As outsourcers grapple with business contingency planning, it is imperative to find alternative options for front-line delivery. A common priority among executives is finding sites that perhaps were not previously on the radar, but which can host future customer experience deployments. This is especially critical in the European nearshore.

It is in this context why the recently-published annual Emerging Europe rankings of the region’s most business-friendly cities comes at an opportune time.  It is a crucial resource for BPO operators as they aim to diversify their geographic risk.

Emerging Europe has an expert handle on the socio-political and economic happenings in Central & Eastern Europe.  And contact center outsourcing operators should heed their latest study, in which a group of leading panelists rated the most business-friendly cities among those countries.  This will be incredibly important for providers seeking to expand their footprints in the region. Anecdotal evidence suggests that in a post-COVID19 delivery environment outsourcers will be looking to de-emphasize large-scale centralized operations in favor of smaller deployments across a broader series of delivery points.

Of immediate note for outsourcers in the Emerging Europe Business-Friendly City rankings is the first-place showing of Budapest.  This urban center has long been a hub for multilingual deployments, effectively servicing end-users from Scandinavia to Spain.  According to Emerging Europe, Budapest maintains a well-viewed civic brand, boasts a proactive economic development authority, and can be counted on for solid infrastructure / connectivity.  Its pool of talent also rates highly.  And, while arguably it is one of the more expensive locations in Central & Eastern Europe, the potential to leverage Budapest for customer experience management remains consistent going into H2 2020 and beyond.

Poland’s performance in the Emerging Europe rankings should also be of interest to the front-office BPO community. This is notable, given Poland’s Top-5 favorability positioning as a global offshore delivery location in the 2020 Ryan Strategic Advisory Front Office BPO Omnibus Survey.   A number of Polish cities fared nicely in the 2020 Emerging Europe report, with the capital Warsaw ranking 3rd overall.

But, this only tells part of the Polish story. Outsourcing executives should look at the extent to which secondary locations such as Lodz and Gdansk performed well, especially when it comes to the local business climate.  Being able to enter a thriving, dynamic commercial environment cannot be understated moving forward. Poland is proving itself in this regard.

Niche locations are another aspect that no reader of the study should overlook. So while a number of cities in Romania, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria rated strongly in the Emerging Europe 2020 Business-Friendly City ranking, many centers in the Baltics, Georgia and the Balkans also had impressive showings.  Some are not necessarily locations that outsourcers previously considered for large-scale operations, due to their limited labor pools. But a greater post-pandemic focus on more streamlined customer experience delivery points places many of these cities into contention.  Equally, the opportunity to leverage these cities for virtualized workforce opportunities, with agents serving West European consumers partially or exclusively from home, is also a significant possibility.  Moving forward, the good news for proactive BPO executives looking for site alternatives is that there is plenty of selection from which to choose in Central & Eastern Europe.  This has been validated by Emerging Europe, it is now up to outsourcers to pick those that best suit their delivery requirements.