BPO and the Transformation of Process Work

In previous articles in this module, we have discussed how the BPO sector has evolved and some future directions for BPO companies in Asia. This article looks at a little known aspect of the BPO phenomenon i.e. the fact that the very nature of the process work has been transformed because of the emergence of the BPO sector. The point here is that until the process outsourcing began in a large way, it was considered something that was not done by graduates from reputed institutions in the West. For instance, call centers and routine processing of claims and other procedural work was left to those with the minimum required education and was considered unfit for those with degrees. However, all this changed with companies in India and other parts of Asia taking to the BPO sector in major way.

This has resulted in many graduates from prominent business schools and commerce colleges entering the BPO sector in India and Philippines which meant that the work was considered a worthy career to pursue. This has resulted in the nature of the work getting transformed which has had spin-offs in the way the process outsourcing industry has contributed to quality excellence.

For instance, some studies have proved that the adoption of quality frameworks like Six Sigma, TQM etc have meant that companies in India are able to achieve better results for reduced operational cost. This has resulted in humungous gains for the Western companies as well as introducing an element of professionalism to the way the work is done.

Indeed, it can be said that what is considered to be a low level profession in the US and Europe is considered to be a glamorous career in India and Philippines and the choice of millions of young professionals. As noted above, the transformation of the nature of the process work has also resulted in India aspiring to move up the curve and consider KPO or Knowledge Work that is cerebral and intellectual since the base steps of the ladder have already been conquered. The point here is that high end knowledge work leads to greater value adding activities and hence, the emphasis on this kind of work means that companies in Asia can move up the value chain. The availability of a large pool of skilled workers in the post graduate streams has meant that companies in India can tap into this readily available workforce to do high end work. This is one reason why companies in India are preferred for BPO work rather than in other countries.

Finally, the BPO sector might be blamed for night shifts and excessive reliance on American accents as a route to success. However, given the points that have been discussed above, it is by no means the only way to define the BPO sector and the positives associated with the sector far outweigh the negatives. Hence, it is clear that the next phase of innovation is around the corner and it is hoped that Indian companies seize the opportunity like they did with earlier phases of innovation.

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