Nominations now open for the inaugural HFS OneOffice Awards!

July 17, 2021 | Phil FershtDenise Colgan

HFS OneOffice Awards

(Click to visit the Awards page on our website)

As you all know by now, no one gets a prize for coming last at HFS... but you can now get one for coming first in each of eight different categories!

This Awards program is close to our hearts at HFS. It allows us to showcase and laud organizations who have embraced the opportunities presented by our new business reality, those that have taken a transformational leap rather than a simple step-change. Denise Colgan, the OneOffice Awards program director, spoke with me to learn more about the story behind the awards and the timing of the launch.

Denise Colgan, Director, Awards & Strategic Programs, HFS: Hi Phil – and thanks for your time. Nominations are now open for the OneOffice Awards and we are all very excited that the program is live. How are you feeling about it? And why has HFS launched an awards program in the first place?

Phil Fersht, CEO and Chief Analyst, HFS Research: Hi Denise. I am also excited that the OneOffice Awards are now live. HFS has always been a trusted resource for clients looking for data, information, and informed opinions about what is happening in the market, but we wanted to add another layer – real-life examples of truly transformational projects and programs. People want to be inspired. Being able to learn from the journeys of others and see the real, quantified results they have achieved can help spark the flame of their own transformation. And those who have led the way and taken those leaps of imagination and commitment should be applauded. So, it’s a win-win situation really – we can celebrate the great results achieved by visionary companies and their provider partners while inspiring and informing the next wave.

This is a great fit for HFS. We always strive to think differently and are passionate about combining knowledge with impact to help organizations realize long-term value rather than simple incremental improvements. I can’t wait for people to send in their nominations so we can see some of the great work people are doing – and their results!

Denise: It sounds really exciting – and such a great idea. But why now? Is there any significance to the timing of the OneOffice Awards launch? 

Phil: Yes, there is - our research has shown that the pandemic has added another level of urgency to the need for transformation. Pre-Covid-19 organizations talked about transformation but were stuck doing so alongside legacy dragons and embedded thinking. The pandemic has flipped that one-track corporate mindset of resisting change to one of demanding change overnight. Business resilience is now front of mind rather than the old trope of quicker, faster, cheaper.

We are now seeing the dawn of the OneOffice organization, bringing together connected, global talent and intelligent, automated processes and data running in the cloud. The bold enterprises, who design their organizations to thrive in this era will be the winners – and we can’t wait to share their stories.

Denise: That’s wonderful to hear Phil. It’s great to hear that the OneOffice Awards are focused on the creative use of technology, data, and people skills to keep businesses relevant and successful in this new world. What award categories are being included?

Phil: We have decided on eight categories, each of which is close to our hearts and can bring about real and lasting business change. 

  • Data and Decisions: Recognises organizations and teams that create a culture of data that drives new opportunities through interactions, insights, and predictive capabilities, giving the ability to access data at a speed that drives critical decisions for their business
  • Native Automation: Rewards organizations and teams that leverage a range of emerging technologies to create intelligent and automated workflows in the cloud, enabling the new "native" standards for consistent cross-functional enterprise operations
  • People and Process Change: Applauds organizations that develop and manage talent to build OneOffice skillsets, address process debt by eliminating wasteful activities that plague our organizations, and manage change across the organization to make a meaningful impact 
  • Horizon Three Innovation: Identifies organizations that find completely new sources of value by collaboration across multiple organizations with common objectives and who demonstrate organizational characteristics like an infinite mindset, data monetization, and autonomous processes, while leveraging horizon 3 technologies such as blockchain, 5G, and/or quantum computing 
  • Innovation Ecosystem: No one can be everything to anyone! This category recognizes the service provider that embraces collaboration across start-ups, technology providers, academia, industry bodies, researchers, influencers, and even competitors to drive unmatched value for its clients
  • Sustainability: Celebrates organizations that meet the triple bottom line: social, financial, and environmental. An enterprise that has a positive effect on the global or local environment, community, society, or economy
  • Diversity: Applauds organizations and teams that unleash human potential by getting serious about people diversity to maximize the potential of every person and drive real innovation
  • OneOffice Mindset: Recognizes an enterprise that runs processes end-to-end across the organizational value chain, focuses on employee experience as a significant component of the overall customer experience, and drives organizational alignment and metrics that measure value creation, not just cost reduction. It represents an organizational mindset that breaks down front-to-back legacy silos to create the only "office" that matters. 

Denise: I can’t wait to see the entries flood in! Who can get involved? And where/how can they get started on nominations?

Phil: Everyone is welcome! Nominations are open to client-side organizations and their key partners worldwide and across all business sectors, including the public sector. Technology and service providers are also encouraged to nominate their own clients and share their success stories. All of the information needed can be found on our OneOffice awards homepage. We have a dedicated, easy-to-use awards platform where entrants can register and start their awards entry. It’s a really simple process. Everything can be saved in progress, so start your entry here.

Denise: Well, good luck to all entrants! Are there any key dates or considerations they should be aware of?

Phil: That’s a great question – thanks. The OneOffice Awards are open to enterprises from across the globe and must have been live at any point between January 1st, 2020, and the date of entry.

Nominations are now open, and we encourage people to get started as early as possible, especially if they need to gather information from different sources or get executive sign-off. Key dates for the OneOffice Awards are:

  • Nominations Close: Monday, 24th November 2021
  • Finalists Announced: Friday, 24th December 2021

The winner in each category will be announced at a celebratory event to be held in London on Thursday, 24th February 2022. We will share more details about that event nearer to the time.

Denise: Do you have any advice for companies considering getting involved?

Phil:  Yes – just do it! Sharing our successes and inspiring others is so important. There is so much hype out there, so real stories about real projects and quantified results are a must-have for organizations who want to make lasting change. So, my advice is - just get started. And if people have questions or need any help, they can contact you at [email protected].

Denise: Indeed they can. I will be happy to help!

Click to visit the Awards page on our website

Posted in: Digital TransformationDigital OneOffice

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The Five Fundamental Changes that have Reset how we Work

July 12, 2021 | Phil FershtSaurabh Gupta

On the surface, not much has changed… we go to work, we try to do what we did before without physically engaging with each other.  We talk a lot about a “return to normal,” but deep down, we’re starting to suspect those days are gone for good.  So what’s changed?

1. Most of us now have a work-from-home mindset ingrained, whether we like it or not. We have become so efficient working from home, and we don’t have time to commute/travel unless there is some urgent need. If anyone hasn’t already noticed, most folks in the East coast of the US, London, and other major cities have had the green light for several weeks to meet up.  And while the brave few have had a few socials, people aren’t exactly champing at the bit to “renormalize.”  It’s not a fear of Covid as most folks in our industry in the US are fully vaccinated, it’s the new intensity of the virtual work culture – we just don’t have the hours in the day to give up  Our calendars are constantly clogged up for immediate needs weeks ahead and our businesses will struggle to function if we started to block out entire days for conferences and meetings.  While many employers will try and force an in-office culture, it will prove very challenging, getting many people to break from their ingrained work-from-home mindset.

2. The hype days of technology are over. It’s all about what enterprises need, not what vendors are trying to sell them.  The change in the enterprise mindset towards technology has gone through a genuinely pragmatic revolution over the past year.  The realization that being able to function in a virtual model has gradually drained the remnants of hype of the technology value propositions.  Our Pulse study of 800 Global 2000 enterprises clearly illustrates two factors that dominate the focus of leaders:  moving operations into the cloud at speed and training staff to understand how to balance digital business needs in a virtual environment:

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Whether we talk about automation, AI, blockchain or quantum… every business leader will answer with “So what?  we need data to be relevant… and it needs to be accessible and immediate in the cloud.  Once we have that we can consider how to get smarter, faster and more efficient”.

3. We are not so afraid of change as Horizon 3 unfolds before our eyes. The last 12 months were the most significant change in our lifetimes, but we are still standing. Change does not sound so scary anymore. Embracing change has also made us more ambitious as business leaders. Are we satisfied with slightly cheaper, slightly better, or somewhat faster, or are we searching for fundamental new sources of value? The OneOffice approach now resonates with practically 99% of enterprise leaders. Horizon 3 initiatives to develop hyper-connected enterprises are also no longer five years away…Horizon 3 is now unfolding right before our eyes:

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4.Locations have become irrelevant, as access to talent takes center stage. The days of resistance to offshoring are over as Global 2000 enterprises literally cannot function without access to IT and operations talent. In pre-pandemic times, many US politicians advocated against offshore resources, but this is no longer an option as the talent shortages in the US are a serious issue. We see a continued growth period for hybrid offshore/onshore outsourcing over the next few years, which will accelerate as we gradually emerge from the pandemic over the next few months.  As the Pulse data shows us, enterprise leaders are looking at all business talent models to get what they need, whether offshore, nearshore, onshore, or from a location-agnostic model where they may have no idea where they are that resource is located.  We also expect crowdsourcing to (finally) emerge as a significant model for access specific talent, especially in crucial areas where deep skills are scarce, such as cybersecurity, machine learning, and data science.

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5. Values and philosophies beyond capitalism increasingly dictate where our emerging talent chooses to work. This forced embrace of change has had a positive impact on pure capitalism ideals. We have seen a big boost to a profit with a purpose philosophy with initiatives like sustainability and diversity becoming far more ingrained in enterprise-wide goals than just CSR initiatives. Three-quarters of major organizations are centering investments in emerging technologies to support initiatives around sustainability.  We expect many employees to choose employers that stand for important values, beyond merely profit.  CEOs' personal views will become increasingly important to set the tone for their organizations as people increasingly look to leadership for purpose and motivation.

 

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The Bottom-line:  We're ready for change, we're truly virtual and we're pragmatic about achieving real business outcomes

However which way we look at things, we're becoming realists and the old days of technology hype and fear of change are receding into the past.  Over the past year, we've gradually let go of the many shackles of the past and started to realize we're in a new reality, a wholly new environment, where we're all trying to focus on achieving real business outcomes, on values that are important to us, and a new work reality where its intense, high-touch and very real.  

What Covid has taught us is there is no reason to fear change, and how important we are to keeping our organizations moving forward.  We just need to keep our eyes wide open that the world has changed, we have changed and we have to accept and adapt.  Onwards an upwards folks =)

Posted in: Digital TransformationDigital OneOffice

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EY, Accenture, Infosys, TCS and IBM lead the unchaining of supply chain sevices

July 01, 2021 | Saurabh GuptaPhil Fersht

Many industries are experiencing more change during these times than they ever have... anticipating customer demand, staying ahead of emerging ecosystems, grappling with constantly-changing supply channels, regulations and logistics... the list of challenging for supply chain leaders is endless.  So who's helping enterprises stay ahead of these secular shifts in supply chains? Let's hear from our very own Saurabh Gupta, who led our recent Top 10 research into supply chain services.

Saurabh - you've been researching supply chain services for 15 years (sorry, but I can remember when you started!)... how have they developed over the years, and why has the pandemic created the burning platform for the market?

Yes, Phil…about 15 years since my first report as an analyst … you've made me realize that I am getting older! The very definition of the supply chain has changed over the last two decades from linear supply chains (input, process, output) to circular sustainable supply chain (to re-use, re-make or refurbish). But I feel that the term 'supply chain' is a misnomer for meeting the realities of today's world. It connotates constrained thinking. We need to break free. It's time to unchain your supply chain.

For too long, supply chains have been shackled by the idea that they must be linear—a "chain." But the pandemic shock changed the supply and demand equation. Business priorities changed overnight, creating new opportunities for some and threatening survival for others. Enterprise leaders finally recognized the need for supply networks. Supply chains need an ecosystem approach—both internally and externally. Organizations will need to collaborate across industries to pinpoint sources of disruption, where to disrupt, and how to keep reinventing themselves.

How have service providers evolved over the years to drive supply chain innovation?  Which ones impressed in the recent study?

First, I've seen a convergence of third-party technology, business, and consulting services for the supply chain. They were three different market segments, but leading service providers realize that they need to operate at the intersection of all three. Second, the budding romance between the supply chain and emerging technologies is exhilarating. For instance, supply chain provenance (track-and-trace) is the no. 1 use case for enterprise blockchain technology adoption today. And third, the scope of third-party supply chain services has expanded beyond traditional areas like order management, inventory management, and sourcing & procurement into emerging areas like supply chain planning and design, aftermarket services, and sustainability services. Improving supply chain resiliency, transparency, and sustainability emerged as the top 3 areas of focus across 200 supply chain executives that we surveyed as a part of our 2021 OneOffice Pulse study.

We assessed 11 leading supply chain providers with robust supply chain credentials across a defined series of innovation, execution, and voice of the customer criteria.

 

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The Top 5 service providers in the HFS winners circle were:

  1. EY brings together the capabilities of all its service lines (Technology Consulting, Business Consulting, PAS (People Advisory Services), Tax and Strategy and Transactions) for the supply chain practice to offer services that cut across consulting, managed services, and technology products.
  2. Accenture is delivering the promise of intelligent supply chains with its new "One Accenture" organization structure oriented around three markets (North America, Europe, and Growth Markets) that allows it to bring together all its services (strategy consulting, technology, and operations) to its clients in a simple and easy to consume way.
  3. Infosys has developed "Live" supply chain solutions designed to make supply chains adaptive and resilient, resembling living organisms' ability to sense, reason, respond, and evolve to uncertainties
  4. TCS’ large scale, MFDM (Machine First Delivery Model) powered and end-to-end SCM offerings to deliver resilient, adaptable, purpose-driven, and future-ready supply chains
  5. IBM brings to the supply chain a triple-A trifecta (automation, AI, analytics) powered intelligent workflow along with exponential technologies such as Blockchain, IoT, and Quantum, as well as championing open supply chain innovation through investments like RedHat.

Other notable performances that stood out for me included:

  • Genpact's Barkawi Consulting acquisition enables it to deliver to clients global, end-to-end supply chain services bolstered by domain, digital, and data science expertise.
  • Capgemini's frictionless supply chain vision is strongly aligned with our OneOffice mindset
  • HCL's integrated digital portfolio and Inorganic strategy to build a services + product offering
  • PwC's industry-focused approach and investments in digitally fluent talent
  • GEP's expansion from sourcing & procurement provider to consulting, managed services, and products for supply chain

So finally, Saurabh, what will we talk about in the next couple of years as we see organizations become increasingly "hyper" connected?  How fast is this new market moving, in your view?

Extremely fast, Phil! We are rapidly approaching Horizon 3 (the Hyper-Connected enterprise) of HFS' Innovation framework. The scope of innovation is quickly expanding beyond the functional silos. It needs to extend beyond the four walls of your organization, and it requires collaboration across multiple organizations with common objectives around driving entirely new sources of value. Even the traditional boundaries of industry definitions are blurring, and new industries are getting created.

 

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We need to embrace the change happening in front of us or be prepared for an "oh crap, I wish…" moment in two years.

 HFS Premium subscribers can click to access their copy of Top 10 research into supply chain services

Posted in: Digital OneOfficeProcurement, Engineering & Supply Chain OutsourcingSupply Chain Management

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Dig in with Dr. Truong Gia Binh – How Vietnamese IT services powerhouse FPT is vying to be a global transformation challenger

June 26, 2021 | Phil FershtSarah LittleShantanu Tewari

The scramble for talent and resources triggered by the virtual environment has thrown the world of global sourcing on its head.  Our new HFS Pulse study covering 800 Global 2000 Enterprises clearly shows us enterprise leaders are evaluating all options (offshore, nearshore, onshore, WFH, crowdsourcing).  Simply put, the need for tech talent and niche specialization is at an all-time high and we need more options available than merely the traditional vehicles:

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Dr. Truong Gia Binh, Chairman of FPT Corporation, has a vision to bring Vietnamese capabilities to serve the world and make Vietnam one of its premier AI hubs. FPT has charted its roadmap to enter the Global Top 50 digital transformation provider list in the coming decade – the key drivers to this being FPT’s experience across multiple sectors, its focus on emerging technologies, a whopping 76% demand for digital transformation within Vietnam as a result of COVID-19, and a young population that excels with numbers. FPT formally launched its transformation consulting practice FPT Digital in February and raised its overseas transformation revenue targets by 50% for 2021.

Here are 5 key highlights about FPT you need to know: 

  1. FPT’s desire to be at the top of the game
    In the initial years, FPT started off by democratizing Office Computer Skills across all backbone sectors of Vietnam. FPT’s global presence now covers 26 countries around the world, with the goal of becoming one of the Global Top 50 digital transformation providers within the next ten years.
  2. Vietnam: An Aspiring Digital Nation
    Vietnam is a young nation, and FPT desires to make Vietnam an AI hub of the world and bring Vietnamese quantitative capabilities to the world through implementations of Digital Transformation. Through encouraging support of the government, he is hopeful that the digital economy will contribute to 30% of the overall in the next 10 years.
  3. COVID-19 as a catalyst for digital transformation
    Vietnam has been highly resilient during the COVID-19 pandemic, and technology has played a key role. Vietnam’s Government adopted innovative digital tools for contact tracing and disseminating information.
    To respond to the COVID challenge, FPT transformed internally and changed the approach towards customer delivery. They became a comprehensive digital transformation partner of various industry leaders, enhanced their consulting capabilities through acquisitions, and set up new delivery centers in 2020 to expedite the new approach.
  4. Emerging Technologies and Made-in-Vietnam Software
    FPT plans to bring its synergy of methodology and industry experience to the world. In the first 3 industrial revolutions, Dr. Binh notes they were busy fighting for survival whereas today, as the world embraces Industry 4.0, Vietnam has the opportunity to join the race from the same starting point – just as any leading country in the world. A lot of enterprises in Vietnam do not have legacy technology and are hence making a start directly in digital.
  5. The Rise of Digital Platforms
    The world post-COVID-19 will look very different, and Dr. Binh believes a platform economy is on the rise. Most business leaders in Vietnam have planned for digital transformation, which is an indicator of huge market potential for FPT and digital platforms such as FPT.AI.

To go deeper, we invite you to dive into the full details of the discussion between FPT's Chairman, Dr. Truong Gia Binh, and Phil Fersht:

Dr. Truong Gia Binh, Chairman FPT Corporation

FPT’s desire to be at the top of the game

Phil Fersht, CEO and Chief Analyst, HFS Research: Dr Binh, tell us a more about yourself and how you came to be Chairman of Vietnam’s premier IT service provider?  Was this what you had always planned when you were starting out with your career?

Dr Trương Gia Bình, Chairman, FPT Corporation: Starting a business was not in my initial plan, Phil. In the late 1970s, the wars left Vietnam as one of the poorest countries in the world, with GDP per capita less than $100. Food was not sufficient to feed the population.

As a research fellow in Russia at the time, I noticed that Vietnamese people were often looked down upon. So I gave up pursuing my research career and joined 12 fellow scientists to found

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Posted in: Digital TransformationIT Outsourcing / IT ServicesDigital OneOffice

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Sitel buys SYKES. Now a CX juggernaut triumvirate emerges with Teleperformance and Concentrix

June 22, 2021 | Phil FershtMelissa O'Brien

It’s been a couple of years since we’ve seen any major consolidation in the contact center BPO top ten providers with Concentrix acquiring Convergys, but last week Sitel made it clear that large contact center acquisitions are still in vogue by announcing its intention to buy peer SYKES.  

As for the $2.2b price tag, Sitel now expects to generate $4b in revenues from the combined entity.  The combined revenues will be biting at the heels of their next-largest competitor, Concentrix, which is second only in revenue and scale to contact center BPO giant Teleperformance. In 2020 SYKES revenues grew 6%, whereas Sitel’s grew 18%.  With this acquisition, Sitel jumps ahead of the now 4th largest competitor, TTEC:

WFH leadership is the significant boost behind SYKES’ appeal

SYKES has arguably been the work-from-home (WFH) contact center leader since pre-pandemic days, with the foundation of its 2012 Alpine Access pure-play home-based contact center acquisition.  Since, SYKES has further developed this core capability into a very sophisticated recruiting, onboarding, training and collaboration platform – fully virtual.  The long-standing WFH expertise and the capability of its OneTEAM platform enabled a successful shift to remote in early 2020 and continues to be one of SYKES’ major differentiators. 

With 40% of staff expected to be working from home across Global 2000 organizations over the next year (see below), having the broadest geographic experience and depth will surely align the merged entity with the strategic resourcing desires of many leading customers.  If Newco leads with WFH, customers will surely entrust more with them.

 

In addition to the WFH and tech capabilities, SYKES offers an attractive and complementary geographic footprint, including a European multilingual hub with delivery out of Egypt.

SYKES brings the only scaled-up global automation services capability that could position Newco at the heart of OneOffice

Its other key capability, which we touted as the first real automation investment by a contact center in 2018 is the RPA strategy and implementation capability of Symphony ventures.  While the Symphony resources have largely been held together by SYKES, the firm declined to embrace automation into its core value proposition and failed to excite the market by rebranding this unique capability as the bland “SYKES Digital Services” last year.  If Sitel can embrace automation to drive front-to-back processes and a OneOffice mindset for its clients, it’s not too late to revitalize the former Symphony team to create a genuine edge for itself in the market.

In a OneOffice organization (see Exhibit 4), automation becomes a native competency, where human performance is augmented by unleashing creativity and personal interaction, where the immediacy of data creates insights to support decision-making that can make or break the firm. The only true way to create a OneOffice experience is to be able to integrate the front office processes and interactive technologies (most of which are embedded in the call center) with the operations of the organization:

OneOffice is where teams function autonomously across front, middle and back-office functions to promote broader processes with real-time data flows that support rapid decision making. It’s where front, middle and back offices will cease to exist, as they will be, simply, OneOffice.  Sitel+SYKES has a unique opportunity to consult to enterprises to make these front-to-back connections and weaves these capabilities into their managed services offerings.  The merged entity can offer real expertise to provide automated processes as-a-service and help their clients through the journey.

Bottom line:  While scaling up to compete with Teleperformance and Concentrix is clearly the game-plan, Sitel/SYKES needs to focus on the value of the parts and integrate at speed

Sitel is virtually unrecognizable from the firm it was six years ago.  A debt restructuring plan following its sale to French conglomerate Groupe Acticall was completed in 2018, opening up the firm to footprint expansion, digital investments, and a major rebrand which unified the company and all of its complementary assets.   Sitel has recently made major investments in growth. Its design thinking and discipline organically, including hiring design experts and developing its MaxHub and EXP + model. 

This latest major announcement sets in stone the firm’s intentions to be a leader in this global, remote, and increasingly digital contact center market. Now speed is of the essence to integrate the two firms, and we can expect an aggressive competitive response to this.  Sitel and Concentrix were widely rumored to have come close to a merger, and neither top two firms will stand still and take this new competitive threat lightly.  There are several mid-tier CX providers which will struggle to maintain growth in the coming short-medium term, and we will be surprised if we do not see some more large-scale CX services mergers over the next 6-12 months.

Posted in: Digital OneOfficeCustomer Experience ManagementIntelligent Automation

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Unleashing cultural innovation is dictating the emerging work environment

June 19, 2021 | Melissa O'BrienPhil Fersht

Not only is a clearer picture of the “future of work” emerging in today's new reality, but its very nature is also changing day-by-day. In short, no one can paint an accurate picture of what the emerging work environment will eventually look like, but we can develop scenarios to understand how this will play out in the coming months and years.  What is clear is enterprises are grappling with the need to drive unprecedented innovation in a work-from-home culture, and are figuring out how to arrive at a more predictable, acceptable, and effective work culture as we look beyond this pandemic era. Developing a work-from-home capability is the table-stake to survive in today's environment, but innovation will only thrive in a hybrid work environment where people can inspire and motivate each other.

There is only so much you can achieve remotely – the smart way forward is a hybrid work model

We've talked to hundreds of executives over the past year, and they all complain about the same thing - they are managing an almost unmanageable amount of internal meetings over video calls, simply to keep the wheels on basic task management and accountability.  Simply put, it's becoming increasingly complex and awkward to run business operations in a remote model where training is a huge challenge, where motivating people is almost impossible, where getting beyond the basics of keeping activities functioning is a huge challenge.  Communicating, collaborating, idea-sharing, white-boarding, etc are critical for taking businesses forwards and driving real innovation.  They are also critical for helping employees become comfortable with change, to be comfortable with automating mundane elements of their jobs, and to become adept at embracing ways of accessing the data needed to exploit market opportunities. 

With industry lines blurring, supply chains fragmenting and new opportunities and challenges springing up at a breathtaking pace, the time to bring people back together is fast-arriving, and so many enterprise leaders are now seeing this in spades.

Embedding digital fluency into your workforce is paramount to drive a truly cloud-enabled business architecture

The clearest barometer that shows the major changes facing Global 2000 enterprises over the next 12-18 months are the clear priorities to develop “Digitally Fluent” workforces to be best equipped to function effectively in the cloud. 

Digital Fluency describes the ability to drive the seamless interplay between business and technology:

  • Ability to translate the understanding of digital tools to create new ways to serve customers’ needs and drive value;
  • Ability to consider how digital technology will impact every aspect, every functional area of the organization;
  • Ability to examine the organization’s business model, strategy, and operations in the context of digital technology.

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While the magic number from the new HFS Pulse study of 800 Global 2000 indicates that 60% of staff will return to the office over the next year, we must recognize that this is not a static

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Posted in: Digital OneOfficeGlobal Workforce and Talent

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Time for some Sharma Karma

June 14, 2021 | Phil FershtSarah LittleRam Rajagopalan

Talking to Manish Sharma is like going through a karma carwash – you feel pretty fresh and sparkly at the end. But don't take the effervescence lightly – Manish has cultivated his career at Accenture over three decades, now leading "the largest operations business on the planet." I had the opportunity to catch up with Manish during HFS' OneOffice Symposium, in addition to a behind-the-scenes catch-up call. He uses words without embellishment, so when he speaks of dramatic mindset shifts, super compressed transformations, and the multiplier impact, you know this era has been a stunning one. 

Both Rohan Kulkarni and Sarah Little captured key highlights from our Symposium "Digi-side" chat (think "greatest influencers" and alignment with the OneOffice mindset).

You can create your own karmic take-aways from the closed-door call below: 

Phil Fersht, CEO and Chief Analyst, HFS Research: Good afternoon Manish. It is great to see you again. You’ve been traveling for some time, right? Great to have you on here. For some of the folks not so familiar with you personally, maybe you could just give us a little bit about you and your background, and how you came to be in your current role. Did you always want to be leading a multi-billion dollar P&L within Accenture? Or did you have other plans when you were starting out?

Manish Sharma, Group CEO of Accenture Operations: First of all, Phil, it’s always good to chat with you, and catch up about the industry trends. In terms of my own journey, I have been with the firm now for 27 years. When I joined, it was a small consulting office in Mumbai. That is where I joined, and my background, funnily enough, is an engineering background, and never in my life, in my early years, did I ever think that I will be in an operations business or a BPO business. My dream was to design the best ever machine tool, whether it is the boring machine tool, or for cutting, or any other stuff, but that was my original plan, with my background. I joined because, at that time, it was Arthur Andersen in 1995, and I joined for setting up a manufacturing excellence practice in India, including supply chain, and everything else. That is where I spent all my years on, and I was always. I lived in Mumbai.

After a few years, when the outsourcing started, we got our first few clients, and I was told that “Can you help with one of the clients for few weeks?” I said, “Okay,” and I did my Monday to Friday from Mumbai to Bangalore, as we were setting up our business. Now, that two or three weeks, or two or three months, has got converted into virtually a decade, two decades out there. Right? That is the funny part of it. I have always enjoyed my journey in this. ’95 to 2002 consulting, 2002 onwards in this business, right from the formative years.

 

"It is exciting to lead the largest operations business on the planet. Right?"

It is exciting to lead the largest operations business on the planet. Right? When I think of it, what inspires me is our people. I think the best thing for me has been that I have seen people who joined us, when they came in, in early 2000, and now they are having families, and great infrastructure where they live in, great careers, growth of their people. It has been fascinating to just see the people grow, along with our client portfolio.

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Posted in: Digital TransformationDigital OneOffice

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Are you ready for the HFS OneOffice Digital Symposium?

June 05, 2021 | Phil FershtNischala Murthy Kaushik
Click to Register and make a voluntary donation to India's Covid-19 fight

The countdown has officially begun for the first HFS One Office Digital Symposium on June 8 and 9. This is an exclusive digital symposium for industry leaders in business and technology to gain access to the most expansive global community of pioneers, practitioners and peers.

HFS CMO Nischala Murthy Kaushik spoke with me to learn more about the complete story around the symposium...

Nischala : Firstly, Thanks for your time Phil. We are a few days away from the HFS One Office Digital Symposium. How are you feeling about it?

Phil : I am excited about hosting the HFS One Office digital symposium. As a company, our events are well known and popular in the industry as we bring together executive leaders for thought-provoking discussions and unfiltered dialogues – in the unique and exquisite HFS signature style.

However, the reality is that we are far from doing live events yet! And so, as a company, we felt it was a good point in time to host our first digital symposium. I am personally excited about the amazing speaker line-up of 70+ speakers from across the world, the topically relevant agenda we have curated, the sponsorship support we received from our clients, and also the phenomenal response from the industry in terms of registrations.

When I last checked, we had more than 800 sign-ups and are still counting and expect to surpass 1000 before registration close on Monday! And the interesting insight is that we have registrations from across all industries, geographies, roles and functions. The best part is that doing a digital symposium presents us the opportunity to connect and engage with a wider section of the global industry and ecosystem; it’s almost ~4X the numbers we typically host in our live events!

Nischala: That’s wonderful to hear Phil. And I am sure there is excitement in the air at HFS around the upcoming HFS OneOffice Digital Symposium. I also know that you have committed to use the proceeds from the HFS One Office Digital Symposium towards the COVID-19 relief response work in India. Can you please share more about it?

Phil: Yes, Nischala, a lot of our business and clients are based in India - it is the heartbeat of the global services industry. Over the past few weeks, we have seen and heard of the ground reality of the situation in India. And we made an executive decision to make immediate donations from the Symposium proceeds for the collective fight against the pandemic in India.

These are the organizations we are supporting – please join us in doing so today in lieu of registration fee: Give IndiaUnited WaySewa International, and Kinaara.

I am incredibly happy that the funds we have given are making a real difference on the ground. A facility for pregnant women with COVID-19 needed $7,000 to open.  We just made that happen. We also funded a 200-bedded hospital in a small town in Tamil Nadu and have just helped a maternity center become operational for women with Covid-19. So it truly gratifying to see the realization of our passion for a purpose to make a real difference.

In addition, HFS commits that the symposium proceeds will also be used to support causes we believe in – especially the importance of accessible college education for all racial minorities..

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Posted in: Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)Digital TransformationGlobal Business Services

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Accenture, Infosys, KPMG, EY and DXC top the 2021 ServiceNow services rankings

May 30, 2021 | Phil FershtTom ReunerMartin Gabriel

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One platform which has scaled new heights over the past year, geared to orchestrating processes in the cloud, is ServiceNow.  One area that is becoming increasingly critical for these platforms is driving up the excitement of the leading - and emerging - services providers to train their staff to deploy, develop and help manage the solutions.  Hence, it is no coincidence that we're seeing SNOW rise in prominence with the service providers with ex-SAP chief Bill McDermott at the helm. 

HFS' IT services leader, Dr Tom Reuner, supported by analyst Martin Gabriel, have spent the past few months talking with an exhaustive quota of end-customers of ServiceNow, in addition to drilling into HFS' customer perception surveys, to draw up the definitive Top Ten guide to

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Posted in: Cloud ComputingDigital TransformationIT Outsourcing / IT Services

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The big digital flip: 60% of staff going back to the office

May 23, 2021 | Phil Fersht

What a difference six more months of staring into the digital abyss has made

When we interviewed leadership from 400 Global 2000 enterprises at the end of last year only 37% saw them returning to an in-office environment.  Our very latest HFS Pulse study, covering 800 Global 2000 enterprises, clearly shows a marked shift towards sending staff back to the office, with a 60% ratio of staff expected to be office-based over the next year:

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We're entering a hybrid reality, where digital and physical work cultures are blended

The digital exuberance of 2020, where declarations from many leading enterprises - the likes of Unilever, Hitachi, Mastercard, Google and Amazon - that they had become "work-from-anywhere enterprises" is clearly losing steam as so many enterprises have struggled to maintain a motivating, dynamic culture. Employees - from leadership down to interns - are burned out with the sheer monotony of a 100% digital environment and the inability to whiteboard ideas, share ideas, collaborate on process design and embrace emerging tech.  This is especially the case with Gen-Z and Millennial staff who are desperate to get back to an office environment.  In fact, many are choosing to work for firms that are embracing an in-office culture - something we have already seen happening aggressively in the call center environment (download POV here).

Bottom-line:  We're seeing a significant "digital-flip" towards an in-office model

We can't deny the experience of the last year has driven a genuine need to configure business operating models to function in a remote virtual environment, as most businesses simply can no longer limp along with on-premise systems, fragmented processes, and an inability to operate in the cloud.  However, as we evolve towards a new reality where we can really visualize a physical future for businesses, it's also become clear that businesses are struggling to function entirely in the cloud and depend more than ever on a people-driven culture.  Why is this?

Businesses thrive on people and technology empowers us, not dictates how we work.  While many businesses struggled - or failed completely - during the pandemic, many have thrived as costs have been decimated and a return to growth has created so many new markets to exploit and customer demand to satisfy.  This has also created a highly fluid job market, where people can get hired rapidly over Zoom and staff can dictate where they want to work.  Companies with strong, dynamic leaders who inspire staff to learn new things, collaborate together, and focus on purposes beyond mere profit and efficiency are fast becoming venues where ambitious staff want to apply themselves.  While much can be achieved in a pure remote model, it's simply not sustainable for a healthy, energizing work environment in the medium-long term.  Running data and processes in the cloud is critical to keep companies operating effectively, but those are merely the baseline table-stakes to survive in this new hybrid reality.  Technology is critical to provide the infrastructure to exist, but it doesn't dictate the business model... people do.

There is only so much you can achieve remotely.  We've talked to hundreds of executives over the past year, and they all complain about the same thing - they are managing an almost-unmanageable amount of internal meetings over video calls, simply to keep the wheels on basic task management and accountability.  Simply put, it's becoming increasingly complex and awkward to run business operations in a remote model where training is a huge challenge, where motivating people is almost impossible, where getting beyond the basics of keeping activities functioning is a huge challenge.  Communicating, collaborating, idea-sharing, white-boarding etc are critical for taking businesses forwards and driving real innovation.  They are also critical for helping employees become comfortable with change, to be comfortable with automating mundane elements of their jobs, and to become adept at embracing ways of accessing the data needed to exploit market opportunities.  With industry lines blurring, supply chains fragmenting and new opportunities and challenges springing up at a breathtaking pace, the time to bring people back together is fast-arriving, and so many enterprise leaders are now seeing this in spades.

Posted in: Cloud ComputingDigital OneOfficeGlobal Workforce and Talent

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Holy Moly... It's Rajan Kohli!

May 13, 2021 | Phil FershtSarah LittleShantanu Tewari

Rajan Kohli is now President, Wipro's Integrated Digital, Engineering and Application Services (iDEAS)

Rajan Kohli is quite possibly one of the coolest and calmest global leaders in today's services industry, at a time when the speed and the pace of change bounce between hot and scalding. Are things moving as fast as clients want? And what about the internal pace of change? Wipro has recently completed both a major restructuring under new CEO Thierry Delaporte and the eye-catching acquisition of Capco in the past few weeks, so how are they really pulling it together to deliver the value clients so urgently seek?

Rajan now leads Wipro iDEAS (Integrated Digital, Engineering and Application Services), one of the firm's two new global business lines, so I spent some time with him to wade into those waters.... after his daily run through Central Park. Here's a peek into the conversation...

Phil Fersht, CEO and Chief Analyst, HFS Research: It is great to have you back on here again Rajan. I think we last spoke on HFS about three or four years ago, so quite a lot has happened since then with you, your career, and with Wipro. For the benefit of everyone here, maybe you could just give us a rundown on yourself again, and where you have evolved from, to the position that you are in today. Then we can talk a bit more about how you are hoping to take things forward in the new setup at Wipro.

Rajan Kohli, President and Managing Partner, Wipro iDEAS (Integrated Digital, Engineering, and Application Services Business Line): Absolutely. The pleasure is all mine, Phil. I think, when we last spoke, I had just taken over as the leader of Wipro Digital, and Wipro was making a big bet on digital in that space. Prior to that role, I was head of banking and financial services, and before that, I had been the Chief Marketing Officer at Wipro. But most of my time had been in leadership roles in our financial services business. We set up Wipro Digital in 2014, and I’d been leading Wipro Digital until a quarter back.

If you remember, Phil, our initial hypothesis was that in Wipro Digital we’ll develop capabilities that are differentiating, capabilities that don’t currently sit in any part of Wipro, and then, over a period, we’ll move other parts of Wipro under Wipro Digital so that we can do an end-to-end digital proposition for our clients. And that is the journey we were on.

 

“Through the massive restructure that Wipro had… we added the digital experience parts of Wipro’s business into Wipro Digital, then we added application modernization. With this latest reorganization, Wipro has now added all of engineering, all of applications, all of data also under this new group called iDEAS.”

 

Earlier this year, through the massive restructure that Wipro had, we have continued that journey forward. Initially, we added the digital experience parts of Wipro’s business into Wipro Digital, then we added application modernization. With this latest reorganization, Wipro has now added all of engineering, all of applications, all of data also under this new group called iDEAS.

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Posted in: Cloud ComputingDigital TransformationDigital OneOffice

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HFS adds more beans to fuel healthcare research - meet Rohan Kulkarni

May 09, 2021 | Phil FershtRohan Kulkarni

Rohan Kulkarni is Research Vice President, Healthcare, at HFS

We're firmly on our path to view the world through industry lenses at HFS research, as we see value chains across sectors merge, and the needs to be hyper-connected changing before our eyes - with suppliers, customers, partners, governments, etc grouping into new value ecosystems as the world finds its feet post-pandemic.

Who could have predicted the reinvention and emergence of food services as a whole new industry, such as the complete digitization of banking and retail, the shift in insurance to becoming a sales/marketing-driven industry, and the reemergence of the travel industry in this pandemic and post-pandemic eta?  But perhaps there have been no more fundamental changes to an industry value chain than what has transpired - and continues to evolve - in healthcare.  The need for rapid, quality patient data, economic data, cloud migration, and supply-chain reinvention has never been so critical to driving government, enterprise, and individual decision-making in the world of health, life sciences, and pharmaceutical production.  

Without further ado, let's delve into the views, ideas, and plans being driven by our latest analyst addition, Rohan Kulkarni, fresh from his accolades as a master of perfect pints...

Phil Fersht, Founder, CEO and Chief Analyst, HFS.  Before we get to all the work stuff, Rohan, can you share a little bit about yourself….your background, what gets you up in the morning?

Rohan Kulkarni, Research VP Healthcare, HFS.  The opportunity to participate in the healthcare ecosystem is personal to me. Recognizing that US healthcare is sub-optimal across the key dimensions of cost, health outcomes, and experiences will impact me and most of us in the most personal ways as we grow older requires us to lean in and help make it better. I want to influence drivers that could make the care construct better in some meaningful manner.

I have been in the industry, getting on a decade and a half, leading strategy at multiple fortune 500 companies, being a product management executive & CIO at 2 different health plans while having consulted across the ecosystem. These opportunities have highlighted that the health & healthcare industry is unique in its ability to only get better in a participatory fashion. It's not just a doctor and patient equation, but rather needs all of us to do our part to stay healthy, be good patients when sick and when we get better, to stay that way. Its ongoing work for all of us all the time.

Phil - You've had a diverse career spanning several roles aligned to the healthcare industry... can you share some of your experiences over the years... what would you do all over again, and what would you definitely avoid?

Rohan - Yes, Phil, I have been lucky to traverse this path through the healthcare ecosystem as a journeyman. I am amazed at the paradoxes in the industry; on one end, the amount of money that is in the system is mind-boggling and sufficient to solve all our healthcare challenges with plenty leftover, yet on the other hand, it represents the only industrialized nation without universal health insurance. This pandemic has exposed the level of empathy the industry has, particularly the nurses and doctors whose altruism knows no bounds, yet our society today is challenged with misinformation and trust impacting care & its delivery. My point is that the healthcare industry is meant to solve a polymathic problem and we are still scratching the surface in so many ways despite all the advances.

As I indicated earlier, I have been privileged to journey through the ecosystem, meeting some wonderful people, accomplishing things that made me proud, contributing to helping reduce costs & optimize resources, and most importantly finding platforms to drive awareness to draw in more people to participate in the improvement of the ecosystem.

Phil - How critical is the role of services and technology in the healthcare industry during this time - has it changed significantly?

Rohan - I think technology and its enablement through services as we know it has been a cornerstone of healthcare’s evolution for the better part of 2 decades. As the population grows, particularly the seniors, and the prevalence of chronic conditions worsens without any evidence to suggest a radical change in behaviors, I would say that the role of technology and services in healthcare is critical, perhaps only next to what clinicians can do.

Yes, I think it has changed significantly from how data is captured and analyzed and used in diagnosis and care protocols, how it can keep patients connected to clinicians for real-time interventions, how fast we can develop vaccines, and much more. The speed from identification to solution to post solution maintenance, in my view, has been the hallmark of the last decades' extreme technology focus on healthcare.

Phil - What role do you see analysts playing as we emerge from this pandemic? Same old game, or is something new brewing? How do you intend to cover the healthcare sector?

Rohan - Health & healthcare’s success, in my view, is defined by the quality of life attributes, which will require democratization of the ecosystem and the broad participation of everyone. A key focus of that is driving awareness and engagement to help people, communities, enterprises, and governments appreciate different perspectives. To be able to bring various stakeholders together, drive robust debates and influence good sustainable solutions. I think this next chapter for analysts will differentiate between the good ones who will challenge the status quo and raise the bar, collaborate and influence industry solutions and those that will be critics.

My approach is going to include a few dimensions;

  • coverage expansion to include the entire ecosystem beyond the health plans and life science that we currently cover to healthcare providers;
  • a focus on digital health through the intersection of Healthcare & Triple-A Trifecta change agents – AI, automation, and smart analytics as well as mobility and virtualization
  • Healthcare is a polymathic problem and will require a polymathic solution; as such, I will cover healthcare’s intersections with climate change, societal changes, the food we eat, the impact of the way we work (e.g., OneOffice), and more that impact the social determinants of health.

While I do have faith in my fellow humans, I do suspect that at some point here shortly, the pandemic will be history, albeit a painful one for many. It will likely get people to go back to their old habits with perhaps a few non-material changes to their lives. As such, it is critical to driving awareness in more meaningful, personal, and even in your face ways so that together we can chart a better path forward.

Phil - What do you think we'll be talking about in healthcare when we gradually revert to a world beyond our screens?  Will we get a resurgence of energy and excitement, or will we crawl out of our caves blinded by the sunlight?

Rohan - I think that depends on where in the world you are. In the US, we were already down the path of being virtual in healthcare, and the pandemic certainly accelerated it. I suspect that momentum will continue where physical interventions are not necessary, such as primary care, nonsurgical specialist visits, etc. I believe after the initial surge of visits to the dentist, ophthalmologist, gynecologist, etc., human behavior will likely reverse to the mean, to return to most pre-pandemic behaviors. Now given the fact that we are unlikely to be at herd immunity any time soon and will likely need a booster vaccine come fall, I think a true post-pandemic scenario is still evolving.

Phil - Thanks for sharing your plans with us, Rohan. Excited to learn more from you as you get bedded in with us!

Posted in: Digital OneOfficeGovernance Practices and ToolsHealthcare

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There is no vaccine for climate change

May 05, 2021 | Phil FershtJosh MatthewsNischala Murthy Kaushik

 

How many of you even knew Earth Day was on 22nd April? And even if you did, did you care?

If there is one lesson we will eventually take from Covid, it’s the paranoia that government and business leaders' now live with: a constant fear of being caught cold by a crisis like this, ever again.  This paranoia must spur them to preventative action rather than a reliance on their ability to deliver rapid treatments. Those treatments of the symptoms simply paper over the deepest cracks of the causes - problems that remain unsolved despite all the debt we've incurred.

Barring future pandemics and world wars, which seemingly can be treated by throwing extraordinary amounts of money into science and military coffers, the next looming crisis is that of a climate meltdown. This offers the opposite problem - where the only cure is through smart and painful prevention, not quick-fire, after-the-crisis inoculation. 

Sustainability must become a native part of businesses, policy, and our day-to-day lives

This means people need to be educated, they actually have to listen and then change their behaviors. No-one really took the threat of nuclear war seriously until the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were experienced. The world was able to recover from the horrors of 'limited' nuclear war, the experiences, hopefully, proving to be preventative for many more decades to come. But there is no second chance if we continue to destroy our planet.  There can be no "lessons-learned" when the world runs out of water.... Sadly, our recent study of 150 C-suite executives across the global 2000 shows us that sustainability only ranks fifteenth as a "fit-for-purpose" measure - no change at all from pre-Covid times:

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In this vein, we had our roaming story-teller Nischala Murthy Kaushik spend time with analyst Josh Matthews, who spends a lot of time thinking through how we tackle sustainability and climate change, in addition to spending his spare time as a counsellor on Cambridge City Council in the UK...

Nischala Murthy Kaushik (CMO, HFS):  Let’s start with the basics, Josh... What is the definition of ‘sustainability,’ and why is it important in 2021?

Josh Matthews (Assoc Research Director, HFS):  The best place to start by checking out the UN Sustainable Goals. These 17 Goals cover all the ambitions we should have as a planet, whether its tackling climate change, lifting people out of poverty, restoring and protecting biodiversity, or eliminating inequality. These challenges don’t stand alone—they’re heavily

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Posted in: IT Outsourcing / IT ServicesSustainability

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Campbell soup adds flavor as Syniti acquires DMR to create biggest data software and services pureplay

May 03, 2021 | David CushmanDon RyanPhil Fersht

Enterprise data businesses Syniti and Data Migration Resources have joined forces in a move they believe makes them the biggest data software platform and services pureplay in this, or any other, town.  And we see no reason to doubt their claim. With the thirst for quality data at a pandemic-driven all-time-high to base critical enterprise decisions, this merger is perfectly timed.

Under the Syniti banner – and with Syniti CEO Kevin Campbell remaining at the helm – the new company has the resources and global footprint to answer the ‘Are these guys big enough?’ question when it comes to tackling the most complex data requirements of the top echelons of the global 2000. The Newco claims it offers the largest collection of data specialists and an AI-driven platform converging capabilities across data management, analytics, and governance.  With Campbell energized and back in his element, who drove one of the first BPO pureplays Exult, before he inspired the multi-billion dollar BPO and technology growth trajectories in Accenture (see blog), you have to believe the newly re-invented king of data services is taking his new company somewhere very interesting...

Tie up comes after record growth for SAP-certified Syniti

Both parties share a common focus on people and intend that the new scale of the organization will give their prized data specialists the opportunity and desire to stick around to build long careers and the culture to attract more.

Syniti enjoyed record growth in 2020 (with some regions reporting more than 275% growth YoY). It reported the best Q1 results in its 23-year history at the end of April 2021. It’s riding a wave of rapidly increasing investment in smart analytics (Exhibit 1). Almost three-quarters see investments rising either significantly, or moderately.

Exhibit 1: Do you see investments increasing, decreasing, or staying the same for smart analytics in the next 12 to 18 months?

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Syniti has been expanding from its SAP heartland (where it now holds SAP Certified Gold Enterprise Support Integration) to introduce real-time data replication with Amazon Web Services (AWS).

It is also an SAP platinum partner when it comes to helping businesses move to SAP S/4HANA, SAP SuccessFactors, and SAP Ariba. SAP resells data migration software from Syniti as SAP Advanced Data Migration by Syniti. Deloitte, IBM and DXC have been Syniti’s leading SI partners to date.

Joining together offers a global footprint and platform for acceleration

Syniti and DMR have been competitors in the North American market – each with facilities in India. Syniti has expanded to Europe and Asia-Pacific and DMR has gone into Latin America. The plan is to scale up globally, making use of the combined power of their India operations and sharing sales teams and the best of the products, tools, ideas, methods and techniques applied by each business. The aim is to accelerate their individual growth through combination – staking a bigger claim to the rapidly expanding demand for enterprise data management than either could alone.

The combined solution portfolio - comprised of the Syniti Knowledge Platform, DMR CONCENTO, Rapid Data Governance (RDG), and other software solutions, offers customers and partners aggregated, integrated capabilities to address a wide range of data-led business and IT requirements.

DMR products will remain supported into the foreseeable future and the combined might of the organizations will be applied to accelerate the ongoing development of DMR’s CONCENTO RDG – a potentially powerful differentiator if it delivers on its promise of cutting implementation costs by up to 50%.

Bridge Growth Partners are the majority owner of the new enterprise with DMR CEO Ryan Rodenburg joining the executive board with a ‘CEO of the Americas’ remit.

Bottom Line: Effective combination of assets holds the key to long term success

Thousands of hours of teaming ahead of the official merger proved the two parties can work together well. But the long-term success of the deal is likely to reside in how effective the new organization can be in making 1 + 1 = 3 when linking up its assets in a range of client-value-creating combinations. The new organization makes for a more balanced products/services company going forward, something the market is starting to reward.  What is critical now is to encourage Syniti's energized service provider partners, especially Deloitte, IBM, Accenture and DXC to increase their focus and staff training on the bigger, badder Syniti.

In short, we need to understand that data is the strategy to get us ahead of our markets. Here are five steps we must take:

  1. Get The Data to Win In your Market. This is where you must align your data needs to deliver on business strategy.  This is where you clarify your vision and purpose.
  2. Re-think processes to get the data, Then you must re-think what should be added, eliminated, simplified across your workflows to source this critical data.
  3. Design your new operational workflows in the cloud. There is simply no option but to have a plan to design processes in the cloud over three-tier web-architected applications.  In the Work-from-Anywhere Economy, our global talent has to come together to create our borderless, completely digital business.  This is the true environment for real digital transformation in action.
  4. Automate processes and data.  Automation is not your strategy.  It is the necessary discipline to ensure your processes provide the data - at speed - to achieve your business outcomes. Hence you have to approach all future automation in the cloud if you want your processes to run effectively end-to-end.
  5. Apply AI to data flows to anticipate at speed. Once you have successfully automated processes in the cloud, it is easy to administer AI solutions to deliver at speed in self-improving feedback loops.  This is where you apply digital assistants, computer vision, machine learning, and other techniques to refine the efficacy of your data.  AI is how we engage with our data to refine ourselves as digital organizations where we only want a single office to operate with agility to do things faster, cheaper, and more streamlined than we ever thought possible.  AI helps us predict and anticipate how to beat our competitors and delight our customers, reaching both outside and inside of our organizations to pull the data we need to make critical decisions at speed.

Posted in: Analytics and Big DataIT Outsourcing / IT ServicesDigital OneOffice

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Why outsourcing has become hot again... and it's all about automating to get to the cloud

April 26, 2021 | Phil Fersht

The impact of the pandemic has completely changed the mindset and change imperative of the majority of organizations.  Our recent study of 400 operations and IT leaders across the Global 2000 shows how crucial automation has become as the catalyst to modernize business operations.  And this means the old-thinking around RPA is rapidly leaving the building, as enterprises are faced with a dual challenge: ring-fencing legacy data centers and processes, while making fresh investments to re-jig critical processes to function effectively in the cloud:

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Simply put, if you try to take your existing messy processes and simply move them "as-is" into a cloud environment, it's going to be one very costly exercise that could be so cumbersome, you may go out of business before you even get them there.  We used to talk a lot, in pre-Covid days, about moving your "mess for less" offshore, and even if you did very limited transformation, you would reduce costs simply because you were tasking lower-cost people to run them for you.  Essentially, anything you couldn't shoe-horn into your standard ERP model would be a prime candidate to outsource as it was not likely to be core business activity, but you still needed them processed, and you might as well run your mess for cheaper via a service partner, than do it yourself.

Two thirds of major enterprises have no choice but to head for the Cloud in the new economy

Fast-forward to 2021, and most large enterprises have managed to move their messy stuff to an outsourcer or their offshore captive.  That was what legacy outsourcing was all about and over 90% of the Global 2000 did it.  Now they are faced with a whole set of nagging new challenges, as they simply have to function in the cloud, if they want to be effective in this work-from-anywhere environment, which we know is going to be the norm for at least two-thirds of enterprises, even after we finally get Covid under control:

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So what does this new wave of outsourcing look like, and why is it poised to increase at close to 10% this year - and likely even more next year?

The desire to centralize large clusters of people is dissipating with enterprise leaders focused on outcomes.  After 14 months of operating with armies of shared service staff operating remotely, most have learned how to manage by focusing on the outcomes of getting processes delivered, as opposed to obsessing with governance structures based on effort and control.  Many enterprise leaders have told us how they are focused on driving greater internal coordination with increased daily video meetings, where accountability and ownership are determinedly applied, and 51% (see above) do not see the need to add additional headcount to make this happen.

The need to scale-up and scale-down at speed has never been more pronounced.  The number one watch-word today is about moving at speed.  Enterprise leaders accepting the current status quo simply want to make fast decisions to make their operations and supply chains as nimble as possible.  This means freeing themselves from multiple sign-off points to enact policies and strategies is becoming an imperative; lugging around bloated back office functions that strangle the ability to get things done is becoming a tainted memory.  Having deeper partnerships with lesser numbers of partners not only cuts out operational costs, but also creates far more flexibility to operate at speed in unpredictable market conditions. This explains why a quarter of enterprises have already increased their outsourcing scope across business and IT processes in this environment, and a further third are planning to accelerate in the near term.  Pipelines for new deals are strong - especially in Europe, and early indications from our soon-to-be-finalized Pulse study for H1 2021 indicate expenditure increase in the high single-digits:

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The need to add “digitally-fluent capability” is forcing the issue on the interplay between business context and technology capability.  With all today's technology solutions CIOs are evaluating being cloud-based, their roles are shifting away from the provision of custom-app development, support and maintenance etc., and towards understanding the business context of their non-IT executive counterparts.  This is more about housing data, ensuring security, scalability, speed and business continuity.  They need to make their departmental leaders' data ubiquitously available, accessible, and mineable - working with them to embed a mindset that inspires business and IT staff to work together to create an organization that can flip its business model to exploit these seismic market changes.  

There is a lot more trust to work with partners.  The rapid uptick in deeper, broader outsourcing relationships is being driven by enterprise buyers becoming more decisive and experienced, and their service partners becoming much more adept and confidant to strike rapid, cost-friendly deals, knowing they have the expertise and resources to make these deals profitable in the short term and (potentially) lucrative in the medium-longer term, as they get closer to their customers' customers.

It’s much easier to have a third-party drive automation than forcing it on resistant/inexperienced staff.  Today's service providers are becoming highly adept at automating transactional work - simply because they have had no choice but to get proficient at it if they are to deliver value for their clients profitably.  On the flip-side, enterprises have proven particularly useless at scaling automation projects and doing anything more than piecemeal projects within silos. We can delve into all the reasons why this has been a failure for over 80% of them, such as politics, employee resistance and inability to redesign processes (and let's not forget a year-plus of pandemic), but the benefits of having an external party tasked with driving your automation efficiencies are now crystal clear.

Bottom-line:  With the cyclical nature of global recessions, the historical reaction is to outsource without much transformation. However, the response this time is different... 

Today's service providers are much more confidant at delivering the outcomes because they know how to infuse technology to support these new commercial models.  Moreover, you can't get the data you need if your critical data is not in the cloud and you don't have the people, partners, processes, technology - and desire to change - to make this possible.  Service providers now have the experience, desire and risk-appetite to roll their sleeves up and help many enterprises make it through the most unpredictable economic era we have ever lived through.

Posted in: Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)Cloud ComputingIT Outsourcing / IT Services

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Getting chatbot fatigue? Then upgrade to digital associates...

April 17, 2021 | Melissa O'BrienPhil Fersht

Let's cut to the chase folks... chatbots have struggled to gain much of a foothold in the corporate tech innovation stack.  However, our analyst Melissa O'Brien has spent the last few years studying how these engagement technologies are evolving deeper into the enterprise where they can truly augment staff and reduce a significant amount of their time, while driving a whole new digital way of engaging for both employees and customers... from the back office right through to the front. So let's take a look at which services firms are getting good at creating these digital associate workers for enterprises...

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Melissa, we've been observing the evolution of "conversation AI" for a good decade-plus now, so what's new?  has the pandemic driven more uptake?

The demand for conversational AI has exploded over the last year.  The automation tools we call digital associates were one of the digital superheroes of the pandemic, as conversational tools picked up the slack in handling volumes of interactions when human associates were not available due to a lack of work-from-home preparedness. Reduction in staff coupled with spike in volumes of interactions in many industries such as ecommerce created a burning platform. For many companies, this rapid and massive disruption resulted in accelerating digital

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Posted in: Digital TransformationDigital OneOfficeCustomer Experience Management

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Time for the Foster posture as Mark puts his own stamp on IBM services

April 16, 2021 | Phil FershtSarah Little

 

When it comes to big stonking change and the new meshing of business and IT disciplines, let's talk to the ultimate wave-spotter: Mark Foster.  I met Mark a few decades ago when I was wearing button-downs and he was one of the key Group Chief Executives at Accenture. I've been very curious to catch up and see for myself what enticed Mark out of (what he dubs) "blissful semi-retirement" to lead the 250,000-strong services business at IBM. So let's dive in...

Phil Fersht, CEO and Chief Analyst, HFS Research: It’s great to get some time with you, Mark. You’ve been a well-known figure in strategy consulting for many, many years. I met you during your Accenture days, but not so much recently. I’d love to know a bit more about you, where you came from, and were you always intending on going into the services industry? Was this your goal when you were at university? 

Mark Foster, Senior Vice President, IBM Services: Well, probably not. My background is rather strange, insofar as I have a degree in Ancient Greek, Latin, and Ancient History. So, I spent the best part of all my school and university career studying languages that are now largely dead, and only readable in ancient texts. (Laughs)

Very early on, though, I had a sense that there was something happening around technology; it was going to be a really important thing to get involved with. My first job was joining Accenture back in 1983, what was then Arthur Andersen management consulting, where the first thing that happened was to be sent off to St. Charles to learn to code in COBOL. That was really the start of an involvement with technology that’s carried me through for a very long period of time.

 

“I had a grounding in technology, a grounding in what it can do to transform industries and business, and then also a career that evolved away from core technology…”

 

When I came here to IBM, I remembered that I learned to code in RPG III on the AS/400 back in a dim, distant day as well. I had a grounding in technology, a grounding in what it can do to transform industries and business, and then also a career that evolved away from core

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Posted in: Cloud ComputingDigital TransformationGlobal Business Services

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Are you Cloud Native? Of course you're not... so join us on 21st April

April 11, 2021 | Phil FershtTom Reuner

Still grappling with moving your operations into the Cloud?  Click here to grab your spot at the HFS Cloud Native digital roundtable on 21st April 10.00am-1.00pm ET

Posted in: Cloud ComputingDigital OneOfficeIT Infrastructure

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One word defines today’s business environment: Speed

April 09, 2021 | Phil Fersht

Posted in: Digital OneOffice

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It needn't be hell... with Nigel

April 03, 2021 | Phil Fersht

Nigel Edwards is Chief Client Officer, HFS.  Click for LinkedIn and Bio

While we can speculate all day long about what businesses can do when they are given the huge amounts of someone else's money to burn, how about those that are employee-owned and make their own investments using the hard-earned money they actually earned themselves? 

When you look at the growth and success of HFS over the past 11 years to tackle competitors hundreds of times our size, there is one constant throughout the whole experience - the collective array of people who've made it all possible.  While you can buy successful brands, IP, methodologies, APIs, and algorithms, the most important asset you can accumulate is your people.

One such individual, whom I have known since the days just prior to founding HFS, is Nigel Edwards - an enthusiastic and affable character who's weathered the best of the Indian-heritage service providers namely Cognizant. Wipro and EXL, after earning his business and IT services stripes at Accenture in his earlier career.  It was time for "Nige" to take nearly three decades of blood, sweat, BPO and captives and lend it to HFS' long-suffering clients, crying out for a sense of reality and to exploit the current market turbulence.  Now there isn't too much to say about Nigel beyond the fact he's a lifelong Foxes fan (Leicester City), has played cricket with David Gower and gets beaten up in a boxing ring by his son almost daily... so let's hear a bit more from HFS' Chief Client Officer, Nigel Edwards:

Phil Fersht (CEO, HFS):  Before we get to all the work stuff, Nigel, can you share a little bit about yourself… your background, what gets you up in the morning?

The honest answer is that it’s a combination of my 6-year-old (the youngest of my 3 boys), the dog, or the sound of the refuse collection folk reminding me that I did not put out the recycling…

Seriously though, it’s the opportunity to do something creative.  My dad was in the construction industry for many years and he doubled up as a highly accomplished artist, sculptor, and writer. Even at 78 he is still pushing out new ideas each day in his quiet, unassuming but engaging

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Posted in: Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)Global Business ServicesIT Outsourcing / IT Services

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