In the Philippines, the Business Processing (BPO) industry, which is commonly called the call center industry, generated around $22 billion, last year, creating close 1.1 million jobs in the country. But all this may change soon, as Newsweek recently reported an increasing number of companies across the globe who are turning to an automated system in their data entry and other low-skilled tasks.
According to the report, “companies are automating more and more low-skilled tasks, such as data entry, that do not involve direct interaction with customers. As automation technology advances, call center workers could be next to lose their jobs.”
So what could this mean to a country who has been transformed so much by the industry?
Ever since the first BPO jobs appeared in the 1990s, the industry has turned into a giant, accounting for more than eight percent of the Philippines’ gross domestic product (GDP). The country has now overtaken India, despite their having almost twelves times as many people.
Automation threatening calls center industry in the Philippines
But with news of automation threatening the industry, owners of Filipino contact companies are beginning to explore other viable options to “stay ahead of these technological advances.”
According to Contact Center Association of the Philippines (CCAP) chairman and president, Benedict Hernandez, despite the threat of automation, Filipino workers are still more capable of handling high-skilled jobs. He does not see automation as a challenge, but an opportunity.
“This is not a challenge but an opportunity for the Philippines to handle more interesting, more complicated tasks and come out a winner,” said the CCAP chairman.
Still, this does not guarantee that the promised $250 billion target set by the IT & Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) by 2022 will be achieved by the country.
Actually, it does not even guarantee that the call center industry will be around by 2022.
Photo Courtesy: Mark Hillary/ Flickr