Is Covid19 changing the way IT will be outsourced in the future?

With worldwide lockdowns in place due to Covid 19, businesses have had to quickly overhaul their functions with most of their workforce working remotely. As a result, the definition of what it takes to have a business up and running has been changed irrevocably. The repercussions of these changes are going to determine how businesses operate well after the Covid 19 threat has passed. There will be a need for businesses to quickly streamline their functions to increase efficiency and improve results if they are to overcome and survive post Covid 19. The lessons learnt during the pandemic will determine the decision of what makes the cut.

Pre-Pandemic work culture snapshot

Prior to the pandemic, there was a slow but steady digital transformation that was being adopted by industries. Though the need for it was evident, there was no sense of urgency when it came to phasing out legacy processes and replacing them with the right combination of digital solutions and training their necessary human counterparts. This complacent progress was put to the test when the pandemic situation forced most companies to suddenly change their business processes to cater to the situation.

Prior to the pandemic, work from home was considered more of an option than the norm. There was fear that the lack of an office ecosystem would endanger the quality of work delivered by the employees due to a seeming lack of accountability, not to mention issues of data security and integration. Accountability and security thus translated into physical presence of an employee in the office.

Resource hiring was limited by the physical radius of offices, and the willingness of a resource to move. There were also concerns of each new employee having to adjust and imbibe the office ecosystem. Thus, despite the obvious cost benefits letting teams work from their homes remotely was considered viable only as a benefit given in need-based doses to employees.

This mindset underwent a radical transformation when it became necessary for employees to work remotely during the pandemic, and digital solutions were implemented to bridge gaps.

Post-Pandemic disruption with outsourcing

The scale at which Covid 19 enforced work from home has brought home the point (quite literally), that a large section of the workforce does not really need to work from an office at all. Once a timeline was built taking into consideration the necessary man hours required to complete a project, a team didn’t need to work from the same location in order to complete collective deadline. Technology was leveraged to ensure teams could co-ordinate across locations and bridge any dependencies and to track progress. This ensured accountability from the employees and make the relationship that employers and employees share as one that was goal oriented and much more agile. This would allow for dynamic teams with the right skillset to be built and dismantled quite easily based on the task at hand.

This large-scale proof of concept that emerged out of the lockdown would mean that businesses now have validation that work from home is a viable alternative to incurring infrastructural costs. This would mean more and more companies could choose to have a large part of their workforce, if not entirely, work remotely and thereby cut down infrastructural costs. Talent would not need to be uprooted from their residence and moved to locations where the openings exists. Instead they could work from the comfort of wherever they are, as long as basic technological necessities (primarily an active internet connection) are met. This would mean that a larger talent pool across the globe could be tapped into for business’s IT needs.

With Covid 19 as the catalyst, many companies discovered their data security and integrity needs can be diligently met by companies that have data security and integrity as their primary functionalities. Companies now know by practice that they can entrust their data to be taken care of by the best in the business and leave themselves free to focus on core business functionalities. This could also expand to all non-primary business functionalities, and have the effect of companies outsourcing all but their core business functions. Working remotely and having non-primary business functions handled by outsourcing it, would also take away the pains of making sure that every new hire inculcates the work culture of an office environment. Employees can thus focus their energies on building a company’s core functionalities rather than having to adjust to an ecosystem.

Digital transformation has been brought to the forefront with Covid. By using technology companies have been able to find solutions to bridge gaps quickly when it wasn’t possible to have the necessary manpower to work on certain business processes. Companies that invested in technologies like RPA (Robotic Process automation) have benefitted greatly during this period. With the help of RPAs companies have been able to ensure their staffing redundancies are kept to a minimum by not needing to have people allocated to perform repetitive tasks that can be performed using AI based technologies. This trend would continue post Covid with companies trying to find more processes which could be replaced with RPAs to improve cost margins in the long term.

Another functionality that has benefitted early investments is that of AI-based chatbots. With most of the customer care industry unable to conduct business as usual in current conditions, chatbots, especially those with AI based capabilities have helped companies to a large extent in being able to assist its customers. With this proof of concept more companies would explore the option of having chatbots forming the first line of defense when it comes to answering customer queries, with chatbots answering most of customer queries or handing them over to human agents only when the query is too complex. Thus, the face of customer support would take a huge step in the direction of AI based customer interaction once the threat of the pandemic has passed.

Covid 19, though brutal in its effects, has also brought a new way of working to light. The learning from this time will have far reaching consequences that will transform businesses – from startups to MNCs. The world as we know it has changed and the future of companies will follow suit and apply these lessons to build more robust business processes centered on cost and performance efficiency. At the crux of it all would be remote working, digital transformation and outsourcing, that will lay the groundwork for all companies to follow.