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Hello, My Name is Bobby; I Live In Bangalore; Would You Like To Upgrade?

By Art van Bodegraven | 08/09/2017 | 8:40 AM

Please enjoy the thoughts and musings of our friend, supporter, and long-time contributor Art van Bodegraven Jr., who passed away on June 18, 2017. Art was a prolific writer and had amassed a collection of unpublished blog posts he had planned to run well into the future. To honor his memory, we will continue to post these remaining blogs as he had intended. If you’ve been a fan of The Art of Art blog, check out our tribute.


CFO magazine has fired the opening shots in the war of 2017 with a blatant promotion for business process outsourcing (BPO) in India.  Their whitepaper's premise?  India has become the world leader in BPO, and has 25 years of building excellence in the field.

With a huge - and well-educated - workforce, strong language skills and attractive government incentives and investment, outsourcing to India is a CFO's dream.  That is, if the CFO has no interest in developing transferable skill bases in the US (and doesn't much care about people getting and keeping decent jobs, unless they are angling for an improved lot in life in, say, Mumbai).

There may be a false premise or two involved in the aregument.  That is, highest body count might not translate to best and most appropriate.  Further, technical skills in English might not indicate a cultural readiness to communicate, or be empathetic - or the initiative to move off-script when needed.  And, these (hopeful) core strengths might not sustain or improve over the next generation, especially as more resources really ought to be devoted to elevating living standards in a land of sacred cattle, free range monkeys, and armies of religious beggars.  But, CFO is ready to squeeze pennies out of operating costs, and decamp for a celebratory 18 holes topped off with a heart-healthy jelly glass of Oban.

Is the Indian shift an effective customer service toolkit?  Is all English the same around the globe?  Do mismatches create false economies and unrealistic expectations?  No; no; and yes.

Sobering up moments . . . The Indian BPO model is 30 years old and more.  It grows, to be sure, but so does a tumor.  The Hero CFO who saves, on paper, truckloads of money while customers fume has a brief half-life.  It may be time to get creative in training and scheduling a flexible US call center workforce to realize the full benefits of cost and communications.  

CFOs, wake up!




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About Art van Bodegraven

Art van Bodegraven

Art van Bodegraven (1939 - 2017) was Managing Principal of the van Bodegraven Associates consultancy and Founding Principal of Discovery Executive Services, which develops and delivers supply chain educational programs. He was formerly Chair of the Supply Chain Group AG, Partner at The Progress Group LLC, Development Executive at CSCMP, Practice Leader with S4 Consulting, and a Managing Director in Coopers & Lybrand's consulting practice. Concentrating in supply chain management and logistics for over 20 years in his 50+ year business career, he has led ground-breaking strategic, operational, and educational projects for leading US and global clients. Art was principal co-author of DC Velocity's Basic Training monthly column for a decade, and was the principal co-author, with Ken Ackerman, of Fundamentals of Supply Chain Management, the definitive primer in the field. His popular blog, The Art of Art, has been a staple of DC Velocity's web site since its inception.


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