Should the government be in the business of running a business?
Could privatization of Air India have saved this day? Should the government be running a business? Should it have left the business to people with the necessary skills and expertise? It is argued that privatization, which is a part of disinvestment process, results in better use of resources and efficient allocation. Around the world, many instances of businesses that have thrived after government relinquishing control are common place (there is also the other side that have not taken off well due to various other critical success factors not being met).Nevertheless, increasingly, governments are taking the role of regulators and not producers.
Is it not a similar situation being observed in Telecom industry? From a situation where the Telco’s produced (or managed) everything themselves, they are shifting their focus to building brand equity, customer satisfaction and user experience. Thus, telco’s are deciding how their eco-system needs to shape and work to achieve their goals (regulators), while a partner is delivering the required results (producers). Some of the strategic outsourcing engagements in India (Bharti and IBM for example) are very good examples of a thriving partnership. What was common place for networks is now spreading its tentacles to B/OSS.
Of course, many Telco’s are in a quandary on where to fit in functions like Revenue Assurance & Fraud Management – firstly, does it come under tactical operations or strategic business? One RA business head that I know of in the region has been tasked, by the CFO, with a specific KRA of increasing revenue by “x%” from the existing customer base in the current FY. Many more are likely to follow suit in the coming years (refer to KPMG Global RA survey 2012). The profile of RA/FM is changing – in addition to protecting revenues; they are involved in the areas of enhancement & managing revenues. Hence, the answer to the question above – RA/FM are both tactical (producing the desired results) and strategic (supporting the strategic initiatives of the organization).
Now what would be the right strategy – should I outsource or not? There is no one answer that is right. The only right answer is “what suits you”, depending on the organizational social & cultural makeup, risk appetite and the scale of economic issues. When I meet my customers, we work with multiple options and eventually decide on the best fit. Here are a few possibilities that could be looked at:
- Pilot program (minimal scope, few people, short duration etc) for the risk averse
- Bonus / Gain share to ensure accountability from vendors
- Part outsourcing the tactical part and retaining strategic initiatives (remember one main challenge is to retain resources for career progression reasons. This would be an opportunity to give them the much needed upward movement into a new area)
No matter what the option chosen, it is important that it works for both the partners in meeting the common goals.
And, I hope Air India takes off well again – they have better leg-room and delicious food compared to other airlines in the sector.