Ganesh Lakshminarayanan - VP, Dell Global Consumer Services & Support and MD, Dell International Services
Ganesh is responsible for the billion dollar global consumer services business in his role. He also manages the delivery of core warranty services and value-added services across all channels.
Ganesh joined Dell in 1999 and has held increasing responsibilities in various geographies, functions, and segments within Dell. He has been in India for the last five years. He was the Site Leader for the Bangalore operation which is Dells largest contact center outside the US. He ran the 7000 people strong Tech Support operations in India and Manila. He was then promoted as Vice President for Global Process Engineering for Dell contact centers in the Americas, India and Philippines. In this role, he led the global team responsible for the strategy, structure, tools and processes for the 25000 contact center employees spread across 40 different sites. He was then named the MD of Dell International Services in India.
Q. What are your thoughts on current Economic scenario? When do you see recovery happening? A. We are in the midst of one of the worst recessions seen in history. Compared to the past four recessions in the US, this one looks like a perfect storm where all economic indicators i.e. home values, equity values, availability of credit, savings rate, unemployment, and household income growth are going negative. The only good news is that inflation seems to be under check. Overall, its a pretty bleak picture right now. What this means for the economy is that the recovery is going to be slow and returning to growth will take longer than initially anticipated. My expectation is that by late 2009 we may see some light at the end of the tunnel.
Q. What does it mean for the IT/ BPO industry? A. No doubt, these are tough times for the IT/BPO industry. Having said that, every recession is an opportunity as well. Those who exploit the opportunity well will emerge stronger from the recession. If you look at the data from past recessions, only 50% of the IT industry pre-recession survived as leaders post-recession. If we look at what they did differently, there are five themes which differentiated leaders from laggards.
Getting closer to customers and understanding their needs and servicing them much better
Maniacal focus on costs , operational excellence and productivity
Investing in customer facing (sales and service) talent: Most of the value creation happens at the interface of employee and customer interaction. This is the most critical layer and companies must not cut down on investments in this area.
Innovating to deliver value - deliver more with less. Companies need to look at tweaking their business model, doing things in newer ways.
Invest in acquiring new capabilities and customers - if you have a strong balance sheet , now could be the right time to do strategic acquisitions
Marginal players will find it hard to survive this downturn unless they clearly differentiate themselves. We must conserve cash, customers and talent.
Q. What is Dell doing in this environment? A. Historically, DELL has done very well during recessions and emerged much stronger. We continue our focus on key themes outlined above i.e. Customer, Cost, Talent, and Value through Innovation. Let me explain with some specific examples of what Dell International Services our BPO operations in India have taken:
On the organizational front, we took some hard decisions early on and re- organized ourselves to become more lean, removed layers and increased spans.
Focused on increasing asset utilization and reducing support costs. We improved cost efficiencies further by driving operational excellence. As a result, today we have cost advantage even when compared with third party service providers.
Transformed contact centers into revenue generation centers. Provide not only resolution but total solution to the customer.
We continue to invest heavily in our key talent and provide them unmatched career options. Platinum Club is path breaking program that offers our reps growth in call taking roles and drives an increase in tenure.
We have developed end-to-end capabilities and are delivering enhanced value to the business. Our Analytics business, for example, has delivered > 10 X impact on bottom line of the business.
Q. What are the key lessons for Captive and Third Party Vendors? A. As mentioned earlier, executing on key 4-5 dimensions will be critical for both captives and third party vendors in current environment.
In addition, third party vendors need to focus on moving away from transaction to value based contracts. Given some of the unfortunate corporate governance incidents we have seen, they will need to focus more on transparency, compliances, audits etc.
Cost arbitrage is temporary and currency fluctuations can take away the advantages very quickly.
Now is the time to invest in and develop value based business model for the industry. Those who have maniacal focus on cash, cost, and customers will win.