Developing the local business process outsourcing (BPO) industry is listed as one of the Philippines’ business development core areas. This is according to a report made by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC). In doing so, the Philippine government envisions a developed nation that will be dubbed as a “world-class ICT services provider.”
Alongside this vision, the Philippines aims to develop an IT-enabled workforce, expand the reach of Internet access and services to the citizens, enhance IT service management, and create an enabling legal and regulatory environment that will foster further growth of the information and communications technology (ICT) industry, specifically the BPO industry in the country.
Creation of the DICT
To realize these ICT visions and increase the country’s competitiveness in the ICT industry, the Philippine Senate passed upon its third reading the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Act. This is a measure concerned with creating an independent department focusing on ICT, its functions, security, and growth. Although long been overdue, the bill’s passage is making significant progress during its final reading last June 3.
The bill is currently pending final approval from President Aquino but is expected to be passed into law immediately. It seeks to separate the communication department from the DOTC, and mandates the extraction of telecommunications- and IT-related departments being operated under various government agencies. These will then be unified into an ICT-focused department, hence the DICT. In effect, the separations and convergences would streamline IT service management in the country and would thus allow a single body to focus on improving IT services, promoting digital literacy, and enhancing ICT-related business processes.
Advantages for the BPO industry
How does this bill impact business process outsourcing in the country? The DICT Act focuses on increased ASEAN competitiveness, improved security and IT service management, creation of an ICT-oriented workforce, and increased business opportunities and investments.
1. ASEAN competitiveness.
According to Senate president Franklin Drilon, the DICT Act underscores the need for the Philippines’ ICT industry to be as competent as, if not more competent than, the ICT industries in other ASEAN countries. This is a timely measure coinciding with the recent continuous improvements in the country’s BPO industry and the growth of a digitally oriented workforce. In fact, the Philippines’ call center industry retains its top-in-the-world status. It also strives to become the top-performing nation in other back office outsourcing processes. Thus, the DICT Act seeks to strengthen this recent growth in the outsourcing industry.
2. Improved security and IT service management.
Security is a major concern in an increasingly digitized world. Online security risks such as phishing, online fraud, hacking, and virus attacks can be a huge disadvantage for businesses and may result in huge revenue losses. The DICT Act ensures the security of infrastructures that can effectively protect assets and information owned by individuals and businesses alike. It also aims to enhance cooperation with concerned agencies and private institutions to further protect the rights of consumers and businesses to privacy and confidentiality.
3. An ICT-oriented workforce.
The DICT Act aims to hone ICT-oriented citizens by providing easier access to high-speed Internet at fair costs and creating learning opportunities that are geared toward technology- and communication-related subjects. With this provision, more and more Filipino citizens can become knowledgeable and skilled in ICT careers, which will then support the growth of businesses.
4. Increased business opportunities and investments.
Taken together, this predicted growth for the BPO and the ICT industries as a whole would make the Philippines a prime location for business startups and other types of investments. This is a win-win situation: while the Philippines can offer an enabling legal environment and a productive workforce, the private sector can provide career opportunities for the people and fuel the country’s economic growth.
As a whole, the DICT Act would support the flourishing of the BPO and ICT industries while enhancing IT service management. This will make the Philippines even more attractive to potential investors and will also strengthen existing relations with the private sector.