2024 Outsourcing Boom: A Global Shift or Troubling Trend?

18 Feb 2024 By: Michael Kansky


Outsourcing is a universal trend, which has an enormous effect on the local economies. Outsourcing has become a concern as to whether it is a long-term solution, making an analysis of what drives it a necessity. Further, an ethical perspective is to be brought up when analyzing the outsourcing and how business manages to combine profit and social responsibility. Moreover, the understanding of successful cases may be used as the good practices guide for entering the global market. Government legislation and policies are also important in determining outsourcing behavior and should be carefully investigated. Last, gazing into the crystal ball of outsourcing, we shall venture into the forecasts and pro-jections for the year 2024 and further. The purpose of this paper is to give the reader a broad picture of outsourcing boom, both its positive side and possible negative consequences.

Discover the potential impact of the 2024 outsourcing boom on the global economy.

The Impact of Outsourcing on Local Economies

Outsourcing has greatly affected local economies in all parts of the world. Whereby, some claim it results in job losses and economic decay, others argue that it causes economic growth prospects. The truth is somewhere in the middle. Outsourcing to low-cost regions allows for substantial reduction of labor costs by enterprises. This is to mean that they may provide their products cheaper, which consequently will stimulate more demand and hence create new jobs. Nevertheless, the benefits should be equitably distributed and workers from both the outsourcing country and the receiving country should be protected. Balancing the influence of outsourcing on local economies is a challenging task that requires a proper balance and an integrated approach.

The part, which is usually ignored in the discussion on outsourcing, is the innovation and skills development issues. Outsourcing of certain tasks by companies allows these organizations to release resources that can be used to fund research and development activities. This can result in the development of new technologies, products, and services that fuel economic growth and competitiveness. Also, outsourcing can open the door for workers of low-cost regions to learn new skills and knowledge through training programs initiated by the outsourcing companies. The skills can be replicated in other sectors, thereby, adding to the overall growth of the local economy.

In addition, the environmental aspect of outsourcing must not be overlooked. The process of outsourcing to countries with less strict environmental regulations can lead to pollution and carbon emissions. It is vital that companies outsourcing their operations must take into account the environmental impact of their decisions and take measures to defend against adverse effects. Using sustainable practices and putting money into green technologies may compensate the environmental impact of outsourcing and result in a more responsible and environmentally friendly approach to the global business operations.

Analyzing the Driving Forces Behind the Outsourcing Boom

A number of factors have led to the fast development of outsourcing in the recent years. Most importantly, technology has made it simple to link and work with people from different countries. The internet, cloud computing, and digital communication tools have changed the business world all over the glode. Furthermore, the development of close relationships between markets and global supply chain has made available new opportunities whereby businesses can take the advantages of global resources. Further, cost-pressures and the quest for greater efficiency have made companies look to lower-cost labor markets. The comprehension of these driving forces is essential for the understanding of the outsourcing boom and its consequences.

Additionally, the dynamic of outsourcing evolution is determined by the work redesign itself. Due to gig economy and the growing popularity of remote work, organizations are willing to delegate tasks and projects to independent contractors and offshore teams. This trend of shifting to a flexible and decentralized workforce has pushed the outsourcing trend even faster, so that businesses can access specialized skills and knowledge irrespective of where their providers are located.

Among the major factors fueling the outsourcing explosion, the increasing importance of scalability and agility in business operations should be mentioned. Through the outsourcing of non-core functions including IT support, customer service and back office processes, companies can concentrate on their core competencies and become more flexible to the evolving market conditions. By adopting a strategic approach, businesses are able to scale up or down as required without the overhead of a huge internal workforce

Outsourcing Ethics: Balancing Profitability and Social Responsibility

Businesses are challenged when it comes to ethical consideration in outsourcing. One the other side, outsourcing allows companies to increase profitability and achieve competitive advantage. However, there are ethical issues concerning labor practices, human rights, and environmental impact. A business must find a fine line between the search for economic success and social responsibility. Transparency of labor and fair labor practices, respect for the rights of the workers and preventing the environmental harms will help companies to address the ethical dilemmas of outsourcing and make a positive contribution to the global community.

One major element of ethical consideration in outsourcing pertains to the influence on local communities in both the home and the outsourced locations. Outsourcing may bring economic advantages to organizations, but it can also lead to unemployment in the home country and workers exploitation in the outsourced country. In addition, the social consequences of the outsourcing decisions should be taken into account by companies and in seeking to create a more egalitarian and sustainable global economy.

Also, social media has become more popular and the businesses are required to be more transparent, especially regarding ethical behavior. Consumers and stakeholders are better informed and more articulate in their demands of corporate social responsibility. This trend of public consciousness has led companies to move beyond profitability to ethical sourcing, fair trade practices, and community involvement. By adopting these ethical principles in outsourcing a company will improve its image and create lasting confidence with clients and associates.

2024 Outsourcing boom by examples

Examining 2024 real-life case studies by examples can provide evidence of outsourcing boom as well as valuable insights into successful, failing or outright unethical outsourcing strategies in the global market.

San Francisco General Hospital turned to short term outsourcing contracts instead of full time staffing to save costs. Hundreds of San Francisco city workers, represented by several City unions, demonstrated against the outsourcing of work at the San Francisco General Hospital. The City allocates nearly $5.2 billion each year to contracts, mostly awarded to contractors outside of San Francisco. The protestors highlighted the negative effects of understaffing, citing missed breaks and compromised patient care. In labor negotiations, the City has repeatedly dismissed calls to curb wasteful spending on external contracts. Protestors urged the City to prioritize its in-house staff instead of relying on external, short-term contracts, improving both job stability and patient care.

A Philippine lawmaker, Janette Garin, has suggested outsourcing the services of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) in an effort to streamline administration costs and heighten efficiency. Garin proposes an improvement in service speed as well as a potential decrease in fraud occurrences. The services would be likened to private insurance or Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs), and although this move may not reduce member contributions, it is predicted to increase efficiency. The outsourcing process would occur through a government procurement procedure across Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

Dubai successfully hosted the Uzbekistan Outsourcing Conference, organized by the Ministry of Digital Technologies of the Republic of Uzbekistan and IT Park, with the attendance of over 100 leading experts in the IT field. The conference was a platform for promoting Uzbekistan’s potential as a future center for IT outsourcing, with the country boasting various advantages such as tax incentives, skilled workforce, and developed IT infrastructure. High-profile attendees included the Minister of Digital Technologies of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Sherzod Shermatov, and the CEO of IT Park, Farhad Ibragimov, who shared plans to transform the country into a global IT outsourcing hub. Several IT Park companies showcased their innovative solutions. The establishment of the International Center for Digital Technologies Enterprise in Uzbekistan was also discussed, which will offer global businesses an optimal environment for conducting business through Uzbekistan. The conference is expected to result in 15 companies setting up representative offices in Uzbekistan and creating over 500 new jobs in the first year.

Iowa Republicans are pushing a bill to allow state agencies to outsource their annual audits, a move the State Auditor’s office warns could lead to corruption. The bill would let departments use a certified public accountant for their audit, a move seen by some as a way to undermine Iowa’s sole statewide elected Democrat. Critics argue the proposal would let agencies seek less rigorous audits, increase taxpayer costs, and fail to protect whistleblippers. They also suggest it would prevent the auditor’s office from reviewing the outsourced audits or issuing opinions on the state’s financial health. The legislation follows a law passed last year curtailing the State Auditor’s investigative powers.

According to FastCompany, Outsourcing has seen significant changes as a business model in recent years due to macroeconomic factors including potential recession, the impact of COVID-19, and high talent costs. Technological advancements such as digitization accelerated by the pandemic and shifts in customer buying trends have played significant roles in this transformation. From focusing on basic services in the early years, outsourcing now extends to sophisticated offerings, with hyper-personalization, enhanced user experiences, and rich interactive features gaining prominence in recent years. Today, the role of outsourcing extends beyond cost savings and efficiencies to contribute to revenue generation, speed-to-market strategies, and shaping the enterprise ecosystem. Key insights point towards an increasingly promising future for outsourcing shaped by technological trends and macroeconomic factors. CEOs, however, have concerns over its impact on corporate culture, emphasizing the need for long-term, mutually beneficial partnerships rather than a focus just on short-term cost savings.

Due to staff turnover issues in financial aid offices, colleges like Kentucky State University and Bethany College are outsourcing these services to financial aid consulting firms like Blue Icon and Clifton Larson Allen. This outsourcing trend has emerged as a response to overworked and underpaid employees, limited opportunities for advancement, and a lack of remote work flexibility. However, while Kentucky State’s outsourcing is a temporary solution, Bethany College plans to make it a permanent one. It is important to note that while outsourcing individual financial aid functions is common, outsourcing the entire department permanently is less so.

JPMorgan Chase plans to outsource its local custody business operating in Hong Kong and Taiwan, which sees around $520 billion worth of client assets under custody (AUC). Potential successors include Citigroup, HSBC, and Standard Chartered, as deliberations are currently underway. Falling custodian assets have decreased margins in recent years resulting in a retreat from local custody businesses in Asian markets, with JPMorgan exiting operations in Australia, for instance. The bank intends to complete these changes by next year and will continue servicing its global custody operations in these markets.

German pharmaceutical company Bayer AG is planning to outsource the distribution of its products in Africa to a third-party firm. The outsourcing move, which is set to be implemented in May, will affect four markets: Kenya, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Ghana. However, Bayer maintains that the number of affected jobs will be minimal and the shift will not impact its crop science division, which constitutes 90% of its business in the region. The company is following in the footsteps of GSK which, in late 2022, also decided to adopt a third-party distribution model in Kenya.

To address its ongoing struggle to fill special education vacancies, Stamford schools have once again resorted to outsourcing positions to private entities. The Board of Education recently ruled in favour of a $100,000 contract with The Stepping Stones Group, a Colorado-based therapeutic and behavioural services provider, to supply nine special education paraeducators on a temporarily contract until the end of November. Earlier, a similar arrangement was made with Hubbard Day School to aid students with autism. This outsourcing approach has been viewed as a creative solution to the existing teacher shortage, however, it sparked criticism from the Stamford Education Association teachers union, which viewed it as union-busting. The paraeducator union, represented by the United Public Service Employees Union, did not publicly critique the move.

In 2024, hospitals may lean towards outsourcing tasks such as revenue cycle management and billing in order to save money, as per Deloitte forecasts. As health systems are pressured by growing costs, outsourcing has been recognized as one of the main trends for the upcoming year, highlighted by Tina Wheeler, Deloitte’s healthcare sector leader. However, these practices carry some risks, including a possible loss of control and quality of services, as well as potential local community impact given that hospitals often are top employers. Other trends for the upcoming year include recruiting and retaining medical staff, adopting more digital tools, and dealing with affordability issues and more mergers and acquisitions.

Kaiser Permanente is preparing to outsource pharmacy work amid a potential strike by United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 555, a union which represents many of the healthcare company’s pharmacy workers. The dispute is centred around numerous claims of unfair labour practices, as well as an expired contract. The union plans to strike from Oct. 1 to Oct. 21, unless an agreement on wages is reached. The strike could significantly impact Kaiser, one of the largest healthcare providers in the US, though the company is implementing contingency plans to keep services running. However, it remains unclear exactly how many of Kaiser’s pharmacies will be affected by the strike.

The Engineering Research And Development (ER&D) Outsourcing market is anticipated to grow exponentially, achieving a value of $1288.8 billion in 2028 with a CAGR of 24.4% between 2024 and 2033, as per the latest data from The Business Research Company. This growth is attributed to increasing outsourcing demand and is expected to be the highest in Asia-Pacific. Major companies leading in this field include Accenture PLC, IBM, Tata Consultancy Services Limited, and Capgemini SE. The ER&D outsourcing market has a diverse range including mechanics, embedded IT, software, spread across industries such as automotive, consumer electronics, telecom, heavy machinery, and more.

An Indian investor has warned that remote jobs in Australia are at risk of being outsourced to India due to lower cost and the availability of an English-speaking workforce. The founder of Innovative Consultants, Iqbal Singh, suggested that roles such as support staff, IT, finance, and mortgages could all be supported from India at a fraction (10%-15%) of an Australian employee’s salary. This comes as companies around the world are grappling with inflation and are increasingly looking for more cost-efficient ways to operate. The “Future of Work 2023” survey also revealed that many companies are planning to revert to in-person work, differentiate pay between remote and in-office staff, and reserve remote work for trusted senior staff.

The Zacks Outsourcing Industry has grown significantly, with the outsourcing sector projected to climb from $75.89 trillion between 2023 and 2027, backed by a CAGR of 6.5%. Zacks suggests investors watch Automatic Data Processing (ADP), Paychex, and Broadridge Financial Solutions. Companies will utilise outsourcing to reduce costs and focus on core competencies. Top trends in the sector include the growth of Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), increased importance of IT outsourcing, heightened focus on cybersecurity, and emerging technologies such as AI, Machine Learning and IoT. Paychex, a provider of integrated HCM solutions, expects a 10-11% growth in adjusted earnings per share in fiscal 2024.

Government Policies and Regulations Influencing Outsourcing Practices

Government policies and regulations have a major influence on outsourcing practices in different nations. Regulations like tax breaks, trade pacts, and labor laws can greatly influence the desirability of a particular offshoring location. In addition, regulations on data protection, intellectual property, and cybersecurity can affect the choice of the outsourcing partners by the companies. Understanding the regulatory picture allows companies to take well informed decisions, and to work the complicated web of government policies and regulations.

Political stability is an important element of the government policies that influence outsourcing practices. Political instability leads to the uncertainties and unrest in the outsourced operations, thus the efficiency and dependability of the outsourcing partnership are affected. Companies usually take into account the political environment of the possible outsourcing location as they want to evaluate possible risks and also to make sure the continuity of their business processes.

In addition, the role of environmental regulations is expanding in the process of outsourcing determination. Companies are increasingly being demanded to implement sustainable policies and to lower their carbon footprint. Governments worldwide are applying tighter environmental regulations that can affect companies’ selection of outsourcing partners on their environmental performance and their dedication to sustainability initiatives. This has led businesses to include the environment into their outsourcing strategy to conform with world trends in going green.

The Future of Outsourcing: Predictions and Projections for 2024 and Beyond

With the advancement of technology and the growing strength of global relationships, the future of outsourcing looks bright. But few yields of uncertainties are in front. The automation of tasks, the growth of artificial intelligence, and possible geopolitical changes could affect outsourcing environment. However, some positions may become irrelevant, but new openings are likely to appear. The future of work will be probably defined by the synergistic cooperation of humans and machines. Furthermore, sustainability issues and consumer preferences may affect the outsourcing practices. Through closely watching trends and getting ready for possible shifts, businesses can become ready to prosper in the changing outsourcing terrain.

In sum, the 2024 outsourcing boom brings global changes and some worrying tendencies. The effects on local economies, the forces that propel this process, ethical implications, successful case studies, government policies, and the future view make this phenomenon complete. With the detailed analysis of these aspects, businesses will be able to make relevant decisions and wisely tread in the complexity of outsourcing landscape. In a world that is becoming more interconnected, the active participation in the outsourcing boom is critical for the companies that are striving for long-term success.

As you navigate the complexities of the 2024 outsourcing boom, consider the strategic advantage of partnering with HelpSquad BPO. Whether you’re looking to enhance your customer service capabilities or streamline your back-office operations, our skilled, bilingual agents are ready to support your business goals at an affordable rate starting at just $8.50 per hour. Embrace the global shift with confidence and elevate your business efficiency by starting a trial with HelpSquad BPO today. Start Trial

Business Process Outsourcing
Michael Kansky

Michael Kansky, Founder of LiveHelpNow and HelpSquad, has leveraged his 20 years of industry experience and innovative support strategies to revolutionize customer service approaches, making LiveHelpNow a leading customer service software provider, and establishing HelpSquad as a bridge between businesses and customer needs. You may contact Michael on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mkansky/