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BPO players focus on City of Joy

Calcutta, Dec. 3: Top business process outsourcing (BPO) companies are looking at Calcutta to set up shop, the chief executives of some of these outfits attending Infocom 2002 here said.

Leading the pack is Cognizant Technology Solutions, which will kick off its BPO operations by early 2003 and has plans to use its existing infrastructure in Calcutta to cater to its clients.

To begin with, Cognizant — the first multinational software services company in India to cross Rs 1,000-crore-mark — will use its set-up in Pune and Bangalore.

“In the first year, we will have a capacity of 450 seats and will scale it up in the following year. We will come to Calcutta with BPO operations in the second phase,” said R. Bhatnagar, head of BPO operations in Cognizant.

In Calcutta to attend the infotech conference and exhibition organised by Nasscom and the Ananda Bazar group publication Businessworld, he said the focus of the company’s BPO operations would be on banking, finance, financial services, insurance and healthcare. Cognizant will offer both voice and back office services.

“Our foray into BPO is primarily customer-driven. Many of our clients, whom we cater with software services, have wanted us to venture into BPO and initially we will be catering to our existing clients,” Bhatnagar said.

Daksh e-services, e-Funds International, Epicentre Technologies and IGTL Solutions are some of the others which have expressed an interest in the city. There are around 300 BPO companies in the country with total revenues of around $ 1.5 billion and 30 to 35 per cent of their revenues come from call centre operations.

“The southern states were the first to take the initiative in the IT industry and so they have the natural advantage. Calcutta, in my opinion, will catch up with them in two to three years,” said Aparup Sengupta, chief executive of IGTL Solutions.

K. Vijay Rao of Epicentre Technologies said that once some of the call centres start running efficiently in the city, more players are expected to troop in.

“We are on an expansion mode and we would like to scale up from 1,000 employees to 2,000 by the end of next year. Right now, we are not planning any new centres, but we have decided to source manpower from Calcutta,” said Sengupta.

Sanjeev Agarwal of Daksh e-services — named as the second biggest IT-enabled services (ITES) player in the country by Nasscom — also said the company was open to the idea of pitching tent in Calcutta once his company decided to expand.

“Given the cost savings of around 30 to 60 per cent that BPO players of India offer to their clients, we expect the industry to grow and that will bring more players to the city.”

Kiran Karnik, the Nasscom president, said Calcutta has the potential to be a “significant player” in the industry. “Nasscom will work with the state government in highlighting its strength and provide necessary industry support to help Calcutta emerge as a favourable ITES destination.”

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