Iloilo improves rank as BPO destination

Posted on January 16, 2012

ILOILO CITY -- This city posted the biggest improvement among business process outsourcing (BPO) destinations in Southeast Asia as it climbed six notches, achieving a rank of 92 in the 2012 Top 100 Outsourcing Destinations report by investment and research firm Tholons.

Mayor Jed Patrick E. Mabilog, who presented the report in his regular press conference last week, said the report tracked the performance of 12 key BPO locations in Southeast Asia, among others.

“Iloilo experienced a significant rise as aggressive development in infrastructure and capabilities development are pursued,” the Tholons report, a copy of which was furnished BusinessWorld, said.

Other Philippine cities included in the Tholons list retained their 2010 rank: Manila (4), Cebu (9) and Davao (69). Santa Rosa in Laguna improved its ranking to 86 from 88.

Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia and Singapore are also on the rise, improving their ranks by three and four places to 28 and 35, respectively. Penang in Malaysia climbed two notches to 77.

Hanoi in Vietnam and Jakarta in Indonesia retained their ranks at 21 and 62, respectively, while Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) went down by a notch to 17 and Bangkok, Thailand fell 10 notches to 87.

Mr. Mabilog cited recent infrastructure projects as major factors in the city’s jump in the BPO map ranking.

“The completion and operation of the coal-fired power plant in La Paz district stabilized our power supply,” he said.

“The price of electricity in Cebu might be lower but it’s only a difference of 16 centavos per kilowatt-hour, thus we are still competitive in terms of power.

“Also, recent land and building developments and widening of our roads also fueled our growth as an ideal BPO location.”

Mr. Mabilog said the Tholons ranking will be a tool in engaging and attracting more BPO locators in Iloilo City.

“We can use this recognition in attracting and inviting outsourcing companies and investors to the city. Compared to Cebu, we have more available spaces in the city and the suburbs in terms of land and commercial buildings,” he said.

“We are also looking at more prospects and future developments in basic infrastructures such as roads interlinking the city to its metro neighbors, particularly the airport.

“We also expect developments in ancillary services such as residential and recreational areas,” he added.

When asked about a pending bill in the US Congress which will cut outsourcing jobs from the said country, Mr. Mabilog said the US is not the only country that engages in outsourcing.

“There is still Europe and the rest of America and Asia. And I think outsourcing firms in the US will also try to resist the bill which might jack up their operations cost if they are forced to hire their citizens and result in more closures,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Tholons report said Manila’s or NCR’s (National Capital Region) growth as a BPO destination reinforced its reputation as the Southeast Asian region’s premier voice-based BPO hub.

The number of employees in the IT-BPO sector increased 10.6% from the previous year. Manila/NCR also remains an outsourcing hotbed as it hosts the delivery centers of major companies like HP, IBM, Dell, Convergys and Teleperformance.

“Interestingly, it was reported that the Philippines had recently surpassed India as the call center capital of the world with an estimated 400,000 call center agents compared to India’s 350,000,” the report added. -- Francis Allan L. Angelo