Bacolod eyes ‘knowledge process outsourcing’

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BACOLOD CITY: Leaders of the local information technology sector expressed confidence that Bacolod City can shift to knowledge process outsourcing (KPO) following in the experience of Cebu City.

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Jocelle Batapa-Sigue, executive director of Bacolod-Negros Occidental Federation for ICT (Bnefit) on Wednesday said the city can handle high-value outsourced services involving knowledge and information, especially in the field of healthcare information management (HIM) and software development.
The KPO companies offer higher value outsourcing services such as medical transcription, software engineering, and finance and accounting.

“After having been declared as Center of Excellence for business process outsourcing (BPO) especially in contact center services in 2013, Bnefit, in collaboration with the city and provincial governments has developed strategies to target three high-value areas: HIM, software development and creative processes like game development and animation,” Batapa-Sigue said.

She pointed out that for Bacolod to be at par with Cebu, four things must be put in place.

“First, we need a carefully-planned marketing program especially in the international market. Our investment leaders are concentrated in Manila and they are marketing the Philippines but only with Manila in mind because they do not actively consult with local stakeholders as partners. They treat the countryside as beneficiaries and dictate the kind of strategies that must be implement without understanding the strength of each city in terms of talent.

“Second, we also need to beef up our roster of fiscal and non-fiscal incentives for information and communications technology (ICT) companies. We need to compete with other countries to ensure that jobs and investments grow steadily. Aside from that, ICT companies now are not just foreign, there are many locals because of the advent of startups. The incentives given to ICT companies inside Philippine Export Zone Authority (PEZA) must be retained and increased,” she said.

“Third, we have to break the traditional barriers that impede our educational system. Today a mere diploma is not enough, we need close industry-academe partnerships to create industry-calibrated certifications. The national and local government should give incentives to companies offering high-level certifications and trainings in the countryside.

“Fourth, industry and Bnefit must collaborate with K to 12 teachers to develop the creative and critical thinking skills of students in the primary level.

“Fifth, the city and province must scale up its e-Readiness or its ability to deliver services efficiently through the integration of ICT and new technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT) and data analytics,” she said.

According to a recent report by Colliers International, Cebu remains the largest and most practical choice for KPO firms looking for viable locations outside Manila due to its diverse and skilled labor pool.

“We see Cebu’s shift to higher value outsourcing being sustained by an ample supply of graduates with relevant college degrees. Of the estimated 30,000 graduates that Cebu churns out each year, about a quarter have business degrees while 35 percent have engineering, information technology, math, and medical degrees,” Colliers reported.

KPO companies offer higher value outsourcing services such as medical transcription, HIM, software engineering, and finance and accounting.

Aside from Cebu, several other Philippine cities are capable of shifting to KPO. These include Clark, Davao, Iloilo, Santa Rosa (Laguna) and Bacolod, said Joey Bondoc, Colliers research manager.

“Bacolod is a key hub for HIM while Iloilo is being groomed as prime location of game development services,” he added.

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