A new phase of growth in the modern business services sector

Luc Williams

In recent years, the impressive development of the sector has strengthened Poland's global position as a location for modern business services. At the end of the first quarter of 2024, there were 1,941 service centers operating in the sector in Poland, representing 1,167 investors. From the beginning of 2023 until the end of the first quarter of this year. 60 new centers were established (32 last year), where 4,860 new jobs were created. The sector employs a total of 457,100 people, generating 7%. share in total employment in enterprises. This is another year in which the increase in employment in the sector (3.8%) was higher than in general employment in the economy.

The business services sector in Poland has shown extraordinary resistance to macroeconomic and geopolitical turmoil, but has also taken advantage of the opportunity created by shortening global value chains. As a result, it became one of the driving forces of the Polish economy, generating 5.3 percent. GDP and constituting 7 percent overall employment in the corporate sector.– he points out Jacek Tomczak, Deputy Minister of Development and Technology.

Systematic increase in export value

The modern business services sector in Poland is highly internationalized, which translates into indicators regarding the share in exports. As in previous years, centers with foreign capital prevailed in the sector (91.7%). Investors came from 47 countries. The largest number of investors who created new centers from the beginning of 2023 to the end of the first quarter of 2024 came from the USA (22%), Germany (7%), and France and the UK (5% each). The estimated value of services exports in 2023 was USD 36.8 billion, with the average export value per employee being USD 59,300. At the same time, the estimated value per employee at the end of the first quarter of 2024 increased to USD 63,500. The main importers of modern services provided from Poland are Germany, Great Britain, Switzerland and the USA.

We analyzed the latest data and the correlations between them with interest. The value of services exports is systematically growing. In 2023, we recorded growth of a record 22.9%. on an annual basis, with an export surplus continuously since 2008.The collected data clearly shows that indicators related to productivity growth come to the fore. At the same time, the dynamics of changes in the field of automation and innovation mean that we should redefine the key indicators defining the development of the sector in the coming years – underlines Janusz Dziurzyński, President of ABSL.

Accelerated transformation

The data presented in the annual report confirm that the modern business services sector is entering a stage of accelerated transformation. With the growth of knowledge-based services, which account for over 55.5 percent. all services and the increase in the role of mid-office processes, the share of which exceeded 50% for the first time, the attention of companies is shifting from growth understood mainly as an increase in employment to qualitative factors – productivity, advancement, automation and innovation. Nearly 75 percent respondents participating in the ABSL survey confirmed that they plan to introduce a transformation strategy within a year (until the end of the first quarter of 2025). In most cases, this strategy is focused on process automation (91.3%), their standardization (79.8%) and the implementation or expansion of AI (70.2%). At the same time, over 80 percent respondents confirmed that the transformation of the current business model will be significant, very significant or fundamental, and the biggest changes are expected in the field of deepening AI and virtualization. Thus, the trends to raise qualifications, although already strong, are gaining momentum.

We are experiencing changes that strengthen our competitive advantage. Last year was a breakthrough moment. The sector's share in Polish GDP and the value of exports per employee increased significantly, although at the same time the employment growth rate slowed down. And although these changes were anticipated, this is a new situation. So far, all three indicators have been quite highly correlated – says Dariusz Kubacki, vice-president of ABSL and points out: – In the coming years, the sector will evolve in a direction focused on productivity, wider use of technology and automation, and this requires focus on, among others, on providing innovative solutions and strengthening digital competences. We have already proven our resilience to crises, now we need to prove our adaptability and transformation capabilities.

Krakow is a talent pool

The number of employees in centers in Poland in the first quarter of 2024 amounted to 457,100, which means an annual increase of 16,570 (3.8%). More than half of the new places were created in three main locations – in Kraków, Warsaw and Wrocław. Both Kraków and Warsaw exceeded the threshold of 100,000 employees in the sector. At the same time, Krakow maintains the highest average employment rate (351) by over 30%. higher than the nationwide average in centers. Twenty-five centers in Krakow employ 1,000 or more people (58.6% of total employment in the sector in Krakow). The data indicate that the modern business services sector should be considered as a strong local specialization in Krakow. For another year in a row, the city also maintains the leading position in the ABSL ranking in the category of highly qualified staff resources, which is crucial from the perspective of the development of the sector based on highly specialized services.

For years, Krakow's universities have been an extremely important argument in attracting investors. They educate at a high level, in an increasingly modern and innovative way. Both Krakow's human resources and the cooperation between the university and business, which is so important in the face of the transformation of the sector, are valued. The increase in innovation and the demand for IT specialists mean that investors want to be sure that they will have access to employees with the desired competences – says Stanisław Mazur, 1st Vice-President of the City of Krakow and adds: – Krakow has also been rated highly for years in terms of its extensive business infrastructure supporting the development of international investments and its excellent, well-connected location.


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