Will the BPO sector survive much longer?

It is well-known that BPO now also known as BPM has been one of the key economic drivers in the Philippines. However, will it continue to do so in the future? Given the rapid advancement of Fourth Industrial Revolution, with AI (Artificial Intelligence) warning to replace BPO jobs. Does it mean the end for the BPO sector? Should we plan ahead before this happens?

The BPO sector is expected to overtake overseas remittances in foreign exchange earnings this year, after raking in $25 billion in 2016

Roughly more than a million jobs are now directly and many more indirectly attributed to the BPO sector, covering a wide array of services that include but is not limited to contact centers, data transcription, back-office services, animation, and game, software and engineering development. Mastery of the English language and patience are some of the key skills required for the said jobs which Filipinos are amply endowed with. Adding to that, the number of college graduates suitable for the jobs is a big advantage.

What would make it turn for the worst? It is feared that in the long run AI will substitute BPO jobs eventually leading to the death of the sector. The most vulnerable subsector is, of course, call centers which takes up as much as 85 percent of the BPO jobs, while those jobs that require human creativity would not be as endangered.

Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg has been debating Elon Musk about the latter’s doomsday warnings about Artificial Intelligence.

The question is will AI take jobs from the BPO sector? Maybe it would, maybe it wouldn’t but even if it does it would take years even decades for us to get there. And there are no debates about the short- term adversity that will result in this revolution.

The best that we can do is help equip workers with the ability to adapt to different changes in job requirements since traditional college education simply won’t cut it.

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