Culture and Connectivity as keys to success – Podcast featuring PvG Global
A 60-year young company with a rich history that was founded, formed and created on a belief that there was a better way to administer benefits at a lower cost without sacrificing quality. That is ProView Global or PvG global – an innovative company based out of the Philippines, that leverages deep domain expertise and technology-based solutions to administer outsourced employee benefits for their customers globally.
I sat down with Michael Rivera, the President and Chief Operating Officer of PvG global to discuss a bit about the wonderful Filipino culture, concepts of knowledge process outsourcing, the importance of connectivity in their business model, why the Internet was just not good enough, post pandemic architectural shifts as well as Robotic Process Automation (RPA) as it applies to the outsourcing industry.
Michael was a great conversationalist and someone who understood how to straddle different cultures, global business models and trends, while preserving the core mission of PvG and focusing on a “customer-first” attitude. Very few executives can straddle company decision making and yet have a “roll your sleeves” kind of attitude to get things done. Michael is one of them.
You can listen to the podcast with Michael here –
Here are my takeaways from the conversation –
- Understanding the “why” makes all the difference in the Outsourcing Industry
For many of us that deal with some form of business process outsourcing (BPO), the degree of customer experience varies greatly if the person we are engaged with relates to our particular situation. Michael painted a contrast between transactional work citing claims adjudication as an example which could be accomplished following a set of discrete steps along a well-defined process. However, if the same individual (or software) were to be trained on the “why” including applying cognitive and analytical skills, thereby providing more context and delivers a superior outcome. Interestingly a lot of conversational AI companies are really focused on this in much the same manner that Michael and his team have focused on at PvG for their workforce.
- Service Industries excel when they demonstrate empathy
A business usually outsources when they feel someone else has better expertise, a lower cost structure and time to market abilities than is possible through internal means. What they gain in these areas they tend to lose if the outsourced entity does not have contextual understanding or a true sense of ownership and accountability, and more importantly a sense of empathy. Michael drew a parallel between the Filipino nurses, who are among the best in the industry and how his own company approaches outsourcing. They both excel because they demonstrate a natural desire to serve and care for others. Service excellence shifts from good to great with empathy.
- Culture attracts or repels talent, but nurturing a positive culture requires determined leadership
When paychecks plateau between different jobs, what attracts talent to an organization is a sense of purpose and their resonance with the culture. We see employees leave organization because there experience cultural dissonance and conversely, they stay despite lucrative offers from other organizations because they do not feel the cultural resonance. However, developing and maintaining this culture does not come easy. It must be top down and driven by the leadership of the organization and requires constant nurture. Michael talks about culture being an obsession at PvG and draws an analogy with farming. A good farm needs as much tending to during a drought as it does when there is plentifulness. A company can never stop working on culture.
- When the business has mission critical applications, Internet-class connectivity is just not good enough
For an outsourcing culture with remote employees, or distributed office locations, each of whom are empowered to deliver the best possible experience to their clients, having access to stable connectivity and highly predictable application performance experience is critical to their success. While Internet is good, sometimes it is not good enough and Michael makes the point that the cycle time of transactions should be as good as if not better than that of their customers. This can only happen when there’s access to high-performance private connectivity that’s stable, predictable and tailored for application performance.
- Proactive governance should complement technology for the right security posture
The shift that happened during the pandemic caused PvG to shift their entire operational model in just three days! As Michael says, there is no playbook for going remote wholesale in a matter of days. There are fundamental guiding principles such as taking care of employees, but there’s also accountability towards customers and liability. Going remote overnight meant a loss of perimeter security control. While the technology elements were present, the team had to activate tracking on individual workstations to track unwarranted behavior away from the corporate office, monitor compliance risks, invest in random internal audits including video audits and bring in state of the art identity and authorization elements to effect a lockdown in light of any deviations. This allowed them to maintain high integrity and trust in their customer transactions including handling of sensitive data
- The noise from mouse clicks beats digital dashboards to demonstrate user experience
We are all used to asking for fancy digital dashboards to prove the value of a solution and measure the ROI. While all these are no doubt important, f or Michael, it was the noise of mouse clicks and employees banging their desk with their mouse out of frustration at the slow application performance that went away entirely when they implemented the Aryaka solution. He says it with a laugh, but I can imagine him walking into a hall full of employees in front of their computers, banging their mouses and clicking to hit refresh and what a powerful value metric it is when all that gives way to happy employees and a calm environment! If this does not personify user experience, I don’t know what else does 🙂
- RPA and conversational AI will revolutionize the benefits administration industry
Benefits administration is a heavily regulated industry, handling sensitive data and perhaps hasn’t undergone much digital transformation aside from “webification” as Michael calls it. However, he believes RPA holds tremendous promise to change this, even though there aren’t good solutions that can manage an end-to-end workflow and the offerings are siloed. Vendors should persist and unlock the value this can bring into the equation benefiting both the administrator with efficiencies and cost benefits, as well as the employee who would have a much superior experience and engagement. The value chain will likely consolidate to deliver the maximum benefit. And that would be a great benefit for a benefits administration company.