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Forget Uberization, we must avoid Subwayfication

The Used-to-be-a-Service Economy

The Used-to-be-a-Service Economy

The As-a-Service Economy is all about achieving the outcomes we most want with a great service experience.  So let’s look at how to avoid that not happening and becoming legacy businesses that failed to stay ahead of the demand curve.

The perfect anti-example is Subway. Back in 2001, the release of Fast Food nation shocked much of the Western world into realizing we were slowly killing ourselves on pink-slime infused fast food. It was great for Subway as it sold sandwiches that – for all intents and purposed at the time – we thought were a far healthier option than Burger King.  And it seemed to taste OK too…

Fast forward to today – people are increasingly  aware that chemically-preserved fake colored bread, cheap antibiotic-induced meats and pesticide-flavored vegetables aren’t much worse for you than a greasy concoction of pink slime, protein and french fries.

Coupled with this is the service experience – I accidentally ventured into a Subway the other day (one of those once-in-every-five yearly visits, where you are just so damn hungry and want to avoid the golden arches).  The only desired outcome is to subdue hunger – in the vain hope it may be a somewhat enjoyable experience in the process.  To cut the the chase, the restaurant was filthy – every single table was covered in food remnants, the toilet stank, the staff were curious life forms from some distant planet… and the sandwich was just lame.  Net-net, I had just about achieved the outcome I was looking for, but the service experience was horrible. I will not venture back for at least another five years. Hopefully never.

On the flip side, if my desired outcome was to have a tasty fast-food burger – and to hell with the consequences – I would just have had one.  I know exactly what to expect and the experience and outcome is clear – unhealthy tasty food that is enjoyable and fills the hunger hole. So contrast the two outcomes – a nasty sandwich versus and tasty enjoyable burger, that is probably only 10% more unhealthy (source HfS, 2015).

The Bottom-line:  Once you lose touch with your customers’ desired outcomes, do something fast to find them again, or resign yourself to a slow extinction 



I don’t want to spend hours reviewing Subway’s income and profitability, as I am sure they have their quarterly accounting revenue model down-pat – they sell cheap(ish) food to people who probably don’t care that much about food, and don’t have much understanding of what bad food chemicals can do to your insides.

But I am sure that even many of their loyal customers are slowly wisening up to the experience, and the brand will eventually need to do something radically different to continue its existence – their stuff just doesn’t taste as good at their nemesis alternatives and it’s not even good for you.

The answer is quite simple – how can they produce a healthier, better tasting product with a less crappy service experience.  Oh wait – Starbucks has already figured that out and you can even get a better meal in a Dunkin Donuts or Tim Hortons these days (and that’s saying something). Sorry Subway – you’re legacy and probably confined to the once-great corporate successes that failed to evolve its services experience to meet changing customer desired outcomes.

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Sangita on song

Sangita Singh is Chief Executive, Healthcare & Life Sciences, Wipro (Click for Bio)

Sangita Singh is Chief Executive, Healthcare & Life Sciences, Wipro (Click for Bio)

I recall when I founded HfS Research nearly six years’ ago, one of the first people to visit our offices was the calm, but tenacious Sangita Singh – one of the most recognizable and popular faces of Wipro over the last decade.

Since then, Sangita has made a regular habit of visiting us at HfS during her analyst rounds in the Massachusetts area –  a location right at the heart of many of her life sciences and healthcare clients. And what amazes me about Sangita is the fact she manages to (somehow) live simultaneously in both Manhattan and Bangalore at the same time, in the midst of all this merger-mania in healthcare.

While Wipro has built a reputation for helping to drive cost savings and provide IT and business process support and capability, Sangita is on a mission to take her firm’s healthcare solutions to the next level, by working with clients and partners to build connections between the many silos in today’s US healthcare system. At the heart of it is how to better serve the patients with the right combination of services and technologies in a more simplified and accessible way. It requires a different way of working both within Wipro, and with clients. It’s a big, bold dream, but that’s what gets her excited.

So when we convinced Barbra McGann to join us to lead our analyst coverage of healthcare and life sciences, I couldn’t resist introducing her to Sangita… and lo and behold the two of them cooked up a little interview for our reading pleasure…

Barbra McGann (Managing Director, Research at HfS): Sangita, your career has lately been a smorgasbord of specialized leadership roles, from an education in engineering, to most recently at Wipro as Chief Marketing Officer, then Head of Enterprise Application Services (EAS), and now, Chief Executive of Healthcare and Life Sciences. What is your approach to tackling each of these very different areas of expertise as a leader?

Sangita Singh (Chief Executive, Healthcare Life Sciences & Services at Wipro): Hi Barbra – it is to be open to listening and learning—from the team, from peers, from management, from the external environment, and to be inclusive. One thing that defines me is my curiosity—my willingness to not take myself too seriously and be willing to learn from anybody and everybody. That provides the input. Then I do three things: First, I carve out a really audacious big bold dream that can be called strategic vision, that I remain consumed by. Then I try to spend hours and hours getting my entire team inspired and on the same page with respect to that dream. Therefore, the second aspect is Read More »

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The lack of ethics in enterprise AI and intelligent automation

A raft of luminaries ranging from Stephen Hawking and Steve Wozniak to the figureheads of Artificial Intelligence (AI) at Facebook and Google, Yann LeCun and Demis Hassabis, have signed a petition warning of a “military artificial intelligence arms race” and calling for a ban on “offensive autonomous weapons.”

Meanwhile, among the developer community, the discussion on the ethics and ramifications of AI has been as intense as it has been far reaching. Yet in the discussions around the notions of RPA and process automation, the issue of ethics and the impact on the future of work are (still) largely absent.

A dichotomy of ethics is in play:  Outsourcing is viewed as somewhat evil, while labor elimination via technology is barely an afterthought

One main observation we, at HfS, are beginning to notice is that many enterprise clients are showing an increasing willingness to invest in technology-based (rather than people-based) solutions. You only have to revisit our Value Beyond Cost study, which we ran with KPMG earlier this year, where we asked 168 senior executives about the priorities of their C-Suites with their operations:

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

What is startlingly apparent here, beyond the fact that well over 90% of C-Suite directives are obsessed with cost and flexible services as operational priorities, is that less than half (48%) view improving their operational talent as important, 65% are exploring efforts to restrict the recruitment of labor where possible, and 62% are looking, with varying levels of interest, at automation and robotics with the specific purpose of reducing their reliance on labor. The bottom Read More »

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Making hay after the sun has set on legacy outsourcing… meet John Haworth

John Haworth, HfS

John Haworth is Chairman of the HfS Sourcing Executive Council (Click for bio)

So what do you do after a rollercoaster career working in ERP software, HR services, sourcing advisory and finally the BPO lead for one of the largest healthcare insurers?

Where do you next take a career, which was centered on traditional services and outsourcing, when all you want to do is challenge the old model and bludgeon a path towards the new?

Of course, you already knew the answer… come to HfS and make some serious trouble.

John has been intimately involved with the HfS community for several year as a service buyer and has long talked to me about his desire to “saw off the legacy”.  So when we reached the size and need to have a dedicated leader of the buyer rebels, armed and ready to hive off the turgid, valueless detritus of yesteryear’s transaction-dom, there was noone better to ask to fill the spot.  And he loves it so much he’s already written more research pieces than the analyst team in his first month on the job.

So let’s find out a bit more about John’s plans for the HfS buyers council and a little about himself too…

Phil Fersht (CEO, HfS):  Good afternoon John! You took the decision recently to join us at HfS Research and we’ll talk about that in a minute, but first could you could give us a bit of your own background?

John Haworth,Chairman of the HfS Sourcing Executive Council: Like a lot of people I think I’m in this industry somewhat by accident. The reason it wasn’t by design is because to some degree the industry as we know it didn’t exist, so there wasn’t anything for anyone to aspire to become part of. I think if you go back twenty years you’ll find strong BPO examples starting to show up. But the seeds had been planted in this industry before that, largely by ITO players and “service bureaus” Read More »

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Visualizing Vishal’s first year at Infy

Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka talks to HfS on his first year in charge

Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka talks to HfS on his first year in charge

So… one year into the new job and Infosys’ Vishal Sikka has managed to perform a task noone thought possible. He’s dragged a once-famous Indian-heritage IT services firm – kicking and screaming – out of a maddening tailspin into that dark sinkhole of legacy-ness that is scaring the life out of today’s services industry.

The reason for this is quite simple – he never brought with him a baggage of legacy services culture, where the common practice is to:

1) Copy what all your competitors are saying and try to out-bullsh*t them;

2) Hire cheaper, younger staff and gut the middle layer;

3) Sugar-coat every ADM, Infra and BPO renewal with terms like “digital”, “transformation”, “automation” and “outcomes” etc., when none of these things were really included in the actual contract, but made nice additions to the press release.

Vishal just gets to the point with a refreshing and honest perspective about what his firm needs to do – and is already making shrewd investments in critical areas, such as Panaya (automation) and Skava (digital). He’s also been growing the traditional business, with Infosys just reporting its best quarterly revenue growth for 15 months (4.5% year-on-year), and overseeing several new $2Bn+ sized engagement wins in the last 12 months, with the likes of Allied Irish Bank, Deutsche Bank, NSW State Government and ICA Gruppen in the last 12 months).

The business is stable, growing well again in an industry where many competitors are scrambling all Read More »


Forget the sharing economy, we’re in the uncaring economy

The Sharing EconomyIf I have to read another article about Uber’s disruptive business model, I think I am going to defect to a Trappist monastery and brew very strong beer for the rest of my life…

However, iet’s be honest here – who really cares about these taxi drivers being forced to improve their services, clean their cabs,  clean themselves, start using credit card machines and even (on occasion) help you with your bags? The fact is, unless you are a legacy taxi driver, or related to one, you’re most likely delighted they are being forced to get competitive and improve their services.

It’s the same with Spotify / Google music – unless you are in the business of selling music, most people are ecstatic they can now get all the music they desire for $10 a month or less, without having to spend a fortune on CDs, with the hope that there’s the odd good tune.  And there’s Amazon versus Best Buy, there’s Airbnb versus Marriott, there’s Netflix versus Comcast, and so on. Moving to our industry, there’s Onesource Virtual versus NGA, there’s ZenPayroll versus ADP, Workday versus SAP, there’s software versus people, there’s offshore people versus onshore people, there are robotically automated solutions versus people, there are self-learning machines versus people, in fact, every advancement in services we look at today is all centered on less people… and delivered As-a-Service.

And like the happy world of taxi customers now getting a better and cheaper service for their money, there are many business leaders who are only too happy to get cheaper and better business operations, because they can reduce their reliance on people. If you’re not an employee who is being replaced by a piece of software (although it’s widely assumed we will be someday), the chances are you’re happy your firm is becoming more profitable and doesn’t need to rely on so many bodies to keep the lights on. Just revisit our Value Beyond Cost study we ran with KPMG earlier this year, where we asked 168 senior executives about the priorities of their C-Suites with their operations:

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

What is startlingly apparent here, beyond the fact that well over 90% of C-Suite directives are obsessed with cost and flexible services as operational priorities, is that less than half (48%) view improving their operational talent as important, 65% are exploring efforts to restrict the recruitment of labor where possible, and 62% are looking, with varying levels of interest, at automation and robotics with the specific purpose of reducing their reliance on labor. The bottom line here is very clear – C-Suites are caring less and less about their people, and more and more about their services.

The big question many are facing now isn’t whether to invest heavily in their people – it’s whether to invest in technology to replace staff, or use outsourcing partners to reduce the burden of inhouse staffing cost, while improving their access to flexible services.  Or use a combination of the two… or use an outsourcer which is using robotics on itself and is willing to pass on the benefits to its clients desperate to move from a legacy labor-centric operational infrastructure.

The Bottom-line:  In the The As-a-Service Economy, we only care about achieving our desired outcomes 

Here’s the nub of the argument, while people like Hillary Clinton want to turn back the clock and protect the legacy job-for-life, the vast majority of people really do not care that labor forces are being disrupted, along with legacy business models and obsolete practices.  Today’s world is all about faster, cheaper, more accessible services – and to hell with any obsolete process, system or person which gets in the way of convenient and affordable As-a-Service models.

People care most about enjoying the outcomes of what they pay for, not the efforts made to achieve those outcomes.  Expenditure on services is increasingly related directly to outcomes, not a fixed tax we have to pay for a standard service. Personally, I always pay a limo driver $10 over the norm to drive me to the airport. He picks me up in a Cadillac, hangs up my suit, gives me a bottle of water and a newspaper – and only makes conversation if I want to. My desired outcome is a relaxing journey and the extra cost is worth it – and he wins my business everytime and I refer him to all my friends and colleagues. Now that’s one way to win over the Ubers of this world – people will pay when the outcome is what they want. Welcome to the uncaring economy where is all about the outcome…


KPMG makes a bold HR-as-a-Service move buying out Towers Watson’s Workday practice

KPMG As-a-ServiceRight on cue, after we made the call is was high time for the leading consulting firms to buy into BPO, KPMG makes its first major As-a-Service move, picking up Towers Watson’s HR Service Delivery practice, which includes both technology implementation and HR process delivery capabilities.

And this isn’t some traditional HRO play, it’s KPMG making a serious investment in Workday delivery across both HR and Finance & Accounting. KPMG already claims to be the transformative partner for 45% of the world’s Workday financials rollouts… now it is playing with the leaders in Workday based HR delivery, namely OneSource Virtual, Deloitte, Accenture, Collaborative Solutions and Meteorix.

Does this mean KPMG is now an HR-as-a-Service Provider?

Yes it does. The firm has realized it has to be in the managed services business to support the emerging SaaS offerings across technology implementation, post go-live support, transaction business processing and higher value services, such as organizational change management, workforce analytics and ad hoc strategy needs… in an on-demand model. It also knows it needs to be in the position to provide these on-demand capabilities around several core HR SaaS product Read More »


Why Hillary could be the biggest friend of offshore and nearshore outsourcing

The Uber HaterLike many of you out there, I was floored last night to see Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton openly attack the Sharing Economy in a speech outlining her economic theory.

Clearly taking a swipe at the likes of Uber and Airbnb Mrs Clinton states, “This on-demand or so-called gig economy is creating exciting opportunities and unleashing innovation. But it’s also raising hard questions about workplace protections and what a good job will look like in the future”. Clinton “Vows to crack down on employers who misclassify workers as independent contractors”, which she says is “wage theft”.  Along with globalization and automation, Clinton describes the “Sharing Economy” as “conspiring against sustainable wage growth”. The report says “she will argue that policy choices have contributed to the problem, and that she can fix it.”

So why does added protectionism of US workers help offshore and nearshore outsourcing?

While the open attack on innovative business models is in itself mind-boggling, the less obvious impact of her focus here is to discourage service providers and enterprises from hiring US talent to provide business support services. As service delivery becomes increasingly focused on higher value needs, such as organizational design, analytics modeling and supporting complex apps development across multiple environments, the opportunity for local US talent to be leveraged is huge.

In addition, the way in which new generation As-a-Service providers want to engage with talent needs to be more “As-a-Service” to be competitive. Virtual support models are becoming critical for BPaaS support functions where clients need quick, on-tap support, and – in many cases – the new generation of service provider isn’t simply looking to stock up hoards of full time employees in a call center somewhere in the Midwest  – they are also seeking to engage talent which prefer a flexi- Read More »


#Crazymergerideas – Infopact or Genosys?

Two CEOs clearly up to no good... Genpact's Tiger Tyagarajan (left) and Infosys' Vishal Sikka (right)

Two CEOs clearly up to no good… Genpact’s Tiger Tyagarajan (left) and Infosys’ Vishal Sikka (right)

One of the great things about HfS is the fact we never partake in gossip or idle speculation. So let’s change “never” to “rarely”…

I was happening to be Uber-ing myself aimlessly around the streets of San Francisco last week when I happened to drop in on Infosys’ sexy new Design Thinking center (I think that’s what they call it) in Palo Alto, where I caught two of the industry’s finest minds having a sneaky cup of coffee.

Now, before you all jump to conclusions that Vishal Sikka and Tiger Tyagarajan are about to join forces, they are actually old friends and neighbors, and this was purely a social call…  but it did get me thinking about what if Infosys and Genpact got a little more intimate with each other…


Challenging the old way of thinking. Infosys’ fresh Design Thinking approach and Genpact’s re-imagination of business processes are very well aligned.  Both firms have jumped on the importance of challenging current thinking and instilling that across their organizations (and not a CoE approach).

IT services meet BPO… on steroids. A great IT services firm meets a great BPO/operations process management firm.  This would be a real powerhouse.  What’s more, Genpact is the largest “process Read More »


Our Dallas working summit really rocked… next up Harvard Square!

The HfS show hits the road in 2015… last stop was Dallas, Texas:

See you in Harvard Square this December!

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Infosys, HCL, TCS, and Tech Mahindra make the first Engineering Services Winners Circle

If there’s one market people have been raving about for the past decade – and still are – but has never quite taken off as quickly as many have predicted, it’s the world of engineering services outsourcing.

This market is all about using third parties in the design, analysis, manufacture and augmentation of products.  And in today’s world of global labor, the global marketplace, emerging technologies, smarter global sourcing models and the Internet of Things, the potential to embrace outsourcing expertise to bring products to market smarter, faster and cheaper has never been so exciting.

Engineering services has a huge market potential, but – somehow – engineering service providers have had limited success in transforming this potential into the actual outsourcing engagements. Now things are changing, and we believe that engineering services is evolving from a niche offering to the mainstream.  So without further ado, let’s hear from HfS Research Director, Pareekh Jain, on the excellent research he’s completed that delved deep this this market:

Click to Enlarge

Pareekh, how do you see this market evolving and what are the key drivers for engineering services?

Engineering services outsourcing, over the last decade, has evolved from simple drawing and drafting to complex end-to-end product design. Now an enterprise which wants to enter a new market segment can partner with some leading engineering service providers, that can not only deliver complete new product design but that can even collaborate with manufacturing partners for additional benefits. Some engineering service providers are also collaborating on high-end R&D Read More »

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Why Design Thinking can save the outsourcing industry

Design ThinkingMost of the outsourcing industry is still trying to figure out what’s possible beyond doing labor arbitrage really well – because that’s what we do. Sorry, but there I said it – we officially have an identity crisis.

We’re trying to forge a new identity for ourselves and re-imagine what our careers, our services and our platforms could be like if we only figured out how we can define, prioritize and realize business outcomes that are valuable, as opposed to merely keeping the same old factory ticking over at the lowest possible cost.

Sexy robotics software, analytics tools, BPaaS platforms and artificial intelligence can only be effective and impactful once enterprises have re-designed their processes in a way that drives them towards their desired business outcomes. This has always been the case with (now legacy) ERP implementations, where thousands of clients have blown billions of dollars on enterprise software they simply never could mold effectively to their businesses. They weren’t finding problems to solve, they were creating new ones they didn’t need in the first place.

It’s the same with the next wave of As-a-Service solutions – they will fail without the right approach to designing processes that produce the desired results. Without Design Thinking, enterprises are really just retrofitting expensive solutions into legacy processes and likely wasting a whole load of Read More »


Neural Platform Professor, TCS’ Harrick Vin

When we look back at this current era of IT services, we’re going to remember this as the time when many of the leading providers launched their platforms to help orchestrate, analyze, automate and artificially intellectualize the delivery of technology to enterprises.

We’ve already had IBM’s Watson™ and Wipro’s sidekick Holmes™, in addition to the several specialist IT autonomics platforms such as IPSoft’s IPCenter™ and Arago’s Autopilot™, so surely, it’s just a matter of time until we get the full gamut of branded autonomics-driven IT management platforms from all the major service providers.  The most recent launch comes from TCS, which has been putting a significant amount of investment and attention into its new IT autonomics “neural” platform ignio™.

So we  recently got some time with ignio’s mastermind, Dr. Harrick M. Vin, who’s  the Chief Scientist and Global Head of Innovation and Transformation, and IT Infrastructure Services at TCS.  Maybe he should just call himself the Platform Professor…

Phil Fersht (CEO, HfS): Good afternoon Professor Harrick Vin! It’s great having you on the blog. Maybe you can start by giving us some color into your background, and earlier career–and how you ended up working for a major service provider like TCS.

Dr. Harrick Vin, Vice President and Chief Scientist, Global Head, Innovation and Transformation, IT Infrastructure Services, Tata Consultancy Services (click photo for bio)

TCS’ Dr. Harrick Vin launches ignio this June in New York City (click for bio)

Dr. Harrick Vin: First of all it’s a pleasure to be here, and I appreciate the opportunity to talk to you, Phil. Let me first introduce myself. My name is Harrick Vin and I’m vice president for R&D and Chief Scientist at the Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). I look after our largest R&D center in Pune, India. For the past several years, I have also been driving the overall strategy and innovation for the infrastructure services business unit of TCS. Most recently, my team and I have been involved in developing a product called ignio, which we are launching in the market. I have been with TCS for about 10 years. Prior to joining TCS I was a Professor of Computer Science at the University of Texas at Austin for almost 15 years. At TCS, I have had an opportunity to closely work with and analyze some of the most complex systems, ranging from human systems, technological systems, to large engineering systems. We have used a lot of the learnings about how to manage complex systems, to design ignio. Read More »

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Why big consulting needs to buy into BPO to address the As-a-Service Economy

Consulting-eat-BPOWe’ve been talking about the great divide between consulting and outsourcing models for decades, but – finally – it’s time for the two to get much closer together as the forces of the As-a-Service Economy combine to weld the two models into a new services mongrel which combines simplicity, efficiency and capability for enterprises finally attempting to drag themselves away from their perpetual treadmill of obsolete technologies and valueless process flows.

The whole premise behind As-a-Service is one of a fundamental cultural change with how enterprises approach their operations and partner more collaboratively with capable service providers to re-imagine their processes, based on defined business outcomes. Simply put, it’s a Read More »


Ready for a reality slap around the face with a wet kipper?

It’s high time we brought the HfS show back to our hometown of Cambridge MA this December, where we’ll give everyone a big reality slap around the face with a wet kipper:

Harvard 2015Yes, people, it’s time to dial back the rhetoric, stop talking about fantastical things that will probably never happen, and get to the heart of the matter: how can we actually define and realize business outcomes from outsourcing?

This will be a service buyer event, where we have 45 exclusive enterprise buyer seats reserved for the chosen few, and we will wheel in some unsuspecting service provider leaders for our famous face/off debate, where we are going to challenge them on why they aren’t self-cannibalizing, why they all insist on using the same lingo we can barely comprehend, and how they plan to be different from each other when the fog lifts.

We’ll be holding the HfS Working Summit in Harvard Square just down the road from our headquarters. So mark your calendars now:

Defining and Realizing Business Outcomes

HfS Working Summit for Service Buyers

December 1-2 2015, Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA

More details–including the agenda, accommodations, how to apply for registration and sponsors–to follow very soon.

Bookmark our event site to stay up to date!
Drop us a note to apply for a seat (Service Buyers Only)


We hope you can make it to Harvard Square this December. It will be a great way to end the year and get ready for 2016. And, of course, we’ll have a little fun, great food and booze while we’re at it.

This will be an invitation only event, but we do encourage you to drop us a note if you are interested in applying for a seat. It’ll be great to have you there to celebrate the year we’ve had and get stuck into some unvarnished debate!

Be there, or be Harvard Square!

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Procurement makes its move to As-a-Service…. so who’s leading the market?

The beauty of procurement is that is was never really geared up for cheap and cheerful labor-arbitrage based BPO.  In short, most procurement functions have been cut to the bone in most organizations, and many still rely on fax machines, photocopiers and copious filing cabinets of yellowing contracts to get the job done.

Shipping this stuff off to far flung offshore destinations for a few FTE savings has rarely proved to work very well. However, creating a capability where clients can plug in to a whole new experience of procurement capabilities, category expertise, spend management analytics and gain-share opportunities As-a-Service is now happening for many ambitious buyers and service providers.

The procurement outsourcing market has evolved significantly since 2013 since HfS launched its first Blueprint, covering 14 service providers, to this new report that covers 18, co-authored by analysts Charles Sutherland and Hema Santosh. This new report is looking very closely at the evolution of procurement services from its legacy outsourcing roots in lift and shift mega-deals, coupled with strategic sourcing consulting, to the increasingly available As-a-Service solution models offered today.

The latest HfS Procurement-as-a-Service Blueprint captures the transition of service providers into the As-a-Service Economy:

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

What has changed since 2013 in procurement outsourcing services?

If we look at where we are today, or starters, we’re living in a post Procurian world, as its acquisition by Accenture in late 2013 shifted the competitive landscape.   Both were in our 2013 Winner’s Circle and when combined they created a market leader by share and by innovation. When we first commented on the acquisition we expected several more would quickly follow especially for Genpact and Capgemini who needed to replace the partnerships they had been developing with Procurian.   It turns out that rather than buy at least for now, those service providers who had gaps in capabilities or technologies turned to partnerships instead.

Indeed, partnerships between service providers born out of the transactional procurement market (e.g. TCS, Genpact, WNS) and those out of the technology (e.g. GEP) or strategic sourcing (e.g. Read More »


Is there anyway you’ll be at the NOA Symposium in London next week?

We’re participating in two sessions at the NOA Symposium held at etc. venues, St Paul’s on Wednesday 24th June. We’re also sponsoring the pens (which will surely create an avalanche of new delegates)


Click the logo to get more details on the 2015 NOA Symposium

I’ll be part of a panel with a motley assortment of legacy analysts from Gartner, Everest and NelsonHall as part of “The Outsourcing Debate”, moderated by the Professor of Process himself, Leslie Willcocks. This meeting will surely produce some fireworks as we vehemently debate the most overhyped and underhyped ITO and BPO trends in the UK.

Then, I’ll be chairing a workshop session on “Transitioning to the As-a-Service-Economy.” This is a subject sure to be close to the hearts of many of our readers and we’ve lined up a couple of HfS community friends to co-host with me, John Ashworth, VP Finance Transformation and Systems at Pearson, and Steve Turpie, Deputy Chairman of West Suffolk NHS Trust.


NOA Symposium… all the outsourcing royalty will be there

We’ll weigh the importance of the ideals of the As-a-Service industry vision, discuss how to get the right mix of technology and talent, and evaluate how the painful shift to As-a-Service is/will impact traditional buyer/supplier relationships.

The Symposium will be followed by the NOA Summer Party (we guarantee it will not rain), where booze and entertainment (whatever that is) will be provided for the rest of the evening.  I’ll hopefully see you there!

  • You can book your tickets for the NOA Symposium online via the NOA website.
  • If you have any questions, you can email NOA Events Manager Stephanie Hamilton at or call her on 0207 292 8692.

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Come see Tony Blair support HfS at the Annual ABSL Conference in Krakow

We’re excited to be heading to Krakow next week to participate in the two-day 6th ABSL Conference from June 16-17.

The great agenda features 80 speakers who will engage the 800 delegates in attendance in discussions about strengthening talent management and supporting regional business leaders for their next global roles in (and beyond) the industry, achieving sustainable and accelerated growth of the sector for the next decades, stimulating innovation and improvement culture, and taking advantage of the technology and client expectations revolution.

With any luck, I'll get a selfie with Tony. Show up yourself and see what happens.

With any luck, I’ll get a selfie with Tony. Show up yourself and see what happens.

I’ll be standing on the same stage as Tony Blair (he actually shows up right after our panel discussion where I will attempt a selfie… stay tuned) when I deliver the Keynote Presentation, titled “The Four Foundations of the As-a-Service Economy: The Industry Has Spoken” at Auditorium Hall from 12:40 – 13:00 on Day 1. My talk will look at how the emergence of As-a-Service represents the most disruptive series of impacts to the traditional global services industry that we have ever seen. I’ll share some of our new research, covering more than 2,000 enterprise service buyers in the HfS global community, which paints the picture of what our industry needs to do to get ahead of this impending disruption.

HfS Executive Vice President Charles Sutherland will facilitate a Day 2 Panel, titled “Looking for more fuel! – how to build on current success?” The discussion will focus on the experience of world class GBS organizations, as well as the next SSC trends and opportunities.

Charles will be joined by a group of industry luminaries, including Tom Bangemann, Senior Vice President Business Transformation, Hackett Group; Adnan Behmen, Associate Director GBS, Procter & Gamble; Wojciech Karpinski, Services Head, Global Operations Manager, Infosys BPO Ltd.; Agnieszka Kubera, Managing Director, Accenture Poland; and Magdalena Wlodek, Director Finance Service Center Europe, PMI.

This will be a terrific two days. I hope to see you there!

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HfS hits bullseye of the IIAR Tragic Quadrant for IT analyst firms

We’ve been doing this research things for a while now. The blog started in 2007 and HfS Research has been around since 2010. It’s really a blink of an eye when you think about it–especially compared with the established firms that we knock heads with every day:

But what keeps us going, apart from the great (and sometimes insane) clients we work with, is the knowledge that we’re doing the right thing – or at least we convince ourselves we are. But, occasionally, there is independent confirmation that tells it like it is, for example this new analysis from the International Institute of Analyst Relations, which surveyed analyst relations professionals from 60 organizations.

Again, here we are in the mix with the Gartners, Forresters and IDCs of the world in The IIAR’s now infamous “Tragic Quadrant,” which IIAR just released on the impact and relevance of IT analyst firms. As you can see, we’re square in the bullseye on the Impact and Relevance quadrant, along with Interaction (which is depicted by the size of the bubble).   What’s really encouraging for HfS is our reach beyond outsourcing and services into mainstream coverage of technology – we really seem to have left some of the niche analyst firms in the outsourcing space behind.

We’re not much for living in bubbles, but it’s not bad for your favorite insurgent firm. And we assure you, we won’t let it go to our heads.  Honest we won’t =)


Building your personal brand in the As-a-Service Economy

Personal Branding

Design Thinking?

The world we’re venturing into is demanding a very different approach to how we progress our capabilities and careers, and I’ve never seen so many enterprises so fixated on finding innovation-capable talent, when looking to hire senior executives. The hiring process for new talent has never been so complex and challenging for ambitious enterprises, desperate to avoid yet another disappointment of ending up with someone who talks a big game, but fails to deliver the goods.

And while it’s harder than ever to re-invent yourself to satisfy ever-demanding employers or clients, it’s also a great opportunity for many of us who have the determination, willingness to improve  and application to take our careers into the As-a-Service world. However, today’s work environment is also posing a huge threat to those of us unwilling to change with the times, or are simply seeking to ride out our final working years in the hope we can escape unharmed with our retirement nest eggs.

However which way we look at this, building our personal brands is the critical ingredient for furthering our career potential in this unraveling As-a-Service world. So let’s evaluate how to make some basic shifts from yesterday’s reactive worker to one which ambitious employers are going to want to lure…

Seven Simple Steers to avoid Screwing up your Personal Brand

1. Get rid of the 9.00-5.00 work mentality.  It’s amazing how many people still operate like this.  You can’t possibly function if you still have this attitude to work and never take calls / return mails in the evenings or weekends etc.  Ambitious business leaders no longer want people who just don’t want to put in the extra effort and time to be effective in their roles.  If you really don’t want to work hard, then find a career that doesn’t warrant that – sadly, it won’t likely be very intellectually stimulating…  but that’s the tradeoff these days.

2. Be a people person… or at least pretend to be.  Networking and having people want to engage with you has never been as critical as it is today. Email and social media is fun to communicate in soundbites, but nothing beats meeting up socially, talking on the phone etc.  I know many people out there who just don’t like people very much – it’s just in their DNA.  This is something you have to fix – if you’re not great to engage with, it’s going to hold you back. You don’t really need to like people to have a functional relationship with them.

3. Stop being an asshole… you know you can try.  Let’s face it, we all have to deal with them.  Just don’t be one yourself.  I know several people who just persist in badmouthing me and my firm because they compete with us – or just are assholes.  Can’t we all get along? Share a few jokes or have a drink at a conference?  Can’t we even pretend to like each other, or at least be civil?  In today’s world, it just isn’t the way anymore – we work hard enough not to need to deal with negativity and bad vibes.

4. Use social media to promote others, and not just yourself.  Nothing irritates me more than those people who only tweet or use LI to promote their own work.  These people who self-promote to the point of narcissism, and never bother to promote others….ugh.  It’s like going on a date when you were younger and having to listen to someone just talk about themselves all evening.  If you only ever promote yourself, people will quickly notice and start to avoid you. Fix this habit and force yourself to me more than being all about YOU.

5. Become genuinely collaborative and don’t just pretend to be.  Yes, we all know the types, but the more you collaborate, the more people will enjoy working with you and the more you will learn from others. Take the attitude that if you give, you will mostly get back. However, nothing beats having a genuine reputation for being collaborative – it’s such a big plus in the emerging work environment.  Noone likes the non-team players and it’s easy to uncover who they are in today’s environment.

6. Figure out how to self-improve by looking at yourself and being honest once in a while.  It still amazes me everyday how many people are simply incapable of being able to take a good look at themselves, identify their weaknesses and work out how to improve on them. Deep down we all know what we’re good at and where we are falling short, we just need to work harder at the latter independently as we’re not always going to have someone telling us where we need improvement. Being able to self-improve is an amazing quality in today’s world if you can open your mind to doing this.  If computers are self-learning these days, we need to be too…

7. Be creative and unafraid to refocus your abilities on achieving business outcomes.  This is so important today – you can’t just box up your skills to say “I’m great at”, or “I have 20 years experience doing FP&A, ABAP programming, deal negotiation, HR policy etc”.  You need to focus more on business outcome capabilities where you can clearly demonstrate how you identify problems and solve them in creative ways that add real value and future growth potential for enterprises. For example, you need to prove you can “Re-orient a firm’s whole go to market focus to open up new growth opportunities that might now have been obvious previously”; or “Re-define and simplify what data a firm needs to be effective in an industry”; or “Evaluate an automation strategy investment by identifying which processes would provide a genuine business advantage being automated, versus those which would cause more headaches than they are worth”.

Bottom-line: We mustn’t settle for easy, we need to keep pushing ourselves in today’s work environment

I will be the first to hold my hands up and admit I am not perfect – am sure I have many enemies and resentful individuals out there I managed to somehow rub the wrong way – and I am sure I could have been more successful than I currently am today if I had not made many mistakes with my career choices and business decisions.  But I do passionately believe we need to constantly challenge ourselves to stay ahead of our careers in today’s environment. Simply settling for the fact we have already reached the ceiling of our capabilities and career potential, could likely take us on a downward spiral faster than we realize as we increasingly compete with a broader spectrum of people for our jobs and our clients.