Outsourcing industry cautiously optimistic of future, urges Meralco support for WFH strategy
De-risking strategies of global companies amid the COVID-19 pandemic can bolster the growth of the Philippine IT and Business Process Management (IT-BPM) industry, with total headcount potentially exceeding the end-2022 forecast of 1.43 million direct jobs. Rey Untal, President and Chief Executive Officer of the IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP)*, told an executive session organized by Meralco on September 2, that the surge of COVID-19 infections in other IT-BPM markets has forced many global firms “to employ de-risking strategies that resulted in movements in terms of accounts, footprint, and clients to our shores and other locations.” He said the rebalancing adapted by these companies to minimize exposure in a single country could result in a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) that’s higher than the 5.5% that was originally projected in late 2020. Last year, the Philippine outsourcing industry had a total headcount of 1.37 million and export revenue of $26.7 billion. Untal said IBPAP forecast for export revenue is around $29 billion by the end of 2022. “For this growth potential to become a reality, there are several enabling conditions that need to be met and appropriate interventions that must be carried out,” said Untal. These enabling conditions include continued improvement of skills, particularly in digital technology, acceleration of the country’s digital transformation, improving cost competitiveness and ease of doing business, and infrastructure development. Untal said it will be crucial for utilities like Meralco and its fiber Internet and data solutions unit, Radius Telecoms, to provide the necessary infrastructure to allow a majority of outsourcing companies to continue with the current work-from-home (WFH) arrangement even after the pandemic. He said the WFH arrangement could be a permanent fixture of the industry since it has resulted in greater productivity, reduced absenteeism, and lessened turnover rate among employees.