THE information technology and business process management (IT-BPM) sector is paying attention to the surging gig economy, the top official of an industry group said, describing freelancers as competition.

“I would say it (freelancing) is something that we need to pay attention to. But it is a force that is hard to stop. I think as an industry, we need to accept it as a challenge because that was catalyzed by the pandemic. It was catalyzed by the fact that we can now work from home,” Jack Madrid, president of the IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP), said in a chance interview last week.

“You can’t do gig economy in your day job,” he said on the sidelines of the AI Summit organized by Aboitiz Data Innovation Pte. Ltd. in Pasay City.

Mr. Madrid said that business process outsourcing (BPO) companies need to accept that the gig economy is its competitor.

“It is going to be very hard because from what I understand, they’re unregistered companies. Some people really do not want to work in the office. It is just an interesting result of our work flexibility. This is the new world of work,” he added.

Financial technology company Payoneer said in April that the global demand for freelancers had increased, citing its 2023 Global Freelancer Insights Reports.   

The surging demand comes from fields such as programming, marketing, project management, and web design.

“A growing number of businesses are relying on freelancers to support their full-time workforce because of convenience, flexibility, and outstanding quality of work. This benefits freelancers, too, since we have seen how they can enjoy a good work-life balance while still sustaining themselves, especially with the convenience, and practicality of earning in US dollars without leaving the country,” Payoneer Country Manager for the Philippines Monique Avila said.

“We expect this industry to keep growing in the coming year,” she added.

Meanwhile, Mr. Madrid said potential investors should also recognize that the surging gig economy is a competitor of the IT-BPM industry.

“You just have to weigh it. I think on the investor side, we need to accept it and compete with it. On the employee side, I know that the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) is supporting it, and as a Filipino, I am happy for them because it is still a job. It is still good for our economy,” Mr. Madrid said.

“But I want them to know also the pros and the cons of working for an unregistered company,” he added. 

This year, the IPBAP is targeting to reach 1.7-million full-time employees (FTEs) and to generate $35.9 billion in revenues, both higher than the $32.5-billion revenues and 1.57-million FTEs recorded last year. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave