The next wave of offshore outsourcing will revolve around high-end knowledge work. It may also have important implications for companies engaged in customer analysis and intelligence initiatives.
While the first wave of outsourcing was related to manufacturing activities, the second wave information technology (ITO) and the third wave business processes (BPO), the next wave is all about "knowledge processes." Hence, the introduction of a new buzzword -- knowledge process outsourcing (KPO) -- to replace the last one, BPO. This is where outsourcing meets customer intelligence.
One recent report from a group called Global Sourcing Now contends the KPO business will grow to $17 billion by 2010. The report suggests 70 per cent of the total -- or $12 billion -- will be outsourced to India. The number of Indian jobs in the sector is expected to grow from 25,000 at present to 300,000.
KPO refers to knowledge-intensive work that involves specialized domain expertise. High value processes that fall into this realm: valuation; research; investment researches; patent filing; and legal and insurance claim analysis. That would certainly include customer analytics and related processes.
Sameer Walia, director, SmartCube, explains, "There is a vast pool of people who work for us, including MBAs, chartered accountants, economists and engineers... Those with good education and analytical abilities can look forward to a fantastic career in KPOs."
Some see KPO business in industries such as pharma, biotech, management services, financial services, technology research, engineering. But other skills that are directly relevant to those engaged in customer intelligence work have been mentioned including financial analysis, data integration, and research and analytics. Among the companies exploring this new sector: GE Capital; Accenture; Motorola; Intel; IBM; Cisco; Texas Instruments; Nokia; Astra Zeneca; and GlaxoSmithKline.