The corona pandemic hit the BPO industry the hardest. Within a month, the industry was faced with workplace disruption, cybersecurity threats, and compliance failure, and client management challenges. In short, BPO’s most coveted cover of data security was blown away.
While organizations with a robust Business Continuity Plan successfully moved their agents to work from home but many failed and lost reputed clients. It took the industry some time but it bounced back and now it is thriving with the new normal.
China was the first country to work from home followed by the USA, France, India, and Japan, BPO hot destinations like the Philippines and Africa suffered because WFH wasn’t cost-effective for them.
How BPO Overcame the Challenges due to COVID-19
Well, it’s an exaggeration to say that BPO has overcome the impact of COVID-19; the business is yet to go back to normal and challenges related to compliance and data security still exist. The majority of BPOs continue to struggle with the new normal but industry leaders have shown the way.
New norms related to BCP, Compliance, Client Management, and Data security are helping both small as well as large BPOs to resume business and provide quality back office support. Here’s how BPOs have managed to stay afloat so far:
Function with Limited Workforce: Organizations that didn’t allow agents to access data and work from home agreed to run processes with a lesser workforce. Governments from around the world have worked with industry leaders to prepare a guideline that allows businesses with 30-50% capacity and carry out necessary tasks.
Adopt Cloud Technology: To store data and ensure easier and safer access by agents working from home, BPOs moved their crucial and confidential data to the cloud. The increased dependency on cloud improved business efficiency and rendered all data sharing and management challenges obsolete. Often these cloud storage are support by MSSPs, where SOCs work together to ensure data security.
Adopting Technological Advancements: Some of the top Fortune 500 companies were ok with agents working from home because of their robust ERPs and CRMs that catered to the varied needs of data security. These are advanced and state-of-the-art technologies that identify any abuse of data and stop sharing in the mid ensuring full proof security.
What changes BPO is conceiving in its BCP due to Pandemics like COVID-19
The business process industry works as a change bearer, they are perhaps the first industry that willingly tries new technologies. The motive remains cost saving and achieving efficiency but in the pursuit of it, they have changed the way somethings for the better.
When it comes to business continuity planning, BPOs have always tested varied methods to ensure services are not disrupted. It was these well-prepared and managed BCPs that saved varied BPOs from going bust.
Here are Some of the Changes That are Being Incorporated
Develop or acquire the capability to ensure compliance in remote working: The changing times demand a new BCP that considers remote working as essential because Corona is not the first pandemic and certainly it won’t be the last. Earlier, we had Spanish flu, now we have Corona, tomorrow we can have even more lethal disease.
A BCP that includes remote working will be enough to ensure easier movement of systems without disrupting the day to day processes.
Use Cloud for Data Recovery: A huge percentage of BPOs have an in-house IT team that manages data storage, recovery, and safety, well it is about time to have its copy stored on the cloud too. In the coming times, remote working will become normal and employees will continue to access data remotely. With cloud supporting remote access and data recovery, IT teams will find it easier to store it back in case of attacks or disasters.
What are some Global BPO Trends that have emerged during COVID-19?
As mentioned earlier, the BPO industry has always shown the way by adopting new technologies and methodologies. While some agencies are still struggling to adapt to the change, many have struck a balance with the new normal and are thriving now.
Some of the emerging BPO trends for post COVID world includes
Leveraging technology to improve remote working: When the situation arose where making remote working was necessary, BPOs packed systems and delivered it to the employee’s home. While it was a great move but it can’t be a permanent situation. The future is uncertain and there needs to be a robust plan.
Varied MNCs offer remote working and also have to bring your computer policy, which is a good way of managing IT resources. Often companies compensate employees for buying these IT systems and then these systems are sanitized and locked by their in-house IT team to prevent data breaches.
To make remote working efficient and safe, organizations will have to look at the varied options available. Improving remote working with cloud-based video conferencing tools like Zoom is just the beginning.
Employee Background Check: Now organizations are free to hire resources that are located in less developed areas because the government has restricted the number of people who can work from a location. With the changing dynamics of hiring and remote working, organizations will have to focus more on background checks.
Thieves and hackers are likely to join the organizations just to have a domain on the server. Once their email accounts are created, they will go bonkers and hack the entire system. Proper background checks and previous employment verification will save BPOs from hiring potential hackers or data thieves.
New paradigms to measure compliance level: Earlier, BPOs can prepare for PCI DSS and furnish almost all kind of certifications because servers were located at only one destination. With employees working from around the country, organizations have multiple access points and multiple points that can lead to a data breach.
It is about time that industry leaders come together to devise a plan that safeguards data and ensures compliance at remote locations too. A live camera while operating on crucial data is one of the most popular paradigms that is being followed but it requires heavy manpower to monitor every system and user.
Going ahead, Technology seems to be the only way to ensure data security at all remote locations. Employee training mixed with the right set of technology can ensure a higher level of compliance.
Use of Real-time Analysis and Scrutiny software: No matter how robust your tech is or how deep scrutiny you do on background checks, some employees will abuse the available features and try to use the data for their benefit. Since 90% of all data breaches occur because of mistakes made by employees, it is necessary to have real-time analysis and scrutiny software packages that keep running tests and reporting any malicious activities.
Some tools ensure that every file or tool accessed while being online is stored and recorded and reported. Based on these reported agents who are indulging in data or feature abuse can be identified and reprimanded.
Scrutiny software packages are designed to identify agents who are trying to gain access to files that are not authorized. These software packages also report the abuse of files in real-time, they are powerful enough to suspend access in real-time and stop data theft.
Striking a balance between Governance and Employee Satisfaction: If the government didn’t step into and imposed lockdown then varied agencies would have continued working from their locations. It was the government’s strict orders that coaxed organizations into implementing remote working and continue with it until cases go down.
Once all technology and employee-related challenges are managed, organizations need to work with the government to ensure a smooth transition in economic policy and subsidies provided to these agencies. Since BPOs mainly handle back-office operations, governments play a crucial role in guarantying big companies that their BPOs are safe and their data is safe with these organizations.
Governments use this BPOs as an employment generation mechanism, the government offers subsidies, tax benefits, and one window clearance to set up such agencies and offer back-office services.
Going ahead, the government will be changing laws related to data security to facilitate easier remote working. The BPO leaders need to meet the government and work a policy that compensates them well and provides them with the requisite liberty to run programs that benefits them too.
BPO industry took a huge blow but like always it was able to cope up and offer the biggest companies from around the world the best of back-office services and customer support.
Going ahead, BPOs will be under immense pressure to ensure a tantamount level of data security when offering remote working to its employees. The aforementioned norms and changes will help the industry tackle the challenges prevalent with remote working and ensure quality client servicing.