Do you remember how the business press used to report outsourcing as a strategy about ten years ago? The debate focused largely on the relative merits of keeping processes in-house or working with an expert to outsource them.
Both sides of the debate would fiercely argue the relative merits of ‘retaining more control’ compared to ‘accessing the best expertise in the market’ and the debate often got more complex once access to global resources via offshoring was introduced into the mix.
Over the subsequent years, outsourcing became accepted as a standard management strategy. It’s now just a part of the toolkit for any executive, a way of getting the job done. But I believe that in many industries we have crossed into an environment where the use of outsourcing has matured to the extent that it would be very difficult to even deliver the same level of service using internal teams.
Customer service is a great example and is the area where I am personally focused most of the time. A decade ago we would have been talking about a contact centre supporting voice calls, emails, and possibly some chat or instant messaging. Today the contact centre sits at the heart of a Customer Relationship Management strategy where customer loyalty and engagement are managed. Customers are interacting 24/7 on multiple communication channels, including social networks. The contact centre used to be a post-purchase function that mainly handled questions and complaints, now it is a critical part of the sales and marketing infrastructure in many businesses.
Of course a large company might be able to handle this complexity in-house, but for all but the largest organizations this is now such a complex process that it just makes sense to work with an industry expert. I’m sure this applies to several other industries too, but have you observed the same changes and do you also think that we have moved past the outsource/don’t outsource argument long ago?