Automation and the BPO industry

3 Jul 2023

Automation has become an integral part of our lives. From ATMs to cars, it became useful as a tool. As technology and innovation rapidly develop in 2023, Automation serves as a curious point in different fields, especially in the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry. The revolutionary potential that automation holds can define how business functions can evolve in the future. 

The variety, accessibility, and efficiency that automated processes open make it an interesting avenue to explore in any field. With industries changing in the blink of an eye, the BPO industry prides itself on flexibility with innovative solutions. Digital transformation urges companies to enhance their processes. Thus, BPO companies take charge with shiny, emerging technologies. 

There are two types of automation that you would commonly see used for business process functions: Basic Automation and Artificial Intelligence.

Basic Automation and BPO

The simplest form of automation, the purpose of basic automation is straightforward: to automate repetitive functions. Utilising an automated process in your operations can enhance or streamline workflow, shifting your workforce towards purpose-driven tasks. As far as automation goes, this one is easy to deploy and is a simple way to accelerate business transformation in any company. In the BPO industry, basic automation comes in two main forms: Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Business Process Management (BPM).

Robotic Process Automation

With a scaling business comes an increasing volume of tedious tasks. These are often repetitive and manual in nature but are needed to keep a business functioning. This leaves employees who are dedicated to these tasks feeling unfulfilled and bogged down due to the high volume. RPA takes care of these repetitive back-office tasks. If you have a data and process-centric workload that are rule-based, RPAs have a place in your process. 

Using an Application Process Interface (API) with a given script, RPA performs functions in high quantities, unlike grandiose depictions of automation. RPAs are fairly simple as far as automation goes. The API receives commandments from the script that is based on the process needed to be accomplished. It’s not machine learning, but rather a software given command to be executed. As a result, RPAs often become one of the easiest forms of automation to implement in any business function.

RPAs enhance employee productivity by taking care of tedious functions:

Customer Service: RPAs can upload customer records, manage feedback and satisfaction statistics, and scan through data and documents for verification purposes. 

Talent Acquisition: Recruiters can have an RPA automatically scout for candidate resumes and CVs, issue letters to candidates at high volume, and streamline the onboarding process.

Human Resources: Through RPAs, employees can automatically submit their timesheets and update them in real time. RPAs can also automatically update important employee information. 

Finance and Accounting: RPAs can verify high quantities of invoices, analyse financial data and statements to generate forecasts. They can also match invoices with purchase orders to fulfil accounts payable functions.

Business Process Management

BPMs require more of a human touch. BPMs are a discipline that optimises a business function, and applies a system designed to execute and monitor it. The role of a BPM is to coordinate the different functions that allow a business to be successful to create an automated and consistent outcome without wasting effort. This makes it perfect for the BPO industry, which wants to make the most of a good workforce through automation. 

Unlike the RPA, BPMs have a choice to either rely upon or involve robot systems or have a human-centric system that uses automated functions. The process of conceptualising a BPM often goes as follows:

Design: The team defines objectives and delineates milestones or dependencies that complete the process. Individual tasks should then be given and defined often through talking to the different members involved in the process. It’s sometimes necessary to create a working mock-up of the process during this stage.

BPMs can help streamline workflow between departments.

Model: This begins the framework conceptualization of the process. There should be more specificity in the tasks detailed and should be presented to the necessary parties as a visual workflow chart.  

Execute: Here, the model is put to work either manually or using one of the many BPM systems. The proof of concept should serve as the basis of whether or not to implement the process to a wider team, but it should always begin with a small group first. After further feedback, you may begin to roll out the process to all groups.

Monitor: A dedicated team should observe and collect feedback/data from employees regarding the execution of the BPM.

Optimise: Based on the feedback and concerns given, a team should make adjustments to remove bottlenecks to better the BPM flow. 

The Difference Between

What’s the key similarity and difference between the two? To put it easily, an RPA can do the work for you, while a BPM makes sure that you do the work. The key similarity is that both can be integrated into your workflow to enhance your team’s tasks. 

Artificial Intelligence and BPO

You might have been observing Artificial Intelligence systems like ChatGPT and MidJourney fascinates users around the world. We are seeing a rapid transformation of the AI landscape in the tech industry, with industry titans like Microsoft dipping their toes into the game. While it’s all fun to speak to conversational AI or make funny images with generative AI, as a tool, AI works well with human input for business purposes. 

AI is the science of making intelligent systems that learn to mimic or understand human intelligence. In the BPO industry, AI and human workers collaborate to create customer experiences that are tailored yet efficient, automated with a human touch, and unique but scalable for growing businesses. 

AI may learn from experience with human interactions or through deep learning training. This type of AI will begin to understand patterns and be trained via large amounts of data, following a set of rules to infer decision-making. Essentially, it automates the creation of an automated model that uses algorithms as a basis.

Artificial Intelligence in BPO Application

Speech Recognition. Customer service representatives benefit from speech recognition AI to transcribe calls in real time. This ensures a fast and efficient resolution time for the customer.

Speech recognition AI can speed up customer service resolution!

Automated Analytics. Your offshore finance team can benefit from AI through the use of its analytical skills. Since it depends on patterns, AI can be used for fraud detection, forecasting of market trends, and risk management and prevention.

Data-based creatives. Another great use of AI is the use of historical data to predict campaign reactions. Your offshore digital marketer may use AI for tradition, connecting better with consumers and driving sales. 

The Ethics of Automation in the BPO Industry

Automation in the BPO industry is an exciting prospect as it creates avenues and opportunities for further collaboration with technology for BPO fields like retail and customer service. There are a lot of understandable concerns and buzz about AI being a threat to human workers. However, reliance on AI and reluctance to further innovation both have undeniable cons. The trick is to understand the ethics of AI and know that the value of human input is irreplaceable. It’s all about the balance between the two.