Business

Florida-based mobile app company mulls Jamaican-based BPO outfit

BY SHAMILLE SCOTT Business reporter scotts@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, January 22, 2014    

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APPTITUDE Mobile, a Florida-based mobile application firm, is mulling over investing in Montego Bay's business processing industry (BPO) by the end of summer.

It hasn't yet decided whether it will put equity in an existing facility or open its own office, but the business will require at least 20 programmers and designers within two years. The jobs would mainly require creating blueprints for applications and coding, so workers would need to be versed in developing for iOS and Android.

"But there are other scenarios where it scales quicker, especially if we buy an equity stake in an existing company, instead of expending capital to set up our own office," said David Mullings, executive chairman of Appitude.

On the other hand, Jamaica might not be the final choice.

Prior to Keystone Augusta, a Jamaican-owned diversified holdings company, acquiring an 80 per cent stake in the company last October, Appitude outsourced work to India, and when it was taken over by the holding firm it sought developers in the Ukraine.

Additionally, the company is also considering Puerto Rico or the US Virgin Islands, which have a special tax relationship with the US, or look to Colombia that has a large BPO industry.

Still, Mullings, who wants to invest in his native country, said that Jamaica has proficient graduates in the information technology space.

The foundation they gain in school is a solid one and the company will provide additional training as the industry evolves and new features are added to the operating systems, he said.

"Jamaica has proven itself time and again in IT when we look at the Microsoft Imagine Cup," Mullings said in reference to Team Xormis of the Northern Caribbean University (NCU), which won the world champion of the Microsoft Imagine Cup Interoperability Award in 2010. "Jamaica has the third largest English-speaking population in the Western Hemisphere, is in the same time zone as the US East Coast, is one-hour-40 minute flight from our head office in Orlando, with multiple direct flights and comparable wages to other offshore centres."

The local ICT/BPO industry is valued at US$260 million, which accounts for six per cent of the Caribbean and Latin American market.

Jamaica currently has 34 outsourcing operations employing over 14,000 individuals in the industry.

As the country is poised to double the size of the BPO sector by 2016, the provision of space by this venture is timely, said the Business Process Industry Association of Jamaica (BPIAJ), the national representative body of Jamaica's ICT/BPO industry.

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