Synergy Business Consultancy: Harness the trend in KPO – Germaine Reyes

KPO services in market research are a growing trend in the Philippines, bolstered by interest and support from the government and educational institutions. Germaine Reyes, managing director of Synergy Business Consultancy, explains why now is the time for global partnerships.

The Philippines was recently named the most sought after destination by IBM, overtaking India as the best location for shared services and business process outsourcing (BPO). Now non-voice services, particularly in knowledge process outsourcing (KPO), are catching up with the country's BPO industry.

Recently, the Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPA/P) found that 9% of BPO companies offering market services include market research. According to BPA/P, KPO, a continuation of BPO with more business complexity, will be vital in attaining the goal of $25bn in revenues for the Philippines outsourcing industry over the next five years.

"KPO hasn't reached its full potential yet," says Germaine Reyes, managing director of Synergy Business Consultancy. "BPO is a volume contributor for the Philippines and Synergy understands that it has been the fuel for growth in the outsourcing sector. With the current focus on KPO being the next volume contributor in the outsourcing industry, especially here in the Philippines, Synergy is very positive about the future."

Global reach

Synergy provides end-to-end outsourcing services across the spectrum of market research processes. "We don't just supply the data," says Reyes. "We provide inputs for business and marketing solutions depending on what the implications are - what Synergy sees from the client's angle."

Now Synergy is focused on expanding the company's global reach and it is poised to be more bullish in offering KPO services over the coming years. "We're reinforcing our global competitiveness," notes Reyes. "That means not just in the way we do market research but also in the company's responsiveness, management of expectations, and in being customer oriented. What we've seen in recent months is that being global in everything that we do, the way we think and manage our clients, is the way to go."

Reyes notes that organisations consider KPO to be unlike the BPO industry that handles large volumes of back-office processes, in that KPO requires strategic judgement.

"We are also sensitive to each client in terms of what they consider important," adds Reyes. "There are clients who require their partners to provide value-added input, so Synergy goes the extra mile to provide them with this - we become whatever the client needs outsourcing services for market research to be."

Skilled partnerships

Organisations are re-evaluating their outsourcing relationships, genuinely looking for partnerships. Reyes says that this approach is crucial, going hand-in-hand with offering skilled service and being relevant for local and international organisations.

"Given our expertise in market research, our clients consult with us before coming up with a marketing programme or making business decisions," Reyes says. "That's happened recently with a US-based client. Synergy was able to provide context to the results and not just a set of verbatims. I think partnering means providing value-added inputs that will help the client to come up with business solutions and business programmes for overall company growth."

Reyes notes that clients consider KPO when they need high-skilled work and do not have the necessary department or group to handle this. "We'd like these companies to consider us as their partner," says Reyes. "If an organisation has recurring needs for market research then we bring globally economical and reasonably priced services to the table. The Philippines provides competitive labour costs, and that's why a lot of countries are turning to the Philippines for outsourcing."

Government support

The KPO industry requires more government action, particularly in education. This makes the Philippines an attractive location as the government there does its best to support the IT and outsourcing industry through its bodies, the Board of Investments (BOI) and the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to name a few.

"The government and various universities are providing support to grow the talent pool for statistics and communications research graduates as these are the forces that will be useful for market research," concludes Reyes. "It is going to be an exciting field in the next few years given the support the industry is getting."

While Synergy is offering KPO services in market research to local and international clients, the company is also helping to promote the Philippines as a centre for such solutions. The country is seen as a serious competitor to India for outsourcing and, as the industry's revenues for 2011 are set to swell once again, Reyes says that Synergy is well-positioned to harness the expected surge in interest.