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Steady growth in the BPO sector in Bogota, a motor that’s driving the city

September 25, 2017

With the presence of major world leaders in outsourcing such as Convergys, Teleperformance and Genpact, Bogota has emerged as the leading exporter of services in the region.

The growth of outsourcing in Colombia, especially in Bogota, has been substantial in recent years; in 2016 it corresponded to 1.2% of GDP with annual sales of 16 trillion Colombian pesos. This growth was reflected in the Global Services Location Index study, conducted by the US consulting firm AT Kearney, which ranked the top 55 international markets for relocating business processes. Colombia passed from occupying position 43 in the ranking of the study in its 2014 edition, to occupying position 20 in the 2016 edition. Although the industry benchmarks are India and China, which respectively occupy the first and second positions in the ranking, Colombia was above most countries in the region.

The country's global position as an attractive alternative for establishing outsourcing service centers comes from a time back, since in 2013 alone BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) and KPO (Knowledge Process Outsourcing) grew by 42%; and in the period 2011 - 2013 the sectors grew by 73%. According to figures of the Production Transformation Program of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, in 2013 the BPO sector generated revenue of USD 3.9 billion and KPO USD 1.2 billion. Combined, the two sectors employ 270,600 people.

"The Bogota region is betting heavily on attracting and providing institutional support for technology-based service companies, since they generate quality employment, transfer of knowledge and best practices. In addition, this sector has been growing steadily in recent years, positioning the city as the country’s center for outsourcing services, and as an attractive destination for foreign companies thanks to its young, well-qualified and bilingual labor force; operating costs; favorable business environment and good office and telecommunications infrastructure," explains Juan Gabriel Pérez, CEO of Invest in Bogota.

Bogota has consolidated its position as the leading exporter of services in the region, and its greatest strengths lie in its Spanish-speaking contact centers and the collections segment. The main buyers of these services are the United States, with 35%; followed by Spain, with 22%; and thirdly Chile, with 18%.

Some of the leading national companies in the sector that are in Bogota are Contact Center Outsourcing, Interactivo, Millenium, Bilateral and Complement. In addition to this group there are the large multinationals that have come to the country in recent years such as Genpact, one of the leading BPO companies in India, which arrived in the country in 2011 with an initial investment of USD 15 million to provide accounting and finance services; Teleperformance, a US company that specializes in multichannel experiences with 10,000 employees distributed among its 11 campuses in Bogota and Medellin; and Convergys, serving operating out of Bogota in 4 languages to multiple clients in the USA.

"The customer service that Convergys provides from Bogota is recognized as one of the best in the world. Bilingualism is one of the key elements that have allowed and will continue to allow the growth of our operations in the country. The performance and results generated by our people in Colombia, along with their discipline and skills have enabled us to set up a stable operation, recognized worldwide and with unique growth," says Jason Brown, Vice President of Operations for Convergys Latin America.

Brown emphasizes that their priority has been the development of human talent within the company through continuous training and growth opportunities, because in addition to their having found qualified personnel, the accent was quite favorable for serving clients both in English and Spanish.

The capital has grown to become the country's most important center for outsourcing services, being home to 47% of the companies and generating 125,000 jobs in the city. In addition, 84% of the foreign companies in the sector with a global presence that are in the country are in Bogota, according to the Production Transformation Program. This is because of the city’s experience in financial and corporate services - it handles 54% of the transactions of the country - and because it has 71% of the bilingual talent in Colombia according to FEDESARROLLO figures.