Offshore sourcing has long been a means for companies to quickly allocate human capital and meet demand using a limited workforce. But as the global cost of labor rises and increasing political pressure makes offshoring risky, many companies are looking to new technologies to help upscale their workforce. With the advent of cognitive computing, machine learning, predictive analytics and other innovative new solutions, automation has become a viable alternative to traditional outsourcing, allowing companies to be more productive while maintaining labor costs. “A combination of an onshore workforce and automation can often beat traditional labor arbitrage models by nearly every metric,” according to Frank Casale, CEO of the Institute for Robotic Process Automation and Artificial Intelligence. Understanding the coming rise of automation and its ability to multiply productivity will be critical to continued success.
Why automation solutions are critical in today’s climate
In the past, many companies relied on offshoring to augment their own workforce and quickly scale to meet rising demand. However, a wide range of factors are forcing companies to reconsider their past strategies and incorporate a more automation focused approach. As China, India and other countries in Southeast Asia develop more integrated economies, the cost of labor is rising globally. These rising costs are making labor arbitrage an increasingly ineffective strategy. This is particularly true when the many downsides of offshoring are taken into account. Working with a foreign team often leads to difficulty collaborating, decreases in productivity and unexpected costs. This can quickly eat into any savings associated with moving jobs overseas. Increased political pressure and the threat of anti-offshoring legislation also make offshoring increasingly risky.
Although offshoring is getting more expensive, repatriating jobs is often even more costly when using traditional labor models. Costs in North America and Europe continue to rise, providing limited viable means to replace the offshored workforce with local labor. Luckily, advances in automation are changing that dynamic, allowing companies to bring jobs home while simultaneously lowering costs and improving quality of service.
How automation upscales the workforce
Automation is fast replacing offshoring as the dominant alternative to high cost labor. Today, automation solutions include document processing, accounting, human resources, invoicing and a wide range of other time-consuming and traditionally manual tasks. The technology acts as a workforce multiplier, allowing companies to dramatically increase the productivity of their existing workforce and reduce their reliance on offshore workers. Ultimately, this helps offset the rising costs of global labor while providing a range of benefits, including:
- Reliability – Automated solutions can perform repeated tasks incredibly consistently. This helps companies reduce or eliminate human error during tasks like data entry and analysis. With the increase in reliability, companies can better manage their risk profile and deliver better results to clients.
- Low cost – Automation can be implemented for similar or lower cost than using overseas labor. This makes it a viable alternative to legacy offshoring.
- Scalability – Automation allows users to more effectively scale while maintaining a relatively small workforce. Because taking on more work is often as simple as allocating more digital resources, companies can quickly meet rising demand with minimal investment.
The labor-intensive fields of invoicing, accounts payable, human resource and financial processing have been straining under the increasing costs of offshoring. With new innovations in automation, companies can now dramatically improve the efficiency with which they use their labor, augmenting a more sustainable workforce with reliable, efficient and low-cost automation solutions. This allows companies to reduce expenses while improving service levels and repatriating jobs.