Sourcing strategies are key for business success beyond 2020
Zain Patel, Managing Director, Merchants South Africa
In the last six months or so, business leaders across industries and sectors have been focused on finding ways in which to reinvent and transform their processes to allow for success beyond 2020. While this has been the case for many organisations globally, the unprecedented events of this year have also led to accelerated growth for some. Industries like e-commerce, telecommunications, internet services, online learning, and streaming services, for example, have experienced increased demand from consumers.
Domo, for example, reports that Netflix users stream 404 444 hours of video, consumers spend $1 000 000 online, and Amazon ships 6 659 packages every minute of the day in 2020 while Statistica found that retail websites globally generated almost 22 billion visits in June 2020, up from 16.07 billion global visits in January 2020.Further, the IFC reported that the global telecommunications sector has remained acyclical relative to the S&P500 throughout the COVID-19 pandemic – thanks to the uptick in data traffic and increased use of broadband services as people work from home and hold more meetings over video conferencing than before.
Going forward, trend casters are predicting further growth, and even convergence, of some of these industries – such as the rise of ‘a-commerce’ (where AI meets e-commerce) and ‘shopstreaming’ (where streaming meets e-commerce in real-time). No matter what industry they are from, businesses experiencing increased growth and evolution will need to focus on how best to manage this opportunity for success while also mitigating risks. One important way to do this is critically re-evaluating the organisation’s sourcing strategy.
Deciding how you are going to operate your contact centre is a critical decision that all businesses need to make – and one that directly affects factors such as business continuity and customer experience. Now more than ever, business leaders need to ensure they are focusing on advancing their differentiators into the market – especially as products and pricing continue to converge across industries. The right business process outsourcing (BPO) partner not only allows for leaders to focus on core operational areas of the business, but also ensures a seamless and positive customer experience – another key differentiator in a digitally-driven world where competition and customer expectations continue to rise.
The right BPO partner can assist any organisation in the following risk-mitigating factors:
- Seeking geo-balance
The events of 2020 have illustrated the undeniable importance of having multiple locations for your contact centre. Hosting your operations in a singular location, or hosting your contact centre in-house, puts your business at significant risk when it comes to challenges such as natural disasters, political unrest or a crisis such as COVID-19. Time lags, down-time and negative customer experiences as a result of these challenges could have a long-term impact on customer loyalty and the business’ bottom line.
Today’s digitally driven world makes it easier to carry out test cases in different locations, which can assist in making an informed decision. A business running in the Philippines, for example, could test a 50-seat contact centre in South Africa for a month to find out if this would add the right value to their business. There is no doubt that a multi-region strategy needs to be top of mind for success beyond 2020.
- Identifying influx vs business growth
Some organisations will have had an influx of workload due to the current pandemic, such as an e-commerce business dealing with a backlog due to a large amount of orders suddenly coming through their online store. It is significant to remember that although it is important to clear the backlog as soon as possible, this does not necessarily equate to new business growth in the long term.
When it comes to mitigating risk for these businesses, as well as those experiencing a true upward curve in their business from a supply and demand perspective, it is important to be able to deal with this influx through workforce management solutions – whether this means more hands on deck for a certain time to deal with backlog, or for the medium to long-term.
A valuable BPO partner will be able to assist with workforce planning and management on a continuous basis, and could even use data analytics to track and predict future workforce needs, putting the business in the position to always be prepared.
- Make the best use of big data
It is no secret that most businesses today are creating gargantuan amounts of data. The key to success beyond 2020, however, is in finding the balance between analytics and intelligence that will allow the organisation to harness this data in a way that improves the business. Not all businesses get this right – while many are investing in tools to assist with analysing the data, many also fail to find the right talent to provide meaningful interpretations for it, or have not budgeted for this expense.
Organisations should seek a partner who can assist in the collection and management of this data in a way that provides critical business intelligence.
The importance of a well-thought-out sourcing strategy and a partner who assists in creating value for the organisation are going to become ever more critical as the world of business looks to recover and evolve for success beyond 2020. Business leaders need to ensure they prioritise the pursuit of partners that further contribute to the organisation’s differentiators, and are as prepared for the future as they are.