Monday, April 16, 2007

Exemplary security measures at EXL contact center

On controversial Nadeem Kashmiri issue (the HSBC call center employee who was responsible for stealing a total of £230,000, or $425,000, from 20 HSBC customers) outsourcing stalwarts like Raman Roy may push his reason by saying that "billions and billions of dollars are lost through fraud globally each year" but that soundbyte alone and other public relations measure taken up by industry bodies in the heartland of US and UK can not really save the ‘brand India image’ from blemishing further. After all, the invisible ‘serviced from India’ tag has always been a favorite punching bag not only for jingoistic politicians but for distressed to survive unions also. No wonder, incidents like these will be puffed up to the max.

Outsourcing companies, however, it seems are in no mood to involve the local police in fiascos like these. They can handle such issues internally without going to the Police. Raghu Raman, CEO, Mahindra Special Services, says

Companies do not see it as an criminal activity, serious enough to file a police complaint. They feel they can resolve the problem internally by suspending the employee and coercing him to ungorge the gains....

The other day, while entering into EXL Service (NASDAQ: EXLS), (at Google, at Yahoo) at one of its Noida offices (I went there for personal reason) I underwent a brisk security frisking at the checkpoint, my camera phone was taken away and I was given a stainless steel numbers- clad token, my bag was searched and researched (my assurance of not carrying any CD or floppy did not hold any water and the security guard actually brought out one innocent Nokia CD Rom from one corner of my bag which I also long forgot the existence of), once inside the office I have been given a printed note by another set of security men, which says what I am carrying and what I am not. I had to get the note duly signed by the person I met at the office and deposit it with the external security person. They ask me to take a golf size ball from a wooden box with a drape. Don’t know what they examined, I got back my little sweet phone thereafter in lieu of the stainless steel roundshpaed token.

Later I got to learn from some sources that (I’m not sure about the authenticity) in the central security room at EXL experienced security men stand in front of 20 computer screens and scrutinize footage from some 120 CCTV cameras. They monitor the behavior of the staff and visitors inside from every angle. With a click of a mouse they can focus cameras on someone who is acting unusually. They can follow him with an unseen lens as they make their way around the open plan office.

What’s more, to safeguard the data of its clientele(EXL serves to Fortune 100 companies) along with camera phone recording equipment, note paper, i-pod are also banned. To stop the information leak the computers inside the office are not attached to any printers, forget the disc drives. To make urgent notes employees will use company sponsored yellow notepads, each branded with a serial number, which they sign in and out at the end of their shift, and which are shredded as soon as they are full.

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