How To Choose A Provider To Outsource Keypoint Annotation

How To Choose A Provider To Outsource Keypoint Annotation

Keypoint annotation is a method of annotation that involves placing dots, or keypoints, on the defining features of the image or object that needs to be identified.

It is also known as Landmark annotation, perhaps because it highlights the key, or landmark features of an object.

What is the need for keypoint annotation?

Keypoint annotation is one of the many techniques used to create data sets to train Artificial Intelligence (AI) models through the process of Machine Learning (ML).

The ML process involves feeding large amounts of data into a software for training. However, the data fed is not raw data. Only humans can interpret raw data and draw conclusions from it. Computers cannot. To enable them to understand the data that is being fed, it has to be ‘annotated’ or enriched and inferences created through programming that are based on the objective of the model that is being developed. This is the work done by keypoint annotation outsourcing.

Applications of keypoint annotation

Facial recognition

Facial recognition is a common use case for keypoint annotation. Many handheld devices today rely on facial recognition as a layer of security. After being trained with images of faces with keypoints marked and associations created through programming, the AI engine learns to recognise a face and its feature like eyes, nose, lips when it is ‘shown’ a post-training image of a face and create the various keypoints, with their attributes and relativities, for itself. Thus, if an unauthorised face tries to unlock the device, it will not open because the keypoints might be different.

Sentiment analysis

Keypoints are created on a static image or a frame. Differences in the shape of facial landmarks could be used for interpretation of mood and sentiment. For example, lips curled up on the sides might be recognised by the AI as a smile and the mood as happy. A raised eyebrow might have another interpretation.

Another application could be based on movement of the landmarks. In a virtual examination, tracking of the eyeball movement could be used to evaluate if the examinee is resorting to external assistance or not.

Gestures

Keypoint annotation is also used to mark body parts, human poses, and gestures on a sequence of distinctive points for gesture detection and movement prediction. Sign language interpretation and applications based on Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) would also rely on keypoint annotation.

Motion tracking

Widely used in sports analytics to track movements and using the information for comparisons over a period of time, identifying weaknesses, injury prediction and prevention and for making corrections.

Choosing a Provider to outsource keypoint annotation

While it is good to build consensus within the organisation for outsourcing, at this point in time the verdict is clearly in favor of outsourcing, for various reasons:

  • Keypoint annotation is a specialised task for which your staff may not be suitable.
  • It is a repetitive task which calls for a skillset and conditioning that may not be present in your staff.
  • The task may not need staff with advanced degrees and training. Your staff, with their degrees and training, and likely higher salaries, would be an overkill, and cost more to the business.
  • It will enable your employees to continue to focus on their jobs, for which they have been hired and are suited, and enable them to keep moving the business forward.

Let us look at how you should go about the task of identifying a suitable provider when you outsource keypoint annotation, and the parameters you should include in the evaluation exercise.

Relevant prior experience and client testimonials

An interested vendor will normally lead with a display of strength in providing similar services to another client to buttress their claims of proficiency in the area. Providing similar services to a competitor will be an even stronger claim as processes in the same industry are likely to have similarities.

At the same time, absence of prior experience should not result in an elimination. If the vendor is making a pitch without prior experience, they perhaps hope to adequately compensate for the absence of prior experience through other advantages they offer. Perhaps they will offer a much lower price in the hope of winning the contract and adding an additional line of business to their portfolio.

Prior experience should be evaluated in connection with the quality of work done. While the vendor will obviously claim work of great quality, hearing the same from a third party, like a client, would have greater value.

oWorkers has continued to deliver keypoint annotation outsourcing to its clients from around the world over the eight years of their existence. Our relationships have continued to grow and expand into multiple projects. We are happy to connect you to several of our clients who are open to interacting with prospective clients regarding our capability.

Attrition and People Management practices

BPOs that offer keypoint annotation outsourcing, and others, continue to automate processes in order to deliver efficiency and standardisation. In fact, why just BPOs, the entire world of business is constantly trying to automate processes to achieve the same goals.  

By its very nature BPO work tends to be work that needs to be done by people. And because attrition is a fact of life for BPOs, it requires people again and again. High levels of attrition are not only a financial drain on the company, they also cause a drain on the knowledge and capability of the organisation.

A healthy track record on attrition, of keeping it low, at least in relative terms, can often make a difference between a successful BPO and a struggling one. It goes hand in hand with the company’s People Management practices. Are they contemporary, fair and transparent? Are employees treated fairly? Do they have access to channels to express their concerns?  

With attrition trends that are best in class for similar processes, oWorkers stands out from the crowd. This is important for us because strategically, we have chosen to work with employed staff, and not with freelancers and contractors as some of our competitors do. We have been consistently rated more than 4.6 on a scale of 5 on Glassdoor by our employees. With one of our offices located in the Eurozone, following contemporary people practices is not a choice for us. It is a requirement.

Workforce Planning and Management

As a core discipline of managing a BPO, workforce planning and management practices assume importance in BPOs with large workforces, like in Call Centers.

However, owing to limitations imposed around the world because of the outbreak of Covid-19, and large swathes of the workforce working remotely or from home, workforce planning and management has come to occupy center stage even in ‘data’ BPOs offering keypoint annotation outsourcing as there is a need to ensure that an ‘invisible’ population is available and working, and working out backup arrangements as and when things do not go according to plan. In an office setting it might be easy to manage, but imagine doing it for hundreds of virtual offices and employees.

With reliance on technology and tools, oWorkers allows its staff the flexibility of working either from home or office in a seamless manner, with communication tools deployed on the internet bringing everyone together.

Internal Quality process independent of the delivery function

Delivery teams deliver. That is what their job is when you outsource keypoint annotation. In doing so, they can sometimes miss the bigger picture, of seeing things from the perspective of their client.

As a good practice in BPOs, this is the niche where the Internal Quality teams step in. They are external to delivery hence are not bound by the delivery perspective and scorecards. They are free to take a broader view of the situation. In a way, look at the work being done from the perspective of the client. What this helps with is catch errors and correct them before they become visible to the client. Alongside, they also coach and guide the delivery team so that errors are not repeated.

At oWorkers, Quality Assurance (QA) and Quality Control (QC) processes are in place that do a sample check of transactions done by the delivery team and, where deviations are found, provides coaching and guidance to the delivery team to correct them and also in order that they do not recur. With a direct line into senior management who rely on their inputs for the health of a project, this team enables us to consistently deliver over 98% accuracy levels.

Able to turn around work as per required timelines

Speed will always be important for a business as it positions the enterprise to achieve more, given a certain infrastructure. The BPO partner for keypoint annotation outsourcing being an extended arm of your business, should ensure they deliver to the standards of timeliness expected by the client. If anything, faster, but not slower.

For many of our global clients, with differences in time zones, oWorkers is able to provide overnight delivery. Your work of today is processed and ready for you to take the next steps when you show up for work the next morning. As if by magic. If time difference does not make this possible, our 24×7 operational centers will.

Pricing

Any commercial arrangement between two parties will have, in legal terms, a consideration, and in commercial terms, a price point at which the bundle of goods and/ or services is sold by one to the other party. It is no different when you outsource keypoint annotation.

An outsourcing contract is a negotiated contract with the basket of services being carefully constructed and specified. The price point will also be a negotiated one. Price being a specific number that leaves no room for doubt, the vendor will want the number to be high while the client will want the number to be low.

Unfortunately, on occasion, there can be obsessive focus on the price, to the detriment of other parameters in play that could be equally, or more, important. Hence, caution is advised.

oWorkers offers a transparent pricing mechanism with the client having an option of choosing between a rate per unit of output price and a rate per unit for time price. Many of our clients, especially from Western Europe and USA, save 80% over their current costs by outsourcing to us.

Support for Multilingual delivery

Companies doing business around the world is a fact of modern life. Very often there is a need to localize parts of the operation to cater to a different geography. Language is one such requirement. Such globalisation often requires processing capability in multiple languages.

In addition, BPO is a global industry. A client and a BPO provider providing keypoint annotation outsourcing could exist in any two parts of the world, brought together for business and by complimentary skills and needs. A BPO physically located in a place where the local language is Spanish could be doing work for a client whose primary language is German.

oWorkers supports over 22 languages from its three global centers in the heart of the BPO world, and offers the scope of adding on more if there is a specific requirement from a client.

Technology

Technology is the great enabler and forms the backbone of every BPO business. In fact, without the advancements that have taken place in communication technologies in the last few decades, BPO as we know it today would probably not exist.

Through our partnerships with leading technology providers and owners, the best technologies are available for your work when you outsource keypoint annotation to oWorkers. It helps to have technology companies constitute 85% of our client base as that keeps us on our toes and our technology current.

Data Security

Data Security comes joined at the hip with Technology. Business information is a valuable asset for all companies and needs to be protected. In keypoint annotation outsourcing, since processing is done with the aid of technology tools and information gets shared on technology networks, data security is closely linked with technology. The provider needs to create confidence that their technology solutions and network are built in a way that will keep data of individual clients secure.

oWorkers is GDPR compliant and ISO (27001 and 9001) certified. Our security protocols extend to the staff who work from home. We also offer physical segregation of work areas, if required.

Scalability and access to human resources

When you outsource keypoint annotation, business volumes can fluctuate, as a result of seasonality, as a result of external influences, as a result of many other factors. For manual processes, a business would ideally like to have just enough people to handle volumes at that point, and not people to handle the peak who stay idle when volumes go down. This can be a key value enhancement offered by BPOs.

With its deep connections with the communities it works in, and being a desirable place of work for many, oWorkers can offer scaling by a hundred headcount within 48 hours, especially for Computer Vision projects.  

Financial health and management support

A company’s financial stress can impact its business and relationships, including clients. It can lead to cutting corners impacting on quality of delivery. It can lead to its withdrawal from certain activities. In a worst-case scenario, it could even lead to its closure. Hence, financial stability of the partner should always be an important measure when you seek to outsource keypoint annotation. So much so that a financial evaluation should be done every year.

A consistently profitable enterprise, oWorkers operates as a locally registered company in each of the three current locations, pays local and social taxes for its employees and is deeply rooted in the communities it operates in.

Final Word

Ranked as one of the top three data entry companies in the world, oWorkers is a pure player in data entry and annotation services. Our management team has over 20 years of hands-on experience in the business. Several Unicorn marketplaces have chosen us as their partner. We hope you will, too, for our keypoint annotation outsourcing. Your business will bring positive social change to the communities we work in.

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