How BPO Providers Can Reinvent Themselves in 2019

Posted: 01/15/2019 - 03:52

From embracing start-ups to going multi-lingual, Edmund Ovington of Enterprise Translation-as-a-Service provider Unbabel lays out some advice for BPOs on how to stay at the top of the game in 2019 and beyond. 

Not so long ago, Blockbuster (remember them?) and Netflix ran a similar service. In fact, at the turn of the millennium, Blockbuster had the opportunity to purchase Netflix for a lowly $50 million. Blockbuster turned it down in what must rank alongside the country and western community’s response to rock and roll as a passing fad for “most short-sighted decisions of all time.”  Today, Netflix has more than 100 million subscribers worldwide and a revenue of $11.69 billion. Blockbuster, on the other hand, filed for bankruptcy in 2010. 
This failure to adapt to a changing market had dire consequences for a well-established household name. In the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) space, similar dangers exist. While rumours of “death of the BPO” may have been greatly exaggerated, there is a pressing need to diversify and innovate if BPO providers are to remain market leaders in 2019 and beyond. 
Survival of the Fittest 
It’s not an easy market. Customer service has changed immeasurably in the last 10 years. Users who were once content to stay on hold with a service agent for several hours now kick up a stink on Twitter if their issue isn’t dealt with in a few minutes. With the rise of artificial intelligence and big data, customer service has evolved into a field that’s all about efficiency, automation and personalization.  
The BPO industry has sold human services for a long time and knows that it must build analytics teams as well as innovation teams. However, it frequently happens that when a large BPO provider looks to build a piece of software, a start-up can do it better and faster!  
Because of this, BPO providers are enlisting the help of savvy start-ups and new tools in self-service are emerging. Today it’s all about the dominance of live chat in customer satisfaction, the widespread adoption of advanced analytics and the automation of repetitive processes, which allow companies to cut costs and keep operations efficient. 
The Value of Agility 
BPO providers should look to build omni channels as true “human services companies.” They have the data in place to do great analytics, but can’t always manage it from a technical and operational point of view.  
One key issue is that improvements tend to be small, isolated and almost exclusively under the umbrella of the English language. In a truly global market, BPO providers are missing out on key improvements that have the power to ensure clients maintain innovative practices and high profit margins. 
When BPO providers can nail areas like customer service, the benefits of new technology like AI and automation can be unlocked and services will be more affordable, which is of course the bottom line for customers. 
Ultimately it all comes down to disrupting before you’re disrupted. It’s time for BPO providers to grab the opportunities to adapt, innovate and reinvent successfully for the future.

About The Author

Edmund Ovington's picture

Edmund is VP of Global Alliances at Unbabel, driving value for Unbabel’s customer base through close relationships with key partners and investors, as well as building out Unbabel's US operations from NYC. He has 10 years’ experience scaling technology companies, specifically B2B SaaS, such as Yammer.