Across all industries, outsourcing continues to help businesses save money, streamline processes, and gain a competitive advantage. Sectors like IT, healthcare, finance, and HR lead the way in outsourcing. And it’s not just large companies: In 2023, 90% of small businesses across industries planned to outsource.
The global business process outsourcing market is worth more than $260 billion. Analysts predict it will double by 2032. What outsourcing trends and developments are driving such significant growth?
Let’s dive into what the experts are saying to see where the outsourcing industry is headed in 2024.
Technological Advancements Shaping The Future of Outsourcing
Technological advancements such as artificial intelligence (AI), cloud-based computing, and robotic process automation (RPA) are significantly shaping the industry. When used well, these technologies save businesses money, improve processes, and free them up to focus on their core competencies.
AI-powered automation is changing the way both businesses and third-party providers approach outsourcing. For one, AI technology can now complete many of the menial, repetitive tasks that were traditionally outsourced.
Let’s look at three more nuanced ways AI is shaping the industry:
- AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants enhance the customer support live agents provide. These intelligent systems give personalized care when handling inquiries, providing information, and troubleshooting common issues. When paired with the proper amount of human touch, AI-powered chatbots improve customer satisfaction and engagement.
- AI-driven language translation tools facilitate global collaboration in outsourcing. Language barriers have traditionally been a challenge within the outsourcing industry. But now, advancements in AI-driven language translation facilitate seamless communication and collaboration among teams worldwide.
- AI fosters innovation in outsourcing by enabling the development of new services and business models. Businesses can use AI to forecast market trends, customer behavior, and operational challenges. This not only aids in proactive decision-making but also in optimizing resources for maximum efficiency.
Cloud-based computing has completely transformed outsourcing, particularly in the IT industry. It’s made outsourcing IT management, data storage, and software development much more accessible. How?
- Global Accessibility and Collaboration: Teams worldwide can access files, share documents, and utilize resources in real time. This fosters seamless communication and collaboration between in-house and outsourced teams.
- Scalability and Flexibility: Cloud services can be easily scaled to fit business needs. You can increase or decrease your cloud services without investing in significant infrastructure changes.
- Innovation Acceleration: Cloud-based platforms often integrate emerging technologies, such as AI, machine learning, and analytics. Outsourcing partners can use these tools to drive innovation, delivering more sophisticated and advanced solutions to clients.
- Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery: No one likes to think about the what-ifs. But cloud-based computing offers reliable backup and disaster recovery options. This ensures business continuity and provides great resilience in case of unforeseen events.
Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
Robotic process automation makes it easy for businesses to create and employ software bots that mimic human actions. These software bots can understand what’s written on a screen, type out new information, analyze data, and complete other important tasks—all without the need for a coffee break.
RPA’s clearly increase operational efficiency and save businesses money. Let’s look at a few other ways RPA’s are transforming the outsourcing industry.
Improving Accuracy and Compliance: RPA systems follow rules meticulously, minimizing the risk of human errors. This is particularly crucial in industries with stringent regulatory requirements, as RPA helps ensure compliance and adherence to standards.
Faster Turnaround Times: Automated processes translate to faster turnaround times for outsourced tasks. RPA enables 24/7 operations, accelerating the speed at which services are delivered.
Ever-Increasing Cognitive Capabilities: Advanced RPA solutions incorporate cognitive technologies like machine learning and natural language processing. Bots are learning to handle more complex tasks that require decision-making and interaction with unstructured data.
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Shifts in Outsourcing Destinations
India, China, Vietnam, and the Philippines are all traditional places to which U.S.-based companies outsource. And while this remains true, in recent years, businesses have pivoted to nearshore outsourcing.
Nearshore outsourcing is when businesses work with providers located geographically close to them instead of halfway around the world. This has placed a greater emphasis on outsourcing partners in Central and Latin America. Eastern European countries like Poland, Ukraine, and Romania are also gaining popularity.
Why? With these countries, there is less of a language barrier, less of a time difference, and less of a culture gap. It makes outsourcing that much more seamless.
Changing Business Priorities and Outsourcing
With the advancement of technology, businesses are changing what and how they outsource. Previously, a company might work with multiple service providers (known as multi-vendor outsourcing). This allowed companies to diversify their talent pool and cover a range of tasks.
But today, businesses can use AI and RPA to take care of the menial tasks they once outsourced. Instead, businesses are looking for:
- Strong partnerships
- High-quality service
- Help with high-level tasks
Businesses are more interested in working closely with a particular team to build trusted, long-term relationships. While some still outsource menial tasks, many companies are looking for knowledge process outsourcing (KPO). KPO tasks include research and development, data analysis, decision support, and process improvement.
Impact of Remote Work on Outsourcing Trends
Outsourcing has always relied on teams that were not physically present. For years, that felt very foreign to the average 9-5 business person. Not anymore: The rise of remote work has normalized this business model.
As a result, traditional outsourcing models are evolving to accommodate remote work trends. How?
More and more businesses are using hybrid outsourcing models combining on-site and remote resources. This allows for greater flexibility and a balance between in-house and external expertise.
Remote work has expanded the talent pool and increased diversity among teams. More than ever, companies can tap into the global talent pool. They have access to specialized skills and expertise, regardless of physical location. Teams comprise members from different regions, cultures, and backgrounds, leading to a more diverse and inclusive work environment.
Remote work has led to a shift toward client-centric outsourcing models. Clients are demanding more transparency, real-time communication, and collaborative decision-making. This fosters a partnership approach rather than a traditional client-vendor relationship.
The remote work paradigm has prompted a greater focus on employee well-being and mental health. Companies are increasingly supporting the well-being of their remote and outsourced teams to ensure sustained productivity and job satisfaction.
Outsourcing and Data Security: Future Challenges
We can’t discuss outsourcing trends without considering the serious threat of cyberattacks and data breaches. In 2023 alone, the average data breach cost $4.45 million for businesses worldwide.
Businesses’ reliance on digital platforms will only continue to grow. Both businesses and outsourcing partners must invest in cybersecurity to protect data and maintain trust.
10 Ways to Protect Your Business from Cyberattacks in 2024
- Conduct thorough due diligence before selecting an outsourcing partner. Assess their security policies, practices, and compliance with relevant regulations. Evaluate the partner’s track record in data security and their experience in handling sensitive information.
- Clearly define security requirements in outsourcing contracts. Establish specific clauses related to data protection, confidentiality, and compliance. Contracts should outline the security standards expected from the outsourcing partner and mechanisms for addressing breaches.
- Implement robust encryption protocols for data both in transit and at rest. Encrypting sensitive information adds an extra layer of protection. This makes it more challenging for unauthorized entities to access or misuse the data.
- Implement robust access controls and authentication mechanisms. Ensure only authorized personnel can access sensitive data, and employ multi-factor authentication to enhance security.
- Conduct regular security audits and assessments of the outsourcing partner’s systems. This includes penetration testing, vulnerability assessments, and security reviews to identify and address potential weaknesses in the infrastructure.
- Provide comprehensive security training to both internal staff and the employees of the outsourcing partner. Ensure that all personnel know security best practices, the importance of data protection, and the potential consequences of security breaches.
- Implement continuous monitoring of network activities and establish an effective incident response plan. Real-time monitoring helps detect unusual activities or potential breaches. This allows you to respond promptly and mitigate any security threats.
- Understand and comply with data protection laws and regulations applicable to the outsourcing arrangement. Clearly define data residency requirements and ensure the outsourcing partner adheres to relevant legal standards.
- Foster open communication with the outsourcing partner regarding security concerns and practices. Establish a collaborative approach to address security challenges and share best practices for maintaining a secure environment.
- Consider cybersecurity insurance to mitigate financial risks associated with potential data breaches. Insurance coverage offsets the costs of investigating and remediating a breach. It can also help cover legal and regulatory consequences.
Regulatory Changes and Their Impact on Outsourcing
Staying abreast of regulatory changes is critical when outsourcing to service providers. Your company is working across international borders, and with that comes a host of rules and regulations.
Here are a handful of areas to keep an eye on to ensure you comply with regulatory changes:
- Data Protection and Privacy Laws: As previously discussed, this is a big issue for companies that outsource today. Data protection regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), place strict requirements on how personal data is handled, processed, and transferred. Be mindful of changes in these laws, as they will impact your outsourcing contracts and business practices.
- Labor Laws and Employment Regulations: Stay up-to-date on labor laws and employment regulations. Regularly check laws regarding the treatment of workers, contractual obligations, and compliance with labor standards. It is important to provide fair wages and good working conditions for both in-house and outsourced employees.
- Trade and Tariffs: Changes in international trade agreements and tariffs influence outsourcing decisions. This is particularly true in industries that rely heavily on global supply chains. Organizations regularly need to reassess their outsourcing strategies based on shifting trade dynamics and geopolitical considerations.
- Environmental Regulations: As the world increases its focus on sustainability and environmental responsibility, there will continue to be regulatory changes affecting outsourcing decisions. Consider environmental regulations when selecting outsourcing partners, especially if you work in an industry with significant environmental impact.
- Health and Safety Regulations: The global COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of health and safety regulations. Regulatory changes related to workplace safety and public health measures impact outsourcing arrangements. Stay up-to-date with health and safety regulations to ensure your partners are secure and well-cared for.
Outsourcing Trends for Innovation and Competitive Advantage
While the world of outsourcing looks different these days, one thing has remained the same: Outsourcing is a strategic business decision to gain a competitive advantage. How?
- Outsourcing increases your bottom line. The fundamental law of profitability is to reduce costs and increase revenue. Outsourcing allows you to do just that. By outsourcing tasks to emerging markets with lower standards of living, your company saves significant time, energy, and money. Plus, your internal team is freed up to focus on tasks that will increase revenue.
- Outsourcing exposes you to new and innovative ideas. By working with teams across the world, you are much more aware of new developments and best practices. Outsourcing brings fresh perspectives and creative ideas, breathing new life into your business.
- Profitability + Innovation = The Competitive Advantage. Your company will gain a competitive advantage by increasing your revenue and strategically innovating. It’s basic math.
How to Find The Right Outsourcing Partner in 2024
As we look to the next year in the outsourcing industry, we can be sure that:
- Emerging technologies are going to continue to shape how and what businesses outsource.
- Businesses are prioritizing long-term partnerships with nearshore providers.
- Remote work will continue to redefine how we think of outsourcing and our relationship with global team members.
- Cybersecurity will be an ongoing investment and priority.
- Outsourcing will provide businesses with innovative ideas and a competitive advantage.
To stay ahead of the trends, finding the right outsourcing partner is more critical than ever. That’s where we come in.
Global Response has a proven track record of 40+ years as a trusted outsourcing partner. We work with companies across all industries, from healthcare to education to travel and hospitality. And our results are significant:
- 25% increase in online sales
- 28% reduction in call burden
- 130% increase in service performance
Contact Global Response today to see how we can build a secure and lasting partnership.
Outsourcing is when a company hires another company to perform specific tasks that would traditionally be handled in-house. The two companies sign a contract, agreeing on expected deliverables, payment processes, and timeline. The outside provider then employs its own people or technology to complete the tasks.
- IT Management
- Administrative Services
- Customer Service and Phone Support
- Human Resources
- Bookkeeping and Accounting
Outsourcing provides a myriad of benefits for businesses. It saves money and increases operational efficiency. Outsourcing also provides access to specialized skills and allows your in-house employees to focus on core business functions.
There are, of course, a few risks of outsourcing you should be aware of. Data security concerns are the most significant risk in 2024. It can also be challenging to navigate cultural and communication differences. That’s why it is so important to choose the right outsourcing partner.
Understanding the various outsourcing models is crucial when choosing which one is best for your company.
- Onshore – when you work with a service provider located within your same country
- Offshore – when you work with a service provider in a country significantly far away
- Nearshore – when you work with a service provider in a nearby country