SAFE AND SOUND EXPANSION

Jamaica 2019 | IT & BPO | INTERVIEW

itelBPO is a golden example of the competitive advantages Jamaica offers in the wider BPO sector.

Yoni Epstein
BIOGRAPHY
Yoni Epstein is the chairman and CEO of itelbpo Smart Solutions and is a leading authority on the subject of outsourcing in the Caribbean along with being the first vice president and immediate past president of the Business Process Industry Association of Jamaica (BPIAJ). He sits as board director of JAMPRO since May 2016, as well as on The Petroleum Company of Jamaica Limited since 2016. He has over 16 years of professional experience in the contact center industry and was named “2016 Entrepreneur of the Year” by Nearshore Americas and ranked one of the 50 most influential executives in Nearshore Outsourcing in Latin America and the Caribbean.

What were the main highlights for itelBPO in 2018?

We launched a few new accounts early in the year and just moved into new offices in Montego Bay and Kingston. We also closed an acquisition of Granada Corporation, a US-based firm that provides services to US-based clients through agents that work at home. That acquisition also came with a facility in Monterrey, Mexico. That expanded our footprint into North and Central America and diversified our services and offerings, as well as how we deliver our services. In our nearshore operations, our workforce is completely office based, though in our Americas division people work from home. itelBPO has taken on several new clients and continued growing its facilities in the Bahamas, Jamaica, and the US. We broke ground on our second and third buildings in Montego Bay. Additionally, we closed the year with just over 2,000 employees, are redeveloping our entire CRM platform, and have embarked on an AI/robotics process automation project.

What is itelBPO's main strategy to maximize awareness of its services?

We spend a great deal of time on public relations to ensure the local and international markets know what we are doing and the services we provide. We go to shows, mostly in North America, to meet specific people and for brand development. As big as we are in Jamaica, itelBPO is small globally, so we need to continue to push the brand. We have a business development team constantly out in the market to set up conference calls with prospective clients, sell our services, bring people to Jamaica to see what we can offer, and close deals. We partner with the Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) and international agencies that bring prospective clients and business to us. We also do an annual summit where we target potential clients and influencers who can help us.

What is the importance of being a Google-certified partner?

Google is about going up the value chain in BPO, and we have our software development side and an online marketing agency. At present, there are about eight clients working with our digital agency to develop marketing campaigns for our clients. Our team design, developments, and execute advertisements are published on Google, and we monitor the return on investment from those advertisements to determine what work bests and gives clients the greatest value. Being a partner of Google is also beneficial because it conducts beta tests with us, so our clients get to trial innovations and then potentially have first dibs on using that product going forward, which gives them an edge in the market.

What benefits can the expansion of the BPO sector bring to Jamaica?

I see the BPO industry continuing to grow and impact Jamaica in terms of reducing the unemployment rate further. By continuing to provide jobs, the BPO industry spreads wealth that goes back into the economy and the government's funds, enabling the state to reinvest in infrastructure, housing, and other key sectors. The sector's expansion has also benefitted other industries; for example, we buy furniture and computers for our facilities and provide transportation and F&B services for our staff. Many restaurants have opened up because we subsidize lunch for our staff. Moreover, during the construction stage, we employ contractors, electricians, fiber optic engineers, and others. Therefore, the knock-on effects and benefits for other businesses from the BPO sector are tremendous. There are 36,000 people in the BPO sector in Jamaica, though another 30,000 people benefit indirectly from its activities here.

Is itelBPO targeting any new countries to expand into?

We will continue to scale. We are looking at other countries, though a great deal depends on demand. We are focused on growing our presence in the countries we operate in, though we constantly look at new opportunities. Saint Lucia is a great opportunity, similar to Grenada and Barbados, and moving forward, we will continue to grow our facility in the Bahamas. There are other English-speaking islands that could potentially be a stop for us along the way, though their scale is not as big as Jamaica. Jamaica will always be itelBPO's biggest site in the region.