To start with, nighttime work in the industry was almost 100%. It fell to 75% a few years back and now it is 50%. This has had a positive impact on improving shift utilization.
Wipro BPO has less than 30% of the 16,300 staff report for midnight to morning shift. At the 3,000-people strong Nipuna Services, about 50% staff work day shifts and non-voice work now is about 59% of the total. At the 26,000-people Genpact, night work is 50-55 % of the total (in terms of employees). Genpact are making efforts to look at how they can get more day-time type tasks to India so that they can use all shifts effectively. Night work has come down as there are more non-voice tasks coming to India.
There is no point doing F&A tasks at night barring tasks that might need real-time client interaction. Today 75% of work is between 8:00 pm and 8:00 am, but just 25-30 % work is done during mid night to morning shifts at Wipro BPO.
At KPO and engineering services outsourcing outfits (employing about 150,000 of the 500,000), less than 20% staff works at night. Though for companies like Convergys, which is a pure call centre, work continues to be dominated by night shifts.
Convergys declined to comment on this saying at present they would not like to disclose their shift change plans. EXL Service has 7,900 people and about 75% of the work is done at night. EXL Service UK shift starts at 12 noon and ends at 8:00 pm. For the U.S based clients much of the work is at night because of non-availability of client systems during day times in India.
There could be such bottlenecks but day time work is bound to grow as the industry scales up the transaction processing kind of tasks. Also, some of the routine call centre work (like railway or bank account inquiry) could be taken over by better automated systems. The overall shift utilization has gone up from one night shift to 1.6 and 1.8 (i.e. work has pilled over to day shifts as well) in recent months.
Day times at BPO are busy now. The good news is that both voice and transaction processing work is growing. The latter has helped improve shift utilization.
In several companies many of the new customer wins have been in the transaction processing space. For instance, of the 21 client wins by Wipro BPO in 2006, only five were for voice engagements and the rest for transaction processing. At 1,100 people Keane Business Transformation Services (KBTS) voice work is less than 20% and at present 60% of the staff works at night. KBTS will be changing over soon to be 50:50 for day and night shifts.
Our conclusion is that as the industry matures working till wee hours of morning, living twin identities with foreign accents could well be things of the past.