INDUSTRY stakeholders in Cebu’s information technology-business process management (IT-BPM) space are anticipating industry growth amid a pandemic-stricken business environment.

Forecasts of the IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines point to US$30 billion in revenues and increased headcount to 1.5 million full-time employees by end of 2022 despite the scarring effects of the pandemic on the economy.

To achieve these goals, Joslyn Canon, director for community relations at Qualfon Philippines Inc., said the government must expedite the Covid-19 vaccination not only for personal protection but also to lower the risk of transmission that may imperil business operations.

Rasmus Bodin Lofgren, Cebu’s operations manager at Avensia Philippines Inc., said access to quality education and technology is also important to meet the target growth. He said quick access to education and technology will enable a company to quickly recover and look for new markets.

Mike Cubos, founder and owner of Performance 360 Call Center, on the other hand, said bringing the IT-BPM opportunities to the countryside will help the industry grow at a faster pace. He said incubating aspiring local BPMs, particularly in prospective IT-BPM areas, will not only accelerate revenue and employment generation but will also spur other business activities.

“We have to create a hub in the countryside where entrepreneurs, who want to be a part of the industry, will be mentored so they will have a better success rate in the industry,” said Cubos, during the Cebu Business Month (CBM) 2021 IT-BPM Coffee Table Discussion.

Cubos, who is also the CBM 2021 chairman, said to sustain the expected growth, the industry must also innovate and shift to higher-value jobs.

Pert Cabataña, president of Cebu IT-BPM Organization, reinforced Cubo’s statement saying that innovation and ecosystem development will be crucial in meeting the targets. He said mentoring even those at the grassroots level will help Cebu’s ecosystem become stronger and sustainable.

Cabataña also advocates pushing businesses out of the city to lower the risk of transmission and to decongest traffic, which has now become a disincentive to new investors.

“If we want to demonstrate innovativeness, we need to be efficient. We need to make things easy for them to move around,” he said.

Work-from-home to stay

Meanwhile, Cabataña said the work-from-home setup in the industry is here to stay at least for two years due to the slow pace of the vaccination and its issue on efficacy.

Cabataña said even if the government will hit its target of vaccinating 70 percent of the population, the effectiveness of the vaccine is still a big question.

“There is no data that would tell us how long the vaccine’s efficacy would work, so this pandemic will change the way we operate permanently,” he said.

Cubos added that the work-from-home setup is a new road that industries should be heading toward, at least for those jobs that can really be done at home.

While tech infrastructure is still a work in progress, Cubos said there have already been tech tools available to support the work-from-home setup even for voice accounts. (KOC)