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Having a say in the world of the business service leaders

In Romania, The Association of Business Service Leaders in Romania (ABSL) is the organization that represents the business services sector in Romania, gathering high profile companies which conduct business in the areas of Shared Services Centre (SSC), Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), Information Technology Outsourcing (ITO), Research and Development (R&D), and other companies which contribute to the sector's growth.

2019-06-18 21:46:02

The association's mission is to enhance dialogue and collaboration within the Business Services Sector, to engage authorities and other stakeholders, and to promote Romania as one of the most attractive locations for Business Services.

For this year's printed edition, Outsourcing Today talked to ABSL's vice-president Bogdan Pelinescu, who is also the managing director for Western and Central Europe at Luxoft, in order to learn more about this year's hopes and expectations in the business services segment.

How strong is the voice of business associations in Romania and how big is the impact of ABSL for the local business community?

As the one voice of the business services industry, ABSL has accomplished its goals in 2018. We had a major impact in the community through our knowledge sharing sessions and through partnership opportunities facilitated between companies and experts. Just as every year, we organized the Annual Conference, the Awards Gala, and the four Business Mixers (Cluj-Napoca, Iasi, Sibiu, and Timisoara). Additionally, our roundtables and other informal events fostered industry dialogue and collaboration.
Compared with 2018, we organised more thematic events as a direct response to our members' needs. Some of the topics addressed were the benefits of automation, recruitment, and growing the workforce potential. Other points of interest worth mentioning were long-term retention of the employees and common challenges on GDPR and Share Services Centres. The positive feedback we received motivates us to maintain this approach.

The Industry Report we launched at the Sixth Annual ABSL Conference was further developed. It now covers more topics than ever before, offering our members meaningful insights into the decision making process. We also introduced ABSL Reports, which are studies conducted among our member companies in order to promptly respond to their common needs as required by the business environment.
Last year we continued to cooperate with authorities, by offering support during meetings with potential investors.

Which are the association's projects and priorities for this year?

For ABSL, 2019 is about the continuation of the activities and plans started in 2018 but with a new twist bringing them to the next level. The Roundtables and Workshops will occupy an important place in our strategy. In order to consolidate our leading position in the business services industry we will assess various projects to second- and third-tier cities to highlight their value for the growing of the sector.
As a result, our traditional events – the Gala Awards, the Annual Conference, and the business mixers – will offer the opportunity for participants to stay updated wit h the best practices and knowledge in the domain. Cluj, Timisoara, Iasi, and Brasov are this year's hot spots for our Business Mixers, where the local business services community meets for the same purpose – to find solutions to their common questions.

The Annual Conference, to be held in November, is the most awaited event because it brings together almost 500 specialists and managers in the industry. It provides relevant content - especially in the findings of the Annual Industry Report. We are also preparing another relevant Report, which will be of use to everyone active in the business services industry.

Education will continue to be one of our main objectives. The investment in education is important for the growth of the talent pool of specialists in the industry. In 2018, 98 percent of the first graduates of the Business Services Master programme were employed in the sector. This clearly confirms that investing in education is an essential ingredient for the future of the industry.

How does this year look in terms of outsourcing transactions and investments?

Last year we reported a 40 percent increase in the meetings with investors compared with 2017. This confirms the fact that Romania is one of the most sought after nearshore outsourcing destinations. We expect the trend to continue in 2019, given the number of meetings held so far.

The newcomers should be aware that Romania as a business services market has reached its maturity stage. Many companies intend to expand, a decision which is fuelled by the acquisition of new clients or by the diversification of services. Of course, the use of intelligent automation alongside digital incorporation - irrespective of size and type of the company - plays an important role.

What should we expect from the outsourcing industry in the upcoming future?

The Romanian Business Services industry is a mature market which continues to grow. In 2019, companies will move forward with the digital transformation of their business models in order to remain relevant. We can say that ‘ongoing transformations in the market conditions' is the new ‘normal', where technological innovation, blockchain, and artificial intelligence are altering the nature of the industry. I believe that this speed of change is imposing a multi-disciplinary approach to business. It should comprise IT services, process expertise, and knowledge of the industry, as well as consulting services.
In terms of opportunities, Romania remains attractive both for investors and local companies. Employees have a strong working mind set, solid IT, finance and accounting skills, as well as a good command of foreign languages. The main challenge is presented by the frequent changes in terms of public policies.

Which are the hopes and expectations for this year in terms of doing business?

I hope that 2019 will bring more stability, which will encourage the growing trend of the business services sector. Hopefully companies will take into consideration the existing talent pool in second- and third-tier cities when planning their business expansion.

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