by Prix D Banzon
Davao City (3 April) — Western Wats, the biggest data collection company in the world will start operation by mid July 2008 in Davao City.
The company last year had negotiations for locating in Cagayan de Oro City decided opted to settle in Davao City instead because Davao can supply double the manpower requirements they need said Western Wats Philippines president Jose Antonio San Gabriel in an interview after the Contact Signing held yesterday between their company and NCCC Mall Davao.
“We’d rather be where the source is,” he said. Western Wats is considered as the preferred company for market research by the top 500 corporations of the world as named by Fortune magazine.
But he feared that the academe may not be able to supply the need of the industry in the next three years as many BPO (business process outsourcing) companies are looking at the Philippines to expand their operations.
He said many companies operating in India are locating in the Philippines and they fear of a demand and supply situation for manpower in the future.
Gabriel said they are willing to partner with the academe and conduct strategic planning in order for these universities come up with the right module that would produce graduates with skills that fit into the need of the ICT industry.
He clarified however that it is not the schools that has a problem but the individual himself and this has to be addressed.
He said Filipinos really are already known for its good command of English and the moment the worker is trained on the right accent nobody would notice whether they are talking with a call center agent from the Philippines or in America.
With a kick off investment of P70 million Derek Rice, operations director of Western Wats said they already are finishing the infrastructure requirements and will start recruitment by May. They need for 2008 about 500 agents, he said.
Rice said their company provides survey research data collection and specializes in quantitative research data collection via live telephone interview, automated telephony and the web.
The Western Wats based in Utah, USA will have Davao as its second branch in the Philippines next to Cebu that was opened six years ago.
The Western Wats’ 300 clients ranges from government agencies, auto manufacturing firms, advertising outfits, media organizations, print publications and universities, to mid-sized grocers, small private businesses, non-profit groups.
Gabriel meanwhile said that they are open to expansion of which they had an initial five-year contract with NCCC Mall and an extension for six years.
On the other hand Gabriel emphasized that the hiring rate of the agents would be higher than the P8,000 rate that other call center operators are giving to their workers. And passing their standard qualifications they could train these workers become call center agents within three days.
Gabriel also said that their clients are allowed to monitor the survey and even listen to the conduct of the survey by the call center agents.
“Presumably all our clients mostly in the US are satisfied with the way call center agents deliver the work. They also noted that the Filipinos are more patient,” he said.