How Are Modern Technologies Impacting BPO?
With each new technological innovation, enterprises ask themselves how this new software or hardware could be used to improve bottom lines, boost employee performance or deliver a better customer experience. For a few decades however, businesses weren't truly impacted by any revolutionary new systems or devices, despite a few noble efforts from tech firms such as Microsoft, Apple and Blackberry. Then, all at once, in the mid-2000s, technology got a shot in the arm, so to speak, and the rest is history. Now, cloud computing, smartphones, tablets, virtualization, social media and much more are welcomed aspects of enterprise IT.
All of these technologies contribute positively to the three core tenets outlined above - revenue, performance and customer experiences - but more importantly, those innovations have disrupted the business process outsourcing sector.
The cloud and virtualization
Cloud computing is maturing rapidly, as businesses across industries procure cloud services for everything from storage to mission-critical applications. The cloud has certainly shaken up enterprise IT, and now organizations can rely more on external providers than internal IT departments. Similarly, virtualization and software-defined systems and technologies have inspired companies to cut down on the hiring of tech professionals, as they lessen the workload in regard to management.
"The cloud and virtualization will cause BPO to explode in popularity."
Simply put, the cloud and virtualization will cause BPO to explode in popularity. Once businesses realize the value of cloud services and the benefit of virtualizing assets, they will move on to outsourcing the management of those technologies. By fully committing to the external handling of IT, organizations can focus on what really matters, and the cloud is just making that seem like a realistic scenario.
Additionally, the cloud allows businesses to share more resources with their outsourced services and that works in the other direction as well. For example, tech support can update customer relationship management software in the cloud, giving everyone visibility into customer interactions, or external financial services can share software with chief financial officers and other executives without email or physically delivered reports - access to data is universal. In this way, cloud services can make BPO more valuable.
Mobile devices and social media
On the personal side of technology, mobile devices are ubiquitous and social media platforms steal a large portion of people's attention on any given day. Businesses must react to this new consumer culture that promotes frequent interactions with brands on a variety of channels and on a number of different platforms.
For one, this means BPO will extend to additional sectors, as organizations struggle to keep up with consumer demands. Call center service can be outsourced, for example, giving internal teams more time to interact with customers on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.
Furthermore, these outsourced firms can take advantage of consumer technologies. On LinkedIn Pulse, Sharad Aggarwal wrote that customer service companies are opting for mobile app support over interactive voice response. Since consumers love their mobile devices, this is a great idea to keep up with the times. Additionally, Aggarwal explained that soon, call center services could use biometrics or other smartphone features to verify identities, making interactions shorter and solving problems faster. With BPO and mobile technologies, businesses can improve their customer service, since the outsourced support centers have access to these technologies that would otherwise require massive investments.
Big data and analytics
Fundamentally, all enterprise IT boils down to the management, manipulation and analysis of data. Therefore, the leveraging of big data in regard to BPO shouldn't come as a surprise. However, specific uses for analytics with respect to BPO could shock some managers - the future is now.
Starting with customer service, BPO services can use analytics to improve experiences and interactions. After all, these companies will have access to CRMs and other data-collect systems that allow them to identify customer personas, predict consumer behaviors and recommended solutions or products. This can also make outsourcing tech support service more valuable as well, since those external teams can discover trends in troubleshooting requests.
Additionally, businesses can outsource analytics. Sangeet Paul Choudary, co-chair of the MIT Platform Strategy Group, told TechTarget that departments such as marketing and industries like video game development already using external services for analytics and modeling, and as big data continues to prove its effectiveness in crafting corporate strategies, more companies will look for outside sources of information.
Lastly, many organizations use big data to decide on what processes are outsourced, according to Atul Vashistha, whose comments were included in a recent CIO magazine article.
"Data and analytics will play a central role in sourcing advisory," Vashistha told the source. "As the complexity of sourcing rises and clients become increasingly sophisticated, the need to find the next set of opportunities and optimization will benefit greatly from analytics and not just expert advice."
BPO is evolving along with technology, and today's innovations will shape BPO for years to come. This only makes BPO more valuable, but businesses better think fast before other companies take the lead in this regard.