Authored by: Vikas Wahee, Head of Solutions – BPM & ITES, Intellicus Technologies
The Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry has undergone significant shifts over the last decade, primarily due to the rapid advancement and adoption of AI technology. According to a recent survey by ResearchAndMarkets, the global market for AI in BPO is burgeoning- it is estimated to reach a staggering US$3.5 billion by 2026. While AI holds tremendous potential to transform the BPO industry, many are concerned about AI replacing human jobs. A deeper analysis of the recent developments, however, indicates that AI will not replace jobs but rather augment them in unprecedented ways.
Enhancing productivity: One of the primary ways AI is transforming the BPO industry is by automating repetitive tasks, most importantly the ones involving data entry, processing and analysis. Currently, around 14-15% of the manpower in any BPO only handles data management tasks. With the help of AI technologies , these can be automated and available to business users. As a result, human workers can focus on more strategic, high-value tasks that demand human creativity and discernment.
The automation of repetitive tasks in the BPO industry holds promise for enhancing efficiency and accuracy, resulting in fewer errors and superior business outcomes. Such improvements can translate into cost savings and better customer experiences for businesses. Nonetheless, it is crucial to recognize that automation cannot be expected to entirely replace human workers. While AI can simplify various tasks, it cannot be a substitute for the human element integral to customer service or any other business function. Besides, AI cannot be trusted to make decisions on behalf of humans, so the vital aspect of decision-making should be left to humans only.
Elevating customer experience: Another way in which AI is changing the BPO industry is by improving customer service. Thanks to AI-ML and natural-language processing, BPOs can now analyze thousands of customer interactions, and identify valuable trends and patterns human beings cannot possibly decipher.
AI can also help segregate customers into different target groups, based on their demographics, requirements, interests, behavior or economic value. As a result, businesses can better comprehend customers’ needs and preferences and deliver more customized services and products. In the long run, this will help BPOs significantly reduce customer churn rates and boost their lifetime value.
Optimizing workforces: AI can also be leveraged for streamlining workforce management. AI-powered algorithms can monitor the performance of employees and identify the challenges they may be facing. This can help BPOs duly address these challenges, ultimately improving employee satisfaction. By analyzing employee data, AI can offer insights into areas where workers may need additional training or support, allowing BPOs to make targeted improvements and pave the way for a more productive and engaged workforce.
Having said that, the integration of AI into BPO services and processes necessitates a shift in the skill set of the BPO workforce. As AI technologies become more mainstream, BPOs will need to prioritize investments in training and upskilling programs to make sure their employees have the capabilities needed to thrive in a new, AI-driven age. Organizations will need to train workers in areas of data analytics, machine learning, natural language processing and other in-demand skills. Also, businesses and workers will need to work in close collaboration and build a supportive, inclusive work environment that ensures suitable, equitable employment opportunities for everyone.
Additionally, businesses will need to compare and analyze the performance of AI and human workers in terms of the KPIs they are able to meet. This will help them decide which tasks should be delegated to machines and which ones should be managed by humans.
To conclude, AI has enormous potential to bring large-scale transformation in the BPO landscape, yet its benefits can be fully realized only when BPOs proactively train and upskill their workforce and work closely with employees to create a conducive work environment for all.