Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Privacy & Individuality

"Privacy is dead. Get over it," said then CEO of Sun Microsystems Scott McNealy.
It follows then that in an interconnected world, where we are can all sense and know each other's feelings, individuality is dead as well.

I would tell you to get over it. But then you would have known that that was my thought prior to my voicing it.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

So Much Labor, So Little Skills

It's a common refrain from those locating backroom offices in the Philippines. Lots of college graduates, not enough qualified. WNS , whose clients include T-Mobile, Intercontinental Hotels and SITA, complains that its hit rate in hiring is 10%.
That "skills gap" will disappear. The BPO industry is growing at such a rate and to such a critical mass that its gravitational pull will bring more and more of Philippines into its orbit; schools and society will respond. But maybe not as fast as employers wish.

Keshav R. Murugesh, group chief executive officer of BPO firm WNS Philippines Inc., told reporters in a briefing on Friday the employability rate in the country needs to be improved.

"In our case, we get only one out of 10 applicants," he said.

Mr. Murugesh said his office has been closely coordinating with the Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPAP) to conduct training and special courses.

"However, the challenge is to produce skilled graduates who are employable once they apply for the job. It should be that when there are 10 applicants, all 10 get accepted," he said.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Let's Go Soft

The Philippine Daily Inquirer highlighted today that our esteemed Department of Education has banned teachers in public schools from giving any homework to be done during the weekend. The thought is that homework prevents kids from spending "quality time" with their families. The order would also ensure that elementary children would not be robbed of more "enjoyable" activities, as if homework is such a terrible thing.

Why don't we hobble ourselves even more, have us fall further behind our Asian neighbors. We already have one of the shortest school calendars. Let's make sure our children spend less time with their books and more time malling...

MANILA, Philippines—It’s TGIF (Thank God, it’s Friday) for public elementary students as the Department of Education (DepEd) has prohibited their teachers from giving homework during the weekend.

DepEd Memorandum No. 392, issued on Sept. 16, ordered teachers to avoid giving assignments to students over the weekend so they could bond with their families.

“No homework/assignments shall be given during weekends [so] pupils can enjoy their childhood and spend quality time with their parents without being burdened by the thought of doing homework,” said Education Secretary Armin Luistro in his memo.

The order was addressed to DepEd bureau directors, regional directors, school division and city superintendents and heads of public elementary schools nationwide. The memo covers more than 12.5 million students attending some 37,600 public elementary schools

across the country.

Noting the amount of effort that goes into making assignments, Luistro’s memo said teachers should give a “reasonable” amount of work to be done at home “to give their pupils ample time to rest and relax at home for the rest of the day.”

No more quality time

“Common homework/assignments may include a period of reading to be done and writing to be completed, problems to be solved and projects to be worked on, among others. The purpose of which is for pupils to increase their knowledge and improve their abilities and skills,” Luistro said.

“However, it has been observed that parents complain [that pupils] have too much homework/assignments, which rob them and their children of quality time to be together in more enjoyable activities,” the memo added.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Converging on the Mall

Somebody forgot to give the folks at Convergys the memo about the global economic slowdown. OK, so maybe the decision to build the outsourcing company's biggest facility in the Philippines was made in better times. But now CVG's got room to add another 2,050 employees when it already is one of the largest BPO employers in the country.

And it goes to show that the outsourcing model remains intact: serve First World companies' needs using labor from Third World countries. But the modern day equivalent of the sweatshop involves having your workers report for work at one of the country's swankiest malls.

Convergys Corp., a customer relationship management company, will open its 12th and the largest facility in the Philippines.

President Gloria Arroyo will lead the dedication of the new facility on Thursday, Oct. 22. The facility encompasses over 17,000 square meters located in Glorietta 5 along Ayala Avenue in Makati City and can hold 2,050 employees.

It is the first Convergys site to offer the convenience of a shopping mall on its lower floors and includes executive and administrative offices, training rooms, conference rooms, and employee lounges.

Convergys has experienced an unprecedented growth in its six years of operations in the Philippines. From 200 employees upon opening just six years ago, it now counts over 17,500 employees on sites across Metro Manila, Cebu, Bacolod and Sta. Rosa, Laguna.

Convergys employs more than 70,000 people across its facilities.

Convergys is now the largest BPO provider in Cebu City with over 3,300 employees throughout three contact center facilities.

Within five years, Convergys has established 12 contact centers in the Philippines - seven located in Metro Manila, three in Cebu City, one in Bacolod City, and one in Santa Rosa, Laguna.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Dispersing to the Periphery

One thousand new jobs in a city of 12 million may not be too exciting. One thousand jobs in a city of half a million is something to write home about. In the Philippines' Visayas region, Iloilo is fast becoming a favored destination. It's no surprise that a city with six universities and thousands of fresh graduates a year would become a viable location for outsourcing companies. Other wannabee cities looking to boost development need remember that besides the available labor pool, another ingredient is necessary -- reliable telecommunication links to the rest of the world -- before they prepare the powerpoint presentations to lure companies to their neck of the woods.
Transcom, touted to be Europe's largest business process outsourcing (BPO) firm, will open a call center in Iloilo in 2009, and will hire from 1,000 to 2,000 employees.

The investment is expected to cement the city's place among the top new wave international BPO sites.

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas said Transcom has set the hiring of around 1,060 employees in October. It is planning to double its work force after it starts its operations, according to Treñas.

Transcom has 75 sites in 29 countries worldwide and has expertise in various industries including telecommunications, the financial industry, travel and leisure, utilities and retail/consumer goods. It has around 20,000 employees serving over 120 major clients in more than 30 languages.

The investment has also affirmed the city as among the top new BPO investment sites in the world.

The city already hosts nine BPOs with more than 4,000 workers. These include Teletech, ePLDT Ventus, Callbox Customer Contact Center, Global Mega Communications Inc., Techno Call Corp., Interactive Voice Call Center, Medlink Trans Services, Eversun Software Philippines Corp., and Savant Technologies.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

BPO Slowdown

The red-hot BPO industry is declaring that 2009 will be a slower growth year after the torrid expansion in the past few years. The blame is put not just on the global recession but the rising protectionist sentiment in the U.S., the Philippines' largest market.

Half-full-glass analysts will tell you this is the welcome pause that refreshes. No industry can sustain big jumps in production without bumping up against constraints. And for the longest time, the constraint has not been external demand. The problem has been mostly internal: the country's ability to provide labor. Or rather, we should say labor is not a problem, as any recruiting agency will tell you; it's the limited supply of labor with the right skills that has limited growth.

Now that external demand is slackening, the industry can turn more attention to those internal problems, those what managers will call "variables we can control." There's nothing we can do to influence the U.S. recession; there's everything we can do to make sure Philippine schools are turning out qualified graduates, training seminars are truly training employees, and programs to upgrade technical skills are implemented.

CICT Commissioner Monchito Ibrahim said that despite the setback, the industry is still expecting 30-percent growth this year to some $8 billion, and plans to increase the number of new jobs by a fifth or 75,000 jobs. He said the BPO industry ended 2008 with 372,000 jobs.

The revenue projection was taken from the Business Processing Association of the Philippines (Bpap) Roadmap 2010, a three-year plan that aims to double the country’s worldwide market share and achieve $13 billion in revenues, as well as provide direct employment to 1 million people.

Ibrahim said the slowdown was due to a number of factors, including the global financial crisis which has hurt the US, the country’s only major partner in the BPO industry. The lack of workers with necessary skills was also a key constraint.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Changing Meralco's Leadership

It's one of the biggest business stories of the year. Family of the nation's largest power distributor gives up controlling stake to nation's largest telecommunications company. Tectonic shifts in the Philippines' corporate firmament of this magnitude happen once in a generation.

What does the main daily reduce it to? A family squabble.

Despite statements that all is well and that the family is still as tight-knit as ever, the Lopez family saga over the sale of most of the family’s shares in power distributor Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) to the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) group continues.

For the first time, Mike Lopez, son of Meralco chairman and chief executive Manuel Lopez, lashed back at people who say his father had known about the decision to sell down the family’s Meralco stake from day one.

“We were not privy at all to the negotiations from day one. Saying that we were, is a grave injustice to my dad’s name,” he told the Philippine Daily Inquirer in a telephone interview Wednesday.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Truth and Xinhua

Every so often, the show falters. An assistant presses the wrong button, and we get a glimpse of the reality behind the curtain.
BEIJING, Sept. 25 (UPI) -- China's state-run news agency made a gaffe Thursday when it published an "in space" conversation among the Chinese astronauts even before they left Earth.

Xinhua news agency posted the story on its Web site well before the launch of the Shenzhou VII space craft, The Times of London reported.

The story, which was headlined "Sleepless Night on the Pacific, Sidelights on the Observation and Control of the 30th Lap of the Shenzhou 7 Spaceship," was removed from the Xinhua Web site and was described as a technical error.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Retiring the PSPT Ticker

So People Support, after seeing its stock drop to $8 in July, agreed to be bought by Aegis BPO, for $12.25 a share. The $250 million transaction is supposed to close this October, when the Philippine-based company becomes another part of India's sprawling Essar Group, which is into such businesses as steel, oil, and mobile phones.

Whatever happened to creating "shareholder value" when PSPT rejected the $15 per share offer of IPVG?

Saturday, January 12, 2008

ACt 2: PeopleSupport

The dance has entered its next phase. After PeopleSupport (PSPT) rejected a bid by IPVG for $15 a share, it is now on the receiving end of a revised $17 all-cash counter offer. PSPT can no longer treat this bid in the same way it treated the first -- a brush off with a curt letter.

A copy of the IPVG (IP) letter to Mr. Rosenzweig available here.

It is unfortunate that the Board of Directors of the Company has not engaged us in serious discussions despite repeated attempts to have confidential dialogues regarding our proposal. We are also disappointed that the directors do not see the merit of our proposal despite the fact that it is directly beneficial to the shareholders of the Company.

However, upon careful deliberation of the recent initiatives, revised earnings guidance, and new strategic planning the Company announced in its statement of December 12, 2007, we are prepared to make a revised proposal to acquire the Company at a purchase price of $17.00/share. This new proposal represents approximately 34.81% premium to the Company’s 60-day weighted average closing price of $12.61/share including the close of market yesterday, January 10, 2008.

As the major shareholder of PSPT, much rests on how Chairman & CEO Lance Rosenzweig wants to finish this. If he is truly ready to give up PSPT, then he merely needs to extract as much cash as possible, and the best way to maximize the final price is to get another dance partner.

If he wants to hang on, he'll need to bring lots more ammunition vs IPVG, rather than just PowerPoints and press releases about how rosy the picture is for PSPT remaining an independent company. Many PSPT shareholders with lawyers on speed dial won't hesitate to sue if he gives up this opportunity to cash out. No need to bet what Galleon (24% owners of PSPT) are advising Lance to do.

It's been more than a month since IPVG made its first unsolicited offer, ample time for any other interested party to emerge from the woodworks. Our call: we are coming close to a final price.