Will Paraguay Be the Next Star in Latin American BPO?

Paraguay offers both opportunities and challenges in BPO, but will the former be enough to make Asuncion a go-to destination in the near future?

Photo: Marco Bogarin

In mid-May this year, I was invited to join to the 5° Contact Center, CRM & BPO Event in Asunción, Paraguay, to provide Frost & Sullivan’s view on outsourcing trends and key topics in Latin America. This was my third time in Paraguay, and I was thrilled to engage with the local market once more.

It was a tremendous experience during which I gained further insight into the most important BPO opportunities and challenges for Paraguay.

The Paraguay Event

For the fifth edition of what is the biggest industry even in Paraguay, the selected them was “The Client Experience in the Digital Era.” Along with the 300 people in attendance, we analyzed the keys for companies’ success in terms of the digital world, social media, multichannel integration, emotions management, leadership, motivation, and business intelligence.

Before my turn came to talk, I had the chance to listen to some very interesting concepts from Ana Karina Quessep, executive director of ACDECC (Asociación Colombiana de Centros de Contacto y BPO), sharing some best practices and success cases on talent retention and recognition topic.

My exposition was during the first day of the conference (May 19), and I presented some of our latest findings from our Analysis of the Latin American Contact Center Outsourcing Services Market, including the hottest trends, such as nearshoring, omni-channel, business challenges and priorities.

Opportunities & Challenges for Paraguay

Some time ago, the BPO community considered Paraguay to be an intriguing location where you could find Portuguese speakers to provide services to Brazil. This was especially true in cities close to the Brazilian border, such as Ciudad del Este, the second largest city in Paraguay. No real progress has been seen within that space so far, however, even though the opportunity remains.

During my latest visit to the country, I was able to perceive some encouraging developments within the local CC and BPO industry, which now employs close to 5,000 people. The number of local executives is also expected to grow by around 15% during 2015. Still, most of the outsourcing services (at least 80% overall) are being demanded by local clients, while there is a portion that are being exported (primarily to Argentina).

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Growing its offshore participation seems to be the greatest opportunity for Paraguay in the short and medium term. By leveraging its very-cost-competitive offerings in Spanish, the country will be in position to start seriously competing for basic voice-services outsourcing in this language. As a matter of fact, some Argentineans’ calls are already being routed to Paraguay, especially within the telecom segment.

While Paraguay’s major advantage seems to be its competitive and qualified workforce, the nation’s technology infrastructure remains its biggest weakness. Government fiscal policies and double taxation also remain an impediment for those exporting services, as many of the existent players argued (including Avanza, CIDESA, Skytel, and Voicenter).

Though we do not expect Paraguay to have the type of industry boom we have been seeing for some years in Peru and Colombia, my personal view is that we will start hearing more often this country as a Latin American destination.

BPO is a footloose industry, where investments move very fast. Let’s wait and see what the future brings for Paraguay within this segment. There is room for surprises.

Photo: Marco Bogarin