Call centers: India, Philippine markets set to boom

India and the Philippines are set to be among the largest markets for call centers in Asia Pacific (including Japan) in the next five to seven years, according to a recent white paper by research firm Frost & Sullivan.

SINGAPORE--India and the Philippines are set to be among the largest markets for call centers in Asia Pacific (including Japan) in the next five to seven years, according to a recent white paper by research firm Frost & Sullivan.

Last year, the region's call center industry was worth US$700 million (in terms of hardware and software spending), said Frost & Sullivan Asia Pacific Industry manager enterprise communications Moaiyad Taher Hoosenally. He could not provide revenue figures for the region.

Leading the way were Japan and Australia, which spent about US$286 million and US$158 million, respectively. Next came China, South Korea, New Zealand and Hong Kong. (The study is said to be based on last year's figures.)

Also of note at seventh place is India, which chalked up US$21 million in spending, followed by Singapore, with US$20.3 million, and the Philippines, with US$9.8 million.

When asked why he thought India and the Philippines were potentially key markets in the region, Hoosenally said: "These two countries have huge markets, with high English literacy rates and low labor costs."

According to him, "a typical call center operator in the US is paid around US$4,000 per month...In India, a similar position pays only US$280 to US$300 per month".

Besides the low cost of operations, "improvement in the IT and telecommunications infrastructure of the countries will also be an added attraction," he added. "Further liberalization of the telecommunication industry their domestic markets will also contribute the call center business."

In seven years' time, Hoosenally believes that the two countries could also beat Singapore in terms of market size, provided "the political situation in India and the Philippines are stable and the currencies don't depreciate tremendously".

He could not provide the projected market sizes, but said Singapore would still be a key call center market in Asia Pacific, albeit with a different focus.

"In Singapore, the call center operators will begin to provide higher value services and they will be expected to be more professional," he explained. "Besides handling calls, they will also take on more responsibility such as designing a service on behalf of their customers."

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