Wednesday, November 01, 2006

How to Ruin a Booming Industry!

Seagull Softwares scam was yesterdays news now. (If you want, make it last weeks news). But, as usual in many other previous occasions we came to know about such scams, the Sri Lankan media is boldly generalizing it to every BPO company in the country.

BPO is an industry growing at rapidly high rates in this country, purely because of the low labor cost and the high quality English accents (Compared to India).

In a recent research finding, it was revealed that main constraints we have in Sri Lanka for this industry is political instability (Obvious!), poor public transportation and high cost in telecommunication infrastructure.

But, even with these constraints, BPO industry in Sri Lanka showed some flying colors in recent years. Some economic specialists compared it as the second leg of Garment Industry boom during early 80's. The garment industry facilitate mass employment opportunities for lower middle class youths of Sri Lanka, while BPO is mainly facilitating employment opportunities for English educated upper middle class youths.

But how ever, after the Seagull Softwares scam, the local media look at every BPO company as a "scammer". Even the general public, who are not aware of the latest management trends in "Out sourcing", will look at "Business Process Outsourcing" companies as a scammer.

This is what happen when few idiots spoil the whole soup. If you look at the people who invested in Seagull, they are not "under educated Godaya's". Most of them were reasonably well educated, Colombo based, internet savvy young people with good family backgrounds. But, I'm sorry to hear that we have this much of idiots in this city, who cannot identify a scam from a genuine deal. We hear about people buying land from moon in India. But Sri Lanka suppose to be a better educated country.

One would have been cautious, when asked to pay a "deposit" when joining this so called BPO company. This is not a common practice of any of the legitimate BPO companies in Sri Lanka, so one would have asked "why a deposit?" at the initial stage it self.

What has happened is over now, and all I'm worried is the negative effect this made on the booming BPO industry in Sri Lanka.

The same thing happened when Gold Quest and Pyramid scams were revealed. The media, the Central Bank, they all associated words like "E-Commerce, E-Marketing, Social Network Marketing, Viral Marketing" with Gold Quest scammers. Now all these words are synonymous with Gold Quest Scam in Sri Lanka.

But in reality, these terms (E-Marketing, Social Network Marketing, Viral Marketing) are the latest trends in marketing in the internet era. In other countries, these are taught under university degree curricula. But in Sri Lanka, these are all tagged "Bad things" because of a one set of stupid idiots mis used these terms in Gold Quest scam.

Once the image of the industry is damaged like this, it affect so adversely in many ways. Potential investors, potential employees will all get discourage. Who wants to work for a BPO when the word "scam" is associated with the word " BPO"?

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