As our research has emphatically revealed, peer networking is the preferred medium of choice for today's outsourcing decision makers. So when executives are putting considerable time, cost and effort into spending multiple days at these gatherings, they hope to get some serious value out of the networking and education.
So who better to send to the International Association of Outsourcing Professionals (IAOP) annual summit in Orlando than HfS' research head, Tony Filippone, who has attended this event for several years running in his previous role heading up BPO for healthcare payor giant WellPoint. Here's his report on the proceedings...
Lack of Thought Leadership Leads to a Rerun Performance
After attending the 2011 and 2012 World Summits hosted by the International Association of Outsourcing Professionals (IAOP), we were left with a feeling that event organizers were ignoring the opportunity to assemble top-notch thought leadership to drive community discussion. While keynotes were remarkably better than 2011, the educational sessions seemed similar to discussions had at every other event and last year’s 2011 World Summit. Presenters share a background on their company, their journey to success, challenges overcome, and lessons learned. Service providers stand beside their clients as their clients endorse the service provider’s services. Panelists who are CEOs for different service providers argue for the viability of regions, niche categories of services, and the need for better contract terms.
Time to change that channel?
The formula for events has become rote. Lectures and panel discussions are the dominant format, which drives little communication among attendees. Sessions rarely focus on the need for our industry to change and instead focus on repeating what has already happened or promoting sponsor interests. In lieu of tools and templates, presenters provide business cards and collateral. There is an exhibition hall full of booths staffed by marketing leaders handing out tchotchkes. Sales people meet between sessions to assemble lists of leads.
IAOP events, in particular, create the impression that the event is formulaic. Awards are given to individuals and companies. Many of the same people moderate or lead IAOP sessions each year. New lists of top service providers and advisors are announced. In fact, for the second year in a row, these “top” lists exclude the likes of industry leaders Cognizant, IBM and Xerox.
It leaves us wondering whether the IAOP really intends to be a voice of the industry, or just another event company bent on rehashing the same themes. With a hefty $1,900 dollar price tag for the 2013 World Summit, we asked ourselves, “If I attended the 2012 IAOP World Summit, would I learn anything new in 2013?”
Billed as "The Largest of its Kind"
Over 780 “delegates” attended the IAOP 2012 World Summit held in Orlando, Florida. Roughly one third of delegates were customers or buyers, one third of delegates were service providers, and the last third were a mix of advisors, regional governmental representatives, academics, and press. The event spanned roughly two and half days, which were divided into the following types of content.
» Main session presentations where keynote presentations were given to all delegates. These made up roughly eight hours of the World Summit. Three of those hours were held at the same time as other content.
» Seven “educational” tracks where companies presented theory and experiences. These tracks focused on customer experience, outsourcing tools, “management science”, transition and governance, the “human side” of outsourcing, globalization, and the future of outsourcing. There were six 50-minute presentations in each track, which totaled nearly six hours of content.
» Networking events where customers were sometimes separated from service providers and advisors. Besides structured “speed dating” networking where participants moved from table to table discussing different topics (about two hours), there were evening mixers sponsored by service providers who gave away prizes to participants.
» Practicums were held on the morning of the last day where buyers and service providers were separated. Three hours of presentations were given to each group. Buyers heard ITSqc promote its CMI-like capability maturity model and presentations from P&G and McGraw-Hill on metrics. Service providers heard the findings from Duke’s 2011 outsourcing study, ITSqc’s promotion of its capability maturity model, and a sales effectiveness presentation from Pretium Partners.
In addition, several service providers sponsored dinners or drinks in the evenings. There was also a large hall filled with service providers’ marketing booths.
The IAOP also rolled-out the “Summit Hub”, an online portal for attendees to read detailed session descriptions, plan their schedule, and proactively network with other attendees. In fact, the IAOP allowed all participants to update personal profiles and “request” meetings with other participants online.
Benefits of Attending an IAOP World Summit
For the most part, IAOP puts on well-organized events with high attendance of a broad cross-section of industry stakeholders. Expect crowds full of buyers, sales people, and industry influencers. If you are a newcomer to outsourcing, a World Summit is an ideal event because it hosts sessions on nearly every conceivable topic, from contract metrics to outsourcing in China and from contracting for cloud technology to health care services. World Summits are a smorgasbord of outsourcing discussion. You’ll have an opportunity to listen to topics on subjects you may have never otherwise have considered. However, discussion is rarely more than a high-level summary. You’ll need to follow-up with presenters after the event to get the detailed information you need to execute.
Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), Buyers' Sourcing Best Practices, IT Outsourcing / IT Services