Every year, pre-eminent business process outsourcing (BPO) authority HfS Research publishes its list of Top 50 BPO companies by revenue. The names are familiar: Accenture, Infosys, ADP, IBM, Teleperformance, Cognizant and Alorica among them. Site Selection just ran this year’s Top 50 through four years’ worth of facility investment data in our proprietary Conway Analytics database to find out where the cream of the crop is investing in operations.
The U.S., India, Germany, Canada and the UK lead the way among these elite firms, with well-known BPO clusters in Costa Rica and Romania emerging. In the U.S., it’s Texas, North Carolina and Kentucky at the top, followed by Pennsylvania, Virginia, New York and Illinois. At the metro level, Dallas-Fort Worth leads by a mile among these high-achieving companies, followed by Chicago, Phoenix and Durham-Chapel Hill, then a tie among such disparate locations as Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley and Pittsburgh; Washington, D.C.; New York City; and Bengaluru, India.
All in all, we tallied nearly 190 projects among these top 50 firms. One-quarter of that total came from the top 10 firms, led by No. 4 Accenture with 15 projects, followed by No. 6 Xerox with eight, and No. 1 ADP with seven. Firms outside the top 10 with some high-performing project totals include:
No. 25 IBM: 24
No. 26 Cognizant: 13
No. 15 Alorica: 12
No. 42 Infosys: 12
No. 19 Sitel: 9
|Rank 2018||Service Provider||Estimated BPO Revenue 2018 ($Bn)||Market Share (%)||BPO Category||Projects Tracked by Conway Since 2015|
A survey of project news sheds some light on which places in the world perform optimally for these elite performers, and which companies perform well for regions looking to create jobs.
In some cases, one BPO’s site can perform well for another: Virginia-based Faneuil announced in December that, contingent on approvals of local and state incentives, it plans to sign a 10-year lease and hire 700 at a site in Albuquerque, New Mexico, that was recently vacated by Sitel. Faneuil was recently named the No. 1 Top Ranking Performer in the Americas by ContactCenterWorld for Best in Customer Service 2019.
In India, the states of Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Telengana attracted 13 of India’s 18 projects, with several of those investments boasting job creation headcounts of 4,000 or more. Bengaluru alone has recently welcomed major leases from such firms as Capgemini, Wells Fargo and Cognizant.
Arizona’s five projects from heavy-hitters ADP, Cognizant, Concentrix and Infosys have created 5,459 jobs. That’s the best ratio of any state or metro — every one of them is in Greater Phoenix. Cognizant opened a $4.5 million regional tech and service delivery center in Mesa in August 2018, adding 500 jobs to a Phoenix-area team totaling nearly 3,000. “Arizona is an attractive place to do business, with its strong infrastructure, emphasis on innovation, rich pool of talent, and overall quality of life,” said Cognizant CFO Karen McLoughlin. “We’re pleased to be expanding again in Arizona, home to many of our large clients, and launching our new technology skills training initiative with Maricopa Corporate College.”
|2. North Carolina||11||4,505|
|6. New York||7||1,215|
|T9. South Carolina||4||1,100|
Another Arizona investor, ADP, is plenty busy growing in other areas too. In October, the “human capital management solutions” firm opened a new 1,000-associate office in revitalized downtown Allentown, Pennsylvania, where the company first located in 2006.
“ADP’s commitment to grow in downtown Allentown is nothing short of transformational for this community,” said City Center Investment Corp. President J.B. Reilly, one of the developers behind the Five City Center location where ADP is planting its stake. “The impact of having ADP’s bright, active and engaged group of professionals based in Five City Center has already been felt by the downtown’s retail, restaurant, housing, arts and nonprofit communities. Having another corporation come downtown illustrates again that companies — in this case one whose actual business is human resources — recognize that being in a vibrant, urban environment affects their ability to attract and retain talented employees.”
Places to Forge Solutions
Cognizant in 2018 opened a regional tech and service delivery center in Irving, Texas, where the company pledged to invest more than $8 million and create 1,100 new jobs by 2023. That adds to a Texas workforce that already numbered 4,100, thanks in part to the company maintaining its U.S. operations HQ in College Station.
As in Arizona, workforce training partnerships were paramount, as the company works with the Texas Workforce Commission, Workforce Solutions Greater Dallas and the Dallas County Community College District.
“Our latest expansion is the result of Texas’ business-friendly environment, the Texas Enterprise Fund, and the location of our many other partners in the Irving and Dallas region,” CFO McLoughlin said. “We depend on maintaining a highly skilled, deeply knowledgeable workforce. This new center was designed for both client service, and for skills training, and will help grow overall employment opportunities for Texas residents, and meet our continued need for skilled talent.”
|1. United States||123||52,434|
|5. United Kingdom||6||NA|
Another Cognizant project offers a clue about where top BPO firms may be looking to go next: entrepreneurial startup hubs.
In early 2019 the company opened its Cognizant Accelerator global technology center and innovation hub in Boulder, Colorado. Cognizant Accelerator is the company’s incubator and venture investing division that develops new product concepts, most recently playing a key role in developing Cognizant’s offerings in artificial intelligence, blockchain and IoT, as well as launching two new life sciences products.
“Using the latest in lean and agile development methodologies, the 100-person Cognizant Accelerator team in Boulder is also the locus of Cognizant’s own software development capabilities,” the company said.
“Having our center in Boulder enables us to capitalize on the region’s rich, dynamic talent base of experienced tech professionals,” said Todd Paoletti, vice president and GM, Cognizant Accelerator. “We’re thrilled to be a part of this thriving hot spot for innovation with one of the highest densities of startups in the U.S. This ready access to talented people, combined with a thriving innovation community, allows us to even better prepare to respond to our clients’ needs in the era of lean, agile development.”
Accent on Chicago
Accenture’s global leadership in the field is helped by a precisely curated portfolio of hubs and campuses, including projects we’ve tracked in Japan, Colombia, Germany and Canada. Among its most recent growth spurts are multiple investments in Chicago, where a new Industry X.0 studio — referred to as a “forge” — is part of the company’s Chicago Innovation Hub. Accenture currently operates Industry X.0 Forges in Columbus, Ohio; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Des Moines, Iowa; and Jefferson, Iowa. “Additional Forges are planned to open across the United States and in Asia in the coming 12 months,” Accenture said in an October 2019 announcement.
The company in July announced it will increase its Chicago Innovation Hub footprint at Accenture Tower by adding 600 tech jobs, along with expanding its apprentice program.
|1. Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX||11||8,377|
|T2. Chicago, IL||5||1,150|
|T2. Phoenix, AZ||5||5,459|
|T2. Durham-Chapel Hill, NC||5||605|
|T2. New York City, NY||5||NA|
|T6. Lehigh Valley, PA||4||1,173|
|T6. Pittsburgh, PA||4||NA|
|T6. Washington, D.C.||4||725|
|T6. Bengaluru, India||4||5,500|
“Chicago is a manufacturing powerhouse, and at our new Forge, we will help our clients create product innovations at speed and at scale,” said Jim Coleman, senior managing director at Accenture, who leads its business in Chicago. “By calling mHUB our home, we’re able to tap into their state-of-the-art facilities and vibrant, entrepreneurial mindset, which is critical in today’s business environment.”
Accenture maintains 11 Innovation Hubs in North America, with other locations in Atlanta; Boston; Columbus, Ohio; metro Detroit; Houston; New York; San Francisco; Seattle; Toronto; and metro Washington, D.C. These hubs are connected to more than 100 Accenture locations around the globe.