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Asean Affairs  3 December 2010

The call center sweepstakes

By  David Swartzentruber
AseanAffairs     3 December 2010

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One of the businesses that has taken hold in Asia is the US$ 21 billion call center industry.

Up to now, as many U.S. consumers could testify to, is that India has been the largest home for that business. Now, business media are reporting that the Philippines has overtaken India in the call center business. It’s a two-horse race now.

Philippines will earn $5.7 billion this year as opposed to India’s take of $5.5 billion. The two focal points account for one-half of the industry ‘s yearly total of 21 billion.

The Philippine push into the call center business came after India had established a foothold. To catch up, the Philippines went to India, observed and interviewed call center firms and took that knowledge back to the Philippines. The Philippine government cooperated as well,

streamlining procedures, setting up special economic zones, offering tax breaks and offering classes to improve the English of the call center employees, although Philippines has a strong English base due to the occupation of the country by the country for about 50 years.

The biggest challenge the Philippines faces, and where India still excels, is the lack of a managerial talent to handle functions above what the basic call center staff requires. The Philippines also graduates only a small number of engineers each year that could pose a stumbling block for the industry’s growth and expansion.

Paul A. Ebeling, Jnr

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