The Caribbean Association of Investment Promotion Agencies (CAIPA) in association with the Caribbean Export Development Agency, Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) and the European Union hosted the first-ever pan-Caribbean outsourcing conference on December 6, 2017 at the Iberostar Rose Hall Beach Hotel in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Titled ‘Outsource to the Caribbean Conference 2017’ (OCC 2017), the conference focused on the theme of ‘Leveraging the Caribbean for Nearshore Outsourcing Services’. Avasant was a key consulting partner in the organization of the event, providing critical advisory inputs and networking support to draw the major Investment Promotion Agencies (IPA’s) and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) service providers and buyers operating in the Caribbean region and elsewhere to attend the event. Key sponsors of the event included the Trinidad & Tobago International Financial Centre (TTIFC) and Itel BPO.
The inaugural OCC2017 was the first of its kind outsourcing conference in the Caribbean focused on bringing the spotlight on the BPO industry in the Caribbean. The event drew discussions on a range of topics such as new digital developments and trends shaping the future of outsourcing industry, challenges facing nearshore destinations, and the potential of Caribbean to successfully leverage new technologies and outsource services to major buyer markets across the world. The event also highlighted several outsourcing success stories from the Caribbean, which reiterated Caribbean’s rising profile in the global BPO industry and the significance of the sector to the economic growth of the region.
Mr. Anupam Govil (Partner, Avasant), who was part of the advisory committee of OCC2017, moderated the first panel discussion of the conference on the theme “Outsourcing trends for the next decade: Opportunities for the Caribbean”. The panelists included some of the prominent industry thought leaders, namely, Peter Ryan (Principal, Ryan Strategic Advisory), Kirk Laughlin (Managing Director, Nearshore Americas), Chris Lord (Global Head, Digital Growth Strategy HGS) and Ann Harts (Executive Vice President, Site Selection & Incentives).
Govil moderated the discussion by highlighting the transformative trends and technologies driving the global BPO sector. “Some of the key trends driving the developments in the outsourcing industry are: rise in demand for Robotic Process Automation (RPA) based services, increasing uptake of Digital Services – i.e. services that enable enterprise digitalization, continuing interest among international buyers to invest in Global In-house Centers (GICs), rapid adoption of cloud services and virtual centers, and growth in consumerization within major industry verticals”, Govil explained. He also emphasized on the trend of ‘Offshore Whiplash’ which is changing the business dynamics within the industry. This trend is evidenced by the saturation in availability of skilled labor, rise in wages, and growing nationalism and offshore fatigue driving greater re-shoring and near-shoring of services.
Govil also added that “Changes in the global outsourcing services environment is creating new opportunities and challenges for Caribbean destinations. Caribbean is in a unique position to provide scalable digital talent to key buyer markets, establish GICs and virtual centers, deliver digital services at competitive cost and quality, and offer consumer focused omni-channel services owing to a savvy labor force. However, there are some challenges that needs to be overcome to reap the full benefits of the potential opportunities that are available to the region. These include the need for greater and faster adoption of newer technologies (such as automation, cloud, Artificial Intelligence (AI), etc.) by stakeholders in the BPO ecosystem, increased regional competition for nearshore services, inadequate digital maturity hindering the ability of service providers to scale and go-to-market faster, and challenges in developing a sustainable pool of trained labor force attuned to the new developments in the industry. “
The other panelists highlighted some of the key BPO sub-sectors that Caribbean is well placed to deliver, such as: collection Services, transaction Processing, technical support Services, Human Resource Services, Legal Process Outsourcing (LPO), Finance and Accounting (F&A) and Healthcare Services. They also emphasized the need for the governments in the region to prioritize the development of capacity development programs and provision digitally enabled investment entry mechanisms, which can simplify investment process and reduce the lead time for operationalizing new investments in the region.
The event saw a couple of other invigorating panel discussions on ‘Caribbean Talent’ and ‘Caribbean Success Stories’ – both showcasing the potential and readiness of the region to capitalize on the new industry developments and deliver high value BPO services. OCC 2017 also facilitated several Business to Business (B2B) meetings between participating service providers, buyers and IPA’s, enabling many new partnerships, potential business agreements and growth opportunities for stakeholders in the public and private sector.
The inaugural session of OCC2017 was successful in creating the much-needed international visibility for the BPO sector in the Caribbean region, educating the public-sector stakeholders on the optimal conditions necessary for attracting new investments into the region and emphasizing the need for service providers in the region to fast adopt and integrate newer technologies like RPA and AI into their service delivery. The event is expected to create greater dividends for the BPO sector and the overall economic growth of the Caribbean region.