Let there be no mistake – the offshore and nearshore outsourcing game is highly competitive. What it takes to win is innovation, agility, and a profound understanding of what is occuring on the ground. In this sense, the most successful locations that have managed to court new investment are those in which providers and industry associations have worked in tandem to outline the needs of outsourcers, and where relevant public bodies have acted on these requirements. But, this formula only works in one direction. If government at any level assumes the mantle of industry champion without listening to outsourcing stakeholders, its initiatives will fail. First and foremost, this approach will lead to friction within the BPO sector’s existing players. And it is also likely to discourage investment by new providers.
Governments can play a critical role in the development of a robust contact center outsourcing offshore sector, provided they act correctly. This is highlighted in the recently published 2019 Front Office BPO Omnibus Survey by Ryan Strategic Advisory, in which contact center buyers from the largest demand markets in the world outlined what they look for in an offshore delivery point. Rounding out the most important elements, this group wants a pro-business regulatory regime, good levels of public security, compliance with international data protection treaties, and modern infrastructure / connectivity. These are all elements that governments can act upon decisively in order to ensure a climate that’s hospitable to investors such as outsourcers.
But what happens when any public body, no matter how well-intentioned, decides that it will arbitrarily lead the development of an outsourcing sector without considering the input of providers or industry associations? This scenario should be avoided at all costs, for a number of reasons.
For one, the role of any government department is to help implement both the passage of laws designed to make a jurisdiction more responsive to the needs of the industry (front-office BPO, in the context of this discussion) and to ensure the required infrastructure and supportive growth policies are in place. Outsourcers themselves and their representative bodies are infinitely more able to outline the requirements and associated delivery capabilities of their sector than government officials whose role should be to follow the guidance and legislate accordingly. The naked truth is that the public sector is not on the front-lines of offshore outsourced delivery, meaning at least some type of disconnect from the reality of what is happening on the ground will exist, leaving an obvious gap between investor need and delivery.
Equally, there is the political / administrative aspect that needs to be considered. Moving processes through government bodies is notoriously slow and can be rife with roadblocks. This is not conducive to driving new economic development, especially within the global BPO landscape among outsourcers that are eager to invest in a new location and that have limited patience with what are likely to be seen as unnecessary hold-ups and worse still incompetence (which equates to lack of capability, thereby tainting the destination before it has had a chance to pitch for the opportunity).
For any discussion about developing an offshore value proposition to be successful in actually luring new investors, governments seeking investment need to look to the industry itself for leadership. Sadly, locations with governments that did not take this ground-up approach of courting the views and needs of outsourcers quickly fell off the radar. However, on a more positive note, there are many that have been immensely successful by way of governments taking the right cues from the outsourcing community in order to make certain the right competitive playing field. Outsourcing players know what is best for their industry. Governments should listen.