The opportunity in India’s rural sector is no surprise irrespective of the market segment. The rural sector for a large part remains an untapped territory though the CPG / FMCG and the mobile revolution in rural is happening at a fast pace.
However, the rural sector presents a significant opportunity for the IT and BPO companies in India. There is no dearth of manpower which can be trained and top it all, the labor and infrastructure costs are next to nothing.
So, at times when IT companies are under severe margin pressures something had to give. Turns out, Wipro has already thrown its hat in the emerging rural BPO sector.
Wipro BPO today inaugurated its first rural center at Manjakkudi village in Tamil Nadu. The center has a capacity of 120 seats and Wipro plans to expand it to 500 seats by 2013
The interesting thing is that the talent pool development has been a result of Wipro’s tie-up with Swami Dayananda Educational Trust, a public charitable trust. I am assuming that the trust is working towards providing basic necessary education to the local resources an Wipro would provide the relevant training.
It’s good to see corporates like Wipro associating with grassroots organizations especially related to academia. Companies like TCS have also extended their partnership strategy in the recent past to technology startups, universities etc. and if rural BPO model clicks, we are talking rural empowerment.
The Manjakkui region is located strategically with its proximity to around 46 colleges giving Wipro a possible talent pool of 13,000 graduates. Now, that’s a job creation opportunity at a scale in the future if Wipro gets the execution right.
Wipro has obviously invested in equipping the center with top-notch IT infrastructure and getting other physical amenities in place. Connectivity could be a potential challenge but I am guessing there would be contingencies planned.
Given a wide range of services offered by BPOs including specialized high-end analytics services as well as low-end data processing services, it makes it worth a risk for Wipro to try with managing the data processing initiatives from Wipro as highlighted by the senior VP & Global head of Wipro BPO,
What we see happening is that the established, urban, BPO centers are taking on more specialized, knowledge-based services. This means that the natural opportunity for rural BPO centers, like Manjakkudi, is to take on the bulk data processing jobs. Rural BPOs are also allowing educated people in villages earn a good livelihood without leaving the region and bringing a new level of financial stability to these communities and individuals. This initiative is a part of Wipro’s long term strategy to expand its Rural BPO presence to other parts of India
What is also interesting is the client Wipro is running the rural BPO pilot for an international retail client. It would have taken some convincing on Wipro’s part to get the client nod. What is also noteworthy is that companies are not scared of experimenting with new models and strategies especially in the BPO sector where India’s value proposition has come under the scanner.
On a personal note, I would like to see the rural BPO model work well for Wipro as it could potentially pave the way for others to replicate the same. I sure will be watching how the rural BPO model unfolds for Wipro and if other players will follow suit.
What are your thoughts on Wipro’s launch of a rural BPO center? Do you think it will be beneficial for Wipro and more importantly, will it foster rural empowerment?