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Will Jobs in IT and Call Centers Really Be Affected by Artificial Intelligence?

By 2022, an estimated 40,000 workers doing simple tasks will lose their jobs
By Nicai de Guzman |



Because of technological innovations such as artificial intelligence, industries are finding ways to adapt. The Information Technology and Business Process Management (IT-BPM) sectors in the Philippines are definitely aware of the repercussions of the rise of automation and bots.


This is the reason for the 9th International IT-BPM Summit on November 7, 2017 at the Makati Shangri-La Manila. Foremost on the agenda is to discuss the looming threat of AI and its potential impact to businesses.



Rey Untal, Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) president, said that many experts are predicting that the workforce is in danger of being replaced by automation but it is simply not the case.


“What is often overlooked about automation is that while it is expected to impact certain jobs in the sector, this will also enable the IT-BPM industry to move up the value chain, resulting in an increase in mid-skilled jobs and high-skilled services,” Untal said.


This was confirmed by Benedict Hernandez, chairperson of the Contact Center Association of the Philippines (CCAP), who mentioned the forecast that by 2022, 40,000 people will lose jobs that entail simple work or jobs that can be taken over by bots or automated machines. However, it is notable that 70,000 or more will be employed for more complex jobs, he said.


“Technology is not eliminating jobs, it’s making jobs more efficient,” Hernandez added.




The “Perfect Synergy”

This year’s summit, with the theme PH DNA: Human Tech, will discuss current industry trends, issues, forecasts, with a particular focus on the upcoming artificial intelligence headwind. The summit will bring together global consulting analyst firms, thought leaders, and industry stalwarts.


“The purpose will be [to find] the perfect synergy on humans and technology as we continue with every effort that we could muster to future-proof our industry,” Untal said.


The IBPAP and CCAP believe that the secret to the Filipinos’ success in the industry is hardwired in our DNA.


According to Jojo Uligan, president of CCAP, Filipinos are emotive, creative, tech-savvy, and service-oriented by nature. This is the perfect balance to complement the technological advances of the future.


“There’s a lot of issues concerning, affecting us in this BPO or BPM space, our industry contact center of the PH. We represent 65 percent of this industry, we have a huge stake in what’s going to happen. If we don’t take the lead then we’re not protecting the industry and our stakeholders, and our workers,” he said.





“We cannot stop automation, we cannot stop artificial intelligence… but what are those new services that the PH will be able to take on when we discuss AI, automation, robotics,” Uligan added.


This year, organizers are also bringing in a few guests from Silicon Valley and they will be including a permanent reactor panel from the subsectors so that there will be an opportunity to deep dive into the topics.




The New Country Brand and Narrative

The conference will also serve as the launching pad for the new country brand and narrative, a top priority of the Roadmap 2022’s high impact programs on Country Marketing. This country brand and narrative hopes to solidify the position of the Philippines as one of the top players in the global marketplace and to highlight the country’s competitive edge.


Cathy Ileto, IBPAP vice chairperson, said that while the Philippines is a global leader in the IT-BPM space, we are not done growing.


“We see opportunities to turn disruptive technological headwinds into advantageous differentiating factors for the Philippines. We are excited to see global and local leaders work together to showcase and find applications for the unique value proposition of the Philippine IT-BPM,” she said.


“What’s every interesting in the study is where are the supply regions? Is it East Asia? Latin America? Oceania? We study also the demand. Where is the demand coming from?” Ileto told Entrepreneur Philippines.



Ileto added that when they first came up with the country brand and narrative ten years ago, their battle cry was, “Experience Excellence, Experience Philippines.” She acknowledged the country brand and narrative should be revisited every three years due to the fast-changing times.


This was seconded by Lito Tayag, chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the IBPAP, who said that the new brand and narrative is an initiative to address challenged faced in the industry as well as to find a way to “future-proof” businesses.


The industry, they said, is still expected to grow by nine percent year-on-year and expected to hit 1.8 million jobs by 2022, with revenues close to $40 billion.


“We are still going to grow faster than the industry is growing,” Untal said.






Nicai is the marketing head of Rising Tide, a technology solutions company. She is also the Manila Bureau Manager of Probe Media Foundation's Mulat Pinoy-Kabataan News Network and a regular contributor for Follow her on Twitter, @nicaideguzman, and LinkedIn,


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