Vijay Rangineni, CEO, Mahindra Satyam BPO, Part II
To read Part 1 of this interview, click here
SSON: Looking at the aforementioned economic turmoil, do you consider this to be a period of crisis for the outsourcing industry (and the Indian outsourcing industry in particular)? If so what do you see as being the biggest challenges facing outsourcing providers at present and how are you positioning Mahindra Satyam BPO to overcome these?
VR: Let us look at it from the perspective of our primary stakeholders – our customers. What are the challenges they are facing? Once we understand that clearly, we will be able to create symbiotic relationships.
For instance, one of the key customer challenges that we see is the need to balance immediate concerns with the long-term interests of the business. How can outsourcing help customers make this decision? In fact, is there a decision to be made in the first place, or can both objectives be achieved through outsourcing?
Secondly, we realize the importance of agility in the current scenario. Today, we have lesser time to scope the customer’s needs, discuss the deal, transition the process and begin operations. How can we reduce the cycle time?
Thirdly, several customers today are expressing interest in a pay-per-use model. How do we create multiple engagement models for customers?
So, we are seeing that challenges can be converted to opportunities as long as we have a solution-focus, rather than a problem-focus. In fact, we see the recession as a huge opportunity for outsourcing. With increased pressure on eliminating fixed expenses, customers are looking at third-party vendors like us. This pressure – of staying competitive and sustaining the business – might just result in outsourcing being resorted to by more organizations and gaining more acceptance globally.
SSON: Do you foresee more consolidation among providers (Indian and otherwise)?
VR: Yes. Consolidation is the current reality. Whichever form this consolidation takes, organizations will want to combine resources to address the current circumstances better. I see this trend continuing for the next 18 to 24 months.
SSON: Your organization is very India-centric in terms of the location of its delivery centres. Do you have plans to change this and if so where would be the logical next steps for you beyond the subcontinent?
VR: With Tech Mahindra’s strategic investment, one of our biggest strengths is now our global delivery presence. Put together, Tech Mahindra BPO and Mahindra Satyam BPO have 10 centers globally – eight in India and two in Europe (Belfast and UK). In terms of expanding our global presence, we will clearly not do it simply for the sake of doing so. As I mentioned, the key today is to be able to meet diverse customer needs successfully. If that means setting up additional centers closer to the customer’s business or expanding to locations that help us deliver better, we will certainly expand. It is all dependent on what the customer wants.
Also, we must not overlook the vast geographic spread of the parent company’s delivery and technology centers. Through them, we have presence in countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, Egypt, South Africa and others. If the need arises, they can also be looked at for BPO delivery.
SSON: As well as the domestic market we looked at a moment ago, where will Mahindra Satyam BPO be getting its clients from as the world economy moves into the recovery phase? Will traditionally profitable markets like the US and Western Europe still be the foundations of the Indian outsourcing industry or are you looking further afield?
VR: Yes, I think that traditional markets – US and Europe – will certainly continue to be important. However, we will need to strengthen our presence in the MEA and APAC regions. In fact, one of the biggest deals that Tech Mahindra has recently won has been from the Middle East – Etisalat DB Telecom. Such large deals show there is business here to be done. This will necessitate additional manpower and financial investments in these regions, as well as enhancing our knowledge about what challenges business leaders in these areas face. I am confident that as a combined entity, Tech Mahindra and Mahindra Satyam will be one of the strongest players in the consulting, IT and BPO space globally.
SSON: What do you consider to be your organization’s USPs? Why should potential new customers sign with you rather than your competitors?
VR: Our biggest USP today is that we are keener than ever – to prove that we are still the organization to go to when you need a service provider who will go that extra mile for you. That is what outsourcers globally are looking for. Mahindra Satyam has always been known for its delivery excellence and quality focus. The strategic investment from the Mahindra Group has further enhanced our customer centricity and corporate governance.
Also, with Tech Mahindra, we have a much larger portfolio of offerings. The two organizations complement each other and there is hardly any overlap.
Customers globally have seen how Mahindra Satyam has delivered beyond SLAs even under tremendous stress. That is certainly a positive and reassuring message to customers. An interesting recent experience of mine was a meeting with the former Dean of Kellogg, Dipak Jain. He asked me how I had managed to lead the organization in such trying circumstances. He mentioned that the kind of experience I have gained over the last eight months cannot be had even at Kellogg or any other institute. That shows that our stakeholders are looking at Mahindra Satyam as a strong recovery story, and there is great respect for what we have pulled off.
SSON: Outsourcing is such a rapidly-changing business. Other than the global economic fluctuations of recent months what do you see as being the major drivers of change within the industry and how does its reactions to these factors determine the ways in which Mahindra Satyam BPO operates?
VR: Technology is constantly evolving. How businesses globally adopt these technologies and extend resultant benefits to customers vastly determines the extent and type of outsourcing. For instance, communication technologies are booming. Several new customers are being added on each day. Obviously, companies will outsource to meet this additional demand.
Companies are also expanding their global footprint. At the same time, there is greater focus on providing a consistent customer experience with the brand. I see outsourcing playing a major role in enabling this.
Governmental regulations certainly play a major role in determining the extent of the outsourcing industry’s success. But that is an issue that can be addressed by outsourcing organizations and BPOs combining to present a case that outsourcing only creates greater competitiveness…and greater competitiveness only strengthens the economy which, in turn, creates more jobs.
Service providers’ ability to manage more high-end work will only help in proving the case for outsourcing further. India has a vast pool of educated individuals who are extremely competent at high-end work such as analytics, research, engineering, virtual manufacturing and the likes. We only need to build more success stories around these high-end services and penetrate deeper into customer’s businesses.
At the end of the day, the challenge lies in not just coming up with innovative solutions, but also communicating them to customers. It is up to BPOs to prove that we are much more than just ‘call centers’. We are doing much more today, and customers deserve to know the high quality of our work.
SSON: How is Mahindra Satyam BPO tackling the issues raised by the rise of cloud computing? Do you offer cloud-based services?
VR: We are having discussions with our customers on these lines. Through the use of cloud computing, we will be able to: reduce costs; deliver per specific customer requirements; and aggregate all the knowledge that exists across levels in the customer organization. Opportunities significantly exist where infrastructure expenses could be reduced. There are some concerns from a data security perspective, but we are able to assure customers that we can deliver value to them.
SSON: Which industry sectors do you think will provide you with the greatest scope for expansion over the next few years?
VR: I see tremendous scope in telecom, manufacturing, pharma, healthcare (especially with the likely upcoming reforms in the US) and BFSI. In addition, we are looking at some very interesting possibilities in areas such as geospatial services (GIS).
SSON: Let’s close with a couple of personal questions. What do you consider to have been your greatest achievements in your professional career to date?
VR: If I look back at my career and think of the things that have helped me, the first thing that comes to mind is that I did not stick to one specific segment. I started off in the technology side of the business, moved to finance, then operations. At Morgan Stanley, I worked on Fraud and Risk Management. Finally, at GE Money, I was given the responsibility to lead their India Operations as COO – primarily due to the learning I had generated by working in different areas.
To put it in a nutshell, what worked for me was taking on lateral roles, challenging roles, risky roles. Don’t worry about the risks. More risks that you take, the more rewards you get.
SSON: What are your ambitions for Mahindra Satyam BPO over the next year or two?
VR: Firstly, at this stage, we have this tremendous sense of gratification from having the opportunity to be part of an organization that went through its share of troubles, but one on which we worked, as a group, to stabilize and sustain as an ongoing entity.
Going forward, I see the combined entity – Mahindra Satyam BPO along with Tech Mahindra BPO – as one having a strong presence across verticals. Tech Mahindra is already the No.1 player in the telecom space. Mahindra Satyam has several clients across verticals. This puts us in an enviable situation. We will certainly capitalize on this.
Additionally, we will continue to be a people-centric organization. C P Gurnani has often mentioned the need to create a happy workplace. That is such an important objective to have in a young organization like ours.
SSON: What’s your definition of the perfect outsourcing relationship? And the perfect client?
VR: I see a good outsourcing relationship as one where: both – outsourcer and service provider – see long-term value from the relationship; both have an equally strategic view of the relationship (it is important that both parties realize the possibilities of the relationship and how it can transform both organizations); and there is consistent and proactive communication between both parties
Essentially, it’s not really too different from a good personal relationship – one that can mature over time, but still stay as exciting for both parties involved.
SSON: Finally, how would you like to be remembered when you retire?
VR: I’d like to be remembered as someone who loved to come to work and added value at the end of the day. Also, I’d be glad if I’m remembered as someone who was strategic, analytical and worked with teams across the company to deliver value to the company and its customers.
Afterword & about Vinjay Rangineni
With a resolute focus on end-customer delight, Vijay Rangineni, Mahindra Satyam BPO's CEO rallies the entire organization towards the objective of undertaking wing-to-wing ownership of key customer relationships.
Leveraging more than 20 years of global operations and leadership experience in the service industry, Vijay helps Mahindra Satyam BPO create propositions that deliver lasting value to customers.
With an equally strong belief – in Associates as key drivers of customer value – Vijay devotes substantial time on the operation floors, engaging with and motivating Associates to stay focused on deliverables. A firm believer in the language of metrics, Vijay guides teams in the creation of frameworks to evaluate their
performance and undertake consistent process improvement initiatives.
Prior to Mahindra Satyam BPO, Vijay worked with Fortune 100 organizations like American Express, Morgan Stanley and GE, focusing on critical assignments and turnaround stories ranging from Delivery to Technology and
Business Process Reengineering.
At GE Money India, Vijay led multiple customer segments, including credit cards, home loans, private loans and auto loans. At Morgan Stanley, he set the pace by focusing on bringing down fraud rates and effecting operational
changes that would benefit the bottomline. He was also responsible for certain key processes like collection strategies that helped the organization save collection losses. At American Express, Vijay operated from Chicago, gaining experience in Operations, Finance, Marketing, Project Management and Technology. He was part of a pioneering team that propagated offshoring as a strategic imperative to improve quality.
Vijay is an alumnus of Kellogg School of Management and also holds a Master's degree in Industrial Engineering from University of Texas. He has addressed many international industry forums and seminars on Operational Excellence.