The Case for Automated Content Moderation

The Case for Automated Content Moderation

The Case for Automated Content Moderation

Let’s go step by step.

What is moderation?

Moderation, as commonly understood, is the process of guiding a discussion or movement away from extremes. Exercising moderation requires one to be within reasonable limits, as defined by law or by societal norms. It is the act of being calm or measured.

What is content?

While the English word ‘content’ has many meanings, in the context in which we are using the word, in the media sense, in the publishing and communication sense, content is “the information and experiences that are directed toward an end user. Content is “something that is to be expressed through some medium, as speech, writing or any of various arts. Content can be delivered via many different media including the Internet, cinema, television, radio, smartphones, audio CDs, books, e-books, magazines, and live events, such as speeches, conferences, and stage performances.”

With the internet penetrating to the deepest corners of mankind, content is being created at a mind-boggling rate. Every time we comment on a post, we create content. Each review we post of a new product, we create content. Each image we share of a vacation, we create content. Now multiply that with the several billion people doing similar things, and you can perhaps get an idea of the scale of content being created, and consumed, today.

This vast and distributed content creating machinery that the world has become, thanks to the internet and social media, has a free hand with what they can create. While in their private lives they may be free to do what they please, within the confines of civil liberties and local regulations, when their content becomes available widely, it needs to adhere to the basic human and societal guidelines, written or not. It also needs to adhere to the defined, usually written, content rules of the platform they are creating their content on.

This gives rise to the need for content moderation.

The practice of monitoring and determining suitability of user generated content (UGC) to be visible to all comers, is known as content moderation. It is generally performed against pre-defined and generally accepted rules and guidelines.

oWorkers has been moderating content generated on web properties owned and maintained by its clients for over 7 years. As traffic has increased, so has our capability in ensuring that communities adhere to the objectives with which they were created. We have been selected as one of the top three global providers in the space of data services on multiple occasions. We focus relentlessly on our chosen areas of work in data based BPO services.  

Before we move to automated content moderation, let us take a quick look at the different ways in which moderation can be done.

 

Methods of moderating content

Assuming content moderation to be a given, something that needs to be done, it can be done manually or it can be automated. Of course, a combination of different techniques is always a choice that can be made. And, if one were to assume that moderation is not a given, that could operate at the top level as a third method; no moderation.

Manual moderation

Before any process is automated, for reasons of efficiency, volume, standardization, or any other, it is done manually. Manual moderation can be further subdivided, usually based on the stage at which the exercise is being carried out:

  • Pre-moderation – This works like an approval queue, where content is published only after a moderator has been able to review it and stamp her approval on it. It can also be called pre-publish moderation. Though it has its limitations like content visibility being delayed and stifling of open communication, for sensitive websites and subjects, this may be suitable.
  • Post-moderation – As the name might suggest, publishing of the content is permitted, and subsequently reviewed and removed, if found objectionable. It can also be called post-publish moderation. While it permits open communication and healthy sharing, damage could be caused by unsavory content.
  • Reactive moderation – Reliance is placed on the community visiting and participating in that online forum to flag content that is out of place in that setting. This can work where members are deeply invested in the community and are keen to ensure its success. Otherwise, this might be better used as an additional check.
  • Distributed moderation – This relies on a rating mechanism where members rate content on the basis of its relevance. Content that is rated low gets pushed down in relevance and eventually almost vanishes from view. Like reactive moderation, business-run communities are generally reluctant to leave moderation open to the whims of participating members and hence are used, if at all, in addition to business-guided moderation.

oWorkers has access to a continuous supply of the best talent, being a preferred employer in the communities we operate in, thanks to our active participation with them. With a committed training team taking over the task of training the hired resources, they are released to the delivery team ready to ‘hit the ground running.’ Our ability to attract talent keeps our hiring cost low, and also enables us to cater to short ramps, if client volumes face any seasonal or other ramp. This, in turn, saves a lot of needless cost for clients. We can hire an additional 100 people in 48 hours.

Automated content moderation

As business and transactions grow, some elements of automation become necessary. Content moderation is no different. With the rise and rise in the volume of transactions and content on the internet, automated moderation is gradually becoming a necessity and less of a choice.

That being said, automation can mean different things to different people. Also, unique automation tools and processes can be implemented for each company or platform using it. Some of the more common types of automations are:

  • Filters – Moderation through creating filters is simple and quick and does not require too much technology. Acceptable, or unacceptable words and phrases can be created and the tool will faithfully apply them as required. Human beings can continue to review the outcomes and update the filter lists.
  • Blocking IP addresses – Users identified as abusive can be blocked from further interaction with the platform. Of course, users, if intent on creating malicious content on a platform, can continue to acquire new IP addresses and IDs to get through this block.
  • Natural Language Processing (NLP) – The human brain processes information and is able to identify context, which a machine is unable to, or able to only to the extent it has been programmed to. With the help of NLP techniques, software applications are able to better identify context, patterns of conversation, relationships, etc. and take actions accordingly, giving an edge to automated content moderation.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) – AI has been in the making for several years and is trotted out to be the moment when machines learnt to think and behave like humans. While it may make processing tasks and transactions easier and faster, in reality we are far away from such a time. However, AI tools are rapidly expanding the remit of the moderation that tools could handle. From handling textual content based on filters and NLP tools, automation is now able to review and make sense of images, audio and video content as well.

While not perfect, automation is able to handle a large part of the content that can be easily understood and safe to handle, which could be 90% of the volume, and leave the balance 10% in the good hands of their human masters. This also helps in avoiding embarrassment for the brand if competitors crack the automation algorithm and post content critical of the owner while lauding their (competitor’s) brand.

Being GDPR compliant and ISO (27001:2013 & 9001:2015) certified is the starting point for oWorkers. We operate from secure facilities and have been one of the first BPOs to create infrastructure enabling staff to work from home in a secure environment, given the constraints placed by the Covid-19 epidemic.

Our enduring partnerships with technology providers around the world ensures that we have access to the latest tools for our requirements. Clients also benefit as eventually these tools are used for processing client transactions.

 

Limitations of automated content moderation

Automation releases many benefits to mankind, which is perhaps the primary reason man continues to strive for it where he sees an opportunity.

Blind automation, however, can lead to greater harm than good. Automation is not an unmixed blessing. It has its limitations. In order that it is used to our greatest advantage, it is important that we recognize these limitations in any automation effort in order that they do not detract from the exercise and its outcomes.

Needs to be kept updated

Software tools do not have an inbuilt update system where they keep ingesting environmental events and updating the algorithm to stay current. Though many AI models claim to be able to update themselves automatically.

Even on a particular platform or in a community, the language and discussion topics might keep changing. A set of filters created when the discussion was around types of alcohol may not be relevant if the discussion has moved on to the issue of alcoholism in juveniles.

Hence, one cannot implement an automated content moderation system and forget about it. It needs to be constantly monitored and kept updated.

No awareness of context

Not being blessed with the human mind, machines do not have an awareness of context, or have awareness of context to the extent they have been made aware. Heart shaped emojis may be appreciated on one platform while being considered offensive on another. The same differences could exist from one geographical region to another as well.

If an image of a female breast has been classified as nudity with the required action being to eliminate the piece of content, when a female breast appears in the context of feeding a baby, that is also likely to be treated with in the same manner and removed, till our models reach a high level of sophistication.

They align with major behavior patterns, not with unusual ones

Acceptable content is generally similar while unacceptable content is dissimilar in their own unique ways.

When datasets are used to train AI models for moderation, there are many examples available of acceptable content, since most content is acceptable, while there are far fewer examples of unacceptable content, since the outliers are few and far between. As a result, the model will be equipped to handle the acceptable content, which was never an issue to begin with, while being less well equipped to handle unacceptable content, for which the entire edifice of moderation has been erected.

This is perhaps the reason many tools end up throwing content into a queue for human review.

Creator and dataset bias

Al models for automated content moderation, as with other AI models, are likely to be trained by a group of individuals who will have their own biases and prejudices, perhaps like all human beings. These biases will creep into the training they impart to the AI model and will forever be a part of the decision-making of the model.

Bias for text

Computers have been brought up to understand text that is formatted in a manner they can understand. This is referred to as code or software. Each character being a well-defined unit carries a defined meaning for the computer, either individually or in a defined sequence and pattern along with other characters. Its ability to understand other pieces of content like audio, images and videos, is limited. An image, for example, is just a random collection of dots or pixels. It is unstructured data. Of course, Ai has made progress in getting machines to recognize and understand unstructured data, but it requires a lot of effort and large training datasets to create a somewhat usable understanding.

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. 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 leadership team comes with hands-on experience of over 20 years in the industry and leads all client discussions and engagements while overseeing the delivery.

 

Automation is a compelling proposition

While acknowledging the limitations, which every automated system will experience, we must acknowledge the contribution of automated content moderation not only in handling larger and larger volumes with greater and greater speed, but also in mitigating the psychological impact of reviewing damaging content on the human moderators. Though employers trot out homilies about the great work environment and psychiatric support they make available to staff on this job, the truth is that constant exposure to content that could be of graphic violence or hateful or sexually abusive or racist could leave scars on the psyche that may be difficult to recognize and handle, despite the best psychiatric support.

Data analysis vs data categorization: what’s the difference?

Data analysis vs data categorization: what's the difference?

Data analysis vs data categorization: what’s the difference?

A common understanding of ‘data’ is essential before progressing to the data analysis vs data categorization prior to joining the discussion to understand their differences.

Data is defined as “factual information (such as measurements or statistics) used as a basis for reasoning, discussion, or calculation,” by the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

Data is also understood as pieces of information or content that is stored in that particular manner for a specific purpose. Any piece of information that can be placed in a context and leveraged for extracting some future application can be considered as data. Numbers are data, as are characters of the alphabet arranged in sequences. Images of enemy territory are data, as is a video of an engineer following a sequence on the shopfloor.

Though data is also defined as ‘units of information,’ the terms ‘data’ and ‘information are often used interchangeably. However, there are many who use them to mean different things. In general, data is just data, a lot of information that may not have much meaning or use for anyone. When it starts being placed in a context or reviewed with the objective of application, it starts being information that is of use to the owner of that data.

 

The oWorkers advantage

With its talented pool of resources who have a deep understanding of data, oWorkers retains the ability to go beyond the data analysis vs data categorization discussion and delve deeper into all nature of work that require working with data. We have been awarded as one of the three best data services providers in the world on multiple occasions.

The rich talent pool oWorkers has access to is a result of our relationship which emanates from the deep engagement with the communities we work in. This includes a steady stream of walk-in applicants interested in a job with oWorkers which gives us a choice of talent for all our projects. Whatever the aspect of data they need to work on, our training team is equipped to polish them to deliver in the target process.

A related benefit of access to a continuous talent pool is the ability to provide for short-term ramps in client volumes arising out of planned, expected or unexpected events. Our deep supply pool enables us to meet these short-term requirements. This is a huge cost saving for clients who would normally need to hire resources on a long-term basis despite the work requirement being only for a few days or weeks in the year.

 

Data analysis vs data categorization: what they mean

Let us look at what data analysis and data categorization mean.

What is Data Analysis?

Data analysis can be understood as the process of making sense of information that is available, with a view to gaining knowledge and understanding about it as well as the underlying variables that have created that data, with a view to applying the learnings for the benefit of the company or individual doing the analysis.

Sounds complex, does it?

When something is put across as a formal statement, it might look daunting at first. However, if you think for a moment, data analysis is a natural process that we do all the time in our personal lives.

When you go to a doctor with an ailment, what does she do? She will look at and understand the symptoms, perhaps ask some questions, correlate the information with your past medical history as well as ailments that might be common at that time of the year and prescribe a cure. What she is doing is data analysis.

When a youngster is exploring courses and universities so that he can make up his mind on which ones to apply to, what is he doing? Isn’t he doing analysis of data? He will look for information on which universities are offering a course of his interest. He will check out their intake criteria and if he will be eligible. He will probably also check the financial requirements and establish which ones he will be in a position to afford. He is analysing the many different pieces of data that will facilitate his decision.

When I am playing tennis, I look at my opponent’s position, try to project his likely movement, and then play a shot with the intention that it is either a winning shot or is a build-up to the winning shot. What did I just do? I analyzed data.

Of course, all these elements of data analysis are perhaps one subliminally, without being called data analysis.

The same process becomes more formal when it is done in a formal setting, like that of a company, and is called data analysis.

What is data categorization?

In the modern enterprise, data is critical. This is not to suggest that data was not critical in the pre-modern enterprise, but with the growth of population and consumer franchises of global corporations, the generation and collection of data has assumed mammoth proportions. Besides, as the world has become increasingly competitive, with democratic, free-market societies becoming the norm, corporations would like to leverage every bit of data at their command to eke out an advantage over their rivals and assume dominance in the marketplace.

Generation of huge volumes of data creates a need for storing it in a manner that it can be accessed by the people and teams who need it for their requirements and are authorized to do so. Categorization of data becomes essential for its future application and useability. Categorization enables data to be stored in a manner where items to be retrieved for a particular requirement can be identified and, hence, retrieved. An organization could drown in the mass of data it has generated if for every single requirement it has to go through the entire data it has collected.

Data categorization could be defined as the process of collecting, sorting and storing data in a manner that will enable easy retrieval when needed as well as access for retrieval, editing and deleting only to a defined set of personnel, or positions, based on the policy of the company.

The oWorkers advantage

By employing the staff needed for its projects, oWorkers creates permanence in project delivery, as opposed to some competitors who choose to rely on freelancers or contract staff. In this context, data analysis vs data categorization ceases to be relevant as we can handle either with equal aplomb, the result of two-way trust built between the employer and staff. The staff trust the employer to monitor and manage career progression while the employer expects staff members to deliver their best on client contracts.

 

Data analysis vs data categorization: their purpose

Data analysis

Data analysis is a key input process for business leaders. They expect the collective wisdom of past experiences to be distilled out and used as the bedrock for future decision-making and direction.

It can provide key insights about customer behavior, the reason for the existence of the business. The business not only gets information on buying behavior, but also a wholesome view including what the customers are saying about you.

It serves to measure the efficacy of initiatives like marketing and promotional programs; which ones are working and which ones are not, and take decisions on the fly.

It can even serve as a barometer for internal evaluations based on key metrics of the business, either for teams and departments, or for individuals.

In short, data analysis serves as a key input for managerial decision-making.

Data categorization

The main aim of data categorization is arranging data for easy access to authorized users. The stored data becomes easy to understand once categorized and improves its utility manifold. It also serves as an input for data analysis as it would be impossible to analyse raw data that is unstructured and undifferentiated. The exercise also serves as a validation of the data by ensuring that it fits into one of the expected categories, based on characteristics of each individual piece.

Data categorization also serves the purpose of regulatory compliance. Many jurisdictions have laws pertaining to storage, searchability and retrievability of data.

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.

Our leadership team comes with hands-on experience of over 20 years in the industry. They lead the company on its various projects and ensure client requirements are fulfilled. Through an Internal Quality (IQ) team that serves as their eyes and ears, they stay abreast of developments on the shop floor and are able to intervene when the requirement arises.

The IQ team also leads improvement initiatives and keeps a check on output to ensure the client does not receive sub-par quality. They monitor transactions and provide feedback and inputs to the operating units.

 

Data analysis vs data categorization: how they are done

Data analysis

It is difficult to put a boundary around how data can be analysed. There are many different ways of looking at data analysis methods. At the highest level, one school of thought is to break data down into qualitative and quantitative sets.

Qualitative data, as the name suggests, is data that is anecdotal, like visitors at an exhibition showing interest in one product and not the other, or textual, like comments on a feedback form, or verbal, which is like an unwritten version of textual data. As it cannot be numerically measured, there is some amount of subjectivity in drawing conclusions from it. Though some people are chary of handling unstructured data, as conclusions can be questioned, it is an important source of information for decision-making.

Quantitative data, on the other hand, is often numbers, or at least surrogate numbers that can be processed through standard mathematical or statistical techniques. While average and deviation might be the most common, a host of other techniques like Conjoint Analysis, Cluster Analysis, Regression, Factor, Time Series and Cohort Analysis and many others come into play.

Of course, it is not a simple exercise of finding a tool and passing data through it. The analysis is contextual and needs to be done keeping in focus the objective of the organization as well as what it expects from that analysis.

Data categorization

Categorization of data can be done on a variety of parameters.

Traditional data categorization systems were driven more by the need for securing data based on its sensitivity. Data tended to be placed into categories such as ‘Restricted,’ ‘Confidential,’ ‘Classified,’, ‘Public,’ ‘Sensitive’ or ‘Private.’

Thought processes have evolved. The preference now is towards multidimensional tagging that can categorize a particular piece of data on multiple parameters at the same time. Of course, data storage in digital formats also facilitates multi-dimensional categorization that could be affixed as tags. Once this is done, the level of availability of data and access rights can be determined.

Some common types used by complex organizations:

  • Based on value
  • Based on usefulness timeframe
  • Based on information type
  • Based on who it pertains to – clients, employees, etc.
  • Based on requirements to refresh
  • Based on retrieval rights

The oWorkers advantage

oWorkers is GDPR compliant, ISO (27001:2013 & 9001:2015) certified and operates from super secure facilities in each of its three delivery locations. oWorkers has also emerged stronger from the global emergency created by the Covid-19 pandemic. We have been amongst the first to create an environment for their staff to work from the safety of home in times of the epidemic, as and when required. With our technology, all staff can operate fully either from home or office, as dictated by the unfolding situation. 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. Data analysis vs data categorization ceases to be relevant when we can operate with equal facility on both.

The Best Alternative To Upwork Data Entry

The Best Alternative To Upwork Data Entry

The Best Alternative To Upwork Data Entry

Data entry is recognized as one of the most pervasive requirements in white-collar work, work that does not require physical labor. Most people and organizations, at one time or another, have had or will likely have, a need for some kind of data entry. It could emanate from a business need or a professional need, but it would need to be fulfilled.

Like most other tasks that need to be done, at the first level of decision-making, you could choose to do it yourself (or inhouse if we refer to a business) or get it done by another person or entity, for a reasonable and agreed compensation.

While people and organizations with bulk requirements could possibly possess the resources to look for professional providers, or could even create a pool of suitable, qualified resources who could do the task for them, for people and organizations with ‘retail’ or small requirements, it would be a more arduous task. Where do they go? Where do they find a provider of such services?

In a free market, each requirement is expected to throw up providers and a method of connecting the customers and the servers. And the numbers of each keep sifting and adjusting for the other side. If there was only one person out of 7 billion who had the need for a service, it might not exist as providers would not find it worthwhile to set it up for the sake of that one opportunity. But if data entry was a requirement which many people had from time to time, providers would, hopefully, emerge. And find a way of connecting with clients.

Without going too far back, in a previous era, perhaps a generation, or two, back, the concept of trade directories had emerged. It would provide a listing of providers for different types of services, like data entry. Depending on the business model of the publisher, a service could get a free entry into the directory or may need to pay for it. A provider would pay for the entry if it saw the potential of generating enough business as a result. Similarly, on the consumption side, depending again on the model, the consumer would get a free copy or may need to pay for it. A consumer would pay for if she saw adequate value in the form of potential saving of time and hassle in looking for a provider of certain services.

In the present day, information is widely available. The shoe is a bit on the other foot now; there is so much information available that many times one cannot find what one is looking for. Anyone can search for anything with the help of search engines and the internet. Of course, there is no assurance that he will find what he is looking for.

 

Emergence of platforms

In the context of data entry, the digital age has witnessed the rise of platforms for many services, and data entry is no different.

A platform is like a virtual marketplace, where the two parties that are required in any transaction, typically a buyer and a seller, will meet virtually and consummate a transaction if it suits both of them. Like Monster.com, a marketplace for jobs. Recruiters post their requirements for the people they are looking for hire, with relevant information, and jobseekers apply with relevant information. The platform may also have a ‘mirror’ section where jobseekers put up their credentials and what they are looking for, and recruiters looking for resources will parse through this database and identify suitable candidates.

Data entry and related work is classified under ‘freelancing’ type of work and platforms that promote freelancing work are the place to look for buyers and sellers. The usual method of engagement is for clients to put out, or post, their requirements for data entry and for interested, suitably qualified candidates to respond with their interest, in the form of a bid, usually specifying why he is suitable for the work, as well as the price point. This is then followed by the client making a selection from amongst competing bidders.

While individuals are the regular providers on these platforms, ‘agencies’ that usually are a bunch of providers of a similar service acting together, or even businesses that provide the service, are allowed listings as providers.

The ‘mirror’ side of the business is also available on most platforms. Here the service provider posts details about the services he offers. Clients who have a need for that service might trawl through the database, identify a few suitable providers, and reach out to them for a more detailed discussion.

That being said, as business usually follows the ‘money trail,’ the process where the client puts up the requirements seems to be the more popular one.

 

Upwork data entry

One of the major marketplaces where data entry services are sought and offered in Upwork. About two decades in the business, Upwork has worked with the mission of creating economic opportunities for people, for both clients, by facilitating them getting their requirements fulfilled so that their business can keep running, as well as providers, so that they can keep finding jobs that best meet their skills and continue to be gainfully employed ding work that they like. They have a wide variety of services that clients and providers can choose from, as well the flexibility of adding new ones. Engagements can be one-time, or continue over multiple years. And, in the digital world, the client as well as provider, could be located in two different corners of the world. Freelancing platforms have, inadvertently, served as tools that bring people across the world together and help them know more about each other. Why would a client restrict his options for the best talent to a specific geography when he can choose from the best from around the world?

Upwork data entry is a popular service on this platform. Not only does the platform bring the two sides together, it also facilitates the financial part by providing the security of the platform for the exchange. For time-based contracts, it provides its own tool through which the provider can track the hours spent on a job and raise the necessary invoice. It tracks individual transactions and provides detailed reports at the transaction level.

On Upwork, if you type the words ‘data entry’ in the search box, you get over 13000 results. They have been put in from across the world, including South Africa. USA, New Zealand and Pakistan. Data mining, data conversion, research, form filling, transcription, medical transcription, data compilation, data scraping, typing, reconciliation, order taking, are only a few of the vast variety listed under the broad category of data entry.

 

The best alternatives to Upwork data entry

Upwork is used here to represent platforms in general.

That the emergence of platforms has created a democratization in the data entry world, cannot be argued. It has created a mechanism through which people with retail (not bulk or large volume) requirements could find vendors and get their job done. Individual providers could also join the platform and find work.

But challenges remain. Especially for clients with bulk requirements who could justify, based on the scope of value creation possible, to look for a better suited team or individual, as well as customized tools, that will aid their work. This way, they are also not confined to the rules and regulations of the platform which are no doubt created with good intent, but could be limiting for some.

Business Process Outsourcing companies have been in existence from before the emergence of platforms, and continue to grow. One of the key services they offer is data entry. Organizations have used BPOs for their requirements when platforms did not exist and continue to do so.

Here are some reasons why BPO providers could be the best alternatives for Upwork data entry, especially those who have bulk requirements:

Skill set can be specific

On a platform, a client has limited ability to influence the skill-sets that are needed form best results. They can specify, but nobody is going to go looking for them. If they are available, some of them may notice the job, while a smaller subset still may be interested and apply.

With a BPO provider, it can be expected that they will seek out the most suitable resources required for the job and leave no stone unturned to get them. Once they have contracted to do a job, it becomes a shared interest.

With its deep roots in local communities, oWorkers is a preferred employer in most, and attracts walk-in traffic of people looking for jobs. This places oWorkers in a position where they can pick and choose the skills that are required, at a low cost. Since the hiring is for a client project, eventually the client gets the benefit of specific resources.

Technology solutions can be customized

In Upwork data entry, freelancers will, in general, have access to standard application software, like MS Excel, or MS Word, or Google docs. They will, in all likelihood, not have access to the specialized tools that many data entry jobs will probably require. Even relatively basic ones that may be able to read characters and convert to a digital format. This can be limiting.

When they look for a BPO provider, clients can be specific and choosy. They can specify exactly what type of technologies are needed for their work and only shortlist and select vendors who can fulfil those requirements.

oWorkers has partnerships across a wide range of technology companies. This enables us to access their technologies, the latest versions, in pursuit of our own goals. Eventually, our job being to work on client projects, clients will benefit from our access to a wide range of technologies.

Seasonal ups and downs

Businesses often experience cycles. Some are periodic and recurring, like the sale of snow-skis might happen at the start of the winter season, continue for the next 4 months, and then go into dormancy for the next 6 to 8 months. In a freelancing arrangement, if volumes drop off, he could lose interest and take on other work. When the client wishes to scale up again, he may not have enough capacity. It is difficult to hire resources and keep them idle on a platform. More likely the outsourcer will need to hire all over again when volumes pick up.

In a one-on-one arrangement with a BPO, it is possible to set expectations at the start of the contract regarding seasonality and peaks and troughs. Only suppliers who are interested and can meet that requirement will make a bid. Once awarded, in normal circumstances, they can be expected to live up to their side of the bargain.

oWorkers, with its community connect, is in a position to offer short-term hiring capacity of almost a hundred resources in 48 hours. This just-in-time hiring saves our clients a lot of money in the form of idle resources during lean periods.

Business continuity

Freelancing arrangements work on a task basis. In Upwork data entry, a task completed gets paid for and completed and both parties move to the next task. From a client’s perspective, there is some risk in this arrangement as the supplier may not accept a subsequent task. It could leave them exposed.

If the engagement is with a provider that has a back-up plan in place, dependence on individuals can be avoided.

With three centers in three geographical regions of the world, oWorkers is well placed to provide business continuity. Not merely at an employee level but at a center or site level as well. Our centers are equipped to operate 24×7, this catering to business from any part of the world. Together, we can cater to over 22 languages across the three centers.

Data security

When you get work done by an independent party, some amount of information needs to be shared, or access to systems provided, to enable that party to operate. This information is shared over open networks. Moreover, the client does not have any visibility into how the information and access rights will be used by the provider. Hence, for organizations, this can limit the tasks that could be handled.

When you sign up with a BPO, there is a detailed evaluation carried out, including that of logical and physical security, in order to get confidence that information will not be misused and its systems are resistant to external data security threats.

oWorkers is GDP compliant and ISO (27001 :2013 & 9001:2015) certified. Employees also sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) to confirm they are aware of the data security requirements and will comply with it.

Prior experience and collective wisdom

Experience of having executed a similar job in the past is a standard way of establishing the suitability of a provider for any new job. That is done whether the supplier is a freelancer or a BPO company.

A BPO, since it forms the experience set of the organization, would endeavour to retain learnings from such prior experience that can be applied each time a similar job comes by in future.

Clients get the benefit of learning from prior similar experiences that oWorkers possesses, so that each subsequent task is executed better than the last. oWorkers also boasts of a leadership team with over 20 years of hands-on industry experience that is leveraged for the benefit of superior client delivery.

 

In Conclusion

In its chosen area of specialization, data entry related BPO work, oWorkers stands out. It has been identified as one of the top three providers in the world, on multiple occasions. Clients consistently mention savings of almost 80% after outsourcing to oWorkers. Our pricing is transparent and we offer rates per unit of output as well as per unit of time. Our employees consistently rate us more than 4.65 on Glassdoor on a scale of 5.

oWorkers is the best alternative to Upwork data entry.

Engaging a partner for data categorization within an enterprise

Engaging a partner for data categorization within an enterprise

Engaging a partner for data categorization within an enterprise

Data is critical to the modern business enterprise. That is not to say that it has not been important in the past, but, in a free market, as the level of competition keeps rising in successful and sunrise sectors, the need for leveraging every bit of competitive advantage becomes more important to survival and success.

The business enterprise collects and stores large volumes of data. Every decision maker in the company ought to know and understand the data that is available with the company so that it can be put to the right use as and when the time comes.

This is the starting point for data categorization within an enterprise.

There could be regulatory reasons too. A new regulation designed to protect privacy of individuals may mandate enterprises to delete the Social Security number of all customers that they have so far been collecting. Even though regulatory changes cannot be anticipated, the systems that house data need to have the adaptability to respond in reasonable ways to them.

‘Data categorization’ is often used interchangeably with ‘data classification.’ Then there are others who seek to make a distinction between the two, using ‘data classification’ to refer to the overarching strategy for data which leads to the slotting of different pieces of data into ‘data categories.’ For the purpose of this discussion, we will consistently use the ‘data categorization’ to refer to all aspects of the activity.

 

Principles for effective data categorization within an enterprise

There is always a starting point for all efforts of an enterprise. In addition, there can be many reconsideration and review points. An existing policy or decision can be changed at any point of time if it is not working for the benefit of the business.

Business need should be paramount

Since this discussion is in the context of a business, or enterprise, it stands to reason that the need of the business overrides other considerations. While it may sound obvious to some, for others this may need articulation.

It, perhaps, also stands to reason that the people most conversant with setting the direction of the business should be involved, since one of the key goals of the exercise is to ensure availability of data for taking business decisions in future.

There will be many partners in the effort, including the IT team, since the modern enterprise relies on technology to process and store information. However, the direction should be provided by the business leaders.

Creation of a policy

When a company is small, it is possible to spread messages easily across the small, committed, start-up teams involved at that stage. However, once it acquires enterprise scale, informal communication channels cease to be effective and formal channels need to be introduced. This usually takes the shape of policies that are created and made known to all or impacted constituents so that they may be able to comply with the expectations of the leadership.

Data categorization within an enterprise should be the subject of one or more policies that lay out the various aspects of the subject for the knowledge and compliance of the larger team.

Who should have access to the hush-hush competitor study done with the help of a consultant?

Should the marketing strategy of the company be circulated company-wide?

How can it be ensured that staff members can access the information they need for carrying out their day-to-day activities?

These might be some of the questions the policy needs to address, but, once in place, should make it easier to operate.

Categorization of data

Defining the categories that are relevant for the enterprise will, of course, remain the key focus of the exercise. There are many ways, or parameters, or axes, on which data can be categorized. We are no longer limited to a two or even a three-dimensional mapping of each item. Thanks to modern computing systems, each item can be placed in multiple categories at the same time, while remaining in its place. Thus, data can be classified based on:

  • Sensitivity – This is perhaps the most basic requirement, and also one of the objectives. It will depend on the need of the organization to secure the information.
  • Business area – Relevant for diversified enterprises in multiple business or product lines.
  • Function – Is HR the owner of the data or is it Sales?
  • Constituency – Whether it pertains to clients, employees, vendors, etc.

Of course, there can be many others, based on the unique requirement of each company doing it.

Access levels and rights

The placement of data into categories will also lead to defining who has access to what information. Access to employee data, for example, being the personal information of staff, may only be permitted to selected staff in the HT team, while the unaudited financials may only be available to the Finance team. At the same time, once the Balance Sheet has been published, the contents of the document would then become public and open to all.

The IT systems of the enterprise play the role of an ally in data categorization within an enterprise.

Employee personal information may be permitted to the HR team for viewing but information about their compensation may be restricted to the few members of the Compensation and Benefits team.

Though viewing may be permitted, changes to the information may only be allowed with the authorization of the HR Head.

There are many such permutations and combinations that become possible thanks to the technology that is available to everyone. However, the company needs to be clear on its policies regarding data management. All else will follow from there.

 

Should a partner be engaged to support the process?

Finally, data categorization within an enterprise needs to be done. It will not get done merely by having conceptualized a need for it. Enterprises are busy hives of activity, with moving the many parts that need to be moved to ensure the success of the company.

Dedicating resources to this task, or even getting people to work part-time on this requirement are possibilities that may work in some places, but many organizations have found it worthwhile to engage an enabling partner. This approach has the following advantages:

  • Allows staff to focus on their jobs, and ensuring the business can carry on uninterrupted
  • Brings many more ideas on the table that may be beneficial, while the management still retains the right to veto or overrode any of them

Should you go down this path, here are some pointers that may be useful when you select a partner for this work. Each outsourcer needs to find a partner that will add value. The perception of value could differ from one to another, as will its provision by different potential partners. A holistic view, in the best interest of the enterprise, will eventually be needed.

 

Criteria for partner selection

Prior experience

For most business processes, quality and accuracy are non-negotiable. Speed and Pricing are important considerations, but not at the cost of accuracy. An incorrect entry on a GIS system could send a traveler in the wrong direction, or lead to the abortion of a rocket lifting off from Cape Canaveral.

oWorkers, has a track record of 8 years in the business, having served multiple global clients. We have repeatedly delivered over 99% levels of accuracy across engagements, despite the differences in scales and measurement systems and criteria used by different clients. Feedback of existing clients as well as performance data are both available for verification.

Efficiency

This refers to the turnaround time or the speed at which work is handled. With ‘just in time’ gaining currency with companies, wherever possible, it is expected that vendors should be able to handle assigned work with great efficiency, reducing the turnaround time to a minimum. This, in turn, enables the principle to operate with greater efficiency and produce better results in its business.

All centers of oWorkers are fully equipped to handle client operations on a 24×7 basis. This ensures that work is handled on the fastest basis. As our clients come from different parts of the world, very often the difference in time zones alone is adequate for overnight delivery of work. If that cannot serve the client requirements, then the 24×7 operation will.

Commercials

This is the third corner of the operations triangle, apart from quality and efficiency. It is also a necessary part of all commercial engagements; the consideration for providing products or services.

The risk, often, is that undue weightage can be given to pricing during the evaluation process. This apparently happens because pricing is a number, and transparent, while other criteria may be subjective and hence could be called into question based on different beliefs. Hence, a lower price is considered to be a safe recommendation while a higher price, with subjective justification of other reasons, is considered to be unsafe, as the decision could be questioned by higher authorities and motives questioned.

A mature company will make the effort to ensure that pricing is only one of the criteria, and not necessarily the most important one. 

A transparent mechanism of pricing, that offers clients a choice between a dollars per hour rate and a dollars per unit of output rate, along with committed service standards and SLAs, enables oWorkers to satisfy all client requirements. Clients note savings of almost 80% after outsourcing to oWorkers, compared to their inhouse costs. This is true for most clients from the US and Western Europe.

Technology

This is the backbone on which services have become global, whether it is for data categorization within an enterprise or any other requirement. This is the reason the BPO industry has also been known as an ITES, or Information Technology Enables Services. Having the right technology for the job is often the difference between success and failure.

oWorkers has forged a wide set of partnerships with owners of technologies. This positions us to make use of the latest versions of their technology, depending on the requirements of the project. Our clients gain from this arrangement as the use of these advanced technologies, eventually, is for their work.

Business continuity

While mankind continues to pursue a relentless agenda of development and progress, there are many variables that are not in control that keep impacting lives and businesses around the globe. Political strife, violence and bloodshed can cause havoc, as can freak weather events attributed to global warming that are causing greater and greater damage. Or, the Covid-19 pandemic that has swept through the world like a wildfire. When such events happen, the ability of a business to function can be impaired. However, business continuity options, if available, can be a great benefit, as they enable companies to operate despite the circumstances, and can differentiate them from competitors while giving them an aura of permanence and reliability.

oWorkers is well positioned to offer business continuity to clients in the event the primary delivery site is affected on account of local issues, from any of the three global delivery locations it operates from. In addition, we have been among the first to implement work from home solutions for our staff. Today, we are able to operate at full capacity either from the workplace or from home, depending on the unfolding Covid-19 situation.

Secure environment

Data is a valuable currency for companies and one they want to protect from misuse. It is imperative for a vendor to demonstrate adequate measures to protect client data, especially since they may be doing similar work for other clients, which is what gives them the advantage of experience in that field. Watertight separation of digital spaces for processing is a must, as is physical segregation through access control technologies.

oWorkers is GDPR compliant, as well as ISO/IEC 27001 certified, and committed to following best practices in technology and data security.

MultiLingual capability

As the world shrinks and businesses become global, the ability to understand multiple languages becomes important in keeping the plates spinning. Also, one does not want to seek out a new provider each time the business grows to another geography with another new language. It could become a deterrent for business growth. What one needs is a partner who is able to handle the language requirements that may come up as a result of growth; in other words, a partner who will enable, not hinder, growth.

Along with its presence in three distinct geographical regions of the globe, oWorkers actively practices multicultural and multi-ethnic teams because of which it now possesses the ability to support clients in 22 languages.

Access to resources

The nature of the business is such that it requires hiring to be done almost continuously because many employees drop by the wayside fairly early in the game. Also useful is the ability to adjust hiring volumes to match peaks and troughs in client volumes.

The ability to hire requires presence in the local ecosystem and acceptance as a contributing member of the community, that oWorkers has established in ample measure in all its delivery locations. As a result, we get a steady stream of walk-in applicants that enables us to hire resources based on their suitability for different projects. In addition, it gives us the flexibility to staff for peaks at short notice, without asking clients to bear the cost of these resources for the rest of the year.

Internal Quality

A unique feature of BPOs has been the reliance placed on a team that is external to the delivery team, yet a part of the organization, that keeps tabs on the performance of operations. This is known as the Internal Quality (IQ) team.

oWorkers has structured its IQ team to report directly to senior management. This way, the leadership team stays informed on delivery related developments and can intervene as and when required. Besides, the IQ team is engaged in leading improvement projects as well as monitoring the performance of operations and giving feedback to frontline workers.

Management Commitment

A business contract will only work if there is something in it for both parties. That is how the leadership team becomes interested in delivering on a contract. The same applies to data categorization within an enterprise. While there is no specific parameter or tool to look at for ascertaining this, experienced business people can ascertain this aspect during the pre-contract interactions.

With a leadership team that has hands-on experience of over 20 years in the industry, oWorkers remains committed to the highest standards of performance in all projects it takes on.

 

Conclusion

Being a pure player in the space of data services, oWorkers is a specialist in its chosen area of work. It has been recognized among the top three providers of data related BPO services in the world on multiple occasions.

In brief, oWorkers should be your partner of your choice, as it is for many leading technology companies as well as several unicorn platforms.