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Cebu City still No. 1 ‘emerging BPO site’

First Posted 07:39:00 10/20/2009

Cebu City once again clinched the top spot in the latest Global Services and Tholons survey on the top 50 ?emerging global outsourcing destinations? worldwide.

The 2009 survey listed Cebu as No. 1 based on scale and quality of workforce, infrastructure, business catalyst, risk profile, cost and quality of life.

This is the second time Cebu City ranked first in the survey, which has been running since 2007. Cebu ranked fourth in the first survey and later climbed to the first spot in 2008.

However, in the big picture of top global outsourcing sites, Indian cities occupy the top three slots - Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai - followed by Manila or NCR (National Capital Region).

Tourism Secretary Joseph ?Ace? Durano, in an interview, said this victory is another positive development for tourism as it creates a multiplier effect.

?More BPOs opening in the Philippines will mean more young people will be employed. This, in turn, will boost domestic travel as the young people of the country today are the ones exploring the (different places in the) country,? he told Cebu Daily News in a text message.

Tourism Undersecretary Phineas Alburo said the result ?greatly enhances the image of Cebu as an island of talented and hardworking people.? this positive image, he said, will encourage tourists to continue visiting the city.

Jun Saa, vice president for operations of Robinland Inc., said the challenge for Cebu is to continuously improve itself to attract more investments.

The company?s Robinland Information Technology/Business Process Outsourcing (IT/BPO) is located at the Mandaue Reclamation Area

With a booming infrastructure base, Saa said the best asset to improve on is the workforce quality and quantity. He also cited the readiness of middle managers in carrying out more complicated roles, which poses a challenge for most BPO companies based in the city.

?We lack talents in this area. Since this is a (relatively) young industry, we lack experienced people to handle the jobs of middle managers,? said Saa.

He said the shortfall can be addressed through further training and education, and more strategic industry-academe linkage.

He said a concrete example is the recent initiative of the Cebu Educational Development Foundation for Information Technology (Cedf-IT) in bringing to Cebu training modules from Harvard University to facilitate online learning of managers from BPO companies.

He said the latest survey will hopefully encourage more investments to pour into Cebu.

Wilson Ng, Ng Khai chief executive officer, said it was good for Cebu to have maintained the top rank for two years in a row.

?For sure that will be a boost to Cebu's reputation as the place to be,? Ng said in a text message to CDN.

Ng said that Cebu is strong in customer service orientation, and adaptability to English languages, primarily in the ability to speak ?American? English .

?We also have an attitude that endears us to customers.?

Ng, however, said that Cebuanos need to improve in basic education, quality of English and information technology instructions.

?The take up rate of applicants still can be improved,? he said.

?I believe what some BPOs are saying, that we are weak in middle management. This is due mainly to the brain drain, where people who have more than 5 years experience can, and usually migrate abroad, leaving us with a weak middle management layer,? he added.

Ng also suggested that entrepreneurs can continue training programs and continue to market Cebu properly as well as continue to boost s skills, attitudes and confidence to help maintain Cebu's reputation as the best emerging city for BPOs.

Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Sam Chioson said that the organization is glad that combined efforts of the private and government sector are paying off in putting Cebu at the forefront of the BPO industry.

?As our vibrant BPO industry has cushioned us from the effects of the global economic crisis, we expect that this accolade will further help boost the Cebu economy as more IT players take a second look at Cebu as an ideal location for their businesses.?

He said more locators mean more jobs and new opportunities for related businesses.

This is the third year that industry publication, Global Services and strategic investment advisory firm, Tholons published detailed analysis on the world?s top 50 emerging outsourcing destinations.

In its website, Tholons said an 80-page detailed report on the 2009 results will be published by the end of October.

Following Cebu in second and third places are the cities of Shanghai and Beijing of the People?s Republic of China, which also retained the same ranking as last year?s.

The cities of Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam and Krakow in Poland also remained in fourth and fifth places.

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