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AI Businesses The Almighty Buck Technology

Philippine Outsourcing Industry Braces For AI ( 44

The outsourcing industry in the Philippines, which has dethroned India as the country with the most call centers in the world, is worried that the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) will eat into the $23 billion sector. From a report: AI-powered translators could dilute the biggest advantage the Philippines has, the wide use of English, an industry meeting was told this week. Other AI applications could take over process-driven jobs. The Philippines' business process outsourcing (BPO) industry is an economic lifeline for the Southeast Asian nation of 100 million people. It employs about 1.15 million people and, along with remittances from overseas workers, remains one of the top two earners of foreign exchange. "I don't think our excellent command of spoken English is going to really be a protection five, 10 years from now. It really will not matter," said Rajneesh Tiwary, chief delivery officer at Sutherland Global Services.
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Philippine Outsourcing Industry Braces For AI

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  • by fluffernutter ( 1411889 ) on Thursday November 09, 2017 @11:04AM (#55519387)
    Clearly, they all need to become plumbers or electricians. I wonder how many journeyman positions are available in the Philippines right now?
    • Re:Clearly (Score:4, Funny)

      by Gilgaron ( 575091 ) on Thursday November 09, 2017 @11:16AM (#55519461)
      Probably good job prospects, just wait for whoever did work on Duterte's house to submit a bill and once they get machine gunned down as a drug dealer then a new job opens up!
  • The Philippines' business process outsourcing (BPO) industry is an economic lifeline for the Southeast Asian nation

    Their country actually survives by giving really shitty tech support... and they don't even need to raise the bar because there's never been a push to do it. I've never understood why companies that outsourced didn't force these places to at least offer service. It's usually like talking to a brick wall, but worse.

    • by Altrag ( 195300 )

      Because they don't care. Support is a cost center for most companies and when 90% of your calls can be resolved by "did you try restarting it?" or "did you plug it in?" its not worth the cost of highly skilled labor (even in cheap labor countries) to handle the other 10% that have actual problems with the product.

      That's of course also why they have tiered support as well -- they only need 10% of the level 2 techs and maybe 1% of level 3 techs that they do for level 1. Unfortunately level 2 these days seem

      • Because none of them are actually specialists. There's very little training, and like their first level support, they're left with whatever documentation they're given, with no ability to gain true hands-on experience with the product(s) they're supposed to be supporting. The entire customer service industry is broken... The front lines don't get paid enough to give a shit, and they've got so much access to personal data. It's scary.
      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

        Reality is of course way, way away from this months bonus generated by bullshit spreadsheets. Service and support is actually missing a 'S', in old school terms it used to all be bundled together Sales, Support and Services. Now in the bullshit psychopath executive era, spreadsheet says lower cost means more profits and nothing more. So separating out sales from service and support mean that people no longer noticed, that shit service and support results in worse sales which require a huge bullshit marketin

  • I can help you with any problems you may have. But first you must beat me in 3 successive games of GO! (Video ad plays: "Nvidia... The Way Its Meant To Be Played.") Welcome to the 21st Century, bitch! =)
  • by jtara ( 133429 ) on Thursday November 09, 2017 @11:54AM (#55519707)

    Will the AI be given sufficient authority deal with situations that aren't in the play book?

    If so, it will be a giant plus!

    I've noticed the shift from India/Pakistan to the Philippines. I know right away, when they don't call me "Mr. Jonathan".

    I still ask for a U.S. representative. It's worth the wait. They can usually solve problems, or at least their supervisors can. If they challenge, I tell them that I can't understand what they are saying (this is as true of most of the Philippine reps as the others) and that "I do not give out credit card details (or discuss medical insurance, or...) outside of the country. " If they want further explanation, I explain that I am uncomfortable that they are out of reach of U.S. law. Sometimes they will state well, the company they work for is. Whatever. If THEY skim my CC details, THEY cannot be prosecuted under U.S. law... Some companies (American Express) will just immediately give you an especially-cheerful U.S. rep. (I suppose some AI already makes sure it's an especially-cheerful one.)

    Most recent: Got the iPhone X from ATT online. Somehow, my ATT Next contract got changed from 24 month to 30 month. (new every 2 years, instead of every one). The "beautified" new ATT website is a total disaster of usability and after "waiting in line" was only offered to pay full purchase price. Had to go wandering off through the website to find a place where I could upgrade the phone on my contract. Was not given any options... just pick your phone. So, I picked my phone, and knew immediately only after checkout (the first time I was given the monthly payment) that it was wrong (since the payment was too low).

    FWIW, I've encountered some of the hapless developers (subcontinent-based...) with the thankless task of wedging one more stupid script onto the "new" ATT website in the tech forums for a popular Javascript library. I'm like, dude, there are over ONE HUNDRED mostly-obsolete scripts on this page, how do you expect anybody to help you? Start updating this crap and pare it down! How many tracking scripts do they need? (Yes, he posted a link to the ATT site on a development server!) And how many copies of fooQuery do you need on one page? Poor guy was trying, but management are idiots.

    The Philippines based rep told me the only remedy was to return the phone and order a new one! (Yes, very much a First World Problem...) Was told there was no supervisor to refer to.

    THIS one I handled by going to the physical ATT store, and getting loud. (Initially, was told only a customer service rep on the phone could help...) Dude said it's impossible to change the contract terms, then FINALLY asks the key question: when you you get the phone. "Friday". "Oh..."

    That was followed by at least 1/2 hour of occasional tip-tapping on some Android tablet, while the guy in the store "returned" my phone, and sold me back the same phone under different contract terms. I guess he was tip-tapping at somebody in the Philippines.... He had to occasionally summon a co-worker for help.

    Well, sure, if you have people breathing down your neck over "productivity", and minder at the end of the aisle, and have to raise your hand to go to the bathroom (that's even in U.S. call centers - as I've worked at a company that had a call center in the building - I wrote some code for presenting the scripts...) WWYD? Of course, you are not going to sit there for 1/2 hour and solve a problem. You are going to tell the customer it cannot be done, or give them a ridiculous option like send the phone back and order another one.

    Maybe AI can figure out the rules of byzantine human-created processes like this and provide better customer service. If they can master that, they can start in on that ridiculous website refresh.

    But then again, the AI will only be given so many mSec of compute time, and will probably innovate the same stupid "solution"...

    • by mjwx ( 966435 )

      I've noticed the shift from India/Pakistan to the Philippines. I know right away, when they don't call me "Mr. Jonathan".

      In the Philippines, at least in Tagalog speaking areas, they default to "sir". When I'm leaving my hotel they'll say "Good evening sir Michael" which because I'm Anglo, usually leads me to explaining that they don't have to call me "sir" because I haven't been knighted yet. Usually this is lost on them because they were educated by an American system.

      Anyway, this is mostly because its the usage of the word "po" which means sir in tagalog, same as in Indian dialects they refer to everyone by an honorific

  • Everyone needs to stop believing and reacting to media hype about so-called 'AI'. Seriously get a grip, you're not all going to lose your jobs.
  • Aww, poor Indonesia and India. They are feeling threatened by AI bots and US offshoring megacorps fickle lack of loyalty? Welcome to reality, bitches. If the foreign assholes and their sleazy corporate boosters are wailing, then things are looking up. The USA isn't fucking job-bank for the rest of the world, contrary to the beliefs of the no-borders crowd.
  • AI and automation will be a big job killer for many, not just Filipinos. There is talk about having AI supplant brokers and fund managers in the financial industry. AI can make predictions and analyze data much, much faster than a human being. AI could almost render us obsolete and that is frightening. I have to agree with Steven Hawking's real dislike of AI and his dire warning that AI could be our undoing as a species.
  • - Voice recognition works OK for simple 2 or 3 word commands, but its still kind of spotty for general conversation.

    - Language translation is still a fairly large disaster, at least if Google Translate is anything to go by.

    - Voice generation is still pretty spotty and robotic and drives quite fast into the uncanny valley.

    Now the translation aspect may or may not be necessary for tech support (why not just build the AI in whatever language you're trying to serve?) and its by far the worst of the three points

The computer is to the information industry roughly what the central power station is to the electrical industry. -- Peter Drucker