ABSL: new technologies are changing the business services market and there is growing interest in employees with advanced technical skills

The requirements placed on employees in the business services sector will change by 2025. Many positions, including those that are currently occupied by university-educated people with experience, will practically cease to exist. Technologies will simultaneously create new positions and additional company processes will be carried out within the scope of business services as a result of on-going centralisation. The technologies of robotic automation, artificial intelligence, Internet of Items and big data will play the biggest role in oncoming years. Social networks and virtual reality will have a significant influence on the form of business services. Technological changes and further globalisation will also cause business services centres to relocate between individual countries and regions. These prognoses are the result of Vision 2025 by the ABSL Association, which associates providers of business services on the Czech market.

Robotic process automation (RPA)
The most significant trend at present and in the near future is the continuing robotisation, which enables replacement of people during execution of relatively simple tasks – mainly those of the nature of transactions, which themselves do not create any special added value. However, this concerns a great number of activities in the business services sector, such as accounting operations or settlement of a significant measure of customer requirements. Robotic technologies are constantly improving, mainly thanks to progress in the field of artificial intelligence and robots are also becoming involved in performance of demanding tasks, including making decisions. Implementation of RPA for all standard transaction processes is expected in 2025. Tools for advanced automation will be standard on the market and will be affordable for companies of all sizes. Positions providing little added value will practically cease to exist and the related processes will be fully automated. New positions linked to development, management and maintenance of these “bots” and knowledge of related technologies will become a part of computer literary.

Artificial intelligence (AI)
Within the terms of business services, artificial intelligence is mainly used today for analysis, creation of prognoses, monitoring and customer services. In 2025 these technologies will be generally available and cheap and will also start to be used outside standard processes. Artificial intelligence will offer translation in real-time, including processing of speech. In the field of business services AI will also eliminate positions that are considered advanced today (data analysis, financial management).

Internet of Things (IoT)
An estimated 16 billion devices were connected to the Internet in 2017. However, around 50% of such generated data is not systematically compiled or analysed by anyone. In 2025 practically all devices powered by electricity will be interconnected. The devices of end users will mostly generate on-line data about their use and the behaviour of consumers. All new vehicles will function in on-line mode, devices will create enormous sets of data and a number of specialist positions linked to data architecture, mining and analysis will appear in business services.

Big data
But not only will the actual volume of generated data will increase by 2025, there will also be more methods for further work with this data and its utilisation. Business decisions will be made and prognoses created on the basis of analysis of big data. Additional specialised tools, including artificial intelligence, will originate for work with large volumes of data. A number of positions linked to analysis of big data will be transferred to business services centres and knowledge of this branch will become essential for most employees of these centres.

Mobility and cloud
Mobile telephones are becoming key devices for work with the Internet and most global companies already carry out their tasks in the cloud. Further progress will occur by 2025 and mobile devices will become the primary means for B2B communication, entertainment and shopping. Practically all data (of enterprise and individuals) will be stored in the cloud and the same will apply for its processing. Local data storage will practically cease to exist. The method of employing people will change and working from home will become widespread. Positions linked to administration of in-house IT infrastructures will be eliminated in business centres.

Blockchain (decentralised database)
While blockchain technologies are currently mainly used in relation to digital currencies (crypto-currencies), they will soon be employed as technologies for exchanging data across all industrial segments. This will become the key technology for working with extensive data sets. This technology will gradually be standardised on a global level and will be implemented within the company environment in this form. Knowledge of blockchain technologies will be an advantage for data analysis in business services centres. New positions for data analysis in real time and programing of decentralised databases will originate here.

Mobility and digitalisation will lead to more and more sensitive data becoming available on-line, which increases requirements for its security. In 2025 practically all data will be on-line, and this will mean new rules for protection of privacy and related regulations (GDPR etc.). New technologies against fraud, e.g. identity theft, will be implemented. Data and identity management will be centralised to business services centres, where new positions and professions linked to security will originate.

Social media
By 2025 social media will replace traditional company tools for B2B communication and will become practically the exclusive platform for sales and marketing. A number of new positions will originate within the terms of company services and this will concern for instance creators of content, management of communities and analysis of data from social media.

Virtual and augmented reality (VR, AR)
At present these technologies are mainly used by end users and they are also implemented in a limited scope for sale of more expensive goods. In 2025 these technologies will become much more widespread, VR/AR will be used in all sales applications. New related positions, e.g. management of virtual business, will be created in business services.

The impact of changes on the situation in the Czech Republic
“Although on one hand robotic automation, artificial intelligence and other technologies will practically eliminate the need for human work in a number of processes with low added value and a number of positions will cease to exist in business services, on the other hand new technologies will enable centralisation of many other processes, which will also create a number of positions,“ Jonathan Appleton, director of the ABSL Association, commented. These positions will require special skills and highly specialised expertise in the relevant branch; people whose job is currently simple transaction tasks will find employment here thanks to re-training. All companies active in the business services sector should therefore invest into regular training programmes for their employees. Employees will also have to acquire knowledge themselves and no-one will be able to manage for the rest of their lives with just the knowledge they acquired during their school studies.
“Labour costs will become less important costs as a result of automation and other technologies, which will mean that business services centres can be moved closer to the headquarters of companies and clients. In this aspect the Czech Republic has an advantage compared to traditional offshore locations such as China and India,“ Jonathan Appleton concluded.

The ABSL (Association of Business Service Leaders in the Czech Republic) is an organisation associating companies active in the business services segment. This is a segment representing a strong source of employment in the Czech Republic. The ABSL originated in 2013 with the goal of supporting companies in the field of business services, sharing best practice and assisting in development of the activities of its members and other subjects active in this segment. The ABSL also provides support to foreign investors who wish to establish their business services centres in the Czech Republic. You can find more information here www.absl.cz.

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