In late 2019, different experts and companies gave their optimistic projections for the Philippine BPO industry in the coming year. Of course, no one expected how much of an adverse effect the COVID-19 pandemic would have globally. This led to the rethinking of their predictions and long-term projections. Severely affected industries included travel, leisure and service. With more progress in containing the pandemic happening, many of them are looking to recover this year.
On the other hand, some industries were able to weather these abrupt changes by adapting to the global situation. One of these was the BPO industry, an industry known for its flexibility to adapt at the drop of the hat. Though also faced with several unique challenges, the industry itself was able to weather the initial storm and continued setbacks. Though it is still too early to make concrete assumptions, the outsourcing industry is looking to maintain its foothold in 2021.
The Resiliency of BPO Industry
Let’s take a step back and look where the industry was just a few years ago. 2019 was a promising year for BPOs and had all the momentum coming into 2020. Diversify itself was optimistic and laid out some predictions on what the new year would look like. AI’s continued use, for instance, would only become more prevalent. At the same time, human input and productivity would also increase and co-exist with AI technologies. The industry also saw a bigger reliance on cloud computing and why social media is the next trend to watch out for.
Overall, we were confident in the Philippine BPO industry and it’s flexibility and ability to reinvent itself when it came to business trends. We saw how it capitalized on changing technologies and adapted alongside them. What eventually did happen, however, showed just how flexible the industry needed to be.
The Importance of Agility
While the global pandemic disrupted several supply chains, it brought the concept of remote work to the forefront. Many companies rolled out their adjusted strategies that saw employees working from their homes in order to prioritize their safety. Some even began to consider adopting this remote work model on a more permanent basis.
The COVID pandemic also saw the importance of having a robust business continuity plan. With BPOs operating around the clock, they were able to ensure little to no disruption in several businesses. Part of Diversify’s BCP for instance saw the transferring of majority of its office operations at home. While this certainly came with several limitations, teams quickly implemented solutions to address initial concerns.
The Rise of Remote Work
Initial concerns of the pandemic were minimal at first. By the middle of March 2020 however, it started to become a more serious matter. Looking back, one of the biggest lessons learned by companies in 2020 is the viability of remote work. As part of the new normal, organizations were able to shift operations to home in order to prioritize the safety of their employees. Those now working from home have upgraded internet services and other solutions implemented by their company. The use of collaboration tools like Skype also expanded to others such as Zoom and Google Hangouts to ensure consistent communication with clients and their team.
Prior to the pandemic, BPO companies were already working several clients remotely. The industry is consistently known for its ability to service both local and international clients daily. Eventually, organizations saw the effectiveness of offshored teams and how they were able to operate in this pandemic. Given this, we are likely to see more specialized, skill-specific teams that companies are able to leverage.
New Normal, New Solutions
In response to the new normal, several companies began implementing new safety guidelines as early as last year. In Diversify’s case, employees and potential visitors must follow a daily health checklist prior to entering the facilities. Contact tracing and social distancing guidelines are also followed daily with strict compliance. Given this, providers offering quality services while also ensuring safety and security protocols remotely are likely to be sought after.
With more seeing how remote work can be feasibly achieved, BPOs can take the first step in demonstrating how it can be properly implemented. The global pandemic showed how much we can rely on the strategy and how it allows them access to people around the globe. In the coming year, companies will be looking to collaborate with BPOs that adhere to this new normal.
2020 was a year where businesses needed to adapt with rapidly changing times. The outsourcing industry showed how it was able to maintain itself amidst several unforeseen challenges. Business Continuity Plans now address issues like data security and employee safety prioritization.
Even when the pandemic ends, some of the new norms and changes adapted will shape the Philippine BPO industry for years and also tackle some new challenges. Establishing a remote work model while ensuring quality service will certainly be one of them. As the industry has shown time and time again however, it is always ready to adapt and remain at the forefront of the ever shifting business environment.