Backend processes are essential to any business or corporation. Typically, these operational processes are effort intensive, time-consuming, and expensive to implement and manage. However, these processes are critical for every business and need to be implemented successfully.
Established companies need to continuously improve their operations by focusing on efficiency and cost reductions to succeed in a highly competitive market. It is imperative that the back-office business processes are efficient. They need to support and help the businesses improve their performance and overall results.
In this interview, Arun Malhotra, ARDEM’s Founder and President, shares the story behind his company’s success and the services they offer. They are helping companies across every domain to achieve their goals.
Please brief our audience about ARDEM, its USPs, and how it is currently positioned as a trusted Business Automation and Business Process Outsourcing partner.
ARDEM is a Business Process Outsourcing and Business Process Automation service provider. We help established companies improve their operational efficiencies and reduce their overhead costs. Our headquarters is in New Jersey, and our global data centers are in India and South America.
I would say our differentiator has been our firm conviction in pursuing two objectives. One, we aim for very high customer satisfaction, and this can be seen in our high customer retention rate. A few of our customers have been with us for more than 15 years in our two-decade of existence. Our second objective is to produce the highest quality of work. Our relentless pursuit of quality has allowed us to continue to expand and grow our new customer base.
We strive continuously to provide value to our clients. We spend a lot of time understanding our client’s needs and this helps us to configure the best solution for them. Not only do we provide the best solutions that meet our client’s needs today, but we also build in continuous improvements for our future clients.
I am very proud of each ARDEM team member. They recognize that our paychecks come from our customers. Each of them works towards achieving the highest customer satisfaction in everything they do. This has been the single biggest driver behind our customers trusting us. Trusting that we will help them succeed. Trusting that we will always meet and exceed their expectations.
Our beliefs, our culture, and the way we work is also our differentiator. We all believe that people are inherently good and have the ability to solve complex problems. We are all capable of delivering truly exceptional results and creating innovative solutions for our clients. Our focus is to provide exceptional and hassle-free service so that our clients can focus on core issues which impact their businesses. ARDEM’s objective is to grow and to create new jobs that benefit many.
I am proud to share here that recently ARDEM was ranked among the Top 30 BPO outsourcing companies in the USA by outsourceaccelerator.com. With our excellent team and the continued recognition by our customers, I am confident that we are well positioned for future growth at ARDEM.
Shed some light on ARDEM’s offerings. How are they impacting the industry and your clients?
Wherever there is a need for information to be collected, processed, and managed, we are able to help our clients. This can be any typical back-office transaction tasks related to Finance and Accounting, Human Resources, Supply Chain, Logistics, Procurement, etc. Or in tasks that require Data Analysis, Data Research, Business Intelligence, and Data Analytics.
I am amazed by the number of different opportunities our clients bring to us and how ARDEM creates solutions for them. It seems like one day, we are working on an outsourced accounting task, then the next day, we are gathering Business Intelligence for a new client across all their retail outlets. I find all this so fascinating. I am also amazed by the complexity of our client needs that we can resolve with our services.
Our ability to stay nimble, to quickly pivot, and to create new innovative solutions that meet our client’s needs has helped us to grow. Not only do we develop solutions, but also execute them successfully. This is a great benefit to our clients.
At ARDEM, we focus on having the best and top qualified people and building robust processes using the most innovative technologies. This focus has helped us exceed our clients’ expectations on every assignment.
We work primarily with small to mid-sized businesses. We also provide our services to the federal, state, and local governments. I am very excited about our recent cloud collaboration platform that we designed for one of the state governments. We implemented a platform with their health department to collect, process, and manage COVID data.
We can help our clients across the complete human-technology spectrum. From assignments that are human-effort intensive to assignments that are technology-intensive. However, we are constantly challenging ourselves to automate and introduce technology. This has produced a higher quality result and/or a shorter cycle time for our clients.
Yes, we have both people and robots performing back-office processing. Sometimes, people are the best choice to perform certain tasks and other tasks are better performed using robots with Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence. As an engineer myself, I always get excited when we bring in new technology to create a better solution for our clients.
Since we can help our clients become more efficient and reduce their costs, we have been able to expand our clientele in every industry. Accounting, Energy, Banking, Insurance, Manufacturing, Retail, Healthcare, Life Sciences, and many others. Every business in every industry wants and needs to become more efficient and control their costs. We can help them succeed.
Arun, please brief us about your journey in the industry and how you have contributed to ARDEM’s success.
Prior to my “ARDEM life”, I had worked for over 20 years in the corporate world with a Fortune 500 company. I possessed all the passion of an entrepreneur and the willingness of an immigrant to put in the 18-hour workdays to launch ARDEM.
Both the internet and outsourcing of services were relatively new when I started ARDEM. However, I saw an opportunity to make work processes more efficient and to help my clients not only to reduce costs but also meet their compliance and regulatory needs. This has been a differentiating factor for ARDEM.
Starting in my office at home (sorry, not the garage), I initially targeted the government sector, where prior relationships did not seem so critical. Success in this sector helped give us the traction we needed. We kept winning long term government contracts which provided us a stable cash flow and the ability to increase market presence.
In the early years, each new order helped us win the next one. Our customers did all the selling for us because of their excellent references. Now, I am proud to say that we have a long list of happy and satisfied customers who are still helping us grow today.
Being an experienced leader, share your opinion on the impact of modern technologies such as AI and Machine Learning’s adoption on the business outsourcing space and what more could be expected in the future?
I think all the conversations and particularly the angst about Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence is like the early days of Outsourcing. Like it was for Business Process Outsourcing, these technologies are already here and, here to stay. They will continue to grow and, in most cases, these technologies will benefit all of us. I am a believer in human beings, our adaptability and in our creativity.
Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Robotic Process Automation, and other technologies will continue to be applied in the business outsourcing space. We see in our own work for different clients that we can deliver higher quality and shorter processing cycle times where we have applied automation technologies. We apply an Automation Gate check on all our client assignments. This helps us to define what process steps need to be automated in the workflow. The result is always a better solution to our clients.
Considering the current pandemic, what initial challenges did you face, and how did you drive ARDEM to sustain operations while ensuring the safety of your employees at the same time?
Honestly, I was amazed by how quickly my team pivoted at the onset of COVID. We, like many companies in the technology space, were working from physical offices before COVID. Within less than a week after our decision to work remote, we were all working from our homes. We did not skip a beat. All our deliverables to our customers stayed on schedule and all commitments were kept as promised.
The decision to go remote immediately was driven by our belief that this pandemic situation was likely to be long-term. My thinking back in March of 2020, was this could last 18 months. Little did I know that we would still be working remotely today. We are planning to continue working remotely and we have no definite date to return to our offices. I do not see how we could bring back the team to our offices without considering their safety and health.
The COVID pandemic led to a significant jump in our business over the last eighteen months. We had new clients that came over to us because their current outsourcing partners were facing insurmountable challenges and were not able to adapt quickly enough. We had the technology, the infrastructure, and the bandwidth with excellent and qualified team members that allowed us to onboard many new clients over this period.
What would be your advice to budding entrepreneurs who aspire to venture into the business outsourcing services market?
Entrepreneurs in any domain are a different breed. You need to be passionate about what you are doing. You need to be absolutely driven by your conviction that you can succeed. And you need to be willing to work like crazy. It is not a job but a passion.
It is always helpful if you can contribute something new. It could be a new approach, a creative new idea, or it could be a new technology. If you don’t, there is the risk that you will be grouped as ‘just another’ BPO.
Once you have customers, you want to keep them happy and always provide them a high-quality service. Help them solve their problems. Be responsive to their needs. Once you have people, treat them well, respect them, and help them succeed. Help them understand and adopt the values and beliefs that you hold dear.
How do you envision scaling ARDEM’s operations and offerings in 2022 and further?
We expect to continue our year-over-year growth rate, of around 30%. We will continue to enlarge our team size primarily in India and in South America. We have been seeing tremendous growth in our Finance and Accounting Services, Energy, Business Intelligence, and Data Analytics.
We expect to stay in our Remote working model through 2022. We also expect to grow our services as a solution via our cloud platforms. We plan to continue providing our clients with Smart Business solutions that use the intersection of People for Innovation, Robust Processes for Workflow Improvement, and Technology for Collaborative Success.