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Will WAHA Come of Age in 2014?

Work at home agent (WAHA) CMS BPO specialist Arise Virtual Solutions announced this week it is hiring 6,500 WAHAs (who will be equivalent to 3,250 FTEs) across Arizona, North Carolina, Texas, Michigan and Virginia.

This marks a turnaround for Arise after what was a difficult 2013 marked by loss of volume in some key contracts and delays in new signings. These hires will represent a 26% increase in headcount on Arise’s current network of 25,000 WAHAs. Arise is targeting topline growth of 20% and 30% this year.

So where is the growth coming from? Arise’s growth plans are both geographic and vertical in dimension

  • Arise intends to add to its current geographies of North America and U.K/ Ireland through hiring schemes in Continental Europe, starting in France, Italy and Germany
  • Arise is looking to penetrate the financial services industry in the U.K., where it intends to move up the value chain by offering services such as collections and claims query handling in the insurance sector.  Provided as an onshore WAHA service, this is significantly lower cost than traditional onshore CMS BPO. It will address security concerns through a combination of its proprietary security platforms which include data encryption, desktop lockdown, “thin” operating platform, multi-factor authentication and IVR data collection, with a client’s in-house security measures.

In the U.S. Arise is aiming to secure further deals this year in the healthcare industry for services including physician referral, survey handling, centralized scheduling, switchboard management, and complaints and grievance processing.

Over the last six months we have seen a marked upswing in the adoption of WAHA. Notable examples include Sitel's hiring of 400 WAHA's in December last year and Transcom's development of a WAHA delivery model; this announcement from Arise marks the single largest WAHA hiring by revenue to date. This hiring is also notable for the large number of agents hired outside of the U.S., traditionally the stronghold of WAHA delivery. As acceptability of this model continues to gain traction in areas outside of the U.S. it is likely we will see acquisitions of smaller WAHA specialists by tier-1 CMS BPO providers.

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