BSS Sector – Business Services Sector
Support for Investors:
A few words of introduction
Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) is a region bursting with tremendous business services (BSS) potential. This sector includes ‘in-house’ Shared Service Centres, Business Processing Operations primarily servicing external clients, IT centres, and R&D centres (including software development). Poland is the regional leader - both in the overall number of centres as well as in the total volume of employment within the industry. More than 1300 centres operate across the country (which accounts for about 70% of all BSS centres in Central and Eastern Europe), while the total employment figure exceeded 300 000 people, accounting for nearly 50% of the total number of employees within the industry in this part of Europe.
The modern business services sector in Poland has been developing dynamically since the mid-1990s, experiencing a surge of growth in the first and second decade of XXI Century. The average annual increase in employment stands at between 15 and 20 percent in recent years.
Well-educated, highly qualified people with great command of a large variety of foreign languages - these certainly are Poland’s main assets when it comes to attracting projects. Poland’s strategic location in Europe, favourable investment climate, economic stability, development of modern business-related infrastructure, ever improving quality of life in Polish cities, as well as an investor-friendly ecosystem supporting businesses, are all also of great importance.
It is worth mentioning that, in addition to the advantages mentioned above, modern business services investors benefit from an unparalleled choice of locations in Poland. The most dynamically growing markets where the majority of BSS investments have found their home are Kraków, Warsaw, Wrocław, Poznań,the Tricity, Katowice, and Łódź; although other tier-2 cities, such as Szczecin, Lublin, Bydgoszcz, Toruń, Opole, Kielce or Białystok are becoming increasingly interesting for investors. Kraków, Warsaw, and Wrocław are considered to be mature markets and are globally recognizable due to international corporations which have decided to locate their operations in these cities. Kraków is the only city in Central and Eastern Europe to appear in the top 10 most attractive cities in various ediitions of the Tholons Services Globalization Index study.
What’s truly crucial is that the business services sector in Poland is not only growing, but also developing, namely the rise in employment goes hand in hand with an increasing complexity of processes. More and more companies opting for Poland choose to locate highly sophisticated processes that require specialized knowledge. This, in turn, stems from the trust they have in the quality of the Polish academic institutions and the availability of experienced staff. This is also reflected in the growing multifunctionality of the centres in Poland; according to PAIH’s own study, these centres already provide around 1750 unique processes. It should be emphasized that over 35% of centres located in Poland operate in five or more foreign languages.
Almost 600 centres provide software development processes. IT support is performed by more than 300 entities. F&A functions and customer service are supported in more than 200 centres. The ongoing development and growth of the modern business services market as well as the increasing sophistication and innovation of the services on offer mean that more and more BSS entities are becoming Centres of Excellence.
Transformation of the sector and the implementation of ever more advanced processes is possible thanks to highly qualified staff. In 2020, from the total pool of nearly 1.22 million students, over 293 000 graduates entered the labour market. The industry is welcoming the recent trend showing a growing number of students who are choosing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) courses. The demand for experts in these areas has always been high, which is why cooperation between universities and businesses is of utmost importance - this, in turn, produces short and long-term gains for both parties. The ability to create dual study programs and tailor-made postgraduate courses are important initiatives for future employers. The influx of foreign students, who often decide to remain in Poland after the completion of their studies due to career development opportunities, is another importance factor.
The increasingly widespread operational and linguistic spectrum of services provided by the centres means that Poland can compete for projects not only with other countries in Central and Eastern Europe but also with Asia and South America. Thanks to the quality of work, cultural proximity to Western Europe and the United States, excellent language skills, smaller time differences, and economic stability, Poland has become a reliable location for BSS centres.
Industry in numbers
According to the latest data, total employment in the sector exceeded 350 000. This is an impressive number, especially given the fact that this sector has only existed in Poland for around 25 years.
Kraków has been the largest hub for quite some time now - in 2020, the BSS sector employed over 80, 000 employees there. Warsaw with 70, 000 employees and Wrocław with over 54, 000 employees come second and third; also, there are over 30,000 people working in the industry in the Tricity. Centres located in other large urban centres such as Łódź, the Katowice agglomeration or Poznań employ between 10, 000 and 20, 000. However, not only the largest cities are featured on the BSS map of Poland - regional centres such as Bydgoszcz, Toruń, Lublin, Rzeszów, and Szczecin have between 4, 000 and 10, 000 employees each.
According to market forecasts, the number of employees within the sector in Poland is expected to experience a linear increase. Industry development is possible thanks to, on the one hand, the presence of experienced employees, and on the other, the continuous influx of university graduates to the labour market. Foreigners also have a significant impact on the development of the BSS industry, and are frequently employed across BPO, SSC, CBC, IT and R&D centres. The support offered by the Polish Investment and Trade Agency, regional partners, and industry associations is also invaluable throughout the decision and investment process.
Association of Business Service Leaders (ABSL)
Address: Rondo ONZ 1 (2nd floor), 00-124 Warszawa
Telephone office: +48 22 445 33 58
ASPIRE The Association of IT and Business Process Services Companies
Address: ul. Prądnicka 4, 31-002 Kraków
Telephone office: +48 12 426 25 35
Address: ul. Dziekońskiego 1, 00-728 Warszawa
Telephone: +48 510274911
Publications and more data on the BSS market in Poland:
BSS Index - data on the number of investments in the BSS sector in Poland:
Focus ON reports 2021 »
Focus ON reports 2020 »
Source: Statistical Yearbook of Industry - Poland 2018 (GUS - Statistics Poland, February 2019); Production of industrial products in 2018 (GUS - Statistics Poland, July 2019); Foreign Direct Investment in Poland in 2018 (NBP, October 2019)