The Future Of Outsourcing: Business Process Services In 2024


Business process outsourcing (BPO) is a business model that has come a long way since its early beginnings in the late 1990s and early 2000s. What began as a way for big firms to cut costs by transferring their non-core functions like payroll and customer service provision to third-party providers has bloomed into a full-blown global industry that manages processes, increasingly complex and strategic.

But again, fast technological changes are disrupting the BPO landscape. Technologies like artificial intelligence, automation, cloud computing, and many more are fundamentally reshaping customer and employee experience while altering the economics of service delivery.

This article explores four key trends that are reshaping the future of outsourcing in 2024.

1.  Content and Marketing Operations

The content and marketing operations space has developed radically over the last decade as companies look outside for assistance to provide a better experience in reaching and engaging customers online. Instead of having in-house production and optimization, these non-core yet essential functions are outsourced to many firms to gain specialized skills and scale. This makes it increasingly complex for internal teams to manage websites, campaigns, social media, and more across regions and languages as the volume and diversity of online content explodes.

Moreover, the content and marketing operation outsourcing market is expected to grow exponentially by 2024. Specialist providers will evolve with end-to-end capabilities, including strategy, analytics, and maintenance, for improved marketing performance by brand owners.

The vendors will move to AI tools that automate many mundane activities, such as formatting content and its translation/localization, among others, so that the growing volume of work can be done with maximum throughput, assuring completion of increased volumes in reduced turnaround time. This is indicative of the transition into more integrated and technology-enabled solutions in business process services.

2.  Customer Experience

Another domain witnessing explosive change is customer experience (CX) outsourcing. Early CX BPO focused heavily on contact center solutions, handling basic inquiries and transactions by phone. However, customers now interact with brands through various digital and physical touchpoints. To build relationships and loyalty in this omnichannel environment demands a holistic, seamless experience. Consequently, providers are expanding well beyond the four walls of a call center to offer comprehensive CX transformation and management.

By 2024, leading CX outsourcers are envisioned as virtual extensions of client customer teams. Leveraging AI assistants, they will monitor and analyze engagement data across all channels in real-time to proactively resolve issues. Chatbots, messaging solutions, and augmented reality tools will automate simple interactions at scale, freeing agents for complex, empathetic handling of negative situations.

Outsourced partners will also manage end-to-end digital journeys, designing and orchestrating seamless omnichannel experiences from awareness to advocacy. They will gather rich consumer insights and use dynamic optimization to continuously improve based on behavior and feedback.

3.  Global Business Services

While content/marketing and CX represent growth areas, core transactional BPO processes will persist. However, rising skill and talent requirements are compelling many organizations to consolidate non-core operations into strategic global hubs for maximum scale benefits.

This is where specialized global business services (GBS) providers are positioned to add meaningful value. By 2024, leading GBS partners will have transformed traditionally siloed finance, HR, and supply chain activities into integrated, end-to-end shared services.

Powerful automation and standardization allow them to handle everything from invoice processing to benefits administration for multinational customer bases. Digitally native platforms join previously disjointed systems, providing unified data and analytics. Centralizing such repetitive, rule-based work in high-productivity centers significantly cuts costs for clients.

More importantly, consolidating disparate capabilities strengthens control and oversight over far-flung operations. Risk management, compliance, and governance also benefit from expert centralized functions. The result is greater agility, efficiency, and resilience for global companies facing an uncertain policy landscape.

A key trend is bundling domain expertise in targeted industries to develop dedicated “branded” solutions. Specializing profoundly in discrete sectors allows GBS partners to deeply understand complex operating models. They fine-tune standardized, compliant processes and diligently train personnel according to nuanced needs.

4.  Intelligent Process Automation

Cutting across the evolving outsourcing landscape will be an explosion in intelligent process automation (IPA). Combining AI, advanced analytics, and robotic technologies, IPA automates knowledge work far beyond what was feasible with traditional RPA. Understanding user intent and environment context will massively streamline processes across content, CX, and GBS functions. For instance, AI and computer vision combined with existing metadata will automatically generate photo captions and minimize duplicative content production. Similarly, conversational bots and sentiment analysis will handle most digital customer inquiries with human-level understanding.

Back-office invoice processing, contract management, onboarding, and more will become robotics-driven. Integrating automation into broader digital workflows will create self-driving operating networks optimized for efficiency, compliance, and superior service quality.

Also, the rise of IPA will significantly transform how BPO vendors structure their operations. Traditional labor arbitrage models will be replaced by networks of software robots, AI assistants, and small teams of digital workers. Vendors will invest heavily in intelligent automation platforms and recruit talent with skills in machine learning, computer vision, and natural language processing.

Deploying IPA at scale will require standardizing processes, documenting institutional knowledge, and designing digital workflows with automation in mind. Done right, entire divisions within companies can be connected and streamlined through centralized IPA hubs. This level of end-to-end digitization will allow processes to operate around the clock with unprecedented consistency, freeing human staff to take on higher-value work. Performance monitoring will also become more predictive, using analytics to foresee issues and continuously improve operations.

Final Thoughts

The future of outsourcing is deeply intertwined with emerging technologies that drive the intelligent transformation of processes. Growth areas like content/marketing operations, CX, and global business services will be reimagined by a combination of agile delivery models, AI-infused tools, and digital ecosystems. Standardized systems joined with deep expertise will create new economies of scale for specialized operators.

At the same time, rising expectations around security, ethics, and customer empathy necessitate oversight to keep pace with disruption. Outsourcers blending domain knowledge, agility, and judicious innovation stand to help global enterprises leap forward by seamlessly orchestrating previously fragmented capabilities.2024 will see the emergence of a new breed of strategic outsourcing partners powering the Experience Economy through intelligent, insight-driven operations.