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BPOs Not Just for Voice Calls Anymore

Dimension Data and its subsidiary Merchants today announced the acquisition of Millennium 1 Solutions, a well-established Toronto-based business process outsourcer (BPO), from private equity company The Gores Group. The company didn't disclose financial details of the transaction.

With the acquisition of Millennium, Dimension Data is forming the Merchants Group, a holding company that will combine the existing Merchants business and Millennium, which was founded in 1977 and comprises more than 2,100 permanent employees across five locations in Canada and an offshore facility in Manila, Philippines. The new Merchants Group, 7,600 employees strong, will become part of Dimension Data's CX and Digital Workplace business headed by Joe Manuele.

Merchants is the organization that handles the data collection and creation of the Global Customer Experience Benchmarking Report that Dimension Data has been producing for more than 20 years. No Jitter readers will be familiar with the report from my previous articles on it (most recently: "Digital Crisis of Redemption: The Uncomfortable Truth").

Joe Manuele, Dimension Data

While many BPO acquisitions are primarily expansion plays aimed at increasing the size of the business to benefit from economies of scale, that's not the case here. Dimension Data's strategic vision is to make Merchants Group "a truly digital outsourcer with global capability," as Manuele said in a formal statement.

The Merchants Group plans to achieve this vision by:

  • Creating digital transformation solution sets
  • Developing specialized practices for key disciplines, such as financial services, insurance, and retail/loyalty
  • Expanding its geographic footprint
  • Delivering multilingual, omnichannel customer experiences

In a one-on-one interview, Manuele said he believes Millennium can be a key factor in helping Dimension Data accelerate around this vision. Millennium has been an important player in the Canadian BPO market, especially in the financial services credit card market. Many businesses use Millennium's platform and digital services for end-to-end service delivery across the customer experience lifecycle, as well as for business insights and analytics, and support for multiple languages (English, French, Mandarin, Cantonese, and Spanish) across various channels.

These solutions and services are highly transferrable from the Canadian market to the U.S. and other geographies, Manuele said.

Dimension Data's vision for the Merchant Group is in line with trends seen in the contact center outsourcing and BPO markets. With the proportion of voice interactions declining -- if not the actual number in many cases -- adding automation, self-service, and, especially, digital interaction management are key to survival for outsourcers. While BPOs have added some self-service capabilities during the past 10 years or so, their bread and butter has continued to be live agents handling voice calls.

Businesses that have previously turned to outsourcers still want to do so for the same reasons as always – those being to handle fluctuating demand, offer follow-the-sun support, and manage the day-to-day operations for millions, sometimes billions, of annual customer interactions. With the acquisition of Millennium, and its vision for the Merchants Group, Dimension Data is setting its sights higher up the BPO services food chain. It plans to focus on clients that place a premium on brand and customer experience while avoiding commodity and transaction-heavy opportunities.

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