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Hrishi Agarwalla

Hrishi Raj Agarwalla is a member of the Global Sourcing team and assists clients on topics related to location optimization and benchmarking of global delivery models.

Four Key Trends in Social Media Content Moderation | Blog

By | Blog

While the numbers vary depending on the source, there are give or take three billion social media users around the world in 2019. With the associated dramatic increase in manipulative and malicious content, there’s been an explosion in the market for content moderation services.

Based on our interactions with leading global enterprises and service providers, here are the four key trends impacting the content moderation services industry.

Key trends impacting content moderation services

1. Demand for content moderation is growing

Given the exponential rise of inappropriate online content like political propaganda, spam, violence, disturbing videos, dangerous hoaxes, and other extreme content, most governments have instituted or begun creating policies to regulate social networking, video, and e-commerce sites. As a result, social media companies are facing mounting legislative pressures to curate all content generated on their platforms.

The following image shows how seriously these companies are taking the issue. And note that these numbers only account for outsourced content moderation services, not internally managed content moderation.

Content generation services BPO Market

Orange boxes indicate CAGR / Y-o-Y growth over the years

2. Both technology and humans are vital

Technological capabilities – ranging from robotic process automation (RPA) to automate repetitive manual process steps, to AI-assisted decision support tools, to AI-enabled task automation of review steps – have certainly emerged as key levers to help social media companies protect their communities and scale their content management operations. For example, established tech giants including Microsoft and Google, as well as fast-growing start-ups, have been investing in developing scalable AI content solutions that deliver faster business value and safer conditions.

While technology will continue to play a big role, it certainly isn’t the be-all, end-all. The judgement-intensive nature of content moderation work requires the human touch. Indeed, with the increasing complexity of the work and the rising regulatory oversight requirements, the need for human employees as part of the content moderation equation will continue to grow significantly.

3. Content moderators need a multitude of skills

Content moderation is an extremely difficult job, at times monotonous and at others disturbing. As not everyone is cut out for the role, companies need to assess candidates against multiple criteria, including:

  • Language proficiency, including region-specific slang
  • Local context
  • Acceptance of ideas that may be contrary to self-held beliefs and personal opinions (e.g., on gender, religion, societal norms, political issues, etc.)
  • Ability to adhere to global policies
  • Ability/maturity to review content that is explicit in nature
  • Exposure to a multi-cultural, diverse society
  • Exposure to freedom of expression, both online and offline, and a drive to protect it
  • Ability to understand and accept increasingly stringent regulatory policies.

4. Content moderation services demand a different location strategy

Because all countries have unique cultural, regional, and socio-political nuances, the traditional offshore/nearshore-centric location selection strategies that work for standard IT and business process services won’t work for content moderation work. Companies seeking outsourced content moderation services need to look at regional hubs alongside multiple local centers to succeed. In the short-term, this means working with leading providers with hyper-localized delivery centers and rising local providers in the target countries.

Outlook

Here’s what we see coming down the pike in the increasingly complex content moderation space.

  • Short-term investments/quick fixes might take precedence over long-term investments
  • Until the regulatory landscape stabilizes, companies might need to allocate a disproportionate amount of resources/spend towards compliance initiatives
  • Regulatory uncertainty and ambiguity will increase demand for specialist/niche forms of talent, including legal professionals and consultants. Today’s content adjudicators will be displaced by forensic investigators with specialized skills in product, market, legal, and regulatory domains
  • Companies must make talent development activities a priority through a specialized focus on structured talent sourcing and training, and strong emphasis on employee well-being through various wellness initiatives
  • As AI continues to grow in sophistication, a more defined synergistic relationship between humans and the technology will emerge. AI will be responsible for evaluating massive amounts of multi-dimensional content, and humans will focus on intent and deeper context analysis
  • The need for a hyper-local delivery model will prompt enterprises to increasingly explore outsourcing as a potential solution to benefit from service providers’ diversified location portfolios.

To learn more about the content moderation space, please contact Hrishi Raj Agarwalla / Rohan Kapoor / Anurag Srivastava.

Driving Success in Your Automation Center of Excellence | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

By | Automation/RPA/AI, Blog

Use of Service Delivery Automation (SDA) – which refers to various types of technologies that can automate inputs to a process, the process itself, or the outputs from a process – is surging in the global services industry. When scaling beyond proof of concept, organizations are finding it’s important to bring together the SDA skills and knowledge into an automation Center of Excellence (CoE). Doing so enables the business to develop its SDA capabilities and competencies in a controlled and centralized manner, in turn helping ensure maximum success from the SDA initiative.

Through our research into automation Centers of Excellence, we’ve identified several areas in which organizations struggle.

The right Center of Excellence structure

While there are numerous possible structures for a SDA CoE, we’ve found that a pyramid structure is ideal, as it helps bring the CoE governance in-line with its customers. The pyramid should have three distinct layers, each with its unique set of responsibilities and clearly defined line of communication with the client organization. Clarity around roles and responsibilities across different layers in the pyramid is critical, not only to avoid miscommunications and missteps, but also to help maximize operational efficiency.

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The Service Delivery Automation skills demand-supply gap

Demand for SDA skills has far outpaced the talent supply. Some are filling the gap by locating the Center of Excellence in locations with mature, trainable talent. Others are partnering with specialist firms, e.g., technology vendors and service providers, to leverage their domain experience and access to skilled talent, collaborating with startups, and seeking talent from technology groups and professional communities.

Multiple leading global companies are also training their existing employees on SDA. They typically engage technology vendors and/or external consultants to conduct extensive training programs for three to six months. Further, they encourage employees to join and participate in professional networks /communities and other events to learn from other SDA professionals’ experiences. This approach not only helps build internal skills for automation and reduces dependency on hiring from external sources, but also provides FTEs impacted by automation with alternative career paths.

Conventional location strategies don’t work

The traditional offshore-centric sourcing model based on labour arbitrage has limited relevance for SDA. Because of SDA’s unique requirements, organizations are investing in a diversified location portfolio for SDA in order to leverage the best propositions of each. For example, mature talent markets such as India offer a relatively larger talent pool, are suitable for a large-scale centre, and can deliver quick ramp-up pace. Onshore and nearshore locations offer greater depth and breadth of skills, enable greater interaction with business stakeholders, and provide accelerated time-to-market. And co-locating the SDA CoE with existing global services/digital technology centres can help the organization benefit from greater collaboration and economies of scale.

 

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To learn more about various aspects of the talent model, delivery landscape, and global location hotspots for SDA CoEs, please read our recently published report, “Talent Model and Location Hotspots for Service Delivery Automation (SDA) Center of Excellence (CoE),” which we developed based on deep-dive discussions with leading GICs, service providers, and automation technology vendors. And if you’ve established an automation Center of Excellence, we’d love to hear your story. Please contact us directly at [email protected] or [email protected].

Creating A Successful Business Case for RPA in GICs | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

By | Blog

With increasing pressure on Global In-house Centers (GICs) for additional value creation, and exhaustion of traditional means, Robotics Process Automation (RPA) – an automation technology that can handle rules-based and repetitive tasks without human intervention – is fast emerging as the key lever to drive productivity.

RPA has the potential to reduce GIC headcount by 25-45 percent, depending upon the process type and extent of deployment. This results in significant cost savings for the GIC, including salaries and benefits for delivery team members replaced by the software bots, and non-people costs such as facilities, technology, and other operating expenses. Typical offshore GICs supporting horizontal functions such as F&A from Tier-1 Indian locations are likely to witness cost savings of 20-25 percent through RPA.

Beyond cost savings, RPA provides improved service delivery in the form of process quality, speed, and scalability, and better ability to manage through improved governance, security, and business continuity.

Development of an RPA solution requires substantially less time than comparable technologies such as Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) and BPM workflow solutions. This, in turn, reduces the time for RPA implementation and value realization, and offers quick return on investment, typically only six to nine months to recover the initial investments. Further, RPA is typically deployed in a phased manner. The relatively short payback period for initial investment in RPA mean subsequent phases can become self-funded from the savings realized from the earlier implementation.

GICs typically consider a minimum of 15 percent cost savings when developing an RPA business case. The savings are dependent on a number of factors, which can be adjusted suitably to build a favorable business case. Highlighted below are the key factors impacting the business case.

business case for RPA in GICs

Potential extent of automation
Headcount reduction due to RPA varies with the potential extent of automation that can be achieved, which in turn impacts the cost savings. As RPA’s sweet spot is transactional/rules-based processes, there is considerable potential for headcount reduction and cost savings when it is deployed to handle these processes.

Number of FTEs replaced per RPA license
The number of FTEs that can be replaced per robot varies by the process and type of RPA solution. The higher the number of FTEs replaced, the greater the cost savings. Both, the number of FTEs replaced per robot and the cost savings, can be increased by targeting standard transactional processes with significant volume.

Recurring cost of RPA implementation
Recurring costs for RPA – such as licensing, hosting, and monitoring – vary significantly by vendor and type of solution, in turn impacting the cost savings. The lower the recurring costs, the higher the cost savings.

For more drill-down details, please refer to Everest Group’s report, Business Case for Robotic Process Automation (RPA) in Global In-house Centers (GICs). This report assesses the business case for adoption of RPA in offshore GICs, with information on cost savings across individual components and the associated payback period. It also analyzes the impact of change in the above factors on the business case, and the threshold limits for each in order to have a justifiable business case. Further, it includes case studies on GICs that have adopted RPA, along with key learnings and implications.

Think Oak Ridge, Tennessee Isn’t on Your List of Likely Domestic Service Delivery Sites? Think Again | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

By | Blog, Onshoring

Eric Simonson’s recent blog, “John Mellencamp Named Honorary Everest Group Analyst of the Month,” highlighted the dominance of tier-3 locations in the United Sates for onshore service delivery. Now it’s time to take a look at the tier-5 and rural locations in the U.S., per the North America Domestic Outsourcing location landscape study we recently conducted for RevAmerica, an event focused solely on domestic ITO and BPO sourcing.

Given that places such as Oak Ridge, Tennessee, Albany, Georgia, and Jacksonville, Texas have populations below 100,000, with limited presence of colleges and poor connectivity to commercial airports, one would not expect them to contribute significantly to onshore service delivery. However, our analysis of tier-5 and rural locations revealed five interesting facts.

Tier-5 and rural locations are growing and have a sizeable share in the domestic sourcing market

Tier-5 and rural locations account for approximately 20 percent of the total service providers’ delivery centers, and 16 percent of the delivery FTEs in the United States. The Midwest region has the highest share of these delivery centers.

Distribution of domestic FTEs and US delivery centers by city-tiers

While onshoring in general has been on the rise, the leverage of tier-5 and rural locations has witnessed significant momentum. In the last decade, the number of new delivery center set ups in these locations has increased by ~150 percent, from an average of three centers per year in 2005-2006 to seven centers in 2013-2014.

Number of new center setups per year in tier-5 and rural locations in US

At the same time, the share of tier-5 and rural locations in new U.S. delivery center set ups has gone up from ~19 percent in 2005-2006 to 25 percent in 2013-2014.

There are 100+ tier-5 and rural cities to choose from

More than a hundred tier-5 and rural locations are currently being leveraged by service providers for onshore service delivery. There are also a number of other potentially viable locales. Given the wide range of options these locations provide, they become an important consideration for players looking to establish a wider U.S. presence.

A large number of contact centers call these locations home

Distribution of delivery centers by function in tier-5 and rural cities

~61 percent of the existing centers in these locations deliver contact center services, as compared to 22 percent for IT services, and 17 percent for business process services. Leading multinational players such as Alorica, Convergys, Sitel, Sykes, Teleperformance, and Teletech leverage these locations for contact center service delivery.

These locations play a meaningful role in the location portfolio for domestic pure-plays

Number of delivery centers by provider

The leverage of tier-5 and rural locations is highest for domestic pure-plays – e.g., CrossUSA, Eagle Creek Software Services, Onshore Outsourcing, and Rural Sourcing Inc. – which have ~37 percent of their delivery centers in these locations. On an overall basis, traditional MNC’s still dominate the market landscape as they have significantly large number of delivery centers in the United States as compared to other players.

The talent pool is sizeable enough to support 1-2 moderate sized delivery centers per location

While talent availability in tier-5 and rural locations is generally lower than in tiers 1 to 4, they still offer a pool capable to support one or two moderate sized delivery centers. The typical delivery center size in these places is ~340 FTEs, as compared to a national average of ~445 FTEs.  However, there is evidence of players achieving a scale of above 500 FTEs, especially for contact center services, where high school graduates are utilized.

Average number of FTEs per delivery center

As onshoring grows in the United States, leverage of tier-5 and rural locations will also grow. Service providers are establishing their presence in these locales due to their lower costs and lesser competitive intensity. Hence, there is a significant opportunity for economic development agencies in these locations to attract potential investors and create employment opportunities.

To download a full copy of our research on domestic delivery, please visit: https://research.everestgrp.com/Product/EGR-2015-2-R-1455/North-America-Domestic-Outsourcing-Services-Providers-Embrace-

For more Market Insights™ on this topic, please visit:

https://www.everestgrp.com/tag/domestic-sourcing

To download our presentation from the RevAmerica event, please visit: http://www.revamerica.com/program/


Photo credit: Wikipedia