Tier-II and tier-III towns have a reason to rejoice, reports Samreen Ahmad.
With the government simplifying guidelines for business process outsourcing and IT-enabled services players to facilitate 'work from home' and 'work from anywhere', industry players and experts say the move will create jobs in tier-II and tier-III towns.
The decision will provide an impetus to focus on innovative products and solutions and improve BPM (business process management) delivery, they say.
Unlike the IT-services industries, the transition into WFH was not smooth for the ITeS sector.
The sector has been demanding relaxation in 'other service provider' guidelines, which are issued by the department of telecommunications.
According to K S Viswanathan, vice-president (industry initiatives), Nasscom, the relaxation opens up a channel for companies to access talent available at multiple locations as people don't have to come to cities to work.
"The new regulations are aimed at providing flexibility to adopt a 'work from anywhere' model for the BPM sector," said Rajiv Ahuja, president at Startek, which is a global BPM firm.
"This will enhance our ability to provide business continuity, especially during these uncertain times and also make the industry competitive in global markets," Ahuja added.
"The new relaxation will help us take jobs to tier-2 and -3 towns, provide an impetus to focus on innovative products and solutions and improve BPM delivery," he explained.
During the past few months, the US-headquartered company, which employs around 15,000 people in India and serves local as well as global clients, has hired over 2,000 persons in smaller towns like Chhindhwara, Bhopal (both in Madhya Pradesh), Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh) and Vijaywada (Andhra Pradesh).
Apart from spreading wings to smaller cities and getting access to a huge talent base, the initiatives are expected to give a boost to India as an offshore destination for BPM firms.
People in the know say while companies have started shifting to India from other offshore destinations like the Philippines during the pandemic, service providers from near-shore locations may begin getting work back to India.
"From the point of view of global competitiveness, it makes India an attractive destination," said Ashish Aggarwal, head, public policy, Nasscom.
"In the Covid situation, there is a realignment of global supply chains if companies are looking to optimise their resources. India becomes much more attractive because it also has talent," added Aggarwal.
The new rules do away with registration for other service provider, while the BPO industry engaged in data-related work has been taken out of the ambit of the regulations.
OSPs are entities providing applications services, IT-enabled services or any kind of outsourcing services using telecom resources.
The term refers to BPOs, KPOs (knowledge process outsourcing), ITeS, call centres, etc.
Under the revamped guidelines, requirements such as bank guarantees, static IPs, frequent reporting obligations, publications of network diagrams and penal provisions have been removed, thus making work from home easier.
The move has been welcomed by leading IT-services companies.
Wipro Chairman Rishad Premji called it a forward-looking and progressive step that will make the technology industry more competitive.
Echoing similar views, Infosys Chairman Nandan Nilekani called it a case of dramatic ease of doing business in the digital world.
C Vijayakumar, president and chief executive officer, HCL Technologies, said, "It helps the tech sector immensely, while enhancing sustainability, reducing the carbon footprint and paving the way for a more inclusive workforce.
"This policy will also spur more innovation in our industry, which is in the forefront of digital transformation of the global enterprises."
Feature Presentation: Ashish Narsale/Rediff.com