3 Mar 2024 – Harnessing AI in IT-BPM industry

Published by rudy Date posted on March 3, 2024

Catherine Talavera – The Philippine Star
March 3, 2024 | 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming a commonly used term in today’s society with its rapidly growing usage.

You read about companies trying to adapt to it on the news, you see AI-generated photos of your friends on social media, and you’ve probably tried using an AI-application yourself out of curiosity.

With the continued rise of more AI-supported apps, the use of the technology has become accessible to almost anyone.

Initially, there have been negative connotations to AI due to its potential threat to replace various jobs. However, industries have acknowledged the potential of AI to improve productivity and are continuing to integrate AI into their processes.

An example of this is the information technology- business process management (IT-BPM) sector, which recognized that the rise of generative AI (GenAI) is both a challenge and an opportunity for the industry.

“Generative AI is a major opportunity for the IT-BPM industry to augment and add value to some of the roles and functions we provide to global customers,” IT & Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) president and CEO Jack Madrid said.

He said that it is important for the workforce to adapt to the new jobs that would emerge with GenAI by upskilling and reskilling.

Madrid said that skills such as data analysis, critical thinking, problem solving and programming would be important for AI functions such as prompt engineering.
For the Contact Center Association of the Philippines (CCAP), AI is seen to improve the productivity and efficiency of its customer experience (CX) agents.

“We recognize the significance of AI in the outsourcing sector. AI technologies are changing the way we interact with customers and handle inquiries,” CCAP president Mickey Ocampo said.
Ocampo said AI systems have the capability to automate repetitive tasks, analyze large volumes of data, and even engage in natural language conversations with customers.

An advantage
While traditional customer service skills remain essential, Ocampo emphasized that CX agents with a foundational understanding of AI concepts have the advantage for higher value jobs.

“Agents who are equipped with AI skills can leverage these technologies to enhance customer interactions, streamline processes, and provide more personalized support,” Ocampo said.

Similarly, Concentrix Philippines country leader and senior vice president Amit Jagga also recognized the importance of AI in providing customer experience.

“As a company that is in the business of providing game-changing CX, Concentrix believes that the companies that will continue to succeed into the future markets and future workforce are those whose systems, tools and mindsets enable the experiences people love,” Jagga said.

“AI is now part of those experiences and therefore something Concentrix continues to lead and invest in, such as the AI solutions and services we provide our clients as well as those that boost productivity and create new career opportunities for our people,” he added.

Asked if AI skills are now becoming an important consideration when they recruit new talent, Jagga said it is an advantage.

“While AI know-how is an advantage for job applicants, but it is not a limitation to be hired – we invest in providing the training, upskilling, and re-skilling of both current and future workforce to enable continued growth and future-readiness of CX careers,” Jagga said.

Ocampo said CCAP-member companies value the continuous development of their agents’ skill sets and are committed to ensure they remain at the forefront of industry trends.

“By empowering our agents with AI skills, we can stay competitive in a rapidly evolving outsourcing landscape and deliver exceptional customer experiences,” he added.

The importance of upskilling in AI
With the Philippines being known globally for the services it provides in the CX sector, Jagga noted that it is important for the local industry to develop the AI skills of its workforce in order to continue to grow and be the preferred call center destination in the world.

“Beyond the technical skills such as data science, analytics or natural language processing, adaptability and continuous learning remain as key skills needed as the field of AI is rapidly evolving and companies who have transformational expertise will drive and lead the industry,” Jagga said.

“For decades, Concentrix has been a leader in accelerating business outcomes with automation, using AI and other tools like RPA (robotic process automation), using it to create better experiences for our advisors and our clients as well as their customers, from streamlining operations and accelerating processes to powering our team’s productivity. Training, upskilling and re-skilling our people on using AI is an ongoing investment we are making as leader in our industry,” he said.

With the emergence of AI, it is also giving rise to new job roles needed to support AI, Ocampo noted the need to invest in AI skills.

“Investing in AI skills enables the workforce to harness the potential of AI technologies and integrate them into existing business processes, thereby increasing productivity and efficiency,” Ocampo said.

He explained that AI skills empower workers to adapt to changing job roles and requirements in the digital age, ensuring relevance and employability.

“A resource pool of AI-skilled professionals strengthens the Philippines’ position as an innovation hub and attracts foreign investment, further fueling the growth of the IT-BPM industry,” Ocampo said.

“At CCAP, we recognize the importance of nurturing AI talent and are committed to supporting initiatives aimed at developing AI skills among our workforce. By equipping Filipino workers with the knowledge and expertise needed to thrive in an AI-driven world, we contribute not only to the success of our industry, but also to the continued advancement of the Philippine IT-BPM industry as a whole,” he said.

Challenges brought by AI
Madrid noted that the journey toward integrating AI into various sectors comes with its unique set of challenges and ethical considerations.

“Key issues include safeguarding data privacy, ensuring ethical development and use of AI technologies, and promoting equitable AI benefits. Navigating these complexities is crucial to harness AI’s potential fully,” Madrid said.

In response to these challenges, Madrid said the IBPAP AI Advisory Council is positioning itself as a key influencer in shaping the AI landscape in the Philippines.

“The Council’s mission is to address the hurdles associated with AI adoption and enhance the Philippines’ stature as a leading destination for AI-powered IT-BPM services,” Madrid said.

“This strategic focus aims to bolster the country’s standing in the global market, reinforcing the Philippine IT-BPM industry’s competitiveness on the world stage. Through this focused approach, the IBPAP AI Advisory Council aspires to create a sustainable, ethically grounded, and efficient environment for AI integration, benefiting the industry and society,” he added.

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