Colombia is staking a claim as a global hub in the lucrative business process outsourcing (BPO) market.

The country’s BPO market grew by more than 18 per cent from 2011-2013, growing from US$13.34m in 2011 to US$15.76m in 2013. Currently Latin America’s third most important market for IT services behind Brazil and Mexico, according to the analyst firm IDC, Colombia has already established itself as a provider of outsourced business processes in voice services, such as helpdesk and customer service support, and back office services, such as database management and finance and accounting. More than 56,000 positions were created in Colombia’s BPO sector in 2014 alone, primarily in non-voice functions.

ProColombia, the government body responsible for the promotion of trade, foreign investment and tourism, now aims to build upon these foundations to transform the country into a BPO powerhouse not just in Latin America, but on a global scale. It has committed to working with and incentivising an increasing number of foreign companies looking to establish a presence in the country, with key targets including North America and Europe.

ProColombia was instrumental in hosting the ANDI 2012 Summit of Service Outsourcing in Cartagena in 2012, attracting attendees from major BPO players Gartner, Infosys, Microsoft, Genpact, Bancolombia, ISA, Carrefour and IBM to discuss new industry trends and learn about the investment opportunities offered by Colombia in the sector. The country now has the suppliers, academic and government support and expert service and IT outsourcing advisors to share its experiences in business management and growing the BPO sector.

International firms Skyes, Atento, Everis, Unisonos and Digitext are amongst the companies that have worked closely with ProColombia to successfully establish a BPO presence in the country. A study by the Colombian Association of Contact Centres and BPO (ACDCC) shows the main sectors serviced by Colombia’s BPO market are telecommunications (43 per cent), banking and financial services (15 per cent) and insurance (4 per cent), with the country’s three main BPO centres based in Bogota, Medellin and Manizales.

A joint study by the Colombian Commerce Ministry and market analyst firm IDC has found one challenge facing the sector is the ability to provide services in foreign languages. The Productive Transformation Program (PTP), a government initiative launched to assist the country’s Education Department to generate skilled labour, has now aligned with several foreign academies to build ‘a bureau of bilingualism’, particularly for teaching English, to service the sector.

International companies are also being attracted to Colombia for BPO services thanks to its labour pool of more than 2.6 million young graduates and VAT exemptions for service exports. Additionally, Colombia’s decreasing unemployment rate, controlled inflation and a growth in international flight connectivity has led it to be ranked as the number one Latin American country for doing business in a 2015 World Bank report. With national GDP growth of 4.6 per cent last year compared to a Latin American average of 1.3 per cent, Colombia is seeing the BPO sector boom.


Featured image via [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons