BPO Bulletin

A Look Ahead: Manufacturing

by Ken Neal
April 6, 2017

This is my final post in a three-part series providing “a look ahead” at business shifts that are occurring in major industries. The insights I offer are based on our work with clients as well as discussions with high-level executives about best practices, new technologies and services, labor needs and effective outsourcing strategies. In this post I will focus on the manufacturing sector, which finds many organizations challenged by three major trends:

  • Automation is driving major changes in the manufacturing industry, but these changes are affecting the type of labor employers need rather than the amount. While advanced manufacturing technology has reduced the need for traditional line workers, skilled personnel such as welders and machinists are still in high demand.
  • Manufacturers often use contingent labor as a way of maintaining flexibility when confronted with inconsistent demand. Many executives report that seasonal and business cycle-related fluctuations in demand make traditional hiring problematic since downsizing when necessary is more painful. Using contingent labor is a popular approach to dealing with this problem, with some companies employing a workforce comprised of more than 25 percent contingent workers.
  • Workers with industry-specific skills appear to be in greater demand than general back-office workers. While some companies use business process outsourcing (BPO) for functions such as clerical work, many focus on it as a solution to the need for skilled labor and greater expertise in business process improvement on the manufacturing side of their operation.

I would add that from the BPO side of things, many of our manufacturing clients look for solutions that can help move materials faster and digitize back-office operations. Many of these companies are focused on getting new products to market faster; human capital management; increasing productivity; implementing flexible supply chain operations; and initiating sustainable practices.

To learn more, feel free to visit the Manufacturing Services page of our website. There you’ll find additional insights in the form of white papers, research reports and case histories.

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