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Monday, 5 April 2021

BPO Philippines: How history helped create the world-leading outsourcing destination

Over the past twenty-five years, the Business Processing Outsourcing (BPO) industry in the Philippines has grown from virtually nothing to one of the biggest in the world. But what has contributed to the country’s outsourcing success? While some might point to the foresight of the entrepreneurs at the birth of the industry or government policy aiding its growth (and they both played a part), the foundations were actually laid hundreds of years ago.

The remote past might seem irrelevant to the growth of a 21st-century outsourcing sector in the Philippines. However, as it often happens, distant events can have echoes. In the case of the Philippines, it is the cultural links with the West.

The Philippines was, until the start of the 20th century, a colony of Spain. The Filipinos forced the Spanish out of the islands with support from the United States, but then the nation fell under the control of the US. Although there was a general move towards independence, it was abruptly halted by World War II. The Philippines became independent shortly after the war, but connections to and dependence on the USA remained for a long time afterwards.

Although the modern concept of a call centre did not exist, the social and cultural legacy of Spanish and American colonialism is a population that is incredibly well qualified for the outsourcing industry.

“First is the dominance of English as a language. Along with Tagalog, English is one of the Philippines’ two official languages. More than six out of ten Filipinos speak English, meaning the country hosts one of the world’s large Anglophone populations; there are more English speakers in the Philippines than there are in Australia and the United Kingdom”, says Ralf Ellspermann, CEO of PITON-Global, an award-winning BPO in the Philippines.

“The long-lasting influence of the West on domestic Filipino life, through direct contact and the cultural influence of media imports, has maintained the levels of English. The result is not just a high level of fluency, but a remarkable number of people who speak English with little discernible accent and a high degree of recognition of slang and regional dialects from English-speaking countries like Australia and the US,” he adds.

The influence has helped outsourcing to the Philippines in other areas too. Systems like education and law have drawn more heavily from Western systems than they have from Asian neighbours. This has been invaluable when it comes to issues like regulatory compliance; the government could easily align legislation with Western standards, so industries like healthcare and finance can outsource processes to the Philippines and ensure they still meet demanding domestic standards.

“Of course, having favourable circumstances does not make a successful industry. While the Philippines has a young, educated, and highly fluent population, that alone is not enough to run a call centre. It has taken the creation of hundreds of outsourcing providers in the Philippines to make the country a world leader, employing over a million Filipinos,” says Ellspermann.

PITON-Global is a sterling example of these businesses. Recognising the demand for high-quality call centre and process outsourcing to the Philippines, they helped fulfil the need. Operating from purpose-built facilities, PITON-Global can offer clients world-class services. Call centre agents receive training and development, and they usually work with AI assistants, allowing them to focus on providing the excellent customer service expected from a premier provider.

“The combination of history and top-quality providers has propelled the island nation to be the world’s leading destination for call centre outsourcing. The mix of a highly fluent, well-educated population and premier outsourcing vendors means the Philippines is in an ideal situation to continue as the first choice for BPO”, explains Ellspermann.

 

Finn Lymburner
Finn Lymburnerhttps://www.bulletinbite.com.au
Finn Lymburner is a senior journalist for The Bulletin Bite. Finn has worked at The Bulletin Bite since 2016, covering business affairs, money, state politics, local government and workplace relations for The Bulletin Bite.

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