Monthly Archives: Apr 2013

If there's something strange with your processes, who ya gonna call? Ghoshbusters...

April 28, 2013 | Phil Fersht

Afraid of no processes: Genpact's solution head Shantanu Ghosh

Anyone close to business services over the last decade would have crossed paths with one little guy with a huge brain:  Genpact's Shantanu Ghosh.  While everyone is familiar with Genpact's current CEO NV "Tiger" Tyagarajan, and retired former CEO, Pramod Bhasin, Shantanu has frequently been the guy cobbling together the internal teams and the solutions to make it all happen.

I have had many conversations with Shantanu over the years and each time I have come away inspired by someone who is so intimately involved with so many clients and issues in the process delivery industry - he really lives and breathes this stuff.

So when we had the chance to hear his inner-most thoughts on the future drection of the services business, we couldn't resist sharing them with you...

Phil Fersht (HfS): Shantanu, you've been one of the brains behind Genpact’s rise to the pinnacle of the BPO industry in the last few years. Please tell us a little about your background and how you got into this business. Did you always want to be a process guy?

Shantanu Ghosh (Genpact): Thank you very much for saying that Genpact has reached some stage in the BPO business. My background is that of a functional finance expert. I spent my early years in accounting at Pricewaterhouse, then a decade with Unilever in various functional finance roles. Then I spent five years with GE, first at the business level and then at the corporate country level as the CFO. I had reached a stage in my career where I had done the whole functional side of the game, and I wanted really to drive a business. Genpact at that time was just contemplating becoming an independent commercial BPO organization, and moving to the company has provided a huge opportunity for me to come and grow the finance and accounting service line as a general

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Posted in: Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)Buyers' Sourcing Best PracticesFinance & Accounting BPO



So if the rockstars have gone, what's left in the analyst industry?

April 28, 2013 | Phil Fersht

SVP and Research Fellow, Customer Satisfaction

As we revealed last week, most of the big analyst personalities have seemingly fled the analyst industry...  many for the riches on offer from their vendor clients, clearly seeing more ROI from employing them, as opposed to purchasing their firm's services. However, this hasn't prevented the remaining legacy purveyors of analyst services from making a living.

So what's left in these firms after the rock stars have left the building?  Let's examine the cast of characters that many of us frequently have the good fortune to meet in briefings, conferences, airport lounges, hotel bars, psych wards etc.

Mick Jagger Analysts:

Not all the rock stars fled... some stayed well past their sell-by-dates, clearly not mentally prepared for a foray into the real world.  They still drift around analyst firms, making occasional appearances in executive briefing sessions (or sometimes just walking out of them halfway through).  Their research productivity is usually about one thought-piece a year, which is usually miles from reality, but everyone tells them

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Posted in: Absolutely Meaningless ComedyBuyers' Sourcing Best PracticesConfusing Outsourcing Information



Hear Phil Fersht talk to Bill Kutik about analysts, HR and outsourcing...

April 28, 2013 | Phil Fersht

Hear Phil Fersht talking to HR Technology's godfather, Bill Kutik

Click to listen to the recorded interview on iTunes

You may recall our announcement to the world, over three years ago, revealing the launch of outsourcing analyst firm HfS Research... and we first mentioned this on Bill Kutik's irreverent radio show.

Tune in to listen to our latest conversation and you'll hear more about:

  • The current state of the research business and why recent entrants, such as HfS, are playing with the traditional analysts;
  • What's happing in HR Outsourcing, and why it's becoming more of a niche-process industry today;
  • Why HR is fast-becoming one of the most dependent business functi0ns of technology to be effective;
  • Why firms are more likely to do outsourcing in a good economy than a bad one;
  • HfS' new Blueprint methodology for assessing vendor performance - and why it's such a game-changer.

Click here to listen to Phil and Bill

Produced by Knowledge Infusion, an Appirio company, and hosted by independent industry analyst Bill Kutik, selected last year as one of the world's "Most Powerful HR Technology Experts," the bi-weekly interview show provides leading HR business content and insight into up-to-the-minute trends.

Posted in: Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)Cloud Homepage



Achieving new-world innovation: promote your innermost qualities to the world unashamedly

April 28, 2013 | Phil Fersht

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Posted in: Absolutely Meaningless ComedyBuyers' Sourcing Best Practices



Is the day of the rock star analyst officially over?

April 21, 2013 | Phil Fersht

There's been a lot of backchannel lately regarding high profile analyst departures to vendor organizations, with Thomas Otter, Gartner's hugely popular VP for Human Capital Management, hopping to SAP's recent acquisition, SuccessFactors.

Naturally, SAP's competitors are all freaking out because they've invested so much time and attention in Thomas, while Gartner can't be happy as its clients shouldn't care whether they're buying Bill or Ben... they should be buying Gartner.

What's worrying, is the recent succession of high-profile analyst stars making vendor moves, for example, Jim Holincheck's switch from Gartner to Workday, Stephanie Moore from Forrester to Ameritas Technologies, Mickey North Rizza from Gartner to BravoSolution, and even one of HfS' early stalwarts, Euan Davis, to Cognizant, as the latest examples.

Having worked in the big ticket analyst world myself with IDC and AMR (leading up to the Gartner acquisition), I can vividly recall the changing attitude of analyst firms towards their high profile analysts, who commanded top-dollar for their clients to have them on the end of the phone.  When I

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Posted in: CRM and HomepageHR Strategy



Why American firms are more progressive with outsourcing than the Europeans and Asians

April 18, 2013 | Phil Fersht

Why is it always the Americans at the head of the queue when it comes to increasing quarterly profit margins?  But, even more intriguingly, why are they also leading the way when it comes to attempting to improve their capabilities when they outsource?  Our recent State of Outsourcing Study 2013, conducted with the support of KPMG, clearly shows the differing mission-critical business motivations across the main three global regions, when it comes to ITO/BPO:

Click to Enlarge

So, in our true style of insulting everyone from every continent with sweeping generalizations, let's take a closer look:

North American Enterprises:

Simply put, these firms are a lot more experienced with outsourcing IT and business processes, and a good proportion of them are today showing a good deal of maturity as a result.  Much of this is because outsourcing has traditionally been a game for the large corporates to play... and most of the large corporates are based Stateside.  Moreover, the biggest "lever" of attractiveness over the last

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Posted in: Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)Buyers' Sourcing Best PracticesCaptives and Shared Services Strategies



The dreamSource countdown continues… Meet Mads (Part II)

April 12, 2013 | Phil Fersht

Madelein Smit is ready for dreamSource... are YOU? (Click to learn more)

If you have recovered from the mental impairment caused by the really awful governance dancing, it's time to get back to the serious discussion about the narrowing onshore/offshore cost gap, and the diversity issues in sourcing.... so let's visit the final part of our recent interview with Madelein Smit, outsourcing head at the global logistics giant, CEVA Logistics...

Phil Fersht (HfS): Madelein, in our previous discussion, you talked about a watershed period for sourcing arriving in 2013, with the narrowing cost differential between onshore and offshore talent. Do you think that is going to have a noticeable impact on how a company like yours is sourcing its BPO?

Madelein Smit (CEVA Logistics): We are in a very cost-driven environment, so we will keep sourcing in a way that suits our need. One thing that has happened over the last three years in the accounting space, five years now in the IT space, is that we have built up valuable partnerships with our partners. And I do think we are at the point where we have moved beyond labor arbitration in both of our agreements, and are driving much higher value-add. I don’t think wage arbitration will impact this year in existing engagements in which there is active engagement by both provider-side

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Posted in: Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)Buyers' Sourcing Best PracticesCaptives and Shared Services Strategies



The dreamSource countdown... Meet Mads

April 09, 2013 | Phil Fersht

Picture the scene - it's day three of the HfS 50 event in Boston last October... three days of perpetual debate, fueled by a seemingly endless supply of red wine and caffeine.  Yes, just the perfect time to have an hour's education on next-gen performance management strategy.

Step-up Madelein "Mads" Smit, head of both IT and F&A outsourcing for CEVA Logistics, who - sensing the moment, took it upon herself to play the Gangnam video at full blast.  Now, if you've ever witnessed a room full of hungover middle-aged governance professionals attempting to get-down Gangnam style...

Warning - the following clip may cause serious psychological damage:

Needless to say, Mads just had to be asked back for a second round of performance-enhancing antics, this time at the forthcoming dreamSource extravaganza.... so without further ado, let's find out more about what Mads is all about, besides her undoubted skills singing and dancing...

Phil Fersht (HfS): Good morning Madelein, would you please give our readers some background on yourself, your career and why you are doing what you are doing today?

Madelein Smit (CEVA Logistics):  Hi Phil! I got started in outsourcing as a youngster. I was originally an accountant at PwC, and traded in that job when someone said, “There’s this thing

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Posted in: Absolutely Meaningless ComedyBusiness Process Outsourcing (BPO)Buyers' Sourcing Best Practices



Outsourcing Executives: What’s your career narrative?

April 04, 2013 | Phil Fersht

If ever I am lost for words to introduce an article, then I am now lost for words.  So without further ado, here is Deadly Deborah... and definitely with the handbrake off...

Outsourcing Executives: What’s your career narrative?

Deborah Kops is, always was, and always will be, Deborah Kops (click for bio)

I’m obsessed by careers. I spend time trying to make sense of the various and sundry twists and turns that the life’s work of those in our industry seem to take. And I look closely for patterns. Will leaving a secure position in a global firm for a start-up end in happily ever after? Does a stint in a Tier 3 provider indelibly affect a career path?  After all, if Ecclesiastes 1:9 is right, there’s nothing new under the sun, or as the saying goes, history always repeats itself. So colleagues, do any of these career narratives resonate? Or is this article just the fanciful creation of someone who is absolutely at the end of her career rope?

Having recently decided that there are four major career narratives for our shared services executive cousins, I’ve turned my attention to outsourcing (read: sell side) executive career trajectories. In a segment of the global services industry with much more nuance (and opportunity), It seems to me that in every outsourcing executive’s career, there is an event, or a decision, or some other such driver that will profoundly impact his or her career narrative.

So read the 12 narratives I’ve observed in outsourcing executives. And have a good laugh if they don’t cut too close to home:

1. The mid-life crisis career narrative: Around the age of 40, some well-established outsourcing executives become frustrated with a), corporate bureaucracy; b), a stalled salary band; or c), the fact that they have years of experience on the man or woman they report to. And if their peers (especially their batch mates) are making money hand over foot starting their own companies, the itch to throw security to the winds and join a start up is compelling. So the itch takes over, and the leader leaves a good job to join the ranks of the challengers, crossing fingers that he’ll make enough money to pay off the mortgage and put the kiddies through school.

2. The yo-yo career narrative: Yo-yo career narratives characterize those executives who start out in ITO, hone their sales or management skills, are tapped to run a BPO gig because their skills are

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Posted in: Absolutely Meaningless ComedyBusiness Process Outsourcing (BPO) Homepage



Innovation discovered... on the London Underground

April 03, 2013 | Phil Fersht

Posted in: Absolutely Meaningless Comedy



Phil Fersht re-instated as CEO of HfS, despite his April-foolery

April 02, 2013 | Phil Fersht

Please tell us you didn't fall for it again?

Isn't it amazing how someone can pull off a prank on 1st April every year and STILL many of you fall for it?

Here were some clues:

  • "Ari Gibbs" -  Ari Fleischer and Robert Gibbs were the last two White House spokespeople
  • There is no such association as the "Incontinent Association of Outsourcing Practitioners"

And here were some near-truths:

  • I do actually like pink champagne (I mean, how can you NOT like it?)
  • When I was a broke analyst growing up in London, my room-mate actually did steal toilet rolls from his office...

And while we’re reminiscing about falling for April Fools’ gags, here is 2012's classic:

Merriam-Webster to remove the term Outsourcing for IT and Business Services

And 2011's

Painsharing exposed: HfS to reveal the worst performers in the outsourcing industry

And 2010?s:

Horses for Sources to advise Obama administration on offshore outsourcing

Oh, and here’s 2009?s which I really hope you didn’t fall for too:

Horses Exclusive: Obama to ban offshore outsourcing

Now if you fell for all FIVE of these, please ADMIT TO THE WORLD NOW AND FOREVER HOLD YOUR PEACE :)

Posted in: Absolutely Meaningless Homepage



Phil Fersht steps down as HfS CEO

March 31, 2013 | Phil Fersht

After more than three years at the helm of leading research organization HfS Research, Phil Fersht will be stepping down as CEO to "pursue other interests".  The HfS advisory board is meeting later this week to discuss potential replacements.

Advisory board spokesman, Ari Gibbs, has released the following statement:

"We appreciate Phil's energy and sense of humour, but you can't expect to run a profitable analyst business while giving away all the research and throwing lavish executive parties.  We will announce a replacement in due course."

Phil Fersht to step aside as CEO of HfS Research

Fersht founded HfS Research in March, 2010, based on the success of his blog "Horses for Sources" and proceeded to assemble a world class pool of research talent to flood the market with research reports, surveys, white papers, webcasts, benchmarking data and forecasts.  Today, the firm has produced over 200 published research documents and caters for a global subscriber base in excess of 120,000 avid readers across all spectra of industry.

However, the firm's revenue model has always remained a mystery.  According to one research subscriber, "The HfS experience has been incredible - the analysts actually talk to us like we're human beings. We don't have to dial 1-800 numbers and go through endless tiers of administration to talk to them.  They even write research that is readable and practical!"  However, when the subscriber was questioned as to the cost of the research, she declined to comment.

According to an HfS employee, who wishes to remain anonymous:

"Things have gotten so bad, we're having to steal toilet paper from the Starbucks over the road from the office.  Meanwhile, Phil's off swilling pink champagne with the likes of Stephen Dubner."

One of HfS' competitors greeted the news with trepidation, "Thank god he's gone - how can you compete with a research firm that actually has personality and the confidence to give some of its research away for free?  We've been getting killed.  My concern now is they'll actually replace him with someone with a business brain who will really hurt us".

Members of the HfS analyst team remain focused, despite their wayward leader

HfS has been internationally acclaimed for its approach to research with many accolades, including being named as the most Innovative Analyst Firm of 2012 by the International Institute of  Analyst relations.  It is the new analyst brand everyone has been talking about that has disrupted the traditional analyst business of expensive paywalls, stuffy research and dubious vendor rankings.

"The sourcing industry owes Phil a great debt for bringing many of the core operational issues impacting firms to the mainstream business audience", commented Randy Bender, Chairman of the Incontinent Association of Outsourcing Practitioners.  "But he's clearly running out of gas.  I wish him all the best with his future career, but I hope it's doing something else, as we've had enough of him and his bloody blog".

Oh... and one more thing....

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Posted in: Absolutely Meaningless HomepageOutsourcing Heros