Robotic process automation (RPA) is all the rage these days, and with good reason. Software bots that replicate the way humans perform repetitive, rule-based tasks are driving significant cost savings and productivity increases. For as little as $10,000 a year, an enterprise can implement and maintain a bot that performs the routine work of five to ten people. Moreover, RPA can deliver a wide range of business benefits such as improved data collection and accuracy, auditability and compliance.
Wow! Isn’t it amazing how quickly things change? In the early 2000s, the very pinnacle of outsourcing was Walmart. Walmart didn’t outsource its own operations. Instead, it made history by working with offshore suppliers, introducing American consumers to low-cost Chinese goods. Consumers fell in love with the low prices, and Walmart grew to 14,000 stores, becoming the biggest corporation in America.
Trust is at the root of all successful outsourcing partnerships. Without trust between all parties, commercial relationships can break down. And as I’m sure you know it’s far more expensive to get new business in the door or find new partners to work with; than it is to keep the status quo.
So how can outsourcers build and maintain trust? I may be biased but I firmly believe that the availability of technology that provides round the clock oversight is the answer.
Recent stories by, amongst others, the BBC detailing large, well-organised and presumably very profitable scamming organisations targeting UK TalkTalk customers have hardly helped the already-lowly reputation of offshore contact centres - but may unfortunately be only the tip of a perilous iceberg.
There always seems to be plenty of commentary around what’s driving innovation and growth in both large enterprises and startups. By comparison, the mid-market seems slightly neglected; this seems an oversight given the crucial role it plays in the UK economy. Although this market segment represents just 1% of UK firms, medium-sized businesses are increasing revenues by an average of 6.7% each year and the mid-market is expected to boost the economy by 18% over the next five years.
Congratulations! It’s been three years since you decided to outsource accounts payable. Or, accounts receivable, or customer care, or payroll, or HR, or procurement, or any one of a dozen business process functions typically outsourced, in part or in full. You’ve finally stabilised operations, established consistent market standard processes, addressed the fears from the field, started realising those projected savings, and convinced IT that it is possible to improve response time without creating a horrific security breach.
In a multi-partner service delivery model, transparency and visibility are essential to an effective security and supplier risk management (SRM) strategy. Yet a wide range of evidence suggests that this transparency is sorely lacking in many cases. According to a study by the independent Ponemon Institute, 73 per cent of suppliers that experience a data breach don’t notify other vendors in the supply chain, while more than a third (37 per cent) of suppliers don’t notify their customers.
Emerging technology services have revolutionised the sourcing industry. These disruptive technologies like autonomics, interface technologies, big data analytics and other computing technologies have permitted smaller companies to successfully challenge established incumbent businesses. Specifically, as incumbents focus on improving their products and services for their most demanding (and usually most profitable) customers, they may exceed the needs of some segments and ignore the needs of others.
Robert Kurzban, Ph.D., an Associate Professor at the University of Pennsylvania in the Psychology Department, is a proponent of evolutionary psychology as a key to understanding human behaviour in all of its complexity.
By virtue of the risk adverse nature of the insurance sector, the sector has not been considered to be at the vanguard in terms of the adoption of new technologies.
Undoubtedly, digital has huge potential: to fundamentally transform the business operating model; to unlock the “impossible challenge”; to greatly accelerate change; and to intimately connect a company to its customers in real time. However, digital can also expose a company’s inner contradictions, reveal hidden pockets of poor performance, and even lead to perceived core capabilities being seen as critical weaknesses.
Kit Cox is the founder and CEO of UK-based BPO software company Enate, and a long-time observer of and commentator upon the international outsourcing space. He's also, now, the latest professional to come under the microscope of our Life Lessons series: we're in your hands, Kit...
What has been the single most significant development to impact your profession or area of business during your career, and why?
The sourcing industry has so far had a spectacularly wonderful run. Twenty-five years of constant change, dynamism, technical competencies; business-aligned, people-centric, and bottom-line focused; intrinsically able to deliver on all promises made. As with any journey, bumps and roadblocks are expected. Navigating them painstakingly has created heroes of many an organisation, spilling over benefits into the developing world, and capital markets.
Leading companies are working to extend management of the corporate risk profile to road safety. This is achieved by acknowledging key challenges, understanding the big picture and launching well-targeted strategic programs that consider local challenges and solutions. Such programs include driver management (driver selection, development and monitoring), vehicle management (including best use of new technologies) and assessing and managing route risks.