March 2009: ValueNotes conducted an executive briefing session, at Regus Business Center, Friday, March 6th, 2009 to present findings of their recently released report ‘Market Research Outsourcing – Buyer Survey’. The session was attended by senior executives from Ugam Solutions, Dexterity, Exevo, Annik Technology, Cross-Tab, TCS BPO, WNSGS, Integreon, IDC, and Datamatics, among others.
The event started off with a presentation by ValueNotes on the key findings and future outlook of the MRO industry. It was followed by panel discussions on the future of market research offshoring business and funding opportunities in MRO services.
While cost arbitrage has been a primary driver for offshoring, the survey brings to light that research agencies rate other factors like faster turnaround time, better quality of work as equally important. Interestingly, quality of work and client confidentiality issues emerged as key concerns towards offshoring.
While offshoring drivers and concerns remain similar across key markets like US and Europe, these markets differ significantly in their choice of offshoring destinations.
The MRO service provider landscape ranges from the captives of large research agencies to Pure-play MROs, full service research firms, KPOs and large and medium BPO service providers. The survey shows a clear inclination by research agencies towards using multiple options in offshoring. The larger research agencies have greater inclination to set up captives or employ specialized MRO service providers. Mid sized agencies prefer to work with full service research agencies while smaller firms are most comfortable with service providers of comparable size.
Today, while the MRO services industry is on a rapid growth path with research agencies and corporates offshoring greater volumes and more complex work, the future growth will be largely driven by niche opportunities in adjacent areas, developing capabilities to serve the relatively smaller research agencies and taking up more services higher up the value chain.
The first panel discussed trends in the MRO industry and its future outlook in current economic environment. Panelists included Sunil Mirani, CEO- Ugam Solutions, Pravin Shekhar, CEO- Dexterity, Alok Tayal, CEO- Exevo and V K Raman, CEO- TCS BPO, discussed strategic options to negotiate the economic downturn.
Commenting on the outlook for MRO services in recession , Sunil Mirani, CEO, Ugam Solutions, opined that marketing budgets have taken a hit and there has been retrenchment of work (volumes), however, with some companies offshoring and some preferring not to offshore, net-net the equation will balance out. Alok Tayal, CEO Exevo highlighted an opportunity due to increase in cost pressures. Panelists agreed that MRO service providers will have to look at additional opportunities and focus on delivering technology driven solutions in near future.
The second panel discussion focused on funding in the knowledge services segment and explored reasons for comparatively lower funding in MRO services segment. Panelists included Rahul Sahgal, President and CEO, Annik Technology, Manish Modi, President, Exevo and Ashwin Mittal, Director, Cross-Tab.
While exploring reasons for lower level of VC funding, especially in MRO services, panelists agreed that high valuations and smaller scale in MRO were factors that weakened its attractiveness for funding. Manish Modi, President Exevo was of the opinion that venture capitalists do not believe that the market for MRO is as large when compared with other BPO segments. He said they typically look at investing much larger amounts (close to a couple of millions dollars), which is huge for MRO service providers. If an investor were to sell his/ her stake it would be an attractive opportunity for a larger MRO company or large BPOs. Rahul Sahgal of Annik opined that BPOs or larger MRO companies themselves will be a logical option to buy a MRO company if an investor looks to sell out its stake. Manish Modi of Exevo, was of the opinion that the ultimate exit to any funding is through an IPO. This was debated by the panel.
On the subject of attracting VC funding, Ashwin Mittal of Cross-Tab emphasized the importance to attract and retain best-of-the-class talent; a measure to demonstrate capabilities. Manish Modi, on the other hand, highlighted the need to identify better opportunities in the near future but something that people are not doing currently.
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The ValueNotes Sourcing Practice is one of the largest information providers on the outsourcing industry. The Practice uses a comprehensive, analytical framework providing fresh insights into the fast emerging and yet, complex outsourcing space. We extensively track the space through regular analysis of news and events, continuous primary research and contact with the industry. Additional information is available at www.sourcingnotes.com