Wiktor, can you give us a very short insight where Poland’s service industry stands right now?
Poland as one the biggest Countries in the Central and Eastern Europe Region is also the largest outsourcing market, especially in areas of BPO/SSC, but also growing and being the leader in ITO and KPO. Most of the top World companies, like IBM, HP, Infosys, Cap Gemini, Sony, Shell, Accenture, Thompson-Reuters, MAN, Citybank and many others have already located one or more BPO/SSC centers in Poland.
As it was stated in the latest industry report (June 2011) written by ABSL (Association of Business Service Leaders in Poland) experts at the moment in Poland there are 282 service centers with foreign capital employing over 69.000 experienced people providing various of services. Within this large group of employees most are in ITO/BPO centers but over 12.000 are employees of R&D centers. If we add local outsourcing providers the number of operations centers will exceed 500.
What are the regional centers of the industry?
If we take a look at the locations of outsourcing centers in Poland there are three leading regions, or rather cities, which are Warsaw (54 operations centers), Krakow (43 operations centers) and Wroclaw (38 operations centers). There is also very fast growing group of other cities, which recently became very attractive for foreign investors, those locations are Lodz (31 centers), Katowice, Tricity and Poznan (over 20 centers in each location), although three other cities are not so far away (Lublin, Szczecin and Bydgoszcz). Szczecin by its’ short distance to Germany is the perfect location for supporting German customers.
If we summarize the location preferences for the operations centers the Central and Western Poland are the most favorite locations, where in the Eastern part of Poland there are locations for companies providing services mainly to Poland based customers.
What do you think are the main reasons for the recent growth of the BPO market in Poland?
There are at least three reasons why Poland became within just few years one of the most attractive location for the BPO/SSC industry.
1. Educations and Knowledge
In Poland there are over 467 universities and high schools, where each year there are over 400.000 students who complete studies and are entering market as well educated work force. As the largest education markets are Warsaw, Krakow and Wroclaw this is one of the reasons why BPO/ITO industry is mostly located in those cities.
Most of the students who complete studies are speaking fluently at least one foreign language. The most popular language is English, but such languages like German, Spanish, French, Italian, Russian and others are also popular.
In the SouthWestern’s BPO Center located in Lodz, for example there are being provided services of Finance, Accounting, AP, AR, Payments, Payroll, CRM, Call and Contact Center in such languages as Polish, English, German, Italian, French, Spanish, Arabic, Russian and Norwegian and all employees have completed studies.
As within last 10 years the outsourcing industry was growing very fast. Organizations and employees have gathered significant experience in providing BPO services.
If we compare Poland to other Countries in the region, Poland is the leader in the availability and quantity of experienced human resources. Also in some of the Universities BPO is taken as a subject to get familiar – good examples are University of Lodz and University of Szczecin.
Similarly to Germany, Poland is in perfect location. In the distance of 2 hrs flight from Poland nearly all European locations can be accessed. In all of the largest cities there are located international airports, which are being used by all world airlines. Also by short distance to Berlin airport, cities like Szczecin or Poznan are using this one of the biggest European airport. The network of railways and road connections is improving each year. Poland is offering a number of A and A+ class buildings in all main cities allowing BPO centers to grow without major limits. All international Real Estate players like CBRE, Colliers, Cushman & Wakefield or Jones Lang LaSalle have their offices in Poland and can be very supportive. Poland is also very well prepared from IT and Telecom perspective offering various alternative connectivity possibilities.
3. BPO/SSC investments in Poland
One of the reasons Poland is the attractive investment location from the costs perspective are lower costs of labor, costs of living and costs of facilities than in the Western European Countries.
Also Poland is offering a number of financial benefits and grants for new BPO investors who would like to open or grow their centers in our Country. Within the available grants are government investment grants for the purposes of creating new jobs, grants from the EU funds as well as CIT exemption offered in special economic zones. Each of the support methods have various limits depending on the size of the investment and its’ location.
The best institution to receive information concerning grants and financial benefits is Invest in Poland (PAIiIZ). The representatives of PAIiIZ are experienced specialists who have very good relations with Ministry of Economy, Cities and also private consultants like PWC, Deloitte, KPMG or Ernst & Young for example.
How is the local service industry organized? What industry bodies exist and what are they offering?
Besides the above it is worth to mention that in Poland there are at least three organizations, which group and support BPO/ITO.
The first and most developed is ASPIRE, which is located in Krakow and groups the largest BPO/ITO and SSC organizations mainly from Krakow, Katowice and Lublin areas, but is still growing to other regions of Poland. ASPIRE is very well organized, is closely co-operating with City of Krakow, local developers, HR companies, coaching and training companies. ASPIRE is a source of many valuable information concerning outsourcing industry and by co-operation with for example PWC they have a very good market overview and support.
The other organization, which is the fastest growing in size is ABSL. ABSL is grouping companies from all Poland based locations and is very active in promoting BPO and SSC industry co-operating with Ministry of Economy, organizing Round Table sessions with Cities, Universities and local business representatives. ABSL was also a Partner to the most important Outsourcing Event in 2011, which was the 6. Outsourcing Forum organized by Roadshow Polska. During that event the complete market overview report was presented. If you’d like to get familiar with this report, you can find that in here.
Third organization is Outsourcing Institute Foundation (Fundacja Instytut Outsourcingu), which groups key Polish Outsourcing companies. Outsourcing Institute is issuing own publications and also organizes events and industry conferences.
I mentioned Roadshow Polska – this is the company managed by Eva Aboo, who within last 6 years have organized and developed a number of very advanced outsourcing events named “Outsourcing Forum”. Most of them were organized in Warsaw, but last year City of Gdansk was hosting this event and promoting Pomeranian Region. Eva Aboo is co-operating closely with various Ministries, Cities, Municipalities and industry organizations, what makes Roadshow events very interesting and well attended. This year there were over 200 people present and OutsourcingPortal.pl was one of the media partners of the conference.
And where to get information? How does the Polish media pick up the outsourcing topic?
In Poland we have had limited access to outsourcing news and information. For the last couple of years there was only one Polish magazine describing the industry (Outsourcing Magazine published by Forum Publishing Agency) and also one English publication named Outsourcing Poland published by BiznesPolska Media.
There is at least one professional PR Agency which focused on BPO industry – LinkLeaders are very well understanding demands of the industry and are supporting the industry. Until November 2010 presence of the outsourcing updates in the internet was limited to two sites only.
Although, it was very important authors of those sites recognized the need to present outsourcing news and information to the market, we recognized it is not enough with such a fast growing outsourcing market in Poland.
That was the reason why we created the www.OutsourcingPortal.pl, where a number of news, articles, reports, statistics, presentations, videos, photos, conferences, companies and organizations are being presented.
The main purpose of the portal is to inform and educate and all content is available for all users, although if you want to receive a weekly newsletter you need to register your e-mail address. The portal is being run in Polish, but for the international audience it has been started in July 2011 in English and is available as www.OutsourcingPortal.eu
This information site is presenting all information which is required by BPO/SSC investors, Call and Contact Center players, Car Fleet Management, Facility Management and other representatives of outsourcing organizations as well as companies who are looking for outsourcing providers. Within the content of the site you can find calendar of events, information about available office spaces, HR, books and other outsourcing publications as well as the review of outsourcing news found on the other web pages and in the newspapers.
The database of outsourcing services providers, which is available on the portal includes already over 300 companies and is growing each month.
To grow significantly also in terms of available content, the portal is extending its co-operations with various Polish, European and international organizations , who would like to present interesting outsourcing related content. We are more than happy to show through our pages important facts from the outsourcing world. All content which is not a typical advert is presented free of charge.
As we recognized online publications may not be enough to grow the knowledge concerning outsourcing, in the last week of October 2011 we are starting to issue free of charge Polish-English magazine “Outsourcing & More” which will be distributed in Poland and outside of our Country, for example during “Offshoring IT to Poland” conference in Copenhagen organized on 27-28.10.2011.
This magazine will be delivered to all public institutions, Municipalities, Cities, international trade houses, Embassies, outsourcing organizations, libraries of the high schools and also a large group of C level managers. This is going to be issued every second month and will deliver latest outsourcing-news as well as educational information concerning the outsourcing industry. Again, we are open to co-operate with international organizations in the area of presenting content from other countries.
If I could summarize all what was mentioned above I strongly believe Poland is at the moment significant player on the outsourcing market, both as a location for new Operations Centers as well as already services provider. With growing A Class office spaces, accessibility of experienced multilingual employees, attractive costs level and good connectivity with all European Countries Poland is a serious partner to provide advanced IT, knowledge and business process services. Also the promotion of the industry within large corporations as well as in the small and medium size organizations is growing and I estimate within next 5 – 7 years outsourcing will also be present in Polish businesses on much larger scale than it is at the moment.
Thank you Wiktor!
Text: Wiktor Doktór
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