I-Flex for BPO

After products and services, i-flex Solutions, is now drawing up plans for a big BPO play. The software major has incorporated a new firm, i-flex Processing Services (IPSL) that will serve as the umbrella for all its BPO service offerings. Currently, BPO accounts for less 5% of its revenues while its products and services contribute about equally to the total revenue.

Unlike its peers, i-flex has not been very aggressive in the BPO space. After its acquisition of Equiox, in the mortgage services segment in 2004, it has not expanded its range of services to include other offerings.

Equinox has products such as Smart Acquisition and Stop Leakage is positioned as a KPO rather than a BPO. It is likely to be maintained as a separate entity and IPSL will serve as the holding company for it. The Company’s CEO said that as of now there are no plans to merge Equinox with IPSL. IPSL will serve as the holding company for any other acquisitions that i-flex may in niche BPO areas. It will continue to be headed by the current CEO although there will be people working across both organizations.

It shouldn’t be surprising that the global need to service knowledge based functions is marching with well deserved confidence to India not only because of the cost differential but also because India has a huge bank of highly capable doctors, lawyers .professors .researchers, analysts, engineering, pharmacy and Bio-tech graduates among others. These services provided by all these professionals will soon be valued across the globe if they happen to work for a KPO specializing in their subject matter of expertise.

Much has already been written about KPO overtaking Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) with respect to potential and pace of growth. But apart from all the numbers predicting the extent of growth exploring why India is on the global wish list, one obvious reason would be that many Indians abroad have been successful in these professions, thus marketing a brand for the workforce in India.

Apart from exploring inorganic growth opportunities and holding stake in niche KPO firms, IPSL will grow organically by bundling its services along with Flexcube and offering standalone KPO services. It will use the existing I-Flex facilities to expand its footprint in cities such as Pune and Bangalore, in addition to Gurgaon where Equinox has operations.

However, unlike broad based BPO services offered by players such as Infosys and Wipro, IPSL will stay focused on the BFSL vertical. BFSL is a very large vertical and as of now they have tapped only mortgage services. Within banking itself, we can focus on a number of areas such as capital markets, retail and wholesale banking and credit cards and there are a number of areas in insurance.