The Information Technology (IT) sector in the Philippine is making waves. This country now has the third-largest pool for IT work in the Asia-Pacific region, while its costs of doing IT related business rank among the lowest in the world, making it an extremely attractive IT Outsourcing destination. So far, this sector has not only contributed and pumped in billions of dollars into the economy but has also provided hundreds of thousands of jobs to skilled Filipino workers.

Information Technology Outsourcing
Typically, IT outsourcing (ITO) includes data center operations, desktop and help desk support, software development, e-commerce outsourcing, software applications services, network operations and disaster recovery, to name some.

“We are more focused on technology or the technical aspect of enterprises. We provide technical services and create solutions for different companies. Many of us cater to financial or manufacturing institutions, so we really create IT solutions for them. We don’t just focus on making or taking calls, although they’re part of what we also do,” clarified Annalie Ponce, Assistant Vice President of an IT Outsourcing firm. “To simply state what we do in layman’s terms: we receive a request to make specific software, like apps for example, and we make it, test it and perfect it for a company.” she added.

A fast changing Market
Customer demand for IT services is on the rise and is significantly more relevant to people’s lives compared to what it was ten years ago. It is no wonder then that it is coming on a significantly bigger base even amid challenging market conditions by fast adapting to the evolving market needs and utilizing newer segments to stay ahead of the game. Ponce gave a concrete example: “There were no demands for mobile applications before as the various software available then were normally desktop or web based, but that has rapidly changed. People are now using smart phones and companies adapt to that. They have to. They make technological innovations based on that trend. This need to stay pertinent is what’s driving ITO’s rapid growth.”

Career path
Asked about career paths in the ITO sector, Ponce clarified that because of the variety of jobs that are open within the IT sector, there is no single point of entry like one may find with most other professions. That means that even if one does not have an IT background, this does not necessarily hamper his or her chances of starting a new career in this industry as most employers look for more rounded individuals with more flexible and transferable skills.

“There are also jobs that require sales and customer service support in this industry. However, the most common entry point in the IT sector is through the Software Development Trainee or Analyst Programmer path, and from there, one can typically progress to a Senior Developer or Programmer before advancing to an Analyst or assuming a managerial role.”

Challenges
Even though it is full steam ahead for this sector, its engines require fuel, and plenty of it. While the demand is high for IT professionals, the Philippine market is currently experiencing a shortage of skilled workers like engineers, developers, technical specialists and quality assurance experts to program and test applications. This situation has sent ITO companies racing to obtain the best talents by relentlessly competing against each other, offering even more competitive compensation packages and benefits to those qualified, albeit the average wage in this sector already being approximately 25% higher than that of other sectors in the BPO industry.

Come on board
When asked about ways of confronting the issue, Ponce was quick to suggest encouraging more students to study IT related courses which include: web design, systems analysis, computer games development, UX (user experience) development and several others.

“They (students) should really purse this field because it will pay off. They will be in demand, be handsomely compensated, have job security and they will love what they do. For as long as companies need to innovate to stay relevant to their market, there will always be a demand for what they (IT professionals) do,” she added with conviction.

“Studying IT, or the convergence of computer and network technology, may sound like a daunting subject, especially when we start to get lost in translation amid jargons and technical words people in this industry use, but if you enjoy browsing the Internet or can skillfully navigate through the functions and apps in your smartphone, you already have a good handle on things. The fact is, IT is a very transformative discipline. It applies to nearly all aspects of our lives too: how we work, how we learn, how we communicate, how we socialize, how we entertain ourselves...where will we end up without it?”

An exciting future ahead
There are many speculations on how IT and technology in general will evolve. Although no one can say for certain what the next trend will be like, experts all agree that the next ten years will see the influence of technology accelerate. This translates to far-reaching changes not only for business in general, but for the role and purpose of the IT department as well.

With regard to what is to come for the ITO sector and the new fad that it will cater to, Ponce has this to say: “We cannot predict what the demand will be say five years from now, but it’s safe to say that there will always be continuous enhancement and changes, and this is what makes our sector always significant. The IT sector will always adapt and grow, and that makes the future of this industry absolutely exciting.”

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