Foreign direct investment (FDI) into the Philippines increased almost 31% in 2011 to P256.1 billion according to the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB). NSCB said the jump is the largest since 1996, and will create close to 30,000 jobs. Government deserves much credit for this increase. But interestingly, so do some corporations. Consider technology, facilities, and investment services provider DTSI Group. This company facilitates foreign and domestic investment in the Philippine IT-BPO and other industries. Its subsidiaries have enabled over 60% of call center seats in the country, or almost 250,000 fully equipped stations.
To illustrate how DTSI Group works, consider first that the Philippines is the world’s leading global hub for voice IT-BPO services according to studies by IBM and Everest Group, and number two in non-voice, complex services. Every year, the industry grows approximately 20% and is expected to generate $25 billion in revenues and directly employ 1.3 million in 2016, according to a forecast presented in the IT-BPO Road Map 2011-2016. As a result, competition for people is serious. Tierone services providers address the issue by communicating distinctive value propositions to prospective employees. For DTSI Group client Teleperformance, bricks and mortar are part of the effort. Teleperformance operates almost 100,000 computerized workstations in 255 contact centers located in 49 countries. It employs more than 130,000 individuals.
I spoke to David Rizzo, president for Asia Pacific of Teleperformance, recently. He told me his company was pleased with contractors he employed to renovate and finish out facilities here. But he wasn’t delighted with them. To support reinvestment and expansion plans, he desired a contractor that could be a partner, working in close collaboration with his team to develop distinctive, compelling environments that people would look forward to experiencing every morning.
For Rizzo, aside from identifying an ideal partner, there were three major challenges. First, Teleperformance had extensively studied the attributes of ideal site locations for their facilities around the world, and they were almost always located in established areas with existing buildings. Although these buildings were often relatively new and built for the purpose of leasing them to IT-BPOs, they required IT infrastructure and other enhancements.
Second, when renovations were undertaken, they had to conform to global construction and technology standards internally that were developed over years of operations. Third, perhaps the biggest challenge was the importance of “out-of-the-box” thinking in designing the facilities’ amenities, lighting, and color schemes. The first two issues represented significant challenges, but any expert contractor could overcome them, eventually. The third represented the heart of the company: What made it different in a compelling way? What made it an exciting place to work?
Attending an event organized by the Business Processing Association of the Philippines one morning several years ago, Rizzo was introduced to Miguel Garcia, president and managing director of DTSI Group. The company provides technology systems, infrastructure, build-to-suit financing, construction, and technology and building management services that allow its clients to focus on their core businesses.
Rizzo presented Garcia the challenge to design and build a facility that fulfilled his three challenges, especially the third one: How to distinguish Teleperformance from its competitors in a compelling way that would attract talent. From the beginning of the relationship, Rizzo noticed a significant—and reassuring—difference from his usual contractor and technology providers. “We had completely open communications,” Rizzo recalls. “I called, set expectations, and Miguel delivered, and consistently demonstrated a terrific level of flexibility and innovation.”
Since that first chance meeting, DTSI has built three facilities for Teleperformance, each with a distinct look and feel compared to the company’s other locations, as well as competitors’ facilities. The SM Fairview facility, another in the Cebu Business Park, and a third in an Alpha Land building in Makati collectively provided the company 2,200 seats, which Rizzo expects to expand to approximately 4,000 seats in one to two years. “We will continue to press for the best deal we can get,” Rizzo says of future build out plans. “But Miguel has never failed to meet our expectations. I’m confident Miguel and his team will continue to delight me and the wonderful people who work in the facilities he builds.” Garcia regularly travels overseas to talk with potential investors about the Philippines, and its attributes. To back up his message, he can point to Teleperformance and other companies that he’s helped to invest and continually reinvest in the Philippines.
Michael Alan Hamlin is the managing director of TeamAsia and a Manila-based author.