By Lawrence Casiraya
E of the things that struck me on my way to the e-Services conference
is the venue itself. He
reâs how the SMX Convention Center looks like from outside. Located beside SM M
all of Asia (the SM Group, by the way, also owns SMX), and therefore, similarly
sitting on top of the reclaimed area fronting Manila Bay.
Once inside, the lobby reminded me a lot of Suntec Convention Center in Singapo
re, especially the escalators on each side that go way up. To say the least, I
was pretty impressed with the venue. And if the government and business groups
are really all out in promoting the country as a business destination, a venue
like this is a big plus and likewise gives a good impression to visiting execut
Best of all, there is more than enough parking space in front. Something quite
lacking in similar venues like the nearby World Trade Center. I just heard SM
has grand plans of building a hotel next to it, and then likewise connecting it
with SMX and Mall of Asia -- a lot like Singapore's Marina Bay.
Proud and anxious
With revenues of nearly $5 billion and growing by 40 percent every year, Presid
ent Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has more than enough reason to be proud of what the
BPO industry has achieved during her term.
n her keynote speech, she nonetheless echoed the need to increase worker supply
in order to stay competitive. It is not a simple numbers game, though, and in
the words of Business Process Association of the Philippines (BPAP) chief Oscar
Sanez, there is no "silver bullet" for this perennial problem.
A recent P350-million training fund announced by President Arroyo herself will
go to training "near hires" or those who have applied for BPO jobs but were not
BPAP's strategy takes a step in the opposite direction and starts with the acad
eme. One of its projects matches call centers with universities in the hope tha
t students would become more familiar with how it is to work for a BPO company
even before they graduate.
In the context of BPO, though, this should be good problem to have. Demand for
BPO services outstrips supply, which is why the government now wants to spread
the industry to as many cities as possible.
From vegetables to BPO 2.0
I sure didn't have a clue that Wipro stands for Western India Vegetables Produc
ts Limited but, as its chief executive TK Kurien recounts, the company did have
its origins in the vegetable trade.
Wipro also produced Indiaâs first homegrown PC during the 1970s after IBM exite
d the country and then started its journey offering IT services in the early 19
90s to now become one of India's IT heavyweights.
During the panel discussion, Kurien described how the company is looking to sta
y competitive by adopting what he calls a BPO 2.0 mindset. As the number implie
s, Web 2.0 is to the Internet as BPO 2.0 is to outsourcing.
Basically, what he means is making use of today's technology to improve BPO ope
rations. In his words, what Wipro is working on is not improving Indians' Engli
sh accents but creating tools like software that would allow the company to del
iver its services better.
Wipro, Kurien added, is working on some sort of middleware that integrates all
its operations worldwide to readily adopt and use applications. Incidentally, W
ipro opened an office recently in Cebu City.
So if a company like Wipro can go from selling agriculture to knowledge-based s
ervices, what's stopping Filipino companies from thinking big?
Kurien gives a helpful hint: "Ultimately, it all boils down to people."