IT-BPM sector books $26-billion revenue in 2020
By Tyrone Jasper C. Piad -March 26, 2021
THE information technology and business-process management (IT-BPM) sector did not grow last year, but it also did not register significant decline in terms of performance despite the pandemic.
The pandemic-induced economic slump stunted the growth of the IT-BPM industry’s revenues and employment in the past year, SPi Global Senior Vice President Celeste Ilagan said during the Asia BPM Forum 2021 on Thursday. Ilagan also sits on the board of trustees for the IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines (Ibpap).
Ilagan reported that industry revenues slightly dipped to $26.2 billion last year from $26.3 billion in 2019. Employment figures remained at 1.3 million.
The figures met the industry outlook for 2020.
“Our flat growth is of course because of the pandemic and because of the global recession due to the pandemic. Recording a flat growth is actually an achievement in itself,” she explained.
Ilagan recalled that the first two months of lockdown last year was a struggle because productivity level was only around 50 percent. At the time, she said the industry was adjusting to the lockdown measures amid the pandemic as it stabilized operations.
By the end of 2020, however, the SPi Global official noted that industry productivity reached 95 percent after gradually improving in subsequent months.
“We are fortunate to have been included among the essential industries and therefore, allowed to operate but needed to pivot a very different work model which we have not done significantly before,” she noted.
This meant having a mix of work-from-home and work-at-office arrangements, she said.
Outsourcing firm Transcom, which has over 9,000 employees in the country, felt the pinch during the lockdown. Mark Lyndsell, the global chief executive officer of Transcom, said the firm spent about $7 million to $8 million to support its Filipino employees.
Lyndsell said the support covers hotel accommodations to house the employees, extra allowances such as hazard pay and point-to-point shuttles to transport the workers. “Even now, we test our folks with antigen every 14 days,” he added.
Startek, which has 15,000 employees across the Philippines and Australia, has also been extending support to its workers, including hotel accommodations and transportation since last year. It also sent out computers for work-from-home setups.
Startek Chief Operating Officer for Philippines and Australia Parikshat Nagpal said the firm makes sure to look after the welfare of its employees while assuring clients of business continuity at the same time.
Despite the struggles amid the pandemic, the country is still attractive for investors, Lyndsell said.
“The Philippines is still a country destination where our clients want to invest. That is something that we are continuing to see,” he explained.
Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza), for its part, said that it will continue to bring investments in the country.
Peza Director General Charito Plaza said that there are around 410 economic zones nationwide as of November 2020, majority or 290 of which are IT parks and centers.
“Despite facing the new normal, the Philippines is still an investment haven. We in Peza will continue to pursue our mandate and do our best in harnessing Philippine investments’ competitiveness,” she said.
In March, Peza approved 30 projects of registered business enterprises amounting to P13.19 billion; 11 of these are for IT.
The investment promotion agency hopes to book P100 billion worth of investment pledges this year.
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