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By Erwin Oliva INQUIRER.net HOPING to decongest Metro Manila and other key cities, the Philippine governmen t is now directing foreign outsourcing investors to the so-called "next-wave cities" in the country, where business process outsourcing firms can locate. eservices-day-2-1.JPG More than 20 cities in the country were identified, with some of them joining a s the exhibitors in the e-Services Global Sourcing Convention and Exhibit this year. Here's a video I took when I asked Commission on Information and Communications Technology chairman Ray Anthony Roxas-Chua III to expound on the government's plan to develop "next-wave" cities.
Online Videos by Veoh.com Meanwhile, people visiting the e-Services exhibit were amused to find a live st atue holding what appears to be an advertisement for a local firm. eservices-day-2-2.JPG Hovering around the exhibit area was a mechanized blimp from Kaisa Consulting, one of the exhibitors at e-Services Philippines. eservices-day-2-3.JPG
By Lawrence Casiraya INQUIRER.net eservices-day-1-1.JPGON 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 ives. eservices-day-1-2.JPG 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. eservices-day-1-3.JPG 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. eservices-day-1-4.JPGI 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 deemed qualified. 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. eservices-day-1-5.JPG 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."

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