labels: telecommunications and computer network, indian institutes of technology, it news
IIT Madras'' TeNet group promotes rural BPOnews
Venkatachari Jagannathan
16 August 2006
Chennai: My job has been Bangalored! is now passé. The future is my job is Mettupalayamed / Neyvelied / Nellikuppamed or any other Indian village.

The ultimate in business process outsourcing (BPO) is to get the work done at rural areas. The Telecommunications and Computer Networks (TeNet) group of Indian Institute of Technology Madras has started that initiative in three states.

The TeNet group has converted around 20 rural internet kiosks into BPO / ITES centres and generated around Rs80,000 income for the rural people last year. The services offered are: administrative (data entry), engineering (2D to 3D conversion, computer aided design -CAD) and localisation (translation, Tamil typing, desk top publishing and multimedia works).

With encouraging results the group is ramping up its operations fast. "This month we have increased the headcount by 45 to 70," says Saloni Malhotra, project head, Rural Business Process Outsourcing, IIT Madras.

Speaking about the project background she adds, "There are around 15,000 rural internet cafes and five years down the line it is expected to go up to 1 lakh. We conducted a study of visitors to the internet cafes run my group company n-Logue Communications in rural Tamil Nadu. Out of the total 47 per cent of the browsers are students, 12 per cent educated (graduates, plus two pass) but unemployed and 9 per cent housewives. This made us wonder whether these people could become BPO workers."

The project office at IIT Madras will be the front-end of the operations nad the interface point between the BPOs and the world at large. It will procure the orders and pass it on to the Chiraag internet cafes established by n-Logue Communications. Based on the need the café owner would recruit additional hands or involve his own family members to complete the project. "The training needed to execute the work is given by us," Malhotra says.

The group has set up operations in three states and offers services in four Indian languages - English, Tamil, Marathi and Gujarati.

According to her the team is now executing an educational project for Confederation of Indian Industry called CII Shiksha. "For an Indian subsidiary of a foreign engineering company we are executing an engineering drawing and conversion of 2D drawing to 3D drawing. I am not in a position to tell the client name."

Targetting domestic banks, insurers for data entry work and publishers for translation and multimedia projects Malhotra says, "Unlike in city-based BPOs, attrition is not an issue for us as the work is done by housewives or the educated rural youth." What is interesting is the 30-40 per cent cost difference between a service provider in the city and rural areas. Interestingly, the BPO arm of a big software company is helping her to standardise the operations.


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IIT Madras'' TeNet group promotes rural BPO