AI not a threat to outsourcing sector, official says

THE emergence of Artificial Intelligence (AI) should not be considered a threat to the business process outsourcing (BPO) companies and its workers.

Instead, ICT Davao president Samuel Matunog said the BPO sector should consider this a challenge to continue upgrading the skills of its workforce.

“The Filipinos have a natural advantage against others in the call center industry. The only thing we need to do is be better and more competent, skillful call center agents. Nothing can replace human factor in any virtual communication. There will always be a place for a call center agent,” Matunog said in an interview.

As the Philippines remains one of the top BPO voice services provider in the world, Matunog assured that even with the emergence of new technologies, nothing can replace human interaction.

He said between a machine and an actual human, people would still choose the latter as far as BPO services are concerned.

“The issue is overhyped. We should not be scared about it. It is just part of the development of the technology but there (will) always be space for human interaction since it’s always preferred over machine,” he said.

While he dismissed the AI scare as “not well-founded,” Matunog also emphasized that BPO workers should not be complacent and should continue upgrading their skills.

He said a number of BPO companies in the city are already retraining their personnel to improve their efficiency, especially in areas that require human intervention.

As preparation, Matunog said the academe is also doing its part to prepare the students and the faculty members.

The academe and the concerned government agencies are working together on projects aimed at coping with the technological advancements.

“The schools are improving and enhancing their curriculum to respond to this development. They are also retraining and preparing their faculty members to be able to be more qualified to teach the students in this area,” Matunog said.

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is initiating several measures to be able to maintain the capability of Filipinos to compete.

“Everyone is cooperating to ensure that we will always be competent, skillful and advanced – that we will be able to maintain our lead especially in the voice segment of the industry,” said Matunog.

In the near future, the ICT Davao president hoped that both the public and private sector will continue to work hand in hand in spearheading the digital transformation of the communities.

He said they are also expecting better infrastructure to help the industry cope with the changes.
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