Neural Platform Professor, TCS’ Harrick Vin

When we look back at this current era of IT services, we’re going to remember this as the time when many of the leading providers launched their platforms to help orchestrate, analyze, automate and artificially intellectualize the delivery of technology to enterprises.

We’ve already had IBM’s Watson™ and Wipro’s sidekick Holmes™, in addition to the several specialist IT autonomics platforms such as IPSoft’s IPCenter™ and Arago’s Autopilot™, so surely, it’s just a matter of time until we get the full gamut of branded autonomics-driven IT management platforms from all the major service providers.  The most recent launch comes from TCS, which has been putting a significant amount of investment and attention into its new IT autonomics “neural” platform ignio™.

So we  recently got some time with ignio’s mastermind, Dr. Harrick M. Vin, who’s  the Chief Scientist and Global Head of Innovation and Transformation, and IT Infrastructure Services at TCS.  Maybe he should just call himself the Platform Professor…

Phil Fersht (CEO, HfS): Good afternoon Professor Harrick Vin! It’s great having you on the blog. Maybe you can start by giving us some color into your background, and earlier career–and how you ended up working for a major service provider like TCS.

Dr. Harrick Vin, Vice President and Chief Scientist, Global Head, Innovation and Transformation, IT Infrastructure Services, Tata Consultancy Services (click photo for bio)

TCS’ Dr. Harrick Vin launches ignio this June in New York City (click for bio)

Dr. Harrick Vin: First of all it’s a pleasure to be here, and I appreciate the opportunity to talk to you, Phil. Let me first introduce myself. My name is Harrick Vin and I’m vice president for R&D and Chief Scientist at the Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). I look after our largest R&D center in Pune, India. For the past several years, I have also been driving the overall strategy and innovation for the infrastructure services business unit of TCS. Most recently, my team and I have been involved in developing a product called ignio, which we are launching in the market. I have been with TCS for about 10 years. Prior to joining TCS I was a Professor of Computer Science at the University of Texas at Austin for almost 15 years. At TCS, I have had an opportunity to closely work with and analyze some of the most complex systems, ranging from human systems, technological systems, to large engineering systems. We have used a lot of the learnings about how to manage complex systems, to design ignio. Read More »


Why big consulting needs to buy into BPO to address the As-a-Service Economy

Consulting-eat-BPOWe’ve been talking about the great divide between consulting and outsourcing models for decades, but – finally – it’s time for the two to get much closer together as the forces of the As-a-Service Economy combine to weld the two models into a new services mongrel which combines simplicity, efficiency and capability for enterprises finally attempting to drag themselves away from their perpetual treadmill of obsolete technologies and valueless process flows.

The whole premise behind As-a-Service is one of a fundamental cultural change with how enterprises approach their operations and partner more collaboratively with capable service providers to re-imagine their processes, based on defined business outcomes. Simply put, it’s a Read More »


Ready for a reality slap around the face with a wet kipper?

It’s high time we brought the HfS show back to our hometown of Cambridge MA this December, where we’ll give everyone a big reality slap around the face with a wet kipper:


Yes, people, it’s time to dial back the rhetoric, stop talking about fantastical things that will probably never happen, and get to the heart of the matter: how can we actually define and realize business outcomes from outsourcing?

This will be a service buyer event, where we have 45 exclusive enterprise buyer seats reserved for the chosen few, and we will wheel in some unsuspecting service provider leaders for our famous face/off debate, where we are going to challenge them on why they aren’t self-cannibalizing, why they all insist on using the same lingo we can barely comprehend, and how they plan to be different from each other when the fog lifts.

We’ll be holding the HfS Working Summit in Harvard Square just down the road from our headquarters. So mark your calendars now:

Defining and Realizing Business Outcomes

HfS Working Summit for Service Buyers

December 1-2 2015, Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA

More details–including the agenda, accommodations, how to apply for registration and sponsors–to follow very soon.

Bookmark our event site to stay up to date!
Drop us a note to apply for a seat (Service Buyers Only)


We hope you can make it to Harvard Square this December. It will be a great way to end the year and get ready for 2016. And, of course, we’ll have a little fun, great food and booze while we’re at it.

This will be an invitation only event, but we do encourage you to drop us a note if you are interested in applying for a seat. It’ll be great to have you there to celebrate the year we’ve had and get stuck into some unvarnished debate!

Be there, or be Harvard Square!

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Procurement makes its move to As-a-Service…. so who’s leading the market?

The beauty of procurement is that is was never really geared up for cheap and cheerful labor-arbitrage based BPO.  In short, most procurement functions have been cut to the bone in most organizations, and many still rely on fax machines, photocopiers and copious filing cabinets of yellowing contracts to get the job done.

Shipping this stuff off to far flung offshore destinations for a few FTE savings has rarely proved to work very well. However, creating a capability where clients can plug in to a whole new experience of procurement capabilities, category expertise, spend management analytics and gain-share opportunities As-a-Service is now happening for many ambitious buyers and service providers.

The procurement outsourcing market has evolved significantly since 2013 since HfS launched its first Blueprint, covering 14 service providers, to this new report that covers 18, co-authored by analysts Charles Sutherland and Hema Santosh. This new report is looking very closely at the evolution of procurement services from its legacy outsourcing roots in lift and shift mega-deals, coupled with strategic sourcing consulting, to the increasingly available As-a-Service solution models offered today.

The latest HfS Procurement-as-a-Service Blueprint captures the transition of service providers into the As-a-Service Economy:

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

What has changed since 2013 in procurement outsourcing services?

If we look at where we are today, or starters, we’re living in a post Procurian world, as its acquisition by Accenture in late 2013 shifted the competitive landscape.   Both were in our 2013 Winner’s Circle and when combined they created a market leader by share and by innovation. When we first commented on the acquisition we expected several more would quickly follow especially for Genpact and Capgemini who needed to replace the partnerships they had been developing with Procurian.   It turns out that rather than buy at least for now, those service providers who had gaps in capabilities or technologies turned to partnerships instead.

Indeed, partnerships between service providers born out of the transactional procurement market (e.g. TCS, Genpact, WNS) and those out of the technology (e.g. GEP) or strategic sourcing (e.g. Read More »


Is there anyway you’ll be at the NOA Symposium in London next week?

We’re participating in two sessions at the NOA Symposium held at etc. venues, St Paul’s on Wednesday 24th June. We’re also sponsoring the pens (which will surely create an avalanche of new delegates)


Click the logo to get more details on the 2015 NOA Symposium

I’ll be part of a panel with a motley assortment of legacy analysts from Gartner, Everest and NelsonHall as part of “The Outsourcing Debate”, moderated by the Professor of Process himself, Leslie Willcocks. This meeting will surely produce some fireworks as we vehemently debate the most overhyped and underhyped ITO and BPO trends in the UK.

Then, I’ll be chairing a workshop session on “Transitioning to the As-a-Service-Economy.” This is a subject sure to be close to the hearts of many of our readers and we’ve lined up a couple of HfS community friends to co-host with me, John Ashworth, VP Finance Transformation and Systems at Pearson, and Steve Turpie, Deputy Chairman of West Suffolk NHS Trust.


NOA Symposium… all the outsourcing royalty will be there

We’ll weigh the importance of the ideals of the As-a-Service industry vision, discuss how to get the right mix of technology and talent, and evaluate how the painful shift to As-a-Service is/will impact traditional buyer/supplier relationships.

The Symposium will be followed by the NOA Summer Party (we guarantee it will not rain), where booze and entertainment (whatever that is) will be provided for the rest of the evening.  I’ll hopefully see you there!

  • You can book your tickets for the NOA Symposium online via the NOA website.
  • If you have any questions, you can email NOA Events Manager Stephanie Hamilton at or call her on 0207 292 8692.

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Come see Tony Blair support HfS at the Annual ABSL Conference in Krakow

We’re excited to be heading to Krakow next week to participate in the two-day 6th ABSL Conference from June 16-17.

The great agenda features 80 speakers who will engage the 800 delegates in attendance in discussions about strengthening talent management and supporting regional business leaders for their next global roles in (and beyond) the industry, achieving sustainable and accelerated growth of the sector for the next decades, stimulating innovation and improvement culture, and taking advantage of the technology and client expectations revolution.

With any luck, I'll get a selfie with Tony. Show up yourself and see what happens.

With any luck, I’ll get a selfie with Tony. Show up yourself and see what happens.

I’ll be standing on the same stage as Tony Blair (he actually shows up right after our panel discussion where I will attempt a selfie… stay tuned) when I deliver the Keynote Presentation, titled “The Four Foundations of the As-a-Service Economy: The Industry Has Spoken” at Auditorium Hall from 12:40 – 13:00 on Day 1. My talk will look at how the emergence of As-a-Service represents the most disruptive series of impacts to the traditional global services industry that we have ever seen. I’ll share some of our new research, covering more than 2,000 enterprise service buyers in the HfS global community, which paints the picture of what our industry needs to do to get ahead of this impending disruption.

HfS Executive Vice President Charles Sutherland will facilitate a Day 2 Panel, titled “Looking for more fuel! – how to build on current success?” The discussion will focus on the experience of world class GBS organizations, as well as the next SSC trends and opportunities.

Charles will be joined by a group of industry luminaries, including Tom Bangemann, Senior Vice President Business Transformation, Hackett Group; Adnan Behmen, Associate Director GBS, Procter & Gamble; Wojciech Karpinski, Services Head, Global Operations Manager, Infosys BPO Ltd.; Agnieszka Kubera, Managing Director, Accenture Poland; and Magdalena Wlodek, Director Finance Service Center Europe, PMI.

This will be a terrific two days. I hope to see you there!

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HfS hits bullseye of the IIAR Tragic Quadrant for IT analyst firms

We’ve been doing this research things for a while now. The blog started in 2007 and HfS Research has been around since 2010. It’s really a blink of an eye when you think about it–especially compared with the established firms that we knock heads with every day:

But what keeps us going, apart from the great (and sometimes insane) clients we work with, is the knowledge that we’re doing the right thing – or at least we convince ourselves we are. But, occasionally, there is independent confirmation that tells it like it is, for example this new analysis from the International Institute of Analyst Relations, which surveyed analyst relations professionals from 60 organizations.

Again, here we are in the mix with the Gartners, Forresters and IDCs of the world in The IIAR’s now infamous “Tragic Quadrant,” which IIAR just released on the impact and relevance of IT analyst firms. As you can see, we’re square in the bullseye on the Impact and Relevance quadrant, along with Interaction (which is depicted by the size of the bubble).   What’s really encouraging for HfS is our reach beyond outsourcing and services into mainstream coverage of technology – we really seem to have left some of the niche analyst firms in the outsourcing space behind.

We’re not much for living in bubbles, but it’s not bad for your favorite insurgent firm. And we assure you, we won’t let it go to our heads.  Honest we won’t =)


Building your personal brand in the As-a-Service Economy

Personal Branding

Design Thinking?

The world we’re venturing into is demanding a very different approach to how we progress our capabilities and careers, and I’ve never seen so many enterprises so fixated on finding innovation-capable talent, when looking to hire senior executives. The hiring process for new talent has never been so complex and challenging for ambitious enterprises, desperate to avoid yet another disappointment of ending up with someone who talks a big game, but fails to deliver the goods.

And while it’s harder than ever to re-invent yourself to satisfy ever-demanding employers or clients, it’s also a great opportunity for many of us who have the determination, willingness to improve  and application to take our careers into the As-a-Service world. However, today’s work environment is also posing a huge threat to those of us unwilling to change with the times, or are simply seeking to ride out our final working years in the hope we can escape unharmed with our retirement nest eggs.

However which way we look at this, building our personal brands is the critical ingredient for furthering our career potential in this unraveling As-a-Service world. So let’s evaluate how to make some basic shifts from yesterday’s reactive worker to one which ambitious employers are going to want to lure…

Seven Simple Steers to avoid Screwing up your Personal Brand

1. Get rid of the 9.00-5.00 work mentality.  It’s amazing how many people still operate like this.  You can’t possibly function if you still have this attitude to work and never take calls / return mails in the evenings or weekends etc.  Ambitious business leaders no longer want people who just don’t want to put in the extra effort and time to be effective in their roles.  If you really don’t want to work hard, then find a career that doesn’t warrant that – sadly, it won’t likely be very intellectually stimulating…  but that’s the tradeoff these days.

2. Be a people person… or at least pretend to be.  Networking and having people want to engage with you has never been as critical as it is today. Email and social media is fun to communicate in soundbites, but nothing beats meeting up socially, talking on the phone etc.  I know many people out there who just don’t like people very much – it’s just in their DNA.  This is something you have to fix – if you’re not great to engage with, it’s going to hold you back. You don’t really need to like people to have a functional relationship with them.

3. Stop being an asshole… you know you can try.  Let’s face it, we all have to deal with them.  Just don’t be one yourself.  I know several people who just persist in badmouthing me and my firm because they compete with us – or just are assholes.  Can’t we all get along? Share a few jokes or have a drink at a conference?  Can’t we even pretend to like each other, or at least be civil?  In today’s world, it just isn’t the way anymore – we work hard enough not to need to deal with negativity and bad vibes.

4. Use social media to promote others, and not just yourself.  Nothing irritates me more than those people who only tweet or use LI to promote their own work.  These people who self-promote to the point of narcissism, and never bother to promote others….ugh.  It’s like going on a date when you were younger and having to listen to someone just talk about themselves all evening.  If you only ever promote yourself, people will quickly notice and start to avoid you. Fix this habit and force yourself to me more than being all about YOU.

5. Become genuinely collaborative and don’t just pretend to be.  Yes, we all know the types, but the more you collaborate, the more people will enjoy working with you and the more you will learn from others. Take the attitude that if you give, you will mostly get back. However, nothing beats having a genuine reputation for being collaborative – it’s such a big plus in the emerging work environment.  Noone likes the non-team players and it’s easy to uncover who they are in today’s environment.

6. Figure out how to self-improve by looking at yourself and being honest once in a while.  It still amazes me everyday how many people are simply incapable of being able to take a good look at themselves, identify their weaknesses and work out how to improve on them. Deep down we all know what we’re good at and where we are falling short, we just need to work harder at the latter independently as we’re not always going to have someone telling us where we need improvement. Being able to self-improve is an amazing quality in today’s world if you can open your mind to doing this.  If computers are self-learning these days, we need to be too…

7. Be creative and unafraid to refocus your abilities on achieving business outcomes.  This is so important today – you can’t just box up your skills to say “I’m great at”, or “I have 20 years experience doing FP&A, ABAP programming, deal negotiation, HR policy etc”.  You need to focus more on business outcome capabilities where you can clearly demonstrate how you identify problems and solve them in creative ways that add real value and future growth potential for enterprises. For example, you need to prove you can “Re-orient a firm’s whole go to market focus to open up new growth opportunities that might now have been obvious previously”; or “Re-define and simplify what data a firm needs to be effective in an industry”; or “Evaluate an automation strategy investment by identifying which processes would provide a genuine business advantage being automated, versus those which would cause more headaches than they are worth”.

Bottom-line: We mustn’t settle for easy, we need to keep pushing ourselves in today’s work environment

I will be the first to hold my hands up and admit I am not perfect – am sure I have many enemies and resentful individuals out there I managed to somehow rub the wrong way – and I am sure I could have been more successful than I currently am today if I had not made many mistakes with my career choices and business decisions.  But I do passionately believe we need to constantly challenge ourselves to stay ahead of our careers in today’s environment. Simply settling for the fact we have already reached the ceiling of our capabilities and career potential, could likely take us on a downward spiral faster than we realize as we increasingly compete with a broader spectrum of people for our jobs and our clients.


Sourcing Superman of the Source, Barry Matthews

One of the most scintillating sagas of the year has been the unravelling of the great Alsbridge European mystery, with their previous UK entity being reincarnated under the name Aecus (the son of Zeus) and Alsbridge US preferring to grow its own European business, as opposed to persisting with a franchise strategy.

Clearly, CEO Chip Wagner and his cohorts had grander ideas than merely hiring a few local boffins – and their recent acquisition of Source accelerates the firm up the value chain of sourcing advisors. Source has developed a growing reputation for itself under the leadership of its founders Barry Matthews and Eleanor Winn,  adds 20 staff schooled in ITO/BPO, vendor management, governance and SIAM skills, as well as demonstrated robotic process automation/autonomics insight, expertise and hands-on experience. Geographically, they have a track record in the Nordic market, a hotspot in the industry, and will bring credibility, should Alsbridge choose to focus on that area in the future.

So we recently caught up with the affable Barry Matthews to learn a bit more about what Source brings to the Alsbridge mothership…


Barry Matthews is a Managing Director for Alsbridge in the UK (Click for Bio)

Phil Fersht (CEO, HfS): Good afternoon, Barry – thank you for joining us on HfS, it’s a pleasure to have you with us. Your company, Source, recently got acquired by Alsbridge. But before we go into that, maybe you can just give us a very quick high-level bio and how you ended up in the advisory world.

Barry Matthews: Okay, no problem. It’s a pleasure to be with you. My background is in the service provider supplier side of things—predominantly in the IT world.

I was at GE Capital selling and delivering big infrastructure deals for a number of years. And then at Sapient, back in the day when we it called “globally distributed delivery.” It seems to have become offshoring. So I have a lot of expertise in delivering offshore deals. I then was an independent consultant in the outsourcing space before I joined Alsbridge plc (now known as Aecus) in the UK back in, I think, 2005. I setup their IT sourcing practice and had a very enjoyable time with those guys before I left at the end of 2009 to set up Source. We had five very enjoyable years before Alsbridge approached Read More »

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The Foundations of the As-a-Service Economy (Part 2): Avoiding getting burned without a burning platform

What do you mean, we have to change?

What do you mean, we “have to change”?

In Part 1 of our Four Foundations, we discussed the challenges and opportunities facing enterprises which are not taking better advantage of outsourcing relationships to help plug their talent and capability shortcomings.

However, while it’s one thing to talk about the delights that await ambitious enterprises when they make definitive plans go down this path, it’s another to assess whether they truly recognize the burning platform to take themselves through this period of pain and complexity to get there.

Foundation III.  A Burning Platform for Change:  As operational efficiency becomes a commodity, operations professionals need to strive for that next threshold of value, or find themselves rendered irrelevant

Our brand new study that delves into the Ideals of As-a-Service (stay tuned for the full release very soon) reveals some startling home truths as to what’s likely coming next. My biggest fear in our the industry is for those people just sitting around literally waiting for change, as opposed to squaring Read More »


The biggest threat to outsourcing’s future: Unfocused and unambitious Millennials

Social_CocaineI recently attended a graduation ceremony and was amazed at the number of students engrossed in their phones, occasionally looking up to applaud a graduate.

What’s happening here? Have we created a whole generation of socially-retarded morons preferring to network on Instagram and Snapchat than engage in physical dialog anymore?

Welcome to the entitled job market for the twenty-somethings where BPO doesn’t quite fit in…

What’s even more disturbing is the lackadaisical attitude displayed by so many of them when you ask them about their career plans and ambitions. Most seem pretty happy to sit around at home staring into their phones for a couple more years until their perfect job just happens to turn up on their doorstep.  If you haven’t gone down a specific career track such as medicine, law, finance or engineering, the future is an apparent wilderness of vagueness, deluded desires and uncertainty.  Doesn’t anyone have a plan to start somewhere and work their way up to a better place in the future?  Isn’t that what us mid-career folks did when we were starting out?

So let’s focus on our industry – the one of servicing enterprise IT and business operations effectively.  Whether we buy, sell or advise on business operations, if we don’t have succession plans to blood the next generation of talent, we’ll just become an industry of old farts with over-bloated salaries and a culture of preserving the past, not advancement into the future.

New data from our Talent and Trust in BPO study, where we spoke to 540 business stakeholders on the topic – and you can read the full report here – is pretty damning in this regard, with the vast majority of newbies in BPO seriously struggling to see a career path around BPO practices, despite being impressed with the potential of BPO as a real change agent within their businesses:

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Click to Enlarge

In my view, failure to develop a Millennial Strategy will be the ultimate death-knell to a long fruitful future for business and IT services, and we may as well accept the reality that we will become mimicked into a piece of RPA software and erased into the ethernet of digital retirement Read More »


The Four Foundations of the As-a-Service Economy, Part I: Getting your Outsourcing and Talent mix right

Moving at warp speed into the As-a-Service Economy

Moving at Warp Speed into the As-a-Service Economy?

Thanks to all of you who spent a fabulous day with us in Dallas for our first HfS Working Summit, dedicated purely to a joint unravelling of how we can find a way to the As-a-Service Economy.

What struck me was how quickly our industry has genuinely become focused on achieving business outcomes over the past few months – and this is being weaved into many of today’s new contracts and governance performance metrics.  The conversation has moved along quite markedly and I view this is a major leap forward for many industry stakeholders to change the way we manage service delivery that isn’t purely based on valueless metrics and squeezing out those last remnants of bloated labor cost.

However, it’s also clear that ambitious enterprise leadership teams are growing increasingly frustrated with their teams’ struggles to progress their capabilities, which will be the ultimate burning platform for many enterprises to make the shift and write off their legacy back office.  Here cometh the As-a-Service Economy, where stagnation and legacy will no longer be tolerated…

So what are we learning, at HfS, about the current readiness of enterprises to outsource and leverage As-a-Service delivery?

In short, we’re on a train hurtling towards something resembling “As-a-Service” and we need to make sure we stay on it:

Principles of As-a-Service5


At HfS, we are baking this unraveling of As-a-Service delivery into four distinct foundations: Read More »


Implementing Portion Control at CSC

gov-vs-entAfter all these years, CSC is finally separating out its public sector and commercial businesses.  So what does the HfS analyst team think of it all?

This week’s announcement that CSC would be dividing into two new entities, one for US Public Sector contracts and the other for Global Commercial contracts is a welcome and necessary step. CSC is a capable, trusted veteran of the services industry but it has been disappointing the market for some time now. Lacking the scale of IBM and HP, the brand of Accenture and the overhead structure of leading Indian heritage service providers it has been stuck in a poorly defined market position.

CEO Mike Lawrie has been pulling all the available operational levers since his arrival, by putting CSC back on a sounder financial footing, recruiting new executive talent, streamlining the offerings and building the partnerships required for success in the As-a-Service economy. However, those levers still are not enough and without access to new investment capital to build global sourcing and new technology resources as well as a further refinement of the strategy we wonder how CSC can compete in an increasingly globalized, industrialized and automated market.

csc-logoCSC’s large and challenging public sector contracts acted as a virtual “poison pill” limiting who could take a stake in the combined entity. Breaking this off will free the leadership to further shape the business than they have been able to do, so far.

CSC has carved itself up into a more manageable portion that will, in HfS’s view, make each entity an attractive investment target that, in turn, will maximize the return for current shareholders. The most likely candidate for the Global Commercial entity is a Japanese service provider and for the US Public Sector portion, we envision a PE firm.

If the goal of this action is to do more than just make it easier for each part to be acquired on its own, then we think CSC for the enterprise market needs to do the following:

  • Ignite the enterprise sales engine and refine operational processes to make it easier to contract with CSC for deals of all sizes
  • Invest in the brand so that it stands for something more in the As-a-Service Economy
  • Look at much larger acquisitions of their own if they want to create momentum and bring in new capabilities. Infochimps and ServiceMesh were strategically sound and brought new leadership into CSC but on their own they aren’t enough to move the entire organization.
  • Finally, HfS believes they should double down on emerging markets such as Digital and IOT in concert with the rebranding. There are no clear leaders yet in this space and there is still an opening for CSC but it needs rapid and decisive actions on the part of this slimmed down CSC Global Commercial to make this happen.

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Less lipstick on the As-a-Service pig please…

Pig-lipstickThe data from our brand new “2015 As-a-Service Study“, where we canvassed the views and dynamics of 716 service buyers, providers and advisors, is fresh off the analytics tools, and we’re starting to unravel just how messed up our industry is, as we try and forge a path away from legacy outsourcing practices.

For starters, we asked 372 service provider executives to reveal what actions would significantly enhance their As-a-Service credentials.  Naturally, you would expect them to plump for some serious investments in new tools, platforms, talent etc.  But, sadly, that’s not quite the case…

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Click to Enlarge

Most providers want the glitzy veneer more than the real deal

Yes, folks, most provider executives (45%) want the nice glossy magazine ads, website banners, white papers, airport billboards, webcasts etc., more than anything else.  Barely a quarter (24%) want to invest in a cognitive computing platform, a third in robotic process automation, with a similar number wanting to see their firms proactively cannibalizing their own legacy revenues to develop As-a-Service solutions for their clients.

However, providers do view upgrading their talent as a higher priority than investing in new technology, with 42% prioritzing the retraining of existing delivery teams with Design Thinking skills, and 40% bringing in consultative talent from outside to replace the long-outdated cheesy sales approach.  The services purists among us can appreciate that providers need to upscale their talent in order to take advantage of evolving technology solutions, analytics and automation offerings.

The Bottom-line:  Several providers are facing a slow death if they can’t make genuine changes to the old delivery model

In all honesty, I find this data both depressing and alarming. Most of our beloved providers want to talk a big game more than having the real chops to prove it.  It’s just like it was ten years ago when most providers were selling cheap offshore deals under the guise of helping clients with genuine “transformation”.  Now, it’s simply many providers selling a more mature offshore delivery scenario with much more sparkly and jingly bells and whistles to impress their clients.

My concern, today, is we’ve become so obsessed with thought-leadership and big ideas that we’re losing touch with reality. What’s more, it’s almost impossible to tell apart most of the service providers – they all have a digital story, an outcomes strategy and at least one guy wielding some form of RPA game plan.  We can’t continue in this vein for much longer – we’re all getting increasingly bored hearing the same old guff.  What we need is hearing from the clients who are actually investing with their providers.  We need to hear about the incremental steps and investments providers are making with their clients to start that long transition from legacy world to that far-off As-a-Service nirvana.  We need more reality and less fantasy.

So let’s all dial back the rhetoric and focus on the real investments in talent and technology that have to take place if we’re going to survive in tomorrow’s As-a-Service Economy


Ready for the transition to As-a-Service?


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The industry’s first Workday services blueprint: A new breed of As-a-Service providers has disrupted HR delivery forever

Workday LogoJust a few short years after ADP introduced the basic fundamentals of Business-Process-as-a-Service to the corporate back office with its managed payroll offerings, Workday has rapidly introduced HR-as-a-Service to the corporate, world with its comprehensive HR platform suite, creating a whole new ecosystem of service providers eager to slake the Workday thirst of so many HR heads.

Mention the very words “Workday” to any HR executive today and their eyes light up – they need a Workday go-live on their resumé, just like CMOs need Salesforce experience and most CIOs, in the past, an SAP or Oracle roll-out. However, what’s truly disruptive about the new HR-as-a-Service environment that has sprung up practically overnight, is the emergence of a whole new breed of As-a-Service providers now feasting on the lunch of the traditional providers.  What once cost $50m for a complex technical implementation, can now be done for a fraction of the price, with the bulk of the investment being refocused on post-implementation support and HR transformation.

Being able to tap into consultative support that can help with organizational design, or workforce analytics, that is delivered via virtual on-tap models, in addition to the bread-and-butter fulfillment work, has changed the game forever – and for those only just waking up to this seachange, it is already too late.

So let’s take a look at how the Workday services environment is shaping up with the industry’s first ever Blueprint report into Workday services, with the help of HfS principal analyst and report co-author, Khalda de Souza:


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Khalda…. why do so  much research into Workday?

Enterprises are increasingly interested in SaaS applications, as they promise speed, cost effectiveness and simplicity. We’ve seen great and growing interest in SaaS for HR functionality over the last several years and momentum behind the Workday HCM product has been especially strong. Today there are medium and large global enterprises alike deploying Workday, mainly because of its functionality, attractive user interface and its common code instance. Customers are increasingly Read More »


Robo-Britannia: Is Britain leading the As-a-Service revolution?

Robo-HRHThere are a lot of negative viewpoints on Britain’s capabilities to rebound as an economic superpower, after its heyday leading the world into the industrial revolution a very, very long time ago now. However, when it comes to driving out costs, privatisation and outsourcing of labor, and mercilessly adopting new tools and techniques to make themselves more efficient, their leading organizations are pretty damn good at jumping on the train.

And while the British government is the world’s biggest customer of offshore outsourcing (in fact its government has created a whole outsourcing economy of its own), Britain is also home to several of the upcoming automation software firms, such as Blue Prism, Thoughtonomy and IPSoft (a major presence there), the artificial intelligence firm Celaton, and several start-up robo boutiques, such as Genfour, Symphony and Virtual Operations.

Yes, people, when it comes to being first on the bandwagon for experimenting with solutions that can drive out cost and improve productivity, the UK – amazingly after all these years – still leads the way.  Our soon-to-be revealed As-a-Service study, which canvassed the viewpoints of 716 industry stakeholders, including 178 major enterprise service buyers, clearly shows how much more pervasive the adoption of both Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and analytics tools are among British enterprises, compared to enterprise service buyers in the other major global regions:

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The Bottom-line:  As-a-Service is changing the service industry dynamics forever, making it possible for smart businesses to get ahead of the disruption curve

As we delve into these unprecedented survey findings, it’s becoming abundantly clear that the evolution to As-a-Service will be a long and painful one for many buyers, providers and advisors, but the core fundamentals are about enterprises operating with more speed and predictability, a higher quality of processes and more value-based provider relationships, that can enable them to “plug-in” to the services experience.

Enterprises which have opened themselves up to a lot of global outsourcing relationships in recent years, for example many UK-led businesses, are clearly forging ahead more aggressively with the next wave of As-a-Service value, which is building the foundation for smarter automation, more realtime, meaningful analytics capabilities and a much more accessible, standardized cloud driven delivery infrastructure.  As-a-Service is a global phenomenon and the future Fortune 500 in 3-5 years’ time will be made of of many nimble As-a-Service driven firms, which are globally ubiquitous, where most services are sourced, and delivered via intelligent cloud models.  Yes, the Germans will probably still make great cars, and the American leading in life sciences, the Chinese in hardware manufacturing etc., but the true As-a-Service driven organization?  Now that can be anywhere…

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Chris cracks the Cap-ability code

Christopher Stancombe is Chief Executive Officer, BPO strategic business unit, Capgemini

Christopher Stancombe is Chief Executive Officer, BPO Division, Capgemini (Click for Bio)

On the week when Capgemini opened its wallet to make one of the largest services deals in history, with the $4 billion acquisition of IGATE, we thought it high time to focus on one business division that’s really been on fire the last couple of years – Business Process Outsourcing.

With Capgemini’s proven capabilities delivering global Finance & Accounting services (see our recent Progressive F&A Blueprint), one of the areas where the firm has needed to invest is in the industry sectors, so I, for one, am excited to see how Cap integrates IGATE’s insurance BPO delivery.

But the one aspect of BPO that keeps us grounded, is the simple fact that’s it still really about people and relationships – about talent and trust, which is why we went out and spoke to 540 business stakeholders on the topic – and you can read the report here.  So, without further ado, let’s talk to geologist-cum-Capgemini’s BPO CEO, Chris Stancombe, on how his division is faring under his leadership and how he views the emerging disruption in the market…

Phil Fersht (CEO, HfS): Good afternoon Chris. Great to have you back with HfS – I think it’s been at least a year since you took the reigns as the CEO of Capgemini’s BPO business. Maybe you could start by giving us a bit of an update on how that’s really fared. In the last year, we have seen some really strong performance from your firm, from our analyst vantage point. Maybe you could share a little bit with our audience how it’s evolved internally, how you have built out the team and where you feel you are today with the business.

Chris Stancombe (CEO Capgemini BPO): Thanks for that Phil. It’s good to be back. I have been here now for ten years. And as you kindly said it’s quite a success story really with the growth that we have experienced and the position that we have established for ourselves in the market. When I took over from Hubert Giraud, we had a plan that the two of us had worked on together. With Hubert moving on and also our CFO, Oliver Pfeil, taking on a new role there was quite a significant change at the top so the first thing I wanted to bring was stability.

When we moved into the three year plan, my most conscious thoughts were how do we build on our strengths and go broader and deeper within our portfolio to bring more value to our clients. So clearly we have a number of areas of strengths. F&A is one of those, analytics is another as well as Read More »

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Never doubt an HfS merger prediction! Capgemini really is buying iGATE

Capgamini iGATE

As we correctly predicted last week, Capgemini and iGATE have announced their nuptials after finding many areas of common interest to consummate a long-term flourishing relationship.

In short, this merger further builds on our weekend argument that service providers need to blend the best parts of each other to address better the journey to the As-a-Service Economy, and not solely the really disruptive stuff that could be 5-10 years out on the horizon.  OK.. there’s more chance of me being the next Gartner CEO than IBM actually buying TCS, but we wanted to set out the argument why a bout of lovely big service provider marriages could provide an ideal distraction from the spate of depressing quarterly results, while allowing for them to co-develop their investments in areas of real value.

At HfS, we believe this acquisition makes a lot of sense for Capgemini to address several holes in its global service portfolio, shoring up its India presence and adding some serious pep to its US clientele (and brand), financial services capabilities and analytics depth.

What Capgemini Gets From iGATE

North American Clients

iGATE derives over 70% of its revenues from North America with anchor clients such as General Electric and RBC and particular strength in financial services and manufacturing. By contrast, Read More »


#Crazymergerideas – Why IBM should acquire TCS

As-a-Service Graphic

When IBM announces a 12th consecutive quarterly decline, when practically every other service provider is trying to mask layoffs and austerity plans as strategic moves to delink revenue from headcount, you have to hold your hands up and admit the services industry is going through a secular transition that is going to get considerably more painful, before it eventually reemerges in the As-a-Service Economy.

Service providers need to address the transition years we are currently in, to reach the As-a-Service promised land

With consolidation of the current environment clearly very much on the minds of senior leaders in the service providers (e.g. Capgemini and iGATE widely mooted to be close to tying the knot), it’s pretty clear that we’re distracting ourselves from entering the As-a-Service world anywhere as quickly as we should be. There are simply too many operations and IT careers tied to legacy ERP and business processes, and too many providers making too much money feeding off this legacy, for the change to happen at anything bar a snail’s pace.  There simply is no burning platform for change – no Millennium Bug, no bust, no Great Recession in the offing (perish the thought…).

It is my belief that we’re at the start of a ten-year cycle of interim change as operational human labor is gradually replaced by automated platforms that are in turn augmented by analytical and creative talent and cognitive computing.  The smart service providers are those which are going to address this ten-year phase of transition head-on and not get distracted by maximizing their position in the old model.

So let’s pick on the biggest service provider of all in the middle of this industry transition, IBM, to assess its options:

The cool stuff is all great, but the dollars are relatively small

While IBM is making many right moves investing for the long-term, it’s this long drawn out medium-term period that’s the real problem. Watson, Apple and Twitter alliances, its new $3bn IoT unit, Softlayer etc.  all create As-a-Service mojo, but it’s going to take years to get to the revenue levels that can replace the traditional services dollars that are in gradual decline.

IBM needs to work with clients at the pace they are comfortable with, if it wants to maintain its wallet-share with them.  The problem with the current business is that prices are getting squeezed and second tier providers are getting desperate and practically buying deals with the hope of making them profitable down the road and keeping their investors happy.

The solution:  Buy TCS and create a dominant giant to crush its competitors

It’s simple – make a move on the largest, most aggressive and dynamic of the Indian-heritage providers:  TCS.   Together, they would crush the market across all aspects of delivery, all verticals, Read More »