According to management consultancy firm Hungry Workhorse, as much as 900,000 BPO workers in the world may be replaced by machines if they fail to upskill. The IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) has isolated the job loss volume in the Philippines, and came up with a 40-50K casualty rate for “low-skilled” BPO workers in the next 5 years. pushAUX.com
Then there’s this recent study from PricewaterhouseCoopers Philippines, declaring that 60% of employers are planning to upgrade their businesses with technology-based solutions, which covers artificial intelligence (AI).
Let’s get some quotes rolling to stress the incoming tidal wave of change.
Alexander Cabrera, PricewaterhouseCoopers Philippines
“Many would engage in digital, online sales. More (corporations) will automate. Many of the mechanical parts of processes will be automated.”
Depender Kumar, Grant Thornton
“Repetitive jobs today are being done by robots. The kinds of jobs that will be available (in the future) will be slightly different so it is important to recalibrate your workforce.”
Christian Alis, Asian Institute of Management Senior Data Scientist
“There is already a need, a clamor for companies for them (BPO’s) to build their data science capabilities, to start their data science journey.”
The Philippine BPO sector has in its employ around 1.15 million workers, and a segment of this falls under the category of repetitive/static/rules-based work, something that automation can easily do.
Evolve or Die!
The snail pace upskilling progress of Philippine BPO workers will entail a high cost.
To a degree, the country is already behind its regional counterparts in terms of data science and digitalization. The faster the country re-skills its BPO workers, the more competitive things become, which will lead to more employment opportunities.
Christian Alis, AIM
“We’ve been able to talk to different companies in the region and one of the things they told us is we have fewer data infrastructure and fewer data scientists, and that this could lead to lost opportunities and lower competitiveness.”
Essentially, BPO’s need to embrace artificial intelligence to become more efficient, and upgrade worker skills away from no brainer tasks to deep analytics so that the industry will survive.
A New Breed of BPO Employee!
Corporations the world over are now looking for employees who can analyze data, those who can work with, or compliment AI.
Christian Alis, AIM
“Employers are now looking for a different skill-set. If we cannot provide that, they might look for those people in other countries.”
The government and the local BPO industry should cooperate and focus on the elevation of applied science courses; it all starts in school, the one place where talents are first developed.
Alexander Cabrera, PricewaterhouseCoopers
“As the products get digital, you need more people equipped with digital knowledge and I think that’s the gap the country still needs to fill.”
According to the study of PricewaterhouseCoopers Philippines, the “lack of talent” is a big reason why chief executive officers are having a hard time automating their services.