HfS Network

Monthly Archives: Nov 2016

Predictive HR Tech Capabilities I Hope to Hear About

November 30, 2016 | Steve Goldberg

I know it’s pathetic, but one of my wishes during Thanksgiving dinner … other than to avoid major indigestion, plus of course good health to all those I care about … was to learn what great things the HR Tech market’s largest players were doing in the predictive HCM arena. This would clearly make my recently launched research effort pretty darn interesting.

As this is clearly one of the more nascent HR Tech areas, I really don’t expect to hear about an abundance of mature, robust predictive capabilities just yet.  I do expect, however, that many of the large HCM / HRMS solution providers we invited to participate in the research will have a reasonably clear and compelling product strategy and execution plans around their product’s predictive capabilities.  Also, in my effort to take a read on this emerging capability area (the research’s main objective), I’m hoping to hear about HR Tech customer experiences related to leveraging these powerful capabilities.

Another recent blog post and Point of View (POV) “Time-to-Predictive Value in HCM Solutions” have also been published to support the launch of this research and provide more context.

From the HR Tech Practitioner Trenches

When I dabbled on the HR Tech practitioner side (around 20 years of dabbling), my corporate HR colleagues and I sometimes sat around brainstorming about how to possibly predict such things as:

  • Which on-boarding aspects, if changed, could contribute to accelerating time-to-productivity
  • What are reliable indicators of “very high upside” in a candidate or employee’s profile
  • Will a job candidate, employee (considered for a new team or department) or a corporate acquisition target be a good fit from a culture perspective
  • Will changing an employee’s job, manager or team have a positive or negative impact on performance, retention, engagement, etc.
  • Will changing comp and/or benefits plans to reduce costs adversely impact the company in other ways

These “skull sessions” often ended with the same seemingly rhetorical question (at the time): “Can we ever expect HR Tech capabilities to help us out here?”

Bottom Line Regarding the Research Just Launched

Whether I’m getting ahead of myself by hoping the above questions will ultimately be supported by HCM systems remains to be seen.  But I remain hopeful that I will be hearing from some HR Tech vendors that such predictive opportunities are not only on their radar, but they’re close to rolling these and other impressive capabilities out over the next 12-18 months.

Posted in: Analytics and Big DataHR Strategy



PLM Services Blueprint 2016: Attractive Again

November 29, 2016 | Pareekh Jain

We have recently published Blueprint Report on Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) Services. This is our third engineering services Blueprint in which we analyzed and positioned thirteen PLM Service providers according to their execution and innovation capabilities.  In the first one, we focused on the mechanical engineering services. In the second engineering Blueprint, we looked at Software Product Engineering (SPE) services in detail.

What does PLM Services Blueprint cover?

This blueprint includes the PLM offerings of different service providers across verticals. This includes their capabilities across the HfS PLM Services Value Chain of: Plan, Implement, Manage, and Optimize for leading PLM applications such as Dassault, Siemens, PTC, Autodesk, SAP, and Oracle. This report also provides insights into the capability, vision and investment priorities of the service providers included in the Blueprint report. We also outline the strengths and challenges to take into consideration for these service providers. The report also mentions market analysis of the PLM Services industry, the current focus area and the future growth areas over the next few years. The service providers included in this report are Accenture, Atos, Cognizant, Capgemini, HCL, Infosys, KPIT, L&T Technology Services, Syntel, TCS, Tech Mahindra, Tata Technologies and Wipro.

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Posted in: Procurement, Engineering & Supply Chain Outsourcing



Wipro bids for As-a-Service... with Abid

November 29, 2016 | Phil Fersht

One of the astutest CEO appointments in recent times was Abid Ali Neemuchwala (or simply "Abid" as most of us call him) being elevated to the hotseat at Wipro.  I, personally, have known Abid since his TCS days, when the firm acquired Citigroup's Indian banking operations in 2008, where Abid was instrumental in building a stellar BPO capability for the firm... and first interviewed him right here in 2010.  

Cutting to the chase, Abid was the perfect hire at the perfect time for Wipro. With the Indian-heritage service providers scratching their heads trying to figure out how to keep growing, as those legacy $500m IT infrastructure deals and $200m SAP roll-outs dry up, the only true way forward is to build out an As-a-Service delivery model that caters for the modern enterprise needing to access talent, technology, analytics and automation capability as part of an integrated solution, tied much more to outcomes and efforts, than headcount numbers. Being able to manage the traditional enterprise's needs, while investing in the emerging enterprise of the future, is the Holy Grail for the Indian-heritage majors seeking to get ahead of a market in transition. 

In my view, today's services providers need to be led by process people that understand technology and how to bring the two together effectively.  If you're just selling tech, you'll end up with a commodity service, and if you're just selling process, you'll end up with something completely unscalable and unprofitable.  So you need a CEO who gets right into the weeds of the operations and figures out how to technology-enable business services. You need someone who built a billion-dollar BPO business out of a tech-dominated service provider (TCS), where you had to train IT people to manage processes, and process people to understand how to enable them effectively with technology underpinnings. You need someone who's going to mastermind one of the potentially shrewdest acquisitions yet by an India-heritage major in Appirio.

You need someone who prefers to play chess than golf... you need Abid.  

Phil Fersht, Chief Analyst and CEO, HfS Research: Good afternoon Abid... it's been quite a journey for you to make it to the CEO role at Wipro. Maybe you can share a little bit about your background and career path just for our readers, so that they can learn a bit more about you...

Abid Ali Neemuchwala, CEO and Member of the Board, Wipro: Certainly. Phil. So I’ve been part of this industry since I came out of university at IIT, Mumbai, in 1992, and now, my goodness, that makes me feel old! I’ve spent 24 years in this industry, the last two at Wipro—as Chief Operating Officer, at first, and then as the CEO since the beginning of this year. The fun part of being in this industry was to be able to wear many different hats. I started as a developer, quickly moved into project management and then I got an opportunity to do some very strategic projects, especially as part of the financial services industry in India as it was just growing.

I also had the opportunity to live in multiple places around the world and experience various cultures. I went to work in South Africa immediately after Nelson Mandela was sworn in. At the time, the South Africa market was just beginning to emerge for Indian IT, and I was lucky to be one of the first IT people there. 

I lived in Japan as well which taught me a lot about program management and sales as we expanded our business. The Japanese market teaches you a lot. It is, in a way, the perfect training ground for sales guys because it not just teaches you perseverance, but also helps you learn the value of relationships and cultural diversities. Thereafter, I moved to the US and as a general manager in the US Midwest Operations I ran some key large accounts, before I moved back to India in a general management role. In my last stint at my previous employer, I was running the BPS business. There, I got a great opportunity to integrate a large acquisition, which exposed me to the need for being bold about acquisitions, all of which worked out well. And then, surprisingly, I got an opportunity to move to Wipro, which brought me in as the Chief Operating Officer. 

So, all along it has been a great ride and a journey of many opportunities. And throughout, I continued my passion and hobby for traveling to places. The industry helped me do that. I love walking on the streets of new cities that I visit because I think conference rooms, all around the world, are exactly the same. I ask my teams to do that as well. You’ve got to experience the culture, the people and the places. I have always been like that, meeting people, absorbing cultures and the world around us. 

My love for travel has taken me to cover about 100-plus executives amongst our top 100 customers, which helps me talk about Wipro’s strategy and understand what is most relevant to them. This also helps me get their feedback on the organization as I steer Wipro through this wonderful transformation.

Phil: So you acquired Appirio. That’s a company we know very well and what a very quick transaction that was! Can you talk about the core factors in this decision?

Abid: As I said, we're going to take bold strides as we rev up the engines for digital transformation. The future, which is going to be quite different, is already here in terms of Cloud, As-a-Service business models, Automation and Artificial Intelligence— not only Robotic Automation but also Cognitive, Machine Learning and Analytics. These, and also design thinking, of course, and user experience. 

We, at Wipro, believe in acquiring the right capabilities at the right time and, as part of that move, had been looking at assets that would be a strategic fit. Appirio is one such capability we've been very fortunate to get. The capability is essentially, as you know, around Cloud ERP

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Posted in: Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)IT Outsourcing / IT ServicesOutsourcing Heros



What does Tomorrow’s Cyber-Security Unicorn Look Like?

November 25, 2016 |

The prevalence of high-profile cyber-attacks is on the increase. In the last two weeks alone we have witnessed the exposure of 412 million accounts from the FriendFinder network, 20,000 Tesco bank customers lost money in the UK and Three Mobile lost personal data from 133,000 customers. Not only are these attacks becoming more frequent, they are also increasing in severity with the Tesco incident seen as the worst banking security failure to date by some commentators.

The trouble is the talent pool is empty. Security staff have always been always been hard to find, and currently there is a drastic shortage of cyber security professionals across the globe. As I discussed in my recent PoV Is HR the Missing Link in Your Cyber Security Strategy?. In the U.S alone there are 209,000 unfilled cyber security jobs.

So, with all this in mind, why are cyber security professionals so hard to find?  What skills, qualifications or characteristics distinguish them?

Well, according to IT compliance provider IT Governance and the U.S. News and World Report, individuals looking to establish a career in cyber security should begin with a degree in computer science, programming or engineering. This should then be followed this up with industry standard security qualifications offered by Microsoft, CISCO, and HP. For those wishing to become true specialists, an industry recognized qualification specifically within security should be sought. Examples include Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) or GIAC Certified Penetration Tester (GPEN) certificates. So a lengthy and hard path to follow giving rise to the reality that candidates with these qualifications are scarce.

So, we have started to see organizations looking to tap into new sources for security talent. The UK public sector is leading this charge by instead of looking for qualified individuals rather focusing on recruiting candidates with the correct behavioral and cognitive capabilities who can then be trained on the job.

The UK’s National Cyber Security Program is looking to hire 50 candidates who have the ability to excel in cyber security. The program, whilst been open to all individuals, will primarily target soldiers, doctors and nurses whose attention to detail and pressured thinking ability would allow them to excel in cyber security.

Apart from being a healthcare professional or one of Her Majesty’s finest, what specific traits do cyber security hopefuls need? Well according to recruiting specialist DHi Group, individuals need the following characteristics:

  1. Ability to work methodically and is very detail oriented
  2. Eagerness to dig into technical questions and examine them from all sides
  3. Enthusiastic and highly adaptable
  4. Strong analytical and diagnostic skills
  5. Demonstrated skills in innovation and collaboration
  6. Keep a current understanding of vulnerabilities from the Internet
  7. Maintaining awareness and knowledge of contemporary standards, practices, procedures and methods
  8. Ability to get the job done.

The Bottom Line

The solution to the cyber security shortage is not rocket science. Companies must start thinking ahead and training the future professionals. Pump the money you spend on sky high salaries of the seasoned professionals with a mix of junior staff and a decent training program. The scarcity is fueled by the lack of junior and mid-level positions. Get the characteristics, not the qualification, and train on the job! Is this groundbreaking? Absolutely not, but what this approach does do, is help to redress the supply/demand crisis for this critical business issue.

Posted in: Security and RiskTalent in Sourcing



The Digital Shopper Will Define the Future of Retail

November 23, 2016 | Melissa O'Brien

Like many Americans, I’ll spend this coming “Black Friday” nursing a turkey hangover and shopping the Amazon iPhone app from the couch instead of battling mall crowds.  By most accounts, this year’s seasonal retail projections are better than last, but surviving in an increasingly intense competitive environment is no easy feat for retailers.  At the heart of the issue is a clear call to arms to understand and satisfy a digitally savvy shopper. So how can retailers and their service providers rise to the challenge of supporting the digital end customer?

Retailers have to embrace disruption or risk replacement

The retail industry is in the midst of monumentous disruption, with the advent of ecommerce and rapidly increasing shopper expectations for an easy, seamless experience.  It isn’t just about the shiny front end experience with sexy websites and mobile apps, it’s about an integrated back and middle office that supports those experiences, much like the OneOffice endgame we’ve been talking about. 

Most important for retailers now is bridging online and in-store experiences.  While online sales are still a relatively small percentage of retail revenues today, smart retail organizations are paying close attention to ecommerce trends in order to avoid a slip into obsolescence, “Blockbuster style.”  Traditional retailer bankruptcies and store closing announcements seem constant, while competition among brick and mortar and online shopping sites alike is fierce.  Some traditional retailers are betting on unique in-store experiences to revitalize flagging sales, while others are leveraging their vast physical presences to bolster omnichannel sales as points of pick-up or shopping of online purchases.  Traditional retail giants like Walmart are betting big on competing in the online shopping space, with its recent acquisition of Jet.com, and it seems like all business are trying to live up to the expectations of the quick, seamless, personalized experience—the “Amazonization” of consumer culture.  Meanwhile, the need to support customers who expect to shop using mobile apps on their smartphones and tablets adds another dimension to ensuring competitive relevance. 

Click to enlarge

Automation and cognitive at the front of retail’s journey to OneOffice

Recent survey data shows that the vast majority of retail buyers agree that the impact of cognitive and automation is going to be a critical component of future operations, as well as the necessity to leverage new technologies in order to become more effective. Retailers (along with banking and travel) are leading in experimentation with some of these pilots.  For example, the Watson- powered “Macy’s on call” is a pilot in several Macy’s stores allowing customers to type in questions while in store to help them navigate products and facilities.  Staples is using IBM’s Watson for ”on-demand ordering”(which by the way, could really impact some outsourcing contracts which are heavily dependent on faxed B2B orders and manual data entry). Banking/ credit card use of bots will also impact the space, for example, Mastercard’s foray into bots which allows shopping on messenger apps.

Use of bots is aimed at improving the customer experience, but creating a simpler, more personalized experience.  While bots are changing how retailers communicate with customers, the human touch becomes even more relevant. Even as bots continue to mature, their role is often to simplify the self-service process and/or augment the agent’s work, rather than completely replace it. HGS’ DigiCX platform is an example of a service provider working on an app that “pivots” between agent and bot, a solution which is archetypical for for retail customers.


What this means for service providers:

  • Greater requirements for service providers: Engagements may be insourced due to decreased volume as a result of automation/ self-service, placing a greater focus on more complex engagements requiring more from providers. As the data above shows, 83% of retail buyers are expecting their service providers to deliver both technology and process expertise.  Areas such as planogramming, supply chain analytics, storefront operations support, core marketing operations, and ecommerce support may often be outside of the traditional definition of BPO skills but will become requirements to do business with retailers. Successful service providers will stitch together a multidisciplinary band of skillsets to successfully target retail operations.
  • Flexibility is still a key requirement. Ultimately what will continue to drive a lot of the outsourcing of customer service in retail is the requirement for flexibility, where retail has a unique need for seasonal ramping and flexing.  Retail clients we speak to look to service providers as “uber when we need a ride.”  We are seeing certain service providers try to address this with alternate delivery models. Examples include relying on a much higher percentage of work-from-home agents that are retained long term and leveraging part-time university talent pools at nearshore destinations (i.e. Jamaica). The challenge of seasonality is not going to go away, and cracking the code on it has the potential to impact revenues at peak times—making retailers particularly amenable to working with innovative service providers in this area.

The Bottom Line: Creating an intelligent retail operation is critical for survival

There is so much more on the horizon for retail today, given the potential capabilities around IoT, augmented reality and other advancing technologies to be used in store and for mobile shopping. For an industry awash in data-- review data, social data, shipping data, etc.—the retail industry still has many more opportunities to get to know its customers, which will only get more complex with time. Given the pace of development and technology, being students of observation and having flexibility to change is critical for retailers to remain in business. 


Posted in: Contact Center and Omni-Channel



First-of-its-Kind HR Technology Research Launched by HfS

November 23, 2016 | Steve Goldberg


A former colleague had a penchant for using phrases that stuck with me... One of them was - “I have questions for all your answers.”  It took me years of working with Charles Edward “Skip” Odell to learn that his middle name was Edward, thereby explaining why the letters “CEO” on his cuffed shirts were not just aspirational.

During those same years, the HR technology domain was very much growing up, and the topic of  predictive capabilities wasn’t generating many questions or answers in most customer or solution vendor circles.

While HR technology solutions have clearly matured in many ways (e.g., engaging user experiences leading to broader usage outside HR Departments, mobile computing’s dominance and increasing cognitive capabilities), the use of science within HCM platforms is arguably still at the adolescent stage. Lots of promise, seemingly random growth spurts, daunting challenges and some really pleasant surprises along the way.

 Pulling Back the Curtain on Predictive HCM Analytics Capabilities

What are some of the pleasant surprises?  Well for starters, literally -- as these were in-fact the first predictive capabilities introduced in the HR tech arena -- more customers are now using tools that highlight employee retention risks, or future star performers among job candidates.  Both of these predictive capabilities, and most others, are of course generally based on validated algorithms adapted to the customer’s business context and data relationships; and either the customer’s data scientists or the system itself (via machine learning) does the adapting and periodic re-calibrating.

But as Skip astutely pointed out, interesting answers often beget more good questions.   So relative to predicting retention risk or future star employees -- or any other situation or outcome that is attracting predictive HR tech capabilities, here is a small sampling of questions that arise:

  • What are some of the most impactful and innovative examples of predictive analytics available to HR technology customers today, and which are being widely leveraged?
  • How long does it typically take for a particular HCM system’s predictive capabilities to start becoming evident, valuable and/or reliable?
  • Do the predictive capabilities within enterprise HCM software apply to most organizations using them, or is the predictive value sometimes more robust in certain industries or types of organizations?
  • What are some of the operational factors that might enhance or impede the business value to be derived when deploying predictive HR technology?
  • When should the guidance and insights delivered by predictive HCM tools be acted upon – including on the basis of prescriptive analytics; i.e., when the system prescribes specific and generally reliable actions to take?
  • What are the key trade-offs (e.g., benefits and risks) inherent in predictive engines that adapt themselves through machine learning … vs. engines (=algorithms) that rely more on customers to adapt them?
  • Finally, how will these capabilities evolve over the next few years, and will most customer organizations be ready and equipped to take advantage of these advances?

Announcing Groundbreaking Research

HfS Research will be pulling back the curtain on the above questions and many other interesting nuances related to leveraging these emerging HR technology capabilities.  We’re very excited to announce our first-of-its-kind research and Blueprint Report entitled “Predictive Analytics in HCM Systems.”  Publication is set for March 2017, and we expect many of the major HCM vendors – both HRMS and Talent Management Suite vendors – to participate.  

A Point of View (POV) “Time-to-Predictive Value in HCM Solutions” is also being published this week and is available (complimentary) with a registration if you are not already a member of the HfS research and knowledge-sharing community.

Bottom Line

There are some amazing capabilities being brought to market that clearly demonstrate the arrival of science in HCM systems.  For customer organizations wanting to take advantage of the increasing scope of these predictive capabilities, and for solution providers wanting to continue differentiating through related product innovations, the research we’ve just initiated should be quite valuable.

Posted in: Analytics and Big DataHR Strategy



What kind of RPA symphony is your shared service center running?

November 22, 2016 | Reetika Joshi

Wait, what is RPA symphony and why does my shared service center need it? This blog is about exactly that - the use of robotic process automation (RPA) by shared services centers, where we found two different but equally effective approaches that share a few common traits. I learned these stories on the RPA panel at the NASSCOM BPS Summit in Bangalore a couple of months ago and followed up with the speakers to learn a little more. Capturing the essence of the two practitioner experiences from global in-house centers, we have the following approaches to getting started with RPA:

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Posted in: Robotic Process Automation



Everything you ever wanted to know about the Energy sector but never dared to ask...

November 22, 2016 | Phil FershtDerk Erbé

We can obsess about losing our jobs to robots, our traditional industries being wiped out by digital transformation, our politicians losing the plot... but it'll all count for nothing if we abuse our valuable natural resources and pollute the air we breathe.  So without further ado, let's hear the real deal about on what's going on in the energy sector these days - and how it impacts our world of operations and technology.  And who better to talk to than HfS analyst Derk Erbé, who likes to take a long hard look at things...

So Derk...what do we need to know about the energy sector these days, with climate change, crazy oil prices etc?  What are the key issues we need to care about?

First off, it really is a perfect storm at the moment. We’ve seen the world coming together to curb global warming in Paris, only a year ago. Rising social and political pressure in conjunction with technology advances and economic shifts are combining to create a positive atmosphere to address one of the biggest challenges of the coming decades.

We’ve also seen the sharp fall of oil prices from above $100 per barrel to $27 per barrel in February 2016, currently stabilizing around $45. The reaction from Oil & Gas companies to the crazy oil prices has been focused on survival for much of the last 18 months. Cost cutting was the primary reaction, resulting in the loss of 250,000 oil workers’ jobs. Two out of three oil rigs has been decommissioned and many capital projects postponed and canceled. This was not enough to save many oil and gas companies from bankruptcy. The initial hope of short-term

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Posted in: EnergyPolicy and Regulations



Chinmoy chats about that shift left

November 22, 2016 | Phil Fersht

This is the age of the mid-size, aggressive, feisty service provider that can scrap for the traditional business but also has the flexible cost-base and freedom from legacy to go after the new stuff.  There are so many exciting opportunities with clients that are simply too small, or too cannibalistic for the traditional services providers... many of whom are still waiting - in denial - for those $200m SAP rollouts that no one wants to do anymore, or those $500m infrastructure deals that will never, ever happen again.  Where better to be that at a service provider which can lead with automation-led offerings, where being disruptive is the business model - where all new opportunities are greenfield... and causing many of the traditional service providers to squirm in their boots, pretending their world isn't falling apart all around them.

So welcome to HfS to Chinmoy Banerjee (see bio) who heads business process services for Hexaware - whose entire go-to-market strategy is based on disrupting the legacy outsourcing model...

Phil Fersht, Chief Analyst and CEO, HfS Research: So, good morning, Chinmoy. It's great to get some time with you today. Perhaps you could start by telling us a bit about yourself?

Chinmoy Banerjee, Global Head of Business Process Services, Hexaware Technologies: Sure, Phil. So, I grew up in India and after finishing my MBA in Finance I joined a bank. I spent a few years there and the last job I did was as a Forex trader. I then moved to PwC Consulting for a few years, and in 2004 moved to the US in the BPO sector. Along the way in the US, I completed an Executive MBA from TRIUM as well—which is a combination of NYU Stern, London School of Economics and HEC Paris. I've been disrupting the industry for the last three years with Hexaware, running their BPO business.

Chinmoy Banerjee surrounded by members of his Hexaware team

Phil: For those of our readers who might not be that familiar with Hexaware, could you give us a very quick snapshot of the company and what it's doing today? What are the core areas where you feel that you win against the competition?

Chinmoy: Sure. Hexaware has been around for a while. This is our 26th year of existence, but in 2013 Baring Private Equity acquired about 70% of the company and Keech, our CEO (R Srikrishna or Sri, aka Keech), came in soon after that. Since then we have been going to market in two areas: Shrink IT and Grow Digital. Our view is that the industry is disrupting in a big way, and Shrink IT which is our major go to market as its name suggests, involves shrinking technology and the operations footprint.

It's largely applicable to full-service lines, including application managed services, which is support, infrastructure management services, testing and, of course, BPO. Essentially, we have

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Posted in: Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)Outsourcing HerosIntelligent Automation



Is automation the next Trumpism?

November 21, 2016 | Tom Reuner

Even a few days after the US elections, I am still shocked.

Most people in the world are shocked, apart from outliers such as Vladimir Putin. It is difficult to brush off the xenophobic tirades, sexism, protectionism, misogynist outbursts, etc., etc., as sheer rhetoric or just a means to an end. Yet, we really don’t know what is coming. Can one individual really change the US political system and break the influence of the vested interests? And more poignantly, can we believe any politician, let alone Donald Trump, on the many promises made on election campaigns (and beyond)? Even more pertinently, the notion that Trump will stand up for the long-suffering (white, male) working class just seems incredulous.

While it is utterly tempting to let my emotions get the better of me and just let rip, from a narrow sourcing point of view, two issues stand out: Immigration and, intrinsically linked to that, whether automation could fill the void if global sourcing is being disrupted by immigration policies.

The following is not meant to be a comprehensive analysis. Rather, as it is a blog, it is meant to stimulate debate. At the same time, dissecting populism is always contingent to context. As we have seen with Brexit in the UK, and as we are likely to see in the US, political decision-making is not based on a set of consistent policies or even on policies aimed at the majority who voted for Brexit and Trump. In my humble opinion, populism is all about being self-serving to the whims of politicians. However, as these politicians increasingly make it to the highest offices, we have to start thinking about scenario planning. Put another way, there is little value in discussing potential policies in an abstract way.

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Posted in: Cognitive ComputingGlobal Business ServicesRobotic Process Automation



The information not-so-superhighway

November 20, 2016 | Phil Fersht

Remember all that wide-eyed excitement when we first started using the “Information Superhighway” known as the Internet? Remember how we were all going to use this amazing new media to share information, to learn from millions of new information sources, and – even more importantly – to learn from each other?

So what’s gone wrong? Why has the Internet also become a mechanism to block out information and promote factless discussion and news, often based on misinformation, lies, propaganda and emotion?

How have we managed to survive a year and a half of election campaigning, where we endured two sides obsessed with battering each other with insults, almost completely devoid of any smart new policies, practical debate and absolutely no ability to listen to each other. Our whole world of politics has become driven by emotions and personalities, not facts, ideas and policies.

I am sure I am among many of you who have fallen out with friends, unfriended people (or been unfriended) on Facebook, received abuse on Twitter and been sucked into nasty arguments with others who just refuse to listen. And if I had to dig deep into my conscience, I have to admit I may not have always listened to the rationale of the other side also.

But can we all get past this experience and learn to listen to each other again? Can we learn to have rational debate and conversation, where we can express our views, back them up with real facts and ideas – as opposed to this closed, angry style of discourse, that is threatening to divide entire nations?

I like the steps I am seeing from Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg to clamp down on “fake media”, especially when you consider that more Americans admitted to relying on Twitter and Facebook for their news sources, than any other media source. And can you blame them when the likes of Fox, CNN, the New York Times and many other outlets – all have their biases and did little to bring together real discourse and debate. All they did was whip up more hatred, panic and emotion to divide us further.

So... we all ended up take to social media to get our news and views away from the blurred lines…. and instead of sharing facts, all we are doing is winding ourselves up, blinding ourselves from finding compromise and hiving off social contacts we once considered “friends” (both the physical and electronic varieties).

The Bottom-line: It’s time for all the stakeholders in society to get meaningful and respectful again  

Whether we like it or not, we now have four years of President Trump – he got himself elected. He won – seemingly against all the odds. Now let’s sincerely hope he can work to bring together a divided nation and bring together people across this divide of hate which he helped create. If he is to be successful as a President, it’s healing this awful culture of factless, meaningless squabbling. The US doesn’t need it’s own half-Brexit, where the country can’t decide what it wants anymore and people have to move forward clouded in uncertainty and confusion.

In the last week, President Trump has made appointments to his cabinet that are concerning for many. But sensationalist reporting devoid of actual facts has also skewed the true merit for concern and the weight of the issue. We need our media to provide information so we as citizens can express our voice based on facts and not fear that may or may not be warranted. The last thing we need are our already-fractured social networks being further eroded by all this emotion, paranoia and hype.

We need decisive policies, politicians working together and (at least try) to develop some mutual respect with people, whose views may not be entirely aligned with us. I don’t like the way the world has become, and I think most of you here will agree that it’s time for our media, our politicians – and ourselves – to get meaningful and respectful again.

Posted in: Social NetworkingPolicy and RegulationsSocial Media



SaaS Acquisitions: Why it’s more Top Hat than Tails

November 17, 2016 | Khalda De Souza

The latest acquisition targets for large system integrators are SaaS services providers. And why not? It’s one of the hottest, fastest growth areas in the IT services market today, and a natural evolution for the traditional IT services providers, whose revenues from supporting legacy  on-premise ERP engagements are in gradual decline.

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Posted in: SaaS, PaaS, IaaS and BPaaS



Has Samsung blown up the IoT market with its HARMAN acquisition?

November 15, 2016 | Pareekh Jain

After blowing $17 billion in the Note 7 fiasco, what could Samsung have done next? Well, it could blow more money – and this time on IoT.



On November 14, 2016, Samsung announced the acquisition of HARMAN for $8 billion, taking the Korean giant into the HfS Winner’s Circle of IoT service providers, where HARMAN has performed for the last couple of years.

This acquisition follows the Samsung’s investment of $450 Million in Chinese Electric Car Company BYD, which it  announced in July 2016. These acquisitions sparked the idea that Samsung is finally entering the automotive industry to diversify its portfolio from its stagnating consumer electronics division.

However, in our opinion, acquiring HARMAN is not all about a foray in the automotive industry for Samsung – the rationale goes beyond automotive and extends to the IoT market, which is an opportunity worth hundreds of billions of dollars. The acquisition gives Samsung complete end-to-end capability in the IoT value chain, as we show here:


HARMAN has four business divisions that cater to different part of the IoT value chain:

  • Connected Car: Navigation, Multimedia, Connectivity, Telematics, Safety and Security Solutions
  • Lifestyle Audio: Premium Branded Audio products for use at home, in the car and on the go
  • Professional Solutions: Audio, Lighting, Video Switching and Enterprise Automation for Entertainment and Enterprises
  • Connected Services: Cloud, Mobility and Analytics Software Solutions along with OTA update technologies for Automotive, Mobile, and Enterprises

Samsung Electronics has three business divisions that cater to different part of the IoT value chain:

  • Consumer Electronics: Digital TVs, monitors, printers, air conditioners and refrigerators
  • IT & Mobile Communications: Mobile phones, communication system, and computers
  • Device Solution: Memory and system LSI in the semiconductor business and LCD and OLED panels in the display business

The combination of Samsung and HARMAN will be a formidable force in IoT. We rated HARMAN in our “Winner's Circle” in our IoT Blueprint.

In IoT, HARMAN and Samsung will have a very strong position in the connected car or automotive IoT segment. In our IoT study, we found out that connected car is the third largest segment after industrial IoT and smart cities. The HARMAN’s hardware capability also gives Samsung chance to play in the hardware IoT space. 

Samsung has been investing in IoT from some time. In 2014, it acquired SmartThings, provider of the smart home platform. In June 2016, Samsung acquired Joyent, a leading cloud provider that can help Samsung connect the users of its devices to the cloud and IoT platform. Samsung has developed ARTIK IoT platform solutions. The HARMAN acquisition augments its IoT capabilities further with the connected car expertise and full IoT services portfolio. The combined HARMAN and Samsung offerings will get a strong foothold in both consumer electronics and connected car IoT market, developing an end-to-end solution for design, data, and devices.

IoT expertise has one additional benefit. It can help Samsung to differentiate its core consumer electronics products. HARMAN has already differentiated itself in the commoditized infotainment business with innovative connected car solutions.

Bottom Line

HARMAN  brings real differentiation to Samsung and open the firm up to a huge future opportunity of it gets this right.

HARMAN is a strategic fit for Samsung for IoT and the combined HARMAN and Samsung will have strong IoT capabilities and credentials. Will Samsung blow this again or will HARMAN be the man for Samsung. Keep watching our IoT coverage.


Posted in: Procurement, Engineering & Supply Chain Outsourcing



How has RPA played a role in increasing data accuracy and predictability in your healthcare operations?

November 15, 2016 | Barbra McGann

Are you using robotic process automation (RPA) as a way to drive better outcomes for your healthcare organization? 

In our research, we are hearing that companies using RPA find the greatest value from it in the quality, predictability, and speed that results from the use of the software to automate rules-driven business processes (there’s your definition of RPA, by the way). And we’d like to hear more examples –stories to share –of how it is being integrated into healthcare operations to impact health, medical and financial outcomes.

Notice in Exhibit 1, that 65% of the respondents in our cross-industry survey say the most value they get from RPA is in driving more predictability and quality in the processes, and half add that speed is of value, while rounding out the top three is freeing up staff to move to other projects. Healthcare respondents mirrored this top three, adding that number four is “creating more reliable datasets for analytics.”

Exhibit 1:

I’d venture to guess that the value of more reliable data sets will increase exponentially as value-based care and reimbursements take center stage in the industry. Predictable, accurate data will be increasingly important in, for example, segmenting patient populations, identifying appropriate and timely care interventions, and capturing and reporting appropriate feedback and insight for reimbursement. Reporting results for reimbursement are absolutely dependent on accurate and timely data. 

Where to use RPA in healthcare operations

We heard from one enterprising organization that “every activity, every process is an opportunity for RPA.”  Most of the examples we see are in claims processing and coding changes, followed by provider data management where there are many steps that require checking and/or moving data from multiple systems. EXL will share examples of the applicability in care management, for example, on an upcoming webinar, Robotics: A Call To Action In Health Care Management.

But while a number of tasks, activities, and even processes are automated, it is still too often in isolation from a broader process, which can really make an impact.  What we have yet to see is dramatic change and impact on the healthcare consumer experience through the use and integration of RPA into a business operation. We’d like to see a significant change to the experience of a healthcare consumer in their patient visit to payment processed, for example, involving RPA, analytics, and customer service.  

Think big, and start small—and find your champions.  Start where there is the greatest interest in the benefit from the use of it, and the willingness to experiment. It can be anywhere in the operation, really. The key is to identify people who have a passion for using RPA; and in them, you will also find the people who will help drive interest, momentum, business rationale, and results.  Results should be about business outcomes, such as reduced fraud or waste, increased medical adherence, reduced readmissions, or better member or patient satisfaction.

In order to get people excited about the prospect of these potential results, it's important to develop a story around RPA for your internal stakeholders. At a recent HfS Summit discussion with operations leaders, Lee Coulter, Senior Vice President at Ascension and Chief Executive of the Shared Services Subsidiary said that what worked for them was to build a 10 second message, a 30 second speech, and a three-minute story that should include a demo or video clip to “show” how it works. Focus on the impact and results that RPA can drive—the accuracy, speed, and predictability, for example. 

Partnering for results

Service provider partners can play a strategic role in identifying opportunities to better leverage RPA. While they are at different stages of maturity, they have been developing capabilities and tools over the past few years on the processes they manage.  The use of automation is becoming increasingly sophisticated, especially when you as a service buyer partner with an operations service provider to use RPA in a shared strategy. You’ll find a snapshot of how service providers and service buyers are incorporating automation into their operating models and infrastructures in my recently published POV, Getting the Ball Rolling with RPA in Healthcare Operations.

What’s your greatest challenge, success story, or tip to share?

Just with any change, it takes learning and collaboration to create something meaningful. We look forward to your questions, comments, examples, and stories over the coming months as we figure out how as an industry, healthcare can better leverage RPA to drive better health, medical, and administrative outcomes over time.

Posted in: Robotic Process Automation



The View From The Other Side: Service Providers Weigh In On The Blockchain Blueprint Guide

November 15, 2016 | Christine Ferrusi Ross
Click to enlarge.

Everyone loves to hate grading reports (including the analysts who write them!) If the evaluation criteria are too numerical, some people think the report lacks any strategic analysis. If the criteria favor analyst judgment over hard facts, some people think the report is biased based on the analyst’s emotions or other factors.

And unfortunately far too many people care only about the one evaluation graphic -- missing much of the depth and nuance about the market in the report itself needed to really put the graphic in perspective. In fact, the graphic isn’t about who’s good or bad at something, but about finding the best fit for a buyer’s needs and preferences.

My job is to give you my insights about a space but also to give enough context so you can make informed choices with that analysis. And that could include coming to the conclusion that you disagree with a result or a starting assumption.

With that in mind, I want to be more transparent about some of the disagreements with the recent blockchain primer I wrote. I gave the service providers evaluated in the report the opportunity to tell me their thoughts.

Below are the comments from the ones who replied. (I choose to believe the non-responses from other providers as agreement that the report was perfect…)

The Providers React

Many providers appreciate HfS Research’s effort to take on this emerging area, noting that the market wants more information. They also mention many improvement ideas. Here are the questions I asked, the answers I received, and any final comments I have on the question.

What do you think the report missed/didn’t cover sufficiently?

Generally, the providers don’t have too many issues with what was covered but offer some ideas of places the report could have drilled deeper, including:

  • The report could have included more specific offerings and capabilities, like the availability of a provider’s internal and external training on blockchain as well as the availability of a consultative framework to support clients in identifying and qualifying use cases to co-creating the client’s product. Other examples of specific offerings include sandboxes and design thinking sessions.
  • While the report focused on BFSI, it could have included a broader perspective on where blockchain technology is heading, and which industries and segments are building the first implementations.

CFR’s Take: We’ll be doing a full blueprint in 2017, where we’ll dig into specific offerings and get more detailed about capabilities. We’re also doing more research on many areas of blockchain, so the feedback on giving a broader perspective of the space makes a lot of sense, too.

What did the report get wrong?

Several providers feel that the report didn’t clearly define execution (the X axis) and innovation (the Y axis.) Some feel that they would have provided different information if the criteria were clearer during the research process and mention the following:

  • The lack of clarity meant they couldn’t fine-tune their answers to what we were seeking. One provider pointed out that we didn’t specify if our focus on client projects was focused on something like numbers of billable blockchain consultants on projects or if it was people who had been trained on blockchain internally, or capacity available to start new projects.
  • Related to explaining innovation and execution axes, it would have been helpful to explain each provider’s positioning specifically. For example, what made one player more innovative than another? The mini-profiles didn’t specifically call out the grid positioning.
  • Is the Blueprint Guide the right way to measure blockchain, given it’s so new? Maybe a different report format to explore a market before doing an evaluation is a better approach.

CFR’s Take: Since this was an early first-pass at assessment and not a full blueprint, we used a starting point set of criteria. Also, we recognize that this report switched from one analyst to another, so each analyst always brings a different perspective. But the broader point is taken to be clearer in how we define criteria.

What would be the next logical place for HfS to explore blockchain further?

There are some common requests here, including:

  • Cover more industries. Several providers mention healthcare, retail, media, and government as other industries they feel should be covered and where they had good client examples that the BFSI report by definition didn’t demonstrate. They also want us to keep studying blockchain in financial services and not stop with just this one report.
  • By domain area, IoT and supply chain demonstrate great use cases for blockchain and need further exploration.

CFR’s Take: We’re researching supply chain and IoT in blockchain and agree that they’re great places to explore further. We’re looking at other industries too, but that may take longer depending market developments and other factors. 

What Did The Report Miss Or Get Wrong About Your Firm?

Most providers didn’t take us up on the offer to publicly voice their issues with our assessments of their firms, but two did. I edited for space and clarity but otherwise used the exact wording from the providers.


At EPAM, we’re working on different use cases with different clients and we realize that we can group use cases by technical requirements towards blockchain. We created two prototypes (platforms) that cover over a dozen use cases from multiple industries. After review, we realized that this was not very clear in our initial presentation.

More generally, EPAM believes that when it comes to implementing software solutions there are multiple components/layers in the game: Front End, Integration layer, Backend (business logic + storage). Blockchain is a variation of a storage and limited business logic with some features to improve collaboration between parties. There are a number of different Blockchain frameworks available on the market. Most of the core crypto functionality will be addressed by framework developers so there is no urgent need for service providers to have an army of cryptographers (this is good if they have several).

Service providers need to have Architects, Business Analysts, Testers, and Infrastructure Engineers to be able to integrate/use Blockchain into projects. Their readiness should be measured by the core knowledge they have, ability to scale this knowledge, availability of consultative framework, projects completed (PoC, Production), infrastructure readiness, and client feedback. 


IBM thinks HfS may have underestimated IBM's innovation in blockchain and offered the following further details.  (CFR NOTE: IBM also referenced several documents on blockchain that are available on the company’s website for anyone who wants to get into the details behind the statements below.)

IBM thought leadership.  IBM, with the support of the Economist, recently surveyed 200 financial institutions in 16 countries on their experience and expectations with blockchains.  This study includes findings like:

  • Fifteen percent of banks and 14% of financial market institutions surveyed (the early adopters) intend to implement full-scale, commercial blockchain solutions in 2017, and roughly 65% expect to have blockchain solutions in production in the next three years.
  • Banks identified three business areas with the highest benefits (reference data, retail payments and consumer lending) and three areas where blockchain-based business models will have the most impact (trade finance, corporate lending and reference data).
  • Financial markets institutions are investing most in five areas: identity and KYC, clearing and settlements, collateral management, reference data and corporate actions.
  1. IBM client innovation leadership with the most centers around the world to help clients get started on their first blockchain project, with IBM Bluemix Garage for Blockchain centers in New York, London, Singapore, and Tokyo.  IBM can also dynamically open a "popup" center when and where needed. 
  2. IBM industry innovation leadership, as a founder and leading contributor to the Hyperledger Project.
  3. IBM offering innovation leadership with IBM Blockchain, based on the Hyperledger Fabric, and available on IBM Bluemix, which enables developers to easily and quickly develop applications while testing security, availability, and performance of a permissioned blockchain network.  IBM Bluemix also allows the IBM Blockchain service to be integrated with other Bluemix services such as IoT, Mobile, Analytics and Watson. 

Read through this and then don’t forget to add your own thoughts in the comments. Let’s get a dialogue going about blockchain services.

Posted in: HfS Blueprint ResultsBlockchain



In 2017 HfS is making research great again... and real again

November 13, 2016 | Phil Fersht

Fed up with the same old "digital transformation trends" about to turn our world upside down... based purely on those crusty old Uber and AirBnb examples?  Getting jaded by the tired old commentary about 20-year-old automation technology suddenly replacing labor... without any practical advice how to manage it all?  

And that annoying old yarn about IoT turning the whole world into some massive interconnected computer without aligning it to real business solutions, beyond making your coffee maker more intelligent? Oh... and the hype about Blockchain disrupting the whole world of money and commerce, without any sort of sensible roadmap on how the technology is evolving, and how enterprise-ready this stuff is (or ever will) become.

Are you just simply comatosed by analysts talking in riddles about generic, bland mush you've heard a zillion times already?  

The 2017 HfS Research Agenda:  "Making it Real"

Well, people, your agony is over as the analyst team at HfS is charged with "making it real"... where we're talking with hundreds of enterprises about how they are addressing all these changes to their world.  Technology is moving at warp speed and people, simply, are not. Our 2017 plan is to address this gap between innovation and reality and help our clients really feel this stuff... really kick those tyres to sample how it can be done and how it shouldn't be done.  

We won’t be hyping up automation and digital technology as the critical ‘disruptors’ of business operations - because they are already are past being disruptive - they are already here. Intelligent automation and digital technologies have become the fabric of operations for modern enterprises, immersed in new generation services and platforms. Instead, we are already talking about OneOffice, where integrated business operations have the digital prowess to enable the enterprise to meet customer demands - as and when those demands occur.

Our 2017 Blueprint Reports address all aspects of achieving the OneOffice endgame:

Why is the 2017 HfS Research Agenda Unique?

Since the introduction of the HfS Blueprint in 2013, HfS has published 44 of these highly influential reference guides (see link) for enterprise buyers—to assist in selecting the best service provider for their needs. In that time, HfS has expanded from Blueprints covering core BPO markets such as F&A, Contact Centers, Procurement and Healthcare Payer to a broad range of markets, including IT and Digital Services, IoT, SaaS Implementation, Security and Engineering Services. In 2016, HfS introduced our first ever Blueprints on Design Thinking, Energy Operations, Block Chain, Pharma BPO, ServiceNow services, SuccessFactors services and Mortgage-as-a-Service.

For 2017, HfS is focused on researching the experiences, dynamics, intentions, challenges and opportunities of thousands of enterprises in their quest to align their operations with the rapidly changing needs of their clients. This will include interviewing 300 of the Global 2000 enterprises and several thousand quantitative interviews on a rolling basis through the year with the HfS global community.  

Our Blueprint Reports focus on all key aspects of IT services and strategy, business operations and BPO, cognitive automation and the core industry-specific dynamics, namely banking, insurance, energy, utilities, manufacturing, healthcare, life sciences, travel and retail industries. HfS isn’t only focusing on the service provider performances within each industry. We are also helping clients take an “outside-in” approach to reaching a OneOfficeTM endgame, with a second annual Blueprint report on Design Thinking capabilities and a unique analysis of the deployment and enablement of cognitive virtual agents in the workplace.

This is an ambitious research agenda but something that we believe will provide real, unique, and substantial value for the industry in our effort to help enable more collaborative engagements for delivering business outcomes.

HfS subscribers can download their copy of the 2017 HfS Blueprint Agenda here.

If you have any questions on the HfS Blueprint Methodology or our 2017 Research Agenda, please reach out via email to [email protected].

Posted in: Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)IT Outsourcing / IT ServicesService Provider Analysis



Welcome to the Post-Digital world, where cheaper, faster and better quality IT should become standard fare

November 09, 2016 | Jamie Snowdon

For as long as the IT services world has existed, we’ve had to balance cost, quality, and speed of delivery to make it financially viable. The old adage being we offer 3 kinds of services good, cheap and fast, but you can only pick 2:

  • Fast & good won't be cheap.
  • Good & cheap won't be fast.
  • Cheap & fast won't be good.

Will the cloud and As-a-Service delivery mean that the post-digital world will be free of this constraint?

Digital is the new normal, not the shiny new thing

Before we look at this question, it’s probably worth explaining what we mean by “post-digital.” When we say post-digital, we do expect eyes to roll and people to shout that they are still very much in digital transformation mode. When we talk about post-digital, we are talking about digital as a separate undertaking from business as usual. One of the key findings of our recent survey work and the driving force behind our OneOffice paradigm is that digital technologies are now well established and are already providing the catalyst to drive ambitious organizations to embed them into their business operations. This is especially the case in customer-centric industries where business strategy is aligned to customer requirements with the digital connection to the customer as the feedback loop. In the post-digital world, digital is no longer “disruptive,” it is an established concept, it is the norm, and digital strategy is a major component of overall business strategy. At HfS, we believe we are rapidly getting to that point. It doesn’t mean there won’t be legacy processes and challenges, but the using the term digital will be unnecessary.

So back to the question of balancing the cost and quality of services. HfS has looked at the thorny topic of cost versus quality a number of times, particularly in relation to IT infrastructure services. We published our view on the type of IT required for the As-a-Service Economy earlier this year – “Can Do” IT" Underpins The As-a-Service Economy, where we talked about the importance of attitude, when you can’t have all three of the good, cheap, fast Holy Grail together.

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Posted in: IT Outsourcing / IT Services



President Trump is the death-knell for traditional offshore outsourcing... as we know it

November 09, 2016 | Phil Fersht

Addendum note:

Since I penned this blog, Senator Chuck Schumer has been made Senate Minority Leader.  Schumer has been the biggest opponent of offshore outsourcing for several years - we even wrote about his failed H1B bill back in 2010 after his infamous branding of Infosys as a "chop shop".  Net-net - with Trump's aggressive stance on protecting US jobs, massively raising the H1B minimum wage, combined with the determination of Schumer leading the Democratic faction, this does not bode well for the future of the offshore business for at least the next four years.


President Trump is the death-knell for traditional offshore outsourcing... as we know it

The traditional Indian-dominated offshore IT services market was already in the throes of desperation to find a new path for itself. Much of the global 2000 has already been pulling back on the traditional “mega deal”, amidst intense competition between a surplus of IT services providers and an increasingly desire to parse out smaller contracts to multiple suppliers.

The election of Mr Trump to the Oval pretty much just hammered in the final nail in the coffin for the traditional IT outsourcing market as we know it. The Republicans control the House, the Senate and Trump has a huge mandate to impose his will, not dissimilar from Obama and his healthcare reforms.  Change is going to happen and it will likely have a very significant impact on global IT and BPO service delivery.

Why is this bad news for offshore services industry? 

Temporary IT workers will likely be massively hit. Trump’s campaign has already outwardly promoted raising the H1B minimum salary to $100,000 per year (from $60K). This makes managing complex IT projects a lot more expensive and negate much of the cost advantage for complex engagement requiring “landed” IT staff. For the IT community of several hundred thousand H1Bs, L1s and B1 holders currently residing in the US, many of them will come under scrutiny if Trump holds true to his number one campaign promise – curbing immigration and protecting American jobs. So this doesn’t just spell bad news for the competitive of new IT services deals, it also threatens the viability of existing long-term engagements. 

Enterprises will increasingly look to cloud-based solutions. With the cost of maintaining legacy ERP systems likely to spiral, many enterprises will be forced to write off legacy sooner than they may have wished and invest in cloud-based enterprise solutions that require less offshore labor components. Much of the Indian IT services industry, for example, grew up on supporting and maintaining now-legacy IT environments, such as on-premise SAP systems. While many long-term engagements will have already be well past the "labor arbitrage stage" and hard for the Trump administration to police, all US businesses engaging with large numbers of offshore services will become under increasing scrutiny.  If there was ever a time to make investments in standardized IT solutions that do not have a heavy offshore dependence, this is it.

Automation is now the new labor arbitrage - and Donald just made it happen. Forget Brexit, Trump is now the new true friend of the fledgling automation industry (and he probably doesn't even realize it). One of his last speeches was centered on his berating of IBM for offshoring a bunch of jobs from Minneapolis.  Offshoring is often a prerequisite to automation... just look at the manufacturing industry where the work is initially moved to overseas factories, before being automated within those factories (or brought back on shore to factories employing a much smaller workforce).  Just look at many car plants today which may have employed thousands of workers just 20 years ago, which now only need to employ barely a hundred.  IT is no different and the tools are now in place to accelerate automation of IT and business processes faster than most people realize.  With the use of IT labor now under so much more scrutiny, the service providers can no longer ignore the fact they need to pivot their delivery models away from labor scale even faster than they had feared.  As we analyzed earlier this year, 9% of outsourcing jobs are likely to be displaced by automation over the next 5 years, but that number could be reached in two or three in this new climate.  

What can the offshore industry do to survive this?

Invest in US companies employing skilled US IT and consulting staff.  Wipro must be tickled pink it acquired US cloud services firm Appirio the other week.  The best way to protect - and upskill - Indian based IT workers is by making investments up the value chain to front end new generation IT projects.  Wipro can support many new engagements from this investment, where the client facing staff are all US natives, without the scrutiny of the offshore police.  Other Indian-heritage IT services majors need to follow suit with US investments, especially in

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Posted in: IT Outsourcing / IT ServicesPolicy and Regulations



How As-a-Service Coming of Age Changes the Dynamics in the Procurement BPO market

November 07, 2016 | Derk Erbé

Procurement BPO has seen a more rapid move to “As-a-Service” — agile and on-demand — than other horizontal offerings. At the center of this movement is the maturity of procurement platforms and networks such as Ariba, Coupa, and GEP, the high degree of automation due to the transactional nature of large parts of the outsourced work, and increasingly strategic use of talent with subject matter expertise. These elements have led to more productive and “intelligent” operations. And at the same time…procurement outsourcing has become cheaper.

The increasingly common use of technology platforms, as well as maturity and confidence in service delivery, has driven down the contract value of procurement BPO deals. In the early days of procurement outsourcing labor-based deals often exceeded $100 million, this number dropped steadily to $50-60 million (five years ago) and currently sits between $25-30 million over five years. Growth dropped in five years to single digits from 12-15%.

Service providers have needed to develop and invest in a strong vision for procurement to drive change on themselves, or risk getting stuck in labor arbitrage. Bringing together an understanding of clients and technology plays a role of paramount importance in continuing to deliver on rising expectations.

A recent HfS Study on Intelligent Operations found the most important driver outsourcing is to drive up productivity. One in six respondents at the SVP level or higher, sees replacing their current (legacy) provider with one that is driven by As-a-Service (they’re more flexible, employ better use of technology and talent) as the way to get to this Intelligent Operations end-state. In this service engagement users in the enterprise get a better user experience—potentially resulting in more compliance, better stakeholder relationships, and stronger business alignment. We are currently exploring these stories and examples in our current research to be published later this month in the HfS Research Blueprint on Procurement Operations.

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Posted in: Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)Digital OneOfficeProcurement, Engineering & Supply Chain Outsourcing



Yes, the system is rigged… and the only way to unrig it is by reeducating ourselves

November 07, 2016 | Phil Fersht

Thank the lord the worst election in living memory is only hours away from being done – whether a legacy politician or a dinosaur businessman wins, three outcomes are clear:

  • You need a couple of billion dollars in the bank before you can even contemplate a run (so much for “democracy”);
  • Neither candidate has any innovative policies to find a way forward for the country;
  • The system is “rigged” everywhere, but unrigging it requires a very difference approach.

So we can quickly avoid the first two issues – not much we can do about those right now, barring revolutions and assassinations. However, the third issue is something that we can associate within our very own industry of business operations.

 The "system" is all about maximizing margins without too much disruption

I recall working an outsourcing deal, about 5 years’ back, and I was informed by the client “all roles we are keeping are to be created in India, unless there is a clear business case to keep them onshore”. I was recently consulted to talk to the same client about the “next phase” of their “value journey”, which was simply “all processes are to be automated, unless there is a clear business case to have a person involved”.

Great – so we’ve moved from shifting work overseas simply to eliminating it altogether.   That is the “system”, where only money talks anymore – the same system that presented this poor US electorate with two awful candidates who have only been focused on outspending each other on negative commercials, rather than proposing anything sensible for the country to create jobs and drive new growth and innovation. Is this really the best “democracy” could come up with, in the richest country in the world posing as the “land of the free”.

It’s time for a big reset 

Most people have got lazier in the last 5+ years.  Virtual working, digital burnout, Millennials with a warped idea of what work actually is, new forms of adult ADD... whatever... something negative happened in the workplace and it's getting harder and harder to find people with that "go the extra mile" attitude these days.  So many people have a sense of entitlement we've never seen before.  It scares the sh*t out of me. Forget “new normal”… we need a whole new reality.

We're going to need a great big reset, driven by government, to get people relevant for this changing workplace.  At some future stage, we are going to have another downturn and these issues of worker apathy and irrelevance will magnify exponentially. People will actually have to take shitty jobs again... my god.  

The Bottom-line: It’s all about resetting, retraining and reeducating ourselves

Investments at a huge level must be made in training and education, not handouts to people who've just lost interest in working anymore and like to complain the system is rigged against them. This would also stimulate a much larger and more flourishing education sector that creates more jobs and innovation. We need less of the angry politicians playing on the increasingly disenfranchised population. We need leaders focused on inspiring people to reinvent themselves, re-educate themselves and find that zest for working again. And not only do we need people who can understand data, digital apps, robotics and artificial intelligence… we need people who can cook great cuisine, compose decent music, write great books, teach our kids, police our cities… we need to unrig this system that has lost itself somewhere between a balance sheet, social media soundbites and bad news coverage.

Posted in: Policy and Regulations