Way before the noun BPO (business process outsourcing) was coined, the Philippines has been the premier home to firms servicing offshore information and electronic publishing needs, e.g., Saztec Philippines and Innodata Philippines Inc. If I remember correctly, Innodata was the first "BPO" firm to pioneer medical transcription in the country. In less than a year, Innodata sold its medical transcription operations for a huge profit. Currently, that industry segment alone is a multi-million dollar niche in the BPO sphere. Not only has that niche generated employment opportunities for the Filipino people, it also served as a catalyst for the establishment of schools and institutes offering everything related to the needs of the BPO industry. These include, but are not limited to, data encoding and medical transcription courses, CSR and TSR training and certifications, software development and accreditation, credit card verification, loan processing, etc.
Some notable examples on the excellent health of the Philippine BPO industry:
- Sykes' decision to shift most of its Indian operations to the Philippines, where it already has more than 7000 employees;
- Texas Instruments' decision to build a $1 billion-dollar plant in the Philippines;
- GXS' call to direct all IT organization functions from India to the Philippines via a strong customer component;
- Dell Inc.'s announcement that it is withdrawing 1000 jobs from India back to the US because of quality issues and concerns; simultaneously, Dell increased the number of jobs in the Philippine market by over 1000;
- Dell Inc.'s expansion of its commitment to the Philippines by establishing a number of captive centers while keeping current third-party relationships;
- RCG Information Technology's strong offshore presence in the Philippines; it already has assessed the Asia-Pacific region for future expansion. "India has destructively high staff turnover rates, mounting salary costs, and poor English communications skills.
- ICT Group, Inc.'s opening of a number of call centers in the Philippines;
- ClientLogic's experiencing of stronger growth in the Philippines
- Convergys Corp.'s call to employ 8000 Filipinos (as of the 2nd quarter of 2006);
- IBM's decision to pull all voice operations out of India and transferring a significant portion of it to the Philippines;
- Telus International's acquisition of Ambergris Solutions, reputedly the leading home-grown contact center organization in the Philippines;
- Increase in Canadian companies' controlling interest in ClientLogic, one of the largest BPOs in the world with a strong Philippine focus;
- continued tremendous growth of Thomson Financial and Accenture;
Indeed, the outsourcing businesses in the Philippines mostly come from the United States. This is a fact that is complimented in more ways than one by the Philippines' strong cultural ties with the United States. Both countries have the same generally-accepted accounting standards and principles, engineering practices and standards, the same laws (most of the bills filed in the Philippine Congress is patterned after those in the US), and the same medical ethics and standards. Thus, one big common denominator - the Philippine sharing a very strong affinity with the US. John Forbes, American Chamber of Commerce, notes the BPO industry as the fastest growing sector in the Philippine economy in terms of percentage growth. Some analysts even predict that by 2010, outsourcing will become a $10 billion dollar industry, developing into one of the major destinations in Asia for global outsourcing needs. Moreover, the Philippines was also nominated in the UK’s National Outsourcing Association (NOA) Awards for Best Practices.
Yes, the Philippine government and concerned institutions do need to continuously expand the labor pool of qualified candidates of technically skilled professionals and liberal arts graduates to meet the increasing demand of outsourcing. They also need to pro-actively promote the industry, with emphasis on the benefits that could be realized by someone pursuing a career in it. After all, it's all about the career and the money. And why just limit the scenario to the government and its institutions? A better picture would be to include schools and institutes in the effort. They are the ones catering to the educational needs of would-be BPO executives and professionals. And such would be the best judge of education and continuing education requirements. Further expand the scenario by including companies that make up the BPO industry! Let representatives of the industry expound on their respective needs and wants, highlight their strengths and weaknesses, and elaborate on their short- and long-term goals. A concerted triangular effort (three factors influencing the variables that affect the outcome) is always best, i.e., the Philippine government, the education sector, and the BPO industry itself. It always works. It always does. I kid you not.
These are exciting times to be in the BPO industry. The entry of European markets in the local BPO industry will surely bring about fierce competition for the biggest, brightest, and baddest BPO professionals and executives on the land! Possible translation? Considerably higher compensation and incentives, additional perks, and more career growth opportunities! Wow! Where do I sign?
Thus, can the Philippines really supply the outsourcing requirements of the European markets? Without a doubt! The infrastructure exists, the education system is in check, and both graduates and professionals have never been hungrier for corporate success and financial stability. According to Dell, "English-savvy population, about 100 similar facilities in place and 650,000 students, the Philippines is fast becoming the contact center location of choice in Southeast Asia." So, why be a doubting Thomas? Everyone who is anyone is already here. Better jump on the train! Because if you are not up to speed, you might just be left behind. And i kid you not!
And as the Philippine government and institutions pro-actively promote the industry, this will consequently eliminate (with hope) the negative connotations associated with being a CSR and TSR. You see, the AnitoKid has many friends, and a handful of them are CSRs and TSRs. Apparently, some people negatively brand and tag CSRs and TSRs as persons with headsets who do nothing but blabber all day and night, casting them in bad light. Such people who ridicule others (and without knowing the truth of the matter - The Nerve!) really pisses me off. Bloody hell! Don't they know that it takes more than excellent communication skills and a mastery of the English language (which by the way is a feat in itself). They know not that being a CSR or a TSR entails discipline, a certain sense of flair, and the use of one's common sense! Well, I actually can't blame people who tend to look down on CSRs and TSRs. After all, common sense for them is not so common. And I kid you not!