When did employees become “costs”?

Stapler - Office MovieIt suddenly dawned on me what the core issue is with the future of the workplace: the simple fact that company leaders and their stakeholders started viewing employees as walking costs at some stage over the last 30 years, and have devoted a huge amount of focus and energy trying to figure out how to remove as many of them from their business as possible… without it impacting the top line.

Surely, people, human labor should be viewed as a valuable commodity that adds value to a business, not some burden on the profit margin that needs to be eliminated at all costs?  So what’s really gone amiss here?

Enterprises hired people into jobs they no longer value. Over the decades, our enterprises have ballooned with staff hired to provide inputs into process chains to keep them ticking over – whether they were writing lines of spaghetti code to make processes flow from one subtask to the next, or producing reports out of SAP for a historical view of the business some manager will archive away Read More »

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Accenture, Xerox, NGA HR, Aon Hewitt and ADP make the HR Operations-as-a-Service Winner’s Circle

The market for talent has seen massive fluctuations over the last eight years. The 2008-9 global recession caused massive employment contractions across all major regions, however, the tide has really turned to turn after one of the longest sustained periods of economic growth in the last 200 years, with the need for fresh talent is on the rise.

Coupled with the rise of the intelligent digital business, these dynamics have forever changed the way organizations have to approach their HR function as seek new expertise and mindsets. As such, optimization and smart thinking across the entire HR stack is a critical requirement to attract, onboard and nurture talent within organizations.

As more and more millennials enter the workplace (now making up a third or staff), employee interaction has to change. The always-on, always-connected workforce is here. Organizations need to adapt HR functions accordingly and embrace mobile and cloud technology that can be accessed anyway and anytime.

Cloud HCM platforms have developed user interfaces that speak to this new workforce, but with ~50% of buyer organizations still using on premise legacy HCM systems, there is still a long way to go for many organizations. By partnering with proven service providers, organizations can now make the migration to the cloud quickly and efficiently. Also by leveraging the managed service expertise of these providers, organizations are more enabled to focus on key moments of truth with employees thereby reducing employee churn and having a more aligned, motivated and focused workforce. 

Knowing the importance of these solutions for the very future of HR, we put our best and brightest on this. And the result is HfS Human Resource Services Research Director Mike Cook’s first Blueprint for HfS: HfS Blueprint: HR Operations As-a-Service 2016. So we invited him in to tell us all about it.

HR Ops_Axis

How did this Blueprint take shape, Mike?

In this HR Operations HfS Blueprint, we take a look at the evolution of MPHRO to “As-A-Service”–a services market that is increasingly agile, collaborative and employee-centric. HfS considers this transition in outsourcing a move to the As-a-Service Economy, placing increasing value on diverse Read More »

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The back office is dead… long live OneOffice

Intelligent OneOfficeIf someone called you “back office”, I’d imagine you’d be a little bit offended.  It’s probably not much worse than being called “useless”, or “about to be automated out of existence”…

But I have good news for you back-office rebels – your time spent festering in the backend of yonder is finally coming to an end. Why?  Because the onset of digital and emerging automation solutions, coupled with the dire need to access meaningful data in real-time, is forcing the back and middle to support the customer experience needs of the front.

Our soon-to-be released study on achieving Intelligent Operations, which canvassed 371 major buyside enterprises, reveals two key dynamics that are unifying the front, middle and back offices:

  1. A “customer first mindset” is the leading business driver driving operations strategies.  Over half of upper management (51%) view their customers’ experiences as impacting sourcing model change and strategy, which is placing the relevance and value of the back office in the spotlight.
  2. Three quarters of enterprises (75%) claim digital is having a radical impact. We can debate the meaning and relevance of digital forever, but the bottom line is that enterprise leaders need to (be seen) to have a digital strategy – and a support function which can facilitate these digital interactions and data needs. The old barriers where staff in the back office don’t need to think and merely oversee operational process delivery, and those in the middle, which only venture a part of the way to aligning processes to customer needs, are fading away.

Consequently, we’re evolving to an era where there is only “OneOffice” that matters anymore, creating the digital customer experience and an intelligent, single office to enable and support it:

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Introducing the Intelligent OneOffice where the barriers between front, middle and back are forever going away

The Digitally-driven Front Office drives everything. Digital, in its purest form, is all about transforming the business to create, support and sustain the digital customer experience. It’s about leveraging the omnichannel (mobile, social, interactive tech etc) and accessing meaningful analytics to make it happen. But then you need a support function to service those customers, get their products/services to market when they want them, manage the financial metrics, understand their needs and future demands and make sure you’ve got the talent which truly understand the outcomes of their work.

The Digital Underbelly creates the building blocks.  Digitally-driven enterprises must create a Digital Underbelly to support the front office by automating manual processes, digitizing manual documents and leveraging smart devices and IoT where they are present in the value chain.  You just can’t to digital without automating smartly – forget all the hype around robotics and jobs going away, this is about making processes run digitally so we can grow our business and create new jobs. Thing about a central nervous system that incepts and processes all the elements necessary to make the enterprise function.

Intelligent Digital Support breaks down the legacy functional silos.  You need your support functions (like an enterprise circular system), such as IT, finance, HR and supply chain, to be aligned with supporting the customer experience, as opposed to operating in some sort of vacuum, hence, we are terming this “Intelligent Digital Support”, where broader roles can be created.  Today’s college graduates are simply not coming out of school willing to perform mundane routine work: operations staff proactively need to support the fast-shifting needs of the front office. So the focus needs to shift towards creating a work culture where individuals are encouraged to spend more time interpreting data, understanding the needs of the front end of the business and ensuring the support functions keep pace with the front office. This is especially the case in industries that are more dependent than ever on real time data, using multiple channels to reach their customers and being able to think out-of-the-box with disruptive business models. Of course, we all need to make sure we can keep the operations functioning by paying the bills, responding to customers, processing the claims etc, but if we can’t be proactive and look at how we can create a better customer experience using digital channels, or challenging the logic of running a process a certain way, we’ll never create work cultures that will attract the bright minds to take us forward. People want to feel a part of something and that their work matters – and the best way to do this is to move away from rigid corporate structures of the past, with too many management layers and departments run siloed like mini-empires. We need to invest in driven managers which understand how to motivate and collaborate across business functions. Sales, marketing, customer service, IT, finance, HR and supply chain are functions that all depend on each other to be effective. Smart enterprises are already breaking down the silos and creating multidisciplinary teams, using collaborative tools and Design Thinking methods across delivery centers to help their staff be more motivated, creative and challenge the old way of doing things.

Intelligent Digital Processes can help us predict, as opposed to react.  And finally… it’s all about designing business processes that align with your desired digital customer experience.  It’s not about throwing off historical data just to discover what went wrong… it’s about being able to predict when things will go wrong and finding clever ways to get ahead of them. It’s about embedding smart cognitive applications into process chains, about learning from mistakes and new experiences along the way.  This is the enterprise neural system.

The Bottom-line:  OneOffice is the real alignment of operations with the business end of the organization

We’ve been talking about aligning support functions with the goals / mission of the firm for decades now, but digital is realigning us all with the true uberlord of the organization – the customer.  If our supporting technologies and people can finally respond to, interpret, predict and be part of our digital customer experience, we’ll finally see those barriers stagnating organizations come crashing down.

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Buyers perceive Accenture, Deloitte and KPMG as the most trusted consultants for achieving Intelligent Operations

john-lylyIn 1588, the English dramatist John Lyly, in his Euphues and his England, wrote:

“…As neere is Fancie to Beautie, as the pricke to the Rose, as the stalke to the rynde, as the earth to the roote.”

In other words, “Beauty is in the eye of the Beholder”, which just about sums up how buyers perceive consultants when they need some serious rethinking and rewiring done to their operations to make them more intelligent:

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So what’s actually surprising here?

In the past, you may have expected to see the pureplay strategy houses rule the roost, however, when we break down the Change Management and Solution Ideals enterprises need to achieve more Intelligent Operations, the focus shifts much more to using consultants with real change management, process transformation, analytics and automation chops… this is less about strategy, and more about just driving through the changes. Most company leaders know where they want to go – it’s now more about executing a plan to get there:

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The Bottom-line: We’re moving to a world where the expertise enterprises need to be successful is really changing 

One of the above firms asked me recently if it should start an automation practice.  My response was “If you’re only asking me this now, then you’re already too late to the game”.  In a nutshell, enterprise operations functions need genuine expertise in adopting a mindset to write off their legacy systems and obsolete processes – and a real understanding of how to approach automation and embrace digital opportunities.

A lot of this is about prioritizing what not to automate and learning where digital transformation actually makes business sense. This is about creating an operations function that can pivot and support the rapid changing needs of the front office with actionable data, that is secure and available in real-time.  This is about defining and devising a digital strategy that has the customer at the forefront of the business and an operational support function that has the customer experience at its core.

Hence, consultants need talent that can not only think creatively with their clients, but also create an ongoing environment for writing off legacy, embracing change and being smart and proactive about leveraging automation and real digital strategies effectively. The speed at which some of these advisors must make the pivot from merely brokering transactional contracts, or spouting off some high level fluffy strategy, to supporting real change is critical – I’d imagine we’ll know in the next 9-12 months which ones will genuinely be helping their clients achieve these ambitious ideals.

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Teleperformance, Concentrix and Sutherland lead the HfS Contact Center Operations Blueprint

Our latest research into intelligent operations reveals a customer first strategy is the biggest driver for C-Suite leaders today, so where more important to focus than what’s going on at the call center?  Has there ever been a more compelling time for call center service providers to step up and prove to their clients they can do a whole lot more than execute basic customer services?

Call center services have matured significantly in recent years, where you can find a plethora of providers doing a masterful job managing resources all over the world to deliver affordable voice services – but choosing between them has often never been so difficult.  However, with the need for so many enterprises to focus on the omnichannel customer experience to differentiate themselves, we’re now in a critical bake-off between those call center providers delivering real customer value versus those still walking the treadmill of proving legacy voice services at ever-cheaper rates.  Plus, we still have many enterprise buyers who squeeze the life out of their providers on cost, and then expect the provider’s A team to show up. Hence, there is a fine balance between the value clients need, the investments they are prepared to make to achieve this value, and the ability of smart providers to invest in As-a-Service models that take advantage of talent, digital technology and automation to deliver high value, without huge increases in headcount investments. Sounds easy, right?

In this vein, we’re excited to announce the release of our first Contact Center Operations Blueprint, authored by HfS Research Director and contact center veteran, Melissa O’Brien, the only contact center analyst who’s actually lived in the Philippines running a call center operation herself. Melissa’s been exploring the cluttered competitive landscape, talking to a huge number of clients and leading providers, to help shed some light on the competitive landscape and where this market is truly heading:

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Melissa, please give us a flavor for the current state of the contact center operations market

This is a market undergoing a pretty dramatic transformation, in part due to increasing end-customer expectations – ambitious service providers are looking Read More »

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The future of work is about capabilities you (should) already have

Fries with that?Soon there will be nowhere left to hide. Everyone’s value is under the microscope from colleagues and management alike.  Whether you turn widgets, manage a process, a set of processes, lead teams or manage team leaders leading teams… or run a whole division… or even an entire organization, you are under constant scrutiny in today’s open workplace.

Everyone has to prove they are useful, add real value and are worth their salaries… or they are toast.  But most importantly, people need to prove they can be trusted.  Employee trust in today’s workplace is about proving you are doing more than just enough not to get fired.

Loyalty is legacy

Most heritage enterprises no longer want to give out gold watches for your turning up everyday for last 30 years… I mean, “thanks for showing up and coasting here for 30 bloody years and making it really hard to fire you”.  I don’t think so… Loyalty means little, but value means everything. The more legacy work we automate/digitize, outsource, replace with software, or just write-off, the more we have to focus on our human skills to justify our existence in today’s workplace.

Tomorrow’s successful workers are those who use their initiative to perform activities, on their own volition, to find new value for their enterprises.  You can’t get any progress or value from methods like Design Thinking if your staff are only checking the boxes to perform their rudimentary employment functions. Design Thinking is about going beyond the norm to challenge the status quo, to think outside the boxes, not just checking them.

You are who you are – your reputation is everything, your ability to forge relationships with colleagues, peers, industry influencers and company leaders who appreciate your value, your perspective and your personality is, really, all you have.  The days when you could get away with hopping from job to job because you were great at bullshitting your way through interviews are dying – any employer with half a brain isn’t recruiting through traditional channels any more.  It’s all about people engaging with people who have established a reputation for adding value, going beyond the basics, and being great to work with.

You need to find new problems, not just solve old ones

But adding value is not just about solving known existing problems, it’s about finding new ones to solve in the future.  You can always find a contractor or an outsourcer to fix a broken set of processes, or correct lines of badly written code. But finding people which can challenge whether those processes or lines of code are even still relevant to meeting your desired outcomes… people who care enough about their jobs and their company’s success to go beyond performing “just adequately enough not to get fired” is the secret sauce for future value.   And that is what new workforce trust is all about – initiative, attitude, personality and trust.

The Bottom-line: There is no secret sauce to staying relevant – it’s about putting our egos aside and becoming students again 

Frankly, I’m sick and tired hearing about “Digital Skills” and “Creative Capabilities” being some far-flung capabilities which you need to go to Millennial school to develop (whatever that is). Digital skills are about understanding your customers’ current experiences and intelligently leveraging every traditional, social and mobile channel touching your business to make them richer. Creative capabilities come from collaborating and challenging yourself with your colleagues and partners.

So correct me if I am wrong, but being successful today is about using capabilities we already have. It’s simply making ourselves students again, finding that hunger to learn about what’s out there and engaging with everyone around us to prove and challenge our theories.  We must ditch this sense of entitlement that dictates we don’t need to go back to basics and force ourselves to think, collaborate and learn all over again – or we’re going to be done before we know it.

Enterprises need to behave like start-ups, where their people group together for the common cause of making their collective group successful – only willing collaborators with a desire to learn and challenge need apply. We’re all part of the Digital Generation – we just need put our egos to one side and own up to the fact we’re all students rediscovering what we’re all about and what we’re capable of…

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Accenture, Genpact, IBM, EXL, TCS, Capgemini and WNS lead the first As-a-Service lens of Finance and Accounting

Growth in offshore-dominated services may be slowing for traditional IT support services, but for multi-process Finance and Accounting (F&A) services engagements, 2015 saw the market continue to grow at  a 10% clip.

Why? Because F&A outsourcing is about 10 years behind IT outsourcing – in terms of adoption – and is a market that can quickly take advantage of more experienced governance executives, capable service providers that have ironed out many of their past mistakes, and notable advances in analytics, robotic process automation (RPA) and digital technologies.

In short, the shift from enterprise clients approaching F&A engagements largely as a labor-obsessed cost-driven solutions towards outcomes-centric value-obsessed solutions, is now really happening. Yes, we’re finally starting to talk about F&A being delivered “As-a-Service”.  To this end, for 2016’s F&A Blueprint, which covers over 1500 multi-process F&A relationships, we’ve reoriented the performance innovation and execution scores to reflect each service provider’s alignment with the HfS As-a-Service Ideals:

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So, what’s new about this year’s F&A Blueprint?

We’ve gone deeper than ever before in really getting to the essence of buyer/provider F&A relationships.  In the past, we were as guilty as the rest of the industry of focusing too much on engagements being operationally effective, when we should have placed even greater emphasis on Read More »

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Rescuing BPO from its trough of directionless boredom: Make jobs challenging and creative

Bored BPO CatWhen your enterprise is increasingly dependent on hiring “Millennials” with digital skills and lower wage needs, you’d better figure out a plan for creating exciting, challenging career paths, or you’re pretty much already doomed.

Sadly, our Talent in BPO study from last year tells a very depressing tale when you ask BPO delivery executives what they think of their BPO career:

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What’s alarming is the failure of enterprises to create and communicate a viable BPO career path for seven-out-of-eight professionals with under two years’ experience.  And – while 63% of newbies strongly agree their job is vital to business performance, a depressing one-in-eight are actually excited by their career choice.  When people get past the first couple of years, their experience clearly improves, but the concern here is how can we attract top (or even middling) talent into BPO careers, when there is such a negative perception of the potential of the job.  If we can’t attract the talent, the industry will never progress beyond a cost/efficiency play.

What can we do to attract the “Digital Generation” into the BPO business?

Start new hires on activities that require creativity and critical thinking. Working in BPO has to be about delivering capabilities beyond rote, operational processes.  Today’s college graduates are simply not coming out of school willing to perform mundane routine work.  Just look at the new WEF jobs report to see how skills requirements are quickly shifting, as business needs evolve – especially the need for creative skills, going from number ten to number three in merely five years:

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In the past, for example, an accountant would often earn his/her chops processing accounts and doing routine GL work, before progressing to controllership activities, such as budgeting, quality audits, FP&A, forecasting and risk assessment work.  With much better technology and offshoring Read More »

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Let’s get lean digital with Shantanu

Shantanu Ghosh, SVP CFO Services and Consulting, Genpact

Shantanu Ghosh, SVP CFO Services and Consulting, Genpact (Click for bio)

Digital, digital everywhere, but what about the finance function? It took a decade for accountants to make the seismic shift from Lotus 1-2-3 to MS Excel… so how much focus is our favorite business function putting on today’s advances in analytics tools, interactive and collaborative solutions, mobility and automation?

Can finance executives really embrace digital to break away from some of the legacy mindsets, processes and technologies that have plagued the function for decades?

Not too many people have been driving the digital agenda as aggressively with the CFO’s office than Genpact’s Shantanu Ghosh, with his firm’s own methodology “lean digital,” so we thought it high-time we caught up with him to get his viewpoint on the impact of digital o the finance function.

Phil Fersht, CEO and Industry Analyst, HfS: Shantanu, it’s been a couple of years since we’ve had you on here. Can you tell us a bit about what you’re up to in Genpact today?

Shantanu Ghosh, Senior VP & Business Leader – CFO Services and Consulting, Genpact:  Actually, my remit remains pretty similar to what it was two years back. I lead the financial accounting, sourcing and procurement service lines, globally. I also lead consulting across Genpact.

But I’ll tell you, the complexities, the scale and the type of solutions involved in all three have changed pretty dramatically in the last two to three years. So it feels like I’m doing a new job every day, even though broadly the remit remains the same.

Phil: I’ve seen Genpact has been on a real tear, particularly over the last 12 to 18 months. I’ve seen a real uptick, especially in Europe, where you’re winning a lot of deals. What’s going on? What are you doing differently?

Shantanu: I think there are four things at play, Phil. One, I think it’s a result of there or four years of sustained investment in our domain capability and our front-end capability. Obviously, in this business it takes a little bit of time for that to result in winnings in the marketplace, because you have to start engaging with clients at a different level. Then you get into a virtuous cycle, because Read More »

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Twelve ways to survive the race to irrelevance – download your life jacket now!

If you weren’t able to make our excellent buyers summit at our research partner Cambridge University, we managed to crack the code (finally) on surviving in these disruptive times – in twelve simple steps.  Just download our report and all will become crystal clear:

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How digital is transforming finance – Exclusive insights from our latest study

75% of finance executives agree that the new wave of digital technologies is fundamentally changing the way that the finance function operates. So what will the finance function of the future really look like?

Join us on April 21st to be part of this exclusive webinar and find out!

Digital Finance Webinar Blog

Join these experts from HfS Research, Genpact, Mondelez and KPMG as they discuss the findings from recent research that shows how digital technologies are delivering competitive advantage. They will share their insight on the future of F&A and explore:

  • What are the key drivers for F&A leaders to embed digital technologies, such as SaaS platforms, analytics, mobility tools, RPA, and machine learning, into their operations?
  • Where are most F&A organizations in their digital journeys and what lessons have they learnt?
  • What are the talent requirements and skill sets that finance leaders need in their functions to take advantage of digital technologies?
  • Where are digital pioneers investing and what challenges are they experiencing?

REGISTER NOW!

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Accenture, Cognizant, EXL, Genpact, IBM, Infosys and TCS Top the Winners Circle for BFS Analytics

The BFS industry is completely dependant on data and analytics and the services to provide these analytics are critical. These services enable analytics data preparation and management, routine business intelligence reporting and dashboarding, advanced analytics modeling and ongoing decision-making for industry-specific use cases, including customer and marketing analytics, fraud, risk and compliance, and portfolio analytics.

To this end, we’re excited to announce the release of our latest Blueprint Report–this one on BFS Analytics Services, authored by HfS Research Director Reetika Joshi‘s exhaustive research to arrive at this comprehensive view of the market. So let’s get an up-close view from Reetika on the Blueprint Report:

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Reetika, why have we undertaken an HfS Blueprint on analytics services specifically in banking and financial services?

The BFS industry is heavily reliant on the use of data, and yet the potential for embedding analytics-driven insights into operations is still far greater than adoption. The last few years have seen their focus on risk analytics intensify as regulatory changes and government scrutiny continue to mount. Along with balancing this growing compliance work, banks have also found a renewed interest in customer analytics to orient their growth initiatives. Most banks are not set up to meet digital consumer needs and are now embarking on digital transformation, powered by customer and marketing analytics.

Major banks and financial institutions are once again focusing on the next generation of analytics models, tools, and skillsets. We see demand from BFS clients across fraud, risk and compliance, AML/KYC, and customer and marketing analytics. Enterprise buyers in this industry are either unable to find the talent they need, for areas like specialized fraud, risk and compliance, or technology platform expertise, or are unable to afford it at the level of scale needed today—leading us to undertake this Blueprint to understand market direction. We see BFS clients trying to balance and complement their internal analytics teams with the global talent access that some service providers can bring them.

Report author Reetika Joshi, HfS Research Director (click for bio).

Report author Reetika Joshi, HfS Research Director (click for bio).

So how would you describe the current state of BFS analytics services?

For most service providers, big data and analytics services are the fastest-growing businesses in their portfolios, with significant revenues coming from BFS clients. This is due to the growing adoption of data-driven decision making within different parts of the enterprise for BFS buyers, and the need for more analytical support than internal staff can support.

Service providers have doubled down on BFS verticalization in their analytics portfolios, turning initial work with clients for analytics modeling and reporting into portfolios of pre-packaged industry-specific use cases and catalogues. As service buyers consistently stress the need for domain expertise from service providers, we see service providers strengthening industry training programs and hiring professionals from BFS industry backgrounds to increase contextual understanding and allowing for more meaningful analysis. We see the types of BFS analytics solutions changing today, with the next level of analytics use case development. BFS analytics services buyers seek the following:

  • The application of cross-vertical learnings to banking, especially from other consumer-facing industries that have progressed in customer experience analytics (e.g., from telecom to retail banking)
  • The incorporation of newer sources of data into existing analytical models to gain new insights into fraud, risk, and marketing (e.g., sensors, geolocation mobile data, and web and social data)
  • The exploration of modern business intelligence and reporting applications and tools, big data infrastructure, and advanced analytics platforms (e.g., cloud-based data warehousing, the mobile delivery of reports, and insights)

Read More »

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HfS launches new unDigital magazine

First Issue Available on Newsstands Now!

Initial Printing of Groundbreaking New Magazine to be Mailed to 200,000 Subscribers

The firm that coined the As-a-Service Economy is now disrupting the analyst industry even further. HfS Research, The Services Research Company, today announced it has launched its most disruptive research offering so far: HfS unDigital Magazine.

This revolutionary publication will challenge the rhetoric and hype currently being stirred up in the IT and BPO services industry, building on the success of the radical blog “Horses for Sources,” which will soon be replaced by this cutting-edge print publication. HfS is now taking disruption to an entirely new level…by revitalizing the hallowed glossy magazine. The firm believes people are so tired of relentless social media that bringing back printed words and pictures will change the research game once more.

In announcing the latest development, Phil Fersht, HfS Founder and Industry Analyst, noted that this is not the first time the firm has shaken up the marketplace.

“In 2007, when I created the Horses for Sources blog, people thought I was crazy,” said Fersht. “Who would read that? Then, when I started HfS Research a few years later, people became truly concerned for my sanity. Soon after, we created the industry’s best summits. Now, with well over a million hits on our sites every year, we have decided to shake things up once again. How can people still doubt us now?”

HfS unDigital Magazine will be available on newsstands around the globe and via subscription to 200,000 existing clients and community members:

unDigital

The first issue of the magazine is printed by Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG, in Heidelberg (Baden-Württemberg), Germany, on 80lb glossy paper stock, features the following stories:

  • Phil Fersht tells all with his Undisrupted Undigital Experience
  • Dumb and Bummer: Why Artificial Intelligence is all hype
  • Hot News from December 2015Outcome-based pricing is worth the paper it is written on
  • A Labor Arbitrage love-fest with Agony Uncle Charles
  • Design Stinking: HfS sifts through the cheese to get to the real deal
  • De-automating your Back Office the Reuner way

“This is a huge undertaking,” Fersht added. “But we know that a lot of our community has grown tired of staring at pixels and yearn for the feel of the printed page once again. Disruption has moved full circle and now we’re disrupting back in print. Our clients tell us they miss being able to sit on the loo and flick through pages of their favorite analysts waxing lyrical. Those days are now back… so take your seat and enjoy!”

And of course… this was an: Read More »

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Supply Chain Management clears the path to As-a-Service with Accenture, Havi, OnProcess, arvato and Brightstar leading

HfS supply chain process expert (among other things), Charles Sutherland has finally done what no other analyst has done before him… define and develop the first comprehensive view of Supply Chain Management As-a-Service….

Supply Chain Management BPO has, since its inception, been an enigma in the overall BPO industry. Combining both large-scale transactional order management contracts along with focused domain and analytic skill-enabled forecasting engagements, it has been both an outlier in the portfolio of many large service providers as well as a lucrative market for specialist pure play providers. Clients often considered these engagements as something more like prolonged consulting deals than actual outsourcing contracts, while service providers wondered where best to house the delivery teams inside the organization as a result.

Now, more than a decade into operations—and with total market ACV closing in on $2 billion—HfS is seeing that many of the characteristics of Supply Chain Management BPO that were once considered causes of its uniqueness (Design Thinking, Collaborative Engagement, Accessible and Actionable Data) are now traits sought for all BPO engagements as the market moves toward As-a-Service solutions.

Once ahead of its time, Supply Chain Management is now very much integral to the realization of As-a-Service and so it was time for HfS to look again at this market following our inaugural Blueprint in 2014 to describe how it is developing and which service providers are leading the way. So let’s get Charles’ thoughts on this market and its leaders…

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Charles, how would you describe the current state of Supply Chain Management As-a-Service?

We describe this market as one that is fast growing but still tiny against the backdrop of the entire BPO marketplace. But we believe the potential opportunity is massive—at potentially $300 billion-plus. So penetration today of this addressable market is less than 1% and we expect to see the current enthusiasm for participation by service providers to continue and only grow more in the next few years.

We covered 14 different service providers in this Blueprint (with 3 service providers covered for the first time) and what is striking, versus say the Finance & Accounting BPO marketplace, is how Read More »

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It’s time we started Being As-a-Service

Coming away from our Cambridge University buyers summit this week, I was pleasantly surprised by the increased level of sophistication and maturity many services buyers are now exhibiting.

Gone are the provider bitch-fests and endless ranting about failed promises and absent innovation (that they didn’t pay for in the first place).  Instead, there was a desire to look at themselves, and really try to figure out how to broker change and run their outsourcing engagements as part of a broader business agenda, not some quirky siloed activity, forever tarnished by the word “outsourcing”.

Adopting a mindset to change today (not tomorrow), is where everything must start

Yes, the conversation has turned to buyers accepting they need to change first, before heaping all the blame for their woes onto their service providers. This is why our Ideals of As-a-Service begin with a mandate for buyers and providers to change how they behave, how they can adopt a mindset to start writing off their legacy processes and technologies.  In short, it’s time we focused on fixing our present – it’s time we focused on Being As-a-Service:

Being-as-a-Service

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It’s time we stopped talking about this scenario of “this was legacy and this is our future desired endstate”… we’ll just remain stuck in this perpetual stranglehold of never getting anywhere. We’ll always we a work-in-progress, a project that never finishes…

As someone joked during our Cambridge University summit this week “Cognitive computing is always going to be huge in the future”… so let’s stop evangelizing about a nirvana we many never reach and, instead, start talking about what we need to do today. Let’s stop panicking about the future, which is scaring so many people, and start focusing on what we can do today to be more effective.

Let’s start talking about Being As-a-Service today… not tomorrow, or some far off point in the future, where we just hope this all becomes somebody else’s nightmare…

Bottom-line: We have to narrow the chasm between hype and reality in order to be successful in the present

Our industry is beset by fear, like never before. People are scared – they know their skills and capabilities could quickly become obsolete in a world where the job openings increasingly demand creativity, analytical prowess and an ability to pivot across domains.  Suddenly, if you’re not a Digital native who talks about endless disruption and the coming robo-geddon, you’re a dinosaur… The gap between hype and reality has reached ridiculous proportions, and it’s time we stopped thinking about the fantastical future and focus on what we can achieve today.

Successful sourcing executives have to become “brokers of capability” (which one buyer commented sounds like a rock band) where they can live in the present to drive a change mindset for the future. Most of the executives have been tasked with adopting Digital strategies (whatever those may be) and to come up with smart approaches to take advantage of automation technologies. But to get there, they need to change how their teams think, collaborate and operate.

It’s a mindset change, it’s a culture change. It’s about bringing together the key stakeholders and delivery leads to address the As-a-Service Ideals today and stop looking at them as some far off nirvana someone else will take them to.  Simply put, most firms can’t simply saw-off their legacy by disposing of some archaic ERP system and slamming in some SaaS product, or mimicking every defunct manual process into a piece of RPA software, or firing an entire department of ineffective process wonks. In fact, a lot of the legacy actually works and the ROI of binning it doesn’t make financial sense.  Writing-off legacy is about starting the process of re-imagining a future without those legacy systems and processes that are holding back our businesses.

So the Ideals of As-a-Service can be initially addressed today by making the most of what we currently have, not simply waiting for the day budget magically appears from above to bring in teams of nose-ringed consultants to redesign our businesses.

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Why it’s time for Robotic-BPO to break the mold of legacy F&A engagements

Robotic BPOAmidst the relentless robo-hype in our current era of robotic rhetoric, it’s fast-emerging that many buyers and service providers are really struggling to work together to create workable Robotic Process Automation initiatives – in many cases, neither are willing to make the necessary investments, trade-offs or sacrifices to make his work.

So let’s start with those selfish service providers unwilling to share the robotic rewards…

Some service providers want to implement RPA on themselves and avoid passing on the savings to their buyers. Having come off a great many buyer discussions about their developing Robotic Process Automation (RPA) capabilities to augment their BPO engagement productivity, I have been shocked to hear a common thread from several buyers: their service providers only want to implement RPA on themselves and insist on charging their buyers the same legacy FTE rates.  Some service providers simply cannot stomach sharing gains with their buyers – some have, but the general experience, from the buyers, has been they are not really interested. And one of those service providers even boasts its own “cannibalization fund”, while refusing to do anything different with several of its biggest engagements.  It’s quite mind blowing how contrary some of these service providers can be, when it comes to what they claim they are doing versus the reality of what they really up to.

Yes, amidst this talk of the leading service providers breaking away from the old model and openly exploring ways to invest in initiatives to delink headcount from revenue, it would appear that some are simply playing lip service to the industry while, in reality, they are just looking at RPA as a vehicle to drive down their own costs and improve their margins, while maintaining their legacy FTE-pricing.  One buyer even mentioned to me that their service provider had the nerve to ask them if they could reduce their own staff delivery headcount using RPA, but keep charging them the same FTE rates…. no joke.

However, this isn’t just the fault of the service providers, many buyers are equally to blame for robotic restraint…

Buyers need to entrust their providers with more intimate data access. Most enterprise buyers, for security and control reasons, keep the providers at bay and force them to connect to their systems only using Citrix. This limits the effectiveness of RPA overall and encourages an “us versus them” mindset between buyer and provider, so it’s no surprise service providers do what they can on the other side of the “Citrix” firewall. Both parties cannot enjoy the full benefits of RPA and Intelligent Automation, without genuine collaborative engagements and a holistic security model that aligns the capabilities more effectively.

Greedy buyers need to stop treating RPA like legacy offshore BPO, demanding all the savings up front. I would also argue that many costs of RPA –greater testing, maintaining a fall-back agent pool and the incremental manner that robots are typically actually rolled out (versus a one time overall reduction in costs, as often asked by buyers) diminish the “greedy” aspect of this from many service providers. In addition, many buyers want royalties for advancing the automation initiatives of the Read More »

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Would a Big Blue Prism create an Intelligent Automation monster? #Crazymergerideas

Big Blue PrismA momentous event occurred in the world of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) today, when its pioneering vendor, Blue Prism, became the first pureplay RPA vendor to announce officially  its intention to IPO.

Naturally, this sparked some feverish debate among the RPA cognerati over whether we may see one of the established services firms make a play to own their very own RPA platform, as opposed the the currently practice of every service provider partnering with every RPA product on the market.

My personal viewpoint is that IBM should take a serious look at Blue Prism, especially now RPA is officially a market-worthy capital asset. IBM is a huge software company and could seriously benefit from having an RPA offering it can build out as an enterprise platform, provided it makes sufficient investment and has leadership attention to develop the solution.

So let’s look at the pros and cons:

Why IBM should probably buy Blue Prism

Watson alone is not going to do it for IBM in the Intelligent Automation space. IBM needs an RPA offering as the first building block along the Intelligent Automation Continuum (see below). Pushing RPA onto more clients will also open up the Watson conversation as a logical next step for many clients.

A Blue Prism + Watson platform could create a whole new ecosystem of possibilities. Adding Watson’s cognitive capabilities to Blue Prism would create a real differentiator in the Intelligent Automation domain – you would end up with a whole new ecosystem of services and capabilities for enterprises across automation, predictive analytics and cognitive computing.

IBM needs to focus on becoming the leader in industry-centric Automation/Cognitive services. This is where IBM can really make its future mark in 2020-and-beyond enterprise services.  There are limitless possibilities with the potential of artificial intelligence in industries such as healthcare, Read More »

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Accenture, IBM, NGA and NTT Data lead in SuccessFactors services

One of the most significant shifts towards As-a-Service delivery, in recent times, has been the investments in delivering comprehensive IT and business process services to support the enablement of leading SaaS platforms. With the gravy train of revenue the leading service providers have enjoyed from clunky on-premise ERP services, over the last 2+ decades, now slowing, the land-grab to manage the data, business transformation and integration elements of the leading SaaS platforms is hotter than ever.

To this end, we’re very excited to unveil the industry’s very first HfS Blueprint on SuccessFactors Services. With HfS Principal Analyst in SaaS services, Khalda De Souza, at the helm, this Blueprint builds on the direction we carved out in our Workday and Salesforce Blueprints in 2015.  So who better than Khalda to bring us up to date:

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Khalda, why have we undertaken an HfS Blueprint on the SuccessFactors Services market?

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Blueprint author Khalda De Souza covers SaaS for HfS. (click for bio)

The SuccessFactors Blueprint continues our theme of looking at the markets for services around leading SaaS platforms, following on from our Workday and Salesforce Services Blueprints of the past 12 months. All of these markets are in high growth mode as enterprises seek flexible, user-friendly solutions to better manage their HR or CRM processes. The service providers included in our SuccessFactors Blueprint have experienced an average of 45% growth in SuccessFactors services last year and expect to see the same growth levels next year. Given that enterprises with SAP ERP in the back-office are more likely to select SuccessFactors for their cloud HR solution, the potential market is huge.

We also see snippets of the HfS Ideals of the As-a-Service Economy in the SuccessFactors service market. Clearly, enterprises are making the commitment to Write Off Legacy by moving to SuccessFactors and building new HR processes around the platform. Service providers are also driving Collaborative Engagements with flexible engagement methodologies and a key focus on desired business outcomes.

How does HfS define the SuccessFactors Services market?

HfS has defined a Value Chain of services that applies to all the SaaS platforms we cover. This includes the five components delivered by service providers to create value for enterprises: Plan, Implement, Manage, Operate and Optimize. For SuccessFactors services, Plan includes consulting services such as SuccessFactors business case development, compliance, security and governance services, as well as HR strategy and SuccessFactors-specific process and design services. Implement covers all the services and skills required for effective deployment, including but not limited to project management, testing, training and data migration services. Manage includes all ongoing integration and support services. Operate includes business processing outsourcing (BPO) services where they are delivered by the service provider around the enterprise’s SuccessFactors environment. Finally, Optimize services are intended to improve the impact of SuccessFactors solutions and may include: the assessment of new SuccessFactors releases and solutions and on-going HR strategy alignment.  
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Confusion-as-a-Service: The massive disconnect between vision and reality

“Our clients come back from conferences demanding they need an Automation and a Digital strategy, with no idea what they are”, said a senior partner in a Big 4 consultancy yesterday.

I have never known a time in the world of business when there is no much hype, confusion and unsettlement. Sadly, we are now living in a world where snippets of soundbites are so intensely shared across the variety media we use (I nearly said “omnichannel”) that our industry is completely dominated by hype, as opposed to reality.

Data from our recent As-a-Service study just shows how alarming this disconnect is… the C-Suite is just living on a different planet from the teams below them trying to keep their businesses functioning:

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“Cannibalization” is merely the C-Suite waking up to the realization they can spend less with their service providers

Let’s stop beating around the bush on this one – services providers (in most cases) make nice profit margins on their outsourcing deals. What’s happening is that supply is now outsripping demand – there are too many competitors vying for a pool of enterprise clients who want to decrease their external spend.  The “demand” is coming from the next layer down of clients (the proverbial “mid market”) which just don’t have the size and resources to warrant the attention of the top tier providers.  What’s more, the top tier of service providers is simply not structured to go after the mid-market – they can’t afford to – and are stuck circling the same legacy enterprises like vultures trying to find new ways to squeeze money out of them.

Terms like “Digital transformation” are being used as the new levers to encourage gullible C-Suite Read More »

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Now for some proper #DesignThinking

One of the cleverest (and most subtle) pieces of branding you will ever see… but just think of the Design Thinking the branding agency applied to come up with this:

George Nespresso

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