The Polish Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) and Shared Service Centre (SSC) industry was worth USD 3.4 billion in 2012 an increase of 20% from the previous year, according to ASPIRE, the (Polish) Association of IT & and Business Process Services Companies. Knowledge process outsourcing (KPO) constitutes about 6% of the Polish BPO market. This is negligible compared to countries like India and the Philippines, where the outsourcing market exceeds USD 10 billion annually. However, Poland has certain unique strengths which attracts investment to this sector:
- Language capabilities: Most professionals have a working knowledge of English, followed by German, French, Spanish, and Italian.
- Near-shore: The geographic proximity to Germany, France, Netherlands, and the United Kingdom (UK), which form a major portion of the client base.
- EU member: Since Poland became a member of the European Union in 2004, companies setting up centers can be assured of safeguarding their Intellectual Property (IP) rights.
- Investment support: Companies which setup outsourcing centers are eligible for cash grants from the EU Structural Funds and incentives under the annual budget, subject to certain criteria.
- Government support: At the national level, government support includes tax incentives to outsourcing firms. At the local level some cities, for instance Lublin, have earmarked special economic zones or parks to foster KPO sub-sectors such as LPO and Healthcare Process Outsourcing.
These above factors have contributed to the growth of KPO in Poland, albeit little. In 2012, there were about 22 Decision Support & KPO centers in the country. Irevna and McKinsey established KPO centers in Poland in 2009. New KPO entrants in 2012 include Hewlett Packard which opened the largest KPO center in the country, and Capita opened a Legal Process Outsourcing (LPO) center to cater to clients in the UK.
The Polish KPO industry can continue to grow by adopting measures to increase domain expertise, build a talent pool, and advertise its KPO potential.
- Move up the value chain: Existing outsourcing centers need to add more advanced horizontal processes, such as Analytics, to their service portfolio. These “high-performance” services command a higher price in the market, and build domain expertise in the fastest growing KPO sub-sector at the same time.
- Build relevant skill sets: The diverse KPO sub-sectors, from Analytics to LPO, require workers from different academic disciplines. Universities and colleges need to tailor their curricula so that graduating students are equipped to work in these sectors.
- Better marketing: Poland, and its main BPO association ASPIRE, needs to clarify the differentiator of the country’s KPO sectors from others in countries like India, the Philippines, and China. When speaking at international forums and conferences, highlighting the country’s KPO capabilities is a must.
As destinations get saturated, Poland has a great opportunity to tap into the global KPO market. With its unique strengths, it has the capability to become a leading provider of KPO services, as long as the industry leaders, associations, and stakeholders adopt certain measures.
- Deepti Krishnan, Analyst, Sourcing Practice