Philippines told to go beyond call centers

Published by rudy Date posted on March 21, 2011

Maulik Parekh, president and chief executive officer of SPi Global, said studies show that by 2016, around 58 percent of the estimated $125-billion global revenue will come from non-voice operations such as digital content services and medical transcription.

The remaining 42 percent belongs to voice services, a sector where the Philippines currently excels. Contact center operations here outpace the non-voice segment by a ratio of seven to three.

“We should be looking at non-voice services because that’s where the growth will come from in the next six years. The BPO (business process outsourcing) market is getting more and more competitive. We need to fight harder as a country to protect our share of the market,” he said.

Last year, the global revenue pie was 57 percent in favor of voice and 43 percent is associated with non-voice activities.

The industry official noted that the country should not rest on its laurels as nations such as China, Vietnam and even Sri Lanka are now giving the Philippines a run for its money.

China produces more than a million engineers each year while Philippine universities and colleges churn out only 500,000 graduates in all disciplines.

Sri Lanka and Vietnam, on the other hand, have intensified efforts to shore up its English language program while offering lower wages than the Philippines.

“I think we see more and more graduates who are just prepared for the call center jobs. This should not be the case. I think the government and the private sector has to introduce to the young people other options. There are a lot of opportunities in non-voice such as animation, publishing, healthcare, among others,” Parekh said.

Parekh, who runs the largest Filipino-owned BPO firm, also batted for a diversified mix of revenue sources, since 80 percent of the country’s $9-billion revenue in 2010 came from the United States, while the rest are from Europe.

“We have to be more effective and rigorous in attracting BPO investments here. We have to promote the Philippines especially in the Asia-Pacific market. We have to look at Australia and New Zealand because they are closer to us (and the time zone difference is small),” he said.

The government earlier approved a P62-million budget for the promotion of BPO sector, which is eyeing to post $11 billion in revenue and more than 600,000 employees this year.

Parekh said the government should also consider an extension of the current six-year tax break given to budding BPO companies to encourage expansion.

“Maybe a few more years will do,” he said.

SPi Global’s observations were earlier raised by the 320-member Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPAP) last year.

In its industry roadmap dubbed “IT-BPO Road Map 2011-2016: Driving Global Leadership,” the BPAP said the ambitious revenue goal of $25 billion and 1.3 million workers by 2016 will only be achieved if several factors including an excellent talent pool are met.

This means a better match between the skills of graduates and industry requirements; more aggressive internal marketing of the industry to the local talent pool and strengthening awareness of the Philippine value proposition in IT, voice, and non-voice BPO services in existing and new markets.

They are also advocating high impact public policies and strengthening public-private partnership with government to bankroll key programs such as study-to-work training programs.- By Virgil B. Lopez –Intellasia | Sun Star

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