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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Is the call-center boom in India starting to bust?

An interesting article in the new edition of Time magazine, "India's Call-Center Jobs Go Begging", examines the Indian call-center boom perhaps going bust. It seems nowadays that booms and busts occur within decreasing amounts of time between each other.

From the article:

"Young people say it is no longer worthwhile going through sleepless nights serving customers halfway around the world. They have better job opportunities in other fields. The work is tiring and stressful and offers few career advancement opportunities [...] The complaints come at a time when the Indian information technology sector, which includes companies that run call centers and do other outsourced work like medical transcription and claims processing, is facing a dearth of skilled labor. [...] India faces a potential shortage of 500,000 professional employees in the information technology sector by 2010, according to the National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM), a trade group. [...] The industry is also facing "intense competition" for workers from the retail and airline and hospitality sectors, where wages are now closer to what call centers pay, said Kiran Karnik, president of NASSCOM."
[Emphasis mine]

Apparently some Indian colleges have even banned call centers from recruiting at their campuses. This seems a startling turnaround in recent trends (at least based on the various media reports from the last couple of years).

Perhaps this article is premature, or again perhaps the Indian BPO industry will learn it's first tough lesson about innovating and constant strategic vigilance in the business services sector. Maybe it's not enough to just compete on cost and service quality. And maybe we always knew that anyway. Maybe BPO service providers need to start taking better care of their employees (their internal clients, if you will), develop better human resource policies, and create value for their clients in other ways. It remains to be seen how things pan out and if Indian business leaders can lead instead of follow global trends.

Like the article concludes, maybe the call center phenomena will move on to other countries. The interesting question is, should other countries rush to pick up on the opportunity. Should Bangladesh, IF it were capable of meeting the challenge, try and carve out a piece of any future BPO pie like some have suggested in the local media and even on this blog?

Full article is available here on the Time magazine website.

It happens to be the most popular (most viewed) article on the Time site right now.


1 comment:

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