Sharon Melamed – New World Trends in Outsourcing
Last updated August 19, 2019
In this episode, Derek is joined by Sharon Melamed for the third time, she is an industry veteran for outsourcing and has worked in the outsourcing industry for 25 years. She runs a company called Matchboard which is effectively a matchmaking service of outsourcing. Join Derek as he deep dives into Sharon’s thoughts about outsourcing and the future of outsourcing.
- Sharon has been in the outsourcing industry for 25 years, 20 of those years were she runs sales and marketing team for BPOs across Europe, the US, Australia, Japan, and Israel.
- Her company, the Matchboard is a matchmaking platform for a company wishing to outsource.
- Sharon shares her thoughts in the application of technology in outsourcing.
- She thinks that there’s a massive opportunity for small businesses to take advantage of the workforce in the Philippines and the huge range of task and skills that can be offered with or without technology today.
- Sharon talks about her thoughts about the millennials and its implication to outsourcing.
- Matchboard is a matching platform where a company can tell it needs for outsourcing, and a matching algorithm will find a short list of perfect match outsources to help with that particular business need.
- The outsourcing industry in the Philippines employs around 1.1 million people plus or minus about another million and it contributes about 10% GDP.
Derek: Hi and welcome to another episode of Outsource Accelerator podcast. My name is Derek Gallimore and this is episode number 121. Today, we are joined by Sharon Melamed of matchboard.com.au. So Sharon is an industry veteran for outsourcing, she’s been in the game for about 25 years now. We have actually previously interviewed Sharon on episodes 113 and 118. So if you want to get her backstory and if you want to know more about Matchboard then dive into those episodes. Today with Sharon I talked more about the future development and future potential for outsourcing, so really interesting discussion we have and we draw a lot on her direct experience so I’m sure you’ll enjoy this. If you want to get in touch with Sharon or want any of the show notes, go to our website at outsourceaccelerator.com/121 for this episode. Enjoy.
Derek: So welcome back everybody, again I am lucky to be joined by Sharon Melamed.
Sharon: Hi, Derek. How are you?
Derek: Fantastic. Thank you and thanks once again for joining us. Now, we’ve actually been lucky enough to have you in the podcast 2 times prior, you have a vast wealth of experience, 25 years experience within the outsourcing sectors. It’s fantastic to have you on board. I want to know you’ve spent a bit of time discussing Matchboard which is your outsourcing matchmaking company which again you can just sort of introduce us to, but I want to chat you now about the future of outsourcing where this whole thing might evolve so I’m excited to deep into that view. I supposed initially Sharon would you like to introduce yourself quickly for those that haven’t heard earlier episodes.
Sharon: Certainly. So I’ve been in the outsourcing industry 25 years, 20 of those years were running sales and marketing team for BPOs across Europe, the US, Australia, Japan, and Israel. It is quite a broad global experience and I’ve been running Matchboard for the last 5 years as you mentioned a matchmaking platform for a company wishing to outsource.
Derek: Fantastic. So you have literally been there and seen the outsourcing industry grow up it is not much older than kinda 25 years ago because it wasn’t the technology or telephony to support it prior to that, is that right? So, you are very much in the age of the industry?
Sharon: Yeah, absolutely. I think the word BPO probably was made in use, certainly, the web contact center to middle, things like that so I’ve really been in a scratch, I started as a call center agent for a Japanese BPO myself and so I’ve been a customer of course and it’s been amazing to watch the evolution and what it is exciting is actually where it’s gonna go from here on.
Derek: Sure. So, I supposed you’ll start with the up until today the way I see it is it really just was customer service, it was kind of anything you’ve could do over telephone and then it went to basic functions done enable by the internet but now and I think it is maybe the last sort of 5 to 8 years maybe there’s just an explosion in terms of services that you can get done outsource and more so within the SME market because SMEs are coming whatever to the Philippines and saying, look I want a Web Developer, I want a Social Media Manager, I want Customer Service, I want an Office Manager so have you seen recently, I supposed in the last 5 to 10 years an explosion in virtually every role than outsourcing?
Sharon: Yeah, look these days have a function in a company that you can’t outsource and so really it is up to the client to attach what is it or confidence that they want to keep an in-house and then potentially just one by one to cover every other part of their business. In the most suitable location, so many times that’s the Philippines. So, where the industry started as a telemarketing, back office work in India. It has progressed really to that whole smallest board of function from the accounts payable and receivable to the digital marketing, IT work, the animation really it is quite mind-boggling what you can get from a global workforce it gave.
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Derek: Anything you can do in front of the computer that can be outsourced and most of today businesses, most stuff is done in front of a computer isn’t it so it’s quite a broad range of activities.
Sharon: That’s right, I mean anything that is not requiring that face to face in person components. But even now, I have seen exclusion in things like video chat, that’s where you can basically be on your Ipad and pop up a little window with the picture of the agent who is servicing you, even Amazon with the Kindle has article of the main function and I see that it’s really exploding so even then with face to face even though it’s digital device it is possible offshore of course.
Derek: As we briefly touch on the last episode, the evolution is continuing and seems to be picking up phase, but there is concern here in the Philippines now this is just a bit of background for the listeners, the outsourcing industry in the Philippines employs around about 1.1 million people plus or minus maybe about another million but it’s a huge employer of the Philippines and it contributes about 10% GDP but there’s risk now and murmurs that a lot of these jobs could be wiped out by AI and what we mean by AI is Artificial Intelligence but basically the automation of the more mundane and more repetitive process and what are your thoughts on that and what sort of time horizon in terms of things like that happening?
Sharon: Yeah, look I’m not an article that you can see the future that’s absolutely 2 arguments. One, look at the excited and the future is bright with automation and technology and we will end up having more jobs than we do now versus the side of the fence that which is very much near pessimistic and no one really knows that’s the truth better than yesterday I was extremely encouraging a report by Gartner which is obviously a very respected industry and always claiming that AI, Artificial Intelligence would contribute to 2 million jobs in the coming years versus a job loss of 1. something. So there was a net gain in jobs, thanks to Artificial Intelligence. I think people are just grappling with sort of jobs can be created by this new wave of technology and people are still figuring that out because soon the changing of facts that absolutely believe in the government of the Philippines and other countries that are vines for similar offshore business from Australia and the US and the UK and other markets. Connecting thing and embrace these technological trends and develop the skills around AI and automation and digital skills in their workforce then there will be low position to capture that market as it continues to grow, at the same time while that still happening at the big end of town, I think there’s a massive opportunity for small businesses to take advantage of the workforce in the Philippines and the huge range of task and skills that can be offered with or without technology today.
Derek: Yeah, it’s interesting because I actually think that you know, technology certainly in the short or medium term will in terms of the outsourcing the relevant to outsourcing, it will actually reduce the friction in terms of outsourcing, it will make the interfaces with your co-worker where ever they were sitting easier and there will be less and less points of friction which means that outsourcing I think will basically become employment like the difference between what outsourcing is and what sort of traditional employment is will be removed and then I think if that’s the case your effectively saying that if outsourcing disappear because of AI, because of automation, also employment generally is going to disappear so, I think that there’s still a little bit of padding.
Sharon: Yeah, absolutely. I think what your describing is what the same as New York time journalist Tomas Braidman calls a flat world. We were living in this global flat world where everything is on demand, everything is virtual in the cloud and that is a huge democratizer if you like to businesses because small and medium size business can now get the same skills, the same expectation, the same technology that was previously unavailable to larger company and that means they can scale faster without the six head of employees on shore, but I think the other interesting to mention that I believe in it, we got that millennial generation coming through and they have a different world years. They are not so hung up on just not thinking about their own welfare and the absence of social enterprise and being a global citizen and not caring as much where the work is done. Embracing that by outsourcing by some of the developing countries were actually making fantastic contribution as global citizens to other human beings it happens to live in another part of the planet
Derek: I think it is important to realize it, isn’t it? I mean there’s a lot of people that are concern for the loss of their jobs and that could be part of the truth there is a transition happening now but if you’re making in average countries and developing countries so that there’s a middle class and there are people are getting educated, certainly it is not all bad is it? There’s a lot of good to send for outsourcing and how it is actually developing the world is a whole. As you say the world becomes flattered you people start to realize we are old humans and it’s all about sort of the overall welfare of humanity isn’t it which certainly outsourcing helping spread.
Sharon: Absolutely. So I think while the industry right now with the threat of automation that there is this bright side to the industry, and it’s just a case of capitalizing on those opportunities and moving with the times so I actually very optimistic about the future of the BPO industries in the Philippines and other markets, and I think the other aspects is we live in this world where isn’t small businesses can grow global, they can be global from day 1. This is really an enabler to that globalization.
Derek: It is a little bit like a steroid, isn’t it? How high is you think the outsourcing is probably one of the most transformative plugins into a business that there is out there like it’s just an utterly transform up until to the point where everyone is outsourcing and then it kind of levels the playing field a little bit. It was only five years ago when outsourcing wasn’t really commonly available to SMEs so it’s very much of kind of new frontier opportunity, I think?
Sharon: Yeah, that’s it and I think probably one of the reasons that just hasn’t been in place more is the people just don’t understand what’s available, it reminds me of in Australia like some other countries government offers grant to small businesses when they go overseas, in fact, they would pay up to 50% of your cost and chat with some people who small businesses with these grants. What is apparent is that people just don’t know that this grant exists and it’s the same thing about sourcing, people don’t know the options exist, they are so busy running their day to day that they just don’t have the time or the head space to step back and see if I stop from then and work out actually, I could do this there and I could move it while over here and suddenly there’s all these savings to reinvest in the business for growth.
Derek: Yeah, absolutely. Do you see a day then where we take the scenario where outsourcing is just a cold employment? Do you see a scenario where every SME by default is outsourcing because you’re basically hiring people based on meritocracy as supposed to them being in your hometown?
Sharon: Yeah, I wouldn’t say ever 100% but certainly the gross potential of being massive and if these young people by the age of 18, they’re probably been to 5 countries in the world, this is just something very familiar to them to do business with other people, to exchange opinions and business opportunities with people in another company so I said before with the Millenials, I just see with that generation coming through an explosion in outsourcing as strategies where some of the older generations you do get that under current of patriotism and conservatism which is a barrier I think will be broken down.
Derek: Yeah, and it’s interesting that same reason as well as in reverse like the Philippines and all these developing nations where previously they would have been isolated in overage nation, the millennials in this country the Philippines are growing up from a diet of Youtube and Wikipedia and all of the same resources that the millennials have the western countries are, you have the same levels of learning. the same levels of the same cultural alliances and it just again sort of reduces more and more friction, isn’t it? It’s just become more of the natural fit.
Sharon: Yeah, that’s right and I think even we see this with them, bitcoin is the global currency isn’t going to become 1 currency for the whole world in 20 years, I wouldn’t be surprised coz actually and it’s a very volatile but everything is going that way where it’s flat, it’s virtual, it’s available to everyone that is the future which I think it’s quite encouraging.
Derek: Yeah, that’s super exciting isn’t it? It’s a bright bright future and I think one of the key messages we can leave on this now it’s going to be seen from a perspective of abundance hasn’t it? and you think we’re pop up with new industries, it is about, it’s not just about going for the lowest cost so people can keep their cash and be rich it’s suddenly to save money to reinvest into your business so that you can continue to grow, pay more taxes and you know make healthier, stronger community isn’t it? Pretty much a win-win isn’t it?
Sharon: Yeah, that should be the approach of every small business I know, it just saves more money and reinvest and watch your business blossom and outsourcing really even in my own case proven that is all possible if you can take a leap of faith and do something you haven’t done before, you won’t look back.
Derek: Fantastic. Thank you so much, Sharon so of course we haven’t actually mentioned Matchboard much in this episode but if people want to hear more about they can of course go and listen to the previous episode that we recorded together, and if people want to get in touch with you Sharon, how they can do that?
Sharon: Yeah, first of all, I suggest if you are thinking about to hop on to matchboard.com.au to find your perfect match outsourcers and also, I would suggest that you connect with me on Linkedin, I’m always posting interesting content about offshore and outsourcing and would love to stay in touch with the listeners there so you can find me on Linkedin under Sharon Melamed.
Derek: Thank you so much, Sharon, and of course those details will be on the show notes so thank you for your huge experience and expertise.
Sharon: Thank you for the opportunity, it’s been a pleasure.
Derek: That was Sharon Melamed of matchboard.com.au. If you want to get in touch with Sharon or want to know anything else with this episode, then go to outsourceaccelerator.com/121, or of course, if you want to ask us anything at all, then just drop us an email to [email protected] See you next time.