A low-cost magnet for outsourcing business needs, India has been the largest market for the BPO (business process outsourcing) and ITO (information technology outsourcing) industry over the past three decades. Cheap labour and technical skills are a few factors for the nation’s attractiveness. But, as we move towards an automated world, this leadership is under threat.
According to a study by AT Kearney and International Labour Organisation, there is growing risk to BPO jobs globally. The former report estimates one million jobs are at risk in just four countries — US, India, Poland and Philippines. India is likely to be the worst hit since it employs over 2.8 million people in this space. Kearney’s Global Services Location Index tracks and analyses the offshoring landscape in 55 countries across three parameters: financial attractiveness, people skills and availability. Unsurprisingly, the top three are — India, China and Malaysia. But digital disruption is changing the dynamics, with the heaviest impact from automation and heightened cybersecurity. The report, titled The Widening Impact of Automation, suggests India is still dismally behind in cybersecurity. Yes, our expertise in STEM and analytics will probably keep us secure and several tech majors are also upskilling employees. But, much more needs to be done. The study warns: new technology regulations and escalating geopolitical competition are ushering in a period of grinding “digital disorder” for organisations around the world.