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[Photo from International Outsourcing Summit]Day and night, the Business Process Outsourcing industry stays online despite threats.

Ask five people what job is perfect during merciless times of unemployment, and you'll likely get similar answers: anything in Business Process Outsourcing.

While the recession has redefined the landscape of job hunting, the outsourcing sector puts out a banner message clearly indicating that “We are the future source of steady employment.”

At the recent International Outsourcing Summit held in Sofitel Philippine Plaza, around 250 senior executives from outsourcing businesses from 10 countries gathered to tackle pressing issues involving the industry, as well as to exchange business strategies and opportunities.

With the theme “Global Market Leaders Addressing Global Issues,” CEOs and seasoned BPO practitioners gave talks and presentations on different aspects of the BPO industry, such as its recovery from the financial crisis, as well as future risks and opportunities in the outsourcing market. Major players in the telecommunications industry also participated in the event, with companies like Eastern Communications, PLDT, and Globe hosting the summit's gala nights.

China in Top 5

“China would be a huge player,” Alfredo Ayala, Business Process Association of the Philippines (BPA/P) chairman and CEO of LiveIt Solutions Inc, said in reference to the nation's potential to become a prominent part of the industry. In 2008, the country's GDP spiked by 9% in terms of real growth rate. According to the A.T. Kearney Global Services Location Index, China ranks second among the top outsourcing destinations for 2007 and 2009.

“Because of technology, I think there is going to be a significant amount of competition,” Avinash Vashistha, chairman and CEO of Tholons, commented on a presentation about global outsourcing location insights. Tholons, a strategic advisory firm for outsourcing and research, rated China as one of the top five nations with BPO potential. The others were India, the Philippines, Brazil, and Ireland.

China made it to the top five due to its “huge scale and very competitive cost.” Lack of fluency in English, however, seems to be a major hindrance to its BPO growth potential.

Outsourcing 2.0

Dr Ganesh Natajaran, vice chairman and CEO of Zensar Technologies, said that one of the decisions that honchos of BPO companies should make must involve supplementing and expanding the business. Natajaran also mentioned that India's growth from its rural economy rose as much as 5% despite the fluctuating dollar. “Gold prices have gone through the roof, ” according to Natajaran. He attributes the high prices to the very intense gold trading in his country.

BPA/P's Ayala further pointed out that diversifying resources is the main remedy for sagging currencies, whether it's the dollar or peso. “Despite several major obstacles over the past year, including the global financial meltdown and the resulting protectionist sentiment, our industry's long-term prospects appear to remain intact.” He considers the call center sector to be the most mature segment to invest in.

Dr Natajaran noted, nonetheless, that “It is important for all policy planners in key outsourcing destinations like the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, China, and India to develop new strategies for Outsourcing 2.0—which will carry forward the successes of the past, and build new concepts and capabilities.” He also admonished the Philippines to aim for a larger economic value. For instance, instead of opting to be valued at a million dollars, “aspire to become (worth) 100 million dollars.”

While it's true the financial meltdown has caused a domino effect in many industries, BPO finds itself primed for more potential development. Hot prospects for growth like the Philippines remain rife with opportunity; and the global BPO industry has barely began to break the surface of the huge market that is China.

Print ed: 01/10


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