BPOs poised for more growth despite AI risk: property firm

Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 16 2019 04:05 PM

MANILA – The Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector is poised to grow further in the next 10 years, a property firm said Monday, notwithstanding the risk of displacement from artificial intelligence.

Artificial intelligence and automation may soon replace repetitive and low-skilled tasks but it can take 10 years before technology can have a “meaningful negative impact” in the sector, Leechiu Property Consultants co-founder and CEO David Leechiu told reporters.

“Even if the technology is there today, companies would take 3 years, 4 years, 5 years to completely embrace it,” Leechiu said.

“There are many companies that are promoting AI all over the world, many companies are trying it out in small project scale. It will take time for them to adopt, in the mean time, they will continue to send jobs to the Philippines,” he added.

Companies have started to re-train the workforce for high-skilled jobs to prepare for the onset of artificial intelligence.

Artificial intelligence can also become a job generator for the BPO space, IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines president Rey Untal earlier said.

"What we’re saying is that technology, even AI will create new jobs we are not even aware of," Untal told ABS-CBN News

BPOs will serve as a safety blanket if offshore gaming operations decide to leave the country since it can “fill” the space that POGOs will leave behind, Leechiu said. Outsourcing also “insulated” the country from global risks such as the US-China trade war.

Total office space take-up from Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations or POGOs reached 386,000 square meters or 34 percent during the January to September period, higher than BPO’s 355,000 sqm (31 percent takeup), data from Leechiu showed.

“The Philippines is in such as sweet spot because of the BPO sector. The BPO sector and the remittances are the 2 reasons why the Philippines has been insulated from all the global shocks. It has made us extremely resilient,” Leechiu said