Why Philippines' BPO industry shouldn't get complacent

by Cathy Rose A. Garcia, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at May 26 2014 05:32 PM | Updated as of May 27 2014 11:10 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Accenture remains bullish about the prospects of the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry in the Philippines.

But Accenture Asia Pacific managing director Peter Lacy warned the BPO industry here shouldn't get too complacent, as competition heats up around the world.

"Competition is going to be extremely fierce for areas like BPOs, particularly in a digital world and digital economy, I think around the world. You have to be careful not to be complacent. What we see is, a comparative advantage at any given point in time is only going to last for a certain period," he said on ANC's Headstart with Karen Davila.

The BPO industry has grown significantly in the last decade, making the Philippines number one destination in the world for voice services.

Accenture has grown its BPO operations in the Philippines to one of the biggest, with 32,000 employees in just 10 years.

Asked if the growth of the BPO industry is sustainable, Lacy said, "I think the Philippines has been a huge hot bed for global BPOs over the last decade. Accenture has 32,000 people here now. It's one of the biggest markets in the world for us... We think it's a great industry. We think it's sustainable."

He noted that while the Philippines is known for call centers because of Filipinos' linguistic skills, there is an increase in technology delivery centers as well.

"What's great to see is there are rich veins of technical knowledge here that the Philippines can look to build what can be a comparative advantage moving forward... The future of technology is all about digital. So it's about social media, mobility, analytics, cloud computing, and how that's going to transform global business models and industry," Lacy said.

"When you think about the opportunities for the Philippines, it is to jump to those clusters that are going to emerge as we see the digital economy move into those spaces. It's about bringing the technology skills that you're developing into the BPO market, but creating an entrepreneurial ecosystem in some of those areas."

While the company is bullish about the Philippines, Lacy noted the country should focus on building the infrastructure needed to support the growing BPO industry.

"It's about thinking about the skills needed to prepare for a digital economy. It's about the infrastructure, information communication technology infrastructure. It's about the physical infrastructure, energy, transportation... Digital and physical infrastructure should go hand-in-hand," Lacy said.