The ongoing news about projects being cancelled and companies reducing workforce has become the norm. The spotlight on the pandemic has consumed 2020 and infinite challenges has made it clear, that many businesses lack the expertise to embrace new technology and change their work culture.
The world is now embracing technology like never before, but this would mean old companies have to rapidly change their legacy work environment. We will surely have many Asian and eastern European businesses competing in the IT & BPO space. The availability of capital might see many new businesses being formed and they will figure out less capital-intensive approaches to execute mundane Software and BPO tasks.
Traditionally, India always enjoyed being the largest beneficiary for IT & BPO Outsourcing. But, recently Philippines, Malaysia, China and Vietnam have shown that it is possible to take significant market share from India through reduced labour Costs, promote their skilled English speaking population and provide secure public transport, which are the key ingredients to run a 24 X 7 setup. Also, it is ironic to see, larger Indian companies establishing their back office centres in these countries, which shows the tide could flow away from India, if it doesn’t adapt.
So, how CEO’s and Managers plan in the post pandemic world?
Lets start with the basics; Outsourcing is nothing but a service, a relationship between a client and vendor, and the cost trade off that the client makes to adjust working with people located in a different time zone. In principal Outsourcing allows to provide high quality, cost efficient resources in another offshore location, hence clients really don’t care which country their vendors belong to.
Thus it’s not surprising to see clients trying to find ways to bridge time gaps by looking at vendors, closer to their time zones; example US companies outsourcing in Latin America, European companies in Easter Europe and Australia-New Zealand seeking relationships in China, India Philippines and Malaysia.
Adding to the mix this pandemic, companies are beginning to question the very need to offshore, since they can hire locally, with “Work from home” option, by saving significant office costs. You must have seen many job portals having the ‘remote or working home’ option in their search bar for recent positions.
The answer can be clear now; If you are the CEO or Manager of an IT or BPO company, in the current environment, you need to;
Remember your people can’t travel to client locations anytime soon.
The traditional days of flexibly travelling overseas, conducting business meetings, requirement gathering, and relationship building might be over. The pandemic has expedited the use of technology. Travelling is going to be difficult due to country specific regulations and your understanding of building relationships to have a personal rapport needs to adapt.
Change your Sales strategies
Traditional Sales approach allowed you to travel, meet clients, connect with various stakeholders and truly listen to what each stakeholder had to say.
In the new world your stakeholder will work from home or in scattered locations. A sales manager will need new sales strategies, a revised plan to identify leads, an amended approach to bring stakeholders together, connect with prospects, use online tools, hence you better have a toddler’s eyes &brain to learn in the new world.
Do you and your team understand Do’s & Don’ts of online behaviour?
There is simply no denying that our society has become casual, but how we come across online is critical for business. Often we might come across as RUDE and with technology its easy to do many things that are offending without realising. You are guilty if;
you are a minute late for an online meeting. Being there few minutes earlier is a polite way of saying “I care for you”
you or your team doesn’t present yourself on screen: If you are on Voice only without presenting yourself on screen, think again. For the client or partner you are just a replaceable voice with whom they never had a real engagement.
you don’t introduce yourself or your colleagues
you are using untested speakers that echo, causing disruption to others.
you show up unprepared for the meeting
you don’t learn the art to use “Mute”; working from home brings in different challenges as some of our colleagues live in noisy environments that cause interruptions.
Replying or sending an email just before the meeting starts
you check your phone or reply to messages during the meeting
wandering eyes & not giving full attention to others even if you are not speaking
Just think – How do you come across to a client? Clients & Partners prefer to engage with another human being. Company staff that don’t follow online social etiquettes make it socially awkward for themselves and others.
Large companies with onsite branch offices, might deal with the new situation well as they are equipped to sustain onsite management costs. But if you depend on traveling frequently for new business, client relationships and project initiations, then think again. You will surely need good Partners, and Partner programmes to play a key function.
You need a plan!
How you wish to enhance your partner relationship. What you invest? What they invest?
What should the operating model look like?
If you seek exclusivity, What benefits would you be willing to offer that they wouldn’t get elsewhere?
Your long term plan where both can be remunerated & survive?
Work from home culture
How often have you heard the term ‘workplace culture’ floating around in conversations. Well!, now your need to ensure that your staff have to embrace your company culture while working from home, and be productive. As a manager you will need?
Remote working tools & processes to track productivity
modus operandi on how internal teams collaborate
How can we improve employee satisfaction, communicate company values, and create a culture?
Most importantly, do all employees have the infrastructure, support and environment needed to conduct daily operations, noise free web meetings and ongoing remote discussions at home
Your Pricing: Remember, your competitor is just a mouse click away.
“There are two kinds of companies, – those that work to raise prices and those that work to lower them”- Jeff Bezos.
Not all is doom & gloom in the new world. On the brighter side, there are costs to be saved.
More staff working from home leads to reduction in Office & Infrastructure expenses
There would be availability of good technical staff locally, due to recent layoffs offshore
A larger pool of resource availability in the market will bring down salary costs.
Companies will save costs on overseas travel due to recent pandemic regulations.
Google, and in a few clicks one can find endless offshore vendors across Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America. Though costs vary from country to country, its important to have value driven pricing models for customers and not to be the last one to reduce prices.
Be ready for the CHANGE
“Ups and downs in life are important to keep going, because a straight line in a ECG means we are not alive” Ratan Tata.
We need to rethink new business at rapid pace, while transitioning to technologies to accommodate new working environments. 2020 has seen the fastest global transformations in recent times. Your sales manager may receive skill requests that aren’t part of your organisation, clients will expect increased level of service, and greater value at particular price points, just be ready.
Finally, companies who are able to better strike a balance and create better commercial value will eventually create new business relationships.
Indian companies should welcome South Asia, China along with Eastern European countries in the Technology & BPO Outsourcing space. They could bring in efficiency and revised approaches to deal with new world problems. Some Indian businesses may lack the necessary expertise, to transition successfully but many will choose to adapt to a revised work culture, leaving legacy cultural models behind.