For those US companies who want to know more about the advantages of partnering with Guatemala outsourcing providers, a good place to learn more is to attend the upcoming Services Summit, running from Sept. 10-12 in Guatemala City.
The event will be organized under a corporate matchmaking format, allowing buyers and sellers to spend quality, one-on-one time together. This is a second annual event, sponsored by the Guatemala Exporters Association. Sessions will be organized around these key topic areas:
- Sustainable Tourism
- Health & Wellness Tourism
- Laboratory Services
- Software Development Solutions
- Contact Centers & BPO´s
To register, just visit this site.
I’m excited to announce the launch of Nearshore Americas in September. The site will the first truly independent news and commentary online resource for the emerging nearshore community. (This is the first public viewing of our new logo by the way – the three sweeping elements are meant to reflect North, Central and South America working as one.)
We are launching the media brand to meet a strong hunger for relevant and deep analysis of how to develop profitable, long-lasting partnerships in Latin America and the Caribbean. We will have much more to tell you in September, including launch of a regular newsletter, contributions from outsourcing experts, buyer case studies, live blogging and much more! Response to our current brand – Caribbean CRM Central – has been overwhelmingly positive. We expect to play a part in helping the Nearshore community establish itself more visibly on the world BPO stage.
The North American Shared Services and Outsourcing Summit is coming to Chicago, from Sept. 28-Oct. 1 and I’ll be there blogging live (for our new brand Nearshore Americas) and talking to customers of Nearshore outsourced services. Event organizers have done a great job landing high quality customer speakers – including executives from Wal-Mart, Cigna, Kraft Foods and Hyatt. I will be tuning in specifically to sessions relevant to companies who continue to try to navigate in the outsourcing universe, including:
- Innovative pricing models and contracting
- Building a world class HR shared services function
- Getting your organization ready for BPO
There will also be a session specifically dedicated to emerging outsourcing regions, particularly Latin America.
If you’re going to be in Chicago for the event, let me know - let’s connect: firstname.lastname@example.org
Forrester Research came out with a research piece this week, titled “Will your Offshore Provider Survive The Recession? that asks BPO clients to take a cold, hard look at the health of India-based providers.
The Forrester researcher, Sudin Apte, paints a pretty grim picture of the India BPO sector citing that major providers are ill-equipped to handle a perfect storm of diminished demand, picky clients wanting better deals and anti-outsourcing rhetoric from President Barack Obama.
The researcher says: “Indian providers’ limited preparedness to fight the recession poses a risk for clients. While in the short term sourcing professionals will find it attractive to obtain lower rates, vendor viability is challenged in the long run — putting project delivery and overall client work at risk.”
These are pretty strong words and have major implications for Nearshore providers and US customers. What can providers learn?
Lesson 1: Differentiate yourself and your brand. Part of the problem for many India providers is they are doing too much and have lost sight of their core specializations.
Lesson 2: Build credibility through service excellence. The outsourcing business is very much a long-term gain proposition. It remains essential that providers consider their delivery value through continuous engagement and committing to invest in competency areas.
Lesson 3: Be honest. Say No. Part of the advantage of working in the Nearshore region, is the sharing of similar cultures. For that reason, the Western Hemisphere is probably better known for its ability to be “professionally blunt” when necessary to get the point across. This is an advantage for providers who are working with clients who are used to receiving “push back.” Being tactfully frank when necessary is something that customers will respect you for.
Lesson 4: Offer new methods of engagement. This point – courtesy of Forrester – is important since providers need to demonstrate that they are innovating in the right areas and looking at ways to improve the delivery of service, through human capital efficiencies, technology improvements or other creative models.
Is the India outsource industry about to collapse? Absolutely not.
But when major research firms like Forrester talk about anticipating bankruptcies – it’s a wake up call I would pay attention to.
Forrester advice to US clients working in India: “Rather than wait for a provider to go bankrupt or be acquired and face work disruption, identifying early symptoms of risk can save a lot of pain.”
The more I talk to those connected to the Honduras outsourcing sector, the more I realize that – frankly – the country might just be a lot better off if former President Manuel Zelaya never comes back to the capital of Tegucigalpa. Even US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says an attempt by Zelaya to return to Honduras would be “reckless” and would damage attempts for constitutional order.
No hard feeling Mel, but if you and the rest of the political leadership want to truly serve your country then walk away from the righteous arguments and let stability – and commercial growth and opportunity – prevail.
Of course, the political situation in Honduras is not that simple. But what is encouraging is that despite the past several weeks of negotiations and high-level wrangling, the country’s emerging BPO industry is holding itself together nicely.
First, it is critically important to note that the cooler heads in such situations are often business people and investors who see well beyond the political rhetoric, knowing that this too shall pass. Companies preparing to establish or expand operations in Honduras include the giant food and agricultural corporation Cargill, the globally renowned marketing and ad agency McCann Ericsson, and Netsol, a global provider of business services with branches around the world. This encouraging news was relayed to me by Ruben Sorto, Corporate Marketing and New Projects Director at Grupo Karims, which is establishing several world-class office centers, including the Altia Business Park project near San Pedro Sula. (Check out the virtual tour here.) “The project is right on track and within the scheduled program,” says Sorto. “We will finish the first tower by December and we expect to have everything up and running in the first quarter of 2010.”Sorto says that his firm has rented about 70% of the first tower (14 floors, each floor with 11,000 sq. feet) to corporate tenants.
Honduran-based business leaders are continuing to come out publicly in support of Zelaya’s ouster: “We’re here to support the brave actions of the new government, said Santiago Ruiz, president of the Agriculture Association of Honduras.
While some might argue that Zelaya’s strength was in promoting Honduras as a public relations pitch man, the reality is – upon reflection – that he appeared to quite keen to establish his own home made brand of continuismo, where he would defy the constitution and hold on to power as long as possible.
As we’ve said in this blog before, Honduras has a great upside in terms of outsourced services. We just hope that same sense of patience and focus that helps create sound businesses begins to form the foundational approach of the national government level.
Costa Rica has been blessed with assets that virtually any country in the world would envy: stable government, twenty-some different micro-climates, low unemployment and an educated class that knows how to get the job done.
Yet, there are persistent questions about a saturation point in Costa Rica, where all the best labor is soaked up – especially in technical fields. For a country of just 4.1 million people, there is an impressive list of foreign companies with operations in Costa Rica. Oracle, HP, Intel and Cisco all have offices in Costa Rica and there are countless software development firms providing services to clients all over the world.
According a study just released by Manpower, nearly half of Costa Rica firms cannot meet their needs for skilled labor, particulary in technical fields. The survey found Peru (56%) and Mexico (44%), are also having a tough time. On the other hand, employers in the U.S. (19%), Guatemala (20%) and Canada (24%) reported the least problems.
On my recent visit to Costa Rica – for the June Services Summit sponsored by promotion agencies CAMTIC and PROCOMER – it was clear companies are adapting to the skilled labor challenges by looking beyond borders throughout South and Central America to funnel business to other providers. This is an encouraging trend as the regionalization of service relationships is another shot in the arm to help drive BPO activites – and economies - in such places as Colombia, Panama and Nicargua.