Aegis Global takes up BPO challenge in Malaysia
By Karamjit Singh July 9, 2014
- Feels it has compelling BPO offering to overcome market reluctance
- Describes Malaysia as ‘unbelievable market’ that is still ‘very competitive’
LEADING global business process outsourcing (BPO) firm, India-based Aegis Global has hit the ground running after recently completing its acquisition of Symphony House Berhad’s BPO business.
It has already increased the headcount of the business, now renamed to Aegis Malaysia Sdn Bhd, by 600 people through new business wins in the three short months since it closed the deal in mid-March 2014.
And it targets to hit a 4,000 headcount within three years. “We would have done pretty well, if we hit that,” says Sudhir Agarwal, president of Global M&A and strategic Initiatives for Aegis Global.
Sudhir knows a thing or two about scaling a company rapidly. Part of the pioneer team that launched Aegis Global in 2005 as the BPO subsidiary of Indian conglomerate Essar Group, he helped Aegis Global grow from a five-man team to its current size of 56,000 people spread across 56 locations in 13 countries.
The acquisition of Symphony’s BPO assets gives Aegis Global an immediate customer base, especially Symphony’s Malaysian telco, banking and finance customers. It also gives the company the flexibility to offer customers another location in Southeast Asia beyond the Phillipines where recent natural disasters and rising industry salaries have eroded customer confidence in the country and Aegis Global’s margins.
The Phillipines however, is still firmly entrenched as the global leader in providing English speaking outsourcing services.
Its Malaysian presence allows Aegis to offer customers a talent pool with a higher level of English proficiency and multilingual capabilities, and Sudhir believes clients will pay for the service.
Describing Malaysia as an “unbelievable market and still very competitive” he credits the Multimedia Development Corporation’s (MDeC) support as a catalyst in developing the outsourcing market in the country.
Aegis Global also sees strong potential in servicing the Malaysian market which is lacking a strong BPO player that can add value to customers. Moving forward, its focus will be on the Business and Financial, Travel and Technology verticals.
“Everytime I meet a C-level executive here, they want to know what’s happening globally,” says Sudhir, adding that while Malaysian C-suites recognise the value of outsourcing, extracting value from it for their own operations is an entirely different matter altogether.
The challenge, according to Sudhir (pic), being that there is no global BPO player in Malaysia.
“There is no one here who can go to them and say, ‘This is how something is run in India, Philippines, Australia, and the United Kingdom. These are the best practises. Let’s implement them in Malaysia and get the domain expertise from those countries to help with your processes.’
“That is the differentiator that is missing here,” he observes.
That is precisely the value proposition that Aegis Global is now offering to Malaysian companies in its pitch to them about the value that can be extracted from partnering with a world-class BPO player.
This is also the pitch that it is offering to its global customer base. Having spent the last three months focusing on upskilling the leadership team, integrating the company, its culture and processes to gel with Aegis Global, the company is now pitching Malaysia against Singapore and the Phillipines.
“We are pitching pretty aggressively to [global] clients and while the process will take time, we can hopefully shorten this.”
And while he thinks the timing is right, locally, he is well aware the process will not happen overnight. Nevertheless Aegis Global will be happy to play its part in educating the Malaysian market on the merits of outsourcing, of finding the right partner and in extracting value.
Sudhir has already picked on the fact that outsourcing is sometimes looked at in a negative manner.
“It seems to be where the company takes processes that it is not supposed to focus on and give it away [to an outsource partner]. But I completely disagree and feel that outsourcing is a critical part of a company’s strategy.
“Furthermore, as the outsourcing partner, I am managing the company’s clients – the only source of revenue generation for any company,” he adds.
In today’s market, the cost savings from outsourcing is a given, he says. What outsourcing partners have to offer is value to their customers, in the form of increasing revenue, reducing churn and introducing new products to customers.
While Malaysian companies have always used the argument that local BPO companies don’t have the scale and skill sets to deliver value to their operations, it will be interesting to see how successful Aegis Global is with its value proposition to the local market.