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Article : Virus Upends Outsourcing as Firms 'Reshore'


Coronavirus is permanently shaking up the global outsourcing industry as lockdowns from Bangalore to Manila prompt firms to "reshore" jobs and, with AI, to move further away from needing humans at all.

Restrictions on normal activity in these countries and others have created a logistical nightmare for the managers of call centres and other back-office operations for foreign corporations.

Having their staff work from home is difficult because of rules governing the handling of sensitive material such as financial transactions for bank customers from Scotland to San Francisco.

Also, many workers in places like India and the Philippines live in crowded housing with poor-quality broadband, while some firms do not have enough equipment like laptops to provide to employees.

"The outsourcing industry doesn't lend itself to working from home," consultant Vivek Sood, author of "Outsourcing 3.0", told AFP.

"We are talking about companies which used to ask employees to leave even their pens and pencils outside the office because of security concerns."

- 'Temporary stay arrangements' -

Desperate to stay operational, some firms have resorted to having staff live at their place of work.

Vodafone India, for example, says it has "organised temporary stay arrangements at our data centre locations, (and) made food and groceries available at critical locations".

Similar practices by others have sparked the ire of trade unions.

Mylene Cabalona, president of the Business Process Outsourcing Industry Employees' Network (BIEN), told AFP the union had received reports of some workers "effectively quarantined and locked down in their offices".

The Financial Times in early April published photos that it said appeared to show workers sleeping on the floor of a call centre in the Philippines, living in what they described as "subhuman" conditions.

- Don't call -

Anthony Esguerra, who works at a Manila firm handling data for a Chinese online gaming company, admitted that 80 percent of its operations were disrupted.

"The workflow of processing players' requests really slowed down, since our internet access was limited compared to when we were working at the office," he told AFP.

Companies like telecom firm Spark New Zealand and Taiwanese computer maker Acer, which uses a Philippine facility to serve Australian and Kiwi customers, have simply told people not to call.

Australia's Telstra and Optus and Britain's Virgin Media -- all of which have offshore units in India and the Philippines -- have announced plans to recruit hundreds of staff back home.

Telstra, which heavily relies on its Philippine facility for customer service, initially said it would hire 1,000 temporary workers, but later raised that figure to 3,500.

Optus sought to fill 500 vacancies, saying that while the company had previously believed "its diversity of locations would make us resilient to any disruptions", this was no longer the case.

But the bigger lasting change from the pandemic will likely involve the wider use of artificial intelligence to handle tasks currently performed by human beings, experts said.

"AI doesn't go on strike, it can work 24/7 and throws up fewer complications," said Michael Czinkota, who teaches international business at Washington's Georgetown University.

Telstra, for instance, which was already planning to slash customer service calls by two-thirds by 2022, now intends to accelerate its use of AI.

"(We) will be using this as an opportunity to further digitise and automate our business," CEO Andy Penn told The Sydney Morning Herald this month.

"COVID-19 (has) achieved in six to eight weeks what the evangelists of automation have not managed... for more than five years," Ilan Oshri from the University of Auckland's Graduate School of Management told AFP.

But the "onshoring" of jobs and the increased use of AI will have a big impact on countries that for years have benefitted from taking on the back-office operations of multinationals.

India, in particular, was a trailblazer. As of 2017, the industry employed nearly four million Indians and raked in revenues of more than $150 billion, according to trade body NASSCOM.

In the Philippines, the industry started from scratch in the early 1990s but by 2019 its revenues were equal to 7.3 percent of the country's gross domestic product, employing 1.3 million people.

"We will have to rethink the whole outsourcing model," said consultant Sood.

"The assumption that you can offshore everything to Bangalore and Manila and relax has gone out of the window."


Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent

Today's Tip of the Day - Games Trainers Play

Read today's tip or listen to it on podcast.

Published: Thursday, April 30, 2020

Printer Friendly Version Printer friendly version

2021 Buyers Guide Speech Technology


Agara is an autonomous virtual voice agent powered by Real-time Voice AI. It is designed to have intelligent conversations with your customers, vendors, and partners without any assistance from human agents. It can handle a wide variety of calls including inbound customer care calls, outbound lead generation calls, appointment scheduling calls, and overdue payment recovery calls.

Agara is available for several industries including banking, insurance, retail, e-commerce, airlines, and telecom. Powered by advanced Real-time Voice AI that understands speech in real-time, automatically determines the right process to follow and guides the caller along in the process with natural conversation.

Call Center Studio

Call Center Studio
Call Center Studio is the world’s first call center built on Google and is one of the most secure and stable systems with some of the industry’s best reporting. It is one of the most full-featured enterprise grade systems (with the most calling features, one of the best call distribution, outbound dialing features and integrations—including IVR, AI Speech Recognition, blended inbound/outbound calling and includes Google’s new Dialogflow and Speech API. Call Center Studio is the absolute easiest to use (with a 10 minute setup), and is the price performance leader with lower equipment cost and less setup time.

Call Tracking Metrics

Execute automated actions based on words spoken by your customer.

Our intelligent word detection and transcription tools make it easier for you to decipher the content of your customer conversations and automate action based on those insights.

Transform the audio of your calls into speaker-organized scripts so you can easily search your call log for specific words from a conversation, or automatically detect when words of intent are spoken by your customer.

Listen in on and highlight common patterns in order to execute triggers to initiate a new action or workflow, such as emailing a manager if the word “cancel” is spoken on a call. You can also set up to automatically redact content from a transcript, such as sensitive health information transmitted on a call.


Daisee builds technology that empowers people to solve problems by making interactions simple and smart so they can have a more significant impact, be more productive and be better at what they do. We believe incremental improvements carry huge potency and provide exponentially greater change for the better.

Genesys customers can now automate risk and quality management using Daisee’s speech and sentiment analytics and remediation workflow software. Daisee helps improve customer experience, ensure regulatory compliance, identify missed commercial opportunities & training requirements as well as provide valuable insights back to the business directly from the frontline – the true voice-of-...
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Advanced speech recognition and natural language expertise that routes callers by simply asking ‘how can I help you?’. It allows customers to use their own words to ask for what they want and steers them to the right place.

Menus are eliminated altogether and contact centres can use a single inbound telephone number.

MattsenKumar LLC

SmartSpeech – The Best In Class Speech Analytics Software

An all-inclusive speech analytics application that enables you to visualize your audio using state-of-the-art speech recognition, transcription, and text analytics technologies.


InTone Suite - Emotion Detection via Voice Analysis
InTone™ is a voice analysis tool geared to detect genuine emotional and cognitive reactions regardless of the speaker’s language or chosen intonation.
It integrates into existing contact center environments and provides realtime indications of both client and agent emotional reactions throughout all ongoing calls. This unique set of indications assists managers and call center representatives to truly understand the client, improve call center performance, easily detect angry calls, elevate training efficiency and provide a tailored customer experience in every single call.

Nemesysco's contact center technology is also available in API and SDK forms.
Please visit our website for information about our product portfolio.

Voci Technologies Incorporated

V-Blaze Speech to Text
Our GPU-accelerated, AI-based technology enables you to deliver greater insights to the contact center by transcribing audio into analyzable text.

- Transcribe large volumes of recorded audio quickly
- Integrate transcripts with your analytics or business intelligence platform
- Reduce your hardware footprint and minimize total cost of ownership


Voxjar is your one-stop-shop for driving better phone calls with your customers. We're a modern Conversation Analytics and Call Coaching Platform.

- Custom Charts and Dashboards give you the freedom to analyze calls from the highest level down to the details of each conversation.

- AI-Powered Speech Analytics transcribes, searches, and analyzes your reps' phone conversations, at scale.

- Quality Assurance and Call Coaching tools let you evaluate and improve agent performance with a human touch.

- Long term recording storage for historical analysis

All of these together provide the holistic, easy-to-use software that you need to manage a modern call team and create better con...
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