Industry Commentary

2021 Business Friendly Cities Index Highlights European Nearshore Opportunities

By June 15, 2021February 14th, 2024No Comments

Photograph of Ljubljana used under creative commons licence from pixelsblue

Business continuity is one of the most important CX drivers in 2021 and a key European nearshore driver. There is no question that outsourcers are actively seeking new opportunities to diversify their delivery risk profile by leveraging new, and in some cases less obvious, destinations. This is where the results of the 2021 Emerging Europe Business Friendly Cities Index play an invaluable role in BPO site selection and decision-making. This year’s results provide a comprehensive list of 25 destinations in Central & Eastern Europe. The results are especially salient, given that the European nearshore has emerged as one of the most sought after BPO delivery regions in the world. And, while the specific requirements of individual clients and their outsourcing partners vary, the 2021 index offers some important considerations as CX delivery moves eastward.

From a BPO perspective, it is no surprise that two Polish cities are included in the top 10 locations studied: Lodz is 1st and Warsaw ranks 6th. Recall that in the 2021 Ryan Strategic Advisory Front Office Omnibus Survey placed Poland in a solid 3rd place out of 53 different delivery destinations. For many operators, Poland is at the heart of their European nearshore BPO platform, given its diversity in urban centers, reputation for multilingualism, and ease of access to / from Western Europe (and increasingly from the rest of the world). It should be noted that while it is equally clear that legitimate concerns exist about the political tilt of the current government, the value that BPOs have recouped from Poland is real and sustained.

Also interesting in the Emerging Europe 2021 findings is the extent to which emerging cities are aggressively marketing their BPO value with impressive results. A great example is Belgrade, which ranked 1st in economic potential. Numerous outsourcers have already placed CX operations in the Serbian capital, including Sitel, Contact Service and Trizma (among others), speaking to the value that can be recouped in that destination.

With more demand than ever for digital connectivity and skills, operating in a Smart City environment holds tremendous appeal. Hence, Cluj-Napoca in Romania and the Bulgarian capital of Sofia were ranked 1st and 2nd, respectively, in terms of Smart City Development in the Emerging Europe 2021 index. The expectation is that more emphasis will be placed on CX delivery from destinations with these credentials, which will continue as an important municipal advantage in the eyes of both BPOs and their clients.

However, alongside the cities mentioned above, two other standouts in Central Europe need to be on the minds of outsourcers and their clients. One is a legacy CX delivery point, Prague.

While this city had been relatively quiet on the outsourcing front for some time, in recent years it has re-emerged as a European nearshore delivery point of choice. In the 2021 Front Office Omnibus Survey, the Czech Republic was rated the most popular delivery point among German participants; it was also a solid contender among British respondents. With a high quality of life and strong levels of infrastructure/connectivity, Prague’s ranking in the Emerging Europe 2021 index speaks to its perception as a high-end CX delivery point.  Local outsourcing operators like ICON Communications Centres, which have made Prague a European nearshore delivery point of choice, are testament to that city’s value of third-party services investment.

The other standout this year is Ljubljana. It came in 3rd overall in the 2021 Emerging Europe Business Friendly City Index, based on strong ratings for its commercial climate, smart city development initiatives and quality of life. It was noted that Slovenia was the clear favorite offshore destination for Italian CX managers in the 2021 Front Office Omnibus Survey. With its capital ticking the right boxes in terms of business friendliness, it is almost certain that this southern European destination will garner more interest from BPO providers.