Interview: Maulik Parekh

How well positioned is the Philippines to become a centre for outsourced health care processes?

MAULIK PAREKH: The potential for health care outsourcing in the Philippines is substantial, as the country produces roughly 40,000 nurses annually. While traditionally many of these professionals sought jobs abroad, the growing health care outsourcing industry has created another option for these experts to stay home and pursue careers they desire. We are trying to expand to have over 1000 Philippine-based health care professionals, particularly supporting the US market.

The health care market has been growing by around 45% annually and the uptrend is expected to continue, as the industry seeks specialisation in higher-value and margin processes, such as revenue cycle management, coding and compliance, particularly in tandem with the US’s Affordable Care Act and International Classification of Diseases implementation.

There has also been significant growth in providing customer service through social media – measuring, reporting and supporting clients in acquiring and retaining customers. Given that future generations will doubtlessly utilise digital and social media platforms for their consumer needs, companies must be prepared to delve into that service arena, or fall behind. Firms like ours must be prepared to help them do so.

How can the Philippines utilise outsourcing opportunities under the ASEAN Economic Community?

PAREKH: If the Philippines continues building on the ecosystem it has created for this industry, the country will be well poised as a destination of choice for the region’s outsourcing needs. It is remarkable how many success factors have converged here: the large pool of English speakers with accents that are easy for speakers from around the world to understand, pairs with the customer-service-oriented culture. The country also generates more college graduates than most in the region. I believe it is time for the Philippines to look beyond its traditional outsourcing markets – the US, Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand – towards neighbouring countries. Close to 30% of SPi Global’s revenue comes from ASEAN nations. This regional integration allows companies like ours to utilise each country’s strengths. For example, our strong operational presence in Vietnam relies on its workforce for non-voice knowledge process outsourcing, while our customer-service activities remain in the Philippines.

In what ways is the industry ensuring a sustained pipeline of skilled workers to meet BPO demand?

PAREKH: The only way for the BPO industry to thrive is to invest in future employees. It is a people-centric industry, which will ultimately benefit if it places people and their well-being at the centre of its growth strategy to ensure long-term sustainability. I believe a key reason Philippine BPO has grown faster and more consistently than any other BPO market is that all the stakeholders are pulling their weight; the partnerships I have witnessed among government agencies, the private sector and industry associations, such as the Information Technology and Business Processing Association of the Philippines and the Contact Centre Association of the Philippines are best-in-class. There’s a massive effort to train and prepare future personnel, and also promote BPO as the industry of choice for college graduates – one that offers a prosperous career.

To what extent do new content and digital platforms offer opportunities for outsourcing?

PAREKH: The content industry is undergoing an incredible transformation, with three key trends that have created new revenue streams. First, content has gone from location-specific to omni-present – we can consume content anywhere via mobile devices. Content has become dynamic, enriched through multi-media and links. Finally, online search is becoming smarter and faster – it is taking less and less time to reach the information you are looking for. These trends are changing business and our clients seek new partners to compete.