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Asia: Shared Services Will be Incorporating Front Office Operations in Future

Posted: 10/29/2013

How are changes in customers’ service delivery needs reflected in BPO provider offerings? During Shared Services & Outsourcing Week Asia 2013, we invited six of the region’s leading BPO providers and consultants to a lively and provocative debate on stage. What we found was that the hot topics reflected much of the thinking we’re also witnessing in North America and Europe – but often with a decidedly Asian twist.

Discussed were, of course, data analytics, social media, digitalization, vertical solutions, provider segmentation, and the increasing tendency to move front office operations into a shared services type model.

Specifically on data analytics, we heard that the focus is increasingly on prescriptive solutions – ie, on how companies should make different decisions in future. It’s about helping clients with their customer models, to impact business outcomes. However, only the smart organizations that insist on "innovation" in the contract will be able to reap the benefits, we were warned.

What’s interesting in this field is that companies are leveraging "data nerds" to discern patterns. A great example shared on stage concerned identifying departments that communicated most frequently with each other (AR and AP) by tracking their door-swipe passes, comparing that data to phone calls made, and depicting the results via a heat-map. The stunning results led to the suggestion that the client co-locate the two departments. The important thing to note in this example is the visualization of data, which will become more significant. Telling the whole story through visuals is impactful and more memorable.

Where we saw a regional differentiation was in the talent debate. Around the world, shared services are busy crafting and deploying talent management strategies. Asia is doing the same, but with a difference resulting from growth not just in services delivery models, but also growth in operations, within Asia’s expanding markets. The challenge of finding experienced leadership is also being multiplied by the need to find local managers for incountry operations, as cultural differences are otherwise too complex to overcome.

So much more was discussed – including the need for greater "customer intimacy" in multi-functional models, the impact of the devaluation of the rupee on BPO operations, and the fact that European economies are starting to look like third world markets compared to what’s going on in Asia.

Please do take the time to listen on your smartphone or tablet, if not your desk. If your operations touch on Asia in any way, this is one discussion you really don’t want to miss.

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