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Industry Research : Generative AI Threatens SA’s Booming BPO Job Market


South African contact centre employees are worried generative artificial intelligence (AI) will take over their jobs, as the industry across the globe increasingly incorporates AI-powered agents into their processes.

This is according to analysts, who say generative AI will disrupt the traditional business process outsourcing (BPO) industry by automating more and more tasks for agents, prompting employees to fear their duties may eventually be entirely replaced.

However, the BPO industry says generative AI technologies will likely supplement their human agents and not necessarily replace them, as many customers still prefer human interactions, especially for sensitive or complex issues.

Employers across the globe are anticipating millions of jobs across industries to be displaced by the growing adoption of emerging technologies in the workplace.

Flux Trends researcher and trend-spotter Faeeza Khan explains: "Generative AI is sparking anxiety among call centre workers all around the world.

"The Philippines employs roughly 1.6 million BPO workers and is one of the world’s largest centres for BPO. Political and business leaders there are in the process of formulating a plan to deal with AI replacing human jobs.

"In March, Google demonstrated new generative AI capabilities for call centres and there are a multitude of customer service platforms to choose from."

Khan points out that while generative AI will play a critical role in SA’s BPO industry, it will enhance roles rather than replace them. This will be done by enabling efficiency through automation of repetitive tasks, improving agent productivity and in turn revolutionising the entire customer operations function.

"The incorporation of generative AI in the customer service realm is becoming crucial in order for businesses not to be outcompeted. The benefits are clear.

"However, businesses should not ignore the human cost and should make efforts to enable their workforce to perform higher-value work that’s still beyond the scope of AI. Upskilling programmes for BPO workers to gain the necessary expertise is recommended," she adds.

SA’s BPO sector has the potential to create 775 000 jobs by 2030, according to a report by consultancy firm McKinsey.

A June 2023 McKinsey report reveals generative AI will automate 60% to 70% of employee workloads globally, with the customer centre industry being among the top sectors that will be augmented by the emerging tech.

Laurent Leclercq, COO of BPO solutions providerMerchants, says while generative AI will more likely add value than substitute workers in SA’s BPO industry, it does pose a certain level of threat.

"The ongoing adoption of generative AI technologies can pose challenges to job creation in the South African BPO sector, specifically for roles that include routine tasks, are repetitive in nature and can be easily automated.

"AI solutions can also be deployed to scale up or down easily, based on demand, without the need for recruitment, training or other overheads associated with hiring human agents.

"Once trained appropriately, these systems tend to make fewer errors in repetitive tasks compared to humans. This efficiency can make them preferable for tasks where precision and consistency are crucial," notes Leclercq.

While generative AI can pose challenges to traditional job creation in the BPO sector, it will not necessarily mean the end of jobs in the industry, with many customers still preferring the "human touch", he adds.

According to Leclercq, Merchants approaches the use of generative AI technologies within its contact centres opportunistically and with specific focus on client-driven value requirements.

"The emotional intelligence and understanding that humans offer cannot be fully replicated by AI. In essence, the digital economy has elevated the role of contact centre agents from mere problem-solvers to critical brand representatives, equipped with technology and empowered to offer an enhanced and integrated customer experience.

"With the ever-increasing rise in cyber threats, human agents also have a key role to play in ensuring data privacy and adhering to security protocols," Leclercq comments.

Mithum Singh, MD of customer management services provider CCI South Africa, believes the integration of AI in the BPO industry will create a diversity of roles − particularly among local employees who are trained in ICT skills – to work alongside AI.

"I do not believe AI will take jobs; it will simply enhance people’s ability to efficiently handle these complex tasks, while handing over mundane or routine tasks to self-service channels. The complex tasks often required of agents will always require human interaction.

"While AI is extremely useful for simple automated tasks, human beings need emotional connection, especially when experiencing heightened emotions," explains Singh.

While CCI South Africa has not incorporated generative AI in its processes, the company plans to do so, he adds. The role of the contact centre agent has evolved significantly over the years, in the advent of the digital economy.

"With improvements in technology, the contact centre landscape has evolved even further and is now what is called ‘omni-channel’. Furthermore, I believe the analytic power of AI will help us to better utilise macro-economic factors, and how they interact with human needs and experience to best make use of our local resources.

"For the BPO industry, one of these key resources is the massive potential held by the unemployed youth. I believe that through this process, we will be able to further drive job creation using these analytics," notesSingh.


Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent

Today's Tip of the Day - Find The Right Solution

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

Published: Wednesday, August 30, 2023

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2023 Buyers Guide Telecoms

Big Outsource

Our spectrum of outsourcing services in the various disciplines includes creatives, technical support, and information technology. The non-core side of outsourcing that we offer starts with giving you the ability to hire local talent or a team who will comprise your own back-office support, marketing, sales, and even call center support. Right now, we have a growing number of clients from the United States and Australia.

Cloud IT Services GmbH

Dialfire offers you a complete call center solution that is simple and intuitive to use and adapts to your needs. It's completely cloud-based, saving you the hassle of setting up a phone system and installing software. In addition to predictive dialing and call blending of inbound calls, you can create personalized campaigns through an intuitive and easy-to-use interface. Features include automated workflows and full control over the agent screen.

You can see the full list of features here:


Cloudonix’s smart voice calls enable frictionless experiences that drive better customer care and faster sales by merging voice and data into a complete service context. Cloudonix add Cloud capabilities to your existing on premise Call Center enabling your agents to work from anywhere in the world. Security, Privacy and more – rapidly deployed and cost effective without replacing your existing systems or retraining your team.

Connectica Solutions, LLC

PBX On The Cloud
We provide complete Cloud-based PBX/Phone Systems, including predictive and progressive dialers, phone lines in more than 75 countries and low cost international rates.
We specialize in the US and Latin American market.

DiRAD Technologies

AI Powered Contact Center Provider, AI Chat & Voicebot, Enterprise Telephony
Take advantage of the latest customer service innovations with Contact Center, Virtual Assistant, and Interactive Voice solutions for accessible, 24×7 services across multiple channels.

Layer One Technologies

Layer One Technologies provides information and communication technology (ICT) services to businesses in the greater Charlotte area. Whatever your cabling needs, we have you covered.

Lexico Telecom

We provide competitive SIP trunk services with different level of quality, IVR mailing service, pay per call servise, DID numbers service.


VOIP services
Stay in contact quickly and easily with your international offices through Megacall.

Megacall will fulfill all your telecommunication requirements and on top of that go the extra mile and surprise you with new possibilities for your business, speed to action your requests and keeping within your budget.

📞 Virtual Switchboard
🔌 SIP trunk
🔢 Virtual number
📠 Call Center Solutions


Our SNAPsolution – UC and Collaboration tools – can be quickly deployed so you can realize your ROI just as quick. netsapiens offers a comprehensive suite of unified communications (UC) & Contact Center (CC) feature-sets to service providers. Custom-built to provide our partners with unprecedented levels of flexibility, customization, and ease of use.

netsapiens allows you to control your margins in order to improve your ROI. As a provider of a facilities-based solution, you are able to personally choose your origination, termination, hardware costs, etc. to fit your budget. We also allow you to strategically price your product for a maximum return on your investment by charging on a conc...
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Nuxiba Technologies

Build a strong business presence and improve customer relationships!

Offer custom-tailored solutions throughout your sales cycles and customer interactions and assess service levels and control corporate goal achievement through reports and statistics.

Obtain detailed reports based on relevant activity in your contact center, access our quality module to assess calls and performance, apply surveys, develop scripts, record conversations, and more!

Schedule a live demo or request a quote today!


Demarc Network Traffic Monitor
A lightweight Network Traffic Monitor that privides real-time traffic alerts and tracks all IP and SIP endpoints at Demarc. It analyzes mirrored SIP Trunk and Internet traffic in real-time and compiles Network Traffic Analytics (NTA) for all endpoints giving daily network traffic telemetry, most active endpoint summary, endpoint search table and more.

Scopserv Integrated Services

The ScopTel IP PBX solution is a distributed software application
that can be installed on both virtual and physical servers, thus
offering a multitude of architectural designs from premise-based
servers to a centralized data center (DC) hosted WAN
environment. The application is distributed as an ISO which
includes the customized Linux operating system


Long Distance and Toll Free Specialists for Contact Centers
Televergence is a facilities based US Nationwide High volume/High Capacity Inbound and Outbound VoIP Carrier for Contact Centers. We specialize in termination (outbound) and origination (toll free and local DID) for the contact center. We have a technical staff that is up to date on the majority of platforms in use today, including asterisk and Vicci dial, as well as many of the currently in use software platforms.
Contact Centers generally see cost reduction and containment when using Televergence as their contact center telecom carrier. Televergence is the only active US VoIP carrier certified by the Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), which enables our services to qualify for meeting corporations Supplier Diversity Needs.

The Phone Number Testing Company

Phone Number Testing and Validation
Bulk testing and validation of UK Landline and mobile numbers, with a growing list of other coutries where we can test.

If you own a large customer or business prospect sales database, our service helps you to quickly and accurately cleanse all the dead records, by identifying all the dead phone numbers.

We offer a free no obligation test trial

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