The country’s business process outsourcing (BPO) industry is seeing the need to step up their efforts to tackle the potential impact of what is termed as “disruptive technological headwinds” – such automation, robotics, and most importantly, artificial intelligence - to the sector’s labor force.
In addition, experts are seeing the market’s growth to slow down, acquiring only a 9% growth in annual revenues in the next five years. This growth is significantly slower as compare to the past few years.
Rey Untal, President of Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) stated that along with the “looming threat of AI and automation” to the BPO industry, their group resolute to raise the discussion on this matter throughout their impending 9th International IT-BPM Summit this month.
As Untal stated on a conference held in Makati last Wednesday: “Many experts are predicting that the workforce is in danger of being replaced by automation but that is simply not the case. What is often overlooked about automation is that while it is expected to impact certain jobs in the sector, this will also enable the IT-BPM Industry to move up the value chain, resulting in an increase in mid-skilled jobs and high skilled services.”
“That is why it is important for us to continue the conversation at the Summit, where we have experts flying in from all over the globe to discuss the impact of technology and the future of the industry in great deal,” the President added.
A data acquired from Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) revealed that IT-BPM sector’s new investment pledges have dropped by 34% as compared to last year’s, whereas the BPO sector’s investment commitments saw a drastic drop from R6.27 billion to R4.9 billion from April to June alone.
Contact Center Association of the Philippines (CCAP) President, Jojo Uligan, stated that the industry aims to solve the issues that have negative impact on the industry, especially the threats AI and automation are posing.
Local business process outsourcing company, Coefficients Co. Ltd, continues to provide employment for the citizens of Lucena City. While AI, automation, and robotics pose serious threats, the company has a solid foundation and accounts that simply can’t be automated or influenced by artificial intelligence, offering a more secure job.
Presently, call center businesses comprise 67% of the country’s BPO sector.
“We need to protect our industry and workers. We’ve been talking about this for awhile. Our success in this industry is our people. We have to make sure that we protect them, make them stay relevant, and educate them. Yes, the industry would feel certain impacts but what we are focusing on are the opportunities,” Uligan informed the reporters.
Amidst the commotion, real estate services firm, Santos Knight Frank’s officials remain optimistic on the country’s BPO sector.
While the popular belief is that the industry will regain traction – ultimately opening the doors for gaming sector to rise as the BPO’s top employment provider – moving forward, the company stands firm that the demand for office space from the BPO sector will eventually reach new heights.
Jan Custodio, Santos Knight Frank’ Senior Director for Research and Consultancy, isn’t confident that the e-gaming sector, despite growing faster, can surpass BPO in terms of office space acquisition.
“We are not seeing a slowdown in the BPO sector any time soon. Online gaming will just augment the growth in the office sector. We are not worried about online gaming growing too fast,” Custodio stated in a different press conference last Friday.
Custodio also added that “We have a different position from IBPAP and other service providers… We believe the BPO sector will continue to grow in the future,”
For a refresher, David Leechiu, a real estate expert, stated that as the investment inflow in the country’s BPO slows down, online gaming has now been seen as new saving grace for the real estate industry as it is expected to boost the demand for office spaces.

Author's Bio: 

Founded in September 2011, Coefficients Co. Ltd. is currently headquarted in Lucena City, Quezon Province, Philippines and is one of the province’s leading business process outsourcing of customer interaction and back-office services