Jamaica's BPO among least costly

— But quality needs improvement

BY SHAMILLE SCOTT Business reporter

Friday, January 24, 2014    

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ACCORDING to a recent IBM analysis only Mumbai scored better on the profitability index than Jamaica in terms of operational costs in business process outsourcing (BPO).

The country didn't do so well on the qualitative index, said Mark Bedeman, global subject matter expert-freight logistics and cargo, IBM Global Business Services.

"Based on the analysis so far, you need to improve the qualitative score, which means focus on talent, focus on the physical infrastructure; it's more than just the dredging of the port, information, communications and technology and image," Bedeman said in his presentation at the Jamaica Logistics Hub Symposium on Wednesday. "BPO, it's not just a call centre, it is taking over, and centralising back office administration is a rapidly growing sector."

IBM collects a lot of data and knows what manufacturers from different industries look for when deciding where to set up their locations, said Gordon Foote, general manager at IMB World Trade Corporation, Jamaica.

"What we did was use that same approach and flip it, so Jamaica could understand what would make them more attractive for various sectors," he added. "We have used our intelligence to look at BPO, automotive and pharmaceuticals now."

Jamaica could utilise the intelligence that IBM possesses to help the country increase its attractiveness after understanding the rankings of other countries.

"So it's to say, if I'm considering automotive, how can I stock up as a country and where are the other countries in relation to me," Foote said.

Essentially, Jamaica needs to examine the areas it could capitalise on in its logistics hub.

"What could Jamaica be doing to add value to the South American and even the North American markets," Bedeman said. "We [Jamaica] have relationships with the Asian markets, let's bring the bulk products here and add the value."

Foote said that the preliminary findings alone couldn't dictate the sectors to which a country looks and that it doesn't mean that automotive or pharmaceutical industries aren't attractive.

In his presentation at the logistics hub symposium, Bedeman noted that IBM measured the attractiveness in terms of the general business environment, regulation, market, talent, infrastructure, connectivity, working time regulations, reliability as well as road and air access, to name a few.

The Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC) hosted a two-day symposium at the Jamaica Conference Centre earlier this week in a bid to shed light on the proposed multibillion-dollar global logistics hub development.

It mobilised experts from the world's leading logistics hub, business leaders and international funding agencies to share insights, clarify related issues, air areas of concern, as well as discuss critical success factors for Jamaica's contextual model.





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