|Gary Wendt: Pioneering BPO
Gary C. Wendt was Indian Business Process
Outsourcing's (BPO) Vasco da Gama when he was at the helm of GE
Capital Services. Today, as the Chairman and CEO of outsourcing
giants Conseco and Exl Service, he's still betting big on India.
BT caught up with him to find out what the future holds for
India in this opportunity area.
How did you spot this opportunity?
I cannot take credit for starting it. Five
years back, GE's leasing business division came up with the idea
of shifting some of our back office operations from the US down
to India-amidst a lot a scepticism. But the Indians not only did
the job, but they did it better as well.
What were the bottlenecks in coming to India?
The telecom infrastructure presented some problems.
They were not overwhelming. It required a fair amount of capital
to build redundant systems. There still is resistance in moving
jobs to India. That will gradually wear away, as it did in the case
of Indian software companies.
In terms of geographies, what are the options
other than India?
|COPY CAT, ER... DOG
Rexona and Cinthol deos use a girl and
No one is complaining as yet,
but somebody soon will. The recent TV ad for Godrej's Cinthol
International Deodorant shows a girl being chased by bad guys
and bad dogs, and the girl befriending the dogs (thanks to
that Cinthol smell), which then chase the baddies away. That's
strikingly similar to HLL's Rexona International Deodorant
ad, where a girl escapes from a prison and throws sniffer
dogs off course, courtesy her deodorant. Now we won't say
who's copying whom (a global ad, Rexona's was made in 1998).
But can somebody tell us what's with the dogs?
English speaking countries like Jamaica and
Ireland. But they're very small. You run out of talent the minute
you want to expand operations. In India there's plenty of workforce
How do you differentiate yourself in a crowded
Exl stands for excellent service. That's what
we hope to deliver. We have the advantage of having a big client
in Conseco. But at the end of the day if you aren't going to offer
high quality service, clients won't stick with you. If we find the
quality of Indian work force going down, we will quickly move back
to the US.
Do acquisitions make sense in India for
a company like Conseco?
At the moment there really aren't very many
big BPO activities that aren't totally internally focussed. GE and
American Express only focus on their own business. So there's no
question of stealing clients from someone. But it will be a competitive
A Foot In the Door
The promos have already begun
for the XVII World Cup Soccer, but will they score in a battered
|Kickstarting the ad promotions
Pepsi must go the credit for kicking off World Cup Soccer- related
advertising with a global campaign featuring David Beckham and some
Sumo pros. Coke will start later, in the middle of May, and just
a fortnight before the event, but its campaign, says a spokesperson,
''will touch everything from fountain glasses to an online football
game''. It isn't just cola majors, a number of companies are gearing
up to tap the World Cup; estimates put cumulative viewership in
India for 64 matches that made up the last World Cup at 37 billion.
Interestingly, the telecast rights for India are still to be awarded.
Consumer durable companies have latched on
to the opportunity. Hyundai Motors India has just concluded a purchase-led
promotion. LG India is launching a special edition football-shaped
TV; Philips India is going a step further with interactive football
games. ''Most Indian homes don't have a computer, so the interactive
games will be a value-add,'' says Rajeev Karwal, Senior Vice President,
Companies associated with the event globally
will do their bit too. ''Our promotions will centre around bringing
the excitement to our retail stores,'' says Harish Doraiswamy, General
Manager, Adidas India (its parent is a sponsor). Recession, or not,
this just seems to be one marketing opp no one wants to ignore.
One Man's Meat
Consolidation in media buying is worrying media
prizes for guessing who's unhappy with the recent consolidation
in media buying. The media owners, of course. ''At a time when 60
per cent of ad agencies have defaulted on hundreds of crores of
rupees, (consolidated media buyers) are talking of huge volume-led
discounts,'' says Pratap Pawar, President, Indian Newspapers Society
(ins), print media's apex body. The fear among media owners is that
there is a uni-polar power shift towards the consolidated buyer,
what with just three or four entities (including WPP Marketing Communications,
Starcom India, and the soon-to-be launched IPG's Magna Global),
slowly gaining control over the entire planning/buying end of the
Rs 8,500-crore ad market. Is the fear real? ''It is largely psychological,''
quips Gautam Rakshit, President, Advertising Agencies Association
of India (AAAI). Andre Nair, CEO (South Asia) WPP Marketing Communications,
is more diplomatic: ''We will negotiate fairly with media owners,
because it helps us keep media competitive.'' Still, it isn't quite
|CIM's John Stubbs: Voice for marketing
"Business Processes Need To Support Marketing Promises''
A veteran of J. Walter Thompson and
Unilever, John Stubbs now leads the Berkshire (UK)-based The Chartered
Institute of Marketing (CIM) as its Chief Executive. CIM's objective:
create an international ''voice for marketing''. An avid golfer
and part-time fiction writer, Stubbs, 60, spoke to BT's on a recent visit to India. Excerpts:
You have been involved with projects that
demonstrate the contribution of marketing to competitiveness. Your
We started five years ago by sponsoring research
through the London Business School to establish the relationship
between customer focus and business success. From a statistical
base of 5,000 companies, where we wrote to the chief executives
and analysed the responses from around 500 companies, we were able
to establish that the greatest co-relation is between companies
that cared for their customers and also gave highest returns to
What do you consider the most successful
example of corporate branding internationally?
There are two or three elements that can elevate
corporate branding, either the chief executive taking the role of
the chief reputation officer or different elements of the business
helping to move corporate brand up the agenda. I think what British
Petroleum Chairman, Lord John Brown, did as the company's chief
reputation officer was exceptional. He moved BP from being perceived
as a dirty energy company to a dynamic and innovative company, which
is moving to cleaner energy sources.
What are the challenges for marketing as
one (like India) moves from mere consumer goods to a services-led
The problem in trying to migrate from the consumer
goods mindset to services marketing mindset is that processes in
the business do not support what the marketing guys promise in their
ads. Unless the marketing people are seen to be genuine professionals
who can contribute at the strategic level, they are left to do leaflets.
Unless you find the business processes in the company that will
deliver guaranteed outcomes for consumers, and you have ways of
measuring outcome and driving it along, and the marketing people
are involved, it doesn't work. And people think they are doing marketing
by getting the guy who supposedly does the brand. But the brand
is the customers' experience of you and not the name or faces you
stick-on the service.
No Queues Here
Retail's new service providers wait to serve.
At your service, any time
If organised retail
is a Rs 75,000-crore industry, how big could be its outsourcing
opportunities? Pretty big, thinks a recently-spawned clutch of service
providers offering everything from supplychain management to pilferage
control to loyalty management. Take Solutions, a Chennai-based firm,
has set up a nation-wide network of transporters and warehouse owners.
Checkpoint Systems has just launched its pilferage prevention system,
and Venture Infotek has come in with transaction management for
loyalty programmes. The problem: there are few takers. Venture Infotek
has just two clients (Bharat Petroleum and Apna Bazar), and take
Solutions is already looking for customers outside retail. ''We
may look at such companies as we acquire that critical mass to do
away with in-house operations,'' says Arvind Nagarajan, CEO, Arcus,
a home decor retailer. As long as that's a promise, it should be