For the second year in a row I had the opportunity to the Customer Experience Summit in Bogota, Colombia, organized by the Colombian BPO and Call Center Association now called BPro.
This year, the 16th Customer Experience Summit also incorporated the 9th Annual Awards for Excellence in Customer Interaction. Held over three days from May 7th to 9th, it is the most important customer experience event in Latin America, focused on the BPO (Business Process Outsourcing), KPO (Knowledge Process Outsourcing), ITO (Information Technology Outsourcing) and call center industry. I was particularly honored to have been invited to participate as a judge in the Excellence Awards, in addition to representing Jamaica in promoting our country’s unique value proposition to Colombian BPO companies as the ideal destination for Native English support for BPO operations.
The Colombian BPO association also recently underwent a name and image change, where it was formerly ACDECC (Asociacion Colombiana de BPO y Contact Centers), in April they changed their name to BPro. The change of image and name is part of a strategy of positioning and updating the new market conditions, related to digital transformation, developed by BPO professionals. This also reflects and consolidates its role in the country’s digital transformation.
This year’s event presented a space to understand and analyze the evolution of business and its relationship with customers, generating disruption from innovation, digital transformation, talent management, cross-border collaboration and artificial intelligence, so that companies can know, structure and create a value proposition to potential customers worldwide. There were over 1,500 attendees with a strong presence of companies from Uruguay, Chile, Guatemala, Argentina,Mexico and the United States.
Colombia’s Customer Experience Summit is the largest gathering in Latin America for BPO and shared services companies to come together to do business and also understand and analyze the evolution of business and future opportunities and challenges. This summit also provided a place for regional industry leaders to discuss innovation, digital transformation, talent management, artificial intelligence and cross-border collaboration.
The Colombian BPO/KPO and tech-related industry employs 480,000 persons (the BPO/KPO sector accounts for over 260,000 persons) , generating USD$850 million in exports, with an annual growth rate for the sector of 16% for the past 5 years and contributes 2.9% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). Colombia ranks sixth in the world for digital transformation among emerging nations with the financial sector leading the way in digital and omnichannel applications. It is the second biggest Latin American country in the BPO/KPO sector after Mexico.
One of the challenges facing the sector of the country is the bilingual staff, because these are essential for the development of the BPO and in the search for new business and exports, which is where Jamaica presents an opportunity for Colombian Companies. Only 4% of Colombia’s contact center labor pool is truly bilingual (full command of English with a minimal accent) . That 4% have a high attrition rate, frequently being recruited by multinationals in the BPO and tech sectors and the booming tourist industry.
Colombia exports $850 million in BPO services and 30% of exports go to the United States and customer service in English is 15.8% of that. These services include telecommunications, tech support, data analysis, financial services, collections, technical programming in addition to traditional call center services. Jamaica’s participation in this event seeks to present collaborative solutions to Colombian companies for native English support from Jamaica through collaborations or direct investment.
Some of the speakers and panelists included James Taylor from the UK (who has worked with Apple and Sony), Sylvia Constain, Colombian Minister of Information and Communication Technologies, David Avrin, Customer Experience guru and Marc Vidal, Spain’s leading expert in Digital Transformation and Strategy . Staying aligned with the digital consumer and changing expectations drove interesting discussions about the future of customer excellence and how the interaction of humans and tech will play out as the landscape evolves.
JAMPRO, through it’s collaboration with ProColombia and BPro has had the opportunity to speak with various Colombian BPO/KPO companies about possible alliances for English language support and also the possibility of setting up their own operations in Jamaica which would allow them access to a large of pool of native English speakers in a country with a renowned reputation for excellence in the BPO and call center space .
Previously, Jamaica has been overlooked by Latin American BPO companies because they generally only view other Spanish-speaking countries as competitors and many Latin Americans believe that Jamaica is a French-speaking country. JAMPRO has been focusing on communicating Jamaica’s accomplishments in the BPO and shared services to Latin -American operators in Colombia and Mexico and our unique value proposition as an English-speaking country with competitive salaries.
Many people are not aware that Jamaica has over 40 BPO/KPO multinationals operating in Jamaica with 36,000 persons directly working the sector. Compare that with the Dominican Republic, with only 18,000 persons employed in the sector. Jamaica’s talent availability, government support, legal framework and cost of operations have consistently driven shared service’s corporate location decisions towards our shores for a number of years and the trends shows no signs of slowing.
Jamaica’s participation in these types of regional events opens up further avenues for foreign investment from new markets, but also opportunities for Jamaican companies to form partnerships and service exports. Participation in these events can only be effectively leveraged when investment promotion agencies and industry associations work with their overseas counterparts to leverage synergies and shared goals. This is particularly important for developing and emerging economies to compete in the global arena against more developed countries.
ProColombia has long been a steadfast ally of JAMPRO in promoting links and synergies between our two countries and stands out as one of the most dynamic investment promotion agencies in this hemisphere for their vision, capacity and focus. The future looks promising for possible opportunities for investment and commerce between our countries.