Wipro BPO, the business process outsourcing arm of Wipro Technologies, has opened its first rural centre at Manjakkudi village in Tiruvarur district of Tamil Nadu. It has a population of about 2,500. This location had been selected due to the relatively high level of investment in education in the region.

The centre has a capacity of 120 seats, and will open with a 50-seat pilot project for an international client in the retail sector.

The centre will focus predominately on non-voice data processing. Wipro plans to expand its rural BPO operations to 500 seats by March 2013 in Tamil Nadu and to replicate this BPO model across other states in India, in the near future.

In a telephonic interview, Manish Dugar, Senior Vice-President and Global Head, Wipro BPO, said it was an innovative model of delivery, where employees could stay with the company for a longer period since the work place was closer to their home. Attrition would also be very low compared to the BPO's in urban areas. He claimed that the knowledge and quality of employees were on a par with those in urban areas. However, the company was constantly improving the employee's soft skills to retain quality in delivery.

At present, the Manjakkudi centre had tied up with Swami Dayananda Educational Trust, a public charitable trust engaged in providing quality education to the economically backward sections of rural Tamil Nadu. The focus of the centre would be to capitalise on the talent pool available in the region. Graduate students would be employed in this centre, delivering a range of services to customers.

Mr. Dugar said, “what we see happening is that the established, urban, BPO centres are taking on more specialised and knowledge-based services. This means that the natural opportunity for rural BPO centres, like Manjakkudi, lies in taking on the bulk data processing jobs.”

About the cost benefit for the company, he said setting up a rural centre required heavy expenditure on bandwidth connectivity and infrastructure. The centre would be benefited from a fully equipped IT and physical infrastructure.

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