Ask the proverbial man on the Clapham omnibus what contribution outsourcing activity makes to the UK economy and you’re likely to be met with a blank stare. But as we celebrate news this week that UK GDP grew by 0.3% in Q1 2013 (thankfully avoiding a triple-dip recession), the contribution made by outsourcing warrants a closer look.
The UK is now the world’s second largest outsourcing market after the United States and the customer contact sector is becoming an increasingly important part of the mix. Just this week NS&I awarded a £660 million seven year contract to Atos which is expected to deliver cost savings of £400 million by 2021.
The sums involved are significant as is the contribution this activity makes not just to service sector growth but overall growth. A study showed that turnover across all outsourced sectors amounts to £207 billion or 8% of total UK economic output and the biggest players in the sector predict further growth in outsourcing.
What is the significance for customer contact? If you look at the forces driving this trend, you might be tempted to think it is all about cost reduction - and there is no denying that in the current weak growth environment, this is an important factor. However it is by no means the only factor.
If you talk to organisations purchasing outsourced services - and we’ve been doing a lot of this lately - it is clear that they are also seeking to drive innovation, to introduce technological solutions and to streamline processes. In fact, an independent study of 100 BPO users showed that 72% ranked gaining access to specialist skills and expertise as a primary driver for outsourcing.
It takes mature dialogue and a sophisticated partnership to jointly deliver on all of these requirements for the benefit of the organisation, its stakeholders and its customers. It also takes superior management skills and knowledge to shape procurement strategy, to manage complex multi-channel service delivery, and to ensure performance parameters are met.
Our membership includes many organisations both in the public and private sectors who possess precisely this expertise and which have many years of experience in engaging with outsourcers. Last week we brought together three organisations with particular expertise in this area - National Rail Enquiries, the BBC and NS&I - to form a steering group for our newest expert network, the BPO Users Strategy Forum.
We had a dynamic discussion and the shared learning that resulted from discussing our first outsourcing case study from National Rail Enquiries was hugely valuable. We are now excited to announce that we are finalising plans for the formal launch of this group. By getting involved at an early stage you will get a unique opportunity to shape the agenda.
From managing complex tender processes to structuring Service Level Agreements and managing reputational risk, there are many issues from which members can benefit from sharing intelligence and experiences.
One of the strengths of the wider CCA network is the breadth of expertise that members can tap into, including the complementary expertise and knowledge of our existing BPO Council. Look out for details of the first meeting of the BPO Users Strategy Forum in September.