HfS Network

Christine's Chapel... Services Gospel

August 06, 2016 | Phil FershtChristine Ferrusi Ross


Christine Ross is Research Vice President, Strategy & Product Development,
HfS Research (Click for Bio)

Anyone with a real history in the services industry will be familiar with the insights of one Christine Ferrusi Ross, who spent many years leading the services and sourcing practice for Forrester Research, during the firm's heighday.  And in pre-HfS days, I used to enjoy meeting Christine for lunches when we would bemoan the state of the research analyst industry and what needed to be done to revitalize how analysts do research. Little did we realize back then we would be able to shake up the analyst industry together in an analyst firm not beholden to the whims of their paying suppliers and analysts confined to covering tiny slices of software markets.  So when we got the opportunity to bring Christine, or "CFR" as her colleagues like to call her, to help shape our events and research strategies, it wasn't a difficult decision... especially when you hear her views about moving to outcome-based contracts.

Welcome Christine!  Can you share a little about your background and why you have chosen research and strategy as your career path?

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Posted in: IT Outsourcing / IT ServicesOutsourcing HerosSecurity and Risk



We are all outcome workers, whether we like it or not...

July 30, 2016 | Phil Fersht

If you run any type of business operation or P&L, you're quickly realizing your number one challenge is getting your people to help you achieve the results your business needs to be successful. Your strategy has to be about promoting a mindset where people focus on what they are contributing to the business, not the amount of hours they spend "at work".  

Whether you are a workaholic slogging an 80-hour a week, or a 20-hour a week work-at-home mom/dad, you are going to be measured on what you are contributing to the business - so it's really all about setting the right outcome expectations with your employer.  Simply sending through a weekly timesheet with a bunch of vague activities is a waste of everyone's time.  Agree in advance with your boss what outcomes are expected of you and focus your time on meeting them... and if you can achieve them working 10 hours a week sitting by a pool in the sun, or slaving away for 100 hours in your basement really doesn't matter anymore - it's whether you delivered those outcomes expected of you. You just need to decide whether that job suits you and your own goals in life.  Today's successful working relationships are being defined by employers and workers sharing outcomes that both are motivated to meet. If those outcomes do not gel, then that working situation will not survive. 

And this isn't some fancy new vision for talent only a few businesses are adopting - this is the only way firms can really function today, if they want to be successful. Everyone on the payroll needs to add tangible, easy-to-explain value… otherwise why are they on the payroll?  It’s easy to turn your PC on in the morning and forward emails around the place, but what is your real value?  

The only six questions that matter when it comes to outcome-based employee performance

  1. Which customers have you delighted recently?
  2. What new relationships have you made that add value to our business?
  3. What work have you done that excited people inside and outside of the business?
  4. How are you helping energize your colleagues and exciting them with new ideas?
  5. How have you helped add value to new business wins?
  6. How have you contributed to new initiatives that improve productivity and effectiveness?

Cutting to the chase, if you think all you have to do is turn on your PC on at 9.00am and shut down at 5.00pm, mindlessly immersing yourself in forwarding and adding to chains of emails between your hourly Facebook visits, bi-hourly LinkedIn visits and your twice-daily moronic retweeting of some crap you never really bothered to read (but the title sounded impressive), then you’re pretty much done.  Go check on your pension plan, because you may be hitting those funds long before you had anticipated.

As an employer myself, I gave up caring what staff do during the day – trust me, you’ll drive yourself insane if you go old-school with the old micro-management.  New school management is simply asking staff those 6 questions - and requiring answers to them. 

So what activities should outcome-centric employees do during the day?

  • Limit email activity to one email a time. Scan your messages and quickly decide which ones require a response.  The pick them off one at a time. Do not click out and re-check them all again.  Just answer then quickly one at a time until all the important ones are done.  The minute you start trying to multi-task your email your lose focus and you’ll spend all day faffing around your inbox like packing up your hotel room with a hangover…
  • Call people who matter. Remember when you actually spoke to people?  You got things done, you created friendships and new ideas.  Something nearly always happens when you speak to someone.  List the 5 people you need to talk to and focus on them for a couple of days.
  • Read something that makes you smarter. We all get loads of interesting stuff shoved at us and let’s face it, we probably ready 5% of it at best. Stop.  Pick out the one article you know will make you super damn smart at your key work task at hand and read the damn thing.  Make a decent cup of tea, go sit somewhere quiet and read it. 
  • Turn off Facebook. Seriously – there is nothing in there to help you do your job better.  Do it with a glass of wine in the evening if you have nothing better to do.  If HfS did a productivity analysis impact on the global economy due to Facebook-faffers, it’s probably in the billions…
  • Write something. We’re all analysts now, so focus on writing something that your think you are expert in.  It’s a great way to build credibility and if forces you to be a better communicator.  We all went to school, we can all type, we can all read, we can all talk, so why can’t we put out thoughts to print?  Just write like you talk, like you’re explaining your views on something to someone down the pub… or explaining to your Mom what you actually do.  Everyone is an expert insomething… hell, if you’re not, you might as well give up now.
  • Exercise. Not much is worse for you that staring into a 12 inch laptop screen 18 hours a day while guzzling caffeine and noshing last night’s pizza… so pick out the best time of the day to get your heart pounding. It’s the best thing ever, but organize when you do it, otherwise you’ll hit 5.00pm and you know full well it’s just not going to happen…

The Bottom-line:  we must change our work habits if we are to survive in this work-outcome environment

Personally, I never thought the work environment would reach some of the current depths it has today for so many people, but the impact of “digital” has not been very good, when it comes to the productivity and effectiveness of so many workers.  So many people are just burned out from picking up terrible digital work habits (and many at quite a young age).  So change how you work.  Just do it, and you’ll start to experience a very old feeling you’ve probably long forgotten:  job satisfaction.

Posted in: Buyers' Sourcing Best PracticesDesign ThinkingHR Strategy



The HfS BPO Top 50: ADP, Xerox and Accenture lead the way

July 26, 2016 | Phil Fersht

Ever wondered who the leading 50 BPO providers are across the globe, when we add up all relevant revenues?  Well, you need look no further:

Source: HfS Research 2016 estimated from services provider financials. Revenues are fitted to nearest calendar year. We attempt to make the BPO services numbers as close to HfS definitions as possible. The market primarily used for this list is the horizontal BPO processes of F&A, HR, Customer Care/CRM, and Procurement. Some industry-specific back office processes are included but we have excluded specialist categories, for example, banking securities.

We have segmented the providers into 5 broad categories: HRO specialists, Customer Care specialists, Multi-process BPO, Multi-process IT & BPO and document management providers. The specialist areas: document management, customer care and HRO should be fairly clear—the vast majority of the services these company provides in BPO is related to this category. The IT multi providers and BPO multi providers—divides the companies that provide multiple types of BPO services into those with an IT heritage and those without. These categories are subjective; we based these splits partly on the type of services they provide and individual company background. For example, Accenture provides multiple types of BPO service and has a sizable IT services business so we have described as a IT multi.

HfS subscribers can download the full report, authored by Jamie Snowdon, Barbra McGann and Phil Fersht by clicking here

Posted in: Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)HfSResearch.com Homepage



It's cognitively conjugal as Amelia and Accenture renew their vows

July 19, 2016 | Phil Fersht

The most "tangible" value of cognitive automation, in today's consumer-centric enterprise, is the use of the virtual agent, where customer engagement is increased without heavy incremental investments in support staff. This isn't about simply replacing a real customer service rep with an avatar, it's augmenting the existing customer experience, usually using the same or similar resources.  

For example, if you have a bad travel experience, or purchased a product that wasn't quite what you expected, the chances are you would simply shrug it off and get on with your life - and probably avoid using those same sellers again in the future, if given the choice. However, if those sellers used interactive technologies that were very familiar, or very easy to find and use, where you could simply type in your issue, in your own time, without the need to pick up a phone and wait in some queue (or write some email to some anonymous address), you may just find the effort to input a couple of lines saying "my experience just wasn't that good". 

That information is critical to the seller - and how they choose to deal with it could make the difference between them winning out or losing in this market.  Just think about how easy Uber, AirBnb, Amazon et al make it for you to deal with them - you will continue to use those services because the digital customer experience is just so much better... they make you feel like they listen.   Customers today like effortless interaction, where they just need to click and type what they want in their own time - and what makes it come alive is when they feel they are engaging with someone and not merely sitting in a queue as an open help desk ticket number waiting to be closed. 

If you get a chance to kick the tyres with one of the most exciting cognitive virtual agent solutions, IPSoft's Amelia, you start to realize that customer service can be radically improved by incorporating the virtual agent to augment the real one.  And the beauty of this is, the sellers do not need to spend huge incremental sums to increase their consumer engagement - they are essentially doing a lot more with what they currently have using smart cognitive technology.  

So it's no surprise that I got just a little bit excited when Amelia's mothership enterprise, IPSoft, announced a comprehensive partnership with Accenture to build an industry leading practice in the cognitive customer experience.  So sit back, relax, and enjoy this discussion between myself, IPSoft's CEO, Chetan Dube and Accenture's Chief Technology Officer, Paul Dougherty.

Phil Fersht, HfS CEO and Chief Analyst: So let's get straight to the point here, Chetan and Paul. Why have you come together and what is so unique about this partnership? 

Paul Daugherty, CTO, Accenture
Paul Daugherty, Chief Technology Officer, Accenture

Paul Daugherty, CTO, Accenture: Hi Phil - great to be here. Let me start and then Chetan can add in. You know that the immediate reasons we've come together, the obvious reason we came together is we see a real market with our enterprise clients for artificial intelligence based solutions. And we've been working with Chetan the team at IPsoft for a while and with Amelia we see a real potential to be at the vanguard of working with IPsoft  to pioneer new use cases in terms of using AI to tackle business problems in a new way. So the first reason is we see the market we see the technology being ready. We are excited about what IPsoft  has done with Amelia and we see an opportunity. I guess, stepping back from that, this is also to me a very important step in what we are seeing in the evolution of enterprises really transforming to the digital economy.

And Chetan will remember a lunch we had when we met for the very first time. We got very excited as we talked to each other a couple of years ago about what we saw as AI evolved and as the digital technology revolution continued, we saw a point coming where AI would allow companies to really rethink the way that they do business and rethink the way that they conduct business processes within their organizations. And that's I guess why this is such an important relationship from my perspective strategically, because we are starting to see as we move through the digital revolution as we help clients transform they need new approaches and new solutions to deal with the speed of business, to deal with the masses of data that they have, to deal with the new demands that they have as they move to the digital wave. And we see Amelia really serving a purpose there and helping to really rethink and revolutionize the way we conduct some of the business processes. That’s the way I’d answer it. Chetan, I’d be interested in your view on it, too.

Chetan Dube, CEO, IPsoft
Chetan Dube, CEO, IPsoft

Chetan Dube, CEO, IPsoft: Yeah. I would echo what Paul said. Yes, I remember that lunch, Paul, when we had brainstormed. AI is totally disrupting everything. But what is required for true value creation for the companies? Some have realized tremendous value and the others have been somewhat slow to realize value creation in their digital quest. What is required? Well, you do need the digital labor component.

But that's not all that you need. You need business transformation—and Accenture brings business transformation brilliance. And there are many companies that are experts in strategies and there are many companies that are experts in implementation. Accenture is one that amalgamates both. Couple that with cognitive technologies and you have the potential of realizing the true outcomes that were promised by the digital age. So that's what brought us together. How high the technology is going to allow some people to soar is going to be determined by the people who are captaining the ship. And in this case we have an incredible deal of confidence in Paul and his team at Accenture and how much transformation they will be able to bring by harnessing true cognitive abilities together.

Phil: So Chetan, for our global audience which might not be so familiar with Amelia, can you briefly summarize its value and potential? What can Amelia do which other cognitive solutions cannot?

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Posted in: Cognitive ComputingRobotic Process Automation



OneOffice or DumbOffice? Service providers are bifurcating again

July 16, 2016 | Phil Fersht

In the old days of labor arbitrage centric outsourcing (which of course doesn't happen anymore) we had two quite clearly defined sets of service provider -

  • The offshore providers, which rarely interacted above director level and did the low end lift and shift routine work.
  • The integrators, which worked primarily with the IT and operations leadership to do the higher end work the ERP integration, often overseeing some of the offshore service providers to make sure they were doing their job. 

Then the likes of Accenture, IBM and Capgemini realized the offshore firms had eaten their lunch and they rolled out their own offshore delivery functions in 2005-2010 to circumvent the heavy flow of dollars to the Indian-centric majors. Accenture and IBM managed to catch up and compete on price when they needed to, while Capgemini really needed to acquire IGATE last year to be more effective as an offshore provider, in addition to being an integrator. Meanwhile, you had the likes of Deloitte, PwC and E&Y, which chose to stay out of the offshore game and sell integration capabilities as consultants, rather than managed service outsourcers. The losers in all of this were the traditional IT/BPO services providers, such as HP(EDS), CSC, Xerox(ACS) et al whose lunch was eaten by the offshore providers, struggling to compete on price, scale and flexibility.

Then along comes Digital and Automation as the new value drivers and suddenly the game is changing again – labor arbitrage is still a key cost lever, but it needs to be balanced with automation to drive down the cost and increase the productivity even further, while the broader goals of the ambitious C-Suites are to create real digital capabilities to create their markets, not play constant catch up to avoid being disrupted.:

So what are these two emerging groups of service provider?

OneOffice Enablers - focused on designing and enabling the digital customer experience and tying the front to the back to make it all happen (see below).  This is

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Posted in: Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)HfSResearch.com HomepageIT Outsourcing / IT Services



Will you really have to retire at 50? Not if you're smart about marketing and repackaging your skills

July 11, 2016 | Phil Fersht

I think I just read one of the most (brutally) honest and practical articles by a guy called Len Kendall, an LA-based marketing executive with a clear penchant for writing. His piece is based on two premises:

  1. The market no longer allows for employing older workers who deserve higher salaries
  2. Technology is killing jobs at a very fast pace that will only continue to accelerate

OK – we all kind of know this.  But where this gets interesting is where the discussion shifts to what he constitutes “expensive” workers. 

"Thanks to advancements in technology, jobs are becoming more automated. Assuming that we can eventually automate all basic jobs and allow artificial intelligence to conduct more skilled work, there will only be a need for a small group of educated, experienced, but inexpensive workers."

So what counts as “expensive” workers?

  • Group A – low-skilled, but still expensive.  Large populations of low-skilled workers (varying in age) who require lots of benefits. Companies will look to replace groups of ten or even hundreds of people with one computer to reduce costs.  This is the premise

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Posted in: Design ThinkingHR Strategy



Automation Impact: India's services industry workforce to shrink 480,000 by 2021 - a decline of 14%

July 03, 2016 | Phil Fersht

Last week (see post) we revealed the true impact of the emergence of Intelligent Automation on the global industry of 15 million IT services and BPO workers, revealing a net decrease of 9% and ~1.4 million jobs.  

The HfS future workforce impact model predicts the likely impact of the most recent wave of automation on the IT Services and BPO industry. We estimate that the current total IT Service and BPO industry employs c15 million in 2015, with ~3.5 million in India, ~1 million in Philippines, ~5 million in North America and ~4 million in Europe. 

The workers within the worldwide industry have been divided into 3 categories: low skilled, medium skilled and high skilled. Low skilled workers conduct simple entry level, process driven tasks that require little abstract thinking or autonomy. Medium-to-High level workers undertake more complicated tasks that require experience, complex problem solving, ability to learn on-the-job and to work autonomously. The model then applies underlying growth rates for each category linked to market growth. Each scenario has a different set of parameters that will impact each level of worker setting out likely degree of automation for each group and the probability that the job will be automated and in what time frame this is likely to happen. You can read a fuller description of our methodology for our future workforce impact model here.

The low-skilled United States and Indian services workforces are most impacted 

So what does this look like when we drill down to the country levels of the main global delivery locations:  UK, US, India and Philippines?  Let's start with the low-skilled positions, greatest at risk from robotic process automation (RPA): 

Click to Enlarge

(Click to Enlarge)

As the graphic illustrates, India is set to lose 640,000 and the US 770,000 low-skilled positions by 2021 - these are decreases of 28% and 33% respectively. This is largely because there are a large number of non-customer facing roles at the low-skill level in these countries, when you take into account the amount of back office processing and IT support work that are likely to be automated and consolidated across a smaller number of workers.  On the flip side,

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Posted in: Cognitive ComputingRobotic Process AutomationSourcing Locations



The broader issues behind Brexit send a frightening message to the services industry

June 26, 2016 | Phil Fersht

The vote for Brexit wasn't really about debating the finer points of EU membership - it was a big thumbs down for the establishment from over half the UK voters who feel disenfranchised.  This is a reflection of the ever-widening gap between the wealthy and the working classes, the educated and the uneducated, the socially-connected ambitious younger generation and the disconnected older generations, who've lost interest in the direction of the modern world that no longer represents their interests.

Moreover, this rebellion against the establishment can be clearly mirrored in many of our enterprises, where similar issues of disenfranchisement are rapidly permeating.

Rote jobs are being eliminated with limited reorientation and progression planning

We talk a lot about the new work and career opportunities being created by digital disruption and digital business models, but these require greater problem solving skills, critical thinking and creative capability, if the World Economic Forum's new jobs report is to be believed:

Click to Enlarge

And while we can complacently talk about all the exciting work creation the As-a-Service Economy is bringing, we've already precisely pinpointed that 30% of routine, low-value positions

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Posted in: Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)Digital TransformationHfSResearch.com Homepage



Digital labor will trim 1.4 million global services jobs by 2021

June 24, 2016 | Phil Fersht

It’s time we dispelled the scaremongering and hype and gave you the true picture of how advances in automation tools and methodologies, such as RPA and autonomics, will impact the global IT services and BPO industry over the next five years.

The current debate on these issues is as polarizing as it is confusing. On the consumer-facing side of technology, we have a fervent and far-reaching debate about the ethics of artificial intelligence and automation, led by executives from the likes of Google and Facebook. On the enterprise side, we frequently see quotes from studies from firms such as McKinsey and Gartner predicting seismic job losses through the impact of disruptive technologies that could have a devastating impact on the global economy and society in the next few years.

Yet, many of the leading stakeholders much closer to the true deployment of emerging enterprise Intelligent Automation tools and platforms—namely the service providers, the ISVs and the sourcing advisors—remain on the sidelines when it comes to discussing the true impact of automation as it’s adopted by many enterprises today.

We’ve been talking, for the best part of two decades, about how to “transform” business and IT processes after the cost benefits of labor arbitrage have been maximized. Well, the simple fact is that much of these arbitrage costs are close to optimization for mature services providers that have well-honed global delivery machines. As enterprise clients demand further cost advantages, and as competitors become increasingly aggressive with their service pricing, the focus shifts toward clients attaining outcomes that are not always directly linked to lower headcount rates.

“Intelligent Automation-as-a-Service” is a genuine lever for enterprises to pull for further productivity gains beyond low-cost offshore labor

Consequently, many enterprises that have chosen to externalize their service delivery can enjoy even more cost effective services, as ambitious service providers further rationalize their delivery organizations by taking advantage of automation to standardize and scale service delivery to their clients.  In short, while many enterprises can invest directly in Intelligent Automation into their own processes, they can also simply outsource those processes to service providers, which can embed further productivity gains tied to automation, in addition to labor arbitrage.  “Intelligent Automation-as-a-Service” is quickly emerging as a significant productivity option for enterprises as part of their service delivery.

Sadly, greater productivity and effectiveness through “digital labor” comes at a societal cost—jobs that were once required are no longer needed. However, we would point out that the jobs that are being phased out are no longer being recreated in any case, and much of this shrinkage will likely come from natural attrition as some people leave the service industry for more relevant jobs in other industries.

The Impact of Automation on Services Jobs

The following graphic shows three Automation Impact Scenarios for the IT and BPO services industry, ranging from a modest/conservative prediction which is a continuation of current RPA use to a scenario we consider more likely where adoption of RPA and more Intelligent Automation increases to an aggressive scenario, where automation adoption hits a broader range of the skills. If we examine the most likely outcome, Scenario 2, we see strong growth for highly and medium skilled personnel—with highly skilled positions in our industry increasing by 56%, and medium-skilled by 8%. However, low skilled, routine jobs drop 30% as many of these roles get phased out over the next 5 years, resulting in a net loss of 9% of jobs, totaling 1.4 million:

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

The following graphics shows Scenario 2, the Likely Scenario, in more detail, outlining the number

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Posted in: Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)Cognitive ComputingDigital Transformation



Can HPE + CSC dominate the digital underbelly, or has that ship sailed?

June 19, 2016 | Phil Fersht
Digital Underbelly

Just stare at that digital underbelly... there's a lot of work needed down there!

When the news broke last month about the second largest IT services merger of all time (after the 2008 HP-EDS whopper), the reaction among the services cognoscenti was - and has continued to be - one of confusion.  Big services mergers have just not done very well over the years. HP/EDS was a culture clash of immense proportions - and occurred right before the great recession, while other mergers, like Dell's acquisition of Perot, has resulted in the old Perot business being flipped over to NTT Data at a significant loss, and the Xerox/ACS merger has been shaken up and spun off and needs a major reinvention under new CEO Ashok Vemuri to get the company back on track.  Meanwhile, Capgemini and IGATE are still figuring out the best pieces of each other to mesh together, while not taking their eye off the ball, during the services industries' most cut-throat transition phase.

We heard HPE CEO, Meg Whitman, excitedly address the firm’s key clients and industry analysts at HP’s recent Discover event in Las Vegas, with an obsessive focus on “digital transformation” and the impending impact of “digital disruption”.  However, the real opportunity for HPE isn’t really in the design of digital business models for clients, it’s the enablement of them – it’s the provision of the agile “digital underbelly” to make digital change really happen for enterprises.

It's easy to be cynical about legacy IT services, but there's an awful lot of it to scrap over as enterprises are forced to fix their plumbing

Digesting the merger of these two struggling services giants has resulted in more rumination than most, considering the timing, sheer scale, transitional uncertain market and motivation. This is not a time when most traditional service providers are looking to add more global delivery scale to already large foundations – most are trying to slim down their delivery armies and sales forces,

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Posted in: Analytics and Big DataBusiness Process Outsourcing (BPO)Buyers' Sourcing Best Practices



Accenture, TCS, Wipro, Tech Mahindra and Infosys lead the 2016 Telecom Operations As-a-Service Blueprint

June 13, 2016 | Phil Fersht

HfS Telecom guru, Pareekh Jain, is back with his second blueprint looking at service provider capability delivering telecoms business services, following his debut analysis at the end of 2014:

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Pareekh, how would you describe the current state of Telecom Operations As-a-Service?

We describe this market as a under-penetrated market. Our research suggests the current global telecom operations market (i.e., business processes under network, fulfillment, assurance, and billing) is perhaps one-third of $10 billion potential.

The telecom market is perhaps only vertical market with the dubious distinction of both enabler and victim of the digital transformation. Telcos have enabled cost-effective communication with likes of WhatsApp, Skype and in turn, they have eaten telco's lunch. Telcos worldwide are struggling to find their right place in the digital world. As-a-Service solutions can enable service providers to help telcos to prepare for the digital era.  The As-a-Service is the model today and for the future in telecom operations services.

Tier 1 telcos have generally been early adopters of telecom operations services. Now, there is an opportunity to provide services to Tier 2 and Tier 3 telcos, too leveraging As-a-Service solutions. As-a-Service solutions are driving growth in this market.

The eight service providers we evaluated for this Blueprint approach this market in essentially two ways. Service providers with strong IT offerings focus more on non-voice solutions whereas pure-play BPO service providers focus more on voice-based solutions. Service providers with strong IT offerings have taken the lead in platforms replacing legacy stack, plug and play business solutions, intelligent automation, holistic security, design thinking, and collaborative solutions while analytics and social is on the agenda of all telecom operations service providers.

How has that changed since our inaugural Telecom Operations Blueprint in 2014?

Pareekh Jain is Research Director, HfS (Click for Bio)

Even back in 2014, we could see many ideals of As-a-Service present in service providers’ offerings. In the last two years, As-a-Service momentum has accelerated.

Compare to our analysis couple of years back, we see the rise in collaborative engagements driving business outcomes. Analytics is now embedded in most of the engagements. Service providers are launching new services incorporating design thinking. We see more examples and use cases of automation. Also, telecom operations service providers are becoming effective brokers of capability by partnering with IT, platforms, local construction companies and telecom domain experts.

We see industrialization of few new service offerings such as network rollout management, revenue assurance in last two years. Also, service providers are constantly innovating with

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Posted in: Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)HfS Blueprint ResultsIT Outsourcing / IT Services



Futurist Gerd Leonhard to keynote at HfS Cognition this September

June 09, 2016 | Phil Fersht
Futuring Gerd Leonhard will keynote at HfS' Cognition Summit this September

Futuring Gerd Leonhard will keynote at HfS' Cognition Summit this September

Now we have finally managed to get past that frightfully riveting conversation about doing some rudimentary process automation with our invoice processing and customer collections (aka RPA 1.0), we can finally get to the heart of what new technology capability  - much of which is already here - is really doing to our world.

With human brain power and computing power on collision course to become one, the enmeshing of human behaviour and thought processes with self-learning and self-remediating cognitive systems is set to confuse, frighten and - ultimately -  inspire us to change our whole approach to managing our technology investments, making data meaningful, collaborating with work colleagues and creating new business models.

This is our goal, this September, in White Plains, New York, where we are, once again, bringing together the diverse stakeholders of the operations and services industry to get past the fear, and find the inspiration to drag us out of this transition phase, in which we currently find ourselves.

To this end, at HfS we are thrilled to have persuaded Gerd Leonhard, CEO of The Futures Agency, to keynote our HfS Summit, "Cognition: Welcome to the Future of Services", September 14 – 16, 2016 in White Plains, New York. So we sat down with Gerd to get his critique of the future of technology, the emerging quagmire surrounding Digital Ethics and the true potential of Artificial Intelligence..o and how this will all potentially impact our jobs, our societies, our lives, and our humanity...

Phil Fersht, CEO and Chief Analyst, HfS: Good evening, Gerd. Great to have you on the HfS platform today! We're very excited to have you join us at Cognition, our coming flagship event in New York this September. But maybe before we start, could you give me just a little bit about your background and how you've ended up as such a visionary in the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Space these days?

Gerd Leonhard: CEO of The Futures Agency: It's a long story. I'm a futurist. But I started as a musician and producer, and then in the late '90s I went on the Internet and I did a bunch of music startups. It was an interesting time, but I was too early and ahead of my days. I think I realized in

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Posted in: Analytics and Big DataBusiness Process Outsourcing (BPO)Cognitive Computing



HfS adds a new twist to Digital and IoT coverage with Oliver Marks

June 06, 2016 | Phil Fersht
Oliver Marks is Research Vice President, Digital and Internet of Things, HfS (Click for bio)

Oliver Marks is Research Vice President, Digital and Internet of Things, HfS (Click for bio)

You may have seen we've been busy expanding our research team to make sure we can help executives pull all the right value levers to take their enterprises into the As-a-Service Economy. In the old days we put a lot of focus into outsourcing services, until we really made a statement being the first analyst to introduce Robotic Process Automation to the analyst and advisory industry in 2012, before priming the Digital transformation services pump in 2014 and IoT in 2015.

So, we thought it high time we recruited one of the industry's most respected authorities on the digi and IoT topics, Oliver Marks... so without further ado, let's hear a bit more about HfS' newest recruit...

Welcome Oliver!  Can you share a little about your background and why you have chosen research and strategy as your career path? 

Thanks Phil! I’ve got quite an interesting past: I started out in the UK design and advertising business having done a graphic design degree which was remarkably similar conceptually to the current vogue for 'design thinking’ in the tech world. We ran a ‘concepts & copy’ creative shop on

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Posted in: Digital TransformationHfSResearch.com HomepageIT Outsourcing / IT Services



Meet the Dinamo driving TCS' business process services impressive growth

June 03, 2016 | Phil Fersht
Dinanath (Dina) Kholkar is Vice President and Global Head of BPS at Tata Consultancy Services

Dinanath (Dina) Kholkar is Global Head of Business Process Services at Tata Consultancy Services

As we endlessly debate the future of the global IT service delivery in the wake of advances in automation, digital disruption and the ability to maintain double digit growth rates, one area that has steadfastly kept to respectable growth and improved delivery confidence is our beloved business process outsourcing services.

In fact, we are about to reveal to all of you that the growth in Indian-heritage BPO has been consistently out-performing IT services over the last year.  Why?  Because BPO is several years behind IT in terms of widespread adoption, but is now coming to the forefront as processes can be better-enabled by cloud platforms and maturing global delivery models.

In this vein, I thought it timely to interview Dina Kholkar, TCS' global head of BPS, who has helped steer his division to $1.9 billion at a 6% growth clip... making BPS now represent 12% of the total TCS business...

Phil Fersht, CEO and Chief Analyst, HfS: Good evening, Dina. It's great to have you on HfS for the first time. You've been one of the best kept secrets behind the exciting growth in the Business Process Services (BPO) team at TCS. Maybe you can share a little bit about yourself, your own background and how you ended up leading the highest-growth division in TCS today.

Dinanath (Dina) Kholkar, Vice President and Global Head of BPS at Tata Consultancy Services:  Sure, Phil. I've been at TCS for a very long time. This is my 27th year in TCS! I started in 1990 as part of the IT business. I managed a few IT projects, went on to manage accounts across different geographies, different types of roles. The longest stint I had was in the capital markets area. I also spent a few years in TCS’ R&D unit, predominantly focusing on data warehousing and data mining. Those were the years when data had started becoming a focus in many organizations. I did have a stint in operations when I was managing customers, but I never really managed the business of running operations until I got the opportunity to manage e-Serve, which TCS had acquired from Citibank. After a few years, when it was integrated into TCS, I took on the role of the overall head of the TCS BPS business. So we’ve had quite an exciting and an interesting journey, a journey filled with lot of learning and a lot of customers we’ve been able to positively impact over the years. And I feel quite proud about the type of opportunities that I have gotten and the way I have delivered on the objectives that TCS has laid out for itself.

Phil: So what can you share with us then about the secret sauce at TCS? What is it that makes you guys really tick?

Dina: One thing which I have always seen probably over multiple generations—and all three CEO leaders of TCS—really strikes me is the customer centricity. We go the distance, which means we do whatever we need to do for the customer. We do the right things and ensure that we are taking care of the customer’s business, bringing all we have as an organization to solve problems that the customer has. I think that customer centricity is paramount in the organization. I think we also

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Posted in: Analytics and Big DataBusiness Process Outsourcing (BPO)Design Thinking



Robotic Process Automation has now penetrated a third of enterprises. Time to advance the conversation...

May 30, 2016 | Phil Fersht

RPA 1.0 is a done discussion. We know what it is, we know what it can do, we know how it can augment operations and help digitize broken processes.  To this end, our brand new study on Intelligent Operations, which canvassed the dynamics of 371 global enterprises, already shows a third of them are very active with RPA within their IT and finance and accounting processes:

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RPA is here and being adopted at a fast clip

All the incessant RPA hype has done its job - it has literally dominated IT services and BPO conversations at every conference, provider strategy deck, advisor "new practice" press release and many buyer converations.  Indeed, we can even forgive those cheesy sales presentations from guys who suddenly claimed to have 20 years' experience as automation pioneers and talked about bot farms as if they were actually hand-raised on one...

The overwhelming conclusion is that a large chunk of enterprises are actively implementing it, and

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Posted in: 2015 As-a-Service StudyAnalytics and Big DataBusiness Process Outsourcing (BPO)



The new HP Enterprise is now the #3 high value IT services provider

May 25, 2016 | Phil Fersht

Love this merger or loathe it, the marriage of HPE and CSC has just spawned the third-largest high value IT services provider in the world - and happened just in the nick of time for our 2016 HfS IT Services Top 25:

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So, let's ask HfS' lead analyst for market sizing and forecasting, Jamie Snowdon (bio), how we fleshed out "High Value IT Services" from the general morasse of IT services:

We estimated all this data from services provider financials. Revenues are fitted to nearest calendar year. We attempt to make the IT services numbers as close to HfS definition as possible—as part of this exercise we exclude revenues from subcontracting, we don’t include BPO or business services revenues in this definition and some product services revenues were classified out of scope, if the equipment serviced is not IT – for example, telephony related equipment. These numbers do not include software-as-a-service, unless included within a broader managed services agreement.

Jamie, how did you come up with the $26 Billion number for the new HPE?

The merger of HPE Enterprise Services and CSC, brings together the high value services of HPE and the commercial revenues of the old CSC business. The $26 Billion revenue figure takes $8 Billion as CSC without the hived-off public sector business, and $18 Billion from HPE Enterprise Services division, much of which was the acquired EDS business unit.

And what's your initial take on the merger, before we get deep into the weeds of the broader implications?

This deal brings together two of the original outsourcing behemoths EDS and old rivals CSC. The reasons for the merger given by management focus on the scale of the new company. Certainly scale was an important requirement for IT outsourcing providers in the past, as it gave flexibility and economies to these asset and labor intensive businesses. However, in asset light world of modern IT managed services and the increased use of automation – scale is not a vital component. It does give them access to the very largest of global deals, but HPE, and depending on location, CSC, would have been able to handle anything that crossed its desk. What we have is two large services businesses that have spent the last 3 years hemorrhaging revenues, because they weren’t offering what many enterprise clients wanted or there was another provider able to do the same task cheaper and more nimbly. This issue is not going to be resolved by this merger. The two firms have to reinvent themselves as a modern services firm when contracts are more open-ended, value is counted in revenue growth, not just cost savings and scale is replaced by other features such as agility and innovation as the key differentiators.

Well, good timing indeed, Jamie, with the new Top 25. Interested readers can download their complimentary POV on the HfS website here.

Posted in: Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)HfSResearch.com HomepageIT Outsourcing / IT Services



When did employees become "costs"?

May 21, 2016 | Phil Fersht

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

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Posted in: HfSResearch.com HomepageHR StrategySourcing Change Management



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

May 19, 2016 | Phil Fersht

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

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Posted in: Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)Digital TransformationHfS Blueprint Results



The back office is dead... long live OneOffice

May 13, 2016 | Phil Fersht

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,

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Posted in: 2016 Intelligent Ops StudyAnalytics and Big DataBusiness Process Outsourcing (BPO)



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

May 06, 2016 | Phil Fersht

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.

Posted in: 2016 Intelligent Ops StudyBusiness Process Outsourcing (BPO)Design Thinking