Trade department is becoming really concerned as the demand for artificial intelligence (AI) on business process outsourcing (BPO) landscape becomes more and more prevalent hurting the country’s $25 billion industry.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) released a statement last Wednesday that AI proven itself to be more than just a modern technology, has become a peril to the employees in the BPO and service export industries, as well as those who are in contact centers.
As per government agency, AI is capable of diminishing 45-50% of about 1.2 million employees of the country’s BPO industry.
DTI secretary Ramon Lopez encouraged academic institutions, businesses, and the IT sector to improve their training programs in highly regarded skills of BPO employees.
"Let us retool and reposition the nature of the current jobs in the industry," Lopez stated.
AI utilizes the ability of computers and robots to do certain tasks that men used to do. As BPO experts, India, China, and the US have been allotting billions in AI. For example, AI is capable of allowing computers to respond and provide solutions to usual or predictable issues call center agents are dealing on a daily basis efficiently.
In December of last year, the International Labor Organization (ILO) advised that the increasing demand for automation could be incorporated in BPO services like high-volume "IT support, workflow processes, and other types of back-office operations."
The organization added that AI could cut a company’s operation costs by 40-75%.
As per the ILO, PH’s BPO industry is one of the top employers, amassing $22.9 billion in revenues last year, nearly 7.3% of the country’s gross domestic product. And according to the IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines, the industry is expected to produce a revenue of about $93 billion in the next five years.
Lopez stated that the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd), Department of Science and Technology (DoST), the Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges, along with the United States Agency for International Development are collaborating with DTI and Silicon Valley-based Filipino technology entrepreneur Dado Banatao in coming up with a multi-sector program to develop "intensive education and training programs" and the competitive advantage of the service industry.
"There is a need to strengthen curriculum towards computer science, engineering, data science and AI application design, among others. This effort is also deemed to be inclusive as disqualified BPO applicants and retrenched agents will be retrained for AI application development that will eventually enable them to get jobs," Lopez added.

Last month, the Senate was told by the Union Network International-Philippine Liaison Council that about 60% of jobs, especially those in the BPO sector will be affected. The cabinet committee on science and technology is looking on how the government would deal with the challenges AI poses.
While there are threats, Coefficients Co. Ltd. Lucena City-based business process outsourcing company managed to bridge the gap and provide high quality services through incorporating advanced technologies in their strategies. They leverage modern tools and programs to their advantage, hence why they thrive through the years.
The ILO report has been an eye-opener and urged the country’s BPO sector to step up their game, and remain as the world’s top BPO destination. Adapting to technological advancement is key, and this will require higher-skilled workers which mean there are still opportunities for PH to thrive.

Author's Bio: 

Founded in September 2011, Coefficients Co. Ltd. is currently headquarted in Lucena City, Quezon Province, Philippines and is one of the province’s leading business process outsourcing of customer interaction and back-office services