BPM in a very secure, stable and promising growth phase: WNS CEO

6 December 2017 10:28 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


WNS Holdings Limited (NYSE: WNS) is a leading global business process management (BPM) company. WNS offers business value to 200+ global clients by combining operational excellence with deep domain expertise in key industry verticals, including banking and financial services, consulting and professional services, healthcare, insurance, manufacturing, media and entertainment, retail and consumer packaged goods, telecommunications and diversified businesses, shipping and logistics, travel and leisure and utilities and energy. WNS delivers an entire spectrum of business process management services such as customer care, finance and accounting, human resource solutions, research and analytics, technology solutions and industry-specific back-office and front-office processes. WNS has delivery centres worldwide, including China, Costa Rica, India, the Philippines, Poland, Romania, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Turkey, the UK and US. WNS Group CEO Keshav Murugesh, who is known as the ‘turnaround guys’, has been instrumental in the company’s journey in becoming one of the leading BPM 
firms globally.  

Following is an exclusive email interview Mirror Business had with Murugesh, who is also Executive Council Member of the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM).
Can you give us an introduction to WNS?

After being established as a captive centre for British Airways in 1996 and rapid growth in the initial years, the company went into stagnation in between 2008 and 2010. As the company’s investors looked for a buyer, both employee morale and clients’ confidence took a hit. I was pursued by Warburg Pincus, which had a stake in WNS, to take over as CEO. I was reluctant at first but eventually joined in 2010 as the challenge to resurrect a once-upon-a-time top-rung player gave me a chance to test myself again, having helped Syntel Inc. and ITC, an Indian conglomerate to turn around in the past. 

With an employee strength of over 35,000 employees in 52 offices across13 countries, WNS services 300+ global clients across travel, insurance, banking and financial services, manufacturing, retail and consumer packaged goods. WNS offers a wide spectrum of BPM services such as finance and accounting, customer care, technology solutions, research and analytics and industry-specific back-office and front-office processes. WNS has built over 50 proprietary technology solutions, platforms and tools that it offers its clients cost-efficiency, assured outcome and scalability.

We acquired three companies last year: Health Help, Denali and Value Edge of which two in the US, to fortify our capabilities across pharmaceutical, sourcing and healthcare management.  

On the financial front, the company’s net revenues have grown from US $ 369.4 million in FY2011 to US $ 578.4 million in FY2017, that’s a 56 percent growth in six years. The share price has gone up from US $ 10.73 in 2010 to over US $ 40 today. The organisation has achieved more than fivefold spike in market cap, from US $ 400 million to US $ 2 billion+. 

Our profitability is growing faster than revenues. It would not be wrong to say that the company is on a roll. You see, how I see it is that the story of WNS is not just one of being a consistent outlier in terms of growth numbers but also of spectacular comeback and sustained business performance. 
How big is WNS in the BPM sphere and what’s its USP?

Around 2009, the BPM market was moving beyond staple outsourcing solutions around finance and accounting or payroll services. Global organisations were looking for strategic support in services that were the core of their industry. It meant that the BPM partners had to enhance their capabilities and build more industry and domain expertise. We, at WNS, recognized that dynamic business environment and changed our operating model. 

So, a very unique aspect of WNS is the introduction of the verticalized approach in 2010, a pioneering move at that time. I restructured WNS into end-to-end verticals and each vertical was placed under one head to operate as a strategic business unit. This new approach revolutionized not only WNS but the BPM sector.

To be a true vertical player, we started acquiring and nurturing talent in those industry verticals. Today, WNS has earned the distinction of not only employing highly talented people but also creating industry-relevant talent through its in-house training programmes.

WNS’ presence in Sri Lanka-- a little bit of history-- and how Sri Lanka contributes to its global business? 

WNS started its journey in Sri Lanka in 2004 with 35 employees. Today, we have 700+ employees operating from two offices in Colombo. Through our Sri Lanka centres, we provide high-end finance and accounting and legal outsourcing services to some of our top global clients. As part of the workforce here, we have top-of-the-range, globally-recognized certified finance, IT and legal professionals. The customer feedback on domain expertise, capability quotient and service delivery has been very encouraging here. The growth has been robust and 2018 augurs well for business growth in this region. 

What is the next big wave as WNS sees it in the global BPM space?
There is a huge potential for growth in the coming decade or so. The BPM industry is in the third phase of growth: BPM 3.0 – transformation through innovation. Earlier, the BPM industry was viewed as being merely cost reducers, the industry has transitioned to offer better products, designs and platforms to help clients. It’s very encouraging and heartening to see that we are actually advising their clients on improving processes, helping them to take key decisions to survive and grow in a competitive landscape. We are changing the DNA of the industry, from taking orders to becoming partners of choice. 

As Chairman of the NASSCOM’s (India’s leading IT/ITeS industry body) BPM Council for two terms in a row, I spearheaded rebranding of the BPM industry from business process outsourcing (BPO) to business process management (BPM). The earlier selling point of ‘your mess for less’ essentially taking on low-end commoditized tasks of international clientele 
is passé.  

We worked very closely with the industry, educational institutes and other stakeholders to successfully change the perception of BPM as a career of choice. The growth of the BPM sector in India implies that clients recognize the value we bring to the table – it’s a unique amalgamated approach of high-end consultation, domain expertise, analytics and delivery models to fuel the strategic growth of customer organisation. 

Centres of excellence for analytics, data science have been created. Specialization and skilling of workforce has allowed us to partner with our clients.  

Overall, with the evolving business environment globally, BPM seems to be in a very secure, stable and in a very promising 
growth phase. 

AI, IoT and robotics--what’s WNS’ views on these developments and how much will be leveraged to serve its customers going forward? 
Automation, robotics, cloud and digital technologies are deeply impacting the way we do business, the talent we need and the services we deliver. Digital disruption in fact helps markets and business to grow and one should look at digital and automation as new opportunities. For those who don’t adapt early and lead the market, it will be a threat. For others, it is an exciting new canvas to paint on. 

The role of robotic process automation (RPA) in the BPM sector continues to be limited to certain areas. We are using RPA in roles that are mundane, repetitive and low-skilled. These highly manual-intensive processes do not require human intelligence or judgement but only rule-based processing. Since these jobs are to be repeated over and over again, such as data entry, there is a high possibility of errors when a human being does it. RPA offers great results in such scenarios, leading to a higher turnout and customer satisfaction due to zero errors. 

Hence, jobs are moving towards judgement-based roles, where the skills required are of a different level. The skills of the future will be around domain specialization, data analytics, data visualization and business skills such as selling, negotiation, communication and 
critical thinking.

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