Last week’s launch of IBEX Global’s newest delivery center in Jamaica was received positively both in domestic quarters as well as internationally. Not only does the move highlight the growth of one of the most proactive front-office BPO players in the current market, it also rightly draws attention to a country that is experiencing something of a renaissance of late. In fact, based on both internal dynamics and exogenous factors, there is every reason to believe that Jamaica has the potential to emerge as one of the leading English-speaking offshore services destinations.
While there are multiple international contact center outsourcers on the ground in Jamaica, the decision by IBEX Global to set up shop in Portmore as means of servicing clients is validation of that country’s sustainability in the BPO space. The fact is that Jamaica retains tremendous value as a delivery point for English-language services; it is one of the rare countries in the world where agents can seamlessly service North American and UK end-users in native English. In addition, with an unemployment rate among under-24 year olds reaching nearly 40% according to some estimates, BPO players have the chance to take advantage of good labor market fluidity, albeit in a relatively small population of three million. From the perspective of the industry’s maturity, Jamaica’s outsourcing sector has been punctuated by not just global investors, but also through a growing set of local players such as itel BPO, which are now challenging for nearshore and offshore contracts.
What is heartening for the Jamaican BPO industry is the ongoing level of support that it is garnering from the government. The commitment to work through the national trade and investment agency (JAMPRO) to facilitate a competitive business environment and the necessary infrastructure is crucial, especially given that outsourcing has been identified as a critical growth area for the country. This will be essential to Jamaica’s long term BPO sustainability.
There is also a global component to Jamaica’s ongoing success in that outsourcers and their clients are looking for diversified delivery options in the current international business environment. India’s growth as an offshore front-office destination is relatively mature, and concerns related to the political atmosphere in the Philippines are starting to push smaller, higher-value destinations such as South Africa, Malaysia and Jamaica to the forefront of contact center discussions. As more decision-makers look for alternatives to what have traditionally been the major offshore delivery points, it will be imperative for Jamaica’s outsourcing stakeholders to determine how best to manage a smaller population with the evolving service demands of clients. Moving toward higher-value functions such as legal and financial services are obvious choices from a back-office perspective, while providing more complex non-voice work is logical in the context of the contact center.
To date, Jamaica’s outsourcing stakeholders have taken the right approach to developing their national market, and deployments like the one launched by IBEX Global in Portmore are validation of this approach. Going forward, it will be imperative for this proactive cooperation between the industry and relevant government agencies in order to maintain Jamaica’s BPO momentum.