‘Diversify to stay competitive’-A A +A
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
CONTACT center players in the Philippines have to diversify to stay globally competitive, a top industry official said yesterday.
Although the country has been recognized as one of the top preferred outsourcing destinations in the world, Contact Center Association of the Philippines (CCAP) president Benedict Hernandez said the industry “should not rest on its laurels.”
“We need to strengthen our differentiation both in the kind of services we deliver and in the markets that we will be tapping,” Hernandez said during the panel discussion in yesterday’s opening of the International Contact Center Conference and Expo (ICCCE) in Shangri-la’s Mactan Resort and Spa.
He challenged contact center companies to go beyond the mere offering of customer
support and develop high-value services like finance, human resource, healthcare, information technology and other industry-specific niches.
Health care industry
Hernandez cited health care information management as one of the fastest-growing segments in the country’s contact center industry. He said the Philippines has the capability to deliver seamless and integrated services in this sector.
“Global companies have shifted their focus to the country because of our large pool of medical professionals,” he said.
Hernandez also urged players to diversify to other markets like New Zealand, Australia and Asia, and not rely only on the United States, the country’s main market.
Differentiation is also a key for the industry to stay competitive on cost amid the currency value difference with India. Based on the exchange rate with the US dollar, India is 25 percent cheaper than the Philippines.
“We should think of the power of our brand and not the price points,” said Hernandez.
According to H. Karthik, vice president at Everest Group, the Philippines has to step up differentiation in order to justify the price point difference to their clients.
“You need to diversify but don’t lose your core, which is the voice,” he said. Karthik said the Philippines still remains the world’s top voice destination. He anchored the country’s success on three factors: affinity to US culture, skill and cost competitiveness.
The Philippine contact center industry is poised to grow by 18 percent this year. Its revenue is expected to hit $10.4 billion and generate employment of 586,000 fulltime employees by yearend.
By 2016, the industry is projected to grow to 915,000 full time workers and generate $16.3 billion in revenues, growing 15 to 18 percent year-on-year.
“The industry will continue to grow because we’ve got a large pool of young population,” said economist Bernardo Villegas.
He encouraged contact centers, however, to also look at the potential of Mindanao, particularly Cagayan de Oro City, for business expansion.
Cagayan de Oro
“Cagayan de Oro City should be in your radar because of its abundance of qualified talents,” said Villegas. He said investors shouldn’t be scared to visit the city just because of the recent bombing. “We should spread the growth of the information technology-business process management (IT-BPM) to the countryside.”
Meanwhile, Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Mario Montejo said they are beefing up measures to sustain the industry’s growth through various programs done in partnership with the private sector aimed at ensuring the availability and quality of talents.
Montejo said English proficiency is one of the top concerns faced by the contact
He said the DOST spent P13 million to develop an electronic software learning program called Learning English Application for Pinoys (Leap).
The Leap course program is a 200-hour English training software that has two modules on grammar and vocabulary and speech. This was developed by a team of software engineers and designers, as well as language experts in UP Diliman.
According to Montejo, the program is designed to attain a level of proficiency that
will help Filipinos land jobs in local call centers that require high English communication skills. The program will be rolled out for free in 10 sites next year.
The department also plans to strengthen further the ecosystem by attracting employees from the countryside. The government’s target is to generate 1.3 million in employment by 2016, of which 40 percent will come from the countryside, said Montejo.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 29, 2013.