Industry Commentary

The Outsourcing Opportunity for Pennsylvania is Now

By April 19, 2018July 25th, 2023No Comments

From the perspective of BPO site selection, with more American companies seeking the opportunity to deliver domestically, the pressure is on. State governments must position their jurisdictions as those most worthy of outsourcer investment.  This takes on a whole different dimension when considering that providers look at more variables when choosing a new deployment site than ever before.  Pennsylvania is currently aiming to increase its share of the US front-office BPO pie, and there are many factors that work in its favor, which if harnessed correctly, could propel it to the forefront of American domestic service provision.

There can be little doubt of Pennsylvania’s interest in harnessing customer experience delivery.  At a recent roadshow for influencers and business executives alike, Pennsylvania Secretary of Community and Economic Development Dennis Davin and Deputy Secretary of International Business Development Joe Burke outlined in clear terms the need to attract more third-party service delivery to their jurisdiction.  The state’s current rate of unemployment is among the highest in the US, and it has been hit in recent times with a large number of retail closures.  This potentially presents Pennsylvania with the opportunity to re-enforce its front-line outsourcing proposition.

With a larger degree of labor market flexibility than other states in the currently strong US economy, outsourcers can find more available prospective team members from which to choose, and a greater likelihood of holding onto this talent.  The chance to recruit more customer service-focused agents that have previous front-line experience from the retail space adds weight to this opportunity.  And, with more commercial real estate available such as shuttered shopping malls, finding the right facility should not be difficult.  This is in addition to its northeast location, with easy air, rail and automobile access to New York City and Washington DC, among other East Coast hubs. Moreover, Pennsylvania boasts a clutch of cities—approximately twenty with populations of more than 40,000—where outsourcers can house contact centers.

Thus far, Pennsylvania has historically been successful in courting contact center outsourcing investment, counting providers such as Alorica, WNS and Conduit Global among those that have chosen to set up shop there. However, in order to optimize Pennsylvania’s relevance for outsourcers, there are a number of things that the state’s administration will need to act upon.  One of the most important will be a recognition that moving forward, Pennsylvania is likely to succeed in outsourcing by attracting roles that are of a more complex, higher value function nature (such as complex technical support, analytics and high-touch customer experience).  From a cost equation, it simply cannot compete for transactional work against the Philippines, India or Mexico. Equally, driving home that Pennsylvania is an ideal environment for work-at-home agents would do much to support an ever-important customer experience delivery model in the US.  With roughly 30% of the state’s population living outside of urban areas and solid network infrastructure across the state, it also provides an opportunity to address rural unemployment.

From a broader perspective, the administration will need to liaise with its outsourcing stakeholders regularly to solicit their feedback on how to make Pennsylvania friendlier to BPO investment.  As a jurisdiction, it has fared poorly in recent business-friendliness ratings, and this will not be lost on outsourcing executives eager to find onshore delivery options.  However, if government decision-makers work in tandem with the industry to optimize the state’s regulatory and legislative framework, there is ample reason to believe that Pennsylvania will be successful in its BPO attraction initiative.