Finally… #Digital is defined and HfS does the defining

Digital, digital everywhere and not a definition in sight?

We couldn’t take it anymore, so here it is in six layers of naked glory:

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Still confused?  Don’t fear, just download our detailed definitional POV right here: 

How HfS Defines Digital

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If I was elected Prez…

It’s not too late to throw my hat in the ring, so I thought I’d test my manifesto with you folks first to see if I have a shot…

I would:

Running for President with policies that will surely nail it

Running for President with policies that will surely nail it

Charge income tax on robots

Make the European tradition of boozing at lunch an acceptable part of American culture

Not be anything like Donald Trump

Appoint Hillary as our Digital Trust Czar

Make all power accessories become “recognizable” by Apple devices, as long as they fit in the hole

Make analysts pass a basic IQ test before their next scatterplot

Make Apple upgrade every hotel radio and gym machine with the right adapter socket

Make sourcing advisors pass a basic IQ test before they, er, do anything

Make service provider executives stop wearing gray suits

Introduce the “Whiner’s Circle” – we’ll run a Blueprint every year on the leading buy side whiners

Not be anything like Donald Trump

Blast the Ashley Madison database and force them all to take an online course in “bots versus humans”

Introduce the “Sinners Circle” of top outsourcing execs caught soliciting robotic women on Ashley…

Appoint Sepp Blatter as Magic Quadrant Ombudsman

Build a wall between Canada and the US to keep out Tim Hortons

Appoint Bernie Sanders as Chairman of NASSCOM

Hire Carly Fiorina to leverage her experience of singlehandedly dismantling a well organized international organization… to take down ISIS

Roll out an RPA strategy for Congress. Robotic Political Automation

Not be anything like Donald Trump

Fine anyone who talks about Digital who fails to explain what it actually is first

Make Donald Trump build a very large wall around his house…

So there you have it, now to do I have your support?



Long live the freemium analyst model…

The main man who tracks the influencers, Duncan Chapple, gives us a little sneak preview into how this year’s Analyst Value Survey is chugging along, with several hundred research buyers already sharing their views:

Click to access article

Click to access article

If you haven’t yet had your chance to share your opinions of which analysts are doing (or not doing ) it for you, do spend a few minutes completing the 2015/16 Kea Company Analyst Value Survey by clicking here.

Duncan Chapple is leads Kea Group's Influencer Relations Practice (Click for Bio)

Duncan Chapple leads Kea Company’s Influencer Relations Practice (Click for Bio)

It seems the “freemium” model we’ve adopted at HfS over the last six years is really having an impact. It’s our view that top insights shouldn’t be stuffed behind a firewall. Clients will pay for premium data, indepth analyst strategy session and in-depth competitive landscape reports, but when it comes to insights, viewpoints, or just some plain old entertainment, why hide it?

Freemium isn’t disruptive, it’s the way forward for an analyst industry, much of which refuses to break out of its stale model.  If people stop reading research and genuine insights, we might as well all pack up and go home now, so let’s promote what we do, not hide it.

Having a prolific analyst team beat the As-a-Service drum every day is the real reason for our continual impact – they keep the views fresh, varied and unvarnished, while maintaining that personal touch, which is what we’re all about at HfS.

Thanks for those who have voted for us (so far), we really appreciate your support and feedback.  If you would like to share your views on what you would like to see more (or less) from us, do email us here.


Weekend Rant: Let’s cut this bullsh*t and have meaningful conversations again (please)


Skeptical? You should be…

Admit it, people, you’re all being subjected to presentations from many service providers and advisors that have become so confusing you’re actually too embarrassed to say: “I really haven’t got a clue what you are trying to pitch me here”.

In many cases, you suspect the suit presenting it to you probably doesn’t have much of a clue either, so you just zone out and permit him to portray painfully his pre-scripted, professionally puffed-up, potpourri of PowerPoint.

I don’t believe I’ve ever witnessed a time our services “industry” has descended into such a mind-numbing pattern of meaningless marketing hype and unintelligible bullsh*t.  It was bad enough when everyone was painting pretty pictures of “transformation” to sugar-frost labor arbitrage deals, but at least we could understand the bullsh*t and detect its scent a mile away.

Today, we’ve fallen even deeper into a trough of verbose desperation, as most service providers and advisors replicate each others’ sales decks to reel off an increasingly inane plethora of confused rubbish, that is transcending further and further away from reality. In most cases, this is much worse than mere sales hype, it is hype and confusion squished together in such a confused steaming mess, it leaves most of us speechless to even question it. How can you ask sensible questions, when you just don’t really understand what you’re being presented?

When we questioned the understanding of today’s technology enablers with 178 experienced service buyers, the results are quite alarming – and telling:

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Despite being the most hyped technology to hit the services market in the last three years, only 50% of service buyers actually understand what Robotic Process Automation is? And only a third grasp what cognitive computing platforms are? How many more millions need to be spent on these newfangled cognitive/autonomic platforms until the people who are their prospective customers Read More »


Cognizant, Accenture, EXL, Concentrix, HGS and HP are the top healthcare payer performers

We made the conscious decision to invest in researching the healthcare and life sciences industries when we founded HfS, and one of those investments was to hire Barbra McGann to define the space, really sift through the core processes, issues and political dynamics to form a concise picture of who is genuinely innovating, who is effectively executing and aligning their capabilities to solving (and finding) problems for stressed healthcare clients.

To this end, we’re proud to release our third healthcare-related flagship industry analysis: HfS Blueprint Report: Healthcare Payer Operations 2015, authored by Barbra McGann.

The Blueprint goes in-depth as the market transitions to As-a-Service, with a focus on the consumer/member/patient, and more flexible solutions. Barbra looks at the increasing use and integration of automation, analytics, and other digital technologies into offerings; examines the changes in demand for talent; and investigates the increasing need for more collaborative and value-based engagements.

So, we thought, who better than Barbra to tell us about it?


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Barbra, with all the market perspective published on healthcare today, what is unique about the HfS Healthcare Payer Operations Blueprint?

Phil, the only place that seems to be cutting back on reading material is the waiting room at the doctor’s office. (Am I the only one who misses Highlights?) Of course, that is just one change in the midst of many for waiting rooms, really, as technology and regulation are both expanding the opportunity for mobile health care. All that aside, healthcare organizations, service buyers and providers who are looking for a different perspective on trends and opportunities for increasing the value of sourcing in Health Care, here it is.

Many of the larger healthcare organizations have achieved the maximum potential benefits from legacy BPO by this point. In our recent “Ideals of the As-a-Service Economy” research, just about three out of four participants (72%) from this industry indicated that there was “no value left” in Read More »

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Glenn gives us Government-as-a-Service (GaaS)

Glenn and Carol Davidson, the braintrusts of public sector operations

Glenn and Carol Davidson, the braintrust of public sector operations (Click to access our new Government-as-a-Service report)

Mention the words “outsourcing” and “public sector” in the same sentence and there is only one true lord and master of this realm. The one person who’s genuinely devote his career to advising this industry… from British Telecom’s ePeopleserve to Accenture, to founding and leading Equaterra Public Sector to its eventual acquisition by KPMG, and finally back to Accenture’s Federal Services for one final hurrah to drag public sector operations out of the dark ages.  Meet Glenn Davidson, the man bringing a new type of GaaS to the services industry:  Government-as-a-Service.

The public sector – that oft overlooked and much-maligned part of our world that we can’t live without – is squarely in our focus in the wake of our new research report “Government-As-a-Service: How the “Eight Ideals of As-a-Service” Help Federal Agencies Find New Value.” The report sheds light on the impact of new technologies and operating models on business operations, and how this is impacting US Federal Agencies.  So we thought we’d catch up with Glenn to get the lowdown on why As-a-Service could get a real game-changer for public sector bodies seeking to escape from legacy technologies, obsolete processes and manually-intensive tasks that slow everything down and drive up our taxes…

Phil Fersht, CEO HfS Research: Glenn, I think we’ve known each other for, I don’t know, about 12, 13 years now. I remember your career in services starting way before mine even in the early days of BPO … when Accenture created its e-peopleserve partnership with British Telecom in HRO. During your career, you’ve been a buyer of services, a provider, and, prior to re-joining Accenture, an advisor to those in the public sector thinking about their service delivery options. What strikes you as the most significant change in this industry today?

Glenn Davidson, Managing Director at Accenture Federal Services

Glenn Davidson, Managing Director at Accenture Federal Services

Glenn Davidson, Managing Director, Accenture Federal Services: The most significant industry change to me is the “As-a-Service” concept – the idea that we can provide the technology and the services to our clients on a transaction basis. Organizations no longer have to make massive upfront capital outlays for applications’ licenses, implementations, or ongoing operations and maintenance. They don’t have to hire more people to handle related transactions. They merely have to specify outcomes – what they want – and have providers deliver the services via the Cloud.

Phil: So when we look at what’s going on in the public sector, to what extent is As-a-Service having an impact? Is it creating as significant a disruption as it is in the commercial sector?

Glenn: Phil, as you know, the US public sector is not a monolithic industry vertical. It’s made up of multiple sub-sectors – NGOs, multi-laterals, and governmental organizations at all levels.

Because many state governments have balanced budget requirements, they were among the first public sector entities to adopt alternative service delivery and sourcing models. Declining revenues bring a commensurate reduction in ongoing operating costs or increase in taxes or Read More »


How Robotic Process Automation has become a right dog’s breakfast

Dogs Breakfast RPAOver the course of this year, practically every conversation we’ve been having about IT and BPO has culminated in the impact robotic automation will have on service providers, third-party advisors, RPA software vendors and the poor unsuspecting enterprise clients, all seemingly unprepared for the tsunami of impending disruption caused by this suddenly-discovered ability to mimic human behaviour in software scripts.

Sadly, most of these conversations are fraught with misconceptions about what RPA can – and should – deliver to the enterprise and real misunderstandings about the speed to benefit realization.  Yes indeed, the whole services industry has gone careening up hype creek, powered by advisor and provider-infused methane.  So let’s enter the kitchen of HfS’ Charles Sutherland, who will unravel the not-so-secret recipe of today’s RPA dogs’ breakfast…

RPA – why 9 out of 10 enterprises haven’t really got a bloody clue

In a recent survey of 178 enterprise buyers, only 11% of respondents said that they have extensive or even some real-life hands-on experience with RPA to-date.   That means that 89% of respondents have not really experienced RPA hands-on but were instead getting their insights on its capabilities via indirect messaging.  Much of this messaging on RPA has sensationalized the benefits (scope and speed) of this technology and, in the view of HfS, created a misrepresentation of the art of the possible today. So how did we as a market get to this point of serving up this Dog’s Breakfast of RPA?

Recipe For Making A Dog’s Breakfast Out of Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

  1. We began with one initial but tasty ingredient of a technology suite that uses software “bots” to replicate rules based human facilitated transactions.
  2. We introduced a portion of confusion as to whether the real application of RPA is for roles that are 100% replacement (e.g. all day data entry) or whether RPA is more likely to be applied in roles that are only partial substitutable with technology and when doing this make sure that the attributed benefits from application to the former are broadly applied to the later even when that can never be.
  3. Then a few cooks forgot to mix in the required portion of change management and internal communications as to how RPA will impact talent in the enterprise (and any service provider) and what their futures will look like post RPA.
  4. They then used less than the required amount of skilled talent who actually understand both the technologies and the processes against which they should best be applied.
  5. We also allowed any software vendor with even a passing association to automation to join the cooking team and add their own specific flavoring to the recipe.
  6. Then the market stirred up the resulting mixture with unclear messaging as to whether RPA is an end-state of technology or whether it is the means to an end of finding the cost savings to fund a future (and pending) transformation of the business process and its supporting technology into a natively digital end-to-end environment.
  7. Now as the recipe begins to become less recognizable than what you started with, just for good measure we have seasoned in hints of cognitive computing and artificial intelligence as further ingredients.
  8. Then we baked this mixture at a high heat with much hype into commercial discussions between enterprise clients, their third party advisors, consultants and BPO service providers until it takes a hot bubbling form.
  9. Finally, when ready to prove and serve to the enterprise service buyer, the market forgets to turn on a helpful light of real case studies from other enterprises that have sampled this before and instead pour the resulting breakfast dish into pilot or proof of concept sized bowls that don’t show it all in its tastiest form.

Read More »


Social intelligence and reputation are the keys to survival in this automating world

RealityAutomation hype and anxiety is everywhere today.  In fact, haven’t you been amazed by the emergence of all these “automation experts” that have suddenly appeared on your LinkedIn recently? It’s as if these people went to school 20 years ago with the sole purpose of becoming an automation expert…

However, I have good news for the paranoid – computers are still really bad at simulating social interaction. What’s more, team work is becoming more critical than ever, as we need to keep adapting to a changing work environment. Your personality and ability to excite, befriend, intellectually stimulate, or just have a laugh with the people around you, is now more critical than ever.

Welcome to the socially-intelligent workforce, where your reputation is everything

What’s more, there is nowhere to hide anymore – if you repeatedly behave badly, back-stab, lie, or are just an asshole to work with, your reputation will spread across the digital and social networks, like it never did in the past.  When smart future employers check you out, it’s so easy to find former colleagues to conduct informal background checks.  There is no hiding anymore, so prepare yourself for the socially intelligent workforce, or scramble for one of those fast-disappearing legacy jobs, where you can hide away for years, unnoticed by the world.

Your ability to interact with people, applying intelligence and creativity to your craft, is where you add value

People, increasingly, want to work with people they like and people who spark positive energy, first and foremost, as technology continually makes jobs more sophisticated and intelligent. I don’t need an accountant who can tell me my revenues this month, as I have software that can do this for me easily… I need an accountant who can talk me through the nuances of sunsetting a legacy product and its impact on my profit line.  I don’t need a lawyer who can create employment contracts – I can pull these off Legal Zoom… I need one who can talk through the nuances of creating incentive Read More »


TCS, EXL, Concentrix and Infosys set the As-a-Service pace for Insurance

Insurance is priming the pump for industry-centric As-a-Service solutions.  The insurance space is one of those industries where it’s all in the sales, marketing and customer experience, so the more the delivery engine can he standardized and run efficiently, the more cost savings can be passed onto the customer and intelligent data to the service provider to set their policies, pricing and future strategies.

Insurance majors were among the first Western enterprises to open offshore captive centers in India and Philippines to process and adjudicate clients, support customer service etc.  However, the main issue that has long-plagued the carriers has been finding value beyond the initial offshore cost-savings.  I personally recall hosting a roundtable of eleven major insurance BPO clients five years’ ago, and the common consensus was “The only way to find incremental value is by tech-enabling our processes”.

So has this industry been making genuine progress as we evolve to the As-a-Service model?  So who better to ask than the one analyst who has been tracking this space intensely ever since she joined HfS four years ago, Reetika Joshi:

HfS-Blueprint Report-Insurance As-a Service

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What is “Insurance As-a-Service” and how is it different from insurance BPO?

Phil, insurance is a mature market for BPO – core insurance processes like claims processing have been outsourced for over a decade now. Our discussions with property & casualty (P&C) and life & Read More »

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Hello As-a-Service Economy, goodbye Outsourcing, Part 2

State of DenialDuring Part I, we discussed the gradual simplification of cumbersome people-centric outsourcing towards technology-centric “As-a-Service” solutions, driven by the need for enterprises to remove their excessive operations costs and anti-competitiveness burdens inflicted by legacy processes and obsolete technology.

Simply put, what worked last decade no longer works for ambitious enterprises striving to stay competitive, plus the emerging “Born in the Cloud” enterprises, many of which will comprise tomorrow’s FORTUNE 500, where As-a-Service is native to their operations, not retro-fitted in painful increments. Their mantra is to invest in outcome-centric services first, then hire talent to broker these capabilities and align them to the revenue-generating activities of the business.

Gone are the days when the only solutions were to reduce labor costs and hope for the best. Arriving are the days where investments in outcome-driven solutions, fueled by common standards and automation, ubiquitous cloud delivery, digital tools and apps, are being seen to have genuine long-term ROI. Enterprise leaders, in our discussions, are much more willing to make investments in permanent solutions, where the outcomes are tangible, as opposed to temporary solutions, where there is some short-term benefit, but the long term outcomes are still murky and unclear.

We know the future is moving towards a state of creative, motivated operators accessing available tools and intelligent platforms to help their enterprises achieve their desired outcomes.  We know most viable enterprises, today, cannot afford to drag around these archaic, obsolete infrastructures and operations – and remain competitive in the long-term.

So what, pray tell, is really driving our enterprises to make decisions today, what will our world really look like in five years’ time as a result, and what are the implications for society and business?  Oh the questions that need answering…

Two-thirds of enterprises are actively pursuing strategies to reduce reliance on human capital

“How much of this room will be replaced by bots in the next three years?”  I asked, polling some peers and colleagues deep in client-side automation research attending a recent service provider conference.

“As many as 60%” was the collective response – 30% directly through improved automation capability and another 30% simply through better apps and efficient processes”.  Just think about that for a minute… we’re really on an path away from people to technology.  So why are so many services and operations professionals so blissfully unconcerned of what’s coming?  Are we living in permanent state of denial that the business world around us is simply never going to change?  It’s not as if the majority of senior operations leaders do not see As-a-Service as critical, according to our new Ideals of As-a-Service study:

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So, while the leadership layer is clearly bought in and ready to go, why aren’t the operational middle and junior layers following suit? Why aren’t these leadership ambitions being translated down through the ranks? Why does this desire to challenge ourselves and improve our capabilities dissipate when we reach the rank and file? Read More »


Finally – somewhere to find your next As-a-Service job…


Who doesn’t love jobs?

Ignore this at your peril… but we really are at the early stages of a “Digital Revolution”, which will ultimately have an impact as seismic as the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century, which left us with entire workforces untrained and unskilled for what was needed next. The same is happening today – and we need to get ahead of this by being unafraid to reorient our capabilities and career trajectories.

The last 30-40 years has merely been pre-amble as enterprises  leveraged globalization and technology to lower costs, automate and standardize processes (ERP, apps, offshore-nearshore outsourcing) and consumers to improve their lives (PCs, mobile, social).  However, these are only the baby steps, where we experimented on what we ultimately needed from technology.  Today’s emerging generation has digital at the core of both their home and work lives, while the more mature generations are trying to retrofit digital into our (becoming) obsolete business processes and social lives.   The big shifts are starting Read More »

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Good heavens, it’s Liz Evans…

If I had a dollar for every scuba-diving triathlete mom who specializes in the art of service buyer/provider relationship management and governance strategy for a big 4 management consultancy… I really wouldn’t be very rich.

Liz Evans

Liz Evans is KPMG Managing Director for Governance (Shared Services & Outsourcing Advisory)

Liz Evans has been at this for several years now, from the early days of Equaterra, where she was marriage counseling for most of the broken outsourcing deals in the industry, through to KPMG where she has molded her craft into the GBS governance functions of many of the largest enterprises in the world.

Not bad for a nice lass from a town called Middlesbrough, somewhere up in the north of England, who’s firmly implanted herself as a governance therapist in many North American boardrooms (when she’s managed to yank herself away from her Lego-addicted kids).

So, after all these years since we last spoke, we thought high time to get reacquainted with Liz to find out just how much things have changed in the industry…

Phil Fersht, CEO, HfS Research: Liz, it’s great to talk with you again. I think it’s been five years since we last spoke to you on the blog. You’ve built quite the reputation at KPMG these days for leading a lot of the governance strategy and how clients are maturing post-transaction. I think our readers would like to hear a bit from you about your background and some of the early days in your career, and how you ended up becoming such a respected governance and relationship management practitioner in the industry.

Liz Evans, Managing Director Governance, KPMG:  Thanks Phil – it’s great to speak to you. You know, I did a conference—a Governance roundtable last October—and one of the sessions was on talent management. The first question I asked the audience was, “Put your hands up if, when you left university, you wanted to be a governance professional.” Shockingly, no-one raised their hands. And I have to say I am in the same boat. So I think the route into governance and this industry is often an interesting one.

I started off doing outsourcing deals way back in the mid-‘90s. And I actually focused much more on service levels. And then was asked to look at the structure of how you manage those on an ongoing basis. It kind of led me down the road as well. Service levels and service credit really are not all there is to a relationship—it’s much broader. I think the rest, as they say, is history from there. When I joined EquaTerra in 2005, I had the opportunity to really spend my time focusing on Read More »

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Hello As-a-Service Economy, goodbye Outsourcing, Part I

As-a-ServiceWhen we coined the term “The As-a-Service Economy” a year ago (remember our famous Ten Tenets post), we never quite anticipated we were helping define the future model the services industry would adopt for business, technology and operational service delivery.

As-a-Service replaces Outsourcing

We’ve perennially debated the (toxic) term “outsourcing”, long vilified as the substitution of onshore jobs with cheaper offshore people. The outsourcing community has continually struggled to find new defining terminology, as NASSCOM replaced “BPO” with “BPM” and the IAOP has refused to shift from the past, staying true to the O word as its core identity.

The reason why we struggled with our identity was because outsourcing, by and large, has really always been about people.  It’s hard to change processes, drive common standards across clients, build a utility model that can be scaled and made cost-efficient, when you’re really just moving work around the world with the goal of getting it done cheaper. And that’s really been the story of outsourcing to-date – service providers battling it out, at varying levels of effectiveness, to deliver people-based services more productively, promising delights of delivery beyond merely doing the existing stuff significantly cheaper and (hopefully) a bit better.

But outsourcing hasn’t failed. Only 13% of service buyers in our new Ideals of As-a-Service study believe there is no more value to be found in the current outsourcing model.  Outsourcing is the starting point towards driving out bloated labor costs, centralizing the delivery staff within a service provider, and creating some basic common standards across processes.  However, it’s not the end-solution for ambitious firms, it’s merely the start of the journey towards this future vision of “As-a-Service”.

We also hear a lot of hype about Robotic Process Automation, which is another accelerator towards As-a-Service, but like outsourcing, RPA isn’t necessarily the end-solution either  – many applications have a lifecycle and are replaced over time, and many of today’s processes become obsolete as businesses evolve. RPA merely acts as a further conduit, coupled with outsourcing, to smooth the ultimate journey towards destination As-a-Service.

Defining the evolution to the As-a-Service Economy with Eight Ideals

The game-changer is centered on today’s services work gradually becoming a genuine blending of people-plus-technology that helps us inch towards an ultimate destination of services value, accessible on-tap, empowering service buyers to focus on proactive value-identification with help from their service partners through meaningful and secure data, enabled by intelligent automation and digital tools… all made possible by smart people working together.

So let’s examine the Eight Ideals of As-a-Service, into which we delve in-depth in our new defining report, “Beware of the Smoke: Your Platform is Burning“, that canvasses the views, dynamics, aspirations and intended actions of 716 service industry stakeholders:

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Click to Enlarge

The journey to As-a-Service is all about simplification

Business services, today, are one of speed to business impact. They are about simplification.  They are about removing the blockages and obstacles diluting this business impact.  Anything less is not taking advantage of the experience and capability that has been developed in the global services market, over the past three decades. In this time, enabling technologies, talent, sourcing operating models, and macro-economic trends, such as globalization of labor, high growth emerging markets, new business models and consumerization, enable service buyers, advisors, and service providers to engage increasingly in a more flexible and collaborative manner. The ambition is to achieve renewed business results with speed, quality, and effectiveness. When we get there, we will be in the As-a-Service Economy.

The transition to As-a-Service is all about simplification — removing unnecessary complexity, poor processes, and manual intervention to make way for a more nimble way of running a business. It is also about prioritizing where to focus investments to achieve maximum benefit and impact for the business from its operations.

The emerging As-a-Service Economy will be more agile and dynamic, featuring on-demand plug-and-play services in a one-to-many fashion targeted to impact what matters to consumers as well as businesses. The two are increasingly intertwined as consumer insights, decisions, and loyalty carry increasing weight on the success or failure of an enterprise in any industry.

The Bottom-line:  The As-a-Service Economy is a vision for the future, building on today’s achievements

It’s easy to deplore how poorly our business are run,  how dysfunctional are our processes, how badly integrated are our technologies, how reactively and transactionally our staff perform. But this is the evolution of business, this is how we got here today. When you talk to service buyers, they are unlikely to tell you their businesses are running worse every year. In fact, most have improved immensely over the last five years with improvements in global scale delivery, cloud computing etc.

Survival in today’s global business environment, for most, is a marathon, not a sprint. Not every industry has been Uberized over-night – most are being disrupted with technology-driven business models that we can learn from, adapt, adjust and try to get ahead of. Most enterprises suffer from the same woes and face similar challenges to clear their path towards their desired As-a-Service Ideals.

The new challenge is to prioritize which Ideals really matter and how to work with the smart people and partners around us to get there. In subsequent posts to this theme, we will analyze our study findings further to understand the priorities, obstacles, expectations and anticipated dynamics to unravel how we will eventually arrive at the As-a-Service Economy, and what we can do as an industry to get there and prosper.

And Part II is now up – click here to read!

Please download a copy of our new Industry Report “Beware of the Smoke: Your Platform is Burning”, authored by analysts Phil Fersht and Barbra McGann, that analyzes findings from 716 service industry stakeholders in our new Industry study that defines the future of services and the emergence of As-a-Service Economy. 


HfS unveils the first application testing blueprint report

The lifeblood of the IT outsourcing industry has always been application testing – it’s not sexy, but it’s a huge portion of ITO spending – and massively important to the revenues of the major ITOs.

And while much of the traditional app testing market is commoditizing, with advances in remote management and automation, the proliferation of digital apps (social, mobile, analytics) and related technologies are creating renewed growth and market demand for testing.  Here at HfS, we have watched this development closely. And, with Tom Reuner on board as Managing Director for IT Outsourcing Research, we thought it high time to take our Blueprint microscope and have a close look at application testing services. Tom worked feverishly over the past couple of months to prepare the Blueprint, along with HfS Executive Vice President, Research Charles Sutherland. The result is a groundbreaking Blueprint report:

HfS-Blueprint Report-Application Testing Services_Axis

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So let’s get an up-close view of the report from the man himself, Tom Reuner:

So what’s new in App testing these days, Tom?

Thanks Phil, in order to answer your question, I have to start by going one step back and outline where the industry is, as there is little reference material from analysts and third-party advisors. The notion of independent testing is evolving where services are not just bundled as part of an IT outsourcing contract but are delivered as a stand-alone offering. But, broadly speaking, testing services lag most IT service lines in terms of mindshare and broader visibility. A lack of investment, Read More »


How the gig economy has turned bad analysts into vendor advocates


What’s happening to the world?

Yes, I have been trying hard – and failing miserably – to avoid using the term “Uberization”, but it’s everywhere! Even in the analyst business, where the sharing platform is the Internet and any old whackjob can get in on the act. All you need is a computer and an ability to write remedial English.

The technology and services industry today is awash with individuals whose only professional activity is flitting from vendor conference to vendor conference, with the sole purpose of writing completely non-objective puff pieces praising their vendor hosts in exchange for money (or in the hope said vendors will pony up some dough in gratitude). Vendors are only too willing to pay these Read More »


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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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 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 »


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 »