Contact Center Solutions Featured Article

New Industry May Threaten Philippine Call Centers

October 22, 2007

The Philippines continues to be a prime location for organizations to establish offshore call and contact center operations. In fact, call centers are considered to be one of the more prominent outsourcing opportunities for IT services in the country. Call centers continue to sprout up everywhere and even educational institutions are beginning to offer short-term courses geared toward a call center vocation.

Job fairs also tend to be focused on drawing in individuals interested in the call center industry. And, while Datamonitor research predicts that the industry will continue to grow, another segment is emerging in the Philippines that may deliver some competition.

The opportunities that are emerging in the IT field are in search engine optimization (SEO) or search engine marketing. Both SEO and SEM include strategies and techniques to ensure that a website ranks high in web searches. The opportunity in this area is vast as high rankings in searches usually translate to profits as top of rank is equated to top of mind.

The industry in North America alone was valued at $9.6 billion in 2006 and is projected to double to $18.6 by 2011, according to the SEM Professional Organization. SEO and SEM are considered likely to be the next outsourcing wave for the Philippines as more U.S. firms are considering the country as an alternative Asian outsourcing site after India.

The field of SEO and SEM is being touted as the alternative to a call center life. One element that makes the Philippines a prime location is that there is no American accent necessary for any position. Impeccable English writing skills are required, but for those who do not interface with clients, poor English speaking skills won’t matter.

Call centers that are outsourced to the Philippines are done so with particular providers. When outsourcing SEO and SEM, freelance individuals with specific skills in programming or writing can take on the task.

If the SEO/SEM market explodes as predicted, it could present certain challenges for the call center industry. For one, SEO/SEM strategies are put in place to drive profits, therefore the pay structures tend to be well above that of the call center. Second, those citizens with strong English writing skills that lack the proper speaking skills can focus on a different industry.

One of the elements that make the Philippines attractive to overseas investors is the ability to hire educated and skilled workers for a fraction of the cost of American or UK call center employees. The strong growth of a more promising industry may leave labor pools depleted and force these centers to look elsewhere for qualified employees.
Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMC and has also written for To see more of her articles, please visit Susan J. Campbell’s columnist page.