April 6, 2018
Ben Juson – Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Outsourcing
April 6, 2018
In this episode, Derek is joined for the third time by Ben Juson of Aptus. They will talk about A.I. and the march of outsourcing and where it is headed in the next 20 years
- Ben is the Managing Director of Aptus. He started his career in the year 2000 when the call center industry was not yet well known.
- Ben discussed in detail the future of outsourcing and where he thinks it is headed in the next 20 years.
- Ben thinks that employment on a call center level with employees who are doing routine jobs, i.e. taking calls, chats will decrease in the next 5 to 10 years.
- Ben believes that more BPO companies are already slowly adapting, reskilling, upskilling and creating new jobs because of the technology.
- Ben thinks that in the SME level, the impact of automation and A.I. wouldn’t be that big.
- Derek has a theory that in the future, outsourcing will just be called employment and it wouldn’t matter what country you come from. This will ultimately level the playing field.
- Derek mentioned the white paper that Outsource Accelerator wrote about why outsourcing is a win-win for everyone involved.
- Ben mentioned that in the next years, there will be a shift from level one routine type of jobs to more highly skilled jobs.
- Derek also briefly mentioned the challenges that Outsource accelerator is facing these days.
- Ben has been in the outsourcing industry for the last 20 years.
- Ben thinks that we are in an industrial revolution. And he thinks it is just a matter of how innovative people are and how they will cope with the new technologies.
- According to Ben, even if you don’t plan for it, for some reason a new job will get established because of technology. There’s will always be a need for new functions and that’s where he sees the increase in terms of employment. Perhaps a movement from the employees’ current job roles to high-level jobs.
Hi and welcome to episode number one hundred and thirty-nine. This is the Outsource Accelerator Podcast. My name is Derek Gallimore of Outsource Accelerator and today I am joined again by Ben Juson of Aptus. So Ben joined us earlier in Episodes 133 and 136. If you want to know any more about Ben then go and listen to those episodes for his background and also about Aptus. Today we talked to Ben about AI, the march of outsourcing where it’s going where it’s going in the next 20 years. And you know this is specifically pertinent to Ben because Aptus, the BPO that he’s built is very sort of at the cutting edge or reliant on AI technologies to make processors more efficient. So he’s a good guy to talk about the evolution of the industry. And you know he’s been in the industry 20 years so he’s certainly seen evolve over time. So if you want to get in touch Ben on want to know anymore then go to our show notes you can see that at outsourceaccelerator.com/139. Enjoy!
Derek: Welcome back everybody. Today we have Ben Juson again of Aptus. Hi Ben, how are you?
Ben: All good, all good. Thanks for having me back.
Derek: Absolute pleasure. Today Ben I’m really excited. You have seen the industry grow from what was a very kind of adolescent call center based industry into the industry that it is today. You started in outsourcing which was actually called kind of the call center industry back in 2000 and now you’re running your own BPO specialized right. Well kind of. With an A.I. component to it. So you’re right at the sort of forefront of the sector I want to talk to you about where the sector’s going. You’ve seen it grow up and there’s a lot of fear at the moment because people are saying A.I. is going to take jobs and some people in Philippine outsourcing are saying it’s a sunset industry. So super interested to get your opinion. I suppose just initially if people heard the earlier episodes do you want to just introduce yourself and your I suppose quickly your journey to this point.
Ben: No worries, no worries. Hi everyone. This is Ben who is the managing director of Aptus Global Solutions, started in the industry in the year 2000. Up until now. So hopefully if you’ve got any questions feel free to contact me and then send us an email.
Derek: It’s fantastic. And so Aptus, you are kind of a higher services like high-value add kind of services BPO part of that you say is the integration of A.I. into your processes. How A.I. is becoming the talk of the town. Where do you think? Where do you see things going? Like do you think that there is risk that the future of outsourcing is that employment numbers go down and everything is being done by computers. Where do you see that the progression of all this?
Ben: I really think it’s on a more positive note. As I mentioned in our last discussion I think we are in and that there is some sort of industrial revolution. It’s just a matter of being more innovative on how you will cope up with the new technologies out there. I do see employment on the call center level the one doing their usual routine every job of taking calls chats. I do see that there will be a decrease in the numbers for that one in the coming five to 10 years not right away, not immediately, five to ten years. But the question is what does a BPO company does? Or what is the industry doing about it? I do believe a lot of BPO company is already looking at these things and they’re slowly adapting and reskilling, upskilling or creating new jobs because of the technology. Even if you don’t plan for it, for some reason a new job will actually get established. There’s a need for this new function and that’s where I can see an increase in employment for perhaps some movement of people from what they are doing now to a more high-level job.
Derek: Yeah there’s there’s an inevitability about progress or revolution isn’t there? And it’s not in big jumps or big lumps. It’s kind of like just processes enhanced and because everyone you know use the BPO the workforce but also the client. They’re all kind of pushing for a little bit more efficient process or a different way of doing the process. So kind of inevitably, the market moves on doesn’t it. And and I think that there’s a lot of people out there really concerned that actually one day well you know, in a month from now people are going to wake up and there’s no jobs. I certainly don’t think that there’s any concern there in that regard. And you are you position yourself as more sort of kind of an SME solution more tailored solution. I have a feeling that A.I. will affect SMEs and smaller processors a lot less than maybe the big call centers where they have 5000 people doing the same process. What are your thoughts on the resilience of different processes. For example if you’re doing a kind of highly content, highly complex, highly variable task I just don’t think that A.I. will kind of take that over any time soon. Will it?
Ben: In the SME type of businesses or level I don’t think the impact will be that big do you. I believe your train of thought is correct on that one. It’s not going to be impacting the medium-sized business that much. However, as you mentioned Aptus is in the face of creating outsourcing services for the small to medium size. So the idea of what we’re going right now in the automated technology-driven solutions work are actually meant for small to medium size. So again, you don’t find a lot of bells out there. So globally I don’t think there will be much impact. Why? Number one, all of these things are normally available only to big companies large corporate entities. If you’re more open in scale chances are you’re trying to keep your costs low and get your margin higher. And they would lock supply and demand. Obviously, this kind of technology is too expensive nowadays.
Ben: It’s not a good thing that SME e-market can adapt to. Lastly, SME is more of an ever evolving environment compared to large-scale corporate organizations where everything is a has a step by step process. When we’re in the SME size everything needs to be flexible then the technology cannot adapt that fast. If you need something then by tomorrow the software cannot be reprogrammed right away and take effect tomorrow.
Derek: Yeah. Absolutely. Human, human are agile, aren’t they? Yeah. Humans are agile, aren’t they? Whereas computer programs they’re not. They just they just repeat, aren’t they? And I think this huge opportunity there again for skilled humans that there’s a lot of safety margin there.
Ben: I totally agree. I totally agree.
Derek: What. And where do you see all this going? Then I kind of have a theory that I share with people that in 20,30 years from now outsourcing won’t be called outsourcing. It’ll just be called employment. Because it won’t matter where you sit. Whether you’re sitting in Manila or in New York or Zimbabwe it would just be people assessed on their abilities and you know the kind of pros and cons of all these aspects and the best person will be hired. I think there’s kind of a levelling of the playing fields there’s more opportunities here in the Philippines because it’s no longer about where you were born or where you went to university. Where did you see all of this going? And you’ve been in this industry for 20 years. Where do you see it? Where is it going to be in the next 20 years?
Ben: In the last two years, the industry had actually changed the term that… to contact center BPO. So I do believe what you’re saying is true. I mean it just dawned on me you’re right. Twenty years from now with the advent of all this technology making the world smaller. It’s just gonna be another business service I guess. Another just another company providing business services doesn’t matter where you are.
Derek: Yeah. It’s fascinating.
Ben: Imagine back then you wouldn’t, you wouldn’t see someone from the United States outsourcing his bookkeeping to someone in the Philippines. All of those things 30 years ago needs to be done manually, everything should be filed, the paperwork. Now all those things can be found online
Derek: Yeah absolutely. It’s fast changing isn’t it? Do you think that’s going to change more in the next 20 years than the last or are we slowing down?
Ben: I think it will. It will be more of high level type of solutions. Rather than the low level type. Now I’m looking at a more global scale because of the technology. I think there will be less people doing calls, chats, you know the menial type of jobs. Again for the SME size I don’t think It will catch immediately. But large, corporate entities, definitely. You won’t see, you won’t see one having those level ones being done by human beings in the next 20 years. Everything will be automated or some technology-driven solutions will be set into place.
Derek: Yeah it’s crazy and I mean we were mentioned this before but the, historically the outsourcing industry and the outsourcing bodies have only really been interested in the big boys and the big side of town. The SMEs have been forgotten I think and we’ve done a white paper on this about the number of SMEs out there and it’s a huge market and as you say it’s more agile and it’s kind of higher skilled do you. Do you think that the industry is going to pivot and kind of recognize and serve the SMEs better in the future? And to be honest I think that individual players like yourselves are servicing SMEs but it seems like well you know you’re servicing SMEs as well but kind of industry bodies they’re still not really wanting to give them much time, aren’t they?
Ben: I agree. I totally agree. It’s unfortunate actually but it’s in 5 to 10 years from now. I think that will change. I think that will change because the more people that get in to BPO need to provide services to the small to medium scale then the more it will generate you know good revenue for a country and… to see the value in terms of the dollar sign. I think there’s a big change in how power the support is going to be in the next 5 to 10 years.
Derek: Right. That is unfortunately the main determinant, isn’t it? Yeah. Absolutely but it’s exciting isn’t because I see the SME market as more exciting more dynamic. The roles have to be kind of more autonomous and more agile as you say. So I think it’s a better thing for the Philippines isn’t it just instead of having a million people doing high repetition tasks if you’ve maybe got one and a half two million people doing highly skilled tasks.It’s certainly an advantage, isn’t it?
Ben: True. True. At the same time if I may add in the next 5, 10, 20 years from now. Obviously in the Philippines when they’re in the BPO industry get paid well and that’s what taking calls emails and chat. The other thing that I think will happen as well within these type of sector. Obviously the shift from a level one routinary type of job to a more highly skilled jobs. The pay will definitely be better the rates will definitely be better between clients and… It’s a win-win situation. The client gets a more high-value pipeline service and an employee gets more pay. In reality, the client, an SME client, instead of paying about 5, 10 call centre agents, he’ll be paying for 40 less for the rest. Obviously, he doesn’t need all of anymore to do the high-level type of job since it’s the mostly automated.
Derek: Fascinating, isn’t it? And we actually have done a White Paper entitled while talking about outsourcing being a win-win because there is a lot of concerns, you know especially in the West that outsourcing is killing jobs and taking jobs and you know it is it was such a kind of emotive topic that we that we dedicated entire white paper to exploring the benefits for everyone you know. And inevitably it’s a progression towards a more productive and efficient world isn’t it for everyone? But it’s not always easy to get that message to people. We actually do advertising in to the US and the West. And we actually get a certain amount of comment saying that we’re terrorists where you know it’s treason and it becomes really quite an emotive topic with a certain section of society.
Ben: I agree. I’ve seen those kind of, I’ve seen that as well. But if you look at this the one who’s taking the jobs away from them is not really outsourcing the outsourcing. It’s something else. Just to remember what it is but it’s not that it’s not outsourcing of the jobs overseas. It is sometimes something also something to do with their governments and the technology nowadays, not necessarily outsourcing.
Derek: Yeah well I mean it’s, unfortunately, the march of evolution basically as you know and people being left behind and but then people are also brought along with the with the wave it’s kind of both sweet and bitter experience I suppose in some aspects.
Ben: I agree, I agree. So if it’s just a matter how do you cope up that technology as well. And then it’s it’s it’s a different case in I guess, from one country to the other.
Derek: Yeah absolutely. Absolutely fantastic. No it’s it’s certainly a brave new world and one that personally I’m very excited for and I think it’s a fantastic opportunity for the Philippines and the Philippines is embracing it but also it really is you know this is my main mission. It’s a fantastic opportunity for SMEs you know small and medium-sized businesses out there in the West because the opportunities really are huge. So thank you so much, Ben of Aptus of course, thanks for giving us insight into the future of this thing. If people want to get in touch with you or Aptus how can they do that?
Ben: Thank you so much. Such a pleasure. First and foremost with people on the Contact us, we would love to hear from you. You’re free to go to www.aptus.ph. Or send us an e-mail at email@example.com.
Derek: Amazing. Thank you so much Ben and have a great day.
Ben: Thank you so much, Derek. Cheers!
How was that? That was Ben Juson of Aptus if you want to get in touch with Ben or you want to know anymore about anything we mentioned then please go to our show notes that is an outsourceaccelerator.com/139. And of course if you want to ask us anything then drop us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. See you next time!