Kevin Thompson – Outsourcing Breaks Boundaries for Employment
Last updated August 30, 2019
Derek is joined for the third time by Kevin Thompson of Open-Look Media. Kevin joined Derek in episodes 124 and 127. In this episode, they will talk about the future of outsourcing, content, and publishing.
- Derek and Kevin explored the future of content and publishing. Kevin gave his insights and discussed the various way that you can deliver content.
- According to Kevin, there are two plays to the content side; the quantity side wherein you’re just trying to reach the masses. Or the quality side wherein you’re really trying to cater to a specific audience.
- They also briefly touched on chatbots and messaging systems. They also talked about the attention span of people nowadays compared to before. Also, how the mediums used to spread information have evolved over time and how the consumption of information back then was very limited.
- Derek mentioned that the big guys (Large corporations) have been outsourcing for 20 years, so there’s no more growth in that area.
- According to the white paper that Outsource Accelerator wrote, there are 35 million SMEs in the West which employ 100 million people. Virtually, maybe only 1 percent are outsourcing. Having said that, there’s a huge opportunity for those companies to outsource one function or even an entire department.
- They talked about Artificial Intelligence/Automation and its impact on the outsourcing industry. They both agreed that it would take years to have any major impact. Also, SMEs have very dynamic job roles and descriptions which would make it difficult to be replaced by AI.
- According to Kevin, content is the king and the higher quality content you can get and the more evergreen type of content that doesn’t have a timetable on it is better.
- Derek mentioned that according to some podcasts about book publishers; their methodology right now is to create chapters with 1000 words each because that’s the attention span that people have nowadays.
- Kevin thinks that the opportunities are endless nowadays with technology.
- According to Derek, outsourcing will eventually be called employment. And business owners are going to hire employees and where they are located is not going to be relevant anymore.
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Hi and welcome to another episode of the outsource accelerator podcast. My name is Derek Gallimore. As always and this is episode number 130. So we are joined for the third time by Kevin Thompson of Open-Look Media. Kevin joined us in earlier episodes number 124 and 127. About his journey his knowledge of media and publishing and his journey with Open-Look which is effectively a specialized vertical outsourcing service provider. So really interesting. Today we talk a little bit about the future of outsourcing. The future of content and publishing and we get some really interesting insights there. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. If you want any of the show notes then go to outsourceaccelerator.com/130. That’s 130, and of course I hope you enjoy.
Derek: Welcome back everybody. Today again I’m joined by Kevin Thompson of Open-Look.
Kevin: Hey Derek, thanks for having me again.
Derek: Absolute pleasure. Yeah,I’ve really enjoyed talking to you and today I just want to explore with we’ve spoken about Open-Look, we’ve spoken about your journey and I just want to quickly recap that again but then I want to explore the future of outsourcing, the future of media and your involvement in that. Because this whole thing is just evolving so quickly. So first of all it would be great if you could just give an intro of yourself
Kevin: Absolutely. I’m from originally from Southern California in the U.S. and moved out to Cebu City in the Philippines back in 2010. And that’s kind of when I got involved with at that time it was simply just an offshoring model. And then over the years have evolved into more of the traditional outsourcing model. Back in 2012, myself and my two business partners decided to form Open-Look, we cater to niche publishers primarily in the U.S. right now but we are looking to expand beyond and with a kind of a core focus on the magazine publishing industry.
Derek: Fantastic. And just to recap you’ve got about 250 staff which by sort of Western proportions is just an absolute gargantuan kind of company. It’s certainly something to be proud of to build that in five years basically.
Kevin: It’s yeah it is. It is nice looking back definitely I can’t say that I thought that 250 would would come. You know if you’d asked me five six years ago.
Derek: That’s a big number, huh. When you consider supporting those people and their families and managing the parts of their daily lives what’s its future.
Kevin: A lot of pressure that comes with it yeah.
Derek: Sleepless nights?
Kevin: Oh yeah.
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Derek: So, and then I wanna You know because and again just to recap you are in a bit of a niche area of content production where the market websites and because of Google largely has just been flooded with content a lot of it in sort of low value stuff but you have a niche within there which is more sort of print media but “magaziney” the visual based media higher value contribution of course and you’re finding a very healthy niche in there. Where do you see the future of content going? I suppose in your time you’ve been working in it. Where has it come from and where do you see that trajectory from here?
Kevin: It’s a great question. You know content is the king and the higher quality content you can get the more evergreen type of content that really doesn’t have a timetable on it is great. And then the various ways you can deliver that content is the name of the game right now. The more outlets you can get it out to, and the more audiences you can. You can reach in and as well as if you can keep it targeted as well you know also. There’s kind of I think there’s two plays at the content side and it’s either the quantity side and you’re just trying to get out in the masses or the quality side meaning you’re really trying to cater to a specific audience which is a lot of the clientele that we work with are really targeted in that sense. So, kind of some of the evolution as well as you’re seeing the data aspect come into it and more identifying these people that are you know they’re writing about or you’re writing for you know and the audiences you’re catering to.
Derek: You’re, you know your kind of I suppose to summarise, It’s kind of a magazine. So those images and it’s kind in rich layer. How are people consuming that. Is it mostly kind of PDF through the demo through that email or what is the general consumption?
Kevin: You’re seeing kind of I guess you can say three types of ways of the traditional printed still is still really relevant. And then from the digital aspect you are seeing two types of ways. There’s a ton of providers out there that kind of recreate that traditional magazine in a digital format. So, I mean you have the ability to turn your pages and everything and you know you’d think you were looking at a traditional magazine and then you have more of the just the PDF type of model which is a little more static. I would say that in the prior one I was speaking about a little more interactive. So you mean you’re seeing things with videos incorporated into this digital now and it’s it’s really interesting to see what they can do you know and in some cases it’s the same thing as the printed version. But then once you get it online there there’s this whole new dynamic to the same type of content that incorporates videos and audios of just different really interesting things.
Derek: It’s fascinating isn’t it because you’re almost seeing a divergence in a lot of the email marketing now is actually going on almost backward in terms of richness and it’s going back to basic text-based emails. You know just sort of give them the message across but then also with a lot more sort of interactivity in the sort of higher end stuff it’s kind of diverging isn’t it? Do you see a future where you will get. I’ve heard of people commenting where you really need a lot more interactivity within emails you know so you could open the email and it could even be like a shop front or an interaction with an email interface. But you sort of do you have any kind of foresight into the way that the industry is evolving.
Kevin: I can’t say I think that I kind of tell people that’s kind of the million dollar question in my opinion right now. I don’t think anybody’s truly been able to really nail it. I mean of course outside of the big ones you were mentioning Google and things of that sort. Now I mean those guys have just captured the market. But more to the SME it’s side of things. I don’t think anybody’s truly mastered it yet so I can’t say that I see you’ve got some believers that think the most interactive you can make an email the better off you’re going to be and then you touched on it as well where you getting some guys that are just more text savvy you know tech savvy and it’s just it comes across as a traditional email. So it’s something I’m interested in to see where it goes.
Derek: Yeah. It’s difficult. And also this. There’s all the different kinds of chat bots and messaging then. It’s just becoming so fractured isn’t it. I think as well like there needs to also be like an aggregator of messaging systems. And also your daily news and things like that it’s kind of a fascinating journey really. Does anyone read anymore? Do you think Kevin, like there’s so much content out there but also people’s attention spans. I’ve lost my attention there. And also people’s attention spans are you know kind of shocking isn’t it? Do you find that everything has to be in bite size pieces now? Is the kind of the nature of content evolving?
Kevin: That’s a great question. I absolutely I think you know it again it goes back to that quantity quality type of thing you know the more you can get it out and the more in the more different mediums there are diverse mediums I guess you can say the better chances you are going to get people to read it or you get very relevant content to specific people. But it’s definitely a challenge for these publishers and content providers and things like that to keep the attention of their audiences the way that they that they used to in the past. You know where there wasn’t as many options for people to consume content and information. And it is that the catchier you can be and I think that’s some of the challenges. I don’t think you can if you want to be all inclusive it’s tough to kind of sway one. So where do you draw that line in. And I think that some of the challenges today.
Derek: Yeah.Interesting, isn’t it? And I’ve sort of been listening to podcasts about book publishers and they’re saying now their methodology is to actually have kind of chapters that are about a thousand words long because that’s about the attention span and that’s about the length of a blog article and that’s what people are now used to. So you’re sort of getting books with 30 chapters of a thousand words each. But otherwise you just kind of lose people.
Kevin: So yeah.
Derek: It’s crazy.
Kevin: Yeah. Makes sense.
Derek: And then you know talking that’s the kind of media marketing world talking in terms of outsourcing which you guys were pretty much certainly when you came over here in 2011 for the SME kind of space very much early adopters. Do you see where do you see outsourcing going for your industry. But just kind of you come from California where do you see outsourcing going in terms of getting stuff done generally?
Kevin: I think the opportunities are endless nowadays with technology and the ability to communicate freely you know in different ways. So I think there’s a ton of opportunities out there for us that means no doubt. When I first got here you saw kind of there’s really two major functions and you kind of have that customer service approach where people are typically handling the traditional 1 800 phone lines and providing support to customer bases or the really high volume high pressure telemarketing where you know you’re trying to sell cable TV for example. Now it’s just there’s so many unique companies out there that are offering all kinds of different things from just a general virtual assistant that’s helping you know executives plan their days and keep their schedules straight to social media marketing to you know magazine publishers.You know I mean it’s the range is so broad now and I think it’s just going to continue to grow because it’s so much easier to connect the world now. There’s so many options.
Derek: Yeah I think as technology comes in the kind of friction of partnering someone in the Philippines versus your hometown is just getting less and less. I have a kind of mini theory that outsourcing eventually will just be called employment because it’s just you know you’re just going to hire people where he’s sitting is not really relevant anymore.
Kevin: Yeah you’re seeing that. I mean even even from the traditional ways that telecommuting and you know even in the US I know some friends and things that have requirements they need to be in the office two days a week and the rest they’re working from home you know and their employer knows every minute of every day what they’re doing on those days that they’re working from home as well you know. I mean there’s there’s a ton of opportunity I think out there. And I think we’re just kinda on our side as the providers were kind of just scratching the surface and then as the as the SME side of things they’re just really embracing you know the big corporations the big companies have been doing this stuff for many years now. I think the average business owner may not have thought that it was possible for them. You know it was only for the big corporations. There is nothing that catered to them and you’re seeing much more tension in that area I think.
Derek: Yeah it’s fascinating you said it because I mean that’s one of our biggest arguments that the big guys have been outsourcing for 20 years and they’re all already outsourcing. So there’s no growth in that area. But this all the SMEs and we did a white paper on there’s 35 million SMEs in the West that employ 100 million people. And I reckon virtually none of them are outsourcing know maybe 1 percent half a percent. And it is an opportunity for every single one of those companies to outsource even a part of a role or whole departments. So yeah you know huge potential.
Kevin: There was kind of the one observation that you know in addition to this specific industry we started catering to. But you know you’re thinking OK there’s all these major financial institutions and huge companies that are embracing this model. Could we do it for others? Also Kind of if it works for them why wouldn’t it work for others type of things
Derek: And you’ve really got to you’ve really got a good position I think because I know a lot of BPO owners and people in the space and it’s highly commoditized really almost just a kind of landlord renting out space because there’s not a lot to differentiate. Whereas you, you’re actually your product. You have you have value add. You know your offering value to the process really as opposed to just sort of managing people.
Kevin: Correct. Yeah it’s more than a function definitely with a lot of our clients can attach real revenue to our output on their end. So it is a value add for us as a company definitely.
Derek: Fascinating.And then just finally there’s a lot of talk about automation and AI sort of destroying outsourcing. What are your, what are your thoughts on that?
Kevin: I wondered if this question would come up.
Derek: You know obligatory everyone’s talking about it at the moment.
Kevin: It is. You know it’s definitely something that you kind of have to pay attention to in my position as an owner where you know virtually we, our product is manpower now our manpower you know produces results for people. So the automation obviously is coming in to to eliminate that. I’m a little bit of an old dog guy. It’s funny because I’m in a very tech driven industry but I still love a pen and paper you know. So I think it’s many years away because I think you know for my generation there’s kind of the changing of the guard where. The baby boomers and things aren’t as. May not be as easy as accepting to the technology. There’s still a few people within my generation that it is hasn’t fully brought on so it’s out there. I think, I think we’re still quite a ways away from really nailing it down. I think the people there’s still an audience out there that appreciates that appreciates excuse me that human touch and still dealing with a human. So I think you still got to give credit to that but it’s definitely something that I’m watching from afar as a business owner myself and kind of seeing. I could be very wrong and this could speed up. And it could solve a lot of things. And it is it’s case by case as well there are some industries where I think it’s much more relevant in and it could be achievable at a quicker rate and makes more sense. And there’s other industries and uses that it may not make as much sense to say. I get asked all the time. You know I’ve had friends and other business owners a man are you. Are you looking to get out because of this AI stuff and I don’t think it’s going to be anything that is going to be mass elimination of this industry by any means. I mean it’s a huge thriving industry that’s just diverse now as well you know it’s not just a one service industry anymore or a minimal service industry. There’s so many things that can be done and still require that human touch.
Derek: Yeah. Absolutely. It’s funny how it’s really shaken the industry hasn’t it and I think it could be decades before this is actually functional. AI assistance. And but also I think it is to a point earlier there’s a huge there’s more resilience in the SME market because enemies need more agile versatile roles, functions, staff. Whereas if you’re in the bigger end of town where there’s a thousand people doing the same process that that in line for kind of automation and refinement, isn’t it?
Kevin: Exactly yeah.
Derek: So you’ve still got your job and company for a few more years yet, Kevin.
Kevin: I hope so, I hope so.
Derek: Thank you so much.
Kevin: A lot of people out there though who knows.
Derek: Say that again.
Kevin: I was was just saying that there are some smart people out there so who knows they may speed it up.
Derek: That’s true. Things are progressing at an incredible speed. Kevin thanks so much for your time and insights. It’s been amazing talk. If people want to get in touch with you how can they do that.
Kevin: Always check us out online at our website which is open-look.com or you can reach out to me directly at [email protected]
Derek: Fantastic. Thanks Kevin.
Kevin: Thanks Derek.
Okay that was Kevin Thompson of Open-Look I really appreciate his time and I said we learnt a lot there. If you want to get in touch with Kevin or know any more than go to our show notes which is the outsourceaccelerator.com/130. And if you want to ask us anything. And of course just email us at [email protected]. See you next time.