Knowledge Process Outsourcing: An Enabler of Technology
By Acton Fiji
Technology has traditionally been the catalyst for change and has slowly extended beyond research labs to permeate industries and economies at scale. While the technology itself can embody a wide array of definitions and have varying rates of penetration, digital technology has had it rapid. Consider the early days of VisiCalc in the 1980s when data processing was a niche. A few decades on, we couldn’t possibly
imagine a world without electronic spreadsheets. Unequivocally, the greatest propulsion of data creation
has been the evolution and reach of the internet. It has catapulted a whole generation into the information
age. While social media has grown into a powerful and mostly open social platform, for businesses it has
proven to be the world’s largest oil fountain. It is fascinating to contemplate a future in which data is a
more coveted commodity than oil. Many argue, yours truly included, that data indeed is the new oil.
The ubiquity of digital consumer technology has accelerated the dawn of what has become known as the
knowledge economy; an era where major changes are appearing in the value chain. A radical shift from a
product industry to a service industry is emerging. And this isn’t truer anywhere than in the digital technology industry itself. Today, much of the value chain fundamentally revolves around 4 major areas:
1. Social media (and the convergence of e-Commerce to it)
As more and more organizations recognize that the four areas above are key value drivers and embrace
their applications across business units, there is increasing demand for digital transformation services. An
integrated digital presence in a digital-first world is no longer an option; it has become imperative. It
presents perhaps the biggest competitive advantage for organizations. It is a matter of survival. This is a
trend across most verticals as the vault of value is closer to the consumer of information than ever before.
Making sense of such massive amounts of data could prove challenging if not properly defined, captured,
and assimilated. It is already believed at least 80% of all data in the world are unstructured, thus the
relatively recent advent of big data.
Naturally, such demand for digital transformation drives up demand for such services, and this direct
relationship is where the bulk of the opportunities lie. This could range from services at the simpler end of
the spectrum like applications development, full-stack end-to-end development, software-as-a-service
(SaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) to highly specialized services such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) development and implementation, data warehousing, data analytics, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and business intelligence (BI). These are services that can be modularized and delivered remotely, subsequently making it feasible for nearshore and offshore arrangements. The scale and breadth of a globalized talent pool with the attraction of low labor costs in developing countries make outsourcing a highly appealing prospect for providers of digital transformation services, and businesses themselves.
While a global workforce is tending to this demand, it is struggling to keep pace. This distortion was further aggravated by COVID-19, a prolonged period during which businesses operated remotely, all but cementing the viability of remote work, even for work that was previously perceived near impossible to perform remotely. Although this new demand created a major supply gap, it forced companies to explore new territories and markets. Fiji is one such market. While outsourcing is not necessarily a new concept to Fiji, new demand has put its growth on steroids. This is particularly true for a lesser-known subset of outsourcing called Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPO). A specialty pioneered by Acton (Fiji) Pte Limited 6 years ago, it has been somewhat thrust into the global limelight. KPO has a higher economic output than most outsourcing subsets and provides virtually endless potential for players. Nations equipped with a competent knowledge workforce are perfectly poised to benefit from this multi-billion-dollar global industry.
Technology is an enabler of industries, and Knowledge Process Outsourcing is an enabler of technology.
Admittedly, as the technology landscape changes, newer and more noble needs surface that require quick responses. The inherent nature of this vessel of delivery is its greatest challenge. Knowledge roles are still as dependent on people today as ever, and it is especially tricky to both develop people for these specializations and retain them amidst the risk of migration to developed nations, who make it increasingly tempting in bids to pry them away. And because KPO skills take years to build, therefore specialized and high cost, they are not easily replaceable.
If Fiji plays its cards right, Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPO) in particular could, in time, prove to be its greatest foreign exchange earner and make up the lion’s share of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP). It is a great equalizer that paves the way for Fiji to become a global leader, particularly in addressing key global challenges like climate change through data science.
Acton Fiji is a member of the Business Process Outsourcing Council of Fiji, also known as Outsource
Fiji. Outsource Fiji is an industry body that aims to foster a conducive ecosystem for Fiji’s
outsourcing industry, by marketing Fiji as the outsourcing destination of choice and enabling the
industry to become a sustainable pillar for the economy.