Sri Lanka had not been recognized as a centre for delivering business process outsourcing, knowledge process outsourcing and IT services, greatly due to the long-running war and the overwhelming success enjoyed by India in these services. A. T. Kearney in their country competitiveness study on Sri Lanka have stated that most executives responsible for selecting global locations for their BPO, KPO and ITO centres were surprised that Sri Lanka would even be an option. However, with a highly skilled workforce and a cost-competitive business environment, Sri Lanka is emerging as a hidden gem for business process outsourcing, knowledge process outsourcing and ITO services. This section of the document lays out what are the driving and hindering factors for Sri Lanka to achieve this status.
As at 2012, Sri Lanka is the operating base for more than 300 BPO and ITO companies, who have more than 60,000 people employed, and generate more than $400 million in exports. Several well-known global firms like HSBC, IFS, RR Donnelley, WNS, Motorola, and MphasiS (an HP subsidiary) have established themselves in Sri Lanka. At the same time there are several firms based in Sri Lanka acting as off-shoring partners providing cutting-edge services for global blue-chip companies, which include LSE (London Stock Exchange), Microsoft, Nokia, JP Morgan, Google, Santander Bank, Emirates Airlines and Russell Investments.
What differentiates Sri Lanka as a destination for outsourcing work is the highly educated workforce, sophisticated technical capabilities coupled with English speaking ability, and a business environment where the government supports the businesses through infrastructure development and tax concessions—paving way to extreme low costs. These are superior to other low-cost countries. Another differentiating factor has been the high focus on quality and higher value niche services by Sri Lankan firms, which has been able to compensate for its small scale. This has paved way to more specialized work being transferred to Sri Lanka, while large-scale repetitive work is performed in other low cost countries such as India and Philippines.
The number of countries being evaluated in the Global Services Location Index TM started at 11 countries and has now grown to 50—this has been a point to refer to for the growing attractiveness for enterprises in developed countries to outsource their business activities and the increasing range of countries being evaluated as potential locations for outsourced knowledge services. In the recent study carried out, Sri Lanka is ranked 21st, which is an impressive ranking taking into fact that smaller countries have a disadvantage with one of the key measure being ‘people skills and availability’, where the availability is low when it comes to a small country. The report suggests Sri Lanka as being in line to establish itself as a knowledge hub similar to smaller countries like Costa Rica, Ireland, Israel and Singapore.
Due to these developments in the business side of things Sri Lanka has started to attract more business travellers, who visit this gem for business purposes and while they are here want to spend some time in leisure and recreational activities. These business travellers would like an end-to-end solution which offers:
- Airport pick-up and drop.
- A business accommodation that fits their taste.
- Possibility of flying between destinations within Sri Lanka, so that they spend less time in travelling. In the case of Sri Lanka, there is always the option of Seaplanes and Helicopters.
- All transport arrangements handled by the hotel as per the itinerary of the business traveller to optimize his/her time here.
- To enjoy some self-time and relax Sri Lankan hotels offer spa facilities, a comprehensive city guide tours, shopping guides, and a nice relaxing view of the city.
- There is always the option of playing golf and other indoor games.
- Water activities like scuba diving, whale watching, snorkelling, white water rafting, kayaking, canoeing, jet skiing, and boat rides.
- Business Centres within hotel premises.
- Free Wifi and other office equipment for usage
- Conference rooms and meeting rooms for meetings and strategic sessions.
Sri Lankan hotels have started providing this complete package to their business travel clients and are providing it at superior quality.