BPO job losses due to robots a 'myth' as industry goes hybrid

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 28 2017 10:21 AM | Updated as of Sep 28 2017 12:46 PM

MANILA - Job losses in business process outsourcing due to artificial intelligence is a "myth," an industry leader said Thursday, as companies seek to combine machine efficiency with a human touch.

Call center agents will be retooled to work with chat bots and other forms of artificial intelligence, said Sitel Asia-Pacific CEO Craig Reines.

"We're seeing the future here," Reines said. "It's turning our employees into these hybrid digital and live interaction agents."

While mechanical tasks will be automated, agents will still be on hand to provide the human touch that the Philippine outsourcing industry is known for, Reines told ANC's Early Edition.

"It doesn't do emotion well," Reines said of AI. "It becomes very stale, very boring. It doesn't provide that wow customer experience."

Reines said digital-savvy Filipino BPO workers were poised to take advantage of the industry's shift to AI.

"We view it as a huge opportunity. One of the tremendous advantages of the Philippines is you have a really unique service-oriented workforce."

Contact Center Association of the Philippines president Jojo Uligan gave similar assurances on job security to BPO employees.

"We will retool them. We will retrain them and transfer them and move them up to a more complex type of work," Uligan said.

The industry group is meeting in Boracay in October to discuss automation and other challenges.