June 8, 2023

Three ways Artificial Intelligence will change the BPO landscape

By Mervyn Pretorius, Chief Technology Officer at CCI South Africa

“AI could contribute up to $15.7 trillion to the global economy in 2030, more than the current output of China and India combined. Of this, $6.6 trillion is likely to come from increased productivity and $9.1 trillion is likely to come from consumption-side effects,” says PWC.

Artificial Intelligence has received a lot of attention of late as it looks set to revolutionize and transform the way organizations and their people work. The excitement surrounding Artificial Intelligence (AI) follows on from an explosive uptake in generative AI tools which is largely credited to organizations such as OpenAI who made ChatGPT and DALL-E widely accessible, and in doing so, brought the AI conversation and its role in today’s workplace to the fore.

From a BPO industry perspective, I believe we are on the cusp of a significant growth period ignited by AI integration. The potential for this revolutionary technology to give us a significant advantage is without limit – and that includes short term. The value of Artificial Intelligence is everywhere, from creating greater efficiency and cost savings to improving customer service and reducing errors, the BPO industry will sit at the forefront of this era of innovation.



Reducing routine, repetitive tasks

In the short-term, the first significant impact I can see taking hold is the automation of routine tasks. Repetitive and time-consuming activities that aren’t complex, such as data entry and simple customer queries, can, with the help of AI be automated – chatbots are to a degree, the best example of this. Broadly speaking, past online virtual assistants have often been lackluster but noteworthy improvements in virtual assistance and voice recognition have been made in recent years. Combine these existing more refined tools with the capabilities of a language learning model like ChatGPT and we are surely poised for some ground-breaking developments in this space.

Organizations with countless staff dedicated to routine tasks will be able to redeploy talent to more complex activities. This is where soft skills such as problem solving, critical thinking and decision making become vital – placing them more in demand than ever before. This kind of AI powered automation will lead to increased productivity and visible efficiencies, all while freeing up time for employees to focus on tasks that need a more human touch.

At this juncture, I think it’s important to point out that we won’t necessarily see extensive job losses as a result of AI, but rather jobs augmented by it, and the resulting increase in output will create the resources to comfortably redeploy employees within an organization if needed. Let’s take car manufacturing as an example: Most of its production is automated and yet it’s an industry that today employs 110,000 people in South Africa. This demonstrates that an industry which has experienced a redesign in the name of automation, is still a key employer and contributor to the economy. I believe that the BPO industry can find the right balance to maximize the full potential of AI.

Augmented jobs of the future

Above, I mentioned the idea of jobs being augmented by AI. Call center agents, for example, could find AI stepping in as a handy support tool to pinpoint information around specific customer queries. Instead of searching through reams of policies, endless terms and conditions documents and company folders, agents will be able to rely on an AI-powered search tool to track down the information they need. This will help to reduce the need for customers to be put on hold for extended periods of time, leading to improved caller satisfaction.

In fact, a recent study by Stanford and MIT found that Artificial Intelligence boosted productivity by 14%. The study was carried out in a tech company among its customer support agents. Interestingly, agents with the least amount of experience in customer service reaped the most benefit, completing tasks 35% faster than those who had more than six months experience and weren’t using any AI tools. It’s these kinds of significant gains during our day-to-day that will better support customer service personnel to provide a seamless, personalized experience to customers.

AI-powered managers

Enabling our employees is key to our success – quality leadership matters and AI has the potential to improve employee management in the BPO industry ten-fold. With the help of AI-powered tools, we’ll see improved data analysis of employee performance metrics like call handling times, resolution rates, and customer satisfaction scores. These metrics will help managers identify areas for improvement and provide targeted training to agents, a major benefit for skills development and career growth.

We are truly at a tipping point, in the best way possible. The world of work will be forever changed, change not limited to the BPO industry, but it would be disingenuous not to recognize that our industry is primed and ready to adopt and deploy AI at scale. Once in place, we’ll start to see improved operations, time and money savings, and an optimized service for customers. In addition, call center agents will also enjoy more wellbeing benefits such as improved job satisfaction, reduced burnout as well as a more fulfilling work environment. As a BPO industry professional, it’s a thrilling place to be and I look forward to the growth and innovation that we’re about to witness.


CCI are constantly evolving and as the organization continues to make strides and expand its breadth of services we endeavor to always think ahead to better engage with our community. Find us on Linkedin and connect with our team to find out how we are propelling the industry forward and how we can create value together.