New exponential technologies, has led to the digital disruption and transformation of industries, organizations, and governments. Whether Cloud Computing (CC), or Robotic Process Automation (RPA), or Artificial Intelligence (AI), these technologies are taking hold in the Outsourcing and Shared Services (OSS) industry in the region.
Outsourcing was once focused only on the goal of cost cutting, Hasan Iftikar, Director, Strategy and Operations Consultant at Deloitte, said in an interview with Communicate, however companies now look at outsourcing from a strategic point of view. Businesses, across different industries including the media industry, are working to fit in the ecosystem, by looking at collaboration through shared services and scalability. “The pace at which the businesses grow at this stage today, they need to be at a much faster level of scalability,” said Iftikar.
Outsourcing is businesses giving some of their non core functions to another business to run it for them. Iftikar talks to us about how the media industry is outsourcing within the region, including using digitalization. Hence, fitting in the ecosystem of change, which also helps government to transform digitally.
Is outsourcing increasing in media within the Middle East and North Africa?
I think that’s where the concept of shared services also comes in. So shared services is where the organizations tend to keep that piece of function within their business, but create an overarching layer for those functions to serve the rest of the business. So both on shared services side and outsourcing side we see a trend here in the region. The UAE market, for example, stands at $5 billion, as we speak today across shared services and outsourcing. This is set to grow close to $7 billion over the next two years.
In the media, we have not seen much in this region around outsourcing of some of the core functionalities like content production, or content creation as well.
Why are Media not outsourcing content production?
I think the reason is, because that’s the core of what they do. So think of a company that creates content. So if something as important as content creation and production goes out of their business, then if I look at that value chain they are left with content aggregation. They will just be left to package it, prioritize it, price it and be good at selling and market it. However, the core where they want to differentiate [wouldn’t be there].
Do we consider digitization tools as outsourcing?
We consider them as a as enablers towards outsourcing. So RPA automates a lot of your processes. Any given business, could instead of routing you directly to somebody to speak to the call center, agent, you go through a lot of automated chatbots. That’s a trend why? because one, it’s clear tick in the box for cost But two it’s also a way to show to the consumer and to the customer, that you are innovating at the pace the customer is moving with the customer experience expectations. This expectation is that technology is going to grow to an extent that this chatbot will be able to understand your problems as much as a human does. So that’s where the link of something like AI comes in. I believe chatbots in the future are going to be very AI centric.
What role does media digitization help transform governments?
One of the massive digitization as we put it in Deloitte is what we call it short fuse, big bank.
So short fuses, how long will you take to digitize or disrupt and big bank is how massive the impact of disruption you would create. We are moving towards digitization of the content. So media has transformed from very audio, visual to a more digitized content offering. Media also has gone towards being much more closer to customers, demands and learning what a customer really is looking for. Media has taken a few steps forward in terms of digitizing the customer experience, and that itself is helping the governments to enable citizens experiences through those digitized methods of media. Today, the governments are resorting back to social media channels.
We [Deloitte] are engaged at present with a number of key components of this region. When we look at their vision, media is a major component that the governments have when it comes to offering digital opportunities in their countries. So we see investments, for example, in the UAE, and also in some of the neighboring countries in the GCC in which the media is going to be that sector in the economy that takes a good share of digital investments that are coming in and the governments are backing it up.
What about North Africa, are they moving on the same pace?
So North Africa clearly is a bit behind, but also the curve of their growth is much substantial, as well. There are a few challenges when it comes to North Africa. Some of the basics around your connectivity in high speed internet. Also access to some of the digital payment methods. Those are some of the key areas where some of the North African markets still have a few leads to be taken. Today we are talking about regulations, some governments are very proactive when it comes to regulations around AI, data sharing and data hosting. How different federal entities are going to share data is a question. Unless countries in North Africa have similar plans on how regulations are going to play in actually using technologies, you wouldn’t see the impact.