DTSI Group: From start-up to global firm

Michael Alan Hamlin

Posted on September 19, 2012

Last Friday, DTSI Group—originally a startup systems integrator and now a member of the NTT Communications Group—celebrated its 15th year providing technologies, communications, and facilities services to Philippine and international investors. About 300 clients, partners, and suppliers joined the celebration, many because “we are all special” to DTSI Group, as former Philam Life/AIA senior vice president and chief technology and information officer Romulo Cambaliza said succinctly in an anniversary message.

DTSI Group is an award-winning provider of game-changing technology, advanced communication systems, and state-of-the-art facilities to FORTUNE 1000 corporations and mid-size companies alike, according to its website. Founded by DTSI Group president and CEO Miguel Garcia, the company says it has enabled over 300,000 call center seats in the Philippines, equivalent to 60% of total industry seats in the Philippines.

“DTSI Group is a pioneer of the IT-BPO industry, beginning more than a decade ago. They have contributed significantly and groomed the industry for success,” said BPAP President and CEO Benedict Hernandez. Garcia was among a small group of Philippine business executives who traveled regularly to the United States with Philippine trade officials to sell the fledgling IT-BPO industry when DTSI Group itself was little more than a fledgling startup.

In contrast to its low-margin business model providing network integration and systems solutions, Garcia says he saw significant opportunity in IT-BPO. He worked with Secretary Manuel A. Roxas II and Secretary Gregory L. Domingo—then Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) secretary and undersecretary, respectively, and other private-sector executives to position the Philippines as a center for business excellence to foreign investors.

“We knew the industry held great promise for the Philippines,” Garcia said recently, “but we didn’t comprehend that it would grow into an $11 billion industry in little more than a decade and employ 640,000 Filipinos in high-paying positions.” Mr. Roxas is now secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government, while Mr. Domingo has taken the helm at DTI. Both officials are credited with evangelizing the Philippines when doing so was a far more difficult undertaking than it is today.

Despite its “mature state,” the IT-BPO industry continues to grow as if it were just getting the notice it deserves from investors. BPAP and analysts alike expect the industry to expand by more than 20% this year. Its biggest challenge is talent supply, or rather ensuring that Filipinos entering the workforce have the skills the industry requires. Managers and supervisors are also in short supply, suggesting that the industry offers plenty of room for career growth.

As for Garcia, he says that by selling the Philippines, he was helping create opportunities for his firm that might not have materialized otherwise. “We’re passionate about advocating the Philippine knowledge worker and the attractive business benefits of the Philippines. So before we sell DTSI Group, we sell the Philippines. But appreciation for the Philippines’ attributes extends to our company, so by selling the Philippines, we’re selling ourselves,” Garcia told me recently.

I’ve often characterized DTSI Group—which is a client—as an enabler of the IT-BPO industry, providing end-to-end technologies, communications, and facilities services that facilitate investing and doing business in the Philippines for both new investors and companies expanding operations. “Our slogan is ‘Beyond Solutions,’” Garcia explained. “We don’t just provide solutions, we assist our clients in quickly setting up and beginning operations.”

The company’s first and oldest client, Philam Life relied on DTSI Group almost since the day it was founded. Mr. Cambaliza credits the decade-and-a-half synergy between the companies to Garcia’s emphasis on doing more than the usual in developing and managing business partnerships. “You can buy technology, you can buy solutions from other companies, but you can’t buy relationships and at the end of the day, that’s what matters most,” says Cambaliza.

Another client, Transcom Philippines country manager Siva Subramaniam elaborated on Cambaliza’s assessment, “I’ve known DTSI for 15 years as a premier provider of communication requirements. Very ethical and very honest operators so we chose DTSI as one of our preferred partners for those reasons.” Dave Rizzo, president of Teleperformance Asia Pacific, says of Garcia, “Miguel has never failed to meet our expectations.

“I’m confident Miguel and his team will continue to delight me and the wonderful people who work in the facilities he builds.”

Earlier this year DTSI Group became a member of the NTT Communications Group, dramatically extending its capability to provide services beyond the company’s traditional Philippine and US markets. Looking to the future, Garcia says, “Our challenge is to reach beyond expectations by constantly innovating. In doing so, we will continue to grow our markets, enable enterprises, and provide for an environment that supports job creation.”

In other words, DTSI Group will continue to grow by selling the Philippines, and convincing investors to create jobs here.

(Michael Alan Hamlin is the managing director of TeamAsia and a Manila-based author and commentator. His latest book is High Visibility: Transforming Your Personal and Professional Brand. Write him at mahamlin@teamasia.com and follow him on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn. Copyright © 2012 Michael Alan Hamlin. All Rights Reserved.)

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