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Small is not just beautiful but it also can be powerful. A small country with population amounting to around 16 millions inhabitants can be one of the largest world economies and able to have one of the highest GDP per capita. And below 4% unemployment rate at the same time. It is not cheap but it attracts investments. And (of course!) shared service centers among them. And… it is really worth following!

The talk is about the Netherlands: this small country in Northwestern Europe with population amounting to around 16.4 millions is the 16th(!) largest economy in the world, and ranks 10th in GDP (nominal) per capita. The annual GDP growth amounts to about 4% while unemployment rate is below 4% which is the lowest rate in the European Union.

Also the 2009 IMD overall scoreboard ranks the Netherlands in 10th position in terms of competitiveness (out of 57 countries taken into consideration), as it was in 2008.
IMD’s definition of competitiveness is as follows: “How nations and businesses are managing the totality of their competencies to achieve greater prosperity”. Therefore competitiveness is not just about growth or economic performance but it also takes the “soft factors”, such as the environment, quality of life, technology, knowledge, etc. into consideration. The comprehensive methodology of IMD’s covers 329 criteria, primarily focuses on “hard” data (of which 2/3 are from international, regional and national sources) and survey data (1/3) – from the annual WCY Executive Opinion Survey, has been published for 20 years now (since 1989) and uses the whole world and its reference point. The 10th position which the Netherlands ranks in (following: the USA, Hong Kong, Singapore, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, Australia, Canada, Finland), confirms the really solid economic base of this country and its high competitiveness.

NFIA, a Dutch government agency, points out that the Netherlands offers the following benefits for corporations willing to establish their shared services operations in this country:

• strategic location,
• highly developed telecommunications and transportation infrastructure ensuring easy access to European customers,
• well-qualified, multilingual, flexible and productive professionals,
• business-friendly government and tax environment,
• international, service-oriented culture.

These factors in combination with shared services characteristics as process standardization, harmonization and optimization have as the consequence that corporations establishing their SSCs in the Netherlands are able to reach even 40% cost savings (although the Netherlands is quite an expensive country in terms of wages and salaries!). No wonder that such giants as Adidas Reebok, Cisco Systems, Eastman Chemical, Medtronic, Molex, Nike, Sun Microsystems and many more have decided to set up their shared services in the Netherlands.

Small can be expensive but… beautiful, attractive and powerful at the same time – as the above mentioned example of the Netherlands shows.

Magdalena Szarafin

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Tags: Adidas Reebok, Cisco Systems, Eastman Chemical, Magdalena Szarafin, Medtronic, Molex, Nike, Sun Microsystems, The Netherlands, shared service center, More…shared services


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