South Africa looms as major BPO rival of PH

By Ylexis Kyle-Michael R. Rualo

A host of favorable factors is allowing South Africa to emerge as a major threat to the Philippines as a preferred outsourcing destination, according to top BPO observers.

Photo shows forum speakers (from right) Raj Wadhwani, president of the Contact Center World Association; Noda CEO Andrey Zaytsev; Asia CEO Forum chairman Richard Mills; and Penny Bongato, executive director for talent development IBPAP. At left is forum host Kim Lokin.

Photo shows forum speakers (from right) Raj Wadhwani, president of the Contact Center World Association; Noda CEO Andrey Zaytsev; Asia CEO Forum chairman Richard Mills; and Penny Bongato, executive director for talent development IBPAP. At left is forum host Kim Lokin.

In a recent forum sponsored by Russia-based call center solutions provider Noda, Asia CEO Forum chairman Richard Mills said South Africa is a legitimate contender in the BPO space because of the following reasons: growing young population, European language proficiency, geographic location, time zone, and passion for the service industry.

Mills said that because of its geographic location in the same region as Europe, South Africa observes the same time zone of target European countries. It is also proficient in European languages due to the profusion of English, German, and French nationals in the country, he added.

Raj Wadhwani, president of the Contact Center World Association, also said during the same forum that apart from South Africa, a lot of BPO activities are being seen across Central America and Eastern Europe.

Penny Bongato, executive director for talent development at Information Technology and Business Processing Association of the Philippines (IBPAP), said that while other countries have indeed risen to the occasion, the Philippines still has advantages over them due to its service orientation and innate care in handling clients.

This is the reason, she said, why the Philippine BPO industry is on track to generate $25-billion revenue and produce 1.3-million job opportunities by 2016.

The Philippines, said Bongato, will remain the top country in voice BPO for the time being, although it is also now rapidly expanding into non-voice BPO and information technology fields.

Bongato said the expansion will occur in “Next Wave Cities” such as Cebu and Bacolod. More jobs will be available in the provinces because opportunities will no longer be solely focused in Metro Manila, she said.

But, Mills said the Philippines should build skills in preparation for future jobs in order to keep Filipinos in the country. The global market is going to provide more opportunities and Filipinos should have the skills required to match the demand, he said.

Noda CEO Andrey Zaytsev said that a recall of outsourcing from the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada in order to return opportunities to the homeland could also be possible. Western countries, he said, can opt to prioritize providing jobs for its citizens instead of outsourcing.

Having modern skills and technologies could gain the Philippines more customers and prevent Western countries from scrapping their outsourcing deals, said Zaytsev. Harnessing the potential of the latest technologies in the industry is the best way to the top, he said.

Wadhwani, for his part, said the Philippine BPO industry should market itself more with the global audience and cultivate an image as the top choice for outsourcing.

“Filipinos need to train in different languages so the country can win over more companies. Holistic language proficiency is an asset that can be used to attract more firms to outsource in the country,” he said.

Meanwhile, Noda also announced that it has partnered with local systems integrator Total Information Management Inc. (TIM). Noda said it has conducted training sessions for TIM’s technical and sales personnel at the beginning of 2014.

With TIM, Noda said its products for automation of call centers and in-house functions are able to expand to the Asia Pacific region. It has its own regional office and staff of local engineers based in Manila.

In its website, Noda detailed how its rate of growth has left behind other customer service interaction (CSI) companies Cisco, Avaya, and Genesys.

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