Impact Sourcing Chapter UK&I

South Africa awarded Top 2021 most favored Global Offshore CX Delivery Location

The 8th April saw Ryan Strategic Advisory along with the CX Outsoucers team and a great line-up of global thought leaders announcing the outcome of the Annual Front Office BPO Omnibus Survey, 2021 Most Favored Offshore CX Delivery Location award. South Africa, after three consecutive years in a humbling second place, has emerged as the number one global preferred front office CX offshore location.

This coveted award has been gratefully received by the country’s Global Business Services (GBS) sector. CEO of the GBS industry body BPESA, Andy Searle, remarked ‘’Competing alongside established global giants such as the Philippines and India and closer to home, Egypt with many emerging and strengthening offshore locations included in the running has left us honoured as 2021 first place recipients and we are exceptionally appreciative of this acknowledgement.’’

The South African GBS sector consists of a mature and sizeable domestic market and a vibrant and growing international market – delivering export services from South Africa. Following intensive efforts by BPESA and the Department of Trade Industry and Competition (the dtic) to promote the South African value proposition to targeted sourcing markets, the export market has witnessed high growth over the past number of years, increasing in the region of 24% CAGR between 2014 and 2018 and then a jump to 34% in 2019, this is twice the global growth rate of the sector, and three times faster than key competitors.

“It is our absolute pleasure to receive this award. It confirms that South Africa is a notch above the rest as an investment destination with talent, technology, and know-how. Work done over many years through partnership between industry, the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition, and our industry body BPESA has now catapulted South Africa to the frontier of service excellence. No serious multinational company looking to enhance their back and front office work can overlook the quality and value South Africa offers. We look forward to welcoming many new investors to our shores where they will realise real value and make a real impact in our country” says Malebo Mabitje-Thompson, Deputy Director General for Industrial Financing in the dtic.

The sectors plans and growth was temporarily halted by the COVID-19 pandemic and related 2020 lockdown, but due to the strong and well-established public-private partnership ties, the sector along with its strategic partners in the dtic and Harambee and in collaboration with the Public Private Growth Initiative (PPGI) and regional governments, reacted in a responsible, speedy and innovative manner to ensure business continuity over this unprecedented time. The sector was deemed an Essential Service which allowed for a continuation of service to domestic and international global essential service related clients and customers. This continuation of quality support and service throughout the lockdown was well received by clients and resulted in thousands of new seats, and consequently jobs, being set-up in the country to support new and growth client needs.

‘’It was fantastic to bear witness to how the South African GBS sector bandied together and supported one another to ensure business continuity. This engrained collaborative and community focused approach to business has benefited global clients and customers as well as the operators themselves, many of whom have since grown new jobs considerably.’’ said Searle.

South African GBS BPO operators deliver a range of services for both local and global clients including traditional BPO, CX and contact centre services, shared services across the finance and accounting, legal, IT, Education, HR and knowledge sectors to name a few, and increasingly a growing digital and ITO service and solutions offering.

With an abundance of enthusiastic, service-oriented youth ready to engage the GBS sector as a career and eager to support global brands and their customers has resulted in an increase in interest from several markets. The South African talent pool is deep and wide which many global firms have embraced as part of their diversity and inclusion mandate. Inclusive hiring of marginalized individuals is achieved in South Africa across the BPO and CX sector through the embedded practice of Impact Sourcing – intentional hiring of marginalized individuals and communities.

South Africa, the proud birthplace of the internationally recognized Global Impact Sourcing Coalition (GISC), an initiative launched by the Rockefeller Foundation has scaled through broad global adoption by many leading international brands and BPO operators.

South Africa has one of the highest global youth unemployment rates. The opportunity for the GBS sector to grow and scale through the methodology of Inclusive Hiring and Impact Sourcing is supporting many clients to deliver a quality service whilst also delivering on sustainable impact imperatives. This focus is strongly coupled with business transformation through diversity and inclusion, an area South Africa is a centre of excellence, where decades of experience in supporting employment equity is embraced and entrenched.

Not only are these unemployed and underemployed South African individuals now all working in a vibrant and rewarding sector adding value to local and international brands and customers, but they are doing so in a quintessential South African way. Evan Jones, Chairperson of BPESA remarked that ‘’The past year has reminded us of the need for true human connection and South African talent brings not only a high-quality interaction, but also with an added layer of empathy when engaging customers. We are thrilled that our operators and their amazing staff have been recognized by global brands as the Most Favored Offshore Delivery Location through the annual Front Office BPO Omnibus Survey’’.

BPESA is the recognised Industry Body and Trade Association for the Global Business Services (GBS) Sector in South Africa. As a not for pro?t entity, BPESA was established to promote trade and serve the interests of its many stakeholder groups engaged in the development, growth and sustaining of this vibrant sector that cuts across many industry verticals of the economy. BPESA delivers its services in partnership with Government, at all levels, and various not for pro?t organisations including social enterprises and the professional bodies that support contact centre services, the full range of shared services, digital and Information technology Outsourcing (ITO).

With demand increasing in the global sourcing markets and work shifting from higher risk to lower risk geographies, South Africa is poised to experience even higher growth rates in the years ahead and has set its sights on supporting employment and investment by growing the export segment of the GBS sector to employ 500,000 people, many of whom youth, by 2030. The Front Office BPO Omnibus Survey award will certainly go a long way in supporting this goal and the CX BPO sector remains open and ready to serve.

Peter Ryan, Principal Analyst at Ryan Strategic Advisory had the following to say about the results of the 2021 Front Office BPO Omnibus Survey’s Top 5 Most Favored Offshore CX Destinations ‘’after three straight years in second place, South Africa’s ascension to the top spot in 2021 comes with little surprise. It is hard to imagine that the first time I visited South Africa to speak at an industry event in 2004, the sector was heavily focused on domestic consumer delivery, and was badly fragmented along provincial lines. What a difference 17 years makes! Aggressive promotion in target demand markets by South Africa’s contact center community alongside a very strong value proposition for high-quality, value-add CX services propelled South Africa into first place. This is testament to the vibrancy and determination of the industry in that country, and I express my sincere congratulations to all those that have contributed to this success. The key to remain in this coveted position for South Africa will be to maintain its focus on visibility to buyers around the world and to continually evolve the country’s BPO value proposition in a way that reflects consumer preferences.’’

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