Monday, January 14, 2008

Mid-size BPO firms to rise in RP


An international business process outsourcing (BPO) executive said the Philippines BPO industry could benefit from the softening of the US economy and could spur the rise of medium-sized BPO firms.

Companies in recession in the US are now considering outsourcing as a way to save money, said SupportSave Solutions Inc. president Chris Johns.

He said small and medium companies in the US have decided to follow multinational firms when it comes to outsourcing their back-end operations.

This, he said, could put Cebu and the entire Philippines at an advantage, considering the large talent pool available here and the proficiency of most Filipinos in the English language, among others.

Johns expressed optimism in the countrys BPO industry whose growth is not only evident in the entry and expansion of more multinational players, but also the rise of small and medium BPO companies.

These small and medium US firms are growing. They are the under-served segment of the market, he said.

Since these firms make up the bulk of the US economy, he said their plan to venture into outsourcing will certainly uplift Cebus position as the next outsourcing capital of the world.

A recent survey conducted by industry publication Global Services and investment advisory firm Tholons named Cebu as the fourth emerging outsourcing destination for global companies.

Cebus potential in the BPO industry is huge. In Manila, the market is more saturated because of many big companies. But Cebu, other than having a huge talent pool, is more hospitable, said Johns.

SupportSave, a pioneer low-cost BPO company founded by Johns in 2004 which was incorporated last May 2007, has been operating in Cebu since November 2006 with 326 available seats.

Johns said initial capitalization for the Cebu operations was approximately 220,000 US dollars.

The firm offers 65 percent voice call services and 35 percent non-voice call services. It caters to clients in various fields, such as medical, software, insurance, e-commerce, publishing and financial services.

Johns said because SupportSave targets only mid-size US clients, their call center agents feel less stressed, although they get a middle-income salary.

We have no fancy technology but our working environment is more relaxed, he said, adding that the company processes 30 to 50 applicants per day.

While other outsourcing firms offer scholarship loans to their employees, SupportSave gives its workers the option to own shares in the company.

SupportSave is a publicly traded company in the US with 12 million shares selling at 0.77 centavos per share, Johns said.