Just before the industrial revolution of the west, new machinery was just being introduced to factories, and factory owners began to realise they could replace workers with high-end technologies. As a form of rebellion against this progress, a band of English workmen went around under the cover of night, destroying new technologies to keep their jobs.
Needless to say, these men, known as Luddites, did not succeed. Factory work quickly became run by machines during the industrial revolution in the 19th and 20th centuries, cutting down the need for workers more and more. In the 21 century, we face a similar problem – the proliferation of artificial intelligence. Many are worried that artificial intelligence will take their jobs and make their industries obsolete – some even try the Luddites’ strategy and pass policies to prevent its use. But we all know how that ended last time. Perhaps, then, it’s time for a different strategy altogether. Workers can’t possibly compete with AI, but they can work with it to create an even more streamlined workflow, providing even better results for their clients in half the time.
This is the strategy that leading BPO – that’s business process outsourcing – companies in the Philippines are using. Outsourcing services in the Philippines, mostly consisting of customer service support, IT technical help, and IT enabled work were once thought to be nearly obsolete due to the invention of new AI software that could automate and optimise the work. But BPOs in the Philippines were smarter than the Luddites of pre-industrial England. Quickly recognizing the power of new AI software, contact centres in the Philippines quickly integrated them into their workflows. Now, the same employee can field multiple customer calls, enter data, and easily look up solutions for IT problems, all while providing a friendly human voice to customers who don’t want to speak to a robot.
But it’s true that the use of more artificial intelligence may decrease the need for high volumes of employees in contact centres in the Philippines. Does this mean the end of the BPO industry – or at least, the stagnation of its growth? Not at all. In fact, outsourcing companies in the Philippines have grown exponentially even with the rise of AI – partially because the industry itself has become more specialised and diverse in response to these new technologies. Once limited mostly to front-end, client-facing work, BPO in the Philippines can now include accounting, payroll management, sales lead generation, and even creative skilled work like website design, graphic creation, and software development. In an interesting twist, even the development of AI interfaces has been outsourced to the Philippines, a sure sign that the BPO industry is in the hands of innovators, rather than Luddites.
With so many promising new ventures in this industry using new artificial intelligence technologies, it’s clear that BPO in the Philippines isn’t going anywhere. With the industry’s impressive $30 billion annual contribution to the world economy and the willingness of BPO company leaders and workers to adapt to change and look toward the future, the Philippines’ outsourcing industry has infinite potential.