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New video conferencing tool from Google

Google has launched a new video conferencing tool that aims to compete against Polycom and Cisco. For organisations that rely on global teams and workforces in remote locations, there may be significant interest in the new service. For BPO staff training and client meetings it could be a huge benefit.

The system is able to connect people in up to 15 different locations. And is designed to be much cheaper than comparable services currently on the market. For the first year the service costs about $US 1,000 and for following years $US 280 per annum, for those who require ongoing support.

Cromebox for Meetings went on Sale on the 10th February in the US. Over the next few weeks, the new service will be available in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the UK, Japan, France and Spain.

Chromebox For Meetings is being sold by Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Asus, all of which already sell an assortment of gear to corporate customers and government agencies.

The video-conferencing kit relies on several existing Google products: the Chrome operating system based on the eponymous web browser; the technology running Google’s free Hangouts video chat system; and a suite of applications the company has been selling to businesses for several years.

Ease of setup is one of Google’s main selling points, and it should be particularly easy for companies already using Google Apps for mail and calendaring. Google said the system eliminates “complex dial-in codes, passcodes, or leader PINs,” with the exception of participants who join using UberConference.

Laptop screens can be shared wirelessly, and “integration with Google Apps makes it easy to invite others and add rooms to video meetings, directly from Google Calendar,” the company said. Businesses will be able to set up and manage conference rooms from a Web-based console.

Posted in E-Collaboration, TechnologyComments (0)

Westpac to accelerate Asian expansion

Westpac Banking Corporation expects Asian revenues to grow at a similar pace to last year’s 33 per cent gain and plans to add 100 employees in the region annually over the next three years.

The lender will have more than 400 people in the region by the end of September, said Bala Swaminathan, the head of its Asian business. Westpac wants to increase its share of growing Australia-China trade flows, he added.

Westpac and its competitors are expanding in Asia as lending at home grew by 3.9 per cent in the year to December 31, according to the Reserve Bank of Australia, less than half the average 8.6 per cent growth over the past 10 years. The value of exports and imports between Australia and its largest trading partner, China, climbed 21 per cent to a record A$141.8 billion in 2013 as iron-ore exports surged.

”Australia-China trade is growing quite significantly,” Singapore-based Swaminathan, who joined Westpac in July 2012 from Bank of America Corporation, said. ”We believe we will get more than our share.”

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Posted in Business, GrowthComments (0)

HCL and CSC alliance targets the cloud

Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC). Nasdaq listed IT services firm and HCL Technologies, Indian based IT outsourcer, have formed a strategic alliance to broaden and deepen the level of services they can offer enterprises transitioning to a cloud computer environment.

The alliance aims to build a global delivery network to standardise the delivery and modernisation of applications via a cloud-enabled platform. The first delivery centres will be launched in Bangalore and Chennai.

“We are pleased to partner with CSC. The company’s strong technology portfolio and client base coupled with HCL’s robust system integration capabilities will be a formidable combination in the application modernisation market,” said Anant Gupta, President and Chief Executive Officer of HCL Technologies.

Eric Simonson, managing partner, research at Everest Group, considers this to be a bold move by both companies. Simonson comments, “Very strong move by both companies. It is rare to see such a bold move, particularly by CSC who still has substantial investment in legacy data centres and application delivery. Both companies are making a huge bet on the future of cloud and their ability to compete in that space”.

CSC is leveraging HCL’s offshore delivery capabilities, particularly in terms of infrastructure management services. According to Simonson, “CSC is raising the white flag on traditional, asset-heavy IT infrastructure outsourcing. They can’t sell the business, so this alliance  lowers their costs and raises margins as they look to sunset the business. They end up with less stranded assets as they then focus on their cloud business.”

“Our strategic partnership with HCL is a new and innovative approach to delivering next- generation IT services which enable enterprises to achieve greater operational agility and significant reductions to operating costs,” said Mike Lawrie, CSC’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “It is a recognition that IT service providers and delivery models must evolve from traditional tools and processes to more rapid application innovation, enabling businesses to compete in an ever-changing world.”

Posted in BPaaS, Business, Cloud Computing, Growth, IaaS, Partnership, SaaSComments (0)

Aegis buys Malaysian BPO

Aegis, the business process outsourcing arm of the $39 billion Essar Group, is acquiring Malaysia-based BPO Symphony House Berhad for around Rs 41.3 crore. Symphony, one of Asia’s leading BPO outfits, provides HR/payroll, contact management and financial solutions to over 3,000 firms across the Asia Pacific region.

Sudhir Agarwal, president, global M&A and strategic initiatives at Aegis, confirmed the transaction. “New locations such as, Philippines and Malaysia are offering better cost-benefit ratios than India,” he said.

For the last two years, Aegis has been on the lookout to buy companies in South America and Asia to beef up its offerings and develop its skills portfolio. By acquiring Symphony, it has now increased the number of its total acquisitions to 19. Rising attrition rates, end of tax benefits and the appreciation of the rupee are being cited as reasons for India’s BPO industry looking overseas for growth.

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Posted in Acquisitions, Business, Growth, MergersComments (0)

Clients not getting what they want from outsourcing relationships

There are some serious issues emerging in the way outsourcing relationships are being contracted and how the associated services are delivered, according to Mood’s recent

International’s State of Relations in Outsourcing report.

The study questioned 201 senior managers and directors, highlighting issues such as transparency, understanding the business model and being trustworthy and innovative in the “large gap” between what clients want and expect and what suppliers are delivering.

The research found that on average, clients score their relationships with outsourcers as seven out of 10. This drops to six out of 10 among board members.

Some 60 per cent think outsourcing providers should have the authority to make decisions but only a third are authorised to do so. Just over 60 per cent think that relaxing controls on decision-making would increase commercial benefits.

“There is a real need to rebuild trust so that clients are prepared to empower their partners to make more decisions,” said George Davies, MooD International CEO. “There needs to be a greater transparency at all levels. Addressing the structure of the SLA (Service Level Agreement) so it reflects business outcomes is a necessity.”

Consistent information is important to almost 90 per cent of respondents but suppliers only scored six out of 10 for providing this.

Almost three quarters of those questioned said they evaluate success entirely or mainly on service levels as opposed to business impact. However, half of them also said “business transformation” or “strategic alignment” is the most critical way they use outsourcing partners.

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Posted in Contracts, OutsourcingComments (1)

China’s international service outsourcing surged in 2013

Chinese contractors took 62.34 billion US dollars through international service outsourcing in 2013, up 42.2 percent year on the year, according to the Global Times.

The United States contributed 11.75 billion US dollars, the European Union 7.14 billion, Hong Kong and Japan 5.4 billion and 5.18 billion respectively, in terms of international service outsourcing for the Chinese mainland in 2013, data from the Commercial and Trade Services Department at the Ministry of Commercehas showed

By sector,information technology outsourcing brought in 31.17 billion US dollars, up 36.8 percent; business process 9.72 billion and knowledge process 21.45 billion, up 25.8 percent and 60.8 percent, respectively.

Aggregate contract volume increased 55.8 percent year on year to 95.49 billion US dollars in 2013.

China’s service outsourcing has grown steadily in recent years, and the number of employees in the sector increased by one million to 5.36 million in 2013 with 24,818 companies engaged in the business.

Posted in Business, DestinationsComments (2)

Convergys takes over Steam Global Services

Convergys Group, BPO provider of customer management solutions, has announced its plans to acquire Stream Global Services. The merger would create the second largest contact centre outsourcing provider in the world with combined revenue topping $US 3 billion.

The deal is the largest acquisition undertaken by Convergys where it is offering $US 820 million in cash to the private equity owners of Stream. Convergys shares surged upwards by 20 per cent after the announcement.

Stream, which has 40,000 employees, provides customer relationship management services in 22 countries and 35 languages. Some of Stream’s top clients include, Dell and Microsoft

Convergys will have about 125,000 employees following closure of the deal, expected in the first quarter of 2014. Convergys currently provides services to AT&T Inc., Comcast Corp and DirecTV.

“We believe this combination will strengthen Convergys by diversifying our client base and enabling us to offer a wider range of customer transactions in a more cost effective manner from multiple geographies, at scale,” Convergys’s Chief Executive Andrea Ayers said.”

Katrin Menzigian, VP of Research at Everest, offered the following analysis of the deal, “Convergys acquisition of Stream appears to be driven by the objective of scale enhancement, but some of the other CCO mergers in the past year and a half generating widespread interest had a different set of objectives such as capability enhancement and delivery footprint expansion.”

“While the deal has ensured top line growth, Everest Group believes Convergys will need to target a differentiated client value proposition to ensure bottom line growth”.

Posted in Acquisitions, Business, Growth, MergersComments (0)

Will RPA revolutionise the BPO industry?

By Martin Conboy.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) aims to reduce costs, improve efficiency and productivity by removing repetitive and manually intensive tasks. As a result organisations are able to respond quickly to new markets and regulatory demands.  RPA is expected to have a significant impact on the outsourcing and BPO industries in the next few years as BPO providers and their customer look at further ways to reduce costs and improve profitability.

Frank Casale, founder of The Institute for Robotic Process Automation (IRPA), defines RPA as,” Robotic process automation is the application of advanced software and algorithms to complete routine tasks and operations previously performed by humans. The technology can capture and interpret existing applications for processing transactions, manipulating data, triggering responses and communicating with other digital systems”.

Casale alerts outsourcing buyers and sellers to “brace for impact” as process automation creates the next wave of innovation and dramatically changes business and the global economy. “Robotic process automation will force IT and business executives to completely rethink the way they plan, source and budget for their most critical projects,” says Casale.

Robots have been used extensively in manufacturing to perform tasks that humans have found boring, repetitive and dangerous. Robots can do this with consistent speed and precision. They never call in sick, go on strike or violate company rules.

As a result, robots have allowed organisations in manufacturing and supply chain industries to become more efficient and responsive to customer and market demands.

Millions of people are working in back office functions for the BPO industry, repeating the same processes and procedures daily or being asked to respond quickly with resources and process to support ever changing business demands.

Like their manufacturing counterparts, Software robots operate at a fraction of a cost of a human, and can work 24/7/365 without any breaks. A robotic FTE costs on average a third of what its costs to hire an off-shored FTE. That is why industry analysts such as Datamark and Ovum are predicting how this technology will completely transform BPO.

One firm that’s leading the charge in developing RPA solutions and applications is UK based Blue Prism. Blue Prism defines RPA as process automations involving computer software driving existing enterprise application software in the same way that a user does.

This means organisations can build virtual back offices staffed with robotic FTEs, that can handle millions of back office tasks quicker, cheaper and more efficiently than humans can.

That said machine intelligence will never be able to replace the intelligence, judgement and communication skills of a human. The likely role of humans in these service market workforces of the future will be in high level roles that require complex and subjective decision making. Value added activities that require complex analysis by skilled and highly trained personnel.

Posted in IT Outsourcing, TechnologyComments (11)

Charity call centre in Sydney underpays its workers

Former staff of Contact Centres Australia alleges there is a culture of bullying, intimidation and harassment at the centre and claim they were underpaid, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. Workers at the Surry Hills-based company are under constant surveillance during their shifts, with private conversations between workers recorded.

Alexandra Batorowicz, 20, from Rosebery, worked at Contact Centres Australia for more than a year until last month when, she says, she was marched out of the workplace. Ms Batorowicz says her dismissal followed a conversation she had with a co-worker about a music festival, during which they mentioned illicit substances.

She describes the workplace as ”really intimidating” and says: ”Every word you say when wearing headphones is recorded.”

Other workers have made similar complaints. An industrial officer with the National Union of Workers, Imogen Beynon, says the union has serious concerns about the legal and moral implications of this type of surveillance.

”This isn’t about monitoring work performance,” she says. ”It appears to be the systematic recording of private conversations.” Another former employee, Aniruddah Shinde, says there is a lot of unfair treatment where some workers are given lists of phone numbers to call that make it easier to earn a commission on top of their base pay.

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Posted in Human Resources, LabourComments (0)

Leading finance brokers wary of outsourcing

Many lending and mortgage brokers are dubious about outsourcing their business activity, according to the Adviser. Except for marketing, which they are prepared to outsource, they believe it is important to control all facets of the business to ensure quality in the service they deliver customers.

Managing director and financial and lending adviser at Affirm Financial, Leon Spadavecchia, in a recent interview with the Adviser says, “It is important that brokers maintain control over all facets of their business, marketing could be successfully outsourced”.

“At Affirm Financial, all enquiries, loan processing and post-settlement service are handled in-house, we have doubled our admin team to accommodate a heavy workload, allowing us to maintain control, producing efficiencies in our operation.”

“Delivering superior customer service is paramount and we achieve this by knowing our customers intimately as opposed to outsourcing,” he said.

Neil Christie from Aussie employs the services of a processor to help collate supporting documents for applications.

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Posted in Back Office, Business, OutsourcingComments (2)

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