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BPO Trends for 2024: Shaping the Future of Outsourcing

The following article was originally published on LinkedIn as part of our Beyond BPO newsletter by Dylan Koen and has been edited for publication on this platform.

Despite the social and economic challenges that we faced in 2023, it seems that South Africa is still on track for unprecedented growth in the BPO sector which, according to Statista, is projected to reach a compound annual growth rate of nearly 7%. This upward trend is expected to lead to a market volume of $450 billion by 2027.

To stay ahead in this ever-evolving landscape, it is crucial to keep an eye on the emerging trends that will continue to shape the BPO industry in 2024 and beyond, so let’s explore the notable trends that we should look out for.

AI-Powered Automation

No discussion about industry trends can commence without first mentioning artificial intelligence. AI is powering automation and transforming customer interactions, opening access to incredible tools that can streamline repetitive tasks, improve efficiency and deliver faster response times – the potential impact to the CX value chain is incredible. Data insights and AI can also be used to drive hyper-personalisation by creating dynamic and live content that resonates with each customer, thus making every interaction count, regardless of the touchpoint.

The advancement of this AI age is incredible and opens up possibilities that were unthinkable even a few years ago. The day of the binary bot could be a thing of the past with AI allowing for complex problem solving and real charisma and conversation in engagement. It is of utmost importance that South African BPO operators harness these opportunities as the risk is that competitor markets without our pricing power could use AI to level the playing fields. Ultimately the end result is what will always matter the most.

Remote Work

The rise of remote work continues to open up a world of possibilities for our industry. Remote and Hybrid work models need to be adopted and developed more broadly to ensure that BPO as an industry can embrace flexibility and create a culture that not only values work-life balance for our people but also offers employment to those who have limitations. It was a proud moment for Rewardsco to be recognised in this endeavour with our nomination for the Top Work from Home / Hybrid Solution Award at the 2023 BPESA GBS Alchemy Awards held in Cape Town. Our team continue to drive innovation with our WFH and Hybrid working teams which are core to our value proposition.

Employee Wellbeing

A stronger focus on employee wellbeing is essential given the history of high employee attrition rates within the BPO sector. Our people are undoubtedly South Africa’s super-power and represent the greatest collective asset within our own businesses. This amplifies the need to remain committed to nurturing a work culture that prioritises physical, mental and financial wellbeing in addition to career growth. From flexible scheduling and remote work options to medical facilities and mental health support programmes, we aim to lead the charge by investing in initiatives that foster a more engaged and career oriented workforce. According to Corporate Wellness Magazine, “2024 will witness a surge in holistic wellness programs that consider every aspect of an employee’s well-being…employers are understanding that a truly healthy employee thrives in all areas of life”.

Upskilling and Continuous Learning

Focus on continuous learning and upskilling will continue to be a priority, ensuring that our teams are always ready to deliver exceptional customer service whilst also being adaptable to the needs of our partners and clients. Engaging learning modules and gamification techniques make learning fun and accessible for our people, and we continually refine our content based on their feedback and needs. Not only is the BPO industry dynamic and constantly evolving but so are our clients and partners, which makes adaptation to change a critical factor in maintaining our competitive edge. We must recognise the importance of ensuring our people develop a diverse set of skills to open doors to new and exciting career opportunities within the business and the sector at large.

Data Security and Privacy 

As digital transformation accelerates, data breaches pose growing threats. Customers will only trust partners who implement strong cybersecurity protocols and comply with updated regulations. Data encryption, access controls, network security audits and strict compliance measures will be baseline requirements for BPOs. According to an interview with Nader Henein, VP Analyst at Gartner, “75% of the world’s population will have its personal data covered under modern privacy regulations”. The BPO industry must embrace every available resource to combat fraud and breaches of customer privacy.

Making this threat even more scary is how the darker side of AI can be used to infiltrate and mimic. There are already deep-fake scams that use real-life likenesses, which presents a very significant threat to personal and company security.

Embracing Transformation in 2024 

The BPO industry is on the brink of a transformative journey, fuelled by technological advancements, evolving customer expectations and a renewed focus on employee wellbeing. From AI-powered automation to remote work and continuous learning, the way we interact with our customers to deliver exceptional experiences is no doubt changing for the better. As we embrace these trends and adapt to the changing landscape of the BPO industry, we are poised to foster a positive work culture and drive innovation and growth in 2024, and hopefully set a new standard of excellence for years to come.

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Fathima Dildar
Chief Business Development Officer - International
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