Few would dispute the fact that technology is a great enabler. In the BPO industry, technology created a sea of changes that many never imagined possible just a decade earlier. Take offshoring for instance. Who would have thought that installing lightning-fast underwater cables would allow workers halfway around the world to perform back room operational tasks without sacrificing quality, often at a fraction of the usual cost?
Technology continues to advance and move at an even faster pace nowadays. What is considered cutting edge today is bound to become obsolete practically as soon as it is launched. Newer, faster, better ways of doing business regularly emerge at a break-neck speed and show no signs of slowing down.
Such changes have obviously affected the BPO landscape, and will continue to do so for as long as technology evolves with the changing times. Here are three ways it is altering the way BPO companies are doing business today.
1. Fusing IT and BPO to produce seamless, end to end solutions.
Today, synergy is the name of the game. The so-called “lift-and-shift” model that was widely used in the early days of outsourcing is giving way to one in which a BPO company is expected to provide end to end process solutions, not just mere labor arbitrage.
Abid Ali, Global Head of BPO services for Tata Consultancy Services claims that potential clients are looking for a BPO company that can “look at the processes end to end and then work hand-in-hand with the through process transformation.”
Furthermore, Nayanit Samaiyar, Senior VP for Procurement and Supply Chain Services for Genpact says that today’s technology decisions tend to be “a separate, stand-alone CIO discussion”, where decisions that affect BPO related matters are considered as another separate process. “In the days to come, as solutions for end-to-end process become more significant than point solutions, technology has to start talking to the process.”
2. Making sense of big data through analytics.
While there is no dearth of information available out there, what with the mountains of data that can be readily accessed with a simple mouse click, knowing how to use that information is not an easy task.
Gathering data is easy; making sense of it takes specialized skill and extensive know-how. Knowing how to gain insight from big data and turning that into actionable information takes time and specialized training as well.
Don Schulman, General Manager of Finance and Administration at IBM, says that advanced analytics allows clients “to leverage insights into their suppliers and customers that they’ve never had before, allowing them to better align business decisions to their overall strategies at a much faster pace.”
He further states that embedding analytics “can provide visibility and drive to best practices in a way that buyers never could on their own,” adding that “advanced analytics is rapidly working its way through the marketplace as a whole.”
3. Including platform and business process optimization as a service.
BPO companies today are no longer just mere providers of outsourced labor. Potential clients now have higher expectations when looking for an outsourcing company to work with.
Ritesh Idnani, Vice President and Head of Global Sales and Marketing for Infosys BPO, says that outsourcers will now have to “work harder on delivering utility models because technology of the platform plays a big role for suppliers wanting to deliver utility models on a large scale. You can’t do it just finessing the process.”
Abid Ali further stated that providing process as part of the service “meets the customer’s need to upscale processes to industry best-in-class norms in preparation for growth. In the current macro-economic environment, customers find it imperative to improve processes without investing in capital-intensive business process reengineering or technology rationalization projects.”
IBM’s Schulman has said that “having process optimization embedded into the technology platform greatly enhances the value suppliers can deliver to clients”, adding that process as a device “drives cost reduction, increases standardization, and includes embedded analytics, enabling best practice adoption in a seamless end-to-end solution.”
Take it from the experts: technology will continue to drive changes in the BPO landscape, one that will accelerate the need for better solutions, faster turnaround times, and tighter synergies between service providers and outsourcing buyers.