BPO sector sets sights on high-value services

Firms seek share of finance, creative sectors

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After shrugging off a pending anti-outsourcing bill in the US Congress, the government said the country’s business process outsourcing (BPO) industry has set its sights on higher-value areas of the industry to sustain the growth started by call centers.

The country’s Information and Communications Technology Office (ICTO), an agency attached to the Department of Science and Technology, said the local BPO industry aims to establish itself in the fields of healthcare information management, finance and accounting, human resources and creative processes.

Efforts to promote these sectors would go hand in hand with the continued development of the country’s call-center industry now tagged as the biggest in the world.

“We are the world’s number one call center provider and we intend to attain market leadership in the United Kingdom and Australia as well,” ICTO Deputy Executive Director Alejandro Melchor said in a statement.

“With our new development programs for the BPO industry, we also intend to position the Philippines as a world leader in Healthcare Information Management Outsourcing, Finance and Accounting Outsourcing, HR Outsourcing, and Creative Process Outsourcing. Our goal is to double our market share by 2016 in Information Technology Outsourcing, Engineering Services Outsourcing and Multilingual BPO,” Melchor said.

The industry posted over $9 billion in revenues in 2011, or an estimated 5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

The ICTO said the government target was for this to increase to 8.6 percent of GDP by the end of the Aquino administration.

This translates to about $25 billion in revenues by 2016.

“We are expecting BPO not only to contribute significantly to the GDP in the next five years; its most significant impact would be on employment,” ICTO Executive Director Louis Casambre said.

He said the government, through the ICTO, would launch several new initiatives that aim to improve the quality of college graduates in the country who can eventually seek employment in BPO companies.

“Our programs are not limited to that of industry but also improving the quality of our graduates and improve their chances of landing jobs not only in the BPO sector but in other industries as well,” he said.

The Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPAP) was equally optimistic about the industry’s prospects, noting that the sector could create over four million jobs—1.3 million direct and about three million in support industries such as construction and retail—in the country in five years.

This will be possible, however, “only if the industry can further step up its partnership with government,” BPAP chairman Alfredo Ayala said.

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