Automation has been a leading — if not the leading — topic of discussion in the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector in recent years.
Each quarter, companies like Accenture, Teleperformance, Cognizant, and the large Indian providers are pushing to adopt technologies that can make their services more efficient as they race for market share and profits.
They are all betting on the investments being made now into artificial intelligence, machine learning, and robotic process automation paying off on the bottom line in a future when work becomes more automated
Everest Group, in an annual ranking now in its third year, offers a breakdown of the 50 leading companies in this BPO space, something it categorizes as business process services, or BPS. Those at the top, while not specifically recognized for work on automation, represent some of the companies pushing to advance most rapidly in this area.
Along with financial services, BPO stands out as one of the early-adopter sectors of cognitive technologies. And it is already having a major impact on both the nature of the work and employment within the industry.
A February report from HfS Research projected that the global IT and BPO services industry, which now employs around 16 million workers, would see a 7.5% workforce reduction by 2022. This hit, taking employment down to 14.8 million people across the world, would almost exclusively hit the “low skilled” segment of employees who fulfill routine tasks. Much of this reduction will be felt in India and the United States, according to HfS.
“Job roles are evolving from low-skilled workers conducting simple, entry-level, process-driven tasks that require little abstract thinking or autonomy to medium and high-skilled workers undertaking more complicated tasks that require experience, expertise, abstract thinking, ability to manage machine-learning tools, and autonomy,” stated HfS Research in its report.
At the same time, automation will create at least 300,000 jobs in the IT and BPO services industry by 2022, says the firm. This will not counteract the overall drop in employment, and India, where the industry is often credited with helping to lift people out of poverty, remains the location that will see the biggest net fall. But these new jobs will be higher-skilled roles in which humans are tasked with interpreting data and managing automated workflows.
“When we take into account the total impact of automation and AI on services jobs,” states HfS Research, “the impact is not nearly as severe as so many of the hypesters and fear-mongers are prophesizing.”
Everest Group does not specifically address automation trends in its new ranking. It is merely a rundown of the largest players in the market. Nevertheless, many of the names near the top of the list are the same as the largest adopters — and even developers — of new automation and cognitive technologies in any industry.
This year’s list, “based on market feedback and to reflect the momentum in service providers’ businesses,” according to Everest Group, also factors revenue growth into the rankings. Prior reports only looked at overall revenue.
The new breakdown factors overall 2017 revenue as 75% of the composite score, with the remaining 25% recognizing year-over-year growth (and equally considering both the dollar-amount increase and percentage growth).
The following are the top 20 companies in Everest Group’s ranking for 2018.
The full list of the top 50, which Everest estimates brought in up to a combined $91 billion last year, offers additional info, including the type of work done by each firm and industry specialization breakdowns.
- DXC Technology
- Alight Solutions
- Williams Lea Tag