Part Four: Focusing on the next wave of progress

This Roadmap will suggest the direction that the City of Dagupan must take if it is to maximize its potentials and take its place among the Philippines’ Next-Wave Cities that are being groomed to capture a sizeable portion of the billion-dollar outsourcing market. To summarize, opportunities must be measured against the challenges, in both the global and local scenarios. In the same way, Dagupan City’s unique strengths and its current offerings to locators must also be perceived in connection with its areas of improvement.

Globally, the Philippines still ranks among the preferred outsourcing destinations of many locators, and yet it too must remain competitive and not rest on its laurels if it is to enjoy its leadership position. Competitor countries that have the technology, the manpower, and the scale are waiting behind the wings to swoop and take the market share for their own. At the same time, global locators are looking for value beyond simple cost arbitrage; a more business-friendly environment, a supportive government, a climate of safety and security, and a talent pool who can evolve, adapt, and even go beyond the demands of the times are high on their shopping list.

Where does Dagupan City stand in all this? A quick look at it, as ranked by the COGNITIVE Locator Assessment Methodology, shows high marks in talent abundance and quality, IT-BPM outsourcing presence, the investor experience, and the low cost of doing business. At the same time, locators, present and future, have bemoaned the lack of infrastructure necessary to fuel the growth of IT-BPM hubs. And while government support and good governance have been present and are improving, more still needs to be done.

Top three immediate strengths that Dagupan City can capitalize on. The first obviously is that the ongoing growth of the global outsourcing industry has spurred locators to look at the Philippines – and consider regions where they can establish themselves, well outside the National Capital Region. The locators are actively searching, and this commitment has led to the recruitment of about 150,000 new employees in the Next-Wave Cities at the end of 2015 alone.

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The second major opportunity that Dagupan City can capitalize on is its continuing influx of talent, many of them employed in call centers, and others expected to join the job market after they graduate from college. While Dagupan City’s IT- BMP sector has established its strength in voice and contact centers – engineering, health, and accounting services are emerging, and the Dagupan talent has shown an inclination into developing the skills related to these positions and growing as IT-BPM professionals in these areas. More than a dozen educational institutions that turn out 7,000 graduates who are literate and teachable can be screened and harvested by locators for their ongoing recruitment.

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The third major opportunity that Dagupan City can build on is its proximity to the National Capital Region. A one-way trip can be taken in a matter of hours, making airline flight unnecessary. Support systems like gas stations, inns, retails stores, and malls make the journey easier. The short travel time is welcome for recruiters who are looking for talent from both Dagupan City and Metro Manila, trainers giving workshop to new hires, managers mandated to oversee the overall operations including building and housing, and executives who will inevitably have to deal with local government and their counterparts in the business sector.

Top three immediate threats that Dagupan City must confront and solve. Much has been written in this paper about the lack of solid infrastructure conducive to the growth of IT-BPM hubs, and perhaps it cannot be emphasized enough. The establishment of a Philippine Economic Zone Authority accredited facility, with its attendant tax incentives, capable and highly functioning operational systems, and safe structures that guarantee business continuity, is simply non-negotiable to business development. Every Next-Wave City that succeeded to meet the expectations before it is near an Economic Zone, or at least lobbied to have one finally built.

Related to this is the second challenge confronting Dagupan City: a clear, workable, and committed mandate from the local government to promote the City to IT-BPM locators. Business development councils are a start as they give a voice to the businessmen and eliminate the unnecessary bureaucratic red tape that has always bogged down operations and progress. However, the local government units themselves, including the local ICT councils, must show their own clear guidelines on what they are willing to do to move the development of Dagupan City into an IT-BPM hub, along with how they intend to accomplish it. Objectives, programs, and strategies must be laid out, with definite achievable targets and action plans that can galvanize the shareholders into collaboration because of the bright future that awaits them.

Again, a study of the successful Next-Wave Cities shows that local government units, especially ICT councils, were crucial to their taking their place in the proverbial IT-BPM sun. According to research made by the Lee Kwan Yeuw University of the history and phenomenal rise of the IT-BPM industry in the Philippines, elected officials including the mayors personally had a hand in inviting locators to visit their cities. City tours were made and discussions focused on what had to be done to make location easier and faster. ICT councils assessed the cities’ capabilities and laid out their own blueprint for improvement and restructuring. Local government units also helped local business in the process of negotiation, going the extra mile to make the locators feel not only welcome, but confident that their first entry in doing business in the local cities will thrive.

This active participation by the local officials in cities like Naga City and Davao City significantly jumpstarted their ascent in the Next-Wave line-up. Dagupan City can and should do no less.

Finally, the third threat that Dagupan City should immediately nip in the bud is the immigration of members of that valuable talent pool to other cities. A new entrepreneurial tech-savvy Millennial generation is rising in the City and they are not so keen on following in the footsteps of their bangus-business-doing parents. They will go where the opportunities are, and will not be sidetracked by convention, tradition, and even parental expectation. They had seen first-hand the lifestyle enhancement that the dozen call centers and IT-BPM companies in Dagupan City had given their older brothers and sisters—and they want to be part of it. Unfortunately, they may not wait long for these existing IT-BPM hubs to expand or for other new locators to settle in. They want to stretch their wings—and without an enticing job platform in place, they will fly and lend their considerable talent to other IT-BPM hubs in nearby cities, including the National Capital Region.

Growth Inhibitors Dampening Dagupan City’s Rise. These three main threats can be neutralized by addressing the growth inhibitors that are dampening the potential rise of Dagupan City. Cut the axes to the roots, which are the inhibitors, and the dead branches, which are the threats, will fall. The absence of infrastructure, the lack of a definite IT Roadmap, and the departure of needed talent are but a mere reflection of the two main growth inhibitors: the lack of knowledge about the IT-BPM industry of some local officials and citizens; and the absence of a region-wide marketing campaign that can bring the locators in.

The work being done on talent enhancement and the building of infrastructure is slow because of the inadequate vision of some of the local government officials when it comes to creating growth and sustainability for the IT-BPM industry in their city. Vision and commitment come with sufficient knowledge. Perhaps some of the local officials and residents are well aware of the potentials that IT-BPM companies can bring to Dagupan City, but they are not as cognizant of the ultimate rewards that the industry can bring, the intricacies in doing business, the prerequisites in infrastructure that have to be laid out, and the herculean tasks that must be accomplished to make the City an IT-BPM powerhouse. They may have heard of the other ancillary benefits that the industry brings, but they do not as yet have a clear grasp of the connection between the core business and the industries of suppliers, the trickle-down effect from the main enterprises to the related service industries, and the benefits that the IT-BMP industry can bring not just to the region as a whole, but the families of the employees as well.

To put it simply, the local government unit must immerse and study thoroughly the IT-BPM outsourcing industry, the developments happening on a global scale, the unique position that the Philippines finds itself in, and the part that Dagupan City can play, along with the rewards it will reap, once it positions itself as a major player in the sector. They must take time to see and appreciate it for the unique business sector that it is, and not simply relegate it to just “another industry that they have to study.

dagupan-city-ictbpm-roadmap-creating-the-next-wave-of-progress-final-for-printing_img_69Finally, the other growth inhibitor is the absence of a region-wide marketing plan that can promote Dagupan City to the locators of the world. It is one important way to increase the business which can stop the talent from leaving, and their staying in turn will then increase the chances of other locators coming in. Again, this marketing plan will not be possible without an overall vision of Dagupan City as an IT-BPM hub sprung from the collective minds and wisdom of the local government officials championing this cause. Study, immersion, and internalization of the need to promote Dagupan City and make it take its place in the IT-BPM hub are priority. Only then can these two growth inhibitors – the absence of knowledge of the LGU’s and the lack of a marketing plan – be removed, and Dagupan City will finally soar as an IT-BPM hub.

Hopefully, this initial Roadmap is the initial key that will fire up the engine and stir the City into their much- needed journey.

Dagupan City’s inherent strengths and its incomparable niche. This roadmap recommends that Dagupan City position itself as the untapped jewel of the IT-BMP sector in the North.

Dagupan City has already proven itself as a center of industry in the fishing industries, its renown in this area spreading to other parts of the globe. Tourism and travel have also positioned it as a safe, secure place that is set apart and away from the maddening gridlock and illness-inducing locations of the more urbane cities. These joint successes already point to Dagupan City’s industrial capabilities and its capacities to rise as a center of trade, if harnessed and cultivated correctly.

These same characteristics make it inviting for the IT-BPM industry, while offering more at the same time: Dagupan City’s environment and its people are both fresh, unspoiled, relatively young to the industry, and thus open to all its potentials, the learnings that have to be done, and the opportunities for growth. Some local government members and residents’ basic lack of knowledge of the industry can be addressed and is not beyond repair. More important, the actions of the LGU’s have shown that they do take the initiative, develop the necessary programs, and run with them, once they have grasped the vision. This can be seen in the business-friendly environment the City has developed the past years and is now attracting investors from retail and finance. It is also evident in the fact that the highest ranking member of the LGU is spearheading the initiative to develop the ICT-BPM industry.

Educate the LGU’s and the ICT councils, and the growth will follow.

Add to Dagupan City’s freshness and unspoiled nature are the unmistakable advantages of the talent landscape and the proximity to the National Capital Region. Business between hubs in Dagupan City and their satellite sites can be effortless, efficient, convenient, and quick. The proximity also means that the building of the necessary infrastructure would not require as much time, as support from both the government and private sectors can be obtained after a trip of a few hours. Any developmental improvement and economic successes enjoyed by the National Capital Region and the surrounding provinces would also inevitably flow over time to Dagupan City.

Finally, talent is abundant, available, and away from the cynicism usually found among the more jaded urban youth, can be more open to learning, mentoring, and skill training. Provincial youths also want to prove themselves with an intensity that may be absent from those born in the comforts of the capital and the metros. They want to make a name for themselves, make their lives better than their parents, and contribute economically and in a significant degree to their households. Given a choice, they would not leave home and hearth if they can find work right in Dagupan City, one which can develop their abilities, help them create a brighter future, and make them shareholders in the newfound success of their city.

Targets and Aspirations. In light of the current discussion and resulting assessments, this Roadmap makes the following recommendations as targets that Dagupan City must aspire and live up to, in order to propel itself as a successful Next-Wave City commanding its fair share of the global outsourcing market.

Target: Vision of Dagupan City as an IT-BPM hub. Bring in consultants who can help usher in the LGU officials into a working, vibrant knowledge of what it will take to make Dagupan City an IT-BPM hub. Run meetings, assemblies, and brainstorming sessions to totally unearth the potential of Dagupan City and craft a vision that will catapult it into visibility into the radar of international locators. Brief and immerse the LGU officials into the wide wonderful world of global outsourcing; learn from the lessons of other cities without imitating them. Adapt relevant strategies, but break into new ground that will establish Dagupan City’s uniqueness.

Target: Number of locators, their core services, number of seats, and projected recruitment hires. Plan out the number of potential locators, their places in the region, and the talent that can accommodate them. Determine how many locators can be invited to set up shop in the next few years. Mark out the areas where they can be established. Create the necessary resources that can develop those areas into vibrant hubs for locators, and the other suppliers like food and transport. Set a target for the number of locators to be marketed to and brought in—and with this, position the region to come up with the necessary amount of talent that can fill their seats.

Target: Create an Economic Zone. Address the problem of infrastructure. Start the ignition that will build the first Philippine Economic Zone accredited facility in Dagupan City. Create a time-table, and lay out the necessary requirements in terms of document processing, properties for zoning, number of seats per company, etc. Obtain the cooperation and support of every local official relevant to its success.

Target: Create a powerful, clear marketing plan that will persuade locators to set up shop in Dagupan City. Highlight the unique niche that can only be found in Dagupan. Emphasize the strengths, already discussed. Make provision and solutions for the areas of improvement.

In alignment with the above two targets, the following table shows the projected number of locators that we shall invite to settle and do business in Dagupan as an IT-BPM:

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EL – Existing Locator
MNC – Multi-National Corporation; Either Global IT-BPM Company or Shared Services Provider

Target: Beef up infrastructure support. Check the areas where structural elements like telecom signals, internet access, water and power supplies, and transport are woefully lacking. Determine their proximity to the planned areas being laid out for IT-BPM hubs. Start discussion with suppliers and engage them as partners to bring costs down while building a viable structure that can sustain an increasing number of IT-BPM companies.

dagupan-city-ictbpm-roadmap-creating-the-next-wave-of-progress-final-for-printing_img_82Target: Map out the talent landscape in Dagupan. Concretize the core services where the City’s talent pool excel in, e.g. voice, accounting, ESO. Pin-point the number of active professionals in the market, and how many graduate from universities, or shift from other industries, every year to join thatpool. Create an active directory of graduates in partnership with the Academic Institutions.

Action Plans for the City of Dagupan. This Roadmap outlines the following concrete action plans that can lead to the achievement of the targets mentioned above.

Market the industry to internal shareholders. Draw talent into the sector, particularly those having skill but not considering to work inthe sector. Discover attrition and minimize at entry level. Target marketing to increase demand from students in relevant courses. Enhance the existing ICT Council and structure it appropriately.

 

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The suggested composition of the Council is as follows: BOARD MEMBERS (13 Members)

  • City Mayor – Honorary Chairman of the Board
  • Industry Sector Seats -5
  • Academe Sector Seats -3
  • Support Sector Seats -3
  • ICT Council Executive Director -1

The President should be elected within the Board of Directors. Elections for the position of President will be on an annual basis.

Each Board of Director will have a TWO (2) year Term and may run for re-election for TWO (2) more terms. This will translate to 6 years of Membership. After which, a ONE (1) term restriction of office is applied.

The Secretariat positions will be sourced within the City of Dagupan and will be regular positions subject to the probationary period mandated by Philippine Labor Laws.

MEMBERSHIP TO THE ICT COUNCIL

  1. Any Private Organization that would have touchpoints with the ICT Industry is welcome to join the Council.
  2. The DICTC Membership Committee will be in charge of screening membership applications.

MEMBERSHIP BENEFITS

  • Meaningful and regular advocacy of the ICT Sector as it affects the City of Dagupan
  • Representation in the development of public policy and the legal framework in which the industry operates (lobbying to ensure that the industry is well-represented in the development andenforcement of rules, regulations, and laws);
  • Access to databases, studies, and surveys developed, conducted, or commissioned by the ICtCouncil
  • Development and implementation of a code of conduct for members that will set measures forcompliance with accepted global industry standards (e.g. training, recruitment, workforcerelations, certifications);
  • Main Point of Contact for all ICT-related business including investments, certifications, trainingsand promotions
  • Proactive public relations, both in the Philippines and abroad, to brand the City of Dagupan asa major outsourcing destination;
  • Participation in Roundtable Discussions
  • Access to industry-specific workshops and seminars wherein the ICT Council is invited
  • Access to marketing collaterals for industry promotion
  • Invitation to monthly General Membership Assembly meetings providing industry andinvestment updates, networking opportunities and insights and recommendations from industryanalysts and experts;
  • Participation in job fairs conducted in partnership with ICT Council

 

STEPS TO BE PRIORITIZED:

  1. The current Dagupan ICT Council will facilitate the creation of the enhanced and expanded ICT Council.
  2. Funding will be initially provided by the City Government until such time that a Membership Fee structure isestablished.
  3. The ICT Council should first register a Non-stock, Non-profit entity under the Securities and ExchangeCommission.
  4. A suitable office venue will be identified that is conducive to investor relations and the day to day operationsof the ICT Council.

dagupan-city-ictbpm-roadmap-creating-the-next-wave-of-progress-final-for-printing_img_85Facilitate deep academe industry partnership through a more flexible regulatory environment. Develop a vibrant talent development ecosystem involving industry-academia partnerships in curriculum design, teacher training, pedagogy, assessment criteria, etc. Build greater flexibility in approval process for curriculum changes. Create a sustainable private education and training ecosystem with job pull-through for students. Build BPO-ready training infrastructure that will cater to specialized courses.

Advocate for structural changes and funding. Rally government for help or to take lead in easing structural bottlenecks associated with executing initiatives. Secure necessary funding to drive large-scale programs that require significant funding. Develop and support the ICT councils to provide strength and maturity.

Increase incentives to draw in locators. Continue tax holidays to ensure competitiveness. Build and diversify specific sectors and address the concerns that can hamper their growth. Implement systems that can boost their expansion.

Fine-tune labor laws and practices to meet industry requirements. Address issues raised by locators and create strong legislation on data privacy and cybercrime to improve risk perception.

Enable regional distinctiveness. Build hubs through directed investments in talent-strength areas. Acquire anchor tenants to catalyze investor set-up.

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Compos Mentis Inc.
Created for the Dagupan ICT Council, Dagupan, Pangasinan
All Rights Reserved 2016