Enterprises in the information technology (IT)/IT-enabled services (ITeS) and business process management (BPM) sectors are focusing on deploying advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), cloud computing, big data, conversational services, robotic process automation (RPA) and machine learning (ML) to enhance productivity and improve customer experience. The shift from traditional analytics to new-age technologies is enabling companies to implement intelligent solutions and improve service delivery.
While these technologies are making a big impact on the sector, they have also exposed business process outsourcing (BPO) players to various cybersecurity risks. According to industry reports, data breaches are one of the major factors likely to hinder the sector’s growth. That said, it is vital for ITeS and BPO players to stay abreast of the latest technological developments in order to maintain a competitive edge in the global market.
A look at some of the key use cases of emerging technologies in the IT/ITeS and BPO sectors…
Use cases of key technologies
The IT/ITeS and BPM sectors have been at the forefront of the ongoing technology revolution in the country. Enterprises in this sector have been developing and deploying various key technologies to bring in operational efficiency in their business. The following are some of the use cases of new-age technologies in the BPO sector.
AI and automation
Various BPO players are increasingly deploying AI-driven chatbots to minimise human involvement in routine tasks. They are automating certain voice and chat services, thereby enabling seamless customer service operations. In addition, AI is being used for functions such as routing and directing customers to support resources. Using AI, companies are building various business process automation applications.
Further, AI helps BPO companies to effectively analyse the data collected from various channels such as social media, calls, emails and chats. It also allows them to easily tap calls and maintain records of conversations. This helps companies better understand customer behaviour and their complaints. Thus, AI makes it easier for BPO enterprises to analyse the data and curate an omnichannel experience. In addition, AI can be used in data entry, data management, quality assurance workflows, human resources and payment processing workflows.
Unified communication is a cloud-delivered data exchange and communication model. It is capable of handling six types of communications, namely, telephones, meetings (audio/video/web), unified messaging, instant messaging and presence (personal and team), voicemails, and communications-enabled business processes. Unified communication-as-a-service (UCaaS) operates from a central hub, enabling small- and medium-sized businesses to manage their complete communications from a single location. With the support of UCaaS, businesses can avoid hiring full-time IT support staff and setting up huge IT infrastructure for internal and external communications, making it a cost-effective solution for BPO players.
A huge amount of data is generated every day in call centres, which is used to drive businesses improvement. BPO players are deploying big data analytics to analyse the unstructured data collected during operations. This is enabling them to make informed decisions and provide strategic insights to their clients. Besides, big data analytics has enabled BPO service providers to design personalised programs by mapping individual preferences and needs, as customer behaviour can be tracked using various software tools. It has also helped them in evolving their services based on the ongoing market trend. Apart from this, enterprises have been able to control the churn rate, drive referral sales and increase customer loyalty.
Blockchain technology adoption in the BPO industry would bring about a lot of profits. Blockchain-based smart contracts are a reliable solution for tamper-proof data storage and system actual-state representation. In the case of huge data storage, the possibility of sharing misleading or false information is quite high. Smart contracts provide a verifiable and immutable environment for data storage, which eliminates these problems. Additional support through extensive testing and security audits can ensure the safety and attack resistance of contracts. Moreover, due to their tamper-proof nature, information locked into smart contracts cannot be changed. This gives additional privilege in terms of data security and helps in safely granting access to it to every member of the system.
In order to analyse the generated data, secure and methodical storage is needed. Enterprises in the sector are using cloud to store data. Transferring customer data on to the cloud is helping companies efficiently analyse it to meet customer expectations. According to Forbes Research, around 77 per cent of outsourcing companies worldwide host at least one cloud application. Further, the cloud call centre provides a system that is network-based and requires no on-premises hardware. With the help of the cloud-based system, the outsourced companies are scaling up business operations and expanding their global reach. This is also helping them control the cost, and provide reliable services and improved customer experience.
The future of automation
A new wave of RPA is affecting the back-office outsourcing ecosystem worldwide. Mature BPO service providers across the globe are automating back-office work for cost optimisation and better efficiency. RPA can increase efficiency and accuracy in a cost-effective manner and could soon replace labour-intensive back-office functions.
The BPO industry is highly prone to data breaches, mostly due to wrongly deployed security regulations, unauthorised access controls, and inadequate data regulations, among other reasons. Moreover, with new technologies such as AI, ML and RPA in action, greater customer indulgence and surmounting data generation is a given. This is why organisations need to adapt and strengthen their data security corridors before any data-related mishaps happen.
Since offshore BPO companies work in different time zones, a constant communication network forms the basis of seamless interaction between parties. Expert cyberattackers can take advantage of these channels, loot confidential information and steal data from within the organisation. If a company has a flawed data encryption model in action, this can lead to catastrophic consequences.
Over and above the cyberthreat challenge, the unavailability of a skilled workforce also poses a problem for BPO players. The deployment of RPA in any industry is a very special and critical task that requires not only strong leadership, but also skilled labour that can learn quickly and implement the technology properly. Moreover, the involvement of employees at every level of the organisation during the automation process, with good coordination, is very important. Coordination between employees not only helps in completing the task more accurately but also enables the organisation to generate a system that syncs with RPA. If the IT team is made a part of the process while building the infrastructure, it will reduce risk and ensure safety standards.
The way forward
The Indian IT, ITeS and BPO industries are poised to scale new heights in the coming years. Further, the demand for digital technologies and resumption of normal economic activities will drive sales for IT and BPO companies.
The growing digitisation is expected to bring forth new cyber-risks. As such, enterprises need to focus on cybersecurity and deploy relevant technology solutions to safeguard their networks.