The number of outsourced home-based agents is expected to increase at a compounded annual growth rate of 17.5 percent to reach 160,000 by the end of 2016, according to global analyst firm Ovum.

Peter Ryan, principal analyst at Ovum's IT Services Practice, attributed the growth to outsourced home-based agents' ability to now provide technical support for more specialised products or services. "They are starting to diversify beyond strict customer care functions to managing more complex enquiries across multiple channels."

The healthcare vertical is expected to be the most aggressive adopter of outsourced home-based agent services between 2013 and 2017, increasing from 8 percent to 13 percent of total agents through this period. The bulk of this growth will come from the US market, and will be largely driven by the Affordable Health Care Act (AHCA), according to Ovum.

Even though many financial services firms are embracing virtualisation, Ovum anticipates the industry to increase their demand for outsourced home-based agents by a marginal 2 percent due to the industry's strict compliance requirements. However, Ovum advises outsourcing vendors to take advantage of this opportunity by providing higher-value services to financial services clients, especially in terms of brokerage support for capital markets and policy management functions in the insurance space.

To meet the increasing demand for outsourced home-based agents, Ryan advises outsourcing vendors to seek unexplored potential pockets of workers to maintain a sizable pool of high-calibre agents.

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