Last December, DATAMARK kicked off a new tradition—picking the Top 10 Business Process Outsourcing Trends for the new year (check it out here to see if we were on target for 2012).
We’re taking the plunge again and naming our Top 10 trends for 2013. In many cases you’ll see an evolution of last year’s predictions, particularly those that incorporate social media and online communities.
In 2013 some trends will escape the boundaries of anecdotal evidence and become measurable as well as mainstream. This includes the “Internet of Things” as applied to business processes, and the move to domestic sourcing (insourcing, onshoring, ruralshoring and other “keep it at home” outsourcing models).
So without further ado, and in no particular order, here are DATAMARK’s Top 10 BPO Trends for 2013:
1. The opening of private app stores.
As workers connect through tablets and smartphones, enterprises will distribute custom and off-the-shelf apps through private app stores. BPO/ITOs will do the same, inviting clients to visit their private stores for apps that monitor business processes and collect useful data. Easier said than done, however. 2013 will be the year where IT departments begin to figure out hassle-free ways to distribute apps to clients, contractors and authorized partners.
2. Contact centers stay social 24/7/365.
A recent study by LinchpinSEO found that customers like to engage with their banks on social media on Sundays, a day when brick-and-mortar financial services are typically closed. Customer relationship managers will have to break away from this “closed for business” mindset and post in social media networks every day of the week, every time of day. Competitive BPOs will leverage global centers and customer-contact reps with multiple language skills to deliver 24/7/365 customer service via Facebook, Twitter and other channels, bringing some to clients some “weekend peace of mind.”
3. Gamification goes social.
As we mentioned last year, gamification—using game concepts to drive courses of action—will liven up boring, repetitive business processes, as well as deliver incentives for improvement. Good enough, but in 2013, gamification will stake a place on social networks. BPO workers will post their progress, improvements and rewards on internal social media channels, adding more fuel to the competitive fire across the organization.
4. Domestic outsourcing moves beyond anecdotes.
Whether it’s domestic outsourcing, insourcing, onshoring, ruralshoring or whatever term suits your fancy, some solid data on the trend will emerge in 2013. Outsourcing business processes in the U.S. (and nearshore to Mexico and Canada) will be an attractive option as growing wages in traditional outsourcing locales such as India and China make the U.S. more competitive destination. Organizations will recognize the many benefits of being geographically close to target markets.
5. BPO makes a run for the border.
Mexico will continue to be an attractive business process outsourcing destination over the coming year. This is in part because of the advantages delivered by geographic proximity, but also because the Mexico of 2013 is much different from the Mexico of 1994. Statistics from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) show Mexico is steadily improving in many rankings, including labor productivity growth, infrastructure spending, post-secondary education enrollment and broadband access. The headline-making cartel war, while still a concern, has spared multinational business activity.
6. The Chromebook concept takes root.
Organizations will understand the usefulness of the cloud and tap its power with thin-client devices such as the Chromebook. Mollen Immunization Clinics, for example, said adoption of the Chromebook would help it eliminate 20 million pieces of paper from its business processes. The Chromebook/cloud proposition has become enticing for BPO clients, thanks to device price reductions—versions can be had for under $200. Public schools are introducing Chromebooks to classrooms, making cloud computing second-nature for future scientists, engineers, CEOs and BPO innovators.
7. The regulation of the cloud.
Which brings us to the reality of the cloud—it will crash now and then. Amazon Web Services experienced an outage—on Christmas Eve of all times—that prevented its high-profile client, Netflix, from streaming movies. AWS issued an apology, but someday an apology isn’t going to cut it. Customers will clamor for guaranteed back-up for their critical services and data. It may take the teeth of government regulation to ensure cloud providers have business continuity and disaster recovery plans to deliver uninterrupted service. Watch for movement in this direction in 2013!
8. The Internet of Things.
It’s another heavily hyped concept, but we think BPO innovators will look for ways to connect just about anything and everything to the Internet to collect useful data throughout business processes. Instead of manually scanning a barcode clipped to a tray of documents, how about embedding the tray with an RFID tracker—or printing a sensor on the tray with conductive ink? Just about every piece of equipment—and even staffers— can be linked to a network via a low-cost sensor, with information continually fed to a tablet, smartphone or web browser. Which leads us to …
9. Big Data analytics.
What will BPOs and their clients do with all this unstructured data collected from business processes? It will be used to make improvements, of course! But there is work ahead for organizations desiring to tap Big Data’s value. A recent report from IDC says 23 percent of the information in the digital universe is useful for Big Data analytics, but only 3 percent of it is tagged for analysis. Another challenge as Big Data volume increases: it will be harder to find the IT staff to manage it all. Between 2012 and 2020, IDC predicts the amount of information managed by enterprise data centers will grow by a factor of 14, but the number of IT professionals around the world will grow by a factor of less than 1.5.
10. An outsourcing strategy in every boardroom.
As domestic outsourcing grows, more organizations will understand that outsourcing does not necessarily mean offshoring. This realization will remove from the corporate culture a major pushback against outsourcing. C-level executives will be tasked with formulating business process outsourcing strategies that take into consideration all available models: onsite, nearsite, nearshore, offshore, farshore—or a mix of these. For medium and large enterprises, the outsourcing of business processes will be the table stakes in the game to stay nimble, competitive and profitable for 2013.