I've recently had two rather disturbing conversations with friends interviewing for client management positions with outsourcing vendors. In both cases, they were only being asked to bring in new logos from selling low-cost IT/BPO services, as opposed to working with existing clients to up-sell more consultative, higher business-value offerings.
Both these chaps are senior-level execs who are highly experienced, well networked, and can engage in C-level conversation. You would have thought several of the offshore-centric vendors would be clamoring for people of this caliber to raise their level of conversation within their existing accounts, rather than utilize them to go after a handful of remaining logos. Most of the top-tier vendors have relationships with most of the major enterprise buyers these days, so you would have thought their strategy should be centered on developing deeper footprints with them, as opposed to simply increasing the number of low-end operational engagements (or at least a combination of the two).
While some vendors are talking a big game regarding how they intend to broaden their outsourcing services and consulting work with clients, a lot of their current management clearly don't have a lot of confidence to bring on the talent to help them do just that. As several vendors seek to raise the bar and become more innovative service partners, they have to be brave and look to bring on the talent that can engage in the right dialog with clients, at senior levels, in order to get there. While it's important to remain loyal to the client managers who scaled the business, vendors need to find ways to empower them to bring in new talent to deepen their client relationships. It seems the politics of client protectionism is still rife within outsourcing vendors and could seriously impede their ability to broaden their relationships over the long-term.
2010 will really see the men separating from the boys in this business, and it's those vendors which have the appetite to bring in the talent to raise the bar, and become more innovative with their clients, who will forge ahead. It seems some vendors are content to stay right where they are and pick off low-value work. Our next research series will ask customers to rate the caliber of their vendor executives, and whether they are bringing the right level of business acumen to the table to raise performance.