This article was originally published in the California Business Journal, a B2B magazine that features in-depth pieces and insights for small businesses, startups, and budding entrepreneurs.


Scott Darrow has been into programming since the 1980s. In his career, he managed his own technology companies, helped introduce IKEA to Asia, and ran the distribution center of the freight company DHL. But wherever he was, he always built software—an affinity that got him involved with Emapta, an outsourcing services provider based in the Philippines. He has built Emapta’s system from the ground up and appears unwilling to rest on his laurels.

“This sentiment is stronger in human resources because many processes and procedures are unique to clients,” said Darrow, Chief Technology Officer of Emapta.

Emapta’s low-code technology allows professionals without advanced programming knowledge to use software and apps with pre-made components in their human resources processes. This approach results in high levels of interoperability.

Darrow describes this practicality through the example of an AI-based chatbot. Usually, a chatbot is geared toward a specific purpose, and integrating it into another company’s system to serve different functions does not work.

However, Emapta’s chatbot allows customers, their outsourcing clients, to ask the bot questions—such as ‘Have all my people arrived to work?’ or ‘What’s my next bill going to be?’—and they immediately receive the correct information.

“We work slightly differently from other BPOs [business process outsourcing companies],” Darrow told California Business Journal.

Emapta recruits people that its clients need and provides them with the space and infrastructure. This includes physical assets and human resources, such as onboarding, offboarding processes, and payroll functions. The company employs 8,000 people.

The solution Darrow has developed goes beyond the functionality of an AI chatbot. “It’s a super app that allows our clients’ employees to manage their timetable, attendance, and leave entitlements,” he says. “It informs them about company news, so they’re always in the loop.”

On the other end of the spectrum, “our clients can log in and see who’s arrived at the office, who’s absent, who’s on leave, what issues are pending their approval, and so on.”

Emapta’s toolset is powered by proprietary software. Instead of open-source artificial intelligence solutions, the company built its own model with Darrow at the helm. AI is dominating business and public dialogue, with many worrying that with the development of the technology, jobs will get axed.

What is the reality of such concerns? “We have a ratio of core people versus customer employees,” the CTO says. “If we continue operating the way we are, that ratio will get very hard to sustain—the only way to move forward is using AI.”

“Our recruiters use automation to process resumes and receive information about the talent pool,” Darrow says. “They can read a summary of the resume and skills and see how a particular talent ticks a client’s boxes. As a step moving beyond resumes, with such information, we can generate job descriptions and interview questions tailored to a specific opening or interviewee, respectively.”

Looking ahead, Emapta plans to polish these processes to create an ecosystem where talent assessed by their recruiters would get certified. Such a badge would mean Emapta has validated the job seeker, helping other recruiters find the best talent and job seekers find jobs quicker.

Darrow believes that low code is the best environment for developing tech solution. The company uses OutSystems, which originates from Lisbon, Portugal and allows for rapid development in low-code environments, at industrial strength, which provides ample benefits to building software.

Low-code software caters for complex intra-business processes. It’s difficult to get off-the-shelf human capital management software that manages not only human resources but also onboarding, the legislation related to the company, roster, and leave management. “Our software meets all those requirements,” Darrow adds.

Outsourcing is a topic of gravity in business operations. Some companies are often weary of moving some functions external to their operations, not to mention taking them abroad. The technology Darrow has built, however, comes with many benefits.

The CTO says an employee costs a company more than their actual salaries. There are ancillary costs, such as state taxes, retirement benefits, quality control, bookkeeping, and red tape. Many of these processes are manual, making them more time-consuming and pricier.

“At Emapta, we have the know-how and technology to sort out those cumbersome processes. It makes commercial sense for a business to outsource. 21st-century business happens globally, and the pandemic has made the corporate world more accepting of remote working scenarios. We don’t jump on planes and travel around for meetings anymore. Communication flows flawlessly in online environments,” Darrow said.

Darrow has lived in the Philippines, where Emapta is based, for decades – and the country’s labor market is thriving. “The standard international test regarding English proficiency at par with U.S. levels. People speak perfect English here. Also, historically, the education system has been more tilted toward Western culture despite being an Asian country.

“Talent is culturally aligned with the United States,” he adds. “The curriculum for a nurse, medical doctor, lawyer, accountant, or engineer is the same as in the United States. Talent thinks very much like their Western peers.”

Emapta is an acronym for family members of the chief executive officer. “It cultivates a strong sense of friendliness and a tight-knit community among its employees,” Darrow says. “Our employees socialize together outside of working hours, which makes them work together flawlessly in professional settings. Coupled with our proprietary technology, the human workforce we employ on behalf of our clients brings added value to their operations.”