Significant advantage of Medical Billing Data Entry Services

Significant advantage of Medical Billing Data Entry Services

Significant advantage of Medical Billing Data Entry Services

Businesses and organizations could be excused for not estimating the full implication of running a business or organization when they set out to create one. Someone with a vision for starting a scooter rental service could hardly be expected to know about the challenges in hiring people for various roles. Someone else interested in starting a medical center may not know about the financial compliances enjoined upon the business to fulfil every quarter and every year.

While these cannot be excuses, and a business and organization person should make the effort to know everything, the point being made is that the focus and interest is likely to be on the area of work, the scooter service or medical center in this example.

Thankfully, help is at hand. There are a wide variety of providers

What could be the benefits of engaging a provider for medical billing data entry?

 

Focus on the patient

When you opted for a career in healthcare, it was probably with the objective of working with patients and helping them get better, whether you are a doctor or a nurse or a clinical technician. The objective would not have been to fill forms, bank checks, track unpaid bills and maintain records. Of course, we understand that every job and every industry has an administrative component, but that should not be the one driving our lives. It should be a relatively minor component of our professional lives.

Outsourcing medical billing data entry services enables you to do just that; focus on the people who seek medical care and support from you.

oWorkers has been providing BPO services to global clients for over eight years. In their chosen area of focus, data based services, they have been repeatedly identified as one of the top three providers in the world. Engaging them as a partner will give you the space to focus on your core constituency, the patient seeking medical attention and care.

 

Medical billing data entry leads to a reduction in errors

This can also be expressed as an enhancement in accuracy.

Errors entail a cost for every business. There is a cost of lost business. There is a cost of checking and control, There is a cost of rework. In healthcare, that cost can be magnified, as it deals with the health and well-being of human beings. Incorrect information could lead to wrong diagnosis and treatment, with the worst outcomes being the impact on a human being.

While healthcare might wish for less, the very sensitivity of the industry engenders the need for greater control, which creates the need for more forms and keeping track of more information.

Engaging a professional organisation for doing this work can go a long way in reducing errors that lead to disastrous outcomes in the form of human impact.

oWorkers employs a full-time Internal Quality team. This is made up of Quality Analysts (QAs) whose job is to track the work being done by the delivery organization and ensure errors are not creeping in. They are also constantly exploring methods of improving processes so that accuracy can be enhanced and time taken reduced. They report directly to the senior management. This keeps the leadership informed about shopfloor happenings, allowing them to jump in as and when they see the need.

 

Better systems, applications and processes for medical billing data entry

Data entry not being a core activity for a healthcare organization, the interest in investing in it with the purpose of improving the systems and processes is limited. It is something that somehow needs to get done. They would rather work on improving the medical systems which will enable better care and support to the seekers of medical services. And that makes perfect sense, does it not? That is why they are there. That is the reason for their existence.

However, what happens is that the support systems fail to keep pace with the advances that take place in other parts of the core organization. In fact, they could often become the stumbling blocks, the reason why the organization cannot do more or cannot do better. Hence, whether we like it or not, at some stage they start crying for attention.

Engagement of a specialist can prevent this issue and ensure that the support systems keep pace, and sometimes lead, the rest of the organization. This is because the partner has an interest in doing the job more efficiently. Moreover, if they do similar work for multiple organizations, the combined heft in terms of volumes enables a much more justifiable case to be made for investments in improvement.

The partnerships oWorkers has forged across a spectrum of technology providers enables us to access the best technologies for solving client problems at all times. Many of our clients are IT firms who also ensure that we are current as far as technologies are concerned.

 

Cash Flow management

Money is the proverbial blood that courses through the veins of an organization. It is the common denominator in which all its activities can be expressed. It is what they earn when their services are taken up by their clients and it is what they spend when they need to procure the supplies and pay for services that keeps their ship afloat. And this is not just about commercial organizations. Non-commercial organizations, and some hospitals may be run by nonprofits, need to manage money as well. Their sources of getting money may not be client billings, but there will be a source. It could be government funding or it could be private donations. They still need that money because they need to pay salaries and buy the supplies for providing their services.

A professional partner doing medical billing data entry keeps the wheels turning. Bills go out faster, payments can be tracked and received faster, while reducing the ones that get forgotten or lost. They may even have the knowhow to introduce processes that result in additional revenue-generation strategies like combination offers, which may be useful for patients as well.

oWorkers has enabled many clients to save money. Clients from the US and Western Europe report savings of upto 80% after outsourcing to oWorkers. This does not include the financial discipline that comes about resulting in quicker billing and realisation.

 

Compliance with regulatory requirements and industry practices

In a dynamic world a lot keeps changing. Regulations can change, as can industry standards and practices. Non-compliance of regulatory stipulations could have implications, mostly financial. Support services not being anyone’s favorite child, could translate into an inability to keep pace with changes taking place, which could lead to financial implications.

Outsourcing to a specialist can secure you against such eventualities. A specialist’s interest lies in tracking regulation and practice and ensuring compliance. They are aided in the exercise by the fact that they could be doing the same work for a number of clients. Hence, the cost of a miss in their case will be steep.

With the support of the communities we work with, oWorkers is able to source and hire people with not only data entry skills, but also skills and capability in supporting clients with their accounting, finance and HR requirements.

 

Hidden costs get exposed, budgeting becomes accurate

Support functions, as they are often not tracked as stringently by management, have a tendency to hide costs and inefficiencies in their dark recesses. Handing them over to a vendor serves the purpose of airing them out and hanging them to dry in bright sunlight. All dampness gets sucked out and a bright light shines on every part of the process. Endemic inefficiencies of the system now have no place to hide. Once outsourced, inefficiencies, if any, would be handled by the vendor, whose business interest lies in doing the work most efficiently.

All organizations operate on the principles of budgeting whereby a financial projection is made for the accounting period and the actual performance, as it happens, mapped against it. Outsourcing medical billing data entry will serve to make the budgetary process more accurate by making the costs associated with it transparent and defined, apart from ironing out earlier inefficiencies.

The outsourcing organization will get this benefit when they outsource to oWorkers.

 

People Management

One of the greatest challenges in running an organization is managing people. People are intelligent. They think. They have feelings and emotions. They have different styles of working. They have good and bad days and periods. They have expectations. All the traits that make human beings the most intelligent species on the planet also make them a challenge to manage. Much organizational time and energy is consumed in managing people related issues and setting policy for them. Manual processing organizations, as the term indicates, rely on people for their work, and could have lots of employees. As would the processing sections in a healthcare organization.

Outsourcing the data entry manual processing section shifts the manpower management responsibility to the vendor. The client no longer has to worry about getting the work done if someone goes absent, or hiring in a hurry if someone leaves. These are cares that will be handled by the vendor who, incidentally, has much greater expertise and experience in doing so, as it presumably does the same for other clients whose projects are also staffed by resources that are similar in background.

Being a preferred employer gives oWorkers the benefit of a continuous flow of walk-in candidates interested in a job. This keeps our hiring costs low as we don’t need to advertise for hiring. Moreover, in an industry notorious for attrition, it enables us to hire replacements in a short time. We engage employees the traditional way, as employees, and not as freelancers or contractors as some of our competitors now do. It enjoins greater responsibility on us, of paying social taxes on their behalf, of managing their careers and growth, but we are happy to do that for our staff

 

Scalability

All businesses and organizations face uncertainty in demand and supply against projections. While at times one may need to keep ide; resources at hand to cater to sudden spikes in demand, it is never a preferred option. The organization would rather create additional capacity at short notice and cater to sudden spikes.

Outsourcing data entry can relieve the client of the pressure of at least one type of resource if demand rises suddenly. This can be built into the arrangement with the provider. A provider, with the benefit of multiple projects of a similar nature running simultaneously, can possibly align resources for a short period such that the peak is catered without a significant impact on others. Of course, with larger combined volumes, they can also keep hiring arrangements in place that enable them to hire at short notice and for short periods.

oWorkers provides the leverage to be able to hire for peaks and troughs. It can hire an extra one hundred people within 48 hours, if required, reducing the burden on the client to carry staffing at peak volume levels through the year.

 

Timeliness of work

Though speed depends on the nature of work, the speed of work in a support system in a healthcare environment might not always be a priority. Priority is likely to be reserved for healthcare related work, and even more preferentially, work with patients. 

Though it depends on the nature of work, BPO providers doing data entry provide great flexibility to clients. Some might come at an additional cost, though. They can provide overnight turnaround for clients on the other side of the globe. They can run an operation 24×7 if the work so demands. They can even operate from the premises of the client, if that is a critical requirement. All in all, they are willing to go the extra mile to make it work for the organization.

In all its three centers around the world, oWorkers has the capability of running 24×7 operations for clients who need it and are willing to pay for it

 

Multi Lingual capability

The world is shrinking and businesses are becoming global. Businesses operate across countries, time zones and languages. The support engine of a business needs to be able to cater to a variety of languages in order to cover its geographical spread. The organization should not need to look for yet another vendor for each language.

When you outsource medical billing data entry to oWorkers, you get a provider with proficiency in 22 languages commonly spoken around the world, across the three delivery centers it operates from. Whether you are a local business or a global behemoth, oWorkers has the solutions for you.

Process Optimization: Get More From Your Processes With These 6 Methods

Process Optimization: Get More From Your Processes With These 6 Methods

Process Optimization: Get More From Your Processes With These 6 Methods

It might be a reasonable assumption to make that humans are seized of the need to make efforts to improve their lot. And that it is an ongoing exercise. While you may choose to not pursue the same actively from a certain point onwards, perhaps you will never reach a point where you could say that it cannot be done any better.

We are referring to individual, isolated processes here, and not life as a whole. The reason is that there are many adherents to Newton’s third law of motion, which is “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction” who argue that taken together, life is a zero-sum game. Even if you gain in one place you will lose in another.

Whether a believer in this law or not, what is not up for debate is that an individual process or a set of processes could be improved. This is the motivation behind human effort. If one were to take the view that by improving something you will cause a deterioration in something else, all human endeavor will come to a standstill.

The same is applicable in its entirety to organizations, since they are managed and guided by human beings and their philosophies.

Organizations are constantly trying to optimize their processes so that they can deliver on their eventual goal of maximizing returns to owners or shareholders through the means of offering products and services in their defined niche. And there is no finish line. It always wants more.  

A solo entrepreneur may want to increase his profits from $50K last year to $60K this year.

A global giant like Apple may be trying to enhance their net income from $57B (yes, that is 57 billion US dollars) to $67B in 2021.

Whoever you are, you will no doubt be working on several ideas that will enable you to do so. These ideas are an effort at getting more from the business and its process with the help of process optimization methods.

At the generic level, the effort is to try to increase revenues and control or reduce costs, both actions leading to an increase in profits or net income. As it is not always possible to translate any improvement into its bottomline impact, especially in larger organizations, many other variables are targeted that become quasi or representative variables of the end goal.

What could some of these look like?

  • Improving customer satisfaction index
  • Reducing the headcount for the process
  • Increasing the output from the process
  • Releasing output to the customer faster
  • Lower level of people attrition

Whatever be the area that is chosen for improvement, there are certain essential principles that might be common to all initiatives, that will be described in the ensuing paragraphs.

 

Measurement is the backbone of all process optimization methods

Shooting in the dark is not reported to be a particularly beneficial activity. Of course, one could get a lucky hit occasionally but are likely to draw a blank on most occasions. Besides, the occasional lucky shot does not enable us to separate the grain from the chaff. A bad shooter could get a lucky hit just as much as a crack shot.

When you are working in an organization and using its resources to achieve the goals you have been assigned, you have a responsibility to make the best use of them. Whether resources have been used gainfully or otherwise can only be known if there is a measurement around it. Even the setting up a company, its business model, are based on ‘cases.’ The ‘case’ establishes the gain (or loss) to the company on account of proceeding with the suggested course.

You can ask the organization to provide resources if you have a case based on which you return to the organization more than what you have used. Ideally the measurement is in objective and numeric terms, often financial. On occasion, and this may need to be decided by the highest authorities, the case could also be based on less objective measures like ‘flying business class instead of economy as it will give me three uninterrupted hours with the client which could lead to…”

Unless you know the present level of the process that you are trying to improve, you will never know if, as a result of your process optimization methods, there has been an improvement or not.

Of course, a solo entrepreneur might be tempted to take initiatives without establishing the baseline to measure against. While not recommended, we must not forget that he is measured on the most critical parameter of all, the profitability of the company, for which she alone is responsible. Hence, in a way, there is a measurement system in place.

Management guru Peter Drucker is credited with the phrase, “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.”

oWorkers has consistently delivered over 99% accuracy level, across a variety of client projects using many different measurement systems. This has been possible to establish only as the result of a rigorous process for measurement of performance in each area of work.

 

Process redesign and reengineering

The systems and processes that got the business up to this point, may not be able to take it from this point onwards. Central Asian tribes were conquering large territories with their sturdy horses and swords around the end of the first millennia, but by the third quarter of the second millennia they were ceding ground to Europeans with their technologically advanced weaponry that now included gunpowder. Eating out was known to be a slow process. You get to a diner, select what you want, place the order, fiddle with your napkins or make idle conversation for the next twenty minutes and then the food got served. Fast food restaurants turned the idea on its head by keeping food that was ready, a limited choice of menu options, and delivery of food as soon as you order. With dramatic results.

Success is not guaranteed to anyone. The biggest corporations fall by the wayside if they fail to keep pace with changing times and requirements. One has to be aware of the goings-on in the world around us as well as conscious of the linkages our internal processes have with the outside world. There are many variables that keep changing.

When only a few cheques were drawn, it might have made sense to send them directly to the drawee bank for payment. But when volumes grew, it made sense to change the process and introduce a clearing house through which all cheques could be settled.

Most process optimization methods would include an element of business process redesign or reengineering. Not for the sake of doing it, but because there is a better model in the new world, knowing fully well that it might need to be tweaked all over again in a few years.

oWorkers is GDPR compliant and ISO (27001:2013 & 9001:2015) certified. While it has established processes it constantly looks for opportunities of process redesign and process reengineering in a controlled manner, ensuring that the resultant process is better than the one used earlier. Our three geographical locations, delivering services in over 22 languages, are guided by a continuous improvement team that is housed under our Quality team.

 

Process optimization methods love automation

Human beings are no doubt the smartest beings on this planet, with the ability to capture the most insignificant, subliminal nuance in a situation, but they have limitations. They cannot, for example, take in huge amounts of data simultaneously. A human judge on the finish line of a sprint may be able to pick out the winner, but not the second and third place runners at the same time. Humans find it difficult to keep personal bias and prejudice out of their decisions, making their objectivity suspect. We might believe that people who look different from us are more prone to crime than people who look like us. Human beings have moods. They have good days and bad days. They can make mistakes. Above all, they need constant maintenance, pampering as well as money.

If a machine or software program could do the work instead of humans, many of the issues highlighted above could be solved. Once taught, machines will continue to do the same thing again and again. They do not need pampering. Power it on and it is ready to go. And, perhaps most significantly for a business, they may need an initial investment, but don’t need to be paid a monthly salary, don’t negotiate for better working conditions, don’t ask for raises and days off. Hence, automation has been the dream solution for businesses.

The automation efforts driven by software have now progressed to the application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in business processes. Machines have been created to understand formatted language, known as software code, for many decades. Now machines are being taught how to interpret and understand and act on unformatted cues. Like an image. Or a text conversation between two people. The next phase of automation seems likely to be driven by AI.

Two thirds of its clients being technology companies, with unicorn marketplaces being a part of the list, oWorkers needs to be at the cutting edge of technology. It has forged deep relationships with technology providers that allows it to use the latest technologies for the work it does for clients. We are supporting clients as they build and test AI models with a wide variety of applications.

 

Virtual Work

Ever since the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a significant shift to virtual work. Of course, where it could be done, like software development, or designing. One still cannot put bricks in a building virtually, or deliver food virtually. But work where it was possible to operate virtually has been quick to adopt this method.

In the present context, a discussion on process optimization methods will be incomplete if virtual work options are not considered.

A sudden spurt of natural optimization has emerged from the enforced virtualization. A lot of people are saving both time and money on commuting between home and office. Staying at home means one can also cook and eat food at home, instead of relying on food outlets near the office, leading to a salutary impact on employee health. Companies can save money on expensive downtown real estate.

It goes without saying each of these benefits would have a flipside impact too. Food outlets in commercial areas would be losing business. Real estate owners would have seen an ebbing away of demand for their products. Each company needs to evaluate the situation from its own perspective and insulate itself against possible downside risks while taking advantage of the upside that each new situation presents.

oWorkers has been quick to adapt its technologies and processes to the needs of virtual work. We have ensured our client business stays unimpacted, to the extent influenced by our work, and we offer each employee the option of working from home or office, in all the three locations we operate from.

 

Control – nothing else should change

If you remember the whac-a-mole arcade game, you will probably remember that as soon as you whack one down, another one pops up. The process keeps repeating and you have to keep whacking them down.

The basic theory in process optimization methods, regardless of which specific one you use, is that once whacked, a mole should stay down and no other should pop up in its place.

Why is that?

The point being made is that the gains on delivering improvement in one aspect should not be lost by a matching slippage in another one. What you gain on the swings should not be frittered away on the roundabouts.

If tasked to enhance the output of a certain process, one can, without breaking a sweat, either hire more resources if the process is manual, or buy more equipment if it is system-driven. Easy, isn’t it? But anyone can do that. It does not need a genius to implement. What the company has gained on higher production it has lost on additional manpower cost or equipment cost. So, it can hardly be called an improvement.

What would be an improvement, though, is if the same thing can be done, production enhanced, without either hiring additional resources or buying more equipment. That is the kind of result that should come out of implementation of an improvement initiative.

If tasked to reduce cost, one could simply stop hiring people, assuming it is a largely manual process. However, that would eventually starve the business of resources, reducing output, impacting on revenue and finally the profit. Such reduction in cost is not what the business asked for. It wanted cost reduction while ensuring that the output and revenue do not fall, which will lead to greater profits as the cost would have reduced.

Hence, the control of ‘everything else remaining the same is essential, which is what oWorkers abides by. Its Quality team carefully establishes the parameters at the start enabling a comparison with the same parameters once the project has been implemented.

 

Process optimization methods include outsourcing

In the modern world, outsourcing has emerged as the savior of many a business process from being the lame duck that dragged its business to failure.

Specializing in a particular area of work, say finance, or assembling auto components, stitching garments, businesses often struggle to keep up with the demands of the many support processes that they need to do in order that their product or service is fully ready. They neither have the skills for some of these processes nor interest in doing them. Outsourcing spares them this agony and enables them to focus on their core business, while getting a better yield from the outsourced non-core process.

Outsourcing a process gets the attention of another set of hands and eyes, of the partner, enhancing the possibility of creating a winning, improved process.

With the scalable outsourcing solutions offered by oWorkers, companies have reported savings of upto 80% over their pre outsourcing costs, without any compromise on quality. As a pure-play data BPO player, oWorkers has been identified as one of the top three data services providers in the world.

We provide a stable operating environment with the help of employed staff, not freelancers, led by a team with over 20 years of hands-on experience in the industry.

Madagascar Business Process Outsourcing – A Guide

Madagascar Business Process Outsourcing – A Guide

Madagascar Business Process Outsourcing – A Guide

Where in the world?

This might well be the question asked by an outsourcer today, wherever he is, while trying to identify a suitable location for outsourcing his business processes to.

Thanks to advances in telecommunications technology, he has the whole world available to him for his business.

This is important not just for the outsourcer, but the provider too, who needs to be constantly on the lookout for locations that will help him gain a competitive advantage.

But it was not always like this.

Around the middle of the last century, as consumer franchises started to grow, and major contribution to revenue coming from major urban centers, the need for relocating processing activities that were not customer-facing, away from expensive downtown real estate, started being felt.

This is where the first stage of outsourcing, as we know it today, perhaps started, when this business looked at options which were not far in physical terms, but where processing could be done in a much more inexpensive manner, and perhaps more efficiently. At this stage, if the business was operating from New York, it moved its large-scale processing activities from expensive New York to a lower cost option in the state of New Jersey.

As volumes kept rising, communication technology improving and air travel becoming frequent, the time and distance between locations kept reducing. At this stage, having had experience of outsourced processing, and having become comfortable enough with it, businesses started to move processing activities much further into the hinterland, even though most documents would still need to be moved manually. At this stage the processing might be moved inland to Des Moines in Iowa or Sioux Falls in South Dakota.

Competition and margin pressure kept rising. Communications technology kept improving. Increasing volumes, comfort with outsourcing and pressures of core business brought professional outsourcing outfits into the picture. Large outsourcers started outsourcing what they considered non-core functions to professional Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) companies.

Competition and margin pressure kept rising. Communications technology kept improving. It became possible to move data and voice communication lines, at a commercially viable price, to anywhere in the world. Eager to take advantage of labor cost arbitrage, which would more than make up for higher telecommunications cost, large-volume work, like Contact Centers, started being taken offshore, to locations like India and the Philippines.

The footprint has continued to grow to cover many more geographies around the world as modern communications technology has expanded rapidly, bringing hitherto lesser known Madagascar Business Process Outsourcing onto the map.

The mix of processes outsourced has also continued to evolve. Functions earlier considered core and kept inhouse have been outsourced. Modern technologies have given rise to new processes requiring outsourcing, like data entry for Ecommerce businesses and data annotation for Artificial Intelligence (AI) models.

 

Madagascar – a new hub of Business Process Outsourcing

The fourth largest island in the world, larger than France in area, situated more than 200 miles off the Eastern coast of Africa, is in the fray for Business Process Outsourcing and is competing with and winning business away from Tunisia and Morocco as a new hub of francophone BPO activities.

The current population of Madagascar is estimated at 28 million and forecast to double to 54 million by 2050. Approximately 42.5 percent of the population is younger than 15 years of age, while 54.5 percent are between the ages of 15 and 64. Those aged 65 and older form 3 percent of the total population. A large percentage of the population is in the working age, and poised to grow further, making it easier to hire and retain resources. With the move to fiber optic cabling a few years back, Madagascar boasts one of the best internet speeds in the continent. It also has the advantage of being not more than 3 hours away from any time zone in Europe.

 

Criteria for choosing a BPO location

Choosing a place for locating a business or service is a normal business decision. As an outsourcer, you need to ensure that the outsourcing decision adds value to the business, like any other decision you take for the business.

With BPO being a global business, while it provides you with plenty of choices, it also makes the decision more complex. What are the factors that might be relevant when you choose a location which will become the primary delivery point for a process that is a part of your business?

Political Environment

The political environment sets the tone for the rest of the nation to take cues from and chart their respective courses. Business requires investment which thrives on predictability in the economic environment which, in turn, depends on the political climate. It is difficult for a business to make an investment decision based on a certain set of regulations if it has experienced that the rules keep changing on the whim of the person or persons in power. What seemed like a good business decision yesterday has become a bad one as a result of the last such change and the same could happen again.

With a chequered political climate ever since attainment of independence, as with many newly independent states, Madagascar has its share of challenges in governance, with international agencies alternately pledging and withdrawing support depending on the state of affairs. Over the last few years, the importance of stability and continuity in decision-making does seem to be dawning on the people in charge, leading to opening up of opportunities for private businesses like oWorkers to start its Madagascar BPO operations.

Human resource availability

This probably is the most important variable, as much of BPO work is people dependent. One should ascertain the availability of suitable manpower that can be employed for the different kinds of services on offer. Some of this assessment may need to be done with the use of surrogate variables as there may not be any direct indicators that provide this information like the number of colleges which offer course which match requirement of the business, like Accounting if the need is for F&A, number of fresh graduates passing out every year, migration trends from location; how many people choose to relocate for want of employment prospects, other employers hiring a similar profile; this could work both ways – while others hiring similar profile indicates availability of a pool, it also means that there is greater competition for that resource.

With a young population of 28 million that is forecast to double to 54 million by 2050 which consists of approximately 42.5 percent younger than 15 years, while 54.5 percent are between the ages of 15 and 64, there is a large, growing talent pool available to Madagascar BPO providers. Flexible labor laws allow oWorkers the flexibility to offer quick ramps, up and down.

Resource Cost

Related to resource availability is the issue of cost at which resources become available to Madagascar BPO providers. In addition, one needs to also factor in the cost to acquire and retain that resource. In other words, is a lot of effort required to attract the right talent? Effort will translate to cost, and the greater the effort the greater the cost. What about attrition? Is it high? Each time someone leaves the hiring machinery needs to be cranked up all over again, which is a cost.

oWorkers taps into the Madagascar Business Process Outsourcing talent pool that is available for $130 per month. This is less than half the starting salary in competing locations like Tunisia and Morocco, while being thrice the minimum wage stipulation in Madagascar. Attrition remains low, reducing pressure on hiring and training.

Telecommunications Network

Telecommunications is the lubricant that has oiled the wheels of the BPO industry and allowed it to expand to the far corners of the world. Even though it is almost a given in today’s context, from a business perspective we still need to tick the boxes and satisfy ourselves that the available infrastructure will meet business needs.

According to thehustle.co “With the fastest internet in Africa, Madagascar has grown to be a major player in the BPO sector for French-speaking markets” and “Madagascar has the fastest internet in Africa — even faster than some first world countries such as the UK, France, and Canada.” Plugging into this fiber optic cable network, with quadruple redundancy in the form of Fiber, 4G, ADSL and satellite, allows oWorkers to offer efficient transaction processing to its clients out of its Madagascar BPO centers.

Time Zone

The world is generally visualized as being spread out in an East-West direction, with time changing as you go more East or West from a certain point. But we know the world is round. One could also travel vertically in a North-South direction from a starting point. Whatever distance we travel we will be in the same time zone. Being in a different time zone could have benefits as well as limitations. Being in a time zone with a large difference from the client might enable speedier, overnight processing. On the flip side, requiring staff to work off hours in the BPO center might increase costs.

oWorkers in Madagascar is on East Africa Time which is UTC + 3 and shared with Eastern Europe Summer, Israel Daylight and Moscow time. This helps us in providing regular daytime shifts to most employees who work on projects for European clients.

Physical infrastructure – Electricity

Infrastructure required for running a business can be of various kinds, like power, water, food, cooling (or heating) as the case may be. We will focus on power, which is the most time-critical resource for a business to run. The others being requirements that can perhaps be borne even if missing for short periods of time.

Power supply is required for running any sort of equipment, whether it is a PC, or a fan, or lighting, even most of the telecommunications equipment. Adequacy and continuity of power grid power needs to be ascertained. Many BPOs tend to be set up in developing economies where some of the infrastructure, like power, is less than robust. In such cases, it needs to be ensured that backup arrangements, like power generating units, are available so that the shortfall can be met.

oWorkers believes in redundancy in physical infrastructure in its Madagascar BPO, so that client delivery is not hampered. With 2 Electric generators on the standby, we have adequate supply of power to meet all our needs.

Multilingual capability

Language is the medium through which human beings communicate. While the technical part of communication is handled through telecommunications networks, human interaction can only happen through language. Not only the language in which the outsourcer and provider can communicate, but in each language in which the outsourcing business needs to interact with customers and other stakeholders in the outside world.

Perhaps on account of being a French colony till 1958, proficiency in French is high, making it an ideal location for serving the francophone market for Madagascar BPO vendors. oWorkers leverages its centers in Madagascar for the services it offers to clients in French apart from other languages that derive from Latin.

Civic Services – Local Transport

While telecommunications connects the world making it possible to transfer information and knowledge between locations, a system of civic services, like transport, like law and order, is required for not only the business to operate but also employees to commute to and from work when working out of a physical facility.

The urban Antananarivo, the largest city in Madagascar, provides multiple public transportation options which locals use quite comfortably, though visitors might find them uncomfortable and confusing. Staff of oWorkers relies on this system to travel from home to either of the two Madagascar Business Process Outsourcing centers, both located in Antananarivo.

Economics

Finally, the economics of the decision need to make sense.

It helps if there are incentives available from the authorities, as BPOs have the potential of creating jobs in a sluggish market.

Competition also has an impact on both sides. The existence of competition means available resources will be in greater demand and could become more expensive as a result. On the positive side, the existence of competition means that you are perhaps in the right place for a BPO.

Also, just like the political environment, the economic environment needs to be governed by policies that are stable and transparent for private businesses to get confidence to invest.   

A business does not exist in isolation. It exists in an ecosystem where there are many other players. We need to ensure that the ecosystem we seek to place the business in, is one that will provide a supportive environment.

oWorkers Madagascar BPO is in a position to offer most services at a rate lower than many established locations like India for similar services without sacrificing quality, with the availability of a large pool of experienced data entry operators, moderators, moderation experts and accountants and many others.

 

In Conclusion

With its temperate climate despite being located in the tropics, Antananarivo, the capital city, largest urban center and where both the centers of oWorkers are located, offers a pleasant year-round climate, apart from the business benefits we have discussed earlier.

Many of our clients are already working with us from our centers in Madagascar.

As a Madagascar BPO services company, with a management team that has a cumulative experience of over 20 years, with oWorkers you engage a provider that will enable you to get the benefit of working from a center located in a developing economy while managing the downside risks for you.

How to Outsource Community Moderation

How to Outsource Community Moderation

How to Outsource Community Moderation

 

What is a Community?

According to the Cambridge dictionary, a community is “all the people who live in a particular area, or a group of people who are considered as a unit because of their shared interests or background.”

As we can perhaps make out, the idea of a community being constituted of people ‘who live in a particular area’ may be a bit dated, since we now live in the digital world, powered by the Internet, enabling us to make the transition to an online community which could be described as ‘a group of people connected on the Internet because of their shared interests or background.’ In fact, even people living in the same neighborhood could be part of their neighborhood online community. As each person has many facets, she could be a part of many online communities as well.

In the context of BPO work, a community would, by default, mean an online community.

An online community is sometimes also referred to as an online forum.

 

Branded Community

The focus of this post is a type of a community that we can call the branded community which is a community created by a ‘brand’ primarily for furthering its own interests though some of them might convey that they created the community for the benefit of others, like customers, or suppliers.

Also, the term ‘brand’ should not be taken to represent for-profit entities only. Not-for-profit entities also create and maintain vibrant communities for furthering their own interest that may be related to making more people know about them, or fundraising, or advocacy. Similarly, for -profit entities could have a different set of objectives:

Customer Support – Creates a support system where the issues faced by one customer can be resolved by another who may have faced a similar issue earlier or otherwise has the answer. Makes support cheaper for the business as they don’t need to deploy staff to address these issues.

Feedback – As members mostly interact with each other, it is viewed as an open and fair exchange where people are able to share their experiences openly. This provides the most honest feedback to a business. The business can also seed discussions on subjects where they need feedback.

Product feedback and features – As a logical extension of the feedback, it can be used for a lot of actions like modifying product features, changing strategy, or anything else. It can be a great testing ground for planned introductions as well.

Promotion through fans – A satisfied customer is the best advertisement for a business, said a management guru. A happy customer even more so. The community brings them together and even identifies them. Their disposition towards the business and its products can be channelized into promoting the business; like having a volunteer sales force.

 

Need for Community Moderation Solutions?

Like any ‘open’ space on the Internet, an online community can be barged into by unwelcome elements and violated. This will not only detract from the sponsor’s objectives in creating the space, it could also vitiate the environment of the space with the result that members might feel unsafe and start shying away from participating.

It is a responsibility to create and maintain an online public space as much as it is to maintain a physical public space.

Apart from the lack of safety aspect, the creator also needs to play multiple roles; solving customer issues that stay unresolved, seed ideas for wholesome conversation, provide inputs to management on trends, run campaigns and activities like contests and share relevant information and updates. In short, be the life and soul of the party. You don’t want to be the host of a lifeless party.

Hence the need.

 

Community Moderation Solutions – Guidelines

Online moderation guidelines, in general, are driven by commonly accepted principles of civil society, a loose, ambiguous moral code of conduct that also guides our behavior in the real world.

Since moderation will involve judging the actions of others, as a starting point, it is recommended that guidelines be clearly laid out by the host, so that, when a moderator needs to take a call which may be against the wishes of another person, this code can be referenced.

The guidelines should define who the community is for and who not for and guidelines regarding self-promotion, thread-jacking, going off-topic, etc.

Penalties should be defined as well and effort should be made to both interpret infractions and levy penalties judiciously and consistently.

In the end, it is a part of your business or brand, and you need to ensure you run it in a manner that enables you to best meet the objectives it was created for. It is a group of people. Human qualities like empathy, listening, politeness, trust, will always have value.

 

What to Look for in a Provider

While theoretically a business has a choice whether to outsource community moderation or do it inhouse, increasingly, there is a preference for outsourcing. Hence, without going into the merits and demerits of the options, we will focus on the parameters that should be used to identify the most suitable provider for your requirements.

Knowledge

Community moderation services often need to be carried out across multiple platforms including Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, Digg, Reddit, Yelp, StumbleUpon, LinkedIn, and several more. Each of them might have their own rules and guidelines and code of conduct that need to be respected by brands that have built a community on that platform.

On top of platform rules are the different laws and regulations around the world where the platforms operate and where members are from. While they cannot be legal experts, familiarity with laws that impact on their work, like those related to public obscenity, copyrights, safety of children, privacy, etc. would be beneficial.

Our senior management, with over 20 years of hands-on experience, set the pace for oWorkers. Under their guidance, the teams engaged in moderation have gradually picked up expertise and skills on a variety of platforms and fora and learned to navigate their way around client guidelines and codes of conduct for moderation.

Past Experience

When you outsource community moderation, except for community specific guidelines created by the host, the general policies governing moderation, in the sense of common global and civic acceptability, remains uniform. Having provided similar services to another client earlier would be an advantage as most of the skills and knowledge are portable, except what you draw up as the code of conduct for your hosted communities. In many cases, even the community guidelines end up being of a similar nature.

With client relationships that are growing over the eight years we have been in service to them, oWorkers has wide experience in providing community moderation services to our clients. We are also GDPR compliant which, operating from the Eurozone, is a requirement.

Balancing multiple roles

Unlike social media moderation, which is more of a one-way street with the objective of identifying and blocking content that could be disturbing or harmful for other users, community moderation solutions need to straddle multiple roles.

The moderator needs to:

  • be a watchdog who monitors and filters out content of objectionable nature.
  • be the customer service front for the brand, identifying content that could represent a customer issue and ensure it gets resolved.
  • collect data and information on the trends that emerge on the community
  • create engagement and activity through fun and games, contests and promotional activity
  • look for new customers
  • strengthen the voice of advocates while weakening that of detractors

In short, promote the interest of the brand through the community.

Growth of our client relationships, including several unicorn marketplaces, testify to the facility with which we have discharged these multiple roles and have become an integral part of the marketing teams of our clients.

Pricing that creates value

Being a commercial engagement, the community moderation solutions arrangement has to eventually boil down to a pricing number, with lower being better. Though on the face of it seemingly a difficult task, as the client wants lowest while the provider wants highest, sensible businesses do reach sensible conclusions on pricing. However, from an outsourcer’s perspective, ensure that what you seek from the pricing is great value, and not necessarily the lowest number.

Clients of oWorkers report savings of up to 80% of their costs prior to outsourcing. Our efficient and committed operations allow us to operate economically, enabling the benefits to be shared with our clients, as demonstrated by the competitive pricing we offer.

Speed of response

Online activity could happen at any point of time during the 24-hour cycle as someone, somewhere in the world, is always up and active. With online, speed expectations have also gone up. While many of the activities in a community can wait, if inappropriate content is posted or the conversation veers off track and the fair name of the host comes under threat of being maligned, it would need quick action. Hence, like other online moderation activities, when you outsource community moderation, the speed of response would be an important parameter.

oWorkers is always ready. Our moderators are active 24×7 so that you can sleep soundly. Depending on client requirements, our moderators are in a position to offer ‘live’ interjections and responses on online communities.

Multilingual

Though you might operate the community in a particular language, and you might even put that as part of the guidelines for participation, you cannot prevent people from posting in other languages. Whatever automated filters we may put, languages that use the same script or alphabet will go through the barrier. Again, you would have a choice; permit such participation or delete it/ filter it out. At the very least, you may need to have an understanding that a particular comment/ post is in a different language, and needs to be handled differently. It could even be an offensive post in a different language. Hence, multilingual capability comes in handy when you outsource community moderation.

With a coverage of 22 major languages across our three centers, oWorkers can cover most language requirements of clients.

Modern technology

Reliance on technology is a given in today’s world, with efficiency and consistency being the outcome of technology deployment. However, technology becomes obsolete very fast and needs to be updated/ refreshed regularly to ensure that it delivers the benefits you expect from it. Reliance on dated technology could be counter productive as the context changes with the passage of time. For example, usage of the term ‘disabled’ is not considered appropriate now; the current usage in most situations is ‘differently abled.’ An automated filter that is dated might permit ‘disabled’ to be used in the community whereas a modern version might filter it out.

It helps that more than 85% of our clients our technology companies as it keeps us on our toes. We have forged partnerships with major technology providers and are able to deploy their technologies for you when you outsource community moderation to oWorkers.

Our facilities are secure and we are ISO (27001:2013 & 9001:2015) certified.

Hiring and Scaling capacity

When you outsource community moderation to a BPO partner, you are outsourcing an activity which, at least to some extent, will need to be done manually by trained resources. The BPO will need to hire and train resources so that they can provide requisite services to your business. Hence, the BPO should have:

  • A continuous supply of interested candidates or access to pools of talent that can be hired and trained
  • Ability to hire in large numbers for a short period of time to match seasonal or other spike in volumes

Being deeply rooted in the communities we work in, oWorkers is a preferred employer and gets applications for jobs all the year round. This reduces our cost of reaching out to interest candidates in our jobs, which we are able to share with our clients, as reflected in our pricing.

In addition, with the trust we have built, we can also hire to meet short-term peaks, to the tune of 100 resources within 48 hours. We are able to do this because historically we have managed to absorb many such hires in other jobs that open up in the company, or to fuel our growth.

Training Infrastructure

Community moderation services, to some extent, are context driven, which can keep changing. Hence a committed training team that can keep refreshing the knowledge and skills of moderators becomes important. In addition, moderation of online communities is often done ‘live.’ In other words, there is no check on what a moderator is doing in the community. While there may be subsequent checks and balances of the moderator’s participation, the best solution is to have a well qualified and trained moderator doing it for you.

In all their work locations, oWorkers runs a training facility independent of the delivery team. They periodically test the knowledge and skill levels of even tenured resources and provide inputs, where required.

Project Management and Transition

Probably more than other services, community moderation services require project management and transition expertise. It is not a one-time lift and shift operation that will take the inhouse work to a vendor. It is more like the setting up of a model through which the provider will become an extended arm of the client since, as we already have seen, there are many critical tasks that will be performed by this team which will go a long way towards establishing and promoting the brand, image and goodwill of the organisation, provide inputs to it based on interactions moderated, and attempt to extend the reach of the client. In brief, it will do what the marketing team and senior management would generally be tasked with.

With over a hundred transitions under its belt, and each new transition adding to the knowledge base and experience, oWorkers is ready to offer suggestions on the engagement model based on our experience.   

 

Conclusion

While we will do the heavy lifting, we would suggest that when you outsource community moderation, not being solely a rule-based delivery setup, and with the opportunity of making an active contribution to the marketing and brand-building efforts of the client, your management team, especially on the marketing and communication side, be closely involved in its functioning for best results.

With your business, the more we serve you, the more opportunities we get to serve the local communities by creation of job opportunities and enabling more youngsters to cross the threshold into the digital economy powering the world.

How to Create a Data Entry Form in Excel

How to Create a Data Entry Form in Excel

How to Create a Data Entry Form in Excel

MS Excel might be one of the most used software applications since the computing age began. Some might even say abused, considering that it has been put to many ‘unnatural’ applications, word processing to name one. 

It may not have been the first software application to present spreadsheets and workbooks full of cells to users, with many magical possibilities, but it certainly has been, overwhelmingly, the most popular and widely used one. To some extent, it also benefited from the explosion in computing devices based on the Microsoft Windows operating systems.

A simple definition of MS Excel is provided by reference.com: “Microsoft Excel is a spreadsheet application designed to perform basic and complex mathematical computations and functions. In addition to performing arithmetic operations, Excel allows users to create graphical displays of data, forms and pivot tables. It is also routinely used to sort information and assist users in identifying data trends.”

Not just numbers, MS Excel can perform logical functions on textual data as well. It can identify the third character in a text string. It can also remove the first three characters in a text string and put the cut portion and the remainder from the original in two separate cells. But we are getting carried away. Excel does not need any support. It is well known and liked and used around the world.

oWorkers is a BPO that focuses on data related services, including data entry. Our employees have the skill to perform data entry for clients across various applications. We have been counted amongst the top three data based BPO companies in the world on more than one occasion.

 

Excel Data Entry

For the rich features of Excel to come into play, date is needed on which they can operate. Data can either be created through the process of data entry or it can be uploaded into Excel from some other compatible formats. In case of an upload, the date would possibly have been entered into the other application from which it is now being uploaded into Excel. So, a fundamental process is that of data entry to create data.

In our daily usage of Excel, most of us, while doing manual entry, do so directly into the target cells of the spreadsheet. Of course, for best results, we know that the contents need to be arranged neatly in some sort of order, as rows and columns.

Once data has been created in rows and columns, it becomes a database. The most common organization of data is for each row to represent a record with different pieces of information pertaining to that record while a column will contain values for one of the pieces of information across the different records. Thus, a row could have the name of a student in the first column, and their scores in different subjects in column two onwards. Column two will contain scores in one particular subject for all students.

This arrangement resembles a database. 

One of the main differences between a database application, such as MS Access, and Excel is that a database application processes information record by record, or row by row if we compare it with Excel, while Excel is not limited to processing information row by row and can accommodate functions across any row or column. While this makes it a much more flexible and powerful application, it limits the amount of data it can handle as reaching out across rows and columns requires a huge amount of memory. A database application can handle virtually any amount of data as it processes one row at a time. 

This brings us to one of the other differences between a database application and an Excel sheet. In a database application, the information in the database is hidden from the user. It is not something a user can directly access and tamper with. In an Excel sheet, on the other hand, the entire spreadsheet stretches out in front of the user, warts and all. The user can go to, touch, see, amend, delete, any part of the data in any of the fields. 

While this makes Excel very easy to operate and visualize, it also makes Excel more vulnerable to errors and unintended changes and careless mistakes. The database application, on the other hand, since the database is not accessible, is safe from such issues. The user provides the inputs through a data entry form that acts like a portal to the database. It is done one record at a time. You don’t suddenly decide to update Literature marks for Susan and then jump to History marks for James before you come back to Math for Susan.

How do we secure the information in an Excel spreadsheet?

Database applications give us a good model. How about replicating a similar process for the Excel workbook the data in which we are trying to secure?

But is that possible?

In fact it is. Excel data entry can be done through a similar ‘arms-length’ relationship between the data entry and the database. It allows us to create a form for data entry so that the user is not directly interacting with the database, in this case the spreadsheet, when data entry is being done. Most Excel users being ‘light’ users may not need this separation. But where the database is large or where it is used for some critical functions, it would become important to protect its integrity.

So, how does one do it?

By creating a data entry form that will make the process faster and less prone to errors. 

With its close connections in the local communities, oWorkers is able to hire people with relevant skills for various jobs. Owing to our walk-in volume of jobseekers, we are also in a position to cater to peaks and troughs, by as much as 100 people in 48 hours. This gives a significant cost advantage to our clients as they don’t need to retain staff at peak levels.

 

Excel data entry form

Continuing with the example shared earlier, this is what our database might look like:

Student

Math

History

Science

Literature

John

75

76

77

78

Lilian

78

65

86

69

Tomothy

47

50

78

53

Harold

78

64

54

49

Susan

90

45

60

89

     

 

The teacher needs to enter the marks for another student, Leslie. The commonly followed process is that she would directly go into the database and add information for that student. This process, as we have seen, carries risks. To eliminate, or reduce, the risk, we can protect the database from being accessed by her and instead give her a data entry form to achieve the same objective.

The form might look like this:

Student

Marks

Math

Marks

History

Marks

Science

Marks

Literature

Marks

 

After entering the information, the teacher clicks on ‘Add record’ and it will get added to the database, presenting the blank form yet again to the teacher, as above, where she can add information for another student. 

While this should be the preferred way of entering information, it requires some effort in setting up. It is not something that will present itself as the natural option when you open an Excel workbook. You will first need to add it to the Quick Access toolbar.

Adding ‘Data Entry Form’ to the Quick Access toolbar

  1. Right click any of the icons currently in the Quick Access toolbar.
  2. Click on ‘Customize Quick Access Toolbar.’ In some versions, you will need to click on ‘Customize Ribbon’ with the Quick Access Toolbar option available at the next step.
  3. Choose the ‘All Commands’ option from the menu in the dialog box that opens up.
  4. Choose ‘Form’ from the list that now presents itself in the dialog box.
  5. Between the ‘Add’ and ‘Delete’ buttons that now appear, choose ‘Add’ since we want to add an Excel data entry form followed by ‘OK.’

Following the above steps should result in the ‘Form’ icon being added to your Quick Access Toolbar.

Creating the Data Entry Form for your spreadsheet:

After the Form icon has been added, you can click on any cell in your database (where you want to make entries through the new form), followed by the Form icon.

Caution: The data in your spreadsheet should be organized as an Excel Table. Convert it to a Table by clicking the ‘Format as Table’ icon or keyboard shortcut ‘Control + T.’

Understanding the new Data Entry Form

Here is a quick explanation of the new form that you have for excel data entry:

New – Clears form data and presents a blank form ready for you to enter data into

Delete – Deletes the record that has been pulled up on screen

Restore – If you have not clicked either ‘New’ or ‘Enter’ pressing this button will restore the information earlier in the form

Find Prev – Find the previous record

Find Next – Finds the next record

Criteria – It is like a search option that allows you to pull out records meeting defined criteria

Close – Closes the form

Scroll Bar – Use it for going through the database, record by record. 

oWorkers keeps abreast of the latest technologies with the help of its partnerships with various technology companies. Many of our clients are IT companies, including several unicorn marketplaces. We are GDPR compliant and ISO (27001 :2013 & 9001:2015) certified.

 

Simple Steps for Common Functions in an Excel Data Entry Form

Creating a new record

  1. After selecting any cell in the Excel Table, click the Form icon in the Quick Access Toolbar.
  2. The form will open up.
  3. Enter data in the form fields.
  4. Hit the Enter key (or click the New button) to enter the record in the table.
  5. The table fields become blank, ready for the next

Going through the existing database

Pulling up one record at a time can be an easy way of navigating and editing the database, especially if there are a lot of columns requiring scrolling left and right. Here is how you can do it:

  1. Select any cell in the Excel Table followed by a click on the Form icon in the Quick Access Toolbar.
  2. The Form will open up.
  3. Use the ‘Find Next’ and ‘Find Prev’ buttons to go to the next or previous entry.
  4. To edit, simply make the change in the data and hit enter. 

To revert to the original entry (if you haven’t pressed ‘Enter’ yet), click the ‘Restore’ button. You can also use the scroll bar to navigate through entries one-by-one.

Criteria based navigation

This feature is useful when the database is large and one needs to look at records of a specific type. This could be considered somewhat equivalent to the Filter function. Steps to follow for a search to identify students with more than 80 marks in History:

  1. Select cell in the Excel table, followed by clicking the Form icon in the Quick Access Toolbar.
  2. In the Data Entry Form dialog box, click the Criteria button.
  3. In the History field, enter ‘>80’. 
  4. Use the Find Prev/ Find Next buttons to navigate through the entries where the History marks are more than 80.

You can even enter values in more than one field to lock in faster on the desired records, if that is the requirement.

For example, if you want to check out students who have scored more than 80 in all subjects, you need to enter ‘>80’ in all the Subject fields. 

Deleting a Record

Deleting is a simple process:

  1. Select any cell in the Excel table and click the Form icon in the Quick Access Toolbar.
  2. Bring up the record you want to delete through scrolling or criteria based search
  3. Click the Delete button.

The leadership team of oWorkers comes with over 20 years of hands-on experience in the industry. They guide and lead the project teams in delivery, supported by a team of quality analysts who report directly to the management. They are able to ensure the right quality is being delivered before the client gets a chance to find it out. 

 

Creating data validation rules to ensure database integrity

Excel data entry done manually might be the only solution in many cases but it also presents the greatest opportunity for errors. Errors made in a large database can be difficult to detect and compromise the sanctity of the entire database. As far as possible, errors should be eliminated at the point of entry into the database.

Forms give us the opportunity of creating validation rules that can be checked by the system which will eliminate certain types of errors.

If, for example, you have a field where you record a date, you can create a validation that will check for the entry being a date or not. Of course, we need to understand that it will not be able to check whether the date you have entered is correct or not.

How can you do this?

  1. Select the cells (or even the entire column) where you want to create a data validation rule.
  2. Click the Data tab, followed by the Data Validation option.
  3. In the dialog box, within the ‘Settings’ tab, select ‘Date’ from the ‘Allow’ drop down. Various other types of validations are possible, like checking for decimals, text length, etc..
  4. Specify the start and the end date. Entries within this date range would be valid and rest all would be denied. If the objective is to merely check that the entry is in a date format, you can keep the start and end dates wide enough to allow for all dates.
  5. Click OK.

After creating the validation, you will get an error message if you try to enter an incorrect date through the data entry form.

 

The oWorkers Advantage

Our clients consistently report savings of 80% when compared with their pre-outsourcing costs, whether it is Excel data entry or any other service. With our capability of serving in 22 languages and our three global centers operating 24×7, oWorkers offers a compelling proposition for outsourcing any data or back-office related service.

How to choose a provider to outsource video moderation

How to choose a provider to outsource video moderation

How to choose a provider to outsource video moderation

 

What is a video?

Intuitively, we perhaps understand what a video is.

If we want to get a little more technical, we could use the definition provided by Wikipedia, which is “Video is an electronic medium for the recording, copying, playback, broadcasting, and display of moving visual media.”

What about moderation?

According to dictionary.com moderation is “the quality of being moderate; restraint; avoidance of extremes or excesses; temperance.”

That can also be understood in the language sense of the term.

But what is video moderation?

Based on the above, we could perhaps say that video moderation is the practicing of ensuring that videos are moderate and restrained and avoid extremes or excesses.

But why is it needed?

It is needed because we live in an open world, where each one of us is a consumer as well as publisher of information, the most common formats being text, image, audio and video. Video, being the richest format, as it can contain all of the other three formats, carries in itself the maximum potential for benefit or damage.

So what?

Do you know that every minute, 500 hours of video content is being uploaded on Youtube every minute? Minute after minute. It means 30000 hours every hour, 720,000 hours every day, and so on. Incessantly. Day after day. Month after month. With the trajectory of upload rising as time goes by.

It takes all kinds to make the world. While most of this user-generated content (UGC) is safe, with people uploading videos of childrens’ pranks, their holidays, special events, and so on, some parts might not be, either inadvertently or deliberately. There could be nudity and violence that might be undesirable for young minds, there could be disrespect for symbols held in high esteem by some sections, there could be religious and racial slurs. In short, anything.

Some of the video content has the potential of damaging the sheer fabric that holds our society together and causing schisms that could lead to conflict.

This is why video moderation is needed; to moderate the content that is being uploaded this very minute and either remove it or prevent it from being published.

It is a bit like a film certification body or a Censor Board whose job it is to certify, or reject, a movie before it is released to the public. A Censor Board generally is a statutory body or a public institution. Video moderation, on the other hand, is an activity that platform owners need to take upon themselves.

 

Who Needs Video Moderation

If you have a web presence that permits open participation in the form of UGC, where anyone who accesses your website can leave content in the form of video, you need video moderation.

You could be a social media platform like Facebook or Instagram or YouTube where astronomical volumes of video content is being created, or you could be a business trying to connect with customers and prospects in an open and transparent manner in order to gain trust and confidence and enabling the good word about your business to get around.

 

To Outsource or Not To Outsource Video Moderation

It is a bit like the ‘buy or build’ fork that you reach once in a while in a business. Whether to build inhouse or whether to buy an established product offered by a supplier with expertise in that particular area.

The most basic questions to ask when you are at such a fork would be:

  • Is it a core part of your business?
  • Does your business, and its staff, have the expertise to do it effectively?

If the answer to at least one of them is a ‘yes,’ further deliberation may be required to find the right answer.

If the answer to both is a ‘no’ the ‘buy’ choice might be the best choice.

In the case of business services, which is what video moderation services would be counted as, a ‘buy’ choice will translate into an ‘outsource’ choice instead of a ‘do it inhouse’ one.

 

Choosing a Suitable Video Moderation Solutions Provider

Outsourcing video moderation is unlike a lot of regular BPO outsourcing work. It interfaces directly with inputs coming in from users and not through its client. The stakes could be quite high; image of the brand and potential legal tangles. And in some cases, it is real-time work and needs to be done right away.

Due care needs to be exercised while selecting a partner to outsource video moderation work to. Detailed below are suggestions on what you should look for.

  

Automated solutions to augment humans

While automated solutions do not possess the intelligence of humans and are not yet able to produce the same level of accuracy, in many cases, especially where speed to publish is of the essence, automated tools become necessary when you outsource video moderation.

We are all impatient creatures and becoming more and more so. If we share a video on a platform, it should show up even before we press the ‘submit’ button seems to be the expectation. It is impossible for a human, even if the team works 24×7, to provide this kind of a turnaround for most transactions. Automated and Artificial Intelligence (AI) driven tools become necessary.

The oWorkers Advantage

Combining the human element with state-of-the-art technology, we offer video outsourcing that can cater to most requirements, including a variety of video file types. Our partnerships with leading technology providers enables us to access the latest in technology which we deploy for the benefit of our clients.

Data Security

With data being shared digitally and across electronic networks, the need for ensuring security of client data is paramount for video moderation services.

The oWorkers Advantage

We create a logical separation of networks on which data for different clients is transmitted. Our employees sign non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) committing to keep the data secure. We are also able to physically isolate the work area when working from a physical workplace. Our ISO certifications (27001 :2013 & 9001:2015) testify to our security protocols.

Speed of response

The partner should possess the ability to respond to UGC in the form of a video at a speed that is in line with expectations the business has set for visitors which, in turn, should be in line with expectations for content of this nature. If competitors respond within one hour, it may not go down well if one particular business takes a day for the video to be visible.

Remember that a video could be uploaded at any point during a 24 hour and 365 day cycle. The vendor needs to provide assurance that the expected timelines can be delivered regardless of when a video is uploaded.

The oWorkers Advantage

With facilities in three geographies that operate 24×7, our video moderation solutions can cater to all turnaround time requirements.

Trial Run

The proof of the pudding is, eventually, in the eating. After all the talk and discussion have happened, does the partner have a setup where they can show how the real process will work if you outsource video moderation to them, with a real video or videos being uploaded, and taking it through the paces of moderation as would happen once the contract is signed. Of course, this will be a limited trial, and it could even be a paid trial, if that be the policy of the vendor. But it certainly helps in gaining a much better understanding of what will really happen.

The oWorkers Advantage

A trial run is always an option that can be negotiated. Typically, we offer a Trial Run as part of a Project Plan that defines success criteria that, if met, automatically graduates the engagement from trial to a regular one.

Attrition and People Management Practices

In the end, it is about people. When you outsource video moderation to a BPO, even more so. Even in processes where technology can be implemented, many decisions will still come to a human being. The ability to manage people can be a key differentiator. Setting the right expectations at the time of hiring and following them through while they work for the company should be the expectation, as should be following best practices in people management, ensuring timely payments, adequate time off and channels for voicing complaints.

The oWorkers Advantage

Compared to many BPOs which rely on freelancers and contractors to do the work they take on from clients, oWorkers has chosen to work with employed resources. Our workers are our staff. While it gives us greater responsibility in terms of managing them, it also provides us greater flexibility as well as satisfaction in helping them make a career for themselves. Remember that the work you outsource to us helps us bring more people into the ambit of formal employment and enable them to participate in the digital revolution sweeping through the world.

We provide flexibility to our staff to work from home when the need arises and where permitted by the project.

Our attrition numbers are among the best in class.

Hiring and Scaling

Related to people management is the ability of the partner to hire on a regular basis and scale up or down in significant numbers if required by a client for video moderation solutions.

One of the fallouts of attrition is that it creates the need for hiring fresh resources to fill the headcount gaps created. And since hiring is a time-consuming exercise, it needs to be done as a plan so that the company always has a few people ready and waiting to replace people who leave, because leavers can often leave suddenly, without completing notice period formalities.

The greater the effort the partner has to make to attract and hire resources, the greater will be the financial impact, and vice versa.

At the same time, some of the client processes could have seasonal or other variations in volume. If the vendor can provide headcount for those spikes in volume without retaining idel staff for the rest of the period, it can be a huge financial benefit for the client and a huge positive in favor of that vendor.

The oWorkers Advantage

Being closely involved with the communities we work with gives us an advantage in hiring. We are a preferred employer for many in the community, hence we always have a lot of candidates interested in a job, making our cost of attracting candidates very low. This is a perennial flow, throughout the year at all our locations.

This also affords us the flexibility of hiring some resources for a short-term spike, though, where possible, we end up absorbing most of them in one process or another. This being our history, we rarely face a challenge in hiring for even short-term spikes. We can commit to scaling up by 100 resources in 48 hours.

Training

In a BPO, training is an essential function that keeps humming all the time, mostly supporting new hires make the transition to being billable resources on a client project. Sometimes the training function is called upon to reskill existing employees either for redeployment or for refreshing the skills in case performance is slipping.

Since video moderation services directly interface with the external world and are subject to developments taking place, there is a need to keep the staff au fait with those developments so that the same may be integrated into the work SOPs. Whether done by the training team or the delivery team is immaterial, as long as there is a process to take care of this need.

The oWorkers Advantage

With independent facilities in each of our three global locations, training is a key enabling function for oWorkers, working to sharpen the skills of new hires and retraining tenured staff. For video moderation solutions, which, at times, can cause psychological impact on the humans moderating raw video content, in consultation with the delivery teams, the training teams also make arrangements for psychological counselling of staff engaged in the activity.

Business Continuity

Being a perennial activity, it is essential that once you outsource video moderation, it keeps on happening, minute after minute, hour after hour and day after day, because someone, somewhere, could be uploading a video at any time.

Though businesses provide for many back-up plans and contingencies, there are times when events make it impossible to operate from and out of a particular geographical location. It could be on account of a natural catastrophe or it could be on account of a general strife or conflict of some sort. Governments have even started restricting internet services at such times. How does, then, a continuous activity like video moderation get carried out? It is important for a vendor to demonstrate the ability to provide business continuity as otherwise the only option that would remain for your business is for it to be done inhouse, which is not what you wanted hence outsourced it.

The oWorkers Advantage

With three global locations in different geographies, oWorkers is positioned to provide business continuity support to clients, where needed. If it works better, we can also offer multi-site delivery for projects where this is required, so that the outage, if it happens, is not 100%, a certain part of the service stays afloat, with possibly some degradation of service levels.

Pricing

Of course, no commercial contract can be complete without a pricing element. Though an integral element, care should be taken to ensure that this does not outweigh other parameters in the evaluation exercise, and you don’t end up choosing the lowest price, in total disregard of all the other advantages you may get with other vendors. Hence, treat is as just one more parameter and not the only one.

The oWorkers Advantage

You get the benefit of options in pricing when you outsource video moderation to oWorkers. Pricing can be offered based on length of video moderated or on the resource committed to the task. Even for committed resources, we are happy to commit to SLAs and TATs, making it a win-win for the client.

Quality of Work

Of course, eventually it is about the capability of the vendor to deliver video moderation services of a quality desired by us. If they can demonstrate their experience of having done similar work for others, it is good. If they can provide client testimonials in support of the great work they have done, even better.

While good quality work of a similar nature will be in favor of the bidder, absence of experience with similar work should not be a reason for rejection. Often what may happen is that the vendor, for building a new line of work, might give other benefits to the client to induce them to become the first client for that service.  

The oWorkers Advantage

With a track record of consistently providing over 98% accuracy across a variety of engagements, quality is one of our biggest strengths. Being the choice of some of the global unicorn marketplaces, and growth in engagements, can only be the result of good quality. Many of our clients are referenceable.  

 

In Conclusion

Wait! There is more.

We are a pure data services BPO excelling in our chosen area of work. We are one of the three best data entry BPOs in the world.

Operating out of the Eurozone, GDPR compliance is not a choice for us, it is a requirement.

We offer services in over 20 common languages.

Our clients claim savings of up to 80% as compared to their inhouse operations.

How much do you need to pay for data entry?

How much do you need to pay for data entry?

How much do you need to pay for data entry?

 

Data entry is everywhere. It is being asked for and offered on platforms that bring freelancers and clients together. BPO providers like oWorkers offer data entry services and are always on the lookout for suitable clients. Unbeknownst to the formal data entry services being sought and offered, there is a lot of informal data entry work happening around us all the time. Yes, almost counter intuitively. While we will expect the volume of manual data entry work to reduce in a digitized society, would we not, data entry services are being sought and offered in volumes never before witnessed.

Contrary to its placement in the lower part of the organization’s food-chain, data entry is a task on which the success of many other parts of the organization is built. The principle of GIGO, Garbage In Garbage Out, is well understood by people in business. If the input is bad, you cannot expect a good outcome. Data entry, hence, assumes great importance. Also, it takes myriad shapes and forms. Almost anything can be data entry. Working with patient admission records could be data entry just as working with insurance claims or climate data might be. Keying information on invoices received from suppliers could be data entry just as digitization of municipal birth records might be. Transcribing handwritten prescriptions of medical doctors might be data entry, just as keying in information on name cards received at a business event into the company’s sales database might be.

So, anything could be data entry.

Data entry is the process of converting information that is available ‘offline,’ or on ‘manual’ media like paper, into digitized formats. The objectives are several. It will help in safekeeping of information. Manual records, especially paper, on which most information has been maintained, is subject to spoilage, deterioration and tearing. Digitizing the information is expected to increase its life to, maybe forever. It is expected to save storage space. Entire shelves of books and files can be stored on a digital drive as small as your thumbnail. Thirdly, it is expected to facilitate the process of adding to our knowledge by yielding its store of secrets. This is through analysis of the data and slicing and dicing it with the help of suitable applications. Maybe even juxtaposing it with other pieces of information to compare. So far, extraction of information was slow, hence either not done or limited to the specific requirement. With manual extraction no longer being required, it will lend itself more easily to analysis and data extraction.

One of the questions that many people seek an answer to is, “How much do we need to pay for data entry?” This is from the perspective of a client who seeks a provider to do data entry work. If you flip the picture, there is a related question that is also asked, “How much does data entry pay?” This, as one can imagine is from the perspective of the person providing the service or doing the data entry work.

 

How to price a service

Before we get to data entry pay, from either side of the equation, we will make an effort to understand pricing strategies for services as a whole.

As a starting point, pricing is a key business decision. And, for a small business, all decisions are key decisions. Pricing decisions need to be taken to enable the business to succeed, eventually making a profit by delivering services that customers are willing to pay for and buy. That is true for the business taking on data entry work from clients and true for the individual operator who either takes on work directly from clients or agrees to be hired by a data entry business who in turn takes on clients.

The good and bad part of pricing is that there is no definitive formula that helps you arrive at a point. Your understanding of the environment surrounding the business, a sort of a gut feel, is perhaps as important as some of the variables that should be considered. There is no doubt subjectivity that is involved in the decision.

Moreover, you also go through what might be called a ‘price discovery’ phase, especially in case of a new service. You don’t want to charge a price that keeps customers away, but you also don’t want to charge a price where you are leaving money on the table. The price discovery phase leads to the gap between the two, the customer’s willingness to pay and your desire to charge, reducing.

These are some standard ways to arrive at the pricing of a service:

Cost Plus

In this method, you need to total up the costs that you incur in delivering a service and base the price on that. While the method does not provide an answer to what the price should be, it puts information in the hands of the decision-maker. The decision-maker can take other inputs into consideration, like is theirs a new business or an established one. A new business might want to price low to attract clientele. On the other hand, a new business might want to price themselves high in order to create a ‘premium’ positioning.

While simple to understand, as you go deeper you have to answer questions like, “should we only recover the direct cost or the indirect cost as well?” Again, the answer depends on the entire set of variables being considered by the decision-maker.

oWorkers is able to keep its operating costs low, which is shared with clients through the pricing. For resource hiring, a significant cost for BPOs, oWorkers benefits from the deep connects it has in their local communities. This makes oWorkers a preferred employer which leads to a constant flow of walk-in applicants desirous of jobs. This helps us keep our cost to attract candidates low, and also gives us the flexibility to hire for handling short-term peaks and troughs of clients, otherwise a significant cost if they have to carry idle resources for the rest of the year.

Pricing of competitors

As the name suggests, for commoditized services, such as data entry, one could take the price being charged by competitors as a benchmark and price their service around it, based on their evaluation of the customers’ perception of the value being provided to them by the two services. Competing on price with competitors is to be guarded against as it could snowball out of control and lead to a downward spiral in the fortunes of all incumbents.

In our chosen area of data-oriented projects, that includes data entry, oWorkers stands apart. We have been recognized as one of the three best providers in the world on more than one occasion.

Value perception

What does the customer think of your service? And there is no easy way to do this. Many companies run surveys where they ask customers to rank and rate them against competitor products or services. If such surveys have provided definitive answers it would be difficult to know since they have not taken over the world. Eventually even surveys will provide information, not answers.

oWorkers influences its clients’ businesses in many ways with their experience and capability. We are able to offer services in more than 22 languages across our three centers in three different geographies. Our centers are equipped to operate 24×7 to fulfil client needs.

We need to remember that our business will not become successful simply by our deciding on the price point. There is a customer on the other side of the equation who has to take a similar decision; how much should we pay for a particular service? They will perhaps have similar considerations and criteria when they evaluate your quotation; how much do competitors charge? At this price point will it add value to our business? Is this service better or worse than competitors in terms of quality? Data entry pay will be influenced by all of them.

A related decision is on the charging mechanism of the price. Should it be based on:

Per unit of time? – Say $5 per hour or $1000 per month. The resource will be committed to the work of the client for the committed or required duration. Might be suitable when a specialist’s time is the critical resource.

Per unit of output? – Say $20 per consultation (for a medical doctor). There will be some specifications around what the client could expect from that output unit.

Per project? – This is similar to the ‘per unit of output’ model. In this case, the output unit is larger, the entire project.

Retainership? – Lawyers and consultants often operate on the basis of a retainer fee. This is a model used in knowledge and expertise-based engagements like lawyers and management consultants. 

oWorkers offers transparent pricing to its customers and offers a choice between rate per unit of time and rate per unit of output. Many of our customers have reported savings of upto 80% after outsourcing data entry work to us.

 

How much does data entry pay?

While ‘it pays as much as you can get it to pay’ may be a correct response, it does not make the seeker any wiser.

At the same time, since data entry is a global activity, it cannot be funnelled down into a single response that is applicable universally. Both clients and providers can come from any part of the world. Would we pay the same to a data entry operator working from Plovdiv in Bulgaria as we would to another operator doing the same work in Hyderabad, India? Would we pay the same to transcribe the recording of a video conference as we would to enter the names, addresses and phone numbers on name cards collected at a business conference; both done by the same person?

Maybe we will. Maybe we won’t. Probably we don’t have enough information to be able to take a clear decision on how much it pays. What we will do is lay down some of the considerations that should be borne in mind when a recruiter (organization) decides on a specific data entry pay scale. These considerations will also be valid to a large extent on the flip side because a person seeking the role will also evaluate suitability for herself. Like any other financial consideration, each party wants the best for the lowest cost.

For the most part, when a person switches her job, the most common method of the new organization to fix her salary is by using the existing salary as a benchmark and then adjusting it for relevant variables. For a new role, an effort can be made to divine salaries for similar roles in other companies. Salary benchmarking is a common practice even for existing roles in an organization. Over and above this basic consideration, adjustments will likely be made for the following:

Educational qualifications

While it is usually used for determining suitability, whether a person qualifies to be considered for the role or not, educational qualifications can also be used to adjust salary levels, on the assumption that a better qualified person will deliver better results. For data entry pay as well, educational qualifications could have a bearing.

Prior experience

This is relevant in case of jobs where the impact of an individual expands with the experience she gains. Even for roles where additional experience does not necessarily translate into better performance, some companies may choose to give credit for it through higher pay.

Nature/ complexity of work

This is perhaps the most relevant part of the decision; the nature and complexity of work. The greater the complexity, the required educational qualifications and experience will slide up automatically in many cases. The greater the complexity of work, suitable resources are also expected to be difficult to find. Hence, even the demand-supply equation will push up salaries for complex work. The flip side could be that people qualified to do complex, specialized jobs may need to compete for only a few of them at any point in time.

Availability of resources

This is the traditional demand-supply equation of economics. Greater demand pushes up prices while greater supply depresses them.

Competition

This could be seen as a corollary of resource availability, though not in isolation. Many competitors could be offering a similar service. That might suggest a struggle for resources that could uplift prices. However, it is also possible that the competition is for a low-skill role for which there is adequate availability of resources.

Gepgraphy

Cost of living varies from place to place and influences salary levels. Data entry pay offered in New York is likely to be higher than what is offered for the same work in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Very often these differences are also used as inputs to determine the location of a certain facility.

Labor laws

Most geographies have labor laws that define the basic salaries levels that need to be paid to employees in certain categories of jobs. However, that being applicable to all competitors is more a matter of adherence than decision-making.

 

oWorkers for data entry

oWorkers operates from secure facilities. We are GDPR compliant and ISO (27001:2013 & 9001:2015) certified. Our management team comes with over 20 years of hands-on experience and are directly involved in all our projects.

Many large technology companies, including unicorn marketplaces have chosen oWorkers as their partner. They trust us to handle data entry pay and other aspects related to delivery of the service. We hope you will, too.

A Guide to Content Classification and Categorization

A Guide to Content Classification and Categorization

A Guide to Content Classification and Categorization

 

While the two may be used interchangeably by many people, there are subtle differences between content classification and categorization which many scholarly articles have made an effort to highlight.

In the context of information systems, Illinois Digital Environment for Access to Learning and Scholarship of The University of Illinois acknowledges the difference by stating “Examination of the systemic properties and forms of interaction that characterize classification and categorization reveals fundamental syntactic differences between the structure of classification systems and the structure of categorization systems. These distinctions lead to meaningful differences in the contexts within which information can be apprehended and influence the semantic information available to the individual. Structural and semantic differences between classification and categorization are differences that make a difference in the information environment by influencing the functional activities of an information system and by contributing to its constitution as an information environment.”

Another common view is that data classification is the process that results in categorization of data. As an example, a pharmaceutical company that produces drugs may wish to classify its products by the type of condition they address based on which the drugs may be slotted into categories that are based on conditions they address. Alternately, the company wants to classify them based on whether they are prescription drugs or over-the-counter (OTC) drugs and put them into these two categories. A binary Yes-No classification is also a valid classification with the Yes and No becoming categories in this case. A category could also have multiple sub-categories.

It would not be out of place to make a mention of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Based on the principles of rights, integrity, accuracy, storage limitations, minimized data, scope and fairness, this set of global guidelines has been rolled out to define how sensitive data should be handled with respect and care. Penalties for violations are steep.

In this article the word ‘classification’ will be used to denote classification leading to categorization.

Whether it is classification, or categorization, oWorkers has been supporting its global clients and providing these services for over eight years. As a BPO focused on back-office services, it has gained recognition and been identified as one of the top three data services providers in the world. On more than one occasion. Clients across the world trust oWorkers.

 

Strategy for content classification and categorization

How does one decide in what manner a content classification exercise should be done?

For that, a more basic question needs to be answered. What is giving rise to the need to classify products, and information related to those products, into categories? Products could also be services or ideas.

Is the content classification and categorization exercise being contemplated so that it is easy to retrieve that piece of data when needed?

Is compliance the main purpose? Data needs to be classified so that it can comply with federal and other legal requirements?

Does it need to be done so that customers find it easy to look for what they want? On ecommerce websites, for example, the revenue could be directly linked to the ease with which customers can locate what they are looking for, and discover maybe even many other similar and/ or related products.

Or is confidentiality of data driving the classification decision? Has the business grown to a point where a larger set of people need to be involved in decision-making? Does it mean that information needs to be shared on a ‘need’ basis and not ‘everything available to all’ as may have been the case earlier?

Whatever the strategy, oWorkers has the talent to deliver the goods. We are not merely users of the resources provided by a community, we are active participants in the community and its development, wherever we have delivery locations. This positions us as favored employers, generating walk-in traffic of candidates seeking employment. This gives us a choice of talent while keeping our hiring costs in check, as we don’t need to advertise to attract talent. Our training teams make the hired candidates job-ready in a short period of time.

A related benefit of access to a continuous talent pool is the ability to provide for short-term ramps in client volumes. These could be seasonal or these could be driven by promotions or other events. Our deep supply pool enables us to meet these short-term requirements, resulting in significant savings for clients who would otherwise need to keep resources idle for the rest of the year.

 

How is classification done?

Very simply, classification of any content can be done in two ways; manual or automated. While discussing more about the two, the perspective will be content in the form of text. At this point, computers and machines are not able to understand any data except for structured text. Other forms of content like audio, video, images and unstructured text can be understood to the extent of an equivalence being created with structured text that they have been built to understand. Software programs are a form of structured text.

Manual classification

This is straightforward. Once a classification strategy has been agreed upon, human beings appointed for the task are made aware of the strategy, and provided training if required. They then review each piece of text that is in scope and go about the task of content classification and categorization.

The manual approach is likely to deliver the best results as the human brain remains an organ that, so far, has not been possible to replicate in machines, with its fine sensitivities and awareness of context.

However, the manual strategy also suffers from all the frailties and limitations of human beings:

  • It is expensive as humans require continuous compensation for sustenance.
  • It has limited capacity. A human can only process at the speed of a human, not a machine.
  • It is prone to human errors that can be varied in nature and difficult to catch as they don’t have a set pattern.
  • One may require an endless search for new resources as humans could get jaded doing a repetitive task or may choose to move to others.

Thus, while manual classification remains an option, it can only be used selectively, depending on the type of project and its sensitivity.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) based classification

Automation through AI is the other possibility. Bear in mind, however, that AI needs to be created, once again by humans. The process of an AI model creation goes through a process called Machine Learning (ML) in which thousands and millions of ‘training’ examples are fed to a computer so that it can begin to recognize and establish patterns and consequences between input and output.

It follows that the AI method develops its model based on past models. It is also called the ‘feature extraction’ method in which relevant features of content, along with their relationship with the ‘output’ are ingested by the computer. This enables the program to build relationships between the input and output. The more the training data the finer is the likelihood of the output. A point is reached where the model is able to predict the outcome based on fresh input data, with an accuracy level acceptable to the creators. The model then goes into business as a content classification and categorization expert, poring over data and placing it in categories.

While it is understood that AI does not yet possess the fine sensibilities of the human brain, there are many advantages it has because of which it is being deployed in many applications. The main advantages are:

  • Machines work at the speed of machines. They can process large quantities of data in almost the blink of an eye. Hence, they can be used for large volumes of data without any significant increase in time or cost.
  • Their speed makes analysis and classification possible in almost a ‘live’ or real-time scenario. Instead of a human reading through a large volume of content and then choosing a classification, a computer can do it almost instantly.
  • Computers do not get jaded. They do not get bored. Their work is consistent. When they make a mistake, they will make the same mistake again and again, and not new ones randomly. This makes the output consistent and predictable.

oWorkers is GDPR compliant, ISO (27001:2013 & 9001:2015) certified and operates from super secure facilities in each of its three delivery locations. It has been amongst the first to create an environment for its staff to work from home in times of the epidemic, as and when required and can fully operate either from home or office. In addition to trained human resources, oWorkers is able to access the latest technology tools suitable for this activity, thanks to its enduring partnership with leading providers of technology. Whether you are looking for classification or categorization of content, we can do it for you.

 

Content classification and categorization – an ecommerce example

The content in this case is the product, or products, that the platform wishes to place on its shelves for customers to access and, hopefully, buy.

Ecommerce has been a rapidly growing business over the last few years, further fuelled by the global pandemic that limited many people to ‘in-place sheltering’ for long stretches of time and satisfying their various needs through online purchases. For this industry, classification and categorization of its products is a core activity that will determine its success.

What do ecommerce platforms seek?

An easy to reach site

Firstly, it seeks that the customer should be able to reach their platform easily. While this may be the end result of what your product categorization enables you to achieve, we start with this objective as this is where the customer journey begins. Being in a competitive environment, there are many similar platforms eager to attract the same customer.

Most customers will not access your site directly. A large number will do it through search engines, hence good search engine rankings are the goal for every website, like it is for you. A suitable taxonomy that allows you to create and populate the landing pages with the right words and phrases is what helps you with this goal. Google and other search engines will index the site and its products on that basis, enhancing or lowering the opportunity for seekers to find your site.

A pleasant browsing experience for the visiting customer

Once a customer is on your platform, how you can deliver the most pleasant browsing and shopping experience is your main objective. While the look and feel of your website is a contributor, this objective can be better fulfilled if your website is aligned with the objectives of the visitor. As the objective is shopping, perhaps the website’s objective would be best served if the visitor could locate the target products with the greatest ease.

Product classification plays a key role in enabling this objective. Should shoes be bundled with apparel or be a separate category? Should the Male/ Female pathways be segregated at the beginning of the journey or at the end when the customer has reached the product category? These are the type of decisions you will need to take to get this right. Remember, the customer has a choice of many websites. Typically, the first visit will not end in a purchase. The customer will look at different sites and go back to the one that most satisfies her unique combination of requirements that induces her to shell out the money required to make a purchase.

Making subtle suggestions for additional purchases

While the primary objective will always be to fulfil the basic objective of a customer’s visit, of facilitating the purchase of the item she came looking for, like any good business you would also want to make suggestions to her about products that she may not have come looking for, but could nicely complement what she did come looking for. Suggesting socks if she came looking for shoes and suggesting a belt if she came looking for trousers might not be out of place. Once again, product classification is what will help you achieve these objectives.

With several unicorn marketplaces as longtime clients, oWorkers understand the challenges of this work and is equipped to handle them. With centers in three of the most sought-after delivery locations in the world, oWorkers employs a multicultural team which enables it to offer services in 22 languages.

 

Outsourcing content classification and categorization

In a competitive environment, running a business is hard enough. If a business starts taking on the work that is required to be done in support of its main activity, its business is likely to suffer from a lack of attention.

Whether it is hiring, or training, or execution,. or quality control, leave it to an expert. Leave it to oWorkers. Operating with employed staff, as opposed to contractors and freelancers employed by many competitors, we regularly monitor each individual’s performance as part of a larger career management framework and take steps like training programs and job rotation as and when needed.

Our efforts have resulted in many youngsters being able to make a transition from their challenging circumstances to becoming a part of the global digital workforce. Your work will enable us to support a few more people to make the transition.