After completing masters from Kansas University, he worked in the US for 3 years at Alpha Soft Services. During this tenure, he gained access to various service segments in the US including healthcare, insurance and finance. His experience also helped him identify the non-core business segments there and plan to outsource the same to BTPI. He has the task at BTPI to help business segments concentrate on their core strengths and to bridge the link that correlates clients’ expectations v/s BTPI deliverables.
Way back in 2002 Tushar started BTP InfoServe Pvt. Ltd. (BTPI) in Belgaum, which specializes in American medical insurance claims processing.
Tushar did his schooling from St.Paul’s High school, then GSS college and then GIT.
AAB spoke to Tushar on the current trends in the industry:
How would you describe the BTPi journey as an experience?
Tushar Patil ——> This is our 9th year we started out with 1 person and today we have a dedicated workforce of 80 associates. It has been a wonderful journey so far filled with hardships and dedication. We have amazing people working for us since inception. Since our operations are small but highly targeted and regimented, there is no fear of competition in our niche industry. The primary challenge within an organization is to keep maintaining the excellent performance standards irrespective of any hassles one may have to suffer. Having experienced the bitter realities of uncertain economic conditions, organisations are more vigilant about their compensation policies and the same holds good for us too. With the economic environment changing in the blink of an eye, compensation policies need to be reframed regularly.
Has anything drastically changed since 2009 we first interviewed you with respect to this sector?
Tushar Patil ——> Yes, The IT industry itself has faced a few challenges; part of it was policy based ones (quote the tax benefit withdrawal of STPI etc). The other challenge is to sustain the attrition rate in Belgaum. To understand this phenomenon, we need to look at Industries as a whole and not just the IT industry. Primarily IT industry is dependent on large pool of manpower, skill based and non skill based. The today’s generation sees Bangalore and Pune as the only hubs as and when they graduate. There aren’t much choices in the field a person specializes for ex: A Graduate coming out of a college (any pool science or arts or commerce) will first explore his options in Belgaum and the options are limited. How many jobs are available for Engineers in Belgaum, how many industries are on a lookout for graduates every year in Belgaum, if we analyze this we are bound to find that diversity within the options is lacking. How many IT firms in Belgaum hire Software Professionals on long term basis in Belgaum.
The answer to all of the above is limited number of vacancies at any given point of time. The others venture out to PUNE and Bangalore. They in turn lure their colleagues and friends out with referrals etc and owing to the METRO appeal we see this brain-drain situation. This entire cycle needs to be catered to not just IT industry because all are inter-related and thus it is essential for any industrial setup to have diversification within them to cater to this wide variety of resources.
BTP or any XYZ company alone can’t cater to such variety and thus the cluster of industries becomes the need of the hour. Each industry feeds-off from the other. Right now, all industries in Belgaum have become stepping stones for ones going out to Bangalore and Pune. i.e they get experience and work exposure and then head out to METROS.
w.r.t BTPI: Business models have indeed changed for us, and we have got to get better at them. But we need to operate at healthy margins because investment will become very critical because of the emergence of new technologies. I can’t tell whether or not we will grow at 30% on a YOY basis for the next three years, but I can assure that the initial target of having 200 headcount will surely be achieved by 2016 barring any major slump.
Dearth of skilled manpower was the main issue then, is there any improvement in this ?
Tushar Patil ——> As stated above, dearth of skilled manpower is an issue but mostly all of them will be solved if we could make sure enough options available for the talent pool coming out of colleges each year in Belgaum and nearby towns. Every year there is campus recruitment done by INFOSYS and other firms but not everyone gets placed. The question is how many of them left behind are absorbed by the local companies?
The slowing economy and sliding rupee has this put any impact on your work?
Tushar Patil ——> It does add a bit of pressure on margins but not much in terms of great impact on our deliverables or overall productivity. Because though weakness in rupee might be a boon in one hand (i.e dollar conversion rates get better) the other side of this is inflation at alarming levels and retention becomes an issue too. So in all it’s neither a blessing nor a curse.
How do you see the healthcare segment growing? And are there been any new addons to this segment lately?
Tushar Patil ——> The healthcare as always has remained mostly recession proof. However, the major challenge in this profession is to constantly evolve to understand, embrace and implement new ideas, development and technical adaptability at various levels (from executive level to managerial level) becomes very important. The add-ons and other aspects are all by-products of this. Yes there are enough add-ons we are looking into but they do require some more time before finalizing. (Ex: We are in a process of marketing our product which will help our clients in maintaining and managing their daily trip logs, standing orders etc).
There are enough verticals one can think of “catering to” in this segment. Since most of them are in process, it would be too early to shed more light on them as of now.
Has the health care vertical been fully immune to the slowdown?
Tushar Patil ——> Both yes and no, in the sense its immune from practical slowdown but at the same time there are other aspects of this industry which feed-off from other industries and that bit gets effected (ex. Rupee sliding impact on our economy). But to a large extent it has remained immune and recession proof. However, such external factors do force us to see at various other measures like cost-cutting, relieving people with less skill whereas in an ideal world we would like to keep them on board.
BPO in Belgaum? Your experiences
Tushar Patil ——> BPO in general has slowly started to come-of-age in Belgaum. The improvement on a 10 year scale might show you good growth but over the past few years its been more of survival than thriving with the current infrastructural and other inadequacies (Ex air connectivity, internet spread over limited area etc). I reiterate no city has grown on IT alone (Bangalore included), it’s a combination of overall development in infrastructure and other industries which will help IT industry. Ex. Mangalore wasn’t an IT hub before but from 2000 to 2011 the IT growth in Mangalore is more compared to any other city in Karnataka barring Mysore.
Ex: I do get enquiries from people who have left belgaum to Bangalore but want to return to belgaum and find it difficult because of the constraints second tier cities bring (i.e exact job not available, salary, perks etc etc).
Your thoughts on the human resource talent in and around Belgaum?
Tushar Patil ——> There is a lot of potential but with gaps in skill ecosystem. Ex. Not all graduates coming out of an engineering college are industry-ready. Few may be market ready but lacking in business skills and analytical skills etc. The problem with this is the cost involved for delivery of skills is increasing and there are not enough budgetary resources to sustain this delivery once they get recruited in any firm.
Generally, though we see lots of improvement compared to 2009 when we last spoke about it, so something might have been working right.
What do you think of the IT Park planned near Desur and also one more by KEONICS in Hindalga?
Tushar Patil ——> I welcome such initiatives. But also would like to add that my personal experience is that there is a lot of IT initiatives taken at times but generally speaking decision cycles are long in India and Specifically in North Karnataka it’s the longest. However, let us just hope that many such initiatives would at least provide the alternative employment sources to youth in belgaum and thereby yield to a better resource of manpower which can be tapped upon by various industries. One also needs to wonder why a company like Infosys puts up a branch in Mangalore but not in Belgaum or any other city in North Karnataka. Obviously they do hire enough people from North Karnataka region via campus interviews then why not set up an office in Hubli or Belgaum to cater and tap the potential, isn’t it a food for thought? At the same time lets not get too pessimistic about this. We have come a long way from the days when we used to struggle to have one good ISP provider way back in 2002. So, let us see this IT PARK initiative as a silver lining and believe that we have almost reached the end of the tunnel and its time for seeing daylight.
How do you foresee Belgaum’s future for the IT and BPO?
Tushar Patil ——> As stated earlier a well planned initiative is a must something like a SEZ (special economic zone) would be a pathbreaker. Venture capitalists will find it attractive option then, once we see improvement in this regard, we can rest assure that ITES and all other related service industry will comeback to the fore.
I must admit that AAB’s initiative, is a very vital contribution in spreading awareness about the current IT state in these parts. With Patience, commitment and the drive to deliver we can achieve what we set to achieve initially.