Accent on the future

Updated: 2012-07-27 08:42

By Hu Haiyan (China Daily)

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 Accent on the future

Samantha Zhu, vice-president of the BPO practice for Accenture, China. Provided to China Daily

Like many of her peers, Samantha Zhu is also amazed by the remarkable strides that the outsourcing industry has taken in China.

"It is fascinating how the industry has grown and serves customers in diverse regions like Europe, the US, Japan and Australia. China, to me, is like a teenager bubbling with loads of energy," says Zhu, the vice-president of the BPO practice for global consultancy Accenture in China.

Zhu, one of the pioneers in the business process outsourcing field in China, says things were not that easy in 2002 when the whole BPO concept was still seen as something that was "novel" and "innovative".

"Over the years, I would say it has been a fascinating journey. We have been able to help clients from other countries and regions with their business processes much like what New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman described in his book The World is Flat," says Zhu.

"Curiosity prompted me to change my career, from consulting to outsourcing."

Zhu was a member of the core team that helped Accenture set up the BPO center in Shanghai in 2002 to provide outsourcing services for some global companies.

"Developing the outsourcing business in China was a challenging task as there were no set templates that we could follow. The very idea that companies would be willing to outsource part of their businesses to third-party service providers itself was novel to most of us," she says.

Zhu says she herself did not understand the meaning of the word outsourcing when she heard it for the first time. To shape up for the task ahead, Zhu and her Chinese colleagues underwent some training courses and then got on to co-designing the outsourcing processes. "It was a hard and fulfilling period, as we were not only working, but also learning."

Accenture's BPO journey in China more or less represents the story of the industry in China, Zhu says, adding, "starting small, it has grown very fast".

In China, Accenture has posted double-digit growth rates consistently in the BPO market, a trend it expects to sustain in the long run.

"The BPO industry in China is just 10 years old. It has been developing at a rapid pace and could be the growth engine of tomorrow, backed by the abundant talent pool, huge domestic demand and strong government support."

To further capitalize on its gains in China, Accenture is now looking to move onto the next growth phase by expanding into smaller Chinese cities and coming out with products that cater to customers' needs for end-to-end solutions, Zhu says.

"During our studies we found that most of the customers want outsourcing partners who can provide end-to-end services. In other words they want companies who can provide one-stop solutions," Zhu says.

Though China's cost advantage is disappearing gradually, Zhu says Accenture will remain committed to the Chinese market.

(China Daily 07/27/2012 page5)