Despite AI’s challenges, BPO group sees industry’s growth

By: Jose Santino S. Bunachita May 29,2018 - 09:14 PM

AMID the emergence of new technology like artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics, the Contact Center Association of the Philippines (CCAP) remain optimistic with the industry’s growth.

In an interview yesterday, CCAP President Jojo Uligan said contact center companies have been adapting to the challenge of upscaling workforce brought by these new technologies.

“Primarily, we make sure that companies will educate our people about all these technologies. We need to enable them to have the right skill set and knowledge. It’s been there for the longest time and it haven’t stopped us from growing,” he said.

Uligan said the local contact center sector is rapidly evolving to match the changing requirements from their customers.

The CCAP official added that contact center companies in the country are exhibiting high-level of readiness to take on more challenging tasks that require higher level of skills for both voice and non-voice jobs.

Currently, the Philippines remains to be the biggest source of contact center services worldwide.

The country is expected to take 16 to 18 percent of the total outsourced service globally in 2018, based on data from The Everest Group, a Texas-based global consulting and research firm – remaining ahead of its nearest competitor in the market which is India.

The data also indicate that the Philippine contact center sector generated US$13 billion in 2017. It will continue to grow by seven to nine percent by the end of the year, CCAP said.

“Our customers are asking us something very different now. That’s where education of people and adoption of technology happens. It’s investment in technology and people,” Uligan said.

He explained that instead of the usual requirements of good English communication skills, workers in the sector are now required and are trained to have higher technical knowledge.

Basic services have also evolved and are requiring workers to have mid to complex skill levels.

“We have already started. We’ve been doing it. We just need to further enhance their skills with the technology. You need to teach them. After teaching them, they’ll be able to do it,” he said.
Of the estimated 1.2 million people working in the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector, CCAP says 800,000 are in the contact center sector.

The number of employees is also expected to grow between 7-9 percent.

In Cebu City, considered by CCAP as one of the most supportive local government units to the sector, the city government is aiming to add at least 50,000 agents to its current roster of call center professionals.

CCAP sees this as a move that will increase revenue infusion into the city government to P10 billion monthly from the current P7 billion monthly from its over 100,000 agents.

In its 2017 assessment in the industry, The Everest Group cited good language skills and high empathy of the local agents coupled with competitive costs for the country’s maintained strength in contact center value proposition.

The research company added that cultural affinity to Western countries and government incentives like tax discounts and talent development programs also contribute to the local industry’s continuous growth.

The same study also emphasized that while contact center jobs are still supporting voice-related services, a rising number of tasks involve non-voice channels as well. This shift to non-voice is playing a significant role in the evolution of jobs within the industry.

Meanwhile, a Job Complexity Survey by the CCAP indicates that voice service is still a key service offering with about half employees doing voice accounts and the other half as non-voice services.

Further, of those agents who are doing voice jobs, only 14 percent are engaged in low-skill tasks. These include telemarketing, order taking, and provision of simple customer service assistance.

Those engaged in jobs requiring middle-level skills comprise of 51 percent of the respondents. Their tasks range from providing solutions to customers’ problems, processing health claims, domain process assisting, providing technical support, bills collections, and outbound selling.

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TAGS: AI, BPO group, challenges, despite, growth, industry, sees

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