The Emerging Power of BPO in Southeast Asia

A report from the Asian Development Bank in May 2022 provides fascinating insight into the growth pathways for ASEAN countries in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. This report offers optimism and positivity after what has been a trying time for the world economy, outlining how key industries and sectors will spearhead growth in the coming years.

One of the most striking conclusions from the report related to the diversification of economies in South East Asia. For example, the tourism sector has taken a heavier hit than most, as holidaymakers remain reluctant to make long haul trips overseas. While the Asian Development Bank does recommend a series of strategies for reinvigorating this industry, it also identifies where other sectors can take up the slack — including the Business Process Outsourcing sector.

How We’ve Reached This Point: The Emergence of the South East Asian BPO Sector

Outsourcing in countries like the Philippines has been an emerging sector for quite some time now. Statistics from back in 2014 identified a year on year BPO growth of 20% for each of the previous ten years, leading to a tenfold increase in the market between 2004 and 2014.

Since then, growth has continued at a pace. In Q2 of 2021, the Asia Pacific BPO market experienced huge levels of growth, translating to a 148% increase from the previous quarter. ASEAN nations were instrumental in achieving this growth rate and for posting the best quarter for BPO since before the global pandemic struck.

So what makes South East Asia such an important player in the world’s BPO sector? Why are so many companies seeking to pursue outsourcing opportunities in the Philippines and elsewhere? There are a few factors to consider here.

A Supportive Environment for Business

In 2017, a report from A.T. Kearney placed three ASEAN nations in the top ten for outsourcing opportunities. The Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam achieved this listing thanks to “business environment, financial attractiveness, people skills, and availability of workforce.” This demonstrates how South East Asia manages to provide an excellent environment for organisations looking to outsource key operational tasks. By 2021, ASEAN nations made up 50% of the top 10, with Malaysia and Thailand achieving prestigious positions in the index.

Increased Remote Staff Availability

The evolution of remote work technology has essentially set businesses free. Real-time conference calling and telecommute capabilities, as well as end to end encrypted messaging services and collaborative digital tools have elevated the remote work environment — what used to be a risky experiment is now a must-have for businesses focused on flexibility and agility. This has made Business Process Outsourcing in the Philippines and other South East Asian nations a real possibility for businesses all over the world, bringing disparate teams closer as they collaborate on projects. Today, companies from across Australasia, Europe, the Americas and elsewhere can connect with an unprecedented level of opportunities in South East Asia.

Cost Reductions without Compromise on Quality

ASEAN nations provide highly skilled workers in BPO roles, drawing upon a range of different competencies and areas of experience as they deliver excellent results for outsourcing partners. While labour costs in key outsourcing markets such as the Philippines are significantly lower than those of Western European, American and Australian locations — resulting in considerable cost savings for businesses operating on tight budgets — clients can be assured of high-quality results. This is leading to increased consumer confidence in the Business Process Outsourcing capabilities of the Philippines and other South East Asian countries.

The Next Steps of Outsourcing in the Philippines and Elsewhere in the ASEAN

Growth is an ongoing process, and the BPO sector needs to remain on track if it is to support the development of South East Asian economies. The Asian Development Bank report discussed above outlined key pathways that will keep the region on course for growth in the future.

  • Enhancing Digital Connectivity

BPO requires high-level digital connectivity and collaborative capabilities if outsourced operations are to thrive.

  • Developing an IT-BPO roadmap

The Asian Development Bank’s report recommends that local authorities develop specific roadmaps for the evolution of information technology and business process outsourcing, turning these industries into cornerstones of economic growth.

  • Support development skills and training

Increased training and upskilling for workers in South East Asia will result in more opportunities for BPO growth.

  • Redraft digital regulations

The report also discusses how digital regulations can be strengthened and modernised, ensuring that foreign organisations have the confidence required to outsource their operations.

Unlock the Benefits of Remote Work by Outsourcing to the Philippines

Here at enablesGroup, we specialise in helping clients leverage the best Business Process Outsourcing opportunities in the Philippines. We are ready to help you build flexibility, agility and remote capability into your operation structure, with an international approach. Get in touch with us today to learn more.