What does the future of the BPO industry look like?
Over the years, business process outsourcing (BPO) has been rapidly expanding across the world. What drives this explosive growth are entrepreneurs’ evolving priorities, tech innovations, and new trends in business management. Here are four of the most influential trends shaping the outsourcing industry.
1. Business process management
The term “outsourcing” has almost become synonymous to call centers, with voice customer service identified as one of the most commonly outsourced business processes. But this outlook is currently changing, driven by the evolving relationship between buyers and vendors. These days, acquiring outsourced services isn’t about cost-cutting anymore. Rather, when brands and service providers sign a deal, they establish a business partnership—one aimed at producing better outcomes and maximizing expertise. Buyers are thus willing to pay more, as long as the quality of the services they’re getting satisfies world-class standards.
Taking this into account, India-based IT organization NASSCOM proposed that “BPO” be rebranded as “BPM” or business process management. According to its former president Som Mittal, the current terminology has long ceased to reflect the increasingly complex role of BPO companies. He further explained that with the industry now executing higher-value functions involving highly technical business processes, the term “outsourcing” seems no longer applicable.
Currently, we’re seeing a more prevalent use of the term “BPM” across industries, and this might become the norm in a few more years.
2. New locations
Proof of the explosive growth of outsourcing can be seen in how new BPO locations are mushrooming. Besides the Philippines and India, which have been repeatedly cited as two of the best outsourcing destinations, more and more players are entering the competition. Some of these are nations that are entirely new to the field. Others, however, are budding metro areas in nations that are already offering outsourcing services.
In the Philippines, for example, new outsourcing hubs called Next Wave Cities are being developed to cater to more investors. While Manila is still the center of excellence, the country has started to spread the expertise to other key cities with a huge potential to become BPO providers.
As technology continues to deliver smarter tools and processes, many BPO companies were troubled with the fear that they may eventually replace human workers. But as automated solutions are being mainstreamed, managers have found that instead of unseating human experts, these tools are enhancing the way people perform their tasks. Mechanical tasks are now being performed by machines and applications, and this speeds up processes while minimizing, if not eliminating, inaccuracies.
Meanwhile, humans, as the only ones capable of holistic judgment and service personalization, are starting to take on higher-value roles. In customer service, this means the focus is now on providing memorable customer experience and building meaningful relationships. In KPO, on the other hand, there’s a much greater need for professionals with specialized but broad skills, such as data scientists and computer systems engineers.
In a highly digitized world, cybersecurity is a critical foundation for the safety of both customers and companies. Poor data security is considered a massive threat across industries. A survey by security services provider NTT Security found that 25% of respondents are certain that their company will, at some point, suffer a security breach. Furthermore, the respondents estimated that should this breach happen, it may cost them an astounding $1 million.
Unsurprisingly, BPO companies are no exception to this threat. A vendor’s capability to protect sensitive data is now one of the most important considerations that brands make before pushing through with outsourcing. Call centers and other types of providers must be capable of warding off threats and all forms of fraud that may harm their clients. This means building a team of data security experts, creating a resilient tech infrastructure, and educating all employees about safety concerns.