big data analytics, we want to drive a culture within the organisation wherein more data-driven efficiency is brought in. We will be bringing this across functions to boost business and bring insights into business functioning. We have embarked upon this journey and a lot of data-driven decisions will be taken in the future. The other area is automation, where the focus is on a self-furnished driven model. Some of our tools require passwords, changing passwords or account lock-out. So, to improve efficiency, we are developing a self-managed portal wherein end-users can do these things on their own. We have explored q2 to bring in some level of automation within the organisation. However, these are just experiments at this point.

What are the key emerging technology trends in the BPM/ITeS industry? What are the challenges in implementing new technologies?

Sachin Goel

The past year was a momentous period for technology innovations. The industry witnessed giant leaps in terms of the adoption of technologies like artificial intelligence, IoT, cloud, machine-to-machine communications and blockchain. Cloud computing was widely accepted by enterprises, especially small and medium enterprises. This was primarily driven by the proliferation of smartphones, inter-team collaboration across locations, and concerns about cost and operational efficiency. The adoption of cloud technology is helping break down technical barriers and reduce the costs associated with establishing global platforms. These platforms are major enablers of innovation and are geared to deliver on-demand, any-device, simplified and personalised services. Meanwhile, IoT, which is labelled as “the next industrial revolution”, saw increased adoption across various sectors such as healthcare, manufacturing, logistics and e-commerce.

As far as challenges are concerned, the lack of awareness about how enterprises can leverage technology to grow and expand their businesses is what prevents most of them from adopting these new technologies. In order to overcome these challenges, enterprises need to stay updated with the constantly evolving technologies that are shaping their business landscape. Moreover, security concerns about possible hacking or misuse of the massive amount of data stored on the cloud is a major factor for the cautious adoption of these new technologies by chief information officers. Another major challenge faced by users is the lack of consistency and standardisation across different IoT solutions. With the IoT market growing, most solution providers have been building all the components needed by the industry, ranging from hardware devices to relevant cloud services or IoT solutions. This has resulted in a lack of consistency and standards across different IoT solutions.

Rakesh Kumar

The most important aspects that future technology will cater to are advanced mobility, big data, cloud and digital portals. Developing successful BPM systems are an amalgamation of aligning technology and management methods. At its core, it involves identifying the best way to implement processes and instituting those operational goals. A BPM strategy needs to have a balance between process improvement and technology, which is key to this segment.

However, as far as the challenges are concerned, a major part of the problem with BPM adoption has been the learning curve to get systems operational. Sometimes the products are too complex and sometimes the organisation has a low level of technology knowhow or low process acumen. But there are many kinds of repeatable processes that BPM software vendors or their service partners could develop. Technologists believe they can build business processes without requiring investments in BPM, or they can automate business processes using enterprise suites (ERP, CRM, SCM, HCM, or some other enterprise suites). However, there is a lot of resistance from most IT organisations. That is the problem in a nutshell. The British have a charming expression for this situation, they call it falling between two stools. Cybersecurity is another challenge which is paramount for operations to succeed.

Subramanyam Putrevu

IoT is one of the key trends that will have a huge impact and change the way organisations work. Artificial intelligence and cognitive computing are some of the other trends that would influence the decision-making of organisations. This, coupled with big data analytics, which gives an insight into what is the current trend, would have a huge impact on decision-making and the way in which the data can be analysed.

As far as the challenges are concerned, although new technologies have given a lot of flexibility and direction, the main challenge is to find the right talent to implement those technologies. The second challenge is that while the technology is available, articulating the problem that needs to be solved is an issue. If the problem statement is not clear that becomes an issue in terms of articulating and categorising the problem statement. The third challenge is making the problem statement to get an insight in terms of understanding what business problems need to be solved. This is because the technology can be implemented, but the business owner should also understand how these technologies can be used to solve a business problem. So, the three challenges are the availability of talent because technology changes very rapidly, identifying the problem that has to be solved, and whether the business problem or business solution is clearly specified.

What is the outlook for the adoption of new technologies like IoT, automation, artificial intelligence, big data analytics and cloud in the BPM/ITeS industry?

Sachin Goel

In the future, emerging technologies like IoT, which is a combination of operational and information technology, will be at the core of the digital business. Sectors such as automobile, manufacturing and healthcare will be the fastest adopters of this technology. Similarly, blockchain technology is expected to play a bigger role in the field of financial technology, which has received a big boost following the government’s demonetisation drive. The benefits of blockchain technology will percolate to other areas including identity verification and supply chain as well. Meanwhile, cloud computing and cognitive technologies have already made their mark as technologies that will shape the future. These are the areas of focus for HCL Infosystems.

Rakesh Kumar

We have many companies under the Admiral umbrella and a huge size of data. We use big data analytics for managing and categorising our data for better usage. We are the biggest users of telematics in the UK. At present, “The internet of things is a hot and beautiful mess until it becomes the internet of everything.” In future, we will see messaging apps become the new social media. Virtual and augmented reality is being experimented with by developing applications for consumers and vertical markets. However, organisations need to think progressively and out of the box for creating applications for augmented reality. In future, everything will become on-demand and available through a mobile application. Further, mobile platforms combined with geo-loco will continue to bring everyday people and businesses together to interact with trust and efficiency.

Subramanyam Putrevu

IoT has already been adopted by our organisation in the water conservation and temperature management domains. We plan to further expand the usage of IoT in other areas.  Big data analytics has been adopted at a fairly good level within the organisation. Some of the organisations have already adopted these technologies and others are also willing to adopt them. Big data is being widely used by IT organisations in the retail industry. In the energy sector, IoT is playing an increased role. Automation would also play a major role in the future.

The technology space is changing rapidly. So, making a wise decision in terms of what is best suited to be used as a platform from a user adoption perspective is needed. From a roll-out perspective, it is easier, but adoption would still be a challenge. So, adequate focus and thrust needs to be given to ensure that end-users are able to consume the product in which technologies are involved.

How have telecom and IT solutions helped the BPM/ITes industry in enhancing business efficiency?

Rakesh Kumar

Business processes are the core of what makes a business successful. Meeting customer needs requires innovative technology. Today business processes have different types of data and heterogeneous systems. They are multi-layered implementations of real-world activities logically organised into steps that span multiple IT systems and departments.

The BPM market is segmented into IT solutions, IT services, business functions, organisation size and regions. It is a highly competitive market. The demand for software and services in this market is increasing rapidly as enterprises face the challenge of reducing overall costs and improving efficiency.

According to some predictions, the global BPM market stood at $6.96 billion in 2016, and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 14.2 per cent during 2016-21 to reach $13.52 billion by 2021.

In future, BPM software will morph into a next-generation platform, which would be more flexible and would provide many integrated content technologies. The platform would have the capabilities to support dynamic and collaborative work, including software for analytics, business process, collaboration, content management, customer experience, social and other emergent software categories. This next-generation platform will be available on the cloud and would support smartphones.

The Indian IT-ITeS sector has been a major growth industry for the economy in the last decade. It has also been responsible for employment generation and value creation and emerged as an important business segment. Changing customer demands and requirements have led to greater efficiency and flexibility within the sector. All these factors have made the IT-ITeS sector a leading industry not just in the country but overseas as well. Exports continue to dominate the revenues earned by the IT-ITeS industry. Despite being an export-driven sector, the ITeS-BPM segment has performed well in the domestic market as well. Among the verticals serviced by the IT-ITeS-BPO industry those that account for the largest share of revenue are banking, financial services and insurance (41 per cent), hi-tech/telecom (20 per cent), manufacturing (17 per cent) and retail (8 per cent), with smaller contributions coming from media, publishing and entertainment, construction and utilities, healthcare, airlines and transportation.

Subramanyam Putrevu

If you look at the telecom revolution and subsequently the data revolution, they have given a lot of benefits and improved the efficiency of organisations. The telecom revolution in the form of voice services has enabled organisations to communicate, which has facilitated decision-making. Traditionally, voice was primary. But now voice is also being used over the data medium and data is becoming primary. Owing to this, one-to-one calling has become the norm of the day and collaboration has become much more seamless. One of the tools that we use for collaboration is Skype for Business, which is used to discuss, debate, or collaborate across different locations or different sets of people either within the organisation or between organisations and their customers. Given that organisations today are growing and located in different locations, collaborating has become very efficient and seamless due to several IT or telecom tools.

Moreover, documents that were available only on desktops earlier are now available on mobiles as well. While we have Skype for Business as one of the largest platforms at Mindtree, we also have other cloud-based solutions that help us to collaborate. For example, we use a tool called BlueJeans, which helps us collaborate from anywhere. BlueJeans enables one to log in from anywhere for video-conferencing using a mobile. So, collaborating, discussing, debating and decision-making have become more efficient due to such tools. This has improved overall productivity and reduced the time spent to reach out for making decisions.

In the larger context, making resources available at any given time at any given place has become much more seamless. With the data revolution, technologies have also changed. Technology advancement is enabling organisations to make better policy decisions. Further, data access has become much more seamless.

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