Sat | Oct 20, 2018

Call centre concerns - Business operators differ over sustainability of BPO sector

Published:Wednesday | October 11, 2017 | 12:00 AMArthur Hall
Don Anderson
Yoni Epstein
In this file photo, Larry Watson (left) of confectionery/ snacks poses questions at a breakfast round table meeting at theTerra Nova Hotel in August. Beside him is, Clement (Jimmy) Lawrence, J. Wray and Nephew Ltd.
Christopher Reckord director of sales and marketing tTECH limited.

The Government has made no secret of its plan to leverage business process outsourcing (BPO) to drive Jamaica's economic growth, but members of the local private sector are not all convinced about the sustainability of this fast-growing industry.

"I think we have to be careful at the pace at which the BPO sector expands, because one would want to be concerned (about) sustaining the level of quality service in a very competitive global environment," researcher Don Anderson warned yesterday.

Anderson, who was fielding questions at release of the latest Survey of Consumer and Business Confidence Indices by The Jamaica Conference Board, the research advisory body of Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC), said that while he expects the BPO sector to grow significantly over the next three years with new players and facilities, there could be trouble down the road.

"I expect there to be a slight fall-off in maybe year four, year five, in terms of the number of persons employed, and that, I believe, will bring into question the global competitive nature of the BPO sector.

"So I think we need to be careful about how we grow the sector, but at the moment, I believe there is room for expansion," added Anderson.


Loss of competitiveness


His concerns about Jamaica's possible loss of competitiveness in the BPO sector was underscored by Christopher Reckord, director of sales and marketing at the technology firm tTECH Limited.

Reckord argued that while Jamaica needs to increase its offerings in the BPO sector, attempts to train persons to take on the high-end projects are often stymied because once the Jamaicans are properly trained, they are wooed with attractive offers from major entities overseas.

"We have to recognise that what makes it (Jamaica) very attractive to persons who are coming here is our present cost structure.

"The instant that those numbers start to move north, that is the instant that there is flight, because the only incentive for these large North American companies who are signing up to the BPO industry (in Jamaica) is simply because the price is right," argued Reckord.

"It is important that as we consider moving up that food chain, all of sudden our costs and our charges to our potential customers are going to go up," warned Reckord.