Despite its much celebrated benefits, some individuals have suggested that outsourcing is at least partially responsible for the recent unemployment crisis in the U.S.. As firms have continued to delegate a number of tasks to independent contractors and agencies overseas, for example, the American economy has created fewer domestic job opportunities.

The sentiment displayed towards outsourcing remains largely positive, however, as it has enabled small businesses to slash their operational costs while also accessing a global talent pool. According to a recent survey conducted by freelancing network Elance, 78% of U.S. based small businesses reported that the employment of freelancers gave them a considerable advantage over their competitors.

Small Business Outsourcing Trends for 2013

With small business outsourcing set to experience further growth as a commercial practice in the year ahead, it is worth addressing the prevailing trends and how they will influence the market. Consider the following: –

The Outsourcing of Customer Service Through Social Media and Cloud Technology: The attitude towards customer service provision has gradually begun to change, as businesses and service providers have sought to forge deeper relationships with their clients. This has encouraged many to outsource their customer service function, using social media and cloud technology platforms to engage consumers in constant and meaningful conversations. Given the real time nature of these mediums and the importance of responding to customer queries promptly, outsourcing allows small businesses to deliver a far more comprehensive level of care to their most discerning clientele.

The Distinction Between Strategic and Non-Strategic Tasks: As remote technology is continually adapted to offer greater levels of sophistication and reliability, small businesses are capitalizing by streamlining their venture accordingly. Independent business owners are now inclined to make the important distinction between strategic and non-strategic tasks, with a view to outsourcing the latter and removing themselves from the management of everyday processes. The outsourcing of HR management is therefore set to become particularly widespread, as it is a feature of business that  protects a company’s human capital and demands tremendous attention to detail. So not only will this help to cut everyday operational costs, but it can also assist firms in complying with exacting employment laws while enabling them to attract international talent.

Application Development for Outsourcing Firms: As small business outsourcing continues to gain in popularity, there is set to be an increase in the number of mobile applications developed to manage the process. More specifically, app designers are likely to focus on the development of mobile and tablet tools that can assist firms who outsource work abroad. There is thought to be a particularly high demand for applications that can manage and audit individual outsourcing processes, while also relaying real time analytical data and allowing for instant messaging. These applications will have multiple benefits for small businesses and their outsourcing projects, both in terms of efficient delivery and cost management.

The Last Word for Small Business Owners

While these trends are firmly predicted to take hold in 2013, small business outsourcing remains an evolutionary concept that will continue to adapt in line with technological, economic and social advancements. This means that business owners must adopt a proactive attitude to outsourcing their workloads in the year ahead, paying particular attention to the type of work that they delegate and the mediums that they use to manage the process.