Amidst the global pandemic, IT/BPO was one of the few revenue-generating sectors that sustained its growth. According to the annual report of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, the industry managed to generate a revenue of 0.9 billion USD and 0.97 billion USD in 2019 and 2020, respectively. Sustaining the growth in 2021, which was one of the most challenging years for the nation, the industry passed the US $ 1 billion mark with signs of immense growth potential.
The Performance & Potential
At the global level, the business process management industry has gone beyond a US $200 billion revenue level with an average 4% YOY growth. The primary value proposition was the "cost" at the early stage of BPM 1.0. It has also evolved to the modern era of BPM 4.0 where resilience and agility with lowered risk are the primary focus areas.
Many multinational companies who are considering outsourcing/ offshoring options still consider cost as a primary element that contributes to the decision. In this context, Sri Lanka easily holds an upper hand in its competitive landscape due to the availability of quality resources at competitively lower price points. More importantly, the advantage goes beyond the low cost of resources towards all other supporting infrastructure availability. According to the A.T. Kearney’s Global Services Location Index (GSLI) 2021, Sri Lanka has the highest value for the financial attractiveness index within the entire South Asian region.
Being the first country in South Asia to try 5G technology, Sri Lanka was once ranked 7th out of 230 countries for low mobile data prices. According to a report from Sri Lanka Association for Software Services Companies (SLASSCOM), the price for a grade-A working space was accessible at a rate lower than $2/Sqft in Sri Lanka. To make things more attractive, agility-focused foreign businesses can enjoy location availability in a pay-as-you-go manner via locations like Orion City and Trace Expert City in Sri Lanka. These scalable and cost-effective solutions complement the vision toward a brighter future for the industry.
Another report of SLASSCOM indicates that 57% of the ICT workforce of the country is within the age range of 25-34 years. This fresh talent pool is capable of providing services to the global level for highly complex and customized requirements in the long run. More importantly, the pipeline keeps growing with a positive trend among the nation's students towards technology-related skills. As per the data available, the share of employees in the ICT industry who are graduates or above has increased from 63% in 2013 to 85% in 2018.
Lastly, like in many other areas, the country has the natural blessing to succeed in whatever area it focuses on. The country's strategic location makes it an easily accessible destination from many points of the world. Such factors in Sri Lanka support the ease of doing business in the fast-moving modern world. Also, the location makes the country overlap with almost six time zones in Europe and at least 4 in the Asia Pacific region.
"IT/BPO sector performed well during 2021 surpassing the US dollar 1 billion mark" is how the Central Bank of Sri Lanka commented on this resilient, young, and energetic industry in their freshly released 2021 annual report. As it moves through the worst economic crisis in its history, Sri Lanka should focus on additional areas like the IT/BPO industry to enhance its revenue generation capabilities to solve the burning dollar issue in the country. As proud as we are of our history, it has become crucially important for us to understand the importance of innovation, creativity, and digital future in order to position our nation at a leading position in the global landscape.