Friday August 17, 2018

Bangko Sentral exec: ‘Focus on high-value-added services’

THE business process outsourcing (BPO) industry of Bacolod City should focus more on high-value-added services to be able to further address future demands, an official of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said.

Dr. Joselito Basilio, acting deputy director of BSP Department of Economics Research, said there will be more use of mobile technology, and information technology (IT), like artificial intelligence (AI), in the future.

Basilio, who was in Bacolod City Tuesday, May 15 for the “Conference on Gearing Up for External Competitiveness”, said this revolution of technology might result to cut down on jobs due to automation of functions.

“Our BPO industry here is already organized in a way that they can easily address this type of demand,” he said, adding that “however, there is a need for it to focus more on high-value-added services.”

More than customer services, the local industry can do medical transcription, accounting, and other financial services. Maybe in the future, it can venture statistical analysis or robotics.

Basilio said India is number one in IT, especially in outsourcing of services.

But if Bacolod can do more in focusing on those type of outsourcing services, then it has an advantage since foreign companies who want to do business are already here, he said.

“All they need to do is retool the current BPO employees and collaborate with universities to be able to meet the demand for such types of skills,” the BSP official added.

The Bacolod-Negros Occidental Federation for Information and Communications Technology (BNEFIT) has already been initiating measures to further strengthen the local BPO industry.

Jocelle Batapa-Sigue, executive director of BNEFIT, earlier said they are initiating a digital caravan this summer aimed at engaging senior high school teachers in a series of boot camps.

“We will expose them to what BPO is all about by bringing them to different call centers in Bacolod City,” Batapa-Sigue said, adding that "we will introduce them, at the same time, to disruptive technologies like automation.”

Based on projections, standard-wise, 40 percent of the BPO industry will be disrupted by AI. Thus, chances are 40 percent of those doing voice jobs will be substituted by the machines.

“But the machines will be run by people who will need to handle AI so we need to upscale,” she pointed out.

For his part, BSP Department of Economic Research Senior Director Zeno Ronald Abenoja said they have observed that Bacolod City has emerged into one of the top BPO destinations in the Philippines.

The city has a young and well-educated population, which is one key strength identified by the BPO industry, Abenoja said.

“So we expect that we will have more investments also on the knowledge process outsourcing industry,” he added.