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Issue of April 2006 

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Secure IT behind Integreon

Integreon has robust and secure infotech in place to provide value-added KPO and legal process outsourcing services. Prashant Chawla, COO and CFO of the company, allowed Kumar Dawada a look behind the scenes

“Knowledge is of two kinds: we know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it.”
— Samuel Johnson

Prashant Chawla

Integreon provides complex or judgement-based BPO solutions, also known as KPO (knowledge process outsourcing). Its business objective is to be the best in the area of providing knowledge services; document, content and graphic services; business administration services; and discovery support services. “Our goal is to serve the professional services market, specifically in the area of high-end complex services,” states Prashant Chawla, COO and CFO of the company.

Initial Challenges

When Integreon commenced its KPO activities in 2000, the concept was new and it faced major challenges on two fronts.

The first was on the IT infrastructure front. Bandwidth was expensive and it took too long to download even small files. The network system was not reliable. Latency was not optimal as compared to US requirements. There was not much redundancy and the organisation depended heavily on the primary and secondary link.

The other challenge was manpower. Everything had to be done from scratch, from devising the training programme to the delivery method to employee assessment.

Focus On Security

Since 2000, Integreon has provided dedicated secure hubs. The organisation has a strong security policy backed by the BS7799 information security management certification

“Our customers include some of the world’s largest financial services institutions, law firms, consultancies, publishing and media companies, and Global 1000 corporations. The nature of work outsourced is such that a certain amount of confidentiality and security is a must,” informs Chawla.

Since 2000, Integreon has provided dedicated secure hubs. It made a security policy which banned the use of cell phones at the hubs. Cameras were installed. CD-ROM and floppy drives were disabled. Papers printed in the hub were shredded within 24 hours. Biometric devices were installed. Adds Chawla, “From day one Integreon focussed on secure access control. We have dedicated separate networks for the customers.”

Integreon is BS7799 information security management certified. Since April 2005 it also has ISO 9001:2000 certification for quality management. The BS7799 certification ensures that the physical and procedural security processes are adequate; these include restricted access to premises and networks, data encryption, storage and retention practices, log-in and access control policies, firewall monitoring, virus protection systems, redundant infrastructure, and business continuity plans.

How Integreon Works

Integreon aggregates and structures financial, industry and company-specific information into knowledge for financial institutions. This information is interpreted and used by professionals in the investment banking and investment management world in North America and Europe.

The financial information comes from various structured, semi-structured and unstructured databases including the Internet. Integreon has specialised in more than 40 databases prominently used in Asia-Pacific, North America and Western Europe by investment banking, equity and debt, and capital market professionals. It subscribes to various databases and mines the same for in-depth information which it further analyses, and then presents the final output to its customers in an agreed-upon format.

For instance, the customers send documents through a secure document transfer system like ShareDoc or by other means that ensure secure file transfer. The documents then become a part of Integreon’s proprietory DMS (Document Management Software). The DMS allows Integreon to keep track of the completed jobs, allocated jobs, and stages completed. It also keeps track of customer responses and deadlines. Once the job is completed the document goes back though a secure file transfer system or secure FTP server to the customer site. The final information goes back into the customer’s own DMS.

Chawla explains what they do. “Integreon mines the customers’ data so that they don’t have to spend their time writing complex queries and reviewing and analysing data before selecting the relevant information. We do all that for them and provide preliminary rule-based analysis.” This saves precious time for customers such as investment bankers, equity and debt researchers, and mutual and hedge fund managers. “Our customers analyse the data that we provide them to make their decisions after further analysis,” he adds.

Integreon Factfile: Services, Customer Profile & Acquisitions
  • Knowledge services: research, analytics, library, litigation support
  • Document services: presentation graphics, legal word processing
  • Content services: conversion, XBRL, EDGAR, localisation, typesetting
  • Advanced graphics and media services: e-learning, Web site development, application development
  • Customers: Integreon serves six of the 10 largest global investment banks, one of the five largest global law firms, two of the five largest global management consulting companies, and four of the ten largest global media and publishing companies. Integreon’s electronic document discovery segment is estimated at almost $1.5 billion
  • Acquisitions: In April 2003, Integreon acquired Contentscape, a company specialising in Web content design and development. In July 2005 it acquired Brahmy Solutions, a Britain-based, high-end analytics company. It also acquired a part of the legal processing business of BPO major Bowne, a New York-based company providing financial publishing. Integreon is looking for a stake in the $61m LPO (Legal Process Outsourcing) market in India. India is a preferred destination for LPO because of the huge difference in the wage rates here and those prevalent in the US and Britain

IT Infrastructure

Integreon’s infrastructure is built using VPN-bundled routers with high-level encryption and hand shaking, layer 3 switches with features like load-balancing and hot standby routing protocol, and firewalls bundled with DMZ ports.

The communications architecture is based on VLAN and VPN with VoIP. The links to the US and Britain are implemented in such a way that they use all the possible access media, locally as well as internationally. The links are on fibre, copper and RF for local access, and on SEA-ME-WE 2 and 3 as well as i2i for international access.

The network is monitored on a 24x7 basis and logs generated are reviewed on a daily basis. The company has a full-fledged operational BCP/DRP which is checked every month. The tangible benefits are measured in terms of download time and efficiency of the services. The Citrix environment that it uses provides better security, control and is process-oriented. State-of-the-art network monitoring, both LAN- and WAN-based, is under implementation at Integreon’s new 600-seater facility at Powai in Mumbai.

Coming Up

In the near future, Integreon wants to consolidate its expertise in the areas of KPO and LPO, and tap the sectors and customers to a greater extent. It also wants to explore new openings in other relevant areas of operations. “The beauty of our business is that we are not required to store data. The content resides in the client’s system. A secure environment ensures that we are working on our customer’s data that may be present anywhere in the world,” concludes Chawla.

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