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October 30, 2018. IBPAP in partnership with DICT hosted IBPAP Talks 5 (The BPO Revolution) at the F1 Hotel, BGC, Taguig. This is a write-up from our representative to the event, Ms. Mary Cris Alberca:

“Low, mid- and high-skilled workers will be forever be caught in a vicious cycle of upskilling and reskilling. We will be running to keep still.”

Blue Pill or Batteries: Unlocking the Future of the Filipino BPO Worker

For the 1st talk, Peachy Pacquing, The Just Leagues’ Chief Connector and Mission Controller, discussed how the IT-BPM industry underestimated AI development, the potential of AI disrupting the industry, and the highlighted importance of upskilling in order to stay relevant in an increasingly automated world.

Peachy emphasized that no industry is safe from automation and AI. Thus, there is a risk that these developments may reduce the involvement of human beings. So, she posed a challenge for organizations to design effective and scalable upskilling and reskilling platforms for BPO workers threatened by automation and AI.

She also added that “the lack of interest of workers to upskill is aggravated by non-engaging training.” Furthermore, she says “direct and front-loaded instructions surface gaps in comprehension, retention, and application while Just-In-Time and Micro Learning deliver higher completion and comprehension rates”.

In her study, she determined that “the resistance to scalable upskilling is not wholly a problem of infrastructure or technology; it is primarily a socio-cultural challenge.” Hence, she encouraged organizations to create a workplace that supports learning. Also, she noted that organizations need to be progressive in strengthening their capability and survival through upskilling and reskilling of the workforce.

“The world is changing fast. Roles are not disappearing, roles are changing.”

The Cognitive BPO Revolution

On the other hand, for the 2nd talk, IBM Philippines’ Delivery Executive for Cognitive Process Client Services, Moussadick Mohamed provided assurance that “the same era will pass through what has been passed through before.” He shared that there is a new and futuristic partnership between humans and technology, adding that “it is not about AI, but how we use AI”.

Accordingly, Moussadick provided some examples of human tasks in the cognitive era namely: Manage Humans and Robots; Manage Clients; Manage Exceptions; Develop, Maintain and Teach Robots; Train Cognitive System; and Design Responses and Assess for Automation.

It emphasized that “In the future, no profession will be untouched by AI. But there will be new and more jobs that will be created.” Further, he has shared that 85% of jobs will exist in 2030 that have not been invented yet.

Additionally, he presented ten skills needed by the workforce to be able to thrive in 2020 (As per the World Economic Forum):

  1. Complex problem solving
  2. Critical thinking
  3. Creativity
  4. People management
  5. Coordinating with others
  6. Emotional intelligence
  7. Judgment and decision making
  8. Service orientation
  9. Negotiation
  10. Cognitive flexibility

He also discussed his insights on robotic process automation and how automation can help us with tedious tasks and with tasks that will not require judgment. This, in turn, can allow the workforce to be more focused on process improvement and client management.

He emphasized the need to change the mindset of the workforce and to promote a growth mindset across the industry. Also, he encourages organizations to ensure that their workforce is relevant and future-ready through maintaining “universal skills namely: customer service, sales, and technology”.

He ended with a quotation from Alvin Toffer (Writer, futurist and businessman): “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.”

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