Indian BPM industry will adopt AI, jobs won’t be lost but roles will evolve

IT bellwether TCS’ CEO K Krithivasan’s recent take on the effect of AI on call center functions has re-sparked the debate over the adverse effect of AI deployment on the BPM players. Amid this, the industry believes, AI will not negatively impact the Business Process Management(BPM) industry in India, and companies in the sector will adapt to the new technology, like it has done in the past. While some repetitive task jobs will be eliminated, newer job roles will be created. 

Krithivasan in an interview with a publication had remarked that in over a year, AI will result in minimal need for call centers. The IT-BPM industry in India generates revenue of about $48.9 billion as of FY24, against the $200 billion exports, constituting about 25 per cent, thus making a significant contribution.

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“Every time there has been a new disruptive technology which has emerged, the BPM industry in India has adopted it extremely well, and has also taken a leadership position in it. From automation to data and now to AI, this has been done in two ways – using new technologies to improve the existing set of services that it has, and creating new sets of services based on these technologies,” said Vikas Bhalla, President, and Head of Insurance Business, EXL. 

The Indian BPM industry is leveraging generative AI in four key areas. Embedding Gen AI into operations to improve speed and efficiency, creating solutions around generative AI, establishing centers of excellence dedicated to generative AI, and assisting organizations in creating robust data assets crucial for effective generative AI utilisation, Bhalla added. 

Further, Srikanth Srinivasan, Vice President & Head – Membership & Outreach, nasscom notes that AI has played a significant role in enhancing productivity, ensuring high performance, enabling predictability, and advancing personalization from pure to hyper and even nano levels. Industries have leveraged technology extensively to create exceptional customer experiences.

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However, Pareekh Jain, CEO at Pareekh Consulting and EIIRTrend, notes that the effect on BPM will be higher than IT. He opines that the BPMs with customer service, call centers, chatbots, will be disrupted. Process oriented BPMs which were disrupted with RPA, will see acceleration. 

Even as the BPM industry has seen some layoffs from a handful of companies so far, industry players believe, advent of Gen AI will not have any major effect on job loss. Bhalla notes, “Every time a new technology wave comes in, it does displace some jobs, but it always creates more jobs, and the same thing is true for generative AI. It is right that some of the very simple repetitive tasks will eventually be taken over. But, the new jobs will be all about how to use, work on and work with GenAI.” 

Parekh however notes that while the reduction of workforce is definite, it will be gradual. Every year tentatively, 5-10 per cent of jobs might be reduced. The effect of GenAI on the BPM industry will be seen only in the five to six years, he notes. 

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