Underpinning SA’s BPO Explosion

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As highlighted in a recent Front Office BPO Omnibus Survey, South Africa is a top CX offshore destination for global clients. Thanks to South Africa’s contact centre experience, competitive pricing and factors such as our neutral English accent, the country is a leading contender for global business, which is growing rapidly.

Encouragingly high rankings such as these support the Department of Trade and Industry’s hopes that global business services offshoring will create significant employment opportunities for local youths, and predictions by the likes of McKinsey, who expects the BPO industry to employ around 775,000 people by 2030.

However, one key factor – if neglected – could derail local BPO’s efforts to grow into the global market. The technology stacks these businesses are built on, and critically, their ability to offer always-on connectedness with exceptional network service quality, will be the make-or-break factor as they seek more overseas clients.

As the technology partner of leading South African BPO businesses, Borwood regularly participates in preparatory meetings with potential international clients. We note that infrastructure requirements have become as important as call centre operational capabilities – if not more.

International client requirements

Most often, an international client seeks an assurance of far higher uptime and QoS SLAs than local clients. In our experience, the minimum acceptable uptime assurance for majority international clients is 99.95% and under 200 milliseconds latency, with stringent performance metrics for packet delivery, jitter and bandwidth.

Call centre and contact businesses accustomed to supporting local companies generally find that the ‘dry’ networks – in-country and over land – are not capable of meeting the exacting requirements of clients on other continents. To offer exceptional call quality and uptime, the BPO needs a truly geo-redundant network of multiple undersea cables, in-country data centres and Points of Presence in locations around the world, with the lowest possible latency and Global 24/7 support desk.

We find that most new international clients will start with limited campaigns to test local BPO businesses’ performance, and ramp up only once they have confidence that the uptime, network quality and BPO operations will align with their own customer service promises.

The technology partner’s guarantee of performance, is the key to unlocking doors for local BPO businesses expanding into international markets.

But there is no one-size-fits-all requirement. Through Borwood’s “Listen, Think and Deliver” ethos, careful consideration of the needs of both the BPO partner and its clients is the mainframe of any solution. Our architecturally rich solutions are designed for scalability and growth, arming BPO businesses with the agility and confidence to expand as their customer portfolio demands.

Partnerships for progress

With massive opportunities yet to be tapped into, South African BPO businesses seeking to grow global for the first time, or wanting to expand their existing international footprint, need much more than a ‘box-dropping’ approach to their connectivity solutions.

They need committed, experienced technology partners who see the BPO business’s success as their own success. They need partners capable of designing, implementing and managing the networks that deliver on their SLAs and delight their clients, and their end customers.


By Andre Olivier, Global Head of Solutions at Borwood Group.