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BPO situationer: Philippines poised to capture a bigger slice of the BPO global market share

Business process outsourcing, IT and business process management, IT-BPM, Office sector, Residential sector

Supporting the growth and expansion of the IT-BPM industry offers many opportunities for other industries. A buoyant outsourcing industry bodes positively well for the real estate sector as a result of increased demand for office space and residential condos, in addition to its benefits for the transportation, telecommunications, hospitality, and retail sectors.

 

Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) refers to the process of contracting a third-party provider to handle or perform non-core business functions of an enterprise. Over the past decades, the BPO industry has transformed itself from providing low-end, unstructured single-focus services to a behemoth industry, offering a plethora of services and skills to their clients across the globe.

The BPO industry, since its inception, has grown at rapid speed and has acquired significant traction on the global market share. This growth is attributable to increasing demand of enterprises to (1) reduce costs, (2) focus on their core business activities, and (3) handle problems such as shortage of skilled personnel.

Based on a 2021 report released by Deloitte, IT services (54%), Finance (44%), Payroll services (32%), and Customer service or Contact centers (22%) are the most often outsourced services. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic and recent economic headwinds, the global BPO industry has grown to an industry with an estimated value of  US$164.7 billion in 2022 and is expected to reach US$381.62 billion by 2030.

Globally, India is the top player for outsourcing services. It is closely followed by the Philippines and the United States. India’s BPO sector remains strong, offering 24/7 services and advances in technology. This market takes great pride on its homegrown talents, most of whom are experts on IT and software development. And while India is highly regarded for its IT expertise and impressive BPO-supporting infrastructure, Filipinos’ soft skills, including customer support, English language proficiency, and cultural affinity to the North American markets, are the Philippines’ biggest draws, which make the country a force to be reckoned with in the BPO sector.

A brighter future lies ahead

According to an article published in Rappler, the Philippine BPO industry officially started in 1992 when Frank Holz, under the Accenture group, created the first contact center in the country. Three years later, in 1995, Congress passed the Special Economic Zone Act, whose aims, among others, include the transformation of selected areas into highly developed ecozones and the promotion of the flow of investors, both foreign and local, into these zones. This piece of legislation also paved for the establishment of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA).

In 2000, the BPO industry accounted for a mere 0.075% of the country’s GDP, which has grown exponentially since then. In an article published in Manila Standard, Jack Madrid, president of the IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) said that the industry contributed at least 7% to the Philippine economy during the pandemic.

According to IBPAP, the BPO industry currently employs 1.44 million full-time employees and recorded $29.1 billion worth of revenue in the first half of 2022. This is attributable to the pent-up demand from global customers, the higher confidence on work-from-home setup by clients of contact centers and business process services, and growth in e-commerce, financial technology, health care, and technology.

The BPO industry should play an important role in the Philippine economy’s recovery from the pandemic. Although it was also adversely affected by Covid-19, it adjusted relatively quickly and has invested in infrastructure that enabled it to keep its operations going. According to Madrid, the industry’s quick recovery is expected to spill over to 2022 and will continue to boost demand for IT-BPM services, positively contributing to preserving jobs, driving investment, stimulating countryside development, and creating demand for real estate.

What makes a good outsourcing destination?

In choosing an outsourcing destination, decision-makers mainly focus on three selection parameters: regulation, costs, and labor. All these three parameters pose a significant effect on the service providers’ long-term competitiveness and sustainability.

In terms of regulation, the decision-makers assess the locations’ business regulation, tax-payment procedures, and minimum capital requirement. Costs, including wages and infrastructure costs (e.g., office space, fit-out costs) are also the main consideration for a location’s viability.

As for labor, the service providers gauge the availability (quality and quantity) and depth of professional and technical talent of a potential location. The Philippines is considered a top-tier destination for the BPO industry; it is a market leader in terms of voice-related services, and it is rapidly expanding its capacity to provide non-voice Business Process Management (BPM) and IT services for the expanding list of global clientele.

The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation of the BPO industry, specifically in speeding up the adoption of automation technology to permit work-from-home (WFH) setup. In an article published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno said that long-standing issue on work-from-home (WFH) arrangement for the IT-BPM sector has already been resolved. In practice, BPO firms can keep their perks and also continue the WFH option as they transfer their registration from PEZA to the Board of Investments, which is a triumph for the industry as it strives to keep and win talent.

Although BPO firms are gradually returning to their offices, many employees are given options for either hybrid work, onsite work, or WFH arrangements. But as restrictions continue to ease and as BPOs rapidly expands, we believe that demand for office spaces and co-working spaces will see an increase.

Big players

Being a top tier outsourcing destination, there are a number of top BPOs currently operating in the country. The illustration below shows the largest BPO in the country in terms of employee count.

MicrosoftTeamsimage (228)Figure 1. Estimated full-time employees of the largest BPO firms in the Philippines.

Figure 1 shows Concentrix leads in terms of employee count, followed by Accenture, Teleperformance, Alorica, and the Sitel Group.

Concentrix first started its operations in the Philippines in 2007. Since its inception, Concentrix has established itself as a multi-awarded customer experience (CX) solutions company with the largest employee footprint of about 90,000 employees in the Philippines. Concentrix continues to expand and grow despite the challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. According to Statista, Concentrix generated a revenue of US$5.587 billion in 2021, US$1.34 billion of which came from its Philippine operations. For 2022, Concentrix expects a tightened revenue rate of between US$6.365 billion and US$6.415 billion.

Accenture is also one of the biggest BPO companies in the Philippines specializing in providing IT services and consulting with 72,000 highly skilled professionals. The company was certified a Great Place To Work® by the Great Place To Work Institute (2021–2022). The Dublin-based consulting company reported an annual revenue of US$50.533 billion in fiscal year 2021 and US$16.6 billion for the third quarter of fiscal year 2022, which ended on May 31, 2022.

Teleperformance is another BPO giant in the Philippines delivering digital integrated business service and experience management to its clients. It employs approximately 56,000 professionals in the Philippines and, like Accenture, has also been certified Great Place To Work® for four consecutive years. In 2021, Teleperformance reported a consolidated revenue of €7.115 billion (US$8.4 billion; based on €1 = US$1.18) and €3.946 billion in the first half of 2022.

Alorica started its operations in the Philippines in 2004 and has since continued to expand its client base and BPO market share in the country. It is a CX management and a BPO services solutions provider that services companies of any size and industry worldwide. It has approximately 55,000 full-time employees in the Philippines. According to online jobs platform Zippia.com, Alorica’s peak revenue was $2.4 billion in 2021.

One of the largest global providers of CX products and solutions, Sitel Group ranks fifth among the largest BPO companies in the Philippines based on employee count. It started its investment in the Philippines in 2000 and has since been showing exceptional growth, opening job opportunities to approximately 37,000 Filipinos. Sitel Group has a reported global revenue of over US$4 billion in 2021.

092022 Fig 2BPOOffice FootprintFigure 2. Office footprint, in square meters, of BPO companies in the Philippines. Source: Colliers data (H1 2022).

In terms of total office space occupied, Concentrix leads the list, which is unsurprising given that it reports continuous growth of full-time employees year-on-year. Colliers H1 2022 data show that Concentrix has an office footprint of 241,403 square meters in Metro Manila and 98,729 square meters in the provinces, with a total area occupied of 340,132 square meters. The company has significant investment in the provinces, particularly in Angeles, Metro Cebu (Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu, and Mandaue), Davao City, and Naga, taking advantage of the huge talent pool these locations provide.

Accenture ranks second in terms of office space occupied. Its approximately 72,000 full-time employees are housed in the company’s total office footprint of 196,290 square meters based on Colliers’ H1 2022 data. Of these, 167,868 square meters are located in Metro Manila while 28,422 square meters are located in Metro Cebu.

Following Accenture is Teleperformance, which has a recorded office footprint of 164,650 square meters in the Philippines: 113,250 square meters in Metro Manila and 51,400 square meters in the provinces (Cavite, Baguio, Metro Cebu, Bacolod, Davao City, and Cagayan de Oro).

Not far behind Teleperformance is Alorica, a California-based BPO giant, which is the Philippines’ fourth largest in terms of employee count. Based on Colliers data, its total office space occupied is 162,641 square meters: 127,293 square meters of which are located in Metro Manila while 35,348 square meters are in Angeles, Metro Cebu, Davao City, and Ilocos Norte.

JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s BPO operations in the Philippines ranks fifth in terms of office space occupied. While Metro Manila is its main site of investment (102,650 square meters), it also has a sizeable presence in Cebu City, occupying 22,600 square meters of office space.

PEZA space

In terms of PEZA status of office buildings occupied, both Metro Manila- and provincial-based BPO firms prefer PEZA-accredited spaces, as shown in the graph below. Occupiers in PEZA-accredited buildings enjoy fiscal incentives.

092022 Fig 3PEZA Space MMFigure 3. Breakdown of BPO-occupied office space in Metro Manila in H1 2022 in terms of PEZA status (in square meters). Source: Colliers data (H1 2022).

092022 Fig 4PEZA Space ProvincialFigure 4. Breakdown of BPO-occupied office space in provincial locations in H1 2022 in terms of PEZA status (in square meters). Source: Colliers data (H1 2022).

Handover condition is also one of BPO firms’ major considerations in looking for their next office space. As illustrated in Figure 5, the majority of BPO companies in Metro Manila lease fully fitted office spaces. A fully fitted office space means that the space is already furnished (with working tables and chairs), and well suited for use with minimal setting up or configuration. BPOs are choosing to lease fully fitted office spaces because they are move-in and require minimal capital expenditure and time to fit out. In addition, fully fitted spaces are fully equipped with amenities, such as meeting rooms, conference rooms, pantry, air-con units, and furniture, which allow BPO companies to start their operations easily and immediately.

092022 Fig 5Handover ConditionFigure 5. Handover condition of Metro Manila office spaces transacted for BPO clients. Source: Colliers data (H1 2022).

Former Trade secretary Ramon Lopez noted that despite the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the BPO industry did not lay off workers; in contrast, BPO firms have continued to hire even during the peak of the pandemic.

BPO companies have continued to support the Philippine economy amidst challenges and lack of infrastructure to support their employees and operations. Now that the economy is opening up, BPO companies are also gradually expanding, taking advantage of the Philippines’ vast talent pool.

Supporting the growth and expansion of the BPO industry offers many opportunities for other industries as well. A buoyant BPO industry bodes positively well for the real estate sector as a result of increased demand for office space and residential condos. Indeed, the BPO sector is a powerful driving economic force: it is first and foremost a job generator and at the same time helps buoy the transportation, telecommunications, hospitality, and retail sectors.

With the Philippines continuing its path in supporting the demand of outsourcing companies. It is actively enticing foreign direct investments to continue to prop up the economy. With the enactment of the CREATE Law to further rationalize taxes and incentivize foreign investments, the Philippines is affirming its stature as an ideal investment hub.

 


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