In this series we will take you back the memory lane and try to dig a bit of history of BPO business in India. The earliest BPO business was set up by companies like American Express and British Airways and it was not called BPO or call centre or even ITES these terms were yet to be evolved.
The beginning of the BPO business in India was very slow and sporadic with no structured approach and it was more of a testing water type of approach as the infrastructure available to run the business was not available even in big cities
British airways used to call its India BPO office in those days as “International Telephone Sales Support Group”, phew! They had offices in Delhi and Mumbai. Some of this business were later sold and ended up as WNS. American express had one of its first offices in NCR and this office is normally given credit to be the first structured big name BPO in India. Raman Roy who is considered to be pioneer of BPO in India used to head this before joining Genpact that used to be GECIS in those days and later starting Spectramind and selling it to Wipro for a handsome amount. He continues to be a key figure in the BPO business in India and now has his fourth venture in BPO.
That was the structured part but BPO in small mom and pop shops was developing simultaneously and a lot of it was due to the efforts and enterprise of NRI in US and UK. The typical format was the cousin in US/UK will get some work and send it via email or FTP server to their relatives or friends in India who will hire locally and run a small shop totally dependent on work coming from their family member in US. A lot of these shops closed down over the period due to low quality of work and high attrition rate. These small early BPO, data entry centres proved to be critical in success of the BPO business in India as they played a critical role in
- Proving that the idea works
- Learning about the infrastructure challenges
- Creating awareness about the business and opportunity both in India and US
We will continue to explore the same in coming few posts in this series.
Team Cafe BPO