Points of View

Will EXL Be Your “Plus 1” for Industry Expertise, Analytics, and BPaaS?

May 30, 2016 Barbra McGann

When you’re single, invitations often allow for a “plus one”—so that you can bring along a friend or family member to the event. At the recent EXL Industry Analyst, Advisor and Client event, EXL shared how it is investing and positioning to be the “plus one” for its current and target clients, by bringing “Expertise+” to the table. What we took away from the day with EXL is the focus on industry capability, analytics, and platforms to help clients shape customer experience. Here are a few highlights:


  • Productizing Analytics: With significantly impacted revenue growth from its RPM Direct acquisition, EXL is experimenting with clients on how to leverage its acquired consumer data for industry verticals outside of insurance. Overall, the analytics business is starting to mature for EXL, leading it to move into more IP-led, productized analytics solutions for its key verticals.


  • Show and Tell Robotics: On existing (or potential) work, the EXL approach is to adopt and proactively invest in the use of robotics before clients ask for it—to show what it can do on high volume simple tasks, to start. Client delivery teams are incented to increasingly use robotics, and are now additionally supported by a new alliance with Automation Anywhere.

    EXL did have to spend some time clarifying robotics versus EXLerator: robotics is simply the use of software to do an action, whereas EXLerator uses analytics and technology to improve an outcome and adds new functionality (e.g., fraud detection). For example, in claims processing, instead of people moving data elements around and doing calculations and processing the claim, the robotics takes on the steps that are standard, driving speed and accuracy. With the EXLerator, as the claim comes in for processing by the robotics, it is also evaluated on parameters and if flagged for high probability of fraud, is sent to special investigations unit, and in this way, the point is not to process more claims but, for example, reduce overpayments.


  • Launching Digital Transformation: The EXL approach to “put digital in your hands” is to offer: (1) A consulting / advisory service and assessment to create a roadmap to a “cognitive corporation,” which feels a bit new but credible with some examples of results; and (2) Plug and play “quick starts” – point solutions that are delivered in a BPaaS model. While the market is slow in its shift to BPaaS generally, EXL is looking for the places to give it a start, such as in insurance with closed book processing.


EXL is getting increasingly sophisticated in positioning and delivering its services, but faces some growing pains in figuring out the right way to bring all the pieces together in an operating model and pricing model that is layered with varying degrees of experience and skill, consistent and palatable to clients. It has yet to gain momentum with full use of “Expertise+” as described above, but is making investments in client relationships, people, data, and technology to get there.


EXL also highlighted geographic expansion to continue its move to a global diverse workforce. The service provider now has delivery locations in South Africa, primarily for European support, and in Colombia for bi-lingual and Spanish speaking support, with clients associated with each center.


In general, we see EXL continuing to mature its offerings as it grows out of its mid-size pure play BPO” heritage, and market leaders should take look over their shoulders to see what’s happening there in insurance, financial services, utilities, and healthcare. We expect EXL to continue its own “plus one” strategy of inorganic growth to address gaps and opportunities in industry verticals, customer service technology and/ or geography. Clients appreciate EXL’s approach to a long-term partnership although we heard them struggle a bit to connect all the pieces EXL has with their own day-to-day realities. EXL needs to find one or two clients that want to partner in broader and more innovative way to show how the vision can take shape and drive results.