Opinion

Rethinking offshoring essential for BPO’S moving forward

Moving into the second half of 2020, everything is on the table in terms of how outsourcers approach front-line delivery.  Industry watchers have made many forecasts of what BPO will look like when the pandemic is over, and one element that needs to be considered in the mix it is the evolving place of offshoring.  How outsourcers and their clients approach this point of delivery will need to be carefully thought-out going forward.

Pre-existing conceptions around offshoring should be tossed out the window.  To be clear, the offshore and nearshore are here to stay, with each likely becoming more important than ever in customer experience management.  But, the manner in which capacity is distributed, and to where, will need to change. Providers and their clients should be ready.

Consider the headlines associated with nearshoring and offshoring during the pandemic.  Unfortunately, if those familiar with the contact center industry were surveyed about what marked them around offshore delivery since the end of March, many would immediately cite lockdowns in well-known overseas and nearshore delivery points.

Yet, while these occurrences were an undeniable facet in the contact center space over the past few months, they do not define the future of offshoring.  In fact, for this business model, the future looks promising, provided the right approach is taken.

One consideration that any outsourcer needs to keep in mind in the new business climate is workstation distribution.  No longer can an operator reasonably house overwhelming proportions of its capacity within one geographic confine, be it a single city or state or province.  Outsourcers heavily invested in countries where the BPO sector was effectively shut down faced considerable operational disruption, as did their clients.  Thus, finding a way to move capacity into new locations as a means of risk reduction will be paramount to future success.

This changes the dynamic for outsourcers, because it places a great deal more delivery points on the table for consideration. Likewise, it places emerging locations in the spotlight.

As the BPO community seeks out cities and countries that are ready to grow their outsourcing sectors, there is a great chance to leverage value in different spots that previously have not been on the BPO map.  Emerging Africa cannot be ignored, led by upstart countries like Senegal or Rwanda, complimenting the continent’s more established centers of BPO excellence, such as Morocco, South Africa and Egypt. In the Caribbean, sourcing niche capacity in Granada, Saint Lucia or the Grand Bahama to compliment deployments in the Dominican Republic or Jamaica just makes sense.

Such a strategy would also work nicely to diversify across Central & Eastern Europe, Asia-Pacific or Latin America for that matter.  Thus, the time has come for outsourcers to examine how this approach can work for them.  Clearly, a major consideration will be the cost of taking on new capacity. Providers will need to consider how to reconcile the need for broader geographic distribution of agents with the expense of taking on new facilities.  This is where incorporating a work-at-home strategy in countries where this business model can be facilitated with strong telecommunications connectivity needs to be explored.  So, too, would a partnering network in new offshore markets, effectively white-labeling support using a trusted series of on the ground providers in these locales.  But, clearly the offshore is not going away. With the right approach, it can offer more value than ever.

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