Monthly Archives: Oct 2013

Robotistan takes a seat at the BPO Security Council

October 29, 2013 | Phil Fersht

And Robotistan casts the crucial swing vote...

Every autumn, the world’s leaders descend on New York causing mayhem as they make their way to the UN to make speeches and assert their influence over the direction of world affairs. 

Last year, we noticed there was a new nation-state “Robotistan” making its presence felt at this august world body and we, at HfS, wondered how significant a player it could become in matters of the BPO and shared services nation states. So we sent our very non-robotic Charles Sutherland to take a closer look into this subtle shift to robot arbitrage...

Framing a Constitution for Robotistan

Over the last year, Robotistan has developed even faster and more extensively than we could have anticipated, a set of developments we have captured in our recently published research report “Framing a Constitution for Robotistan”.   What we have seen is how Robotistan is quickly becoming part of the strategic planning efforts of leading BPO Service Providers, operational consultants, analysts and end clients many who have appointed their own dedicated ambassadors or sent fact finding missions to Robotistan so that they can better understand how the place works. We have also seen new citizens arriving in Robotistan in the roles of both software providers and end users to help swell the ranks and the influence of this emerging entity.

In fact, this growth in interest and strategic importance for Robotistan is such that this fall, it has clearly taken residence as one of the members of the BPO Security Council participating in the debate over the future of horizontal business processes such as F&A, HR, Procurement, Supply Chain, Marketing and Legal.  While not yet a permanent member of the security council with the status in the BPO world like: labor arbitrage, process redesign, staff augmentation, global business services or the SMAC stack we are amazed by just how far Robotistan has come already and can already see a future when it could replace a permanent member owing to its ability to create incremental and permanent value for both clients and service providers.

Charles Sutherland is Senior Vice President, BPO Strategies at HfS (Click for bio)

For those of you asking, why this new nation-state seems to be on the ascendency at the moment, we believe it comes down to a number of major changes occurring in the world of BPO today. Specifically, the striving for differentiation amongst service providers, the increasing value of contract renewals and re-competes, the strategic imperative to break the revenue-FTE linkage for service providers, solving for the eventual end of labor arbitrage new mindsets about the role of technology and humans together and how user friendly the technologies of Robotistan are becoming.

These changes will only continue to become more significant in the BPO world in the coming years which further enhances the potential appeal of Robotistan as a destination for many of the world’s leading companies.

For those of you joining HfS this December in New York for our Blueprint Sessions 3.0, come to hear more about the HfS view on how this world is developing including more about the growth of Robotistan and how we see the BPO Security Council changing over time.

"Framing a Constitution for Robotistan" is a new report authored by HfS analyst Charles Sutherland - you can download your complimentary copy here.

Posted in: Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)Buyers' Sourcing Best Homepage



Can HR ever overcome its obsession with the automation of obsolete processes?

October 28, 2013 | Phil Fersht

Christa Degnan Manning is Research Vice President, HfS (Click for bio)

The smartest leaders are those who figure out how to get the most out of their staff - to hire the best people they can afford, make sure they are continually energized, and to ship out the poor performers and bad apples on a continual basis.

So why, oh why, do so many Human Resources executives obsess with administering irrelevant processes and buying technology products to fuel these obsessions, when they should be helping their firms' managers get the best out of their staff?  It brings me back to the heyday of HR outsourcing, where so many deals fell by the wayside as they were centered on HR offloading the administrivia to outsourcers and focusing their retained org on the "value add" HR work.  Sadly, most organizations quickly discovered most HR people only wanted to deal with administrivia, and HRO was a direct threat to their employment.  So end-to-end HRO died a painful death, leaving the outsourcers to focus on discreet administrative processes, namely payroll, benefits and staffing admin, which HR people could administer - and obsess over - to their hearts' content.

As was so famously pointed out in 2005's Fast Company's Why We Hate HR article, the whole HR function needs to be blown and and completely reconstructed with a new set of skills, a renewed purpose and mission to put the HR function back somewhere remotely near the C-Suite table.  So, without further ado, it's time to unleash our own doyenne of the disruptive workforce as she wages her war on weird workforce ways, Christa Degnan Manning...

Time to Put the People Back into the People Business

As noted in my HfS bio, I recently returned to the business research and analysis arena focused on workforce optimization because my last five years’ experience as a line manager and employee in a Fortune 100 firm (supposedly one of the best companies to work for) exposed me to the fact that predominant human resources philosophies, policies, programs, and particularly systems in place today are woefully inadequate and even obsolete for today’s global, virtual, mobile, social, time-starved, knowledge-worker world.

Today’s firms investing more in talent outside of their core organizations

Compounding this challenging reality is the fact that companies continue to downsize their traditional full-time staffs as well as under-invest in the people that remain. Too often, they neglect the knowledge transfer, culture indoctrination, and relationship building with all their

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



Who wants to be friends?

October 25, 2013 | Phil Fersht

My good pal Vinnie Mirchandani just blogged about how we can add so much to our lives by looking beyond Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Quora, Pinterest etc to find value from our networks, when it comes to learning new ideas and gleaning knowledge.  He mentions going to more events, getting more magazine subscriptions on your iPad, going to the book store... I would go further and encourage us all  just to make more of an effort to meet and talk!  You can't beat sharing knowledge with each other as the best way to learn something new...

I was having a drink with an old friend recently and that person said something that make me think;  "Everyone knows you, but very few people actually know Phil the person".

It really him home that I was electronically famous (or notorious) but few people actually know me to hang out / have drinks / shoot the sh*t etc

I used to really value my personal relationships but it really dawned on my how superficial so many of my social media relationships were. I've put so much effort into building my electronic network in recent years, and not enough into my personal network. While my electronic friends are fun, they pale in comparison with real people and real conversation...

My first New Year's resolution is to change this and focus more on the "real" less the avatar... so if anyone's passing through Boston, my offer is open to share a decent glass of wine... pint of good ol' ale... maybe even a single malt.  Drop me a line anytime :)

Posted in: Absolutely Meaningless ComedySocial Networking



Traditional outsourcing advisory is dead.

October 20, 2013 | Phil Fersht

Who's feeling disruptive today?

Why do so many service providers still hover feverishly around outsourcing advisors begging and willing them to invite them into huge contracts... when the reality is that most maturing enterprises are today less reliant on the advice of traditional consulting than they ever were?  And when will advisors wake up and realize that the old method of billing their clients millions for effort-based grunt work is just no longer doing it for them?

As one advisor confided the other day... "we can tell in a quick phone call if we can bill them $500K plus... if we can't, we just don't bother pursuing them". There was little thought regarding how to develop a long-term outcome based relationship, the onus simply being to park the MBA bus at the client's visitor's parking spot and sell the same old dog n' pony show of cranking out operational data to effect the sort of operational result that the client really should do itself.  Bottom-line, clients need a helluva lot more than the obligatory 200-slides appendix that quietly gets dropped into the recycling bin after gathering dust on some executive's desk for a few weeks.

And when the world's number 1 management thinker, Clayton Christensen, writes about Consulting on the Cusp of Disruption, you know it's officially game-over for the way consultants have traditionally delivered effort-based high-cost projects for wizening clients.  And when it comes to helping clients with Global Business Services and Outsourcing, the credibility of consultants is at an all time low - according to 106 C-levels and SVPs  of major enterprises responding to our new GBS study:

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Why do only half of enterprise leaders see increased investments in consultants as the way forward to achieving effective global business services?

Yes - just look at the data - increasing investments in consulting scores drop-dead last when it comes to achieving fluid and effective governance.  46% actually sees no benefit whatsoever, and

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Posted in: Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)Buyers' Sourcing Best PracticesGlobal Business Services



What happens when you put the leaders of an industry in one room?

October 11, 2013 | Phil Fersht

I honesty cannot tell you... but it'll be fun finding out!

During Blueprint 1.0 we all figured out what the biggest challenges actually were in the sourcing industry;

In Blueprint 2.0 we debated them vociferously with the buyers and providers;

And in the upcoming Blueprint 3.0 we're going to put words into action by bringing together all the key stakeholders in outsourcing and shared services.  And we're even going as far an inviting the leading sourcing advisors... oh boy, what on earth are we doing?

Can you handle this? Click to learn more...

However which was we look at this, this is going to be one helluva crowd - with a bevvy of buyside sourcing and shared services leaders from 60 major organizations, in addition to this motley crew.

Drop us a line if you're interested in getting involved...

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



2013 Analyst Value Survey Results: HfS Research leads the analyst industry for independence

October 09, 2013 | Phil Fersht

And the trumpet-blowing continues as the results of the blockbuster 2013 Analyst Value Survey leak out to market.  Here's one we're particularly proud of at HfS:

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Duncan Chapple, the grand poobah of Analyst Equity, has generously shared a deep-dive view into the survey over on slideshare.

Posted in: Buyers' Sourcing Best PracticesConfusing Outsourcing Homepage



2013 Analyst Value Survey Results: HfS Research has risen in influence more than all the other analysts

October 08, 2013 | Phil Fersht

After four years of pummeling the world with far too much free research and slightly odd humor, please allow us a few minutes of our own-trumpet-blowing as we broadcast the results of the 2013 Analyst Value Survey, courtesy of Analyst Equity and Duncan Chapple, the respected industry observer of IT analyst firms.  This is based on a record number of 352 IT research consumers (buyers, vendors, journalists and investors):

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You can also view the full dataset of results by clicking here.

Posted in: Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)Buyers' Sourcing Best Homepage



Accenture procures procurement's prize property: Procurian

October 03, 2013 | Phil Fersht

On a Sourcing Mission - Accenture's Mike Salvino adds Procurian to his previous Ariba services acquisition

You know when a market's hotting up when the leading specialists start getting plucked by the top tier, and Accenture today made a massive $375m statement of intent in the procurement and supply chain management BPO industry by acquiring the darling of niche sourcing specialists, Procurian.

Today's acquisition of Procurian both reinforces Accenture's market leading position in procurement and sourcing and significantly alters the competitive landscape.  In our July 2013,  Blueprint for Procurement Outsourcing Services both Accenture (#1, 19.4% market share) and Procurian (#5, 8.9%) were in our “Winner’s Circle” of service providers, hence the merger between these two Procurement Outsourcing leaders creates a clear procurement BPO market leader in terms of market share, client base, vertical industry expertise and breadth of service offerings across the procurement and supplier management domains.

Six Reasons Why This Matters

In particular, we think this is an important event in the development of the Procurement Outsourcing market because for the following reasons:

1) Strengthens Accenture’s Leading Position in Procurement Outsourcing.   Accenture was one of the early entrants in the Procurement Outsourcing market and over the years has built a market leading position by providing both sourcing and transactional procurement services.   Just three years ago, Accenture purchased Ariba’s strategic sourcing practice for $51 million in order to add

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Posted in: Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)Finance & Accounting Homepage



What happens when you combine HfS and The Conference Board to talk GBS... in Chicago?

October 02, 2013 | Phil Fersht

Ready to join The Conference Board and HfS in Chicago? Click to learn more...

Still confused with GBS, but too afraid to ask what it's all about? Then never fear as Deb Kops and the HfS team have the answers... in Chicago... 13-14 November.  Not only will we be sharing the blockbuster results of our brand new GBS survey that covered the dynamics of 1005 industry buyers, advisors and providers, but you'll also get to hear from a host of industry luminaries such as UBS'  Roxanna Wall, BP's Andrew Simpson, AOL's Cindy Gallagher, Hershey's Jeff Kemmerer, Ascension Health's Lee Coulter and Northern Trust's Jay Desai... are lots more.  So without further ado, let's talk to the belle of the ball, Deb Kops herself...

So... Deborah, what's going down in Chicago this Fall?  The Conference Board’s much vaunted annual Shared Services Conference is now renamed GBS?

Phil, GBS is now an aspiration for many shared services folk. The TCB conference acknowledges the fact that the sights of a number of shared services leaders now goes beyond one or two centers, linking both sourcing and internal delivery, sharing governance and disrupting processes to deliver end-to-end business value. This year the conference small group streams will recognize that evolution

So, who's going to be there, and what are you most excited about?

The conference draws shared services and global sourcing professionals at all stages of the journey—those just starting, those with rapidly maturing operations, and those ready to implement radical change. The agenda is agnostic to function and industry, but draws a good cross section of folks who are keen to network with peers, discuss issues in small group settings designed for their specific stage of evolution, and participate in plenary sessions where some of the best and brightest in the industry—practitioners from UBS, SAIC, SC Johnson & Company, AoL, BP, Merck, Walgreens and others-- deal with some of the most important issues facing practitioners today.

I have the privilege of chairing this year; for me, it’s a bit of a homecoming as I chaired the conference in 2006, which in global services time, is eons ago. I find the small group format, or streams, almost like small peer discussion groups within a larger conference context—well suited to give participants the white space they need to get answers to their challenges, and learn from others.

Are we giving HfS readers a discount?

We are pleased to offer HfS readers a $500 discount off of the conference and $200 off of the pre-conference seminar by referencing code DC1 on-line at by calling Customer Service at 212 339 0345 or e-mail [email protected].

Posted in: Global Business HomepageOutsourcing Events