The global BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) industry has grown steadily over the last 15 years and shows no signs of abating – growth is currently running at 5.6% per annum, and the total market size in 2015 is projected to be US$93.4bn. The reasons for outsourcing certain functions to a BPO provider remain unchanged: controlling costs, increased operational efficiency, concentration on core competencies, reduced time to market, access to fresh talent, and rapid exposure to cutting-edge technologies.
Whilst there is still growth in the more traditional BPO market – voice-related services delivered via offshore call centres – the non-voice area referred to as Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPO) is growing much more strongly. This includes operations such as healthcare information management, content solutions, software development, animation and legal services. In addition, smaller companies are now looking to outsource non-core functions in order to leverage the experience, expertise, and economies of scale which BPO providers can deliver.
India is still the leading supplier of BPO services globally, but other countries are now taking an increasing share of the market. In particular, the Philippines is experiencing growth of 25-30% per annum, compared with India’s 15%, and has grown tenfold in the last decade. There are now over 1,000 BPO companies operating in the Philippines, and seven Filipino cities are listed in the “2014 Top 100 Outsourcing Destinations” report by strategic offshore advisory firm Tholons. Indeed, the Philippines’ capital city, Manila, is ranked the second-most popular destination in the world, just behind Bangalore. Tholons also reports that the Philippines is now the most popular choice for voice services, and ranked second overall for non-voice services.
The attractiveness of the Philippines for BPO stems from its high literacy rate of 92%, its position as the third-largest English-speaking country in the world, its “neutral” accent, and lower wage costs. The country also has cultural compatibility with both East and West, and is recognised as having the highest business fluency in the BPO industry. There is strong government support with specific tax breaks for BPO businesses, a focus on education and training programmes to ensure Filipinos have the necessary skills, and legislative measures to ensure that customer data is handled confidentially and with integrity.
A significant milestone was reached in August 2014, when the total number of people employed in the Philippine BPO industry reached 1 million, an increase of 30% from the end of 2012, with an estimated 1.6 million additional jobs created from indirect employment. Revenue from BPO services is forecast to reach US$18bn this year. The industry is well on track to meet the country’s stated goals of achieving, by 2016, 1.3 million people in direct employment, with an additional 3.2 million in indirect employment and total annual revenues of US$25bn. BPO services are taking an increasingly important role in the Philippine economy, as a source of foreign currency earnings and as a destination for foreign investment.
One of the leading BPO companies in the Philippines is SPi Global. With a 35-year history of innovation and leadership, SPi Global is considered a founding pillar, instrumental in paving the way for Philippine recognition in the global BPO industry. Among various awards, the company received “Best BPO Company” and “Best Employer” merits from the International ICT Awards – the most prestigious event in the Philippine BPO industry, recognising achievement and excellence in organisations and individuals.
SPi Global currently employs 20,000 talented and skilled people, of whom 16,000 are located in the Philippines, with operations successfully established as well in India, Vietnam, the United States, and most recently in China and Nicaragua.
Along with CRM (Customer Relationship Management) outsourcing, SPi Global has two core KPO offerings – Content Solutions and Healthcare. “All three industries that we are involved in are going through significant transformation and SPi Global is well positioned to help our clients navigate through these exciting times,” says Maulik Parekh, SPi Global President and CEO. “For example, in Content Solutions, we are helping our clients transition from print to digital and from static to smart content. In Healthcare, we are helping our clients navigate through the increasing complexity of U.S. Healthcare in line with Obamacare and the ICD-10 implementation. In CRM, we are helping clients acquire and retain more customers through social media in addition to the traditional customer service channels,” added Parekh.
With its aggressive growth targets, SPi Global’s expansion plans always include a strong intent to provide better career prospects for professionals living in the provinces. Philippine locations such as Laguna, Dumaguete, and Iloilo employ 40% of the company’s Filipino workforce. In Negros Oriental where Dumaguete is located, SPi Global is the largest private employer with over 4,000 workers. This creates substantial indirect employment in these areas. Parekh proudly comments, “Restaurants, malls, and a host of other businesses have since sprouted and have become part of an ecosystem we helped create.”
The company has five key corporate values – integrity, accountability, malasakit, meritocracy, and respect – creatively presented as the acronym “I AM MoRE” – which are inculcated in all SPi Global locations across the world. Malasakit, a Filipino word which means deep care and concern, best defines the global culture of the organisation. “We believe our culture is our competitive advantage. All the awards and citations given by the local and international business communities are a result of the strong culture built by our dedicated and talented employees,” Parekh states.
Power to InSPire
SPi Global also believes that along with the growth of the company comes the development of its host communities. Since 2012, the company has been conducting a global Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) platform dubbed “Power to InSPire,” where it organises simultaneous CSR programs within 24 hours across its global offices. The simple gestures of many of the company’s 20,000 employees translated to huge waves again this year as they engaged in volunteer work and raised 60,000 hours for various programs on youth welfare and education.