The Philippine BPO industry is under threat from Chinese online gambling, the economic zone development ban in Metro Manila and artificial intelligence (AI), according to a South China Morning Post (SCMP) report. The BPO sector earnings account for 10% of the country’s gross domestic product, making it the country’s second largest dollar earner, after overseas Filipino workers, said Jonathan Ravelas, chief marketing strategist at BDO Unibank, according to the report. However, SCMP pointed out that the sector is now facing stiff competition from Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) that are rapidly taking up available workspace in Manila, which previously saw BPO firms as major occupiers. Leechiu Property Consultants expects POGOs, which currently occupy 243,000 square meters of office space against the 244,000 square meters taken up by BPO firms, to occupy 450,000 square meters by yearend, SMCP said.
The report also said the government’s efforts to spread economic activity outside Metro Manila had created some concerns among BPO organizations and industries, which warned of reduced investment and growth constraints. Furthermore, the SCMP article noted that industry experts predict AI could bring the BPO sector to an end in as little as five years, despite the Filipino agents’ skills in English and strong empathy with clients, citing a chief delivery officer who said that good English does not provide protection from AI.