By Dan Berthiaume
Internationalization of BPO is a primary theme running throughout the list of the top BPO trends of 2012 compiled by global outsourcing research/advisory firm Tholons. Six of the 10 predicted trends, which also include developments such as the rise of platform-based BPO and analytics as a service, somehow relate to the increasingly global nature of the BPO ecosystem.
BPO – A Worldwide Phenomenon
Tholons sees the spread of offshore BPO delivery centers beyond traditional havens such as China and India as having numerous impacts on various aspects of the BPO industry. For example, Tholons cites the increasing viability of Latin America as a BPO destination as one of this year’s key BPO trends. While Mexico has long been a popular source of “nearshore” BPO services, Tholons says countries across Central and South America have validated their BPO potential, and services outsourcing should take “full bloom” in the region in the immediate future.
Two predicted trends relate to the role governments play in outsourcing and how the ongoing economic crisis may affect government outsourcing. Although financial difficulties in the two largest outsourcing markets, the US and UK, in theory should make outsourcing more attractive as a cost-saving option, due to public perception of “lost jobs” these governments may be more reluctant to outsource government contracts.
However, in a related trend, Tholons expects public-private partnerships (PPPs), where the private sector assists public agencies in effectively performing BPO, as contributing to BPO’s continuing global development, especially in the area of creating domestic IT-enabled services sectors.
In addition, Tholons predicts that Japan will rebound from its tsunami and nuclear disaster of 2011 to become a much more active player in the BPO delivery market, with Japanese providers upping their investments in M&A and in establishing delivery centers throughout Southeast Asia. This will occur alongside a trend of growth in “second wave” BPO markets in the Latin America, Middle East, and Asia regions.
However, Tholons cautions that BPO buyers will take risk into greater account when selecting a BPO destination, meaning second wave countries undergoing internal turmoil will have a more difficult time attracting foreign BPO clients.
BPO on a Platform
Beyond looking at how globalization will affect the growth trajectory of BPO in 2012, Tholons also examined the likely impact of several other trends. One is the rise of platform-based BPO, or hosted technology services delivered on a pay-as-you-use model. Platform-based BPO offers higher efficiencies and increased revenue per employee. Tholons says it is too early to tell if platform-based BPO will be a lasting trend, but notes that Indian BPO providers are leaders in the space.
Vertical BPO, Analytics as a Service, Social Apps
Three other trends Tholons more briefly touches upon are vertical BPO, analytics as a service, and social applications as a new BPO medium. In terms of vertical BPO, Tholons predicts an increase in the delivery of processes rooted in the deep understanding of a specific industry, such as healthcare. Analytics as a service involves collecting and interpreting vast amounts of data to uncover deeper trends and analysis, and is expected to grow as a key service line in 2012.
And for social applications as a BPO medium, Tholons simply expects service providers to take advantage of social media as a pragmatic, interactive link to customers, enabling high-level customer relationship management (CRM).