Outsourcing means typing in data into the system…
Everytime I hear such opinion I immediately know that my interlocutor has absolutely no current knowledge about outsourcing in Cracow, or even in all Central-Eastern Europe.The reality is very much different.
Anecdotically, the very first outsourcing team (at least to my best knowledge) in Cracow was delivering services to the client covering full Polish accountancy work, so very specialized tasks requiring specific knowledge. What’s worth mentioning is that after almost 20 years, these tasks are still realized by the team in Cracow.
In next phase, when industry in Cracow was rapidly growing, for a moment it might be true to say that data-entry people were significant group among BPO/SSC employees. The reason was very trivial, the clients of the industry had to ensure that the location and the teams are successful in delivering simple tasks, before the decision is made to transfer more sophisticated work. To some extend, this is still working for the companies commencing services in Cracow, usually they start with relatively small team and simpler tasks. When the quality of work is confirmed, they rapidly increase their presence both in terms of number of employees and sophistication of tasks.
In a few years the situation has changed significantly for Cracow. On one hand, city has confirmed to be stable and entrusted location for effective and professional teams. On the other hand, with significant successes of outsourcing projects, companies started to use external, outsourced services much more aggressively than they used in the past. Cutting cost and increasing efficiency led to explosive growth of Asian locations, which eventually started to be seen as the most promising for the business. Frequent approach at the time was to transfer the work from original locations to Cracow, stabilize service delivery with outsourcing provider and then transfer further to Asian location.
Even though for a moment one could think that final destination for BPO/SSC services will be Asia, very soon it’s been found that Asian centers miss talent pool and skills and are not able to deliver services in languages other then English. Also cultural differences seemed to be stopping creativity and engagement that was clearly visible in Cracow. As the cost reduction was still very fruitful in Asia, a new model of delivering services has been developed and is the most popular at the moment globally – locating in Asia tasks that are relatively easy and the tasks that can be done in English, locating in Cracow tasks that are more sophisticated or require language skills other than English.
OK, so this is the model with data-entry staff and specialists, what about robots? You may say robots do physical work, there is no physical work in accounting or procurement. You’re right but clearly the development of more and more intelligent production robots and learning machines is inspiring also for BPO/SSC industry and may bring another break-through to next phase of outsourcing. A great talk on this has been make by David Poole during annual Aspire conference last year, shedding some light not only on his personal experience with Cracow and the industry but also the future and current usage of intelligent software. The software that is already in intensive use replacing humans doing the most simple tasks incl. data entry or data transfer, leading to decrease in the teams in Asia.
So next time, when you hear about outsourcing being all about data entry, please tell your interlocutor, that it’s just in a process of changing from “data-entry staff, specialists and robots” into “specialists and robots”.
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