Industry Commentary

itelbpo’s St. Lucia Deployment Highlights Emerging Caribbean BPO Scene

By January 8, 2020January 10th, 2024No Comments

As 2020 kicks off with a bang, no one doubts the energy with which outsourcing providers and their clients plan to embrace customer experience management.  In the context of BPO delivery from the American nearshore, wily industry watchers will be keeping an eye on the up and coming parts of the  emerging Caribbean, which continue attracting outsourced support to consumers in the US and Canada.  This trend makes sense from the perspective of sourcing new, untapped delivery points. The key will be for providers to recognize the best way to deploy from these emerging jurisdictions, in a manner that will be commercially viable over the long-term.

As reported recently in Nearshore Americas, the news that Caribbean outsourcing powerhouse itelbpo plans to open a new St. Lucia site in H1 2020 was among the more interesting new deployments at the end of 2019.  Once up and running, this new contact center will have roughly 500 people on staff, and help further diversify itelbpo’s growing footprint beyond the Grand Bahama, US, Mexico and its home-base of Jamaica.  What is interesting is that itelbpo chose to house a new facility in a country located on the eastern reaches of the Caribbean, one that is not among the most populous and that is perhaps not the most readily accessible by air (relative to other options in the region).  However, there is clearly logic in this decision.

For one, St. Lucia has only a few outsourcers on the ground that are providing front-office BPO delivery for North American consumers. This gives itelbpo a significant advantage in that market when it comes to labor force recruitment.  Equally, what is reported to be a proactive economic development agency that aims to help drive new outsourcing investment is equally an advantage for itelbpo in its newest location.

But St. Lucia is only one of a number of countries in the Caribbean that are making headway in driving new BPO investment.  Just two islands to the south there is a burgeoning BPO industry in Grenada, where US provider KM² Solutions has made significant headway, alongside home-grown upstarts including Qualishore.  Again, a small country making outsourcing progress with native English, limited existing BPO investment, and favorable policies to attract contact centers.  And, it is noted that these efforts are not exclusive to the English-speaking Caribbean.  Recent initiatives in Haiti among local entrepreneurs aiming to service French-speakers in Canada should not be understated, especially given the interest in diversifying delivery options for this language group beyond North Africa.

Of course, any site selection play needs to take into account potential obstacles, to which these emerging parts of the Caribbean are not immune. In the case of both St. Lucia and Grenada, notwithstanding pro-business policies, each has a relatively small labor pool. Should the local contact center market in either start to grow quickly, the potential for higher agent costs is a reality.  Equally, in the case of Haiti, ongoing political turmoil could scare away prospective clients of providers looking to establish a presence in that country.

The key takeaway for any outsourcer interested in establishing a beachhead in the emerging parts of the Caribbean is to recognize the commercial value of specific jurisdictions. Playing to these strengths is imperative.  Just as important, avoiding commercial obstacles by planning accordingly will also help ensure long term viability in these new delivery spots.  As in any new BPO initiative, the devil is in the details.