While the talent gap represents the biggest single threat to the fast-growing IT-BPO industry, the rising cost of doing business, quality of telecom infrastructure, and consistency in the administration of investment incentives are all major factors determining the viability of the industry, according to the results of an industry survey. Because so much attention is focused on the critical talent issues, other factors that fundamentally impact the industry may not get the attention they deserve.
The survey was commissioned by the Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPAP) and Outsource2Philippines (O2P) as the last in a series of quarterly surveys conducted this year. Respondents also identified the Philippines’ “country brand” and regulatory environment as at least “significantly important” factors that can enhance or undermine the attractiveness of the industry to investors.
Does it seem curious to you that the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) singles out overseas remittances when announcing how fast the economy is growing, but lumps IT-BPO—the nation’s most efficient job generator at home—into a basket of miscellaneous services? About 10 million overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) remitted $15.57 billion in the first three quarters of 2012. The World Bank forecasts total remittances for the year of $24 billion.
Given these numbers, it’s not hard to understand why NEDA places such prominence on the contribution of OFWs to the economy, and its “inclusive” effect on the masses, presenting a trickle down opportunity to partake of the fruits of economic growth. In a statement announcing the Philippines’ impressive 7.1% third-quarter expansion NEDA secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan said remittances increased precisely 4.2%.
It’s said that great blessings come in small packages. Each year, the Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPAP) and TeamAsia organize—with partners Children’s Hour and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)—an annual Christmastime effort to deliver small packages to thousands of children across the Philippines. Starting from humble beginnings four years ago in the aftermath of Typhoon Ondoy (international call sign Ketsana), it has grown to many times its original size, and reach.
Conceived by BPAP former executive director Jonathan de Luzuriaga and TeamAsia president Monette Hamlin, “My Dream in a Shoebox” is championed by the Philippine IT-BPO industry, and has become a beloved Christmas tradition of collecting and distributing shoeboxes filled with school supplies to Filipino children whose families struggle to keep them in school. But today it does much more than distribute school supplies. (Disclosure: BPAP is a client of my firm, TeamAsia.)
After winning a historic landslide election four years ago, US President Barack Obama learned Wednesday morning in Manila that his tight race for reelection—which few imagined even 12 months back when his opponent was locked in an uninspiring battle for the Republican Party nomination—returned him to the White House for what Republican candidate Mitt Romney calls “a second chance” to fix America. Mr. Obama says failure to reelect him would have resulted in a return to the failed and largely unregulated free-market policies of former president George W. Bush.
The irony of that argument is that Mr. Obama’s policies haven’t worked too well, either.
There’s been so much good news coming out of the Philippines in recent months—three upgrades by international ratings agencies; Finance secretary Cesar Purisma was named 2012 Finance Minister of the Year by Euromoney; the economy is forecast to be the sixth fastest-growing in the world between 2010 and 2050; there’s a new, credible peace agreement in the south; IT-BPO looks set to attain its stretch target of $25 billion in revenues in 2016; and, competitiveness is on the rise according to the World Economic Forum—that it was a bit of shock last week when the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and The World Bank announced that it’s still too difficult to set up a business here.
And it got tougher this year, not easier.