Monthly Archives: March 2012

Jamaica: A Nearshore Destination With a Difference

Jamaica, an attractive tourist spot known for its beautiful beaches and picturesque locations has transformed into a sought after global outsourcing destination. There is a growing fascination for new locations across the globe. Most emerging locations have a certain charm that works in their favor. We looked at what is working for the country of cricket and Reggae music. We found that it is not one but a combination of factors that is driving business. 

Jamaica, an attractive tourist spot known for its beautiful beaches and picturesque locations has transformed into a sought after global outsourcing destination. There is a growing fascination for new locations across the globe. Most emerging locations have a certain charm that works in their favor. We looked at what is working for the country of cricket and Reggae music. We found that it is not one but a combination of factors that is driving business.

Third largest English speaking population in the Western hemisphere, a cultural convergence with the US and the Americas and the government’s strong encouragement towards ICT growth has rendered Jamaica a solid spot on the global outsourcing map.

People know about Jamaica more as an attractive tourist destination. But this mindset is clearly changing as the country has come a long way as a favored nearshore location. Its been long that offshore destinations have ruled location preferences. This is no longer the case as more and more enterprises prefer to keep work closer to home. And a combination of factors are being considered rather than just cost. Specific talent skills, language capabilities, cultural affinity are important considerations today.

Jamaica’s strength is in its strong cultural convergence with Europe and the United States. Its location is such that it offers a connecting link between North and South America. Favorable time zones is another factor, with just around zero to three hours difference from North America and about six hours difference with Europe. This can significantly cut down time lags and also increase productivity in the long run. Enterprises want to be comfortable with the people they work with.

The government is playing a crucial role in promoting Jamaica’s ICT industry. The country has strong potential for future growth and there are huge unexplored resources that can be effectively put to use. Patrick Casserly, ICT Trade Ambassador, JAMPRO says, “We are looking for the right kind of partnerships.” There are huge opportunities for collaboration with Indian enterprises. Nearshoring is not a threat but again there is an opportunity to collaborate. Recent instances of Indian service providers opening new delivery centers in Jamaica is a step in this direction.

The socio political environment is an important factor to consider when enterprises look for new locations to do business. Political environment in the country is relatively stable. Casserly says, “We just had a national election, and the next day we had a new government. Things were stable and the new government is equally committed to the ICT industry.” The country has a huge English speaking population, that is third largest after US and Canada. Even the young undergraduate population is comfortable with the language. It boasts of a 1.3 million English speaking work force. A strong education system ensures that there is no dearth of talent. This has served as the pillar for the growth of its voice BPOs over the years.

Another factor is the low attrition rates. In the current scenario its not just about hiring talent but also being able to retain it. Patrick states that Jamaica has a very low attrition rate which is primarily due to the fact that Jamaicans look for stability in their careers. Also the low inflation rates have curtailed wage rates to some extent. Talking about the types of services that the country is best suited to, Casserly says, “Jamaica is not the place for technology, because we can’t compete in that area.” But if its about voice contact centers, payroll and F&A Jamaica is the right place to be.

Moving to any new location has its own challenges. Jamaica has its set of challenges too that enterprises need to be aware of. The real estate market in the country is considered to be rigid and gaining entry can be tough. The construction of technology parks is expected to bring some change in this. Also in the last few years the country has seen many new business entrants. So there is increased pressure on its resources and talent pool. But experts and service providers like Convergys believe that they don’t see this as a problem. Even the government is careful about the inflow of businesses. Casserly sums up, “We do not want a mad rush and are quite selective about the partnerships that we enter into.” Quality will be a deciding factor.

Source: Global Services – Jamaica: A Nearshore Destination With a Difference.

Articel written by Smita Vasudevan of GlobalServicesMedia.com

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