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MANILA - The Philippine economy has to be "always on" - even in times of crisis such as the massive flooding in Luzon caused by the Southwest monsoon - to keep its competitiveness as a reliable global outsourcing destination, according to a Canada-based research firm.
"The rains and flooding for the past few days have created a heightened awareness, of the lack of preparedness of the Philippines, and has affected outsourcing operations in Metro Manila, through disruption of service and the lack of human resources to run operations," Lauro Vives, founding president and chief analyst of XMG Global said.
Vives said the Malacañang order on August 7 suspending work in all offices in the private sector in the National Capital Region and the provinces of Zambales, Bataan, Pampanga, Pangasinan, Tarlac, Bulacan, Laguna, Cavite, and Rizal reinforced the immediate need for an active governance model.
Such a model should provide a structure for dialogue and decision-making with which Business Processing Association of the Philippines and industry leaders must participate and coordinate during times of crisis.
"The lack of governance will continually fail to adequately consider or document the critical needs of the outsourcing sector, in which the President may have failed to appreciate," Vives said.
"As more work is outsourced to the Philippines, business needs and globalization are forcing investments in real-time applications and human resources to fulfill business processes 24 x 7. This is rapidly transforming the business continuity planning requirements," he said.
"Therefore, it is incumbent upon outsourcing service providers and captives to have a workable and effective business continuity plan in place, and address 'return to normalcy' practices," he said.
During a crisis, personnel safety comes first and is a non-negotiable element. Missing, however, in the Philippines, is a crisis management plan specifically focused on "keeping the lights on" for every business, Vives said.
"Looking back at the Japanese tsunami experience of 2011, this country's government had a 'business as usual' attitude. Despite the cumulative effects of the calamity and the painstaking recovery process, the Japanese government helped mobilize thousands of workers to continually keep business operations running," Vives said.
More importantly, the Japanese government did not deter businesses from continuing operations, he said.
"If the Philippines is to maintain its hold as a legitimate and reliable global provider of outsourcing and captive services, the country will have to meet the demands of the global market at any given point in time and in any given situation. This means the need to work towards establishing an 'always on' economy that mitigates risks in the face of any crisis," Vives said.
"It is the country's ability to always be operational, regardless of the degree of crisism which includes the availability and mobilization of business-critical resources to run operations, which are the people. This includes, but is not limited to, instituting safeguards to ensure continuity of services and revisiting old statutes such as the 1987 Constitution, Article 12, Section 17 that allow the state to temporarily take over, or direct the operation of any privately-owned public utility or business affected with public interest, during a national state of emergency," he added.
Although the Philippines has come a long way in strengthening utility infrastructures such as power and telecom services, Vives said the country has continued to struggle with other essential infrastructure such as transportation, water supply, sanitation, drainage and other critical urban infrastructures to meet the migration trends and mobilizing talents within and without Metro Manila.
"An unexpected natural disaster such as the past tropical depression, exacerbated a fundamental disconnect between the government and the needs of the outsourcing industry. The calamity also further highlighted the lack of critical infrastructure for the country to be 'on' in any given situation," he added.
In 2011, the Philippines’ IT-BPO industry generated more than $11 billion in revenue and employed almost 640,000 Filipinos.
By 2016, it is expected to grow to $25 billion and employ 1.3 million, according to an industry road map.
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