The news that the next season of Game of Thrones might be filmed in Macedonia has flooded my FB homepage. This fantasy drama has somehow invaded every conversation I have had these two weeks with friends, colleagues and even family. Although, our history has little in common with the people of the Seven Kingdoms, people have somehow related with the fight over the “Iron Throne” and the trials and tribulations of the main characters.
So, what do the series Game of Thrones and outsourcing have in common?
Game of Thrones fun facts
In 2012, 150 newborn girls were named “Khaleesi” after one of the characters in the movie. The word comes from the fictional language in the movie and has no real meaning, but 150 moms didn’t mind, another proof for the shocking popularity of the series.
Charlie Chaplin has a relative on the show: it’s Robb Stark’s late wife played by Oona Chaplin.
The series have been filmed on several attractive locations worldwide: Northern Ireland, Croatia, Iceland, Morocco, Spain, Malta, Scotland and the US.
There have been rumors that towards the end of March next year they will start filming the next season in Macedonia at three chosen locations: Prilep, Ohrid Lake and Krivolak. Ohrid has beautiful natural scenery, while Prilep has a vast of historical remains which fits perfectly the mystical display of the show.
Ohrid lake – protected by UNESCO But, again, what links this fantasy drama with the outsourcing industry or even business in general?
Well, they have both discovered the potential of Macedonia. While the first one is looking to exploit Macedonia’s natural landscape and historical locations, the latter is searching for qualities under the surface of the beautiful scenery.
So, what Macedonia has to offer?
In addition to the beautiful landscape, Macedonia has made major efforts for infrastructure and communication improvement. First, it has strengthened its historically strategic location in the centre of the Balkans by putting in place strong connections with the rest of Europe via air and land. The two airports in Skopje and Ohrid have direct flights to major European cities among which Malmo, Stockholm, Brussels, Frankfurt, London, Oslo and Paris. Next, 93.1% of enterprises have broadband connection to the Internet. Actually, the Rulebook of Macedonia for construction of public electronic communication networks says: “In the next six years all Internet users in Macedonia, regardless of whether they are in urban or rural areas, will have access to Internet at a speed not lower than 30 megabits per second (The Independent, 2014).”
Macedonia has also made major reforms in the administration, especially in the area of procedures and costs for opening new business reaching 30th place on the Doing Business Indicator outperforming countries from the region (Bulgaria, Montenegro, Croatia and Romania). The focus has been on improving the business environment, especially for foreign investors. Strong incentives were put in place for FDI attraction among which lowest flat tax on profit in the region and 0% tax on reinvested profit.
But what makes Macedonia so attractive for outsourcing?
Its young, skillful workforce! The number of graduates in all fields has been steadily increasing from 2007 onwards (Figure 1).
The fields most attractive for outsourcing, IT and financial services, have recorded highest growth. The interest in IT sciences, especially computing has just started. In addition, export of IT services last year reached 58.6 million euros, the highest so far. In the last five years, there has been an increase in IT export of 57% and there is still potential for growth.
Finally, communication is also a strong feature of the young population out of which 98% (2012) study two or more languages. Just for comparison, the percentage was lower for 28% in 2007. This again, reflects the growing interest of this country for international collaboration.
While finishing this article, I found out that the filming of Game of Thrones in Macedonia have actually been speculations only. All the same, I hope I gave you enough reasons to visit this country or start a business engagement.
Outsourcing companies which have emerged in this region offer wide range of services among which accounting, marketing, graphic design, logistics and IT through various models such as the Extended Office Model which focuses on building long-term partnerships with clients.
Reach out and contact me if you want to know more. I would love to discuss the endless possibilities of how we can help your business grow.