The Enigma of AI-backed BPS

Feb 25,2019 by Shashvat Vats
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The never-ending loop of customers and business has taught us one thing: there are millions of ways using which we can reach the elite tier in any sector if we are willing to adapt. Business process outsourcing, the industry that once was dependent on call centers is now a contradistinctive sector. With Artificial Intelligence now fusing into business process services, the blueprint of the business industry has been given a systemic makeover/redesigned.

Customers hold the whip of a businesses’ success and no organization is ready to slip the slightest profit-making chance to its rivals, owing to technological disruptions that are remodeling everything from top to bottom. Therefore, every BPS company today looks to integrate its operations with the latest technologies like AI and RPA to ensure high performance, flexibility, seamless operations, and an encouraging ROI.

Keeping this in consideration, we are going to discuss the ambiguities and obscurities that swirl around the amalgamation of AI and BPS as a whole.

The Push & Pull of AI-backed BPS ( Business Process Services )

The machines have ascended and the conundrum of whether AI will be a helping hand or an antagonist with respect to the BPS industry is keeping a lot of industry experts awake. What’re your thoughts? Do you think that the rise of AI will actually weed out supplant the entire BPS sector?

Currently, AI-based bots have created the maximum hue and cry in the outsourcing sector. These bots follow the pre-set programs that make them efficient enough to read human queries, interpret them, and present a suitable response. What’s intriguing about these bots? Chatbots are swift in replying to customers’ queries, and that lifts your brand image splendidly. A live chat agent could get tired handling a streak of queries and complaints but a chatbot can do that 24*7 without any friction. Also, AI helps the chatbots to manage multiple queries at the same time without the minutest chance of error.

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A lot of web-based businesses contribute a lot of their time and efforts handling the subtle queries and tasks (like transactions, order requests, etc) that bring their efficiency down. With the help of chatbots, organizations are now looking to accomplish precision with high performance. It is a testament to the unavoidable applicability of chatbots that the biggest brands have already implemented them.

In addition to this, AI is also boosting business process services like data mining, extraction, and management. With humungous data flow now happening in every web-based business, proper management and analysis of such data becomes an arduous task for humans. With the help of AI, the handling and inspection of Big Data have become simpler for enterprises. BPS companies are now providing effective data management services to top-notch brands that are looking to take a business decision on the basis of the insights and interpretations that are extracted out of information with the help of artificial intelligence.

With so many benefits and goodwill generation, how can AI be anything other than a ‘good boy’ to the BPS sector? Well, the biggest threat that AI poses is that it will gobble up the jobs in this sector. Industry experts and veterans believe that AI means humans won’t be required anymore. Already, more than 50% of the private hospitals in the USA have chatbots implemented in their customer support. 

Also, when it comes to call centers, AI is the biggest menace as of now. Call centers had an incredible time in the outsourcing industry for a couple of decades. With chatbots now handling calls too, there is a fear that AI will soon dethrone the human agents. But we cannot blame AI for this. Chatbots are efficient, accurate, faster, result-oriented, and can work around-the-clock without getting drained. Businesses need such support systems to reach the apex in the market.

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But there is a catch in all this fuss about AI. Some BPS like telemarketing, lead generation, etc are quite intense in terms of communication. Telemarketing and lead generation are time-consuming processes that require empathetic behavior and patience along with improvisations as per the customer. AI is good, it is quick, it is extremely precise – but it is not human. What makes us superior to AI is the ability to empathize with another human, which is the biggest catalyst in pulling in customers for your business.

Call centers gained prominence because the agents were able to listen, empathize, and then offer a solution to the customers. Suppose an angry customer is calling and an AI-backed chatbot picks the call. Do you think a chatbot will be able to calm the customer? It will reply swiftly with the most appropriate response, that’s it. Artificial intelligence still has miles to go before it reaches the emotional intelligence level of humans. IMHO, no technology can reach that. AI can beat us in computational competency but when it comes to analyzing sentiments and emotions, humans will always be the master.

With the integration of AI and BPS, there would be the eradication of few jobs but all in all, more jobs will come into existence. There would be a need to handle the AI-support and humans will be deployed to do so. In the customer service segment, AI will be playing a supporting role to the humans where the extraneous and subtle tasks will be handled by this technology and complicated queries will be redirected to the agents. Similarly, in data handling tasks, businesses will gain from the swift computational proficiency of AI but the decision based on the analysis will be taken by humans only.

  So, the fear of AI taking over humans, especially in the BPS industry, is nothing but a wave of uncertainty that soon will fade away. AI is here, it will flourish, and will become an integral part of our lives. BPS and call centers will never meet their doom because a human’s emotional quotient is and will be quintessential at major customer touch points. The role and the functioning pattern may change, but the requirement of humans and their higher wits will always be there.

AI: Humanity’s biggest fantasy

Human curiosity is the ultimate source of every invention. Take the unusual ascent of Artificial Intelligence, for example. If you think that artificial intelligence is the invention of modern men, you are mistaken.  

The concept of machines or non-living objects coming to life has its place in Greek mythology itself. However, the actual term ‘Artificial Intelligence’ was minted in 1956, at a conference at Dartmouth College, in New Hampshire. It was magical. The concept of making machines do human tasks put invigorated every imaginative brain in the western community to think of the limitless possibilities that could be brought to fruition. This made the renowned mathematicians, scientists, and associated dignitaries start putting in efforts to make the theory a reality.

For a few years, AI was a mere concept. It took a good couple of decades to collect enough attention and funds to develop enhanced machine learning programs smart enough to carry out the business tasks without any requirement of human intervention.

AI has begun and has already penetrated the mundane operations of our lives and we don’t even know it yet. From the biggest example of AI that we have been using since a decade, Google, to the au courant applications of AI such as Uber, AirHelp, Siri, Alexa, etc., this contemporary tech has left no business sector untouched by its pizzazz.

However, the acute climb of AI has also put one industry in a big dilemma anent its viability and future course: the outsourcing industry.

A Mashup of Outsourcing and Technology

Outsourcing, the term that came in motion into being as a cost-cutting method for the American and European organizations in the early 70s, has been transformed in terms of its utility and benefits altogether. What was previously a step to save operational expense by delegating business tasks to service providers in third-world nations where labor was cheap and the cost to raise infrastructure was low, is now an extension of organizations’ expansion strategy, branding plan, and sales increment tactic.

With the burst of the Internet bubble, outsourcing made space for IT support call centers to step in and revolutionized the entire business spectrum in the late 90s. These call centers became the support heroes for organizations doing their business overseas. Within a short span, call centers become the main source of customer service, help desk, phone answering, telemarketing, and similar tasks for Western companies.

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Soon, another technological whirlpool engulfed the outsourcing sector in its clutches. With cloud computing playing a vital role in offering shared space where multiple enterprises can trade, exchange information, and deliver services, business process outsourcing became business process services (BPS), a much more suited term.

Today, the entire apprehension arena of business process services is quite wide and consists of providing multiple solutions. Apart from the conventional business solutions like back-office, HR, customer support, order taking, help desk etc, the functions that are outsourced in the current scenario are web hosting, web development & maintenance, application development & maintenance, digital marketing, content creation, finance, web chat, etc.

Moreover, with a lucrative integration of BPS and state-of-art technologies like AI and RPA, the future of BPS has become fuzzy. Share your views in the comment section. Thanks!

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Informative Blog: The Enigma of AI-backed BPS