Executives who pull buying decisions on different front-office BPO matters place great emphasis on what makes them comfortable. This was made abundantly clear in the Ryan Strategic Advisory 2018 Front-Office BPO Omnibus Survey’s results of most-favored offshore delivery destinations (a link to the webinar in which these results were presented and analyzed can be found here). Notwithstanding the strong finish for each of the top five countries, all of which are tried-and-true BPO destinations, it points to an inherent conservatism; buyers opt for familiar locales over the more exotic.

For providers looking to make a name for themselves in emerging outsourcing locations, this makes the game more challenging if they are to gain attention among enterprise executives.

This year the Philippines was ranked as the most favored offshore contact center delivery location, according to the 352 enterprise CRM decision-makers in North America, the UK and Australia who participated in the survey. This marks something of a comeback for the Asia-Pacific BPO powerhouse.  After all, in last year’s sounding the Philippines came in fifth place, with some observers feeling that challenges associated with politics, public security and saturation would further limit its attractiveness going forward.  However, the country has proven its resilience, with enterprise executives seeing it as part of a clear pathway to strong front-office delivery.

Malaysia again put in a strong top five showing, tying for second-place with South Africa among service buyers.  Despite being relatively low-key of late on the promotional circuit in key BPO demand markets, it clearly retains a strong value perception in the eyes of buyers and new investors.  In the case of South Africa, efforts by that country’s stakeholders to engage enterprises across English-language demand markets is having a positive impact.

Legacy offshore heavyweight India also cracked the top five for the second year straight.   This is hardly a surprise, given the emphasis that its outsourcing sector has made on providing higher-value front office services to western clients focused around digital delivery and analytics.  With its top five showing, Mexico’s status as a nearshore powerhouse for the US and Canada cannot be disputed. And, while Sri Lanka is a new entrant to the Front Office Omnibus Survey, its attractiveness as a point of geographic diversification is evident.

Clearly these results are great news for providers that are based in these five countries, but this group cannot afford to rest easy.  Rather, the key in these locations will be for outsourcing stakeholders to keep offerings as fresh as possible, by seeking out value in the form of new urban delivery points and embracing niche functional areas of advantage.  They will also need to coordinate with other providers, trade associations and governments to these countries remain as attractive a market as possible for outsourcing.

For BPOs in emerging locations, the challenge lies in helping gain more positive mindshare for their respective delivery points among buyers.  For some — such as those based in Jamaica, Guyana, Poland, Honduras and Egypt, each of which showed considerable strength among survey respondents — this should not be difficult, given the positive momentum they have in the current outsourcing market.  However, for countries in which there has been instability or a lack of publicity, drawing positive attention may be difficult, but not necessarily impossible, if collective efforts among outsourcing stakeholders are prioritized.  In today’s market, familiarity is crucial so the work in promoting emerging BPO delivery points needs to start now.