2017 was considered a challenging year for the IT-BPM industry in the Philippines. As direct investments slowed and growth margins slumped, the industry looked at the last quarter of 2017 in a positive note of consolation where deficits were cut and the materialization of the industry’s robustness has thoroughly been proven once again.
This year, the IT-BPM industry is looking to 2018 at a bullish rate where many projections point to a dynamic rebound compared to 2017 as the nation’s domestic relationship with the United States have move passed the tensions between its executive branches and the continued demand for the office spaces concentrated in Metro Manila are sustained by the combination of BPO and offshore companies.
According to David Leechiu, president of property consulting firm Leechiu Property Consultants (LPC), the demand for office spaces this year could reach a new margin where 800,000 to 850,000 square meters (sqms) are projected to be taken up by either new occupants or expanding operations from existing companies.
Mr David Leechiu further added that the demand for office space will reach a new high despite leasing rates being seen to rise by 10 to 15 percent for the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA)-accredited buildings. For the offshore gaming companies, last year’s surprise players, contributed to the demand for office spaces in the metropolis.
If the capital city manages to reach or even surpass the 800,000-850,000-sqm take up for office spaces, Metro Manila will find itself as the third largest office space market in Asia alongside mega cities Beijing and Shanghai of China.
Key cities such as Ortigas – Pasig city and Alabang Corporate City in Muntinlupa are projected by Leechiu Consulting to be the next hotspots for offshore gaming firms this year. Last year, the Bay City in Pasay – Manila was the preferred hub by gaming companies. With spaces running short in Bay city, several cities could play host to the expanding offshore gaming companies within Metro Manila.
Another hot effect that fuels the BPO resurgence this year is the continued development of provincial cities outside of Metro Manila where foreign businesses are eyeing expansion. Provincial cities such as Cebu, Bacolod, Olongapo and Davao are expected to strengthen their infrastructure investments in order to sustain the local demand for would-be investors.
The landscape effects of automation was also a subject of uncertainty for the local BPO companies as technologies such as chat bots, artificial intelligence on business processing and virtual linguists were reported to be threats to the country’s global BPO status. Acknowledging this, the various IT-BPM and Shared Service associations have affirmed their readiness for automation as its disruptive notion will be an influence for the local industry to up skill its capabilities in terms of the technical skills of its human capital and the embedded technologies currently utilized under the shared service architecture.
While the country’s “Business Readiness” ranking slipped several notches under Colliers’ index, mutual agendas by the government, the local IT-BPM and telecommunications providers are taking joint initiatives in reinforcing the technological capabilities of the country’s key cities when it comes to cloud and digital transformation.
As prices of office spaces are rising in North Asian cities such as Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo and New Delhi, the Philippine office prices remain significantly lower in terms of index pricing and are competitive in the global scale when it comes to serviceability, premium specification and ideal location.
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