Overview of the Business Support Industry
Business process outsourcing (BPO) is a type of outsourcing in which a corporation hires a third-party service provider to handle one or more business processes. BPO transfers a company’s non-core functions (corporate governance, including legal, financial, planning, public and government relations, accounting, building services, etc.) to an outside service provider for proper management and administration.
The types of services being provided sometimes categorise business process outsourcing; the following three categories are commonly cited:
Knowledge process outsourcing (KPO): This is when a company hires an outsourced service provider not only to fulfil a particular business function or procedure but also to offer expertise in that area.
Legal process outsourcing (LPO) is a type of KPO that provides legal services, including everything from creating legal documents and conducting legal research to giving advice.
Research process outsourcing (RPO): this is another type of KPO which refers to research and analysis functions. Organisations that use RPO for services include marketing agencies, financial businesses, and biotech enterprises.
The business support sector, or BPO, is profitable in many developing nations with adequate communication infrastructure. It provides its residents with employment options and a sizable salary, whether highly skilled or semi-skilled. However, BPO is highly competitive, and businesses that offer BPO services must comply with professional standards.
Western Europe’s market for business support services was the largest in 2021. The market for business support services was the second-largest in the Asia Pacific region. The business support services market analysis includes Asia-Pacific, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, North America, South America, the Middle East, and Africa.
The global market for business support services increased by $621.03 billion in 2022 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.6%, according to a report by the Business Research Company. Market size for business support services is anticipated to increase by 7.7% CAGR to $835.66 billion by 2026.
According to Grandview Research, the global Business Process Outsourcing market had a value of over $246 billion in 2016.
Africa’s business process outsourcing (BPO) market is still developing as it transforms into a prime location for diverse service outsourcing. Nevertheless, it has consistently been one of the most popular outsourcing locations outside of Asia.
Market forecasts indicate that Africa’s entire GBS outsourcing market will increase from $7.8 billion in 2021 to $9.6 billion in 2023. Across the continent, the local and foreign GBS markets generate around $15.1 billion in revenue, which is anticipated to increase to $19.8 billion in 2023. This estimate is primarily the result of market expansion in the technology sector.
Ghana is one of Africa’s top Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) locations. Compared to other source markets, it offers outsourcing costs that are 60% to 70% lower.
Additionally, Ghana provides tax incentives to foreign companies that outsource to the nation. A few examples of these tax incentives are: Profits are excluded from income tax for the first ten years, a Tax break for businesses who hire graduates from the area, and an Exemption from two taxes for international personnel and investment.
The BPO sector in Kenya started to take off in the 1990s. Since that time, Nairobi (Kenya’s capital) has developed into East Africa’s technology hub, bringing in outside investment in the area. The industry significantly contributes to the formation, networking, and funding of a developing tech cluster in and around Nairobi.
Despite the enormous potential that Kenya has in the global BPO sector, the country’s share in BPO is currently small and concentrates largely on low-skill tasks like data entry and transcriptions. To record growth in this sector, there is a need for more capital and skill acquisition investment by stakeholders in the country.
The Nation’s Newspaper reported that Nigeria presently owns $285.8 million of the combined African domestic and international global business services (GBS) sub-sector, which is anticipated to be $15.1 billion and is expected to increase to $19.8 billion by 2023.
About 16,540 persons are said to be employed in Nigeria’s BPO sector. One of the more recent sorts of outsourcing business processes in Nigeria is hiring software developers by top companies in and outside the country.
South Africa is one of the fastest-rising global business services outsourcing hubs, witnessing high growth in the past few years. As a result, some international companies have delegated and expanded their business functions to Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) firms in the country.
The BPO sector in South Africa employed over 270,000 people across six cities, according to statistics made public by McKinsey in 2020. As of 2020, the country’s BPO market is estimated to be worth $461 million, with annual growth of 3%. Furthermore, according to Business Process Enabling South Africa (BPeSA), the outsourcing industry provides ZAR50 million (about US$ 3.43 million), or nearly 9%, of South Africa’s annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The BPO business is predicted to have a total workforce base of over 775,000 employees by 2030, making South Africa one of the top outsourcing powerhouses in the world.
Social Media Management
Most individuals have at least one social media account; concentrating on social media management has become necessary for most businesses. As the third most common internet activity, social media channel browsing is one of the most significant trends in outsourcing. Increasingly, BPO service providers are assisting businesses with managing their social media presence and improving customer satisfaction.
Preference for Remote Work
The Business Support/Business Process Outsourcing industry has embraced the remote and hybrid workplace setting like many others. This can be partially attributed to the covid 19 pandemic, which forced many businesses to adopt a remote work model.
Adapting BPO Workforce Skills to Changing Business Needs
Given the continuing growth of the BPO sector, services have developed over time to meet the needs and requirements of today’s businesses. Today, BPO companies provide “one-size-fits-all” and customised services to handle any conceivable job, such as market research, third-party verification, debt collection, account management, etc.
To evolving industry demands and expectations, the sector has gradually changed. A key element influencing BPOs is technological development. The need for highly specialised knowledge in robotic process automation (RPA), big data analytics, and artificial intelligence has grown dramatically over time as businesses strive to become leaner and more operationally effective.
Startups becoming BPO Customers
The number of startups has significantly increased during the last few years. Startups are utilising and collaborating with the business support sector to supply them with qualified and skilled labour at a reduced cost. This will enable them to operate their firms as they struggle with limited resources, revenue, and time.
The talent outsourcing strategy has been employed by businesses like Slack and AppSumo to develop successful company concepts. As a result, outsourced enterprises can increase the quality of their work, use cutting-edge technology, and generate more cash.
Focus on Process Automation
Modern cutting-edge technologies are crucial to the BPO sector. For example, communications technology and internet connectivity make outsourcing possible. In addition, automation has become more prevalent and has been used to eliminate manual labour and reduce repetitive tasks. As a result, accuracy, efficiency, and productivity are greatly improved.
Support firms have begun to automate several of their business processes with the use of cutting-edge technologies. For example, to adopt Robotic Process Automation for business processes like clinical data management, medical writing, and research and development, life sciences companies have partnered with BPOs.
Businesses are beginning to see the advantages of outsourcing and placing more emphasis on their partnerships with BPO providers. These collaborations allow BPO firms to assist their clients with decision-making, strategy planning, risk assessment, and other processes. As a result, a prevalent outsourcing trend that has been widespread is the increased emphasis on strategic business partnerships.
Business support industry or Business Process Outsourcing research areas and themes include:
- Information Technology Outsourcing
- Economics & Human Resource Management: Outsourcing
- Outsourcing Effects on Our Economy
- Business Outsourcing and Contracting
- Legal Services Outsourcing
- Outsourcing and Its Implications on the Economy
The Business Support sector or BPO industry makes substantial contributions to the following SDGs:
SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth – Business support contribute immensely to this goal by providing decent jobs to the populace, which improves the economy of such countries.
SDG 5: Gender Equality – The industry provides jobs and opportunities for growth for both genders.
Working on a Limited Budget
A limited budget is one of the main issues for the BPO or business support sector. Outsourcing firms are often expected to deliver the finest results at the lowest possible cost. This makes it difficult for BPO service providers to achieve quality standards.
Challenging Working Hours
A significant portion of the BPO market today is off-shore, meaning the task is delegated to a workforce in another nation, maybe in another region. Because of this, the employees frequently have to work extended periods, sometimes for hours at a time, which reduces their efficiency.
Meeting Customer Expectations
Meeting client expectations might be challenging due to growing market rivalry. Customers now have incredibly high expectations as they are more aware of the variety of items available, which can take time for businesses to meet. To satisfy their clients, BPO companies must go far and beyond to offer excellent customer service.
Lack of Skilled Talent Team
This is a rising challenge faced by the BPO services industry today. This is a big challenge because in the absence of good talent and a high attrition rate of skilled talents, achieving the highest quality of customer service delivery can be challenging, especially when BPO is a people-oriented and skill-intensive industry. Therefore, it is advised that undergraduate and job seekers in this sector learn skills (soft and technical) that will make them excel in this industry.
Changing Politics And Legislation
Political shifts can undoubtedly affect the BPO industry. For example, offshore employees may be impacted by protests, wars, or economic unrest, and new political regimes may implement legislation outlawing BPO in specific regions.
Knowing the current political situation where your clients and employees reside will help you make decisions and choose the best business strategies.
Data Integrity and Intellectual Property
BPO companies work with different clients who provides them with sensitive data and business information. For western clients, data security and privacy are major concerns, particularly when working with local BPO firms. The difficulty is that the majority of developing nations have not yet created and embraced mechanisms for protecting and enforcing intellectual property.
Big Data Analytics
The significance of data has been progressively growing over time. However, the potential for big data to augment BPO services is also enormous. Making wise company decisions and continuously enhancing client experiences are made possible by data analytics. Businesses can obtain precise data from big data that aids in developing several aspects of the organisation. Support service providers are using big data analytics to assist their customers better and adequately using their data.
Use of Chatbots
BPO companies employ clever AI-enabled chatbots to provide a better customer experience while reacting to customers more quickly than ever. Integrating automated systems and human supervision creates a fantastic potential for outsourcing companies to offer their clients first-rate service.
AI has made it possible for outsourcing companies to cut operating costs while increasing the effectiveness of their service delivery. Automated systems can handle most support tasks without human involvement. Using chatbots, robotic process automation, and other cloud-based solutions accelerates growth.
Use of Omnichannel
The most popular technology for helping outsourcing companies manage all touchpoints is omnichannel communication. Omnichannel enables customer service representatives to respond to consumer inquiries immediately while being aware of the context of the problem. The ability of BPO companies to easily manage all of their client contact channels while providing a quicker customer response is one of the features that has changed the field of customer care.
Cloud Systems Integration
Cloud-based technology integration in this sector has greatly impacted BPO companies as it continuously increases their efficiency and accessibility. Cloud infrastructure, which is centralised and instantly available, is used by outsourcing companies to store their data.
Many career paths and opportunities are available in the BPO sector, allowing you to hold various positions. Switching between customer support, design and development, writing, and data processing is a benefit of a profession in the BPO industry because you stand to gain new skills that can be applied in other roles. As the business expands in this field, new employees are hired to fill open main positions, while leadership positions are trained for existing employees. This implies that it is possible to grow professionally while still being employed by the same company.
Here is a list of typical jobs in this sector: Customer support representative, IT support specialist, Human resources specialist, Account manager, Personal/Virtual Assistant, Data Analyst, Data Entry personnel, Web designer/web developer, Social media manager, Marketing Specialist, Writer, Legal counsel, Security guard.
Communication & Persuasion
Employers in this sector, particularly those who work in businesses that provide customer relation services to clients, need to communicate correctly as they spend more time speaking to people on the phone or through other specified channels. This is key to a company’s success as their capacity to communicate complex information about products & services they offer engagingly and attend to their customer’s complaints will determine their customer retention rate.
Analysis & Problem-Solving
BPO companies aim to offer quality business solutions to clients as soon as possible. Therefore, employers in this industry are constantly looking for candidates with strong analytical and problem-solving skills who can offer clients solutions quickly and efficiently with little supervision.
Professionalism & Industry Awareness:
Employees in this industry should maintain a high level of professionalism at all times because the majority of the companies they deal with have established operating procedures, and they must be able to maintain a comparable level of formality. Employees in this industry must keep confidentiality and information security in the highest regard.
Players in this sector must also be highly knowledgeable about their respective industries and current on significant business environment advancements. With this awareness, clients can receive well-informed opinions.
Continual Learning & Adaptation
Workers in this field should have a wide range of expertise and information to provide clients with an ideal solution. To stay competitive and relevant in their sector, BPO organisations and their employees must constantly monitor market trends, legislative changes, and other factors that may impact their business.
The Business Support or Business Process Outsourcing industry is open to all talented graduates of different disciplines and skills. However, companies in this sector need people with specific expertise and discipline, which ranges from Business Administration to Legal practitioners, Accountants, Customer relation officers etc., to work with them to provide cutting-edge services to their clients.
While the sector is open to all and getting a job with a Business Support or Business Process Outsourcing firm does not require a formal degree, having a degree, master’s, experience, and being technologically inclined would go a long way to secure a specialised and high paying positions in this sector.
The primary qualifications for an outsourcing job are a bachelor’s degree, technical skills, and years of experience in a relevant field. For graduates seeking entry-level positions in this field, having a solid academic qualification (at least a 2nd-class upper division) and strong, soft skills might get you an associate role in this sector.
The recruitment process often involves calls for applications via the company’s website or social media page, or job outsourcing firm’s page. So, subscribing to designated job platforms will aid your transition into this sector. In addition, graduate recruitment is prevalent in this sector, especially with roles in customer service, and most outsourcing companies offer training to their fresh recruit who are just starting in the industry.
Fulfilling the duties and responsibilities of a job dealing with outsourcing services requires leadership skills, time management skills, and the ability to provide valuable insights for making business decisions – listing these skills in your cv or cover letter will also increase your chances of landing your dream role in this sector.
The industry is a significant player across several other sectors. Hence, the working hours vary depending on the clients they are working with and the project’s time frame. Workers in this industry often work overtime and even after the stipulated working hours to beat project deadlines.
Due to the nature of work – serving various firms one to another, workers in this field get to explore different industries and how things operate in other to proffer the right solution effectively. As a result, workers in this field continually learn to stay relevant and provide numerous opportunities to build professional capacity. Working in this industry also offers a good foundation for transitioning to a middle or C-level executive position in other sectors.
Salary is attractive and competitive and depends on years of experience and skill set. Top companies in this industry also offer perks like vacation, all-expense paid trips to attend business conferences, Health insurance and HMOs. In addition, some BPO companies provide extra bonuses and incentives to the top performers.
International Association of Outsourcing Professionals (IAOP)
Institute for Certified Business Process Outsourcing, Association of Outsourcing Professionals of Nigeria (AOPN)
Business Process Enabling South Africa (BPESA)
Dr Olufemi Ogunlowo, Foluso Phillips, Thelma Ibeh, Femi Ogunibe, Funmi Bucknor, Ikenna Odike.
Clinton Cohen, Angela Dick, Robert Joubert, Queen Mokonoto.
In most nations, no official organisations are responsible for regulating, monitoring, or aiding businesses in the business support sector. However, many collaborate with organisations in fields where their operations are active and governed. For example, the country’s Bar Association regulates corporations that outsource legal work and offer businesses legal services.
Lilt Inc., Microsoft, Coinbase, Meru Health, Freshworks, Infosys, IBM, Cognizant Technology Solutions, Wipro, Dell Technologies, Tech Mahindra, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, DXC Technology, Larsen & Toubro Infotech (L&T Infotech)I, CSC, Helpware, Simply Contact, Peak Support, Aidey, Pexly, SupportYourApp, Connext, Enshored, Unity Communications, Fusion BPO Services, Prialto, Callbox, Accenture, Cognizant, Genpact, Teleperformance, Concentrix, Plaxonic Technologies, EXL Service, TCS, Eclaro, Avasant.
Leading African Companies and Startups
AFRIBPO, Quantanite, Mango5, Avirtual, DSG, EC3
Leading Nigeria Companies and Startups
Remote CoWorker, U-connect, Phillips Outsourcing Limited, Fusion BPO Services, APEX Call Centers, Hi-Deas Expedient Solutions Limited, DelonApps, Outcess Solutions, Intercom Nigeria, Techmarket, Rovedana Limited, Scimitar Global Services Limited, Asksus-ng Business Support Services, Global Manpower Limited, Intelics Solutions Nigeria Limited, 25th and Staffing, Textng Communications, Skills Tech Consulting, Baaraku, iSON Xperiences Ltd, Resource Intermediaries Limited, Darlington Media Tech Agency, Halisi Consults, Martins & Associates, HARLEM Solicitors, Dentons ACAS-Law, Templars, Aelex Legal, Aluko & Oyebode, Musibau Adetunbi & Co, JUS PARTNERS, Century Attorneys, Tri Nasr, D. D. Dodo & Co., Punuka Attorneys and Solicitors.
Leading South Africa Companies and Startups
TALKSURE, Boomerang Marketing Solutions, In Africa Connect, Accace Global, IT GUY, DSG, Integreon, Indox PTY Ltd, VA Connect, Sigma Connected Group, AdminAssist Intl, Centrevo, Thetha Connect, 121 BPO, Avantive Solutions, Outworx Contact Centre, Outsourcery SA, 3iSolutions, Amalfi Outsourcing, Talksure, Real Receptionist, amplify5, illation, VirtuCall, Khaltsha Call Centre, ARC Business Process Outsourcing, Refresh Networks, Skytrax Accounting, Better Language Company, Boldr., The Connectors, Quantanite, Beyond Admin, Boomerang Marketing Solutions, The Virtual Studio SA, Mutual Financial Analysts (MFA), Accace Global, Growth Hub, SURGO, Level180, Outsourcedrive, Affinity Solutions, iContact, Boomerang, Mindpearl, FinBiz2030, Sigma International, Quantanite (SA branch).
Leading Ghana Companies and Startups
First Manpower, Manpower Ghana, JobHouse Ghana, GoalConsult, Fncee Consult, Abelway Technology, JPCann Associates Limited, Kobb Outsourcing, Zuzo Company Limited, Firstcode Management Services, Acreaty Ghana, Edge Outsource Ghana Ltd, BYF Consulting, L’AINE Services, Origin-i Consults Limited, Liranz, Absolute Business Solutions Limited, Africa Software Solutions, Majorel, Accra Digital Center.
Leading Kenya Companies and Startups
Oasis Outsourcing Kenya, The Manpower Company (TMC), Flexi Personnel, RightFit, Mukuru Employment Agency, Adept Technologies Ltd, Telesky Limited, Hugo Kenya, Aviid, Horizon Contact Center, ISON BPO Kenya, Outsourcing Kenya Ltd, Daproim Africa, MNC Consulting Group, Rapidtech Digital Solutions, Daproim Africa, Horizon Contact Centers Ltd, C&R Group, Fusion Communication Systems, VoicesAfrica, Ideon Limited, Lance Alexander Communication LTD, TeleSky Limited, NIT Studio Nairobi, Data Centre (E.A), Impact Outsourcing Limited, Outsourcing Kenya Limited, iSON Xperiences Ltd.
- Vested Outsourcing by Karl B. Mandrodt, Kate Vitasek, and Mike Ledyard
- The Black Book of Outsourcing by Douglas Brown and Scott Wilson
- The Rise of Legal Services Outsourcing by Andrew Burgess, Leslie Willcocks, and Mary Lacity
- Outsourced by R.J. Hillhouse
- Smart Outsourcing from A-Z by Joshua Keith Cook
- Selling Outsourcing Services in the Digital Age by Grant S. Lange
- Softwares without borders by Steve Mezak
- The New Corporate Cultures by Terrence Deal and Allan Kennedy
- Outsourcing Podcast
- Outsourcing Selling
- The Ins and Outs of outsourcing
- Molecule to Market
- Outsource Accelerator Podcast
- SAITEX Africa
- Customer Experience Management Africa Summit
- Facilities Management Expo
- Social Media Marketing Conference
- AOPN outsourcing Expo
- Suits (series)
- The Lincoln Lawyer (Movie)
- The Firm (Movie)
- Outsourcing Journal
- Intelligent Sourcing
- Medical Design and Outsourcing
- Customer Service Manager Magazine
- CCW Digital
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