BPO is often assumed to be the province of large enterprises. After all, small-to-mid-sized enterprises (SMEs) generally have a much more difficult time researching and vetting overseas providers, establishing international communications links, affording the inevitable time and monetary costs of outsourcing transition, obtaining economies of scale, and simply having the resources to manage work performed afar on a day-to-day basis than their larger competitors.
While SMEs do engage domestic managed service providers (MSPs) to help ease the burden of managing systems and processes in house, offshore BPO providers typically ignore them, with few complaints from the SMEs being ignored. However, nearshore BPO providers may want to start paying attention to this overlooked but potentially lucrative source of revenue.
Before looking at the details of how specific trends and needs of US-based SMEs could lead to mutually beneficial business relationships with nearshore BPO providers, let’s look at the larger picture. According to data from the Ireland-based International Digital Services Center (IDSC) at the recent Ireland Gateway to Europe expo held in Boston, SMEs are predicted to create 90% of 25.3 million new jobs that will pop up in the global digital economy in the next five years. That’s close to 23 million jobs.
Furthermore, a recent survey of US SMEs from PNC shows that nearly one in three expects to hire new employees in the next six months, while seven in 10 expect to make some type of investment in their business in the next six months.
All this news may sound rosy for the SME sector, but nearshore providers may be wondering how it benefits them. As it turns out, this cloud of SME business optimism has a lead lining which works to the advantage of nearshore providers. The PNC survey also indicates a pronounced lack of qualified employees to fill the anticipated needs of these SMEs. Almost half (45%) of SMEs say requirements for employees' skills and background are higher than in the recent past. Computer/technical abilities, experience "in the field" and communication skills are the top three priorities.
Nearshore BPO providers are in a unique position to meet the needs of SMEs for qualified employees while solving problems related to a lack of qualified employees and associated costs such as benefits, additional investments in overhead and technology infrastructure, etc. Along with call center operations, computer/technical-related outsourcing is the most common type of BPO service offered by nearshore providers, who can also offer higher-level field expertise in their services.
And by providing American SMEs with a BPO destination close to home, nearshore BPO providers can minimize common problems with farshore providers related to time zone and cultural differences, and also offer a lower cost of transition and management. Establishing a real-time communications infrastructure between the US and Latin America is cheaper than establishing one between the US and Asia or Eastern Europe, and it is much more affordable to hop on a plane to do some in-person vetting or follow-up when you are traveling to Latin America as opposed to the other side of the world.
Furthermore, many Latin American BPO services are delivered from shared services centers, which can allow SMEs with similar outsourcing needs to obtain back-end savings when they use the same nearhore providers. So while nearshore BPO providers should obviously keep large enterprises in their sights, they should also keep an eye on the little guys. Sometimes great things come in small packages.