Article written by Beirut Digital District on July 14, 2020.

Companies and individuals seeking to outsource their expert services to a global marketplace, need to be aware of the current market trends and forecast future market dynamics. Lebanon, as long-standing outsourcing hub servicing neighboring countries, has many competitive advantages, even in light of the current economic crisis.

To uncover the trends in outsourcing, how companies and professionals can become more relevant and why Lebanon is an ideal outsourcing hub, industry experts share their first-hand experiences. Through the insightful discussions, common trends appeared. For companies and professionals looking to scale, grow or solidify their positioning as a digital or creative expert, read on…

What functions are international companies looking to outsource?

Studies and surveys have shown that the primary outsourced functions are to do with technology and development.

“International companies are heavily demanding end-to-end software services that include product management, UI/UX, software development and QA Automation,” confirms Wissam Youssef, Co-founder and CEO of CME Offshore SAL.

George Akiki, CEO and co-founder of LebNet shares that “basic software development, app & ecommerce development, digital graphics and data analytics,” are core services that Lebanese professionals should focus on to provide to international companies.

“The market today has a lot of job opportunities designated for freelancers. For instance: customer service representatives, graphic designers, developers, video editors, data entry clerks, and social media coordinators,” shares Lea El Hachem, HR Coordinator at ProAbled.

Why companies outsource? In their words

Charbel Karam, Business Development & Marketing Manager at B.O.T. shares his personal experience on why he outsources. “Our outsourcing needs range from Creative to Lead Generation and Marketing, which includes multiple core functions vital to our growth as a business. There is an increased demand to digitize and shift operations in an agile manner, which is largely done through outsourcing.”

Fadi Bizri, Co-founder and Program Manager at SE Factory, set up his company – offering professional software engineering training – as an obvious solution to a market gap. “In the tech entrepreneurship space, we found that tech companies could not find qualified tech talent. And yet, many qualified software engineers and computer science graduates could not find good work opportunities. Clearly, both sides were not happy,” he shares. “And so, we founded SE Factory to fill this gap, which could be affordably bridged with our 3-month intensive full-stack web development program, equipping talent with soft and hard skills and connecting them to the job market.”

ProAbled starting creating outsourcing solutions to integrate those with disabilities into the workforce, “as they can do a great job remotely. As we practice what we preach, ProAbled is able to convince many companies to outsource from our candidates with disabilities,” shares El Hachem.

How can creative, digital and tech companies and professionals start ‘exporting’ their services?

Youssef of CME Offshore lists three main areas that companies and individuals should consider, to start selling their services to the global marketplace. “Reduce your prices, invest in digital channels and seriously consider “coopetition” or collaborations/partnerships even between competitors to increase the chance of success.”

Yalda Aoukar from Jobs for Lebanon, encourages companies and individuals to “Work on their portfolios, offer competitive pricing, showcase their talent and follow in the footsteps of market leaders.”

Akiki advises companies and professionals to “Focus on specific areas they feel they can be globally competitive in and NOT to say: we can do anything you want.” He recommends that talent should study market dynamics and identify areas to focus on. “Of course, companies and professionals need to develop a SWOT analysis and connect with Lebanese diaspora organizations such as LIFE, LebNet, and to help pitch to prospective clients.”

Karam adds that top quality entices repeat customers. “Companies should ensure that the highest quality possible is delivered, every single time, as a large portion of the outsourcing business comes from repeat clients, basically they will test your services with small projects, and if you deliver well they will invest more and at a bigger scale,” he shares.

Why is Lebanon poised as a leading outsourcing hub?

Lebanon has been a go-to market outsourcing market for years, for companies across the MENA region as well as Europe. We asked industry experts why they believe Lebanese talent have a lot to offer to international companies.

“We have an internationally renowned educational system. In fact, Lebanon ranks fourth worldwide for the quality of its math and science education as per the Global Competitiveness Report. The existent infrastructure and tech-enabled outsourcing hubs such as BDD and Berytech also aid in forming a competitive outsourcing landscape,” highlights JFL’s team.

Youssef highlights that despite the ongoing crisis, “The Lebanese market will be in a better position to compete in new segments due to the currency devaluation and high unemployment rates. We are becoming very competitive in terms of cost, we have skilled resources and we are problem solvers, with great communication skills in 3 languages.”

“What differentiates Lebanese talent, despite the many improvements that need to be made on a country level are the fact that they are flexible, problem solving, result-oriented, creative, multi-lingual, quickly adaptive, resilient to chaotic situations and have a high emotional intelligence,” shares Akiki.

In terms of the forecasted growth, Bizri shares that “digital transformation is coming along across the world, including in Lebanon. We are well placed for international companies to find good talent at competitive rates. We are also well positioned geographically, and Lebanese have long been known to interact well with other cultures and adapt to various situations.”

For companies and professionals looking to grow their portfolios both locally and internationally, the first step is to define their service offerings and highlight their added value when pitching for projects. In addition, companies and professionals operating in Lebanon need to strengthen their online presence and network, to generate new business leads.

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