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The rapid advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) are poised to significantly impact the call center industry, as highlighted by K Krithivasan, the chief executive of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), in a recent Financial Times article.

According to Krithivasan, the adoption of generative AI among multinational clients could lead to a drastic reduction in the need for human-operated call centers within the next year. He predicts that chatbots, powered by AI, will soon be capable of analyzing a customer’s transaction history and handling a significant portion of the tasks currently performed by call center agents. This shift could result in “minimal incoming call centres having incoming calls at all,” as the technology will be able to proactively address customer issues before they escalate to the point of requiring human intervention.

The implications of this technological shift are particularly significant for countries like India and the Philippines, which have established themselves as global hubs for IT and business process outsourcing. In India alone, more than 5 million people are employed in these sectors, according to industry group Nasscom. As AI continues to advance and replace many types of white-collar workers, including call center agents, policymakers around the world are growing increasingly concerned about the potential impact on employment.

However, Krithivasan also emphasizes that the immediate impact of generative AI may be overhyped, stating that “we are in the phase where we are in a hype that we are overestimating the benefits.” He believes that the true impact of AI will be more evident in the long term rather than in the next few quarters. Furthermore, he argues that the adoption of AI may not necessarily lead to an overall reduction in jobs, as the world will continue to require more technology talent, particularly in countries like India with large populations.

To capitalize on the growing demand for tech talent, Krithivasan stresses the importance of workforce training. He notes that many Indian graduates currently lack the necessary skills to be employable in the industry, with fewer than 20 percent of the country’s 1.5 million engineering graduates securing industry jobs each year. By expanding the number of colleges producing employable graduates from 10-15 percent to around 50 percent, India could provide more employment opportunities while simultaneously addressing the global technology demand.

In conclusion, while the rapid advancement of AI in the call center industry may cause concern among business people and call center workers, it is essential to recognize that the true impact of this technology will likely be more evident in the long term. As AI continues to transform the industry, it is crucial for individuals and organizations to adapt and acquire the necessary skills to remain competitive in the evolving job market. By investing in workforce training and education, countries like India can position themselves to capitalize on the growing demand for technology talent and mitigate the potential negative effects of AI on employment in the call center industry.

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