Near Location – Providing all round support services
Malta has emerged as a very attractive and capable outsourcing destination for European companies looking for solutions closer to home.
As Malta developed its ambitions to become the leading regional centre of excellence in ICT, building its state-of-the-art telecommunications infrastructure and investing in leading edge technology and innovative industry sectors, a number of IT and telecornmunicattons-enabled services and business opportunities developed in parallel with the advances being made. Specialist software providers servicing the finance industry were set up, call centres and outsourced customer service centres serving banks and financial institutions began to emerge. The robustness of the IT and telecommunications infrastructure coupled with the innate skill set of the Maltese workforce to offer international businesses an efficient, stable and cost-effecttve environment for their business requirements provided a perfect platform.
As one of the most steadily growing success stories to emerge in Malta, business process outsourdng (BPO) offering high” quality, multilingual services to the financial services industry, as well as others ranging from remote gaming to airline reservations, has been enjoying Significant success, and areas such as shared services, data processing and management services have quickly gained ground.
Indeed, in the last few years Malta has emerged as a reliable IT nearshore outsourcing location and alternative to outsourdng locations like India for more specialised high-value development projects. Situated within a couple of hours flight from most major European cities, as opposed to a ten hour flight from Europe to India, with a highly qualified, multilingual workforce and with operational costs Significantly lower than most other European locations and direct labour costs at around 50 per cent of the average in Western Europe, Malta is aggressively promoting itself as the ideal location for companies looking for a base for outsourcing activities. Offering a full range of incentives through the state agency charged with investment promotion, Malta Enterprise, including the provision of office space, soft loans, interest rate subsidies, loan guarantees, investment tax credits and reduced rates of tax, Malta considers the further expansion of this sector a top priority.
A steadily growing number of software development companies have migrated to Malta over the last ten years. Industry leaders such as Oracle, Microsoft, HP and SAP have all established operations in the country, while more specialised software developers such as SCL, Crirnsonwing, Megabyte, Uniblue, GPI, Anvil, 21 and RS2 are all providing specialist custom built software and support services from Malta, all finding the island to be a profitable and productive location.
Malta has also attracted outsourcing business such as data centres, disaster recovery, data processing, data storage, payment gateways and database management. While costs may not be as cheap as Asia, many European companies that are outsourcing work to Malta comment that it offers better all-round value for money.
Back office services
Malta’s forward-looking professional service providers have recognised the value of offering back office services such as payroll, bookkeeping and accounting both to companies located in Malta and those situated elsewhere. The high standard of service offered by Maltese professionals, coupled with the Significantly lower costs (as compared to other Western European locations) mean clients enjoy Significant cost and quality benefits by engaging Maltese firms to handle their back office requirements.
As this sector expands, Malta is seeking to encourage the set up of operations offering back office services such as administrative and clerical services including processing and recording of invoices and sales transactions, accounts management, and information reporting. In financial services, such as banking, insurance and investment services, this could include any routine or administrative task such as form- filling work in support of trust services, shipping and maritime trade, processing and filing of insurance claims forms, repetitive administrative work involved in fund administration business and other professional services.
All the big international accounting and auditing firms are represented in Malta, while most of the smaller outfits are also affiliated with international networks, meaning that customers are able to access the company or network of their choice. The same holds for legal services, with many of the islands’ more prominent legal firms also affiliated with international practices. Malta’s lawyers and accountants have a reputation for professionalism, expertise and know-how in a wide range of different speciality areas and are renowned for the excellence of their services.
Growing call centre sector
Call centres are one of the most successful areas of business process outsourcing and Malta’s credentials in this sector are highlighted by companies already operating in the country. These include Avail-a-call, Besedo, 24 Contact Centres, Centrecom, which is a subsidiary of World Aviation Group, Airline Partner Solutions and HSBC among others.
Today, the sector employs around 1,000 people. Some of the first to take advantage of the development of the call centre sector in Malta were companies from the financial services sector, an example being when Malta beat India in the bid to host HSBC’s 200-person global call centre to handle ‘high-value’ English-language calls. Other sectors soon followed suit, and in addition to in-house deployments such as HSBC, there are a number of independent outsourcers established in Malta, such as Besedo, Avail-a-call and 24i Contact Centres, providing a range of services that include technical help, order taking, information lines, telesales and customer support services to a range of industries including travel and tourism, telecoms and financial services.
The industry is growing fast, with new call centres being set up and existing companies expanding, even through the recession-hit months. Starting operations in 2008, Besedo, a Swedish company providing support in 14 different languages to online companies, including those in the eGaming sector, has doubled its workforce in Malta to handle the surge in demand for their services from 2009 to 2010. Besedos success has highlighted the potential of Malta as a call centre location: multilingual staff, located close to the European mainland and offering high quality, cost-effective telecommunications that enable companies to offer the highest level of quality service.
In addition, with an increasing number of companies now migrating back to Europe from Asia in search of higher quality levels and increased service, Malta’s excellent language skills, its close cultural affinity with the UK and Europe and its strong work ethic give the country a Significant advantage across sectors. This in turn strengthens Malta’s bid for investment and business on the international market, giving the country a sharp competitive edge over competing elsusiness locations such as India, Eastern Europe and others who can offer only one or two of the required specialist services.
The quality of contact centre services rests firmly on the calibre of its staff the Maltese workforce is highly educated, multilingual and reasonably priced, with salary levels at around 50 per cent cheaper than in Western Europe. Most Maltese are bilingual, with 88 per cent of the Maltese population fluent in English as well as Maltese, and many also speak a third language, with 66 per cent of the population speaking fluent Italian and 17 per cent speaking French. Other languages are also available, including German, Spanish and Russian, and this, in addition to Malta’s cultural affinity with the countries of the European, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern regions, gives it a distinct advantage in the industry.
Supporting ICT Infrastructure
Malta has a fully digitalised, state-of-the-art telecommunications infrastructure, put in place through continuous investment and upgrading of the system over the last 15 years. The country offers a reliable and highly sophisticated framework for call centres to operate within, and boasts large bandwidth networks providing high capacity international connectivity. Four submarine fibre¬optic cables, operated by Vodafone, GO and Melita, as well as satellite links and digital microwave links provide international connections. Mobile telephony operators provide wireless internet connections based on GPRS technology and VOIP services are widely available, enabling companies’ to significantly control telecommunications costs.
Malta’s state-of-the-art ICT infrastructure has been key to the rapid development of various eCommerce services, including financial services and international services such as business process outsourcing and call centres, all areas that are particularly dependent on reliable and sophisticated technology and international connectivity. With a steady stream of IT professionals graduating from the University of Malta, vocational colleges and private educational establishments every year, the industry is able to access a workforce sharply tuned to its requirements.
While call centres may he the most visible and successful sector of the BPO industry other areas of Malta’s service economy are equally gaining a foothold in providing high performance services. A broad range of service areas from consulting, shared services, data processing, data storage, digital media and software development projects are being delivered from Malta, offering companies Significant cost reductions and improved operational effectiveness.
Malta has proved itself as a dynamic, on-the-ball player in the international services market. With its highly qualified, multilingual workforce, ad¬vanced telecommunications structure, favourable business environment and strategic location in the centre of the Mediterranean, it has the potential to offer measurable added value to projects and operations that choose Malta as their preferred location. Add to this the islands’ open business environment and flexible, can-do attitude, as well as its wide range of targeted incentives and Malta emerges as one of the most competitive locations for international service companies and outsourcing services.
Contact us for more information or a quote at [email protected] or call us on +356 21 345 009/010, +356 9925 0102, +356 7947 3405, +356 9945 8641. We will happily guide you through our services and also advise you on the solutions that would best suite your needs.