Egypt Crisis - will it change outsourcing landscape in the region?

A weeks-long unrest in Egypt has became a real crisis, which already been named by some as “the worst disaster since Iran’s revolution”. One of the country’s main industries - tourism has already felt consequences of this crisis as tourists planned their holidays in Egypt from around the world have been advised not to enter the country because of unrest and tense situation.

Direct competitors of Egypt's Red Sea coastline such as Turkey, Spain and others are getting benefits of busy beaches and flows of tourists as last have turned their back after several weeks of anti-government protests that forced president Hosni Mubarak to flee the country.

What about Outsourcing?

Some acclaimed experts already expressed their cautions with regards to perspectives of Egyptian outsourcing industry unless the situation stabilize soon. For the last several years Egypt’s outsourcing services industry demonstrated dynamic growth getting fame as a hotspot for global outsourcing.

In 2009, Egypt for the first time has joined joined Gartner's alphabetically-ranked annual list spelling out the world's top 30 leading locations for outsourcing services. One of the main treats of such a progress has been named Egypt’s government extensive support and liberalization of tax regime for ICT. Egypt received enormous support from the government, particularly in the ICT industry with a reported $2 billion investment in its telecommunications infrastructure.

This crisis might be a heavy blow to Egypt perception at the international outsourcing arena as despite its robust progress and high rankings, the country has a number of weaknesses among which most notorious - negative business perception.

An LSE Outsourcing Unit in its study “Beyond BRIC” noted that Egypt still suffers from a negative perception and a belief that it is a country regularly targeted by terrorists and government disputes.

From the history one might notice what role perception plays in such industry as IT outsourcing. As a perfect example India’s terrorist events and corruption scandals in 2008 which have irreversibly changed risk/rewards calculations in the whole outsourcing industry pushing India in its own outsourcing crisis.

Alignment of forces in the EMEA region

Egypt has been considered for years as a bridge between Europe, Middle East and Africa. The country has been competing with Morocco and East Europe for European clients, mainly from UK, France and Spain and was looking to expand its reach to Benelux market (Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg). The country has been positioning itself as a nearshore destination to Europe, following the growing nearshoring trend in the region and jumping on the bandwagon of Central and Eastern European cluster.

In its report “2009: The Year of Outsourcing Dangerously” the Black Book of Outsourcing included Egypt in the list of safe locations for operating with low downstream risk leaded by Central and Eastern Europe and Latin America, while the entire Africa region was recommended to be avoided.

However, the current crisis and its possible developments can have a detrimental effect on country’s outsourcing gains of past years. As in response to precarious conditions conservative and consensus-driven Europeans might not include Egypt in the list of preferable outsourcing destinations keeping short-sighted nearshore precedency.

Moreover, other emerging outsourcing hotspots such as Serbia, Romania, Ukraine and Belarus are on the track to grow their positions as leading locations for offshore/nearshore services placing a significant emphasis on IT and business process services providing a vehicle to their economic growth.

For Egypt there is everything still to play for and - we hope - its government will not forget lessons learned previously reacting in good faith and on reasonable grounds so to prevent disaster that will be remembered by next generations.

1 comment:

bradwilliam said...

India’s BPO industry has evolved and matured to present higher-end services that require judgment-based analysis and domain expertise, rather than function-specific, rules-based performance parameters alone. As service providers strive to offer end-to-end services, we see BPO falling into different segments. At one end of the spectrum is the traditional rules-based transactional outsourcing; while at the other end is judgment-based transaction processing and full-service business process outsourcing.

India has won its spurs as the world’s outsourcing destination of choice. Currently the country has a commanding share of the global outsourcing market.

India is undoubtedly the most favored IT/BPO destination of the world. This raises the question why most of the big MNCs are interested in outsourcing their operations to BPOs in India. The answer is very simple- India is home to large and skilled human resources. India has inherent strengths, which have made it a major success as an outsourcing destination. India produces the largest number of graduates in the world. The name of India has become synonymous with that of BPOs and IT industry hence the name BPO India.

Besides being technically sound, the work force is proficient in English and work at lower wages in comparison to other developed countries of the world. India also has a distinct advantage of being in a different time zone that gives it flexibility in working hours. All these factors make the Indian BPOs more efficient and cost effective. In order to meet the growing international demand for lucrative, customer-interaction centers, many organizations worldwide are looking to BPO India.

A subset of outsourcing, Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) involves contracting the operations and responsibilities through a third party service provider. From the last couple of years, the BPO industry has evolved as the most substantial sector in the Indian market. India has emerged as the most favored location for all Bpo services across the globe. This has accelerated the Indian economy to the heights, progressively boosting the statistics depicting the growth in the years to come and it has been however forecasted that by 2020, more than 80% of the world of business process outsourcing services will be served by the Indian companies. Marked as the best place to attain superior quality services globally, the BPO industry is strengthening its foundation in India.