AI to ‘positively impact’ contact center’s growth

AI to ‘positively impact’ contact center’s growth
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THE Contact Center Association of the Philippines (CCAP) has reaffirmed its position that generative AI (Gen AI) creates a positive impact not only for contact center firms but also for the entire Information Technology and Business Process Management (IT-BPM) industry.

“We firmly assert that AI will continue to help make our industry become more resilient and generate more revenue, contradicting fears of some concerned parties,” said CCAP president Mickey Ocampo.

“People may not be fully aware, but AI has already been widely used through the chatbots we encounter online and even through the mobile features and applications we use daily. That usefulness can further strengthen our industry.”

Generative AI refers to a subset of artificial intelligence techniques that involve generating new data, images, text, or other content based on patterns learned from existing data. This type of AI can create new content that resembles the original data it was trained on, often used in tasks such as image synthesis, text generation and music composition.

Ocampo said AI could logically boost productivity in the workplace by enabling contact center agents to focus on more important and complex transactions, which could ultimately make the overall experience much better—for agents and customers alike.

In recent months, several legislators have urged the national government to regulate or potentially restrict the integration of AI into the IT-BPM industry. Senators Imee Marcos and Risa Hontiveros have expressed concerns that AI could lead to job loss.

Marcos, in May 2023, filed a resolution seeking an inquiry into the possible effects of AI on BPMs. In her Senate Resolution 591, Marcos said that an Oxford Economics and US-based digital technology company Cisco study predicted that at least 1.1 million jobs in the Philippines would disappear by 2028.

Early last year, Hontiveros, on the other hand, urged the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to put safeguards in place for BPM workers who may be affected by the rise of AI chatbots.

Hontiveros quoted US-based technology research firm Gartner, as saying that call centers could save up to $80 billion if humans are replaced by AI by 2026. She said global tech giants are experiencing an upheaval, in part because of the surprising acceleration and commercial attractiveness of AI deployments.

“If this industry gets into trouble, then dollars become scarce; they become more expensive, and the peso devalues. A pathway to entry into the middle class will also disappear,” Hontiveros said.

The senator also said that while preparing for the future of AI in the country, the DTI should simultaneously have a stronger campaign to protect the industry and its workers.

But Ocampo said, “Just like how we overcame data privacy challenges years ago, CCAP member companies are continuously re-skilling and upskilling our agents to update and upgrade them to the constantly changing demand of our clients and technology.”

AI itself will create more jobs related to the engineering, maintenance and upgrade of AI applications, she added.

Employment in the local contact center sector grew 9.4 percent year-on-year in 2023. That figure exceeded the overall growth rate of the IT-BPM industry of 8.6 percent.

About 1.51 million contact center agents were employed in 2023, accounting for 89 percent of the entire IT-BPM employment of 1.70 million full-time employees (FTEs).

Convention in Cebu

To discuss further AI’s implication to one of the country’s economic pillars, CCAP and its 145-member companies are set to converge in Cebu for Contact Islands 2024, its annual conference happening from July 24 to 26, 2024 at Fili Hotel Nustar Cebu in Cebu City.

Besides discussions about AI’s influence, other significant issues to local call center operations will also be tackled.

Representatives from contact center and business process sector firms, local and national government, the academe, thought leaders and customer experience officers will also join the convention.

The annual sectoral conference sets the stage for pivotal discussions about pressing concerns affecting the contact center and business process management sector as AI continues to alter the landscape amid a dynamic global economy and an evolving geopolitical climate.

Contact Islands 2024 is designed to bring about an unparalleled platform for showcasing innovations, highlighting best practices, and moderating dialogues as member companies unite in taking the path towards realizing the IT-BPM industry’s 2028 roadmap.

Based on data from global research firm Everest Group, the sector posted an annual revenue of US$29.5 billion in 2023. That accounts for almost 83 percent of the entire IT-BPM industry revenue of $35.5 billion.

The Philippine IT-BPM industry has set an annual revenue target of $59 billion by the year 2028. The Contact Center Industry is expected to account for about 83 percent of that amount, or around $49 billion. / KOC


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