By Marlon Tingling
Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Anthony Hylton, says the time has come to showcase Jamaica to the world, as a major hub for Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) investment.
This is in light of the substantial growth in the sector over the last few years, with the construction and lease of some 50,000 square feet of space in the Barnett Tech Park, while plans are being finalised for construction and leases are being negotiated for another 100,000 square feet.
A 70,000 square-foot facility in Kingston (formerly the Claro building) is now being used for BPO operations, with a local investor purchasing the building, and a 70,000-square foot BPO facility has been completed in Mandeville, Manchester.
Additionally, the multibillion-dollar Sutherland Global Services, in March, recently announced plans to expand to Mandeville, within six months.
Sutherland, which already employs 2,000 Jamaicans, will be the first customer-care operator to open shop in Manchester. With Mandeville, the company’s headcount will grow to some 3,000 workers.
The BPO industry has also improved on its earnings, moving from US$300 million in 2012 to US$500 million in 2015, an increase of 66 per cent. It currently employs more than 17,000 people, up from 12,000 in 2012.
“Perhaps the time has come for me, as Industry Minister to host a BPO conference here in Jamaica. I think there is sufficient buzz now around Jamaica and what we are doing and I think we have sufficient diversity on the ground that I think it probably the right time,” Minister Hylton said.
He noted that a conference of that nature has the potential to showcase Jamaica’s BPO offerings and the country’s potential in the sector and could also be used to attract additional investors to Jamaica.
Minister Hylton was speaking to JIS News during a recent tour of the offices of Nearshore Inbound Call Experts (NICE) located at the Cazoumar Free Zone, which operates out of the Montego Bay Free Zone in Montego Bay.
The company, which began operations just over a year ago, represents a multi-million investment by Jamaican living in the United States, Paul Herdsman, and his business partners.
NICE offers a variety of services centered on inbound call solutions. It specialises in inbound customer service, information technology solutions, including remote personal computer repair, and quality assurance.
Minister Hylton said he is impressed with the operation. He said NICE has added another dimension to the BPO sector by offering technical support services.
“I am very impressed with what I am seeing here because it continues to broaden my understanding, my knowledge about the BPO sector and what that consists of. It has expanded and to expand it from a narrow perspective from customer and call centres…to now a very technical overview as to the kinds of services and the kind of skill sets that the sector employs and the offerings that the sector provides,” he said.
Director of Operations at NICE, Shoaib Shaffee, told JIS News that since the company was launched, the staff complement has grown from 16 to 170.
He said the company was able to find the right fit of employees through partnership with HEART Trust/NTA and the local universities and colleges.
Providing details of the company’s operations, Mr. Shaffee said it offers advanced tech support, software protection, and cloud backup, storage and identity theft protection, among other services.
“We are an inbound call centre. Our agents here receive inbound phone calls and our job here is to resolve customers’ issues. Consumers are calling in with technical issues as simple as a pop-up or serious as a virus on their computer…our agents go in remotely and resolve that issue,” he informed.
“We have billing here, we also just launched our sales division and that has grown now to about 10 agents,” he noted further.
NICE occupies over 18,000 square feet of office and information technology space in the Cazoumar Free Zone.
Article originally published on Jamaica Information Service