Keeping local SME-BPOs globally competitive

Payoneer Forum 2019 photo 1 Miguel Warren, Payoneer’s VP for South East Asia & Pakistan and General Manager for Hong Kong leads off the event as he talks about how the company allows freelancers, entrepreneurs, and MSMEs to scale their businesses globally at a cost-effective price and a commendable customer experience.

The Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector is widely known as an economic powerhouse in the country. Comprising of 851 registered BPO companies and employing around 1.2 million people, the industry has come full circle since its first call center came into being in 1992.

Providing top-notch support, the country’s BPO industry has cemented its unique position in the global arena, showing sterling competitiveness and bearing comparison with its counterparts in neighboring Asian countries.

This is what entrepreneurs, micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), and other industry players harnessed further in the recent Payoneer Forum Manila held at the Ascott Bonifacio Global City in Taguig.

Now on its third run, the Payoneer Forum Manila is a global “signature” event that aims to bring together existing and potential users for networking and topical discussion, tackling market trends with industry peers who possess a wealth of experiences.

At present, the global competitiveness of each outsourcing country is initially measured by factors such as operational costs, risks, talent pool quality, and how many people actually become bigger and more influential than the MSME segment.

When asked why international clients continue to bank on the Filipino talent, Derek Gallimore, Founder of Outsource Accelerator, shares that, “Filipinos are highly qualified people. They have with them a fantastic grasp of the English language, as well as a close cultural environment that resonates most especially with Americans. There’s also this added value component, knowing that they have been doing it the longest. It makes them the best executive talent in terms of outsourcing.”

Even with the observed paradigm shift in worldwide business demands brought about by today’s digital transformation, the Philippines continues to be a foremost destination for foreign investors.

Jonathan de Luzuriaga, CEO of Spring Valley Tech Corporation, explains “This is because neighboring countries have this conscious effort of actually having their own platforms, hardware, and support mechanism, rather than being at the receiving end of all of these innovations from the countries outsourcing them.”

However, even if the country’s BPO industry stands strong, many other factors contribute to some of the hurdles and challenges faced by both stakeholders and employees. One of these major barriers is that bigger international companies tend to buy-in the smaller sectors, affecting industry movement as a whole.

In the local setting, the pages are believed to be constantly turning, albeit relatively slow —but the optimistic belief amongst key players lies in the mindset of the bigger companies. To them, they perceive outsourcing as a convenient option to have a smoother operation on areas that aren’t their strongest suit. This serves as a very good trigger to have other local suppliers of products, platforms, and services to have some market traction, which is an edge for a booming BPO industry like what the Philippines have.

For key players, the challenge now is how to keep the Philippine SME-BPO industry globally competitive. Derek Gallimore shares, “The Philippines has always been on the map when it comes to outsourcing, but I think we’re only just beginning. In fact, there are still 30 million jobs that may potentially come in the Philippines, and I think that can truly transform the country and its economy.”

Meanwhile, Nicki Agcaoili, Executive Director of IBPAP shares his belief that to keep the industry globally competitive, the effort from both the organization and its employees should go both ways. “I think it is of utmost importance to not restrict yourselves when it comes to incentivizing your employees. Knowing how creative Filipinos are, we can say that we are already equipped with the evolving tools and skills that we need. The best thing to do to keep that momentum is to provide them with incentives that are tailored to fit their needs, whether it’s food, transportation, or remote work benefits. More than anything, investing in trainings is also another key. We have to support them so they can continually learn.”

Another reason why Filipino entrepreneurs and MSMEs are constantly becoming globally competitive is the existence of various companies that cater to their business needs. One of them is Payoneer, which is a cross-border digital payment system in the service of entrepreneurs and MSMEs.

Miguel Warren, Payoneer’s VP for South East Asia and Pakistan and General Manager of Hong Kong said, “What Payoneer does is it makes transactions easier and more efficient to send and receive international payments. We are a global platform that actually connects users regardless of where they come from, so it’s easier for one to receive money in dollars and then withdraw it in your local bank using your own currency. We also offer several other ways to use the funds, whether sending it to another Payoneer user or getting another optional debit card that you can use online and in-store. The best thing is that the whole journey is easy and seamless, making sure that every user gets the best customer experience satisfaction.”

The agility of the Filipino talent has always been the main reason why the local BPO industry stays afloat, but through the collaboration of various companies, stakeholders, and employees, more people can feel empowered to pursue their own business paths which can help the industry as a whole to flourish even more.