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WNS: Targeting Domain Superiority Across Personnel & Platforms

NelsonHall has recently attended both the WNS analyst session in New York and Infosys Confluence in San Francisco. It may seem trite to suggest that their chosen locations reflect the differing approaches to the market being taken by the two firms, but there are some parallels.

Sector domain focus

While Infosys is taking a horizontal approach to taking emerging technologies to the next level, WNS regards sector domain expertise as its key differentiator. Accordingly, while Infosys has moved delivery into a separate horizontal delivery organization, WNS continues to organize by vertical across both sales and delivery and looks to offer its employees careers as industry domain experts – it views its personnel as being sector experts and not just experts in a particular horizontal.

The differing philosophies of the two firms are also reflected in their approach to technology. WNS brought in a CTO nine months ago and now has a technology services organization. But where Infosys is building tools that are applicable cross-domain, WNS is building platforms and BPaaS solutions that address specific pain points within targeted sectors.

Location strategy

And while both firms are seeking (like all service providers) to achieve non-linear revenue growth, they have markedly different location strategies. Infosys is placing its bets on technology and largely leaving its delivery footprint unchanged, whereas WNS is increasingly taking its delivery network to tier 2 cities, not just in India but also within North America, Eastern Europe and South Africa, to continue to combine the cost benefits of labor arbitrage with those of technology. This dual approach should assist WNS in providing greater price-competitiveness and protection for its margins in the face of industry-wide pressure from clients for enhanced productivity improvement. Despite the industry-wide focus and investment on automation, the levels of roll-out of automation across the industry have typically been insufficient to outstrip pricing declines to generate non-linear revenue growth, and will remain so in the short-term, so location strategy still has a role to play.

At the same time, WNS is fighting hard for the best talent within India. For example, the company:

  • Is taking part in a marketing campaign in India to persuade leading graduates (and their families), who may have increasingly been thinking that the BPS industry was not for them, that they can build an exciting career in BPS as domain experts
  • Has announced a 2-year “MBA in Business Analytics” program in India developed in conjunction with NIIT. The program is aimed at mathematically strong graduates with 3-4 years of experience, who spend their first year in training, and their second year working on assignments with WNS. The program is delivering 120 personnel to WNS.

Industry domain credentials & technology strategy

Like a number of its competitors, WNS is increasingly focused on assisting organizations in adopting advanced digital business models that will offer them protection “not just from existing competitors but from competitors that don’t yet exist”.  In particular, WNS is strengthening its positioning both in verticals where it is well established, such as insurance and the travel sector, and also in newer target sectors such as utilities, shipping & logistics, and healthcare, aiming to differentiate both with domain-specific technology and with domain-specific people. The domain focus of its personnel is underpinned not just by its organizational structure but also, for example, by the adoption of domain universities.

Accordingly, WNS is investing in digital frameworks, AI models, and “assisting clients in achieving the art of the possible” but within a strongly domain-centric framework. WNS’ overall technology strategy is strongly focused on domain IP, and combining this domain IP with analytics and RPA. WNS sees analytics as key; it has won a number of recent engagements leading with analytics, and is embedding analytics into its horizontal and vertical solutions as well as offering analytics services on a standalone basis. It currently has ~2,500 FTEs deployed on research and analytics, of whom ~1,600 are engaged on “pure” analytics.

But the overriding theme for WNS within its target domains is a strong focus on domain-specific platforms and BPaaS offerings, specifically platforms that digitalize and alleviate the pain points left behind by the traditional industry solutions, and this approach is being particularly strongly applied by WNS in the travel and insurance sectors.

In the travel sector, WNS offers platforms, often combined with RPA and analytics, in support of:

  • Revenue recovery, through its Verifare fare audit platform
  • Disruption management, through its RePax platform
  • Proration, through its SmartPro platform.

It also offers a RPA-based solution in support of fulfilment, and Qbay in support of workflow management.

In addition, WNS is making bigger bets in the travel sector, investing in larger platform suites in the form of its commercial planning suite, including analytics in support of sales, code shares, revenue management, and loyalty. The emphasis is on reducing revenue leakage for travel companies, and in assisting them in balancing enhanced customer experience with their own profitability.

The degree of impact sought from these platforms is shown by the fact that WNS views its travel sector platforms as having ~$30m revenue potential within three years, though the bulk of this is still expected to come from the established Verifare revenue recovery platform.

WNS’ platforms and BPaaS offerings for the insurance sector include:

  • Claims eAdjudicator, a RPA-based solution based on Fusion for classifying incoming insurance claims into categories such as ‘no touch’, ‘light touch’, ‘high touch requiring attention of senior personnel’, and ‘potentially fraudulent’ by combining information from multiple sources. WNS estimates that this tool can deliver 70% reduction in support FTEs
  • Broker Connect, a mobile app supporting broker self-service.

In addition, WNS offers two approaches to closed block policy servicing:

  • InsurAce, a desktop aggregation tool supporting unified processing across the range of legacy platforms
  • A BPaaS service based on the LIDP Titanium platform, which supports a wide range of life and annuity product types. This offering is also targeted at companies seeking to introduce new products, channels, or territories, and at spin-offs and start-ups.

The BPaaS service is underpinned by WNS’ ability to act as a TPA across all states in the U.S.

WNS’ vertical focus is not limited to traditional industry-specific processes. The company has also developed 10 industry-specific F&A services, with 50%+ industry-specific scope in F&A, with the domain-specific flavor principally concentrated within O2C.

In summary

Both Infosys and WNS are enhancing their technology and people capabilities with the aim of assisting organizations in implementing next generation digital business models. However, while Infosys is taking the horizontal route of developing new tools with cross-domain applicability and encouraging staff development via design thinking, WNS’ approach is strongly vertical centric, developing domain-specific platforms and personnel with strong vertical knowledge and loyalties. So, two different approaches and differing trajectories, but with the same goal and no single winning route.

Comments to this post:

  • Dear Mr. Willmott, I was extremely delighted to read this article. Being one along with the team who has conceptualized and deployed various solutions along with insuACE,eAdjudicator and broker connect,Certainly the focus was to leverage the domain expertise and create a bespoke solution which is not only capable of delivering great benefits but optimize legacy systems and eliminate the current need of deploying platform solutions which have very long implementation cycle.with such tools we can deliver benefits within very short span with minimal investment improve our bottom line...thanks for your wonderful summarization of the work that we continue to deliver.

    May 25, 2016, by Unnati Parekh

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