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Securing BPOs in the AI Era: Unlocking the Potential of Generative AI

Business Process Services

June 1, 2023

As BPOs have started exploring solutions around generative AI, some even beginning to deploy it, the BPO industry is facing a significant challenge – how to protect the data and privacy of their clients in a world where artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming more powerful and pervasive each day.

In 2020, Lyrebird, a deepfake audio generator, suffered from poor security and privacy safeguards resulting in a data leak. Lyrebird stored users’ audio data on an unsecured server, exposing it to cyberattacks. Similarly, in 2019, OpenAI withheld the full version of its powerful natural language processing model, GPT-2, due to concerns about its potential misuse for creating deepfakes and spreading disinformation. However, even the smaller publicly released version of GPT-2 could generate convincing fake news articles and other malicious content.

Yet another concerning incident was the fabricated and doctored video of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, circulated on social media and placed on a Ukrainian news website by hackers, which was later exposed as a deepfake and taken down. Although the deepfake was not highly advanced, it posed a potential danger. This incident highlights the ability of generative AI to create false information that can cause panic and uncertainty during times of instability.

But what if AI could also be the solution?

In this blog, we will explore how generative AI can be transformative in the way BPOs handle privacy and security concerns and what they need to consider to stay ahead of the game.

The current state of privacy and security in the BPO industry: The BPO industry handles sensitive data, from personal information to financial transactions. This data is vulnerable to cyberattacks, data breaches, and human errors. According to Gartner, half of current finance AI deployments will be delayed or canceled by 2024, while business process outsourcing (BPO) for AI will rise from 6% to 40% within two years. This means BPOs must invest in robust data protection measures and comply with various regulations and standards.

The rise of generative AI and its impact on privacy and security: Generative AI is a type of AI that can create new data or content, such as images, text, or audio. For example, synthetic data is artificially generated rather than obtained from direct observations of the real world. Generative AI can help BPOs improve their privacy and security practices by reducing the need for real data, enhancing data quality, and enabling data anonymization. With generative AI, BPOs can generate synthetic data that mimics real data, reducing the risks of handling sensitive customer information. Moreover, generative AI can enhance data quality by generating accurate, complete, and consistent data, thus helping BPOs make better decisions. In addition, generative AI can enable data anonymization, a critical aspect of data privacy, by generating data that cannot be linked to the individual it pertains to.

Generative AI can also help BPOs deliver better customer experiences by generating personalized and relevant content. This can be achieved by analyzing customer data and generating content tailored to their preferences and needs.

Key considerations for BPOs in the age of generative AI: While generative AI offers many benefits for BPOs, it also poses some challenges and risks. BPOs need to consider the following aspects when adopting generative AI solutions:

  • Data governance: BPOs must establish clear policies and processes for managing synthetic data and other generative AI outputs, such as ownership, access, usage, retention, and disposal.
  • Data ethics: BPOs must ensure that their generative AI solutions are fair, transparent, accountable, and respectful of human dignity and rights.
  • Data security: BPOs need to protect their generative AI solutions from unauthorized access, modification, or theft, as well as ensure that they do not introduce new vulnerabilities or threats.
  • Data quality: BPOs must verify that their generative AI solutions produce accurate, reliable, consistent data or content that meets their business objectives and customer expectations.

Best practices for ensuring privacy and security in the BPO industry: To leverage generative AI effectively and safely, BPOs need to adopt some best practices for ensuring privacy and security in their operations. Some of these include:

  • Data encryption: BPOs should encrypt their data at rest and in transit using robust encryption algorithms and keys.
  • Access controls: BPOs should limit access to their data and generative AI solutions to authorized personnel only, using authentication and authorization mechanisms.
  • Employee training: BPOs should educate their employees on the importance of data protection and the proper use of generative AI solutions.
  • Audit trails: BPOs should maintain logs of all data and generative AI activities, such as creation, modification, deletion, or access.
  • Third-party audits: BPOs should regularly audit their data protection measures and generative AI solutions by independent third parties.

Looking to the future: Predictions and implications for the BPO industry: The future of privacy and security in the BPO industry will be shaped by emerging technologies like generative AI. Here are some predictions and implications for what lies ahead:

  • New risks and challenges: Generative AI will create new risks and challenges for BPOs, such as data misuse, bias, fraud, or manipulation. BPOs must closely monitor their generative AI solutions and respond quickly to any issues or incidents.
  • New opportunities and innovations: Generative AI will also create new opportunities and innovations for BPOs, such as new services, products, or markets. BPOs must embrace generative AI as a strategic asset and a source of competitive advantage. For example, generative AI can enable BPOs to create high-value artifacts such as video, narrative, training data, and even designs and schematics for their clients. This means a larger portion of user experience in the pre-purchase stage will start to see a quick rise. This also means that while BPOs explore marketing operations as a service, content moderation will be the key and critical aspect of the offering.
  • New skills and competencies: Generative AI will bring about new skills and competencies for BPOs, such as data science, machine learning, or linguistics experts. BPOs must also leverage external partners and providers to access AI innovations and capabilities. They need to start building Tech CoE consisting of citizen developers/ users, and prompt engineering & model tuning by Reinforcement Learning from Human Feedback (RLHF).

The emergence of generative AI is definitively transforming the game regarding privacy and security in the BPO industry. While certain risks and challenges are associated with this technology, there are also plenty of opportunities for businesses to improve their data protection practices and stay ahead of the curve. By taking a proactive approach to risk assessment, compliance, and data management, BPOs can ensure they are well-positioned to succeed in the age of generative AI. With the right strategies and best practices, BPOs can continue delivering top-notch services to their clients while safeguarding their most sensitive data and assets.

As the BPO industry evolves, it will be exciting to see how Generative AI and other emerging technologies shape the landscape and what innovations and opportunities arise.

About the Author

Prashanth Rao

Prashanth Rao

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