The Future of Outsourcing: 2021 Trend Report

With remote workforces becoming a staple for most businesses, what are the future trends in outsourcing? Read on to find out!

Starting in 2020 and only further accelerating this year, the remote workforce is now a staple of our society. What was originally born out of necessity is now a learning opportunity for businesses to reassess what optimization and efficiency look like for them. 

Companies are fully recognizing the breadth and wealth of digital solutions available to them. 

Many companies quickly embraced a hybrid workplace strategy that leveraged the outsourced service provider to increase productivity and reduce costs. And this was especially true for small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs), which tend to lack the resources to keep various business processes in-house.

As 2021 comes to a close and a new year begins, all signs point toward a future of digital solutions and remote services. But what are future trends in outsourcing? Here are some major developments that we expect to last.

#1 A Surge In Outsourcing Spend For Small Businesses 

Increasingly, more SMBs are relying on an outsourcing solution as an integral aspect of their business strategy. And while many are forced to do so as a result of internal constraints and resource limitations, this often works to their advantage.

According to a Clutch 2021 survey of more than 500 small businesses, approximately 80% of the participants reported plans to outsource essential business process tasks. The primary reasons these business owners cited included: 

  • Saving time (27%)
  • Enabling business growth (19%)
  • Supporting various business processes (80%)
  • Accessing flexible resources (33%) 
  • Utilizing expert services (26%) 

In addition to controlling capital costs, increasing efficiencies, and reducing labor costs, one of the most important reasons why small businesses benefit from outsourcing is the ability to mitigate risk. As markets, competitors, regulations, and technologies are constantly evolving, it becomes practically impossible for a small business to juggle the various concerns—whether it's accounting, IT and security, or HIPAA compliance.  

Put simply, an outsourcing model enables a smaller company to operate efficiently, compliantly, and confidently by relying on experts, with the ability to scale at a moment’s notice. This levels the playing field, allowing them to compete with much larger, more established companies. 

An Outsourcing Model Creates Operational Efficiencies Across the Board 

In the early stages of running a business, the key members may have to wear several hats. For instance, on any given day, the CEO may spend her morning as an accountant, the afternoon as a saleswoman, and the evening as a business strategist, and so on.  

While this is a normal part of early-stage business growth, it eventually becomes inefficient and unmanageable. By relying on specialized external service providers to handle peripheral activities, businesses can focus on their core competencies, thus creating economies of scale. As Fatos Ameti, CEO of Sonnecto, writes: 

“When outsourcing, you are not only benefiting from expert-level work but also from everything that makes that work possible. Save your company the cost and headache of operating in-house since the outsourcing company is already equipped with all the necessary tools and systems.” 

One popular managed service that businesses large and small are favoring is 24/7 virtual receptionists, business texting services and call answering services. But, what is a virtual receptionist and how do they function within a business? With this outsourced model, virtual receptionists manage a company’s calls, texts, chats, and appointment schedules. A virtual receptionist can serve as an extension of the business, handling anything from inbound and outbound calling to lead generation and ongoing client retention.  

By having an 24/7 answering service, companies are more empowered to focus on their strengths and maximize every opportunity. 

#2 A Growing Reliance on Cloud-Based Services 

The large-scale migration to a cloud computing model continues year over year. And that holds true for the global outsourcing market. Over the last three years, worldwide public cloud service, end-user spending has increased annually across all categories. Per Gartner: 

Even without the pandemic accelerating such changes, cloud technologies were already gaining prominence thanks to the growth of Software as a Service (SaaS) models and the various ways cloud services enabled outsourcers to respond to a client’s needs more flexibly. According to Les Mara, Enterprise Services leader at HP, over the next five years, cloud services will dramatically transform the outsourcing landscape:

“It will remove indirect processes and enable capturing and processing data in real time for all parties in an end-to-end supply chain. Because it will materially increase the scope, speed, and effectiveness of the work the provider does, it will create an immense opportunity to optimize the customer’s working capital.”

There are few places where cloud adoption will be more prominent than with IT outsourcing. Gartner predicts that by 2024, approximately 45% of IT spending on various systems, applications, and infrastructure will transition from traditional solutions to that of a cloud-based model.

#3 Increasing Robotic Process Automation 

Recently, robotic process automations (RPAs) have emerged as a prominent innovative driver of the outsourcing world, enabling service providers to optimize and automate processes. With the rise of automation, many of the time-consuming, repetitive tasks that were once handled by humans—outsourcers and internal teams alike—can now be performed by machines that mimic human thought and action. 

This technology has the potential to improve how outsourcing firms function, allowing service providers to focus on the aspects of the job that demand their expertise. According to Deloitte, this can then create advantages like:

  • Cost savings
  • Improved accuracy of processes 
  • Increased efficiency of operations
  • Optimized speed of implementation for new processes
  • Ability to scale rapidly     

#4 Greater Demand for Social Media eCommerce Services

Social media platforms have always adapted to the changing trends and needs of their users. Right now, one of those major trends is the implementation and integration of eCommerce functionality—think Instagram or Facebook Shops and other native product listings.

Social media as an eCommerce tool is both necessary and highly nuanced in today’s digital age. Referral traffic from social platforms to eCommerce stores has more than doubled over the past two years and more than half of Millennials—one of the largest demographics of online shoppers—would make purchases directly from a social media app.

To keep pace with the growing industry, we’re expecting to see an uptick in outsourcing social media eCommerce services like:

  • Ad creation, including assets and copy
  • Ad targeting and segmentation
  • Campaign strategizing
  • Managing and optimizing bids
  • Integrating eCommerce functionality
  • Creating and optimizing product pages or listings
  • Influencer marketing and managing branded partnerships

At the crossroads of two complex and specialized fields—successful social media advertising and back-end eCommerce functionality—there’s a clear need for and move toward outsourcing these services to niche marketing agencies that have the requisite tools. 

#5 More Outsourced Business Tasks Than Ever

What is the future of outsourcing? For growing businesses, there are more potential outsourcing applications than ever—and the use of these services appears to follow an uphill trajectory, year over year.

In 2021, the three most commonly outsourced business tasks were:

  1. IT Services (27% of surveyed companies) – Nearly one in four companies eliminated in-house IT services and transitioned to an outsourced model. With the increasingly complicated and time-sensitive nature of technology and cybersecurity, it’s understandable why this has become the most popular service to outsource. Outsourcing IT introduces several benefits, including: 
  • Improved security 
  • Continual compliance 
  • Reduced expenses 
  • Time savings
  1. Finances and Accounting (23% of surveyed companies) – The larger a company gets, the more people will be required to maintain its ledgers. By outsourcing to financial experts, companies can benefit from a partnership with credentialed accounting professionals who are up to date on the latest regulatory requirements. Additionally, smaller companies can benefit from outsourced controller and CFO services, such as:
  • Strategic advisory
  • Capital raise and funding support
  • Budgeting and forecasting
  • Financial modeling
  • Risk management 
  1. Legal (21% of surveyed companies) – For companies large and small, legal plays an essential role throughout a business’ lifecycle. But various mundane legal tasks are better accomplished by outsourced legal professionals. According to Global Newswire, “The global legal process outsourcing market size is projected to reach USD 35.9 billion by 2025, expanding at a CAGR of 31.8% from 2019 to 2025.”

#6 Increased Spending on Outsourced Software Development Services   

A growing number of companies are realizing that finding, hiring, and retaining software developers is difficult and expensive, especially when demand ebbs and flows throughout a company’s lifecycle. As demand increases, so too do the costs of hiring in-house developers. 

As a result, many companies are now devoting a significant portion of their software development spending to outsourced professionals. By partnering with experts who are comfortable with the newest emerging technologies, companies can gain a competitive advantage and reduce the unnecessary costs of permanent, in-house developers. 

While there are various reasons why companies are spending more in this category, the most commonly cited include: 

  • Cutting costs
  • Empowering the business to focus on core competencies
  • Reducing capacity problems
  • Optimizing service quality
  • Accessing intellectual capital  

The Future of the Outsourcing Industry: Nexa, Virtual Receptionist Services 

The world is incrementally but inevitably transitioning to a decentralized outsourced model. In doing so, companies can reduce in-house expenses and benefit from the services of specialized experts. 

At Nexa, our 24/7 answering service can create competitive advantages within your company. Whether you’re in home services, legal, healthcare, real estate, or eCommerce, our bilingual and highly trained virtual receptionists have the skills you need to foster a premium customer experience. 

Try it for free to see how this growing outsourcing trend can fit into your business model.


  1. Clutch. Benefits of Outsourcing for Small Businesses.
  2. Forbes. How Outsourcing Can Be An Effective Solution For Startups.
  3. Gartner. Gartner Forecasts Worldwide Public Cloud End-User Spending to Grow 23% in 2021.
  4. Outsourcing Center. How and Why Cloud Computing Will Change Outsourcing Services.
  5. Gartner. Cloud Shift Impacts All IT Markets.
  6. Deloitte. Process improvement through robotic process automation.
  7. SaveMyCent. 34 Stunning Social Commerce Statistics for 2021. 
  8. Global Newswire. Legal Process Outsourcing (LPO) Market Outlook to 2025 - $35.9 Billion Opportunity Analysis by Location & Service.
  9. Uptech. Why Do Companies Outsource Software Development?

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