My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: November 2017

Thursday, November 16, 2017

How to find work in Jamaica at Call Centers - 5000 CSA's for Hinduja in 2018 paid JA$64000 monthly

“Jamaica was a great nearshore choice because of its language and cultural affinity to the United States. In the next three to five years, we expect to grow to 5,000. However, that will depend on two factors - business demand and supply”

Hinduja Global Solutions country head for Jamaica and vice-president for business development for the Latin America and the Caribbean, Anand Biradar, commenting on their expansion plans for 2018

Jamaica's is slowly becoming a Call Center Mecca!! Call Center peeps at Advantage Communications, Hinduja, Alorica, Xerox, Elephant and Startek, I've got news more interesting than this picture of Yendi Phillipps wearing ONLY bodypaint

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Hinduja Global Solutions is going for 5000 call center agent, double their current capacity as reported in the article “Hinduja To Double BPO Operations”, published Sunday October 8, 2017 by Avia Collinder, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Hinduja Global Solutions currently has 2,000 at three centers and has already invested US$10 million in its operations to date. Globally, the Hinduja Group employs 45,000 persons and serves clientele in:

1.      Banking
2.      Consumer electronics and technology
3.      Consumer packaged-goods industries
4.      Health care
5.      Insurance
6.      Retail
7.      Telecommunications and media

Its regional operations are mostly centered around Colombia but they got their start in 2013 with only 50 employees. Their latest push will see them investing some US$2 million in the new centre with the possibility to expand outside the capital, Kingston, where their operations are currently concentrated, being considered.

Hinduja Global Solutions currently has three (3) locations at the following places:

1.      Constant Spring Road in Kingston
2.      Worthington Terrace
3.      Saxthorpe Avenue

So any expansion may possibly include Portmore or Montego Bay to quote Hinduja Global Solutions country head for Jamaica and vice-president for business development for the Latin America and the Caribbean, Anand Biradar, quote: “In 2018 we might be looking at another facility, likely in Kingston. We might also look at Portmore or Montego Bay. To date, we have stayed in Kingston because it is closer to the airport and hotels, closer for our clients. We have also surveyed our workers and they want to come to the city and work”.

So what are the hurdles facing companies in the Call Center world?

Hinduja Global Solutions 5000 CSA's by 2018 - Challenges abound but the rewards are enticing

Jamaica less than 1% of a slice of the US$70 billion global BPO (business process outsourcing) business, but we have the advantage in terms of:

1.      Positioned in the Caribbean
2.      English speaking population
3.      Easily trainable workforce

But, there are challenges and issues that need to be addressed such as:

1.      Limited infrastructure
2.      Worker transport
3.      Worker attitudes
4.      Management shortages

Limited infrastructure is a problem, as very few facilities exist in Jamaica that is ready to just enter and set up business. Most BPO's have to spend money to renovate an unused building or office space in order to begin their services, quote: “There are not a whole lot of places with 'plug and play' facilities. It's just not there. This location was once a warehouse which we spent a lot of capital to upgrade”.

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That last issue is very important as, FLOW, which is owned by Liberty Global, is the only Carrier grade telecom Provider in Jamaica and the Caribbean. BPO's rely heavily on the service of FLOW, which is notoriously fickle and prone to outages as hinted by Anand Biradar, quote: “First is telecommunications infrastructure. We only have one company - Cable & Wireless. There is no major issue as yet, but it could become a problem”.

The skills pool in Jamaica is also low, a many of the workers are High School graduates and not college educated as noted by Anand Biradar, quote: “For those on the telephone, a lot have not finished college. They are capable when trained, but the lack of education shows in their maturity and their ability. It is a lot of heavy lifting to groom them”.

This is logical; Jamaicans going to college are unwilling to tolerate being verbally abused on the phone after having invested that much money to get their degrees. As such, the attrition rate of 40% per annum of Hinduja Global Solutions is typical of the industry in Jamaica.

This is even with salaries that are fairly high: US$200 to US$300 per hour fortnightly. CSA's get added incentives for achieving KPI (Key Performance Indices) such as Schedule Adherence, Quality and Handle time along with others. This translates to $32,000 per fortnight, or $63,000 per month or $845,000 annually, which is not bad for an unskilled worker living with their parents.

The trick is to save as much as possible and use the money to plan your escape. So with Hinduja Global Solutions aiming for 5000 by 2018, getting a job in a Call center may be the stepping stone you need to further your education and get a more ideal job elsewhere.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

University of Oxford says Cold Turkey better at quitting smoking than e-cigarettes

“A lot of people think that the common sense way to give up smoking is to reduce the amount they smoke before quitting,”

Nicola Lindson-Hawley of the University of Oxford, who led a new study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

People who vape or smoke e-cigarettes, I have bad news for you, as the myth of vaping has been laid to rest. What the absolute best way to quit smoking?

According to researchers at the University of Oxford, cold-turkey is best as reported in the article “The Best Way to Quit Smoking, According to Science”, published March 14, 2016 by Mandy Oaklander, Time Magazine

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Researchers, who published their work in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, explored two options:

1.      Quitting cold turkey
2.      Gradually quitting  

Many have sought for answers on the best way to help people quit smoking. But which one works best?

University of Oxford and quitting smoking – Cold Turkey is best as e-cigarettes may be ineffective

Research done by Lindson-Hawley and her colleagues at the University of Oxford focused on 700 people in England who smoked at least 15 cigarettes a day but who were planning to quit. They divided the group as follows:

1.      50% were randomly assigned to smoke normally until their quit date, then to stop abruptly i.e. the abrupt group
2.      50% gradually reduced their smoking over the 2 weeks leading up to the appointed day i.e. the gradual-cessation group

Both groups receive the following support:

1.      Behavioral counseling
2.      Nicotine patches
3.      Nicotine replacement therapy i.e. gum, lozenges and mouth spray

Good to note that the research didn’t look at e-cigarettes which the Ministry of Health may plan to make prescription as noted in my blog article entitled “How Ministry of Health and Jamaica Customs Agency e-cigarette Mix-up hints at Prescription e-cigarettes”. 

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The results that came out are quite surprising:

1.      49% of the abrupt group were successful quitters
2.      39% of the gradual-cessation group were successful quitters

The abrupt group did 25% better than the gradual-cessation group. But the real surprise came when the researchers examined smoking abstinence for 4 weeks after the quit date, and then 6 months later.

After 6 months:

1.      22% of the abrupt groups were still smoke-free
2.      15% of the gradual-cessation groups were still smoke-free

So clearly the cold-turkey method used by the abrupt group is still more successful, as a personal preference to quitting does not impact on the success of quitting to quote Dr. Lindson-Hawley: “Even if people wanted to quit gradually, they were more likely to quit if they used the abrupt method”.

It also suggests e-cigarettes may not be as good as often promoted by many albeit the quitting rates for the gradual-cessation group are not bad, just less as noted by Dr. Lindson-Hawley: “the quit rates we found in the gradual group were still quite good.........If there are people who really feel they can’t quit abruptly, and they want to quit gradually—otherwise they won’t try to quit at all—we still need to support them to do that.”

So the choice is still yours as to how you want to kick the habit.