Expert Peter Ryan On Results Of 2022 And Predictions For 2023

December 19, 2022  |  Peter Ryan

2022 RESULTS

Mark gave a really great summary and I can’t disagree with anything that he brought up in terms of 2022. There’s a few things that stand out for me. From the perspective of outsourcing business continuity, as it relates to how outsourcers operate and what the buyers expect from the outsourcing community, this really came to the forefront, as we all remember at the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic. And it really hasn’t gone away. It wasn’t a flash in the pan and something that I’ve been picking up in my research and my discussions with people over the course of the last 11 or 12 months. It is very much validated that there is an anticipation that if a buyer is going to work with an outsourcer, that outsourcer has to be if not risk-free then as risk resistant as possible, whether it comes to delivery from a low cost location, whether it comes to a business model, whether it comes to the different technologies that they’re applying. This BCP element is absolutely crucial now.

Another crucial thing that has really stood out for me from the standpoint of outsourcing and technology over the course of the past year relates to the laser focus that so many organizations have. Whether it’s the buyers themselves or the outsourcers on data protection and information security, we are seeing an era now where it’s becoming commonplace for organizations to not just be attacked by ransomware but to be more than willing to pay the money out just to get access back to their databases, into their servers. I find it very worrying that in the outsourcing community, as Mark well knows, we are constantly hearing behind the scenes stories of different providers that have been attacked and different providers that have scrambled to try and deal with the situation. With that in mind, the investment that so many different companies are making right now in regards to beating up their infosec and making sure that they are as watertight as possible is huge. There’s some very scary statistics out there in terms of the number of organizations that are not just being hit but are anticipating being hit moving forward. To my mind, it’s gone from being a nice to have in terms of having the top technologies and the top people in place to manage this, it’s becoming a table stakes element.

Another trend that I would voice very much, what Mark was saying, relates to AI and the fact that AI has become much more mainstream over the course of the past 12 months. What we’re seeing is that the AI technology itself has become much more sophisticated, much more robust. Where we’re seeing a bit of a disconnect and what I’ve seen over the past 12 months is the extent to which organizations are able to deploy AI in a robust manner. So it’s great to have the artificial intelligence but unless you go to a tool that will really leverage it. As Mark was referring to being able to have a discussion with a chat bot about James Joyce is a fantastic example. Unfortunately, there’s still a lot of organizations out there deploying frontline technologies that are potentially powered by AI but the interface is still not able to leverage the capacity of what the AI can do and still drives a limited consumer experience.

Just finally, this whole idea about virtualization, there’s no two ways about it. This model is something that has come to the forefront in 2022. I would also say, the whole idea about hybrid working and the enablement of people to work some days in an office – some days working out of the residence or working remotely in a secure environment or a mandated environment that ticks all the compliance boxes is something that is being discussed and put into practice in 2022. I think in 2023, we’re going to figure out how this model balances out in terms of proportions spent at home or proportions spent working out of a facility. There’s no two ways about it. There’s definitely a lot happening in this regard, but when it comes right down to it, we can see that this is a structural part of about how outsourcing is being run.

OUTLOOK FOR 2023

Mark laid out some really good trends there and I’d just pick up on his discussion about the metaverse. I absolutely see this traction happening right now. There’s much more practical discussion about the metaverse as an environment in terms of our social lives, in terms of our lives as consumers, even our lives as professionals. Mark is spot on to what he said about this going to require some baby steps. It’s not going to be something that we’re all going to be diving into. There’s still a lot of confusion about how the metaverse is going to play out. It’s still very confusing for me as a consumer and for me as simply a citizen to know how I can get involved with the metaverse. What do I need to do? How do I equip myself? How do I get online with it? So, there will be definitely a move towards this and I think 2023 will be very much a year that’s going to be catalytic in that regard. Probably, more people are going to find their way into the metaverse than ever before. I just highlight that at a recent conference that I partnered on, CX Outsourcers, Stephen Lloyd from TrendzOwl gave a tremendous presentation, talking about the impact of the metaverse over the long term. For me, it really hit home but again this is not going to be a short-term play. This is something that’s going to take months, if not years. Back to what the World Wide Web was like in 1994 or 1995 when people of my age were in university, we started getting online and figuring out what it meant. Then businesses started figuring out what it meant for commerce and so forth. It all just steamrolled, it snowballed! I think we’re going to see that with the metaverse.

There’s a couple of other things that I would like to touch on – agent empowerment and the user experience from the employee standpoint. We’re hearing a lot right now about employee experience and that just doesn’t come down to how you’re treated by your supervisor or how you’re treated in regards to your dealings with co-workers. It also comes down to the experience you have using the tools at your disposal. And one of the things that I’ve picked up on in terms of the outsourcing community over the course of the past several months is a willingness to invest in making sure that individual employees are dealing with this few amounts of tools as they need to. They are trying to streamline operations, they’re trying to make that user interface much more practical. As opposed to having to deal with multiple databases, only deal with a couple that are very easy to manipulate and get information that you require literally at your fingertips. One of the big elements that we find from the perspective of outsourcing employees is the frustration of having to deal with antiquated tools, having to deal with multiple tools, many of which don’t speak to each other very well. So, I think we should be watching out for that in terms of the investments that the outsourcing community puts into place.

Equally speaking, there’s going to be a growth in terms of what I would say as robust AI-driven frontline interfaces. I go back to what Mark was talking about earlier with regards to the chat bot with which he was able to have a literary discussion. I think that we’re going to see a lot more organizations putting into practice the investments that they need to make with regards to finding the right tools that are not just going to give you a basic answer that you probably could have found on an FAQ or on some type of a user form, but ones that are actually going to be practically driven and that are going to learn from different interactions. Mark, a friend of ours called Leanne Rollins has been involved with one of these intelligent chat bots. It’s doing just some amazing things in the UK for different retailers and for local councils. I think that in 2023, we’re going to see this becoming much more as part of the norm as opposed to the exception.

If we’re taking a look at the industry from a top line of 40,000 foot view, geopolitical awareness has been very big in 2022 for obvious reasons and I think that that’s going to continue into 2023. The reality is, it’s not just Central and Eastern Europe that’s having issues right now. We are seeing tensions that are ratcheting up in parts of Asia. We’re seeing some elements of commotion happening in different parts of Latin America. Mark, most recently in Brazil you had an election and it was very uncertain how that was going to play out. I think now there’s going to be much more of a focus on what’s happening in different countries, in different regions politically, as outsourcing clients and the outsourcers themselves make decisions on what type of work they’re going to situate in different parts of the world or whether or not they’re actually going to situate in certain parts of the world.

These are very big considerations to take into account and with that in mind, I also think that we need to consider the fact that for the longest time there have been three or four different countries that have really been the established BPO destinations, the established IT service destinations in terms of delivery. This is not to say that these spots whether it’s India, the Philippines, South Africa, Egypt or Mexico are going to evaporate. By no means. But rather I think that what you’re going to see in 2023 is going to be a renewed push to try and see what can be done in terms of leveraging new destinations or emerging destinations that are out there. It could be locations that we’re hearing talked about a lot right now. Rwanda is a good example. We’re hearing also a lot of discussion about the Republic of Georgia. There’s a lot happening right now in terms of burgeoning near-shore and offshore locations that are positioning themselves as logical go-tos in regards to what can be done for back office or front office Business Process Management, as well as information technology management.

Finally, I just want to touch on another trend that we spoke about a little bit earlier, but I think really has resonance going into 2023. That’s the whole element about how the hybrid working model is going to play out. Mark very eloquently made the point that when we’ve looked at home working over the course of 2020 up until now, it’s gone from being something that everybody scrambled in a Dunkirk-like fashion to manage and now it’s become very structural with processes and technologies in place to facilitate it. What I’m going to be looking for in the coming year is the extent to which different Industries establish what a norm is going to be in terms of the time that they want their agents working from remote locations. We’re going to see, if there’s going to be rules put in place, legislating around this. We’ve seen some of this in different offshore destinations thus far. How is this going to play out and are we going to see on a sector level or a country level, what is going to be seen as a practical or an acceptable amount of time working remotely versus working within a facility. Equally, I think we’re going to see what the pushback is going to be from the labor force. As we know, the labor force has become very tight in both established domestic demand locations, as well as in some of the offshore. What’s that labor flexibility going to look like in terms of delivering outsourcing services and that’s going to have a big impact on the extent to which you see organizations either mandate coming back into a facility most of the time or full-time versus giving a little bit more flexibility in order to keep talented labor force.

 

This is the second part of our series of the results of 2022 and New Year predictions. Continue discovering what the future will be like with Mark Hillary, a British technology writer and analyst, who gave a great summary in terms of 2022 and predictions for 2023. A video discussion between Mark and Peter wraps up our series of predictions for 2023.

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