Geneva, Switzerland, 20 February 2013. On February 11-12 2013, the World Association of Investment Promotion Agencies (WAIPA) celebrated its XVIII World Investment Conference in Geneva, Switzerland with the hosting of the WAIPA World Investment Conference and Annual General Assembly. During the event, elections to the Steering Committee, the governing body for WAIPA, was also held. The post of Regional Director for Central America and the Caribbean on the WAIPA Steering Committee was secured by Jamaica’s national trade and investment promotion agency, Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), with significant support from the Investment Promotion Agencies present.
JAMPRO’s President, Mrs. Sancia Bennett-Templer, presented the candidacy for the organization. JAMPRO currently serves as the 1st Vice President on the CAIPA Board of Directors. CAIPA provided strategic and logistical support to JAMPRO in its bid for the regional directorship, with support for campaigning during the event provided by CAIPA Directors from Grenada (GIDC), the Dominican Republic (CEI-RD) and Saint Lucia (InvestStLucia). “This initiative was a regional collaborative effort and speaks to the successes we are able to achieve, if we work together”, notes CAIPA’s President, Mr. Ronald Theodore of the GIDC. “It is hoped that through this Regional Directorship post, we will be able to enhance the global image of the region and attract the much needed technical expertise to improve our capacity for attracting investment to the Caribbean”, he continued.
Support for CAIPA initiatives including its attendance at the WAIPA event was provided through its Secretariat, Caribbean Export Development Agency, with funding afforded by the European Union under the 10th European Development Fund, Regional Private Sector Development Programme.
Since its genesis in 2007, CAIPA has been actively working with its members to position the Caribbean as an ideal location for foreign direct investment, providing capacity building opportunities and tools for its members to enhance their overall promotional efforts
International Firm Optimistic Of A Bright Future Locally
While the name Xerox is synonymous with copying and printing globally, the company’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ursula Burns says resting on their laurels is not a part of their forte as its main priority is to maintain pole position in the industry.
“Our strategy is simple … we want to be the leading provider of diversified BPO (Business Process Outsourcing), ITO (information technology outsourcing) and document outsourcing in our servicing line of business,” said Burns, in an interview with The Sunday Gleaner.
“We want to continue to be the premier providers of technology solution in the print copy space so our technology business has to continue to be strong,” added Burns.
In addition to maintaining its strong brand identity worldwide, Burns is also championing prudent management of the company’s cost and expenses, while seeking to provide adequate returns to shareholders.
Burns, who became the first African-American woman to head a Fortune 500 company in 2009 when she became Xerox’s CEO, was on her first visit to Jamaica, which has the third largest Xerox BPO outside of the United States (US).
Jamaica, which is behind India and the Philippines in BPO, has some 5,600 Xerox employees spread out across seven operations – one in Kingston and one in Portmore, St Catherine, with the remainder in Montego Bay, St James, where the company is focusing on customer care for clients, mainly in the telecommunications, health care and technology industries.
At present, services account for 52 per cent of the firm’s total revenue that amounted to more than US$22 billion in 2011.
At the helm of Xerox, Burns has consistently demonstrated that she is not afraid to make tough and sometimes unpopular decisions to ensure the company’s viability.
Her astute and decisive leadership was demonstrated in areas such as dismantling the manufacturing unit that shaped her career; cutting back or getting rid of products that once defined the Xerox brand; and branching out into uncertain or perceived risky new areas of business in an effort to reposition the company as competition increased.
“The potential of BPO is very high,” said Burns. “Jamaica has the following benefits: it’s a service economy, it has a fairly educated population that we can draw (from) and it’s culturally an operation that works hard.”
While Jamaica remains one the most attractive destinations for the BPO industry, with other nations breathing down the neck of the sector leaders, the Xerox boss, renowned for her no-nonsense, outspoken personality, is of the view that greater emphasis must be placed on improving Jamaica’s competitiveness in a heated industry.
She argued that Jamaica could find itself struggling to attract or even maintain investments if there is not constant improvement of its information and communication technology (ICT) business environment, including infrastructure and education.
“What Jamaica and every BPO site has to understand is that, unlike a technology business, where the barriers to entry are generally large, BPO’s initial barriers to entry can be low and it’s really important, therefore, that the people who have footprints today continue to reinvent themselves,” noted Burns.
“It’s really important that Jamaica continues to focus on the fact that they have a good base in this service-type area and that base will continue to be attacked by competitors so they have to keep making it better.”
Xerox’s ambitious agenda basically suits the projection of the Jamaican Government, which has announced plans to double the nation’s 11,000 ICT jobs over the next three years.
This forms part of an overall initiative to take advantage of the country’s emergence as a premier strategic destination for outsourcing services to North American firms.
While the call from local industry leaders in Jamaica to create additional space is considered critical to the expansion of the ICT sector, Xerox does not require any additional space as further expansion will only take place if there is additional business in similar BPO accounts already being handled here.
“As we continue to expand, yes, we would have to find more space, but I don’t want anybody to believe that we are limited by space,” said Burns.
“If we have to fit the clients in, and here is the best place to do it, space will not be my limiter … we don’t plan by region, we have plans by lines of business and customer.”
According to Burns, instead of any space consideration, she is more concerned with challenges with the unpredictability of the world economy.
“There is not a place in the world that is not unsettled now economically and that is just a business challenge that we have to deal with,” said Burns.
She singled out the United States ‘fiscal cliff’, which would see huge tax increases and spending cuts at the start of 2013, which would invariably throw that economy and, by extension, the world’s economy into recession.
Burns is hopeful that a deal can be struck between the parties to prevent the US economy from plunging into another recession.
“In terms of global business, it would be an extremely detrimental event,” said Burns, who was among several high-profile CEOs in the US to meet with President Barack Obama on the issue recently.
Earlier this year, the Affiliated Computer Services (ACS) brand, which was acquired for about US$5.75 billion in cash and stock in September 2009 was retired, a move that Burns argued worked amazingly well.
The deal was struck just six months after ACS forked out about US$85 million for E-Services group, which was then principally owned by Jamaican Patrick Casserly.
“When we bought ACS, we knew it was a company that had an amazing reputation but if you were not a client of ACS, nobody knew what ACS meant,” said Burns. “It did not have a global brand but Xerox is a brand that everybody knows.”
Source: Jamaica Gleaner
Players in the growingg domestic Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)/ICT sector, which is currently valued at well over US$200 million (J$18 billion), have banded together to form the Business Processing Industry Association of Jamaica (BPIAJ) with the support of JAMPRO – the national investment and export promotion agency.
According to Epstein, the formation the BPIAJ is in keeping with the international practice in countries that enjoy sustained success in the BPO/ICT sector. He noted that the inception of the BPIAJ at this time was critical, and represents a private sector-led charge to lobby the government for the right policies and tools that will ensure the growth of the sector.
“We have 26 BPO/ICT companies in Jamaica and many of them are small. We want to make it our duty to help those small players grow their businesses as well. There is also a need for unity within our sector, and through this association, we will achieve that,” stated Epstein.
He indicated that areas of immediate focus of the newly formed association would include access to ready built space, cyber-crime legislation, development of a training curriculum recognised by the global industry, the establishment of a business incubator to allow start-ups to test the waters and public transportation issues related to the movement of staff. Epstein added that he was looking forward to strengthening the existing working relationship with JAMPRO, which has provided invaluable support to the industry, as well as the relevant ministries and state agencies.
In 2010/2011, ICT/BPO investments facilitated by JAMPRO totalled J$3.2 billion, and created 2,583 jobs. For 2011/2012 financial year, JAMPRO-facilitated investments created some 4,729 jobs, with 51% of this total being attributable to the ICT sector. The Jamaica Coalition of Service Industries (JCSI), which is housed within JAMPRO, provided assistance with the legal registration of the BPIAJ through the instrumentality of its newly developed Association Formation Guide.
Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Anthony Hylton, in his address to the gathering at the launch, welcomed the formation of the BPIAJ, describing it as an important step towards realising the Vision 2030 Plan to use ICT to “enhance national productivity, efficiency and wealth”.
“By organizing yourselves, you have not only enhanced Jamaica’s reputation in the world, you are bringing even greater definition and structural integrity, to ensure that we build a BPO industry that will be a global benchmark,” stated Minister Hylton.
He added, “The formation of the BPIAJ is a tangible demonstration of our resolve to transform our economy through worthwhile ICT investments…I am very confident that the BPIAJ will bring the requisite thought leadership and collaboration to ensure that we build an industry that we will be proud of, and that will marvel the world.”
The local BPO industry, which currently employs some 11,500 workers, has been identified by the government as a priority sector in its development plan for the country. Global industry watchers have noted that Jamaica is well positioned to address the growing needs of the near-shore market business. Worldwide BPO spending has been increasing, and according to the International Data Corporation (IDC), the global BPO market will grow at an annual rate of 9% and reach about US$1 trillion by 2014.
Source: JAMPRO News ReleaseCONTACT: M. Thomas Head, JAMPRO Corp Communications firstname.lastname@example.org; Telephone: (876) 978-7755