It was his strong belief in the business of outsourcing that kept prompting Terry Leger, Managing Director and CEO, Azimuth Software, to promote a BPO unit at Pondicherry. He knew that to scale up a venture, which was based on a concept, then considered nebulous, would demand every ounce of preseverance. When he started his first BPO offering, medical transcription, he worked hard to put each ingredient of the infrastructure in place: connectivity to computing power. The first one and a half year (since 2000), he kept investing only in building the foundation. Such a concerted effort was unusual in the medical transcription industry considering that a majority of medical transcription operations had a life span of less than a year. In this exclusive interview with G. Sankaranarayanan, Leger shares his vision for Azimuth Software. Excerpts:
Can you give a background about Azimuth ?
We develop and offer innovative ITeS and BPO solutions pertaining to information processing such as: voice processing for medical and legal transcriptions, new account processing, direct marketing, survey processing, payroll/timesheet processing, medical/health forms processing, insurance claims processing, data storage, data warehousing and retrieval of electronic data and images, air bills, tracking information, engineering drawings, indexing and G.I.S.
Most BPO units have a vertical or horizontal focus on a particular domain. However, you seem to be in various niches simultaneously.
Our plan was to start in medical transcriptions as a base to develop our BPO infrastructure. We intend to develop activities in all the segments adjacent to our current activities, step by step following our plan.
For example, the logical next step from medical transcription is billing and coding. Claim processing is also very close. The expertise we have developed in the medical field is directly applicable to the adjacent niches. When we have the technology for medical claim processing we basically have the technology for form processing, accounting and others.
So we are evolving both vertically, following a specific vertical market, and horizontally following the horizontal technology. Now medical transcription has become a broad platform for us to gradually branch out into other related BPO operations such as form processing, claims processing, billing, etc. Ultimately our positioning is that we are a reliable BPO company offering quality services at low cost.
Azimuth is now working on e-learning content for medical transcriptionists. It has also earned distribution of the US e-learning platform Akuter in India, and has started looking for partners/distributors in India, to distribute the innovative learning platform.
Several business models built around medical transcription failed in India. What has been your experience?
It is true that a lot of medical transcription units have failed in India in the recent years. In the US, this industry is a well established one with an estimated turnover of over $ 9 billion. There are more than 3,00,000 medical transcriptionists working. However, when people started setting up transcription units in India in the early 2000, there was a gold rush. People without adequate background and experience in the industry started investing with the expectation of making quick money. Quality is the key offering of a medical transcription service. Most Indian units were delivering an accuracy of just 70 percent or lower, which was unacceptable. Customers expect at least 98.5 percent of processing accuracy. The reason for the failure of transcriptions units could be attributed to lack of experience and low delivery quality. However, the industry itself is a very stable one. It is growing stronger than ever. Right now, in India the size of the industry is just a few million dollars, a fractions of the size of the US industry. Now there are around 10,000 medical transcriptionists working in India. Nasscom (National Association of Software and Services Companies) was predicting that in 2008 the need for medical transcriptionists and claim processing will be 1,60,000 people in India.
Where do you see your company five years from now in terms of market size and revenue?
Currently, 80 percent of our turnover comes from medical transcription business and the rest from other BPO operations. Now that we have the necessary infrastructure and managerial bandwidth, our aim is to increase the non-medical transcription operations more.
We are forecasting a strong growth, almost doubling every year, like we did during the last three years, our revenue in five years should be over Rs 80 crore.
Aricle Source: Express Computer