From Sugar to Digital: How the Philippine IT-BPM Industry Reinvented Bacolod

A city lives and breathes. It is not just a certain place or a geographical location identified with longitudes and latitudes, not just a name given to a piece of land in a map – but a living, breathing community of people, resources, and culture – molded through time. A city dreams, It has aspirations. And there are visionaries and dreamers who accept the challenging task of making these dreams come true. However, these dreams only become a reality when every citizen believes and works for it.

In 2004, Bacolod and Negros Occidental stakeholders purposively strategized to alter the economic local landscape – from being mainly dependent on just the sugar industry, we dreamt of starting a new industry – the Information Technology Business Process Management (IT-BPM) industry – which we believe to be highly feasible, will generate thousand of jobs, and further spur ancillary economic activities in real estate, retail, tourism and more.

Our initial goal was to ensure that Bacolod lands in the list of President Arroyo’s Philippine Cyber Corridor and join her 1M Jobs by 2010 vision. I recall reading the news in 2004 where I do not see Bacolod mentioned and it challenged me.

Bacolod City topped in the criterion of business environment with a score of 96 percent among the Ten Next Wave Cities Scorecard Ranking” of the Commission on Information and Communication Technology (CICT), Business Process Association of the Philippines (BPAP) and the Department of Trade and Industry for outsourcing in the Philippines outside of Metro Manila and Cebu.

The BPAP-CICT-DTI scorecard computed the scores using

RELATED STORY: Bacolod, Negros Occidental Target 10,000 O&O jobs by 2010

In 2008, the Bacolod-Negros Occidental Federation for ICT (BNEFIT) set our target at 10,000 jobs by 2010. By coming together, BNEFIT accepted the challenge of capturing the world’s outsourcing market equivalent to 13 billion USD revenues and one million employment by 2010 through public-private sector initiatives.

RELATED STORY: BNEFIT: Strategies to Create Opportunities

In 2009, we joined the so-called Top 10 Next Wave Cities outside of Metro Clark and Cebu and ranked 5th. Bacolod City topped in the criterion of business environment with a score of 96 percent among the Ten Next Wave Cities Scorecard Ranking” of the Commission on Information and Communication Technology (CICT), Business Process Association of the Philippines (BPAP) and the Department of Trade and Industry for outsourcing in the Philippines outside of Metro Manila and Cebu.

RELATED STORY: Bacolod Hosts CONVERGENCE 2009

In 2010, PH marked 600,000 IT-BPM jobs, missing the 1M mark, but still a happy news. But Bacolod marked 12,000 jobs, overshooting our 10,000 target. This was also the year when Bacolod joined the Top 100 Cities for Outsourcing in the World listed by Tholons International.

RELATED STORY (2008): Bacolod City is one of the growing BPO locations outside Metro Manila. The city hosts three big BPO firms—Teletech, Teleperformance and Convergys—and a number of smaller companies. Around 5,000 employees are working in the BPO industry.

RELATED STORY (2010): Bacolod breaks into top 100 BPO Cities

In 2011, Bacolod moved up to 3rd rank in the Top 10 NWC. And in 2012, to our utmost gratefulness – we joined the list of Centers of Excellence for IT-BPM in the Philippines along with MM, Cebu and Metro Clark.

RELATED STORY: Bacolod recognized as center for IT-BPM excellence

In 2015, BNEFIT upgraded our target to 60,000 jobs by 2022. And expand our niche to complex voice and non-voice services, healthcare information management, software development and creative processes. Just prior to the pandemic or in 2019, we already reached the 35,000 mark, and multiply this number by 3 to compute the indirect jobs generated.

2022 has arrived. But the 60,000 jobs mark is nowhere in sight. Today, we pick up the pieces and carry on stronger and better. We shall move the target to 2030. BNEFIT this year will work with all LGUs in Negros Occidental to reset the targets.

But as we reset the targets — I DO NOT WANT TO HEAR any local politician looking down on the IT-BPM industry of Bacolod. Because almost every economic development that Bacolod now enjoys is a trickle effect of the thousand of direct and indirect jobs. Any leader in this city looking down on the industry is a THREAT to us achieving the 60,000 jobs mark or even beyond.

I AM SINCERELY ASKING ALL THE IT-BPM INDUSTRY stakeholders of Bacolod and Negros Occidental – SERIOUSLY ASSESS YOUR LEADERS. Mindfully evaluate their platforms and portfolio to see their strategies in helping us double or even triple the number of digital jobs in this city. Being active is NOT enough. We need visionaries.

STAGNATION is our greatest enemy. WE need innovation, collaboration, futures thinking and a clear understanding how our community can leverage on the growing demand for digital jobs.

This post is not about me or any politician – this is about gratefulness. About how we have all benefitted from the growing IT-BPM industry and how we can sill provide for more jobs and opportunities for those who need them.

And for the nth time I say – I AM TRULY PROUD OF ALL THE BACOLODNONS AND NEGRENSES IN THE IT-BPM SECTOR – from those behind the seats, to those leading teams, to every member of your companies, from security personnel to medical personnel – every one who work to make Bacolod and Negros Occidental still a COE in the IT-BPM industry. My first Zoom speaking engagement was 5AM today and my last Zoom meeting ended at 530PM (a 5 hour class) – this is how I feel tonight after 12 hours of digital meetings. I am so tired. But I just want to put this out there, with a few weeks before decision time.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: