Business process outsourcing (BPO) is the contracting of non-primary business activities and functions to a third-party provider. BPO services include payroll, human resources (HR), accounting and customer/call center relations.
BPO is also known as information technology enabled services (ITES).
The following are BPO advantages:
1.Business process speed and efficiency are enhanced. Employees may invest more time in core business strategies to bolster competitive advantage and enhance value chain engagement.
2.Organizational growth increases when capital resource and asset expenditures are not required, which averts problematic investment returns.
3.Organizations are not required to invest in unrelated primary business strategy assets, facilitating a shift in focus to specific competencies.
BPO risks include:
1.Data privacy breaches
2.Underestimated running costs
3.Overdependence on service providers
25 years ago BPO was synonymous with call centers. This outdated notion has been replaced with accounting, human resources, web design, coding and other tasks.
A huge chunk of BPO organizations have been investing in new technologies in their supplying countries. Due to increasing levels of skilled work, 52% of businesses are concerned about skill shortage in the BPO industry.
BPO powerhouses like India and the Philippines have also been facing a skill shortage over the past few years. NASSCOM (The National Association of Software and Service Companies), has expressed its concerns over the lack of a high skilled workforce in the Indian BPO sector to tackle high-end services.
These services include digital technology, mobile applications, cloud computing, and more. In the Philippines, there is a growing demand for financing and accounting personnel, and experienced middle managers. Much to the annoyance of the BPO company leaders, their only solution is to hire middle managers with around 5 years experience.
Demand in high-skill operations is due to the industry’s need to reduce prices for routine services. High competition has forced BPOs to invest in lower costing alternatives such as AI and automation. The threat of losing low skilled workers to automation has compelled governments as well as business leaders to educating their workforce to meet these demands.
As a result of this, BPO companies like Capgemini have made it their mission to impart more skills to their current employees. Capgemini is investing in training and development as they plan to re-skill around 45,000 existing employees to prevent loss of labour due to automation.
Our respondents were clear: they want cost predictability. BPO partners meet this need by offering long-term contracting and deep expertise, which can be a relief to the accounting department. But other than financial stability, what’s in the shadows that concerns our corporate leaders? What keeps them awake at night?
After the epic Equifax Breach of 2017 that affected 127 million people, our respondents were clear that data security is their #1 concern. The recent Facebook breach that released records of 87 million people proves that data security will continue to be a major concern in the future.
While cash is king, data is your reputation. It takes an enormous investment of time, talent, and money to keep corporate and client records safe in a cyber environment that is constantly under attack. BPO partners with proven technology and secure systems have an edge in the market by protecting their clients’ data and integrity.
Customers are the lifeblood of your business. Constantly improving their experience is key to not only attracting but keeping customers for the long term, which ultimately stabilizes if not increases sales. For this survey, we tapped leading marketing experts for their advice to creating a raving customer experience.
A Look Ahead: Business Process Outsourcing by the Numbers includes a detailed questionnaire to help you answer key questions to define who your customer is, what they want, and how you can best serve them. Once you know these answers, sharing your insights with your BPO partner is critical for them to provide predictable, standard processes, backed by innovative technology, which continually improves your customer experience.
It’s apparent that technology, including AI, Machine Learning applications (like Automated Virtual Assistants), and IoT (Internet of Things) devices have more than a few companies scrambling to decide what investments will bring solid returns. While improving efficiency, these advances do come with a cost that must be balanced against anticipated returns.
Our survey shows that unless you’re a big company with extra cash, you’re probably taking a conservative approach toward investing in technology over the next 3 to 5 years. Video chat is an easy win for most companies. A chatbot can also help customers answer simple questions like, “when does my flight arrive?” or “what’s my account balance?” and since it doesn’t need sleep it helps customers 24/7. BPO partners can start to help you bring these basic AI tools, along with advanced tools like visual IVR (Interactive Voice Recognition), to the table at a pace that makes sense for your business and customers.
In the past, only large multinational BPO companies were an active part of the industry.
It was really difficult to get information about the policies and contracts during this time. Most employees on the client side were in the dark about technology stack, plans, challenge areas, and other processes.
The supplier side employees were not fully informed about their organizational structure, capabilities, investment areas, etc.
The introduction of smaller businesses, has urged the BPO industry to increase transparency and reveal their policies, contracts and pricing.
A high level of transparency is required to maintain trust between BPOs and vendors. Due to the highly competitive environment, many organizations have to adjust their policies to prevent them from losing business to more trustworthy organizations.
Transparency also results in better partnerships between clients and suppliers, which is required for business innovation and better investment options (due to access to information). Government intervention has been a catalyst to the increased demands in transparency. Recently, the UK government has stated that steps will be taken to make sure there is transparency about outsourced services in response to requests for information.
Other countries are also expected to come out with more transparency policies for the outsourcing industry over the next few years.