The Future of BPO: How Human Cloud and Infrastructure Cloud are changing the Game

The Human Cloud and the Cloud infrastructure are defining a new alternative to the traditional BPO services in various key segments of work. It is fast changing the dynamics of how the BPO industry has been operating. Service providers, in order to differentiate and avoid the commoditization penalty, will need to invest in this transformative model to stay competitive. Buyers would need to think differently and re-organize their service strategies to be able to benefit from this new paradigm. The Human cloud services are only going to grow more sophisticated and will take up a significant portion of the BPO pie in the years to come.

The Cloud is fast evolving and empowering small enterprises with remote workforces to compete on par with larger businesses. Global collaboration and resource pooling is overcoming traditional constraints of geography and infrastructure. The cloud has created a level playing field for all businesses irrespective of size and location. Entrepreneurs are finding ways to collaborate and significantly reduce the time to develop and deploy products. An easy access to state-of-the-art development tools and infrastructure is boosting innovation. Adequate bandwidth is diminishing latency to near real-time. Adding the human element to the Cloud has created the Human Cloud. The Human Cloud can be loosely defined as a self-organizing ecosystem that engages a pool of digital workers for a wide variety of on demand and ad hoc services. Human Cloud is providing a definitive answer to the challenge of analyzing large swathes of data by harnessing the power of distributed computing and the problem solving capacity of an array of human brains. This is providing hitherto unattainable flexibility, cost saving, speed of execution and transparency, all instrumental in an age of ubiquitous business where immediacy is the first and most important metric and expediency trumps accuracy. The Human Cloud in conjunction with Cloud Infrastructure is making Location irrelevant and Virtualization of Work a reality.

What is the Human Cloud?

Business process as a Service (BPaaS) is delivered via a cloud based platform using a combination of process automation and dedicated labor for a client. The pricing models are usually consumption or subscription based. Crowdsourcing is the practice of obtaining business process services, creative services, content or data management services by soliciting contributions from a large and distributed group of independent workers, rather than from traditional employees or suppliers. The pricing model is usually task oriented and output based. Combining the two creates a potent combination of a largely scalable and partially automated alternative service model that is throwing up new opportunities as well as challenges – the Human Cloud. The Human Cloud is essentially an augmented intelligence ecosystem, almost a symbiotic form of self-correcting and persisting service delivery fabric.

Traditional BPO firms are process-oriented companies and specialize in understanding client processes, transition them to their own centers, optimize them and deliver services on an ongoing basis with predictable costs, quality and reliability. The processes typically suited for such a delivery model are Finance and accounting, HR, procurement, supply chain management etc. BPaaS has largely embraced these same service areas and offered additional efficiencies and cost savings.

With ever growing digital content, a new service line has emerged which requires a new breed of services providers that can leverage Technology, BPaaS and the Human Cloud. All of this sounds very exciting but is the Future of BPO the Human Cloud? Our answer would be a yes and a no. The Human cloud, backed by the Infrastructure cloud, will at best be an alternative to outsourcing certain task oriented activities that are very repeatable and easily dis-aggregated. This is well suited to services where there is a fluctuating and cyclical demand (ie unpredictable and asynchronous work load), is project and output based or require diverse skill sets such as multilingual capabilities etc. Traditional outsourcing of business functions such as finance and accounting, HR etc. will still require a traditional or BPaaS based delivery model with structured processes, adequate data security and a stable or dedicated workforce.
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