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BPOs urged: Focus on what you do best

By: Victor Anthony V. Silva January 23,2017 - 10:48 PM

Lito Tayag, vice chairman of IBPAP and Accenture’s country managing director, announces the firm’s plans to hire at least 1,000 employees this year. (CDN PHOTO/JUNJIE MENDOZA)

Lito Tayag, vice chairman of IBPAP and Accenture’s country managing director, announces the firm’s plans to hire at least 1,000 employees this year. (CDN PHOTO/JUNJIE MENDOZA)

Amid growing competition from other Southeast Asian nations, a leader in the Philippine Information Technology-Business Process Management (IT-BPM) industry cited the need for local players to focus on what they do best.

Lito Tayag, vice chairman of the Information Technology-Business Processing Association of the Philippines (IT-BPAP), said firms here should leverage on the high-value services they give to their clients.

“You cannot control the competition. But what we can control is the kind of skills we develop and the services we provide,” Tayag, who is also country managing director of Accenture in the Philippines, said during the company’s 10th anniversary celebration in Cebu last Friday.

While India remains to be the world’s top outsourcing destination, the proficiency of Filipino workers in English makes it able to compete.

However, other nations such as Singapore and Malaysia are slowly catching up as well as they produce more and more highly-skilled English-speaking graduates.

Tayag said moving forward, the local IT-BPM industry should focus more on developing the necessary skills of its workforce especially in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

The industry’s present workforce of 1.1 million across the country is already a strength in itself, he added.

In Cebu, at least 120,000 are employed in the IT-BPM industry.

Positive factors

Positive nuances in Philippine culture also sets local firms apart from competition within in the region.

Friendliness, hospitality, and customer orientation placed on top of basic skills become a real differentiator, making clients want to continue working with the Philippines, Tayag said.

The increasing importance of digitalization in business operations across sectors also places pressure on BPO firms to be in step to support the needs of their clients.

“The kind of skills that took us to 1.1 million people today are not necessarily the kind of skills that will take us to our next roadmap of 1.8 million,” said Tayag, referring to the industry roadmap until 2022.

Talent pool

Joel Mari Yu, Cebu City’s investment czar, said the local BPO talent pool lacks skilled workers especially in the fields of software engineering and computer programming.

He cited the need for the industry to develop more skilled workers and “move up in the value chain.”

He said 90 percent of the IT-BPM sector in the Philippines, not just in Cebu, are only engaged in voice services, accounting, and inventory, among others.

Engineers, computer programmers, and web developers, are only a few of the most in-demand jobs in the IT-BPM sector due to specialized skills needed in higher-value services.

Nonetheless, he said the BPO sector is growing nicely due its performance in accounting and client servicing.

CEDFIT program

Wilfredo “Jun” Sa-a, Jr., executive director of Cebu Educational Development for Information Technology (CEDF-IT), also recognized the need for more skilled workers to enable the growth of the industry in terms of higher value services.

CEDF-IT is also working out a training module for college teachers on Service Management Programs (SMP), an initiative seen to improve the skills of the BPO workforce.

SMPs, which are also applicable to other industries such as hospitality, usually delve into the study of leadership, customer, service, and team building, among others.

1,000 workers

Meanwhile, in a bid to further grow its business in Cebu, Accenture projected to hire 1,000 more employees in 2017.

Tayag, for his part, said they were looking forward to growing their practice in Cebu as they celebrate their 10th year of operations here.

From only 85 workers when it launched its first facility in 2007, the company now has 5,000 employees today, with operations at Pioneer House, Robinsons Cybergate, as well as IT Park’s eBloc 2 and eBloc 3.

Accenture is now looking for employees who are US-registered nurses, fluent in Japanese, equipped with infrastructure services skills, and network engineers, among others.

Tayag said they are also looking at putting up a new facility in Cebu to cater to their growing number of employees, although he did not elaborate.

The practice in Cebu offers mostly non-voice services including finance, accounting, and health management, serving 120 clients across North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific.

At present, the company employees 45,000 in the Philippines, spread out in 22 facilities across Manila, Cebu, and Ilocos delivery centers.

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TAGS: Accenture, BPO, Cebu, Cebu City, IT, IT-BPM, outsourcing, technology, Voice

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