The BPM industry has been under continuous threat due to various emerging technologies,* however it has managed to thrive and grow by leveraging technology rather than resisting it. Technology keeps evolving rapidly with highly volatile trends. What we consider as new today, may soon become obsolete. Will the BPM industry succeed or be left behind? How can the industry and employees equip themselves better to face these rapid developments and changes in technology? The answer is by future-proofing.
What is future-proofing? It means anticipating the future trends in the BPM industry and emerging technologies* to develop flexible organizational strategies to provide better, faster and economical services to clients with great end customer experience.
This article addresses future proofing with regards to 2 important aspects (1) BPM Industry & (2) BPM Employees. It gives an overview of the impact of emerging technologies* on the BPM industry and its employees. It focuses on the dire need to embrace and adopt technology and up-skill ourselves to thrive and be future-proof. The need for future proofing arises due to fear of job threats and staying relevant in the industry.
Are BPM Jobs really at stake?
While on one hand, we focus on job cuts as an outcome of automation/digitization, on the other we often tend to overlook the role of emerging technologies* in generating new jobs. Let us have a look at both these aspects:
- There were predictions of huge job-cuts in BPM industry due to increasing use of technology; however reality is far away from that. These technologies are creating new jobs too. Some of the reports below from the year 2017 that suggested job-cuts.
- https://www.businesstoday.in/sectors/it/ai-and-automation-to-cost-7-lakh-it-jobs-by-2022-says-report/story/259880.html – Approximately 7 lakh low skilled workers from the IT and BPO industry in India are likely to do away with their jobs due to automation and AI by 2022, says US-based research firm HFS’s report.
- https://www.business-standard.com/article/companies/artificial-intelligence-creating-new-jobs-hardly-stealing-capgemini-117090800822_1.html – Only 8% of the 86 companies surveyed in India said that they witnessed job losses due to emergence of this new-age technology (AI).
*Emerging technologies like RPA, OCR/ICR, Intelligent Automation AI, ML, Block-chain, NLP, Speech Analytics, IOT etc.
- Emerging technologies* are giving rise to newer opportunities.
For e.g. the following reports do mention job cuts but at the same time they also promise rise in new jobs due to emerging technology.
- https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/tech/information-tech/indian-it-bpm-sector-saw-recovery-in-revenue-growth-at-7-9-in-fy20-economic-survey-2020-21/articleshow/80586683.cms?from=mdr– The economic survey says that the Indian IT-BPM sector saw recovery in revenue growth at 7.9% in FY20: Economic Survey 2020-21. Growth over the last decade industry grew by 102%. $190.5 billion in revenues in 2019-20It added 1.8 million employees, up 70% over the last decade
- https://www.wboc.com/story/43399251/it-and-bpo-services-market-in-india-market-size-and-forecast-2021-to-2024-by-global-industry-share-key-leading-countries-geographic-segmentation – Global IT and BPO Services Market in India market is projected to grow at a CAGR 8% with Revenue USD 83.6 billion during the forecast period 2021 to 2024.
The emerging technologies have definitely impacted human jobs; however they have been able to replace only a small percentage of that so far. RPA for instance, has not been able to replace human jobs as we expected earlier. RPA adheres to a set of rules for automation of work without any variation therefore it is best only for repetitive rule-based tasks. Business processes are expected to change regularly. When change is introduced, scalability and ROI issues related to process automation surface rapidly. Humans are capable of adapting, but it is not possible with bots that blindly follow a set of rules.
“Technology adoption will be successful only when ‘cost savings’ due to technology are more than the ‘cost of technology’ itself.”
Just like RPA any of the emerging technologies* once introduced goes through a hype phase and the graph gradually flattens.
No doubt there is hype of technology replacing humans catching up with quick advancements in emerging technologies*. But does that mean that all the people would lose jobs? The answer is, “No”. It still does not imply that humans are not required. The threat is real but technology is only a part of the big whole picture and it aids in performing repetitive and routine tasks so that individuals get more bandwidth to do qualitative work and focus on business objectives.
Technology that is leveraged along with deep domain knowledge of BPM industry empowers managers to recognize and better respond to customer demands, apply solutions to business problems. It also helps to reduce operational costs due to process improvements. Automation does facilitate doing repetitive rule based manual tasks, with quicker turn-around time, increased productivity, with better quality, and end customer experience at lower cost.
Man v/s Machine Debate
For the past 100+ years, “Man v/s Machine” been has been an ongoing debate. This debate has gone to the next level with BPM industry and technology. One of the most effective solutions to end this debate is to adopt technology rather than resisting it. The key is to leverage technology to process rule based repetitive transactions and let humans handle the exceptions thrown by platforms/digital solutions.
In case of repetitive rule based processes, the threat of technology is looming large as it is contributing to the reduction of repetitive human jobs. Technology such as RPA, OCR/ICR, Bots are taking over the human roles in BPM domain. However, jury is still out to prove what percentage of these jobs will be taken over by the aforesaid technologies. So far the success rate is small. There is a potential threat for decision based jobs too, however not to a great extent so far. With judgement based processes, technology is still not there but you never know when some latest technology emerges on the horizon.
Employees and the organization need to continue to up-skill themselves to do higher end decision based and judgement based transactions. Emerging technologies* must be embraced by professionals and organizations.
SLK Global’s strategy to future proof:
For the past 6 to 7 years, SLK Global (https://www.slkglobalsolution.com/) has started their business platform/digital solution division. We have come up with innovative platform solutions that are backed by domain knowledge of 20+ years in BFSI industry. At SLK Global we don’t adopt technology just for the heck of it, but we make best use of the combination of deep domain knowledge and technology to solve real business problems faced by customers. We provide business outcome based solutions to real business problems using platforms/digital solutions below:
- LoanAccel – An automated pre-underwriting platform with proprietary rules-based engine for loan origination. It’s a configurable solution driving financial efficiency.
- Copasys – An enterprise-wide industry agnostic automated registered technology platform for regulatory, process and RPA QC. It is a configurable, cloud-based solution driving quality and productivity.
- RETS – A cloud-based property tax payment solution for lenders. A next-gen UX with unified front-end and back-end providing enhanced control & visibility over clients’ portfolios.
- SmartTrak – An established platform for property tax reports, certificates and municipal lien search.
- SmartProp – Property search solution for ownership and lien reports.
In order to accomplish future-proofing for BPM industry and its employees, following changes are recommended. These practices may help BPM industry stay relevant and help manage this change better by providing in better turn-around time, productivity, quality and end customer experience for their clients.
- Leverage domain knowledge along with technology to provide outcome driven business solutions to real business problems of your clients. Select and make use of the right technologies on the back of strong domain knowledge to carve out good digital solutions to resolve the real business problems of your clients.
- Stop resisting Technology, embrace it: BPM industry being a highly people-intensive industry, tends to resist adoption of new technology, mainly due to high and direct impact on employees and immediate revenue. Start treating technology as a friend rather than a foe and avoid pushback of adoption of technology. Organizations that adopt new technology will become more cost effective & productive, compared to those who resist it. If you do not do it for your clients, someone else will do it and you will become irrelevant.
- Be Agile: The organization needs to be flexible and act immediately by being responsive to changing circumstances. Predict changes in technology landscape and change proactively.
- Focus on Employees up-skilling: Up-skill existing employees via training them on latest technologies and hire specialists with expertise on emerging technologies.* BPM employees need to up-skill themselves to have competitive advantage and sustain in the new technology wrapped BPM industry.
Technologies are emerging rapidly and will continue to do so. BPM players and employees need to embrace and adopt the new technologies rather than resisting it. No doubt there is threat to repetitive human jobs (rule based jobs) but there is a huge scope of growth for high skilled complex jobs (decision & judgement based jobs) along with jobs related to new technologies. I see this as an ever evolving process, where machines will continue to take-over low skilled human jobs and humans will keep on evolving to perform high end jobs. After all it is humans who create machines not vice-versa.
A Hands-on practitioner