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Disruptive Forces and Their Impact on BPO: Part 3 - Labor arbitrage is dead – long live labor arbitrage

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There’s another disruptive force in BPO that no-one likes to talk about. It’s called labor arbitrage. Everyone is keeping a bit quiet about this one. It’s nothing like as sexy as robotics, or analytics, or SMAC, but it’s also a disruptive force.

One side of labor arbitrage within labor arbitrage is relatively defensive, but in spite of automation and robotics, mature “International BPO” services are now being transferred to tier-n cities. Here labor arbitrage within labor arbitrage offers lower price points, reduced attrition, and business continuity. The downside is that travel to these locations might be slightly more challenging than some clients are used to, Nonetheless tier-n locations are an increasingly important part of the global delivery mix even for major outsources centered around mature geographies such as North America and Europe. And even more important as doing business in emerging markets becomes evermore business critical to these multinationals.

However, there’s also a non-defensive side to use of tier-n cities, which is to support growth in domestic markets in emerging markets, which will be an increasingly important part of the BPO market over the coming years. Lots of activity of this type is already underway in India, but let’s take South Africa as an example where cities such as Port Elizabeth and Jo’berg are emerging as highly appropriate for supporting local markets cost-effectively in local languages.So, just when you thought all BPO activity had centralized in a couple of major hubs, the spokes are fighting back and becoming more strategic.

But let’s get back to a sexier topic than labor arbitrage. The next blog looks at the impact of Digital.

Part 1 The Robots are Coming - Is this the end of BPO?

Part 2 Analytics is becoming all-pervasive and increasingly predictive

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