The International Association of Outsourcing Professionals (IAOP) a 200,000 plus member strong global standard-setting organization and advocate for the outsourcing profession launched its Sri Lankan Chapter at a glittering ceremony at Colombo’s hottest new venue The Kingsbury amidst a large gathering of outsourcing industry professionals.IAOP Sri Lanka Chapter will function in close collaboration with the Sri Lanka Association of Software and Service Companies (SLASSCOM).Event partners were Tata Communications and Orion City. 
 
Jayantha Fernando, Director/Legal Advisor to ICTA and a luminary in the ICT field of Sri Lanka, the key architect of the nation’s various legal and regulatory aspects that have enabled create a viable and competitive sourcing marketplace, graced the occasion as the Chief Guest. He enunciated the changing nature of the industry, the need for regulation and policy to be aligned with changing industry dynamics, and most importantly, the need to emphasize on collective and inclusive development of the sector, where competencies should be the principal focus.
 
He also reiterated the nation’s commitment to working closely with the industry, as already evidenced by the fact that 94.6% of government ICT initiatives were undertaken in conjunction with the private sector playing a significant role (in terms of implementation and support), particularly evidenced by large-scale programs like eSriLanka and the like.
 
Bobby Varanasi, Ambassador for IAOP introduced IAOP and its various programs to the audience, reinforcing the benefits of membership, and the need for implementing various crucial programs like training initiatives of IAOP (COS, COP etc) and corporate development initiatives (like Supply Risk Monitor, Benchmarking etc). Bobby reinforced that visibility for the nation and its companies is a function of competencies, and proven client testimonials that take precedence over all other marketing initiatives, hence Sri Lanka should focus on creating visibility on the back of “proof” as also leverage global networks to position “demand-centric” realities that the nation caters to.
 
Sujiva Dewaraja , Chairman of SLASSCOM presented specific success facts surrounding the outsourcing industry’s growth in the nation over the past two decades, as also reinforced some very interesting initiatives. The industry’s current size of US$600 M with approx. 35,000 jobs is testament to the continued competencies the nation is bringing to the fore, both through leveraging its base educational proves, as also its labor economics. He spoke about the nation’s high indirect costs that need to be reduced to continue enhancing competitiveness, but such reductions will necessarily have to follow provisioning of services that are aligned with current demand.
 
An interesting panel discussion followed where the following key points were discussed relating to the Sri Lankan IT/BPO/KPO industry was discussed:
 
a.       Need for the nation to understand demand from across the region/ globe and accordingly provision services,
b.      To do away with “Commoditized” services all the time and shift toward “Vertical” competencies where “issues and opportunities” are proactively addressed, instead of positioning labor arbitrage as a differentiator.
c.       Moving into key functional areas, provisioning end-to-end services where current competencies could be enhanced by engaging with the marketplace and developing sustainable training programs.
d.      Enhancing enrolment of individuals into the workforce, providing “Career” visibility and also marketing the outsourcing industry within the domestic market as a “profession”.
e.       Engaging with local large corporations to leverage outsourcing, as it was collectively felt that in the absence of labor arbitrage, value articulation would become paramount to convince a local company to engage with the local provider community, hence in a direct manner contributing to enhanced competitiveness.
f.        Increasing participation in the global marketplace through dedicated events like IAOP OWS, and other programs where “successes” are showcased, and case studies are detailed.
g.       Increasing local capabilities through instituting training / learning programs like COS, COP etc.
h.      Focused approach toward engaging with clients, instead of the traditional manner of talking about the nation’s cheap economics.
i.         Increasing leadership competencies in the mid-senior levels across the nation as it was strongly perceived as lacking.