BPO employees evolve into knowledge workers

A San Francisco-based company has recently opened a premium-grade facility at Fort Bonifacio, where average monthly salaries start at more than P30,000 for qualified applicants who want to escape the monotony of business process outsourcing jobs.

“It is really the next step.  Knowledge processing is a higher value.  It is a step above BPO.  It allows employees to use all their education, all their life-based experiences.  It allows them to be in more active mode, than in passive mode,” ServiceSource chief executive Christopher Carrington says in an interview during the opening of the company’s first Philippine facility at Net Park, the most awarded building in Taguig.

Carrington says ServiceSource is not a BPO company.  “We really are a different company—one that is focused on revenue management.  BPOs tend to focus on cost containment, reducing cost.  We are really about revenue generation.  Our clients from around the world really look to create revenues around this concept of revenue life cycle management.  We can help clients to better utilize their products and services,” he says.

ServiceSource chief executive Christopher Carrington
Ramon Rufino, executive vice president of Net Group, the company which developed Net Park, says ServiceSource’s facility is the best in the building.  ServiceSource occupies two floors of the 48-story Net Park, which reaped various awards for its green architecture.

Carrington says ServiceSource decided to open a facility in the country because “great talent exists in the Philippines.”  

“The people here have great educational background, great interaction ability.  We just want to leverage that to our global company to serve more than 80 clients around the world in the technology industry,” he says.

ServiceSource provides revenue-as-a-service solutions to 80 global technology companies, including the likes of Microsoft, Dell, VMWare, Redhat and GE Healthcare.  It is a global leader in customer and revenue lifecycle solutions with 2015 revenue of $252 million, according to Carrington.

Carrington says ServiceSource provides business-to-business companies with expert, technology-enabled solutions and best practice processes to grow and retain revenue from existing customers.  In 2015, the company’s 3,000 employees in 11 global centers sold $8.4 billion worth of services on behalf of clients.  “We think the Philippines can represent a significant percentage of that in the future for us,” says Carrington.

ServiceSource has facilities in San Francisco, Issaquah in Washington, Denver, Nashville, Dublin, Liverpool, Sofia (Bulgaria), Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Yokohama.

ServiceSource started hiring Filipino knowledge workers in December 2015, with a goal of increasing the number to 500 employees by end-2016.  It formally opened its facility in the Philippines, the fourth in Asia, on March 21. Carrington says ServiceSource is looking for those with degrees in business as well as those with baseline knowledge of technology, “because we represent software and hardware companies.”

James Keating, the site manager and vice president for managed services, says ServiceSource offers salaries that are 25 percent to 35 percent higher than the BPO average.  “The employees that we are attracting are people with four or five-year experience.  Average tenure right now is five to six years. At the managerial level, it is nine-and-a-half years.  We are able to attract the top talents in the BPO space,” he says.

“The BPO is a huge industry.  There are 400,000 qualified talents that are currently in the BPO space.  If they are looking at the next step in their career, this is the place for them—ServiceSource,” says Keating.

Carrington says the company is bullish about its expansion plan in the country, given its large pool of BPO professionals who seek more challenges to become knowledge workers.  On what ServiceSource employees do, he says: “They have to put together a game plan, where they call out to other businesses to solve their technology needs, to put together business proposals and ideas on how to help our customers.”  

ServiceSource chief operating officer Brian Delaney
“In the course of that, they generate good revenues on behalf of clients. It is truly a different role.  With the 400,000 employees in the BPO, many of the best of the best are looking for something new.  ServiceSource, being the first and a new player in the Philippines in this space of revenue life cycle management, we think we will be a very attractive employment opportunity for great employees looking for something different,” says Carrington.

“We believe that ServiceSource represents a new career path for the best employees in the area.  The fact that we are not a call center, we are not a BPO, we are really looking for knowledge workers who can utilize their educational skills, research, negotiation skills, to be able to create long-term relationship with clients,” he says.

“We are looking for employees who will truly represent the best of service.  These employees will be working with companies around the world. So they must have global knowledge and insights and strong education. Previous experience is also critical,” he says.

“Unlike call center agents, where you are passive and answering calls all-day long, our job really involves a lot of preparation and research.  They work on preparing quotes and bids for global technology companies and clients.  They are using information and insights, mathematical skills, to be able to present proposals for clients to close deals globally and generate revenue in behalf of clients,” he says.

ServiceSource chief operating officer Brian Delaney says the company is doing entirely different from the BPO industry.  “We are only focused on hiring top-of-the-market knowledge workers.  The tremendous transition for people’s career is to go from BPO to KPO, to become knowledge workers for us.”

Delaney says while knowledge workers also make calls, “they are also researching and know how to do multi-million-dollar deals.”

“For all our customers, it’s a B2B interaction. So they are interacting with mid-size, small and large businesses,” says Delaney.

Delaney says the Philippine facility will support Australia, New Zealand, North America and other markets across the world.  “This global delivery and sales center is gonna be able to support clients all over the world.  We are hiring unbelievable employees.  We’ve got a great leader.  We are in a wonderful building.  The location is perfect and we have great amenities for our employees,” he says.

Customers include high-tech and software companies.  “We will be supporting cloud software companies and managing the customer revenue life cycles. Hardware, software, customer life cycle and basically any revenue relationship that a business has, our employees are in the middle of it, helping clients grow their revenue,” says Delaney.

“This is our first office in the Philippines.  We are already operating in Yokohama, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, across Europe and North America.  But this is our first office in the Philippines.  That’s why we are so excited,” Delaney says.

The facility now has 100 Filipino knowledge workers.  “We should pretty rapidly get close to 500. And then, it will align with the growth of our business around the world, as we need talented employees to help us grow the business.  Our team in the Philippines will continue to grow with the company.  Beyond that, the sky is the limit, depending on the growth of the company,” he says.

Delaney says the company made a large investment in the facility.  “The best way to explain what we have invested in our employees and taking care of our clients is we are in a building that has just won an award as the best building in BGC, the highest standard and most green.  It was a large investment for the company, but we are confident of the benefits of that investment,” he says.

Carrington confirms that the company has made a substantial investment in the Philippines.  “We haven’t spared any expense.  We think it is very important to provide the best facilities for our people.  We expect the best.  We are looking for the best. We create an environment where we are able to pay 25 percent above market rate.  We are looking to attract the best employees from across the area,” he says.

Delaney says ServiceSource will keep on hiring over the next nine months. “I don’t think we will have an office that grew from just zero to 500 so rapidly.  We don’t have a limit on the number of employees that we are gonna utilize here.  We are excited for the potential.  We will be expanding to another floor in this building. We are gonna keep our eyes open to expand further in the next year or two,” says Delaney.

ServiceSource is a leader in revenue life cycle management or RLM.  “We are really excited about revenue life cycle management.  Because that is gaining support, this is one of our prime locations that will support RLM and the growth of the business,” says Delaney.

Delaney says RLM is a fast-growing business segment.  “When a customer has technology that they purchased from the company, during the interaction period, there might be a technical issue or during the renewal period, the company would interact with their customers. Now with the cloud and subscription and the competitive market place, it is important that you interact with customers during the adoption phase and during the usage phase and you provide information back to them to make sure they sense a lot of value to the product.  As you come up to the renewal stage, you already developed a relationship with the customers.  They see the value in the product.  And this will become a bigger market as more companies go to the cloud,” he says.

Carrington says RLM now thrives with the adoption of subscription-based business model, which can be renewed on a short term.  “If the business clients are not realizing the value within the first three to nine months, there is no extension of renewal.  In this subscription-based economy, they can make it is important to help customers gain better value from products and services,” he says.

Carrington also cites the Philippine growth story, which he says presents opportunities for expansion.  “We want to participate in that growth here.  The initial office that will house 500 of our employees is just the beginning,” he says.

“We have big plans for the Philippines, for our expansion here.  We believe that the global technology clients we serve will be well suited to working with Filipinos working in this office,” says Carrington.

“This office and this team is built for success and built to grow. We are really excited to be here,” says Delaney.

Topics: business process outsourcing , BPO , Knowledge processing , ServiceSource
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