The Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector has been under pressure for some time, with the evolution of automation, end user frustration, and increased demands on customer experience. Now more than ever, the sector faces pressure to up its game or face increased losses.

Current state of play

In Enlighten’s 2018 BPO Outlook Report, BPO in the 2020s: How Leaders will be Positioned, BPO clients raised serious concerns around the sector’s overall lack of proactivity, innovation, insights and client support.

Despite ongoing client commitment to BPOs, it is becoming clear that BPO leaders are lagging behind in providing much-needed engagement in their service, and clients are starting to resent the traditional transactional relationship with providers.

Whilst BPO leaders have started to express a desire to work towards more transformative relationships with their clients, there appears to be a general lack of confidence in their ability or capacity to do so, especially with the necessary technical leadership skills needed for such a change.

Can technology be the answer?

Technology is certainly part of the answer.

Today digital technology is providing solutions for a wide range of industries. And while BPOs have embraced some tech-based solutions, leaders need to incorporate more solutions to their business model to remain competitive and drive efficiency.

With the plethora of solutions out there, it is easy to feel overwhelmed as to what would work best for your business. I always recommend looking at solutions that not only benefit you, the provider, but also provides a level of service to the client.

Technology that enables real-time decision making for the client and provides transparency and data anaylsis to both parties would go a long way in building better relationships.

Leaders often reach for Robotic Process Automation (RPA), however this technology misses the bigger picture. RPA doesn’t optimise a process and it doesn’t allow for an organisation to improve its outcomes or quality. In isolation, it is not enough.

(Automation + Data) x Workflow = Power

Over the years Enlighten has designed and fine-tuned a formula that is key to unlocking the changes we need to see in the industry. Automation backed by data and significantly enhanced by redefined workflow systems allows leaders to see the real power of tech-driven change.

To this end, cognitive and artificial intelligence systems can be used to leverage data to provide insights on performance for both providers and clients. These tools are considered the most logical evolution of intelligent automation application and will allow BPO providers to drive efficiency and create new skills.

However, workflow systems will need to be adapted to accommodate the use of these tools. Leaders must look to better data and knowledge management solutions in order to provide the basis for strong analysis. Without this, the technology will not afford accurate enough insights to justify their adoption.

The future

Implemented well, these solutions can work together to deliver better analytics, a more automated service, easier scalability, improved speed of service, output-driven thinking in contract design, better value for money and a more tailored overall service that will guarantee an improved level of service quality.

While it may sound like a large investment, it is essential for leaders of BPOs to develop new solutions to remain relevant. The primary thing that drives value in this industry is providing exceptional customer experiences – innovate or be left behind.

Summary

The BPO sector needs to look to more efficiently leveraging technology to stabilise their future of their industry and maintain their relevancy amongst new and agile tech-driven providers. Automation must be looked at in alignment with data capacity and workflow management to generate true and impactful results and add unique value, especially with a growing need to better impress customers after rising complaints about transactional relationships.