Over the years, the Indian information technology (IT), IT-enabled services (ITeS) and business process management (BPM) industry has evolved from handling back-office services to enabling front-end transformations, helping clients optimise operations and tackle competition. Since the industry enables technology transition across different sectors, it has to remain abreast of emerging technologies. To this end, enterprises in the IT, ITes and BPM domain have been transforming their IT systems and infrastructure to leverage next-generation technologies and build new front-end capabilities in accordance with customers’ needs. Technologies such as social, mobility, analytics and cloud (SMAC) have emerged as digital pillars that have helped the industry in modernising its core processing operations and driving new levels of efficiency.

Going forward, artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and automation are set to reshape the dynamics of the IT, ITeS and BPM industry. In fact, leading IT firms such as Infosys, Wipro, TCS and Tech Mahindra have already started testing blockchain and AI in their innovation labs, and research and development centres in a bid to diversify their offerings.

A look at the technology trends shaping the IT, ITeS and BPM industry and the way ahead…

SMAC leading the way

Digital technologies such as SMAC have prompted enterprises in the IT, ITeS and BPM industry to rethink their business strategies and adopt new methods for delivering a personalised experience to customers. The adoption of SMAC has also brought about a paradigm shift in the way IT, ITeS and BPM enterprises operate by digitalising the entire business model.

The proliferation of social media applications has enabled enterprises to understand consumer preferences and perceptions by tracking their activities. This has opened up new growth avenues. As social media allows enterprises to engage in conversation with customers and examine customer behaviour, BPM companies have started offering these capabilities to help clients gain traction on social media without the latter having to worry about hiring or investing in new resources for the purpose. Enterprises in the IT, ITeS and BPM industry are also using social media analytics for offering brand building, customer engagement and customer support services.

Big data analytics is another key technology being used to structure and analyse the unstructured, raw forms (such as audio, video and messages on social networks) of data collected during operations. Since enterprises in the IT, ITeS and BPM industry have to handle huge volumes of data and analyse it to help clients make informed decisions, they are making significant investments in big data analytics. The technology enables enterprises to provide strategic insights to their clients, helping them take quicker decisions, create business value and gain a competitive edge in the market. BPM companies have also started using analytics to differentiate their services and make their business solutions more productive. Clients have started demanding applications that can map individual preferences and deliver personalised services. Big data analytics has enabled BPM service providers to design personalised programmes that identify high revenue-generating customers and focus on building a one-to-one relationship with them.

Another key element of the SMAC ecosystem, the cloud forms the backbone of the IT, ITeS and BPM industry. Organisations are moving from legacy systems with high maintenance and upgrade requirements, and outsourcing their business processes to cloud-based platforms. The on-demand nature of cloud technology enables enterprises to acquire all the computing capacity they need in real time, thereby allowing IT and ITeS companies to provide capacity as and when clients need it and reduce it when demand falls again. Cloud services let companies remove IT servicing wait times at queue lines to enhance efficiency. In addition, cloud reduces the need to invest in traditional data centres. This saves costs as data centre maintenance accounts for up to 80 per cent of the annual IT budgets of enterprises. The cloud not only helps firms manage their infrastructure cost, but also allows them to collaborate freely across geographies.

The automation wave

The growing demand for speedy service delivery has increased the uptake of automated systems in the industry. Automation of processes and systems in the IT-BPM business improves cost and time efficiency, and helps save energy and other resources. BPM companies are primarily using robotic process automation (RPA) for standardising repetitive, low-end tasks and reducing the risk of errors. In fact, the BPM industry has been one of the early users of RPA as it adopted the interactive voice response (IVR) system, which enables computers to interact with humans.

RPA enables BPM service providers to increase productivity and reduce costs by finishing core and repetitive operations quickly and accurately, thereby promoting a virtual workforce. Processes such as document processing, finance and accounting, responding to customer queries, human resource management and procurement can be automated using RPA. This reduces the inefficiency associated with enterprise resource planning and back-end systems.

According to the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM), 15-20 per cent of the BPM business is now getting automated through the use of various new-age technologies including RPA and AI. For instance, IT firms such as Apple, Microsoft, IBM and Google have started using automation. Meanwhile, some IT firms have launched AI-based automated platforms. These include Tata Consultancy Services’ Ignio platform, Wipro’s Holmes platform, Infosys’ NIA platform, and HCL Technologies’ DRYiCE platform.

Key challenges

While enterprises in the IT, ITeS and BPM industry have been actively leveraging emerging technologies to deliver value to their customers, they constantly face regulatory challenges in the adoption of these technologies across various industries. For instance, the banking, financial services and insurance sector and the telecom sector might have different regulations for the adoption of information and communication technology (ICT) systems. Differences in regulations increase the complexity in ICT installations as well as overheads, thus making the job of IT and software companies difficult.

Another challenge relates to disintegrated systems. There has been a rapid proliferation in the number of software solutions used by enterprises. Companies now use separate customer relationship management (CRM) solutions for marketing, sales, support, ticketing, etc. However, as too many systems operate on different kinds of software, there is no single platform that stores all the information and integrates these disparate software solutions. Ensuring data security is also a major bottleneck. While some applications operate on premises, the rest are on the cloud and integrating them in a secure way is a challenge.

Further, integrating and aligning technology components with changing business needs and processes is becoming an increasingly complex task. Moreover, small and medium enterprises operating in the industry face a major challenge in adopting ICT solutions as they lack human technological resources needed for ICT implementation. Without internal technological capabilities, the utilisation of ICT applications may be difficult and sometimes dangerous in terms of system maintenance and failures.

The way ahead

Despite challenges, the Indian IT, ITeS and BPM industry is poised to scale new heights in the coming years. According to NASSCOMM, the total revenue of the Indian IT, ITeS and BPM industry is expected to reach $350 billion by 2025. The BPM industry is likely to account for $50 billion-$55 billion of the total revenue. This growth will be driven by changing customer demands that will propel players in the industry to develop relevant competencies around technologies such as AI, big data, cloud, robotics and automation. As the industry serves both onshore and offshore clients, keeping abreast of the latest technological developments will help it maintain a competitive edge and capture a larger share in the global market.