In May 2007, I made a presentation to high-level committee appointed by the government of Bangladesh to recommend reforms to the way international telecom traffic was handled. I neglected to spell out what BPO stood for. “What is BPO” was the question from the audience.
Seven years later, Bangladesh is ranked 26th in the AT Kearney Global Services Location Index. That is great. The people who worked to establish terrestrial links with India to supplement the SEA-ME-WE 4 cable should be thanked.
But if the high-level committee had made better recommendations, this would have happened sooner. And Bangladesh would be ranked much higher.
Sri Lanka (16) moves up five places in this year’s index, as it develops a successful but relatively unknown knowledge services industry. With a highly educated talent base and sophisticated technical skills, Sri Lanka-based firms are providing advanced services to clients such as Google, Nokia, JPMorgan, and the London Stock Exchange. Offerings extend beyond software development and transaction processing to offshore legal services, architectural drawings, and medical diagnostics.
Bangladesh (26) joins the index for the first time this year. Although it shares many traits with industry leader India, it has been surprisingly slow to the game. The sector is growing, however, with both IT and BPO services offered. Thus far, most companies are homegrown and have developed export clients—for example, Bangladeshi company GraphicPeople provides graphic design services for companies across the world—but in the IT space there are notable examples of foreign captive centers such as that of Norwegian software company Vizrt. The Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS) is actively working to support the industry. While traditional outsourcing remains relatively small, the country has become a huge hub for freelance work via online marketplaces such as oDesk. In fact, Bangladesh has become the number three country for contractors on oDesk in just three years, behind only the Philippines and India. It has quickly moved to the forefront of entrepreneurial activity thanks to its young, educated, and rapidly growing workforce eager for opportunity
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