Olongapo Telecom & Information Technology

Friday, January 13, 2006

Investments in call centers rise

By ANGELO S. SAMONTE, The Manila Times Researcher

The Philippines’ two leading incentives-giving bodies last year approved more than P12 billion in investment pledges for the establishment of more information communication technology (ICT) and business process outsourcing (BPO) enterprises.

The Board of Investments (BOI) and the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) posted combined actual project registrations amounting to P12.11 billion for ICT and BPO operations, Celeste Ilagan, BOI executive director, said.

She said the approvals would add more seats to the existing 40,000, raising the industry’s maximum seating capacity to 70,000 this year.

Given the 100-percent growth in the number of potential jobs arising from the investment pledges, the government set a 50-percent to 70-percent expansion in employment for the sector this year.

Ilagan said the Department of Trade and Industry plans to tap the US and European markets by focusing on niche services. "The Philippines can compete in medical transcription and procurement services and this is the current thrust of our promotions. Nonvoice outsourcing service has a bright prospect for our local industry," she said.

According to Ilagan, major investors in the Philippines last year include Dell, infusing more than $3 million, and Convergys, which opened eight sites. Convergys’ new investment alone would create some 6,000 seats, she said.

Meanwhile, the Hongkong Shanghai Banking Corp. plans to establish another site for its call-center operations in the Philippines, following the success of its operations in Alabang, Muntinlupa.

"HSBC was very much encouraged by the operations of its call center in Northgate Cyberzone which presently has about 2,000 seats," Trade Secretary Peter Favila said, adding that the bank is interested in putting up its second site north of Metro Manila.

Favila is egging on HSBC to locate its noncore activities and back-office functions in the Philippines. In a visit to HSBC Electronic Data Processing (Philippines) Inc., the trade chief said the country’s strength in BPO make the Philippines a premier location for IT-enabled services in international market. "The country offers a combination of ‘best-in-class’ service and operation costs significantly reduced compared with many other locations around the world," he said.

Inaugurated last July, HSBC’s P1.5-billion call-center facility is the company’s eighth service center in Asia. The bank also operates in India, mainland China and Malaysia.

Favila said several investment promotion agencies have organized more outbound investment missions to attract more foreign companies to invest in the country.

"These missions are not only sent to heighten investors’ interest but to get firm commitments from companies, thus, our investment drive will be more focused to identified and targeted firms," he said.

Another foreign firm, Siemens Inc., a subsidiary of Siemens AG of Germany, announced that it would launch a new business unit this January that will deliver IT helpdesk and customer care services mainly for English-speaking global customers.

The company said the new IT outsourcing division in Eastwood City Cyberpark will have a initial capacity of 500 call-agent seats, in addition to Siemen’s existing satellite call-center offices in the US, United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Canada, Turkey and Singapore


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