Offshore has been key to Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) since pretty much the beginning. Along with BPO technologies, off-shore outsourcing has expanded greatly in recent years. Though it was once best known for manufacturing services and contact centers, businesses today use off-shore BPO across a variety of industries and functions.
In my 23 years in the BPO industry (more than 15 years of that with DATAMARK), I’ve experienced this growth first-hand. In the case of our India operations here at DATAMARK, for example, we work in verticals like logistics, healthcare, transportation, and more. We currently oversee voice processes in 17 different languages, including domestic (10 languages) and international (6 languages), handling millions of calls per year. In addition to that, we manage millions of non-voice transactions each year through our 24×7 operations.
Together with DATAMARK, we’ve expanded existing off-shore facilities in Mumbai and Chennai, India, to 1000 full-time employees. We successfully built up operations in these two locations from scratch…from absolute zero. And we’re ready, willing, and able to ramp up in other off-shore destinations should the need arise.
Off-shore outsourcing has continued to grow because it works. Once they jump into off-shore BPO, clients quickly see the many benefits it brings to their operations. In addition, BPO provides opportunities for our skilled workers here, which makes it a win-win for everyone involved.
Whether it’s near-shore outsourcing, such as to Mexico or Canada, or off-shore BPO like we do here in India, there are many benefits for clients.
For large companies looking to expand their operations into new markets, off-shore or nearshore outsourcing is often the first step, providing an opportunity to learn a new culture and test the waters with their product or offering.
Humans have been and will continue to be vital to our off-shore BPO operations. But leveraging technology allows them to work faster, more efficiently, and with fewer errors. There are several ways technology will continue to enhance the future of BPO.
For example, we developed an optical character recognition (OCR) software to help workers who are reading and interpreting documents. The software works in the background along with those employees in order to validate their work, and in some cases, catch and correct errors before they reach the client. Thus, this BPO technology is key to helping us boost productivity and quality while meeting (or beating) timelines in a cost-effective way.
Especially in “the new normal,” technology is key to success in BPO. Now that remote work has become the norm; technology is even more critical to operations. Since the start of the pandemic, about 40% – 50% of our employees are working from home. Prior to that, however, most people in India did not have an internet connection in their homes. COVID-19 ushered in a major revolution on that front, as high-speed internet connectivity became a necessity for work, study, and personal life.
Along with that, we now use social media and chat systems to stay connected with employees who are working from home. Posting photos of employees on social media promotes engagement, motivation, and connection. It also increases transparency, both for our employees and for our clients.
In short, BPO and technology go hand-in-hand, whether it’s chat and social media to communicate with remote employees or leveraging cloud-based systems to enhance productivity and benefit our clients.
The future is bright for offshore BPO. According to recent projections, the BPO industry in India is primed to hit $8.8 billion in revenue by 2025.
For our part, the COVID-19 pandemic has drastically increased workloads in the transportation and healthcare sectors, from delivering vaccines to insurance claims to delivering goods to people’s homes to handling medical interpretation calls. Financial services and payment processing will also continue to grow in an increasingly digital landscape. Another area that has greatly benefitted from the increased use of technology is the Contact Centers for both voice and non-voice processes. When you combine BPO, Contact Centers, and technology together, you get what we refer to as the Customer Experience Ecosystem… where all the parts move in harmony to optimize and enhance the customer experience.
We’re already working to prepare DATAMARK’s India operations for this growth by ramping up the development of leadership teams, doubling down on recruitment efforts, and seeking out opportunities to extend our infrastructure.
We will definitely see more technology in the future of BPO. The advance of technologies like robotic process automation (RPA), artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, and machine learning will lift off-shore BPO to a new level. As much as possible, we will continue to use and expand technologies like this to provide better services to customers and help our employees work smarter.
Like our colleagues at DATAMARK in the U.S., we embrace automation here in India. Rather than seeing it as a threat like some other providers, we use automation to simplify our work, and we share those benefits with the customer. This leads to more trust and more work down the road, which benefits everyone in the long run. This is a guiding principle of DATAMARK and one we take to heart here in India as well.
How about you? What have your experiences been with off-shore BPO and technology in the BPO industry? What’s in store for the future of BPO? We’d love to hear your thoughts.