Artificial intelligence (AI) is advancing at a phenomenally fast rate and the outsourcing industry in the Philippines is concerned that this will eat into the profits to be made in this sector. Are they right to be concerned? Maybe.
With the rise of autonomous vehicles, it’s inevitable that some of these AI applications will take over the role of the human driver, particularly when it comes to jobs such as delivery drivers. Around 1.5 million people are employed within the Philippines’ business process outsourcing (BPO) industry and is one of the highest-earners in terms of foreign exchange.
“I don’t think our excellent command of spoken English is going to really be a protection five, 10 years from now,” said Rajneesh Tiwary, chief delivery officer at Sutherland Global Services. “It really will not matter.”
In 2011, the Philippines overtook India in offering the largest amount of voice-based BPO services anywhere in the world. But, now, with the rise of AI, people are concerned they will soon be out of a job when it comes to process-driven BPO roles; and they’re right to. As many as 50,000 of these roles are expected to be replaced by AI over the next 5 years.
There may well be a rise in the demand for BPO services, but if all firms have to offer is a pool of English-speaking talent, they could be in trouble. The key here is artificial intelligence. In order to stay ahead of the competition, companies need to embrace AI and ensure workers are up to date with developments in machine learning, data analytics, and data mining.
“You will see in the next few years more automation coming in the way we do things in IT and BPO industry, robotic processing, the use of chat bots,” said Luis Pined, president of IBM Philippines. “If we are ahead of the game, we will be at an advantage where people will give us more work, because we are cheaper and predictive.”
The IT & Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) is also expecting AI to take over a great number of jobs in the next few years. It’s also predicted a rise in the number of mid and high skilled jobs that will be needed too. So, although some roles may be taken over, at last there will be others created in their place. Instead of forcing people out of work, it may simply urge people to train for something better and make more of their lives. In which case, bring on the AI!