Philippines spotlights software, BPO cities

Country unveils "global domination" campaign to market local software market, and identifies new "next-wave" cities as alternative outsourcing hubs.

MANILA--Concerned that voice services such as those offered by call centers are stealing the limelight, Philippine software companies are getting their acts together to establish a "united front" and promote the industry in the international market.

The Philippine Software Industry Association (PSIA) said Tuesday that it is planning to launch a "global domination" campaign this year as part of its goal to generate US$1 billion revenues by 2010. The initiative was unveiled at the 9th e-Services Global Outsourcing Conference and Exhibition, held this week in Pasay City.

The country's export-oriented software sector grew more than 30 percent last year, churning US$624 million in net earnings from US$423 million in 2007. The overall Philippine IT-BPO (business process outsourcing) industry posted close to US$6.1 billion in revenues last year.

In terms of revenue, the call center segment still commands 68 percent share, followed by backoffice operations at 14 percent, software sector at 10 percent, engineering at 4 percent, transcription at 3 percent, and animation at 2 percent.

Dinah Salonga, chair of the PSIA's marketing and communications committee, said the software group is pushing toward the European market this year, alongside plans for a coast-to-coast promotional tour across the United States.

"The PSIA recognizes the tough competition that the global outsourcing market faces this year, so we are bent on showing that the Philippines can provide innovative software products rather than just services," said Salonga, who is also managing director for local software company, SQL Wizard.

Rolling in next-wave cities
Chair of the Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT), Ray Anthony Roxas-Chua III, also made a pitch for a new set of "next-wave" cities that have been positioned as outsourcing hubs.

Speaking to IT executives and delegates at the conference, Roxas-Chua identified these locations as:

  • Metro Laguna: Santa Rosa, Calamba, Los Baños and San Pablo
  • Metro Cavite: Dasmariñas, Bacoor, Imus and Cavite City
  • Iloilo
  • Davao
  • Bacolod
  • Pampanga Central: Angeles/Clark, Mabalacat and Dau
  • Bulacan Central: Baliuag, Marilao and Meycauyan
  • Cagayan De Oro
  • Bulacan South: Malolos and Calumpit
  • Lipa

According to Roxas-Chua, these cities are already equipped and have the talent to provide the same products and level of service that the main cities of Manila and Cebu currently offer. For instance, he cited the southern city of Davao, which produces over 15,000 graduates a year from its 46 colleges and universities in fields such as engineering, computer science and education.

He noted that the development of alternative outsourcing sites would not only bring progress to those cities, it would also create jobs and allow Filipino workers stay in the Philippines.

XMG Global, a Philippines and Canada-based ICT research firm, said at a presentation here that such initiatives could help the country maintain its global competitiveness, since the cost of talent and real estate is much cheaper in the countryside.

"Aside from hastening the development of transportation and other infrastructure, the high level of standards that they would be maintaining would pave the way for the creation of an ecosystem that complements talent across cities," said Lauro Vives, chief executive of XMG.

Melvin G. Calimag is a freelance IT writer based in the Philippines.