THE call for players in the information technology-business process management industry to expand operations in the countryside makes a lot of sense, and no small thanks to industry leader Wilfredo Sa-a, one of the voices hereabouts who are pushing for it.
Perfectly in line with government’s return-to-province program, setting up “pop-up” BPO sites in the towns generate a ripple effect in the local economy.
In the pandemic, the firms realized they could still effectively operate while a big percentage of workers functions remotely.
“This is something that other companies might look into as an option because the advantage is, you are not putting your eggs in just one basket,” said Sa-a.
These pop-up sites could be backup sites for the main sites in the metro areas. In the early 2000, Cebu was yet considered a support site, but eventually, firms found that its pool of talents was enough to support a full-scale industry. Establishing satellite operations in the area might just be a good start. “Who knows, they will discover these different towns to be the same?” Sa-a said.
BPOs that had a head start with remote pop-ups, Sa-a said, are doing well, limiting employees to around 20 to 30 local talents. Some have already invested in building infrastructure, facilities and have trained new talents.
Indeed, necessity is the mother of invention, so to speak. This idea not only comes in the middle of the pandemic, but also after telecommunications companies (telcos) voiced out that it’s government bureaucracy itself that had prevented them to hasten network expansion. This came after President Rodrigo Duterte gave the telcos a December ultimatum to improve their services once and for all.
In response, the Anti-Red Tape Authority had ordered local governments to release pending permits for telco towers, citing provisions under the Ease of Doing Business law to remove bottlenecks in the tower permit process. In early August, Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año assured that it would now take 16 days to secure a tower permit. It used to be at least 241 days, with 19 permits to secure and 86 documents.
In no time, the DILG reported in August that 1,502 out of the 1,930 applications for tower installations have been approved by 80 local government units. Año said there are 428 applications in the process, and the DILG is monitoring them to ensure no delay.
Anyone shrewd in the business can see that this is good opportunity. Sa-a is right, why put all the eggs in one basket, especially and literally in the time of social distancing when a sort of reverse osmosis in economic activity makes wiser decision than insisting in the old ways.
With the communications infrastructure in place in the countryside, the time should be ripe to spread out trade and commerce where they are most needed.