By Revin Mikhael D. Ochave, Reporter

THE CONTACT Center Association of the Philippines (CCAP) is confident it will hit its revenue growth target this year, on the back of stronger demand for voice and back-office business processing.   

“We are optimistic that we will reach our 9% to 11% target this year. Our growth drivers would be voice services and back-office functions. The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has spurred a lot of companies to finally outsource everything,” Albert Mitchell L. Locsin, CCAP president, told BusinessWorld.

Last year, CCAP members reported a 9% increase in revenues to $24.6 billion and employed 1.1 million workers.

CCAP accounted for the bulk of the $29.5 billion worth of revenues generated by the Philippine information technology and business process outsourcing (IT-BPO) sector last year. The IT-BPO sector had 1.44 million employees last year.

“We are hoping that we will reach over $30 billion worth of revenues this year,” Mr. Locsin said. 

He said IT-BPO companies are benefiting from the peso depreciation against the US dollar, but the cost of operations is also rising.

“The companies benefit from the higher exchange rate. But the cost to employ in the Philippines is getting higher. The agents are demanding transportation allowances, asking for transportation, and asking for premium to be back at the office since everything from fuel to food are more expensive,” Mr. Locsin said.

“The benefit is getting balanced out even if the US dollar is going very strong. This is because of the global macroeconomic issues like the Russia-Ukraine war that is giving issues in the Philippines. It (benefit) is just neutralized as compared to before when the US dollar was stronger without macroeconomic challenges which was an advantage to IT-BPOs,” he added.

The Philippine peso closed at a record low P59 against the US dollar on Monday. The local unit has depreciated by 15.68% or P8 from its P51 close on Dec. 31 last year. 

To further drive the industry’s growth, Mr. Locsin said there should be more effort in upskilling Filipinos for higher-value services, improve internet services in the provinces, and establish more IT-BPO hubs in provinces.

The industry should also have a better marketing strategy to make the Philippines more attractive to investors, he added.

“We need to change our marketing strategy and it is high time that we do it because of the new administration’s support. We also need the local government units by our side to boost growth,” Mr. Locsin said. 

At the same time, Mr. Locsin noted not all IT-BPO firms would follow the 100% work-from-home (WFH) arrangement recently allowed by the government, since some employees would still need to go to the office.

“It doesn’t mean that everybody will follow 100% WFH… When you hire people, you have to train them in the office and you have to get them acquainted in the office for how many months. There are people who do not have a good working environment in their homes, good internet, or good power. Also, even the simplest reason that some agents really want to work in the office,” Mr. Locsin said. 

He said companies may want a flexible work scheme and assurance that their incentives will remain intact. “There is a balancing act that BPOs are doing to ensure that employees are happy and deliver the best quality of service,” he added. 

In September, the Fiscal Incentives Review Board (FIRB) said registered IT-BPOs located in economic zones can implement a 100% WFH arrangement if they will conduct a “paper transfer” or shift their registration to the Board of Investments from the Philippine Economic Zone Authority.

The CCAP is set to hold its annual event, Contact Islands 2022, in Boracay Island from Oct. 19 to 21. Stakeholders are expected to set the industry’s direction and programs for the next six years.

Some of CCAP’s members include Accenture, Inc., Alorica Philippines, Inc., Concentrix, Sitel Philippines Corp., and TDCX Philippines, Inc., according to the group’s website.