7 more locations to be named 'next wave cities' for BPO

By Michelle Orosa, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 09 2010 08:58 PM | Updated as of Feb 10 2010 04:58 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Around 5 to 7 more cities in the Philippines are being considered as key locations for business process outsourcing (BPO) investments this year, according to the Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT).

This will bring the total number of the country's so-called "Next Wave Cities" for BPO to more than 40 from only 35 in 2009.

CICT Commissioner Monchito Ibrahim declined to name the specific cities to be included in the list, saying instead that the goal was to achieve a 65-35 percent ratio for BPO investments in the country by year-end, bringing 35% of BPOs outside Manila, and narrowing down Manila-based BPOs to 65%.

"Ideally we want a 50-50 percent ratio, but that might take another 2 to 3 years to accomplish," he said.

The commissioner noted that the ratio is currently at 75-25 percent, missing the 2009 target of 70-30 percent as some cities were unable to meet all the requirements needed to attract BPO investments, the scorecard of which includes good infrastructure and size of talent pool.

Ibrahim said some of last year's next wave cities will go down in ranking this year.

"Some of the cities plateaued and stopped investing in their ICT," he explained.

Next wave cities for 2009 included Metro Laguna, Metro Cavite, Iloilo, Davao, Bacolod City, Bulacan East and Bulacan West, Cagayan De Oro, and Lipa City in Batangas.

Laguna ICT Council President Antonio Del Carmen said Sta.Rosa, Laguna expects a 15-20% increase in its over 5,000 seats this year, as more BPO investments pour into the city, particularly from BPO firms KGB, Teletech and Convergys.

"The challenge is how to attract more locators. If there's anything those aspiring to become Next Wave Cities should focus on, it's improving the manpower to supply the demand from the firms," he said.

Convergys Director for Business Development Jose Mari Mercado said the company will be adding around 1,500 seats to existing centers in Nuvali (300 seats), University of the Philippines (300 seats), Cebu (300 seats) and San Lazaro (600 seats) this year.

"One of the key considerations is how closely the public and private sectors work together, and whether the locations have strong ICT councils. Those are important to us," said Mercado.