Updated April 28, 2020, 8:48 AM
By BERNIE CAHILES-MAGKILAT
While a slowdown in US consumer activity following the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to have a negative impact on the Philippines’ IT-business process management (IT-BPM) sector in the short term, the country can look towards building competitive advantages beyond English-language proficiency and customer service skills to position itself in the healthcare services for the next wave of growth.
A peek into the IT-business process management (IT-BPM) sector by research and consultancy firm Oxford Business Group (OBG) showed there are encouraging aspects the domestic industry can take advantage of following the pandemic.
OBG cited encouraging sign in the growth of emerging segments such as health care, gaming and animation which fall under the IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) roadmap.
Prior to the outbreak, the Philippines was already established as a leading offshore/nearshore location for health care services delivery.
In its November 2019 assessment, IBPAP projected revenue growth in the segment of 7.3-10.8 percent through 2022, as well as revenue growth of 7.3-12.3 percent in gaming and animation. This compares to projected revenue growth of 3.3-7.4% in contact centers over the same period.
“As the Covid-19 pandemic raises global demand for health care services and home entertainment, it is reasonable to expect that growth in these segments could be even higher than previously predicted,” said OBG.
Basic call center services are currently responsible for around 50-60 percent of customer contact operations in the country, but demand for such services was already under pressure from artificial intelligence-powered ‘chatbots’.
The IBPAP Roadmap 2022, which aims to prepare its members for a transition towards automated services and more technical and creative jobs.
If managed correctly through targeted investments in technology and upskilling, IBPAP forecasts that as many as 388,000 mid-skilled jobs and 309,000 high-skilled positions can be created by 2022, against the loss of 40,000 low-skilled positions.
Meantime, BPO firms caught in the rolling quarantine order in the country found themselves unprepared for the home-from-work arrangement largely due to inefficient internet connectivity.