CEBU CITY – Cebu’s information technology-business process management (IT-BPM) industry has proven itself to be among the resilient sectors here even as the economy continues to reel from the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
Such observation was shared by Aseem Roy, country head of Wipro Philippines, during the opening of the four-day virtual 2021 Transformation Summit on Monday, organized by the Cebu IT BPM.Organization (CIB.O).
“The pandemic was a litmus test to what Cebu City and Cebu province have to contribute and how well we cope with adapting to some global trends,” the top official of the Indian BPO company told the virtual conference.
The Covid-19 pandemic has transformed a lot of industries, pushing the IT-BPM sector in particular to widely adopt flexibility as to how it operates.
A number of BPO companies have since allowed their employees to work from home and offer more flexible work arrangements, as the pandemic has significantly changed how industries operate.
Despite the challenges, the IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) said the outsourcing sector still posted employment growth in 2020 of about 23,000 people, bringing the total to 1.32 million.
This was primarily due to more jobs created by resilient industries such as e-commerce and healthcare, in Metro Manila as well as Cebu, according to property consultancy firm Colliers International Philippines.
In Cebu, the IT-BPM industry employed about 180,000 to 190,000 workforce as of last year, up from 170,000 two years ago, according to estimates earlier disclosed by CIB.O president Pert Cabataña.
Wipro’s Roy said they are “fairly confident” that Cebu has the capability to outshine with the top outsourcing hubs in the world.
“The Cebu IT-BPM industry has become stronger and more resilient,” he said.
Roy said that Cebu, being the country’s key top IT-BPM investment destination outside Metro Manila, has the “capability to transform and lead” as the stakeholders bring collective efforts to further push the industry forward.
According to Colliers, Cebu remains a preferred business destination outside Metro Manila due to its competitiveness in terms of manpower, infrastructure, and cost of doing business.
Based on the results of Tholons’ 2021 survey, three of the 100 most attractive outsourcing sites in the world, Cebu ranked 52nd.
Among Tholons’ criteria are talent, skill and quality, business catalyst, cost and infrastructure, and innovation and capital.
“In our view, Metro Cebu will likely remain a viable destination for firms looking to open space outside of Metro Manila beyond this Covid-affected period, even for higher-value outsourcing services such as healthcare and technology firms,” said Joey Bondoc, associate director for research at Colliers Philippines, when sought for comment.
Among the firms operating knowledge process outsourcing in Metro Cebu are Google, Tech Mahindra, and Kuehne+Nagel.
In the first quarter of 2021, Cebu recorded notable office deals, which came from outsourcing and traditional companies including 24/7 InTouch Philippines, Aldesa BPO, Nokia and the Philippines Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development, based on data from Colliers.
The bulk of these transactions were in Cebu Business Park in Cebu City. (PNA)