MANILA -- Business process outsourcing companies are combining humans and machines to improve their services, as they look to the countryside for growth, industry leaders said Friday.
There's a "combination of machine plus human touch" in the country, which rivals India as the world's outsourcing capital, said Contact Center Association of the Philippines president Jojo Uligan.
"Machines are not taking over yet. We don't see that scenario. We're very optimistic," Uligan told ANC's Early Edition.
Filipino BPO workers are "doing much, much more" than telemarketing and answering calls, he said.
The rise of artificial intelligence should be an opportunity for BPO workers to upgrade their skills and the technology should not be viewed as "job replacement," said Sitel Asia Pacific COO Craig Reines.
"This is already happening. Many organizations have introduced chatbots. There are humans working with chatbots," he said.
"What we're seeing right now, we're really at the edge of the table to expand the ability of our employees to enhance those experiences and meet those very high demands of customers," he said.
President Rodrigo Duterte's push for more development outside Metro Manila is "very complimentary" with Sitel's strategy, Reines said. All of the company's new facilities in the last 2 years were set up in the countryside, he said.
"It's part of our growth strategy. We're focusing on developing our business, growing our business in the countryside where these economic incentives are, the people, the incentive of getting high-skilled people anywhere that is," he said.