With increasing competition from the Phillipines, India's preeminence of over a decade as as the outsourced customer service services hub for US businesses is declining.
Although somewhat slow initially; strong support from the government and an abundant supply of English-speaking college graduates coupled with an effort by call centre operators to diversify have helped the Philipines overtake India in call centre revenues by a small margin of $200 million.
The Philippines, this year is set to pocket $5.7 billion for call centre work from the US, Europe, and Australia, as against the $5.5 billion that India's call centres will gross, says outsourcing advisory firm, the Everest Group.
Call centre operators prefer the Philippines given the fact that English is taught in schools and the cultural affinity the Filipinos have for the US, which ruled the country from 1898 to 1946.
According to Nikhil Rajpal, Everest Group partner, though the Filipinos were late starters, they had caught up. India, however, continues to lead in overall outsourcing revenues: $70 billion as against $9 billion for the Philippines. The outsourcing industry now employs 530,000 people in the Philippines and makes up about 6 per cent of the country's gross domestic product.
A decade ago, millions of young Filipinos, especially English-speaking nurses and law students, emigrated to the US, Hong Kong, and other countries and the foreign currency they sent home every year saw their earnings emerge as the second-largest foreign exchange earner after computer chips from Texas Instruments and a clutch of other tech manufacturers.