Three levels of technological adoption in the global business services (GBS) sector

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In an economy that is struggling to create jobs, the global business services (GBS) sector in South Africa is blazing a trail with 5 148 new jobs created from April to June this year. Beyond job creation, the sector is also focusing on digital upskilling and incorporating technological advancements that better serve the customer and the business.

This topic – and much more – were unpacked at The South Africa GBS Investor Conference which took place in Umhlanga from 8 to 10 November. But to give a bit of insight, BPESA digital expert, Neville Cousins has provided some compelling reasons for adopting technology in the GBS sector.

“There are really three levels of the technological impact on the GBS sector and there is definitely a first-mover advantage for those who are adopting such changes early on,” explained Cousins. “The potential impact of technology is far-reaching across all areas of GBS, and operators need to understand that if they don’t move now in incorporating these game-changing technologies, they will miss out.”

What are some of the technologies impacting the sector?

Cousins explained that, at an infrastructural level, cloud services are having the biggest impact in the GBS sector with speed-to-market being created by low-code technologies and applications.

“Companies are getting data-based insights through data analytics while AI [artificial intelligence] is providing companies with intelligent decision-making that is drastically improving the quality of outcomes,” he explained.  “Automation continues to drive efficiency, consistency and high-quality outcomes. Innovation by South African companies will remain a big requirement in order to remain competitive at a digital level globally.”

To meet this need and empower the South African GBS sector digitally, BPESA has launched its Future Skills Platform which is a digital education platform being made available to the sector. Alongside these technologies, GBS companies will also have access to work readiness programmes.

What is the impact of these technologies on GBS?

1.       Base-level impact of technology

Technology is having a positive influence on the internal processes of an organisation when integrated into the existing infrastructure. Technology makes operations more efficient and more cost-effective.

“This allows companies to run operations better and, in some cases, technology progresses to allow companies to adapt their business models so they can operate digitally rather than analogue functionality,” explained Cousins.

2.       Second-level impact of technology

At this level, operators can offer their customers better services because of technology. AI and data intelligence are allowing for better insight and accuracy which translates to improved services.

3.       Third-level impact of technology

At the final level, technology is having such an impact on the industry that they’re able to expand on the types of services they deliver, and even create new service offerings. By collecting and analysing customer data, businesses can provide tailored services.

Reshni Singh, CEO of BPESA, explained that digital innovation and technology is just one area being uncovered at The South Africa GBS Investor Conference:

“We’ve welcomed several leaders from across the GBS sector who will be discussing the most relevant topics facing the industry today. This is the first live event we have hosted since 2019, and it’s an amazing opportunity for local stakeholders and international investors to engage in the many benefits offered by the South African GBS sector, along with the fantastic agile innovations and homegrown solutions that have emerged over the past three years. We always speak about how resilient South Africans are, pop us under pressure and we come up with revolutionary results – this is certainly true in the digital and tech space.”

The three-day conference culminated in a celebration of the country’s world-class talent at the BPESA Alchemy Awards Banquet running under the Theme of ‘SA’s Got GBS Talent’ on Thursday, 10 November recognising the talent in the country, both people and organisations.

Special thanks are extended to National Partners: dtic, InvestSA, Harambee; Host Partners: KZN Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (KZN EDTEA), Trade and Investment KZN (TIKZN), Invest Durban and eThekwini Municipality; Gold Partner: GGDA; Silver Partners: WNS, Synergy, and Outworx. BPO Partner: TransUnion; Human Engagement Partner: RewardsCo; and Professional Shared Services Partner: Blake Group.

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