The HfS 2016 Blueprint Research Agenda …at your service


2016 will mark our seventh year as an analyst firm and will be our most expansive as we tackle many emerging areas and industries.  Yes, we have come an awfully long way since the days people thought we “only covered BPO”:

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The analyst industry’s most ambitious 2016 research agenda tackles the continuum from legacy operations to the As-a-Service Enterprise across talent, technology and process

Earlier in 2014, we introduced to the world the concept of the As-a-Service Economy and how it is fundamentally impacting how business and IT services have to be fashioned, solutioned and delivered. Enterprise service buyers and providers have little choice but to evolve how they manage their services, or face extinction.

This means both parties need to make genuine investments in their underlying process architectures, reorient their talent capabilities and make some short-to-medium term sacrifices in their financial models to remain viable in the As-a-Service Economy. The same issues apply to sourcing advisors and analysts that face increasing irrelevance if they fail to adjust to the shifting demands of what it means to be an “As-a-Service Enterprise” in this new economy.

The legacy model of IT and business services sales and delivery that has dominated the industry for decades has rapidly become obsolete in our increasingly digital world, where speed, agility, flexibility and re-invention are no longer optional, but core characteristics for the success of any As-a-Service Enterprise.

For HfS, As-a-Service is about continuous progression, where enterprises do not pause at a status quo state. Instead they are continually exploring better ways to automate processes, access rapid meaningful data, and advance self-learning capabilities in a secure, trusted environment.

Our thinking about the Ideals of the As-a-Service Enterprise also has progressed this year. We now segment the ideals into Change Management Ideals and Solution Ideals that intermingle and build upon each other on the journey to the As-a-Service Enterprise. This journey will require significant change management, and through the course of 2015, we have seen encouraging examples of that throughout the industry, especially with efforts to simplify and automate increasingly unwieldy legacy operations and technology.

We could write and talk for hours about the unwillingness of enterprises to change the status quo to achieve better results. But ultimately it all boils down to the leadership of the enterprise having the appetite to go out and find a trusted partner that is motivated to share the risks of this transition within a financial model that works for all parties. Middle management will always resist anything that doesn’t pay them more, make them happier and more excited, or more motivated to perform. The only way forward to achieve genuine plug-and-play digital business solutions is for service providers and enterprises buyers to embrace real design thinking concepts and work together continuously in a much more collaborative and transparent fashion. This means they need to invest in talent, in training, in change fundamentals—and ultimately in solution fundamentals.

The Ideals of the As-a-Service Enterprise explained

In sharing our thinking on the Ideals of the As-a-Service Enterprise through countless client strategy sessions, industry-wide webinars and briefings this year, we have had the chance to test these Ideals with industry stakeholders to understand their relevance and practical applications.

What came out from these sessions was that the Ideals fell into two key themes: Change Management Ideals and Solution Ideals. In many cases enterprises approach these ideals sequentially.

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To move toward the As-a-Service Enterprise, it is beneficial to begin with a willingness to write off the legacy technology and operations and with that adopt Design Thinking as a way to look at business challenges and opportunities with a fresh perspective. Then an enterprise can orient governance and relationships toward building service solutions with the optimum capabilities, regardless of their source. Moreover, enterprises can build the right commercial arrangements that break from past “zero-sum” constructs to encourage sustained collaboration and shared outcomes. These are the core building block Ideals for enterprises embarking on the change management required of this journey.

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With those change management Ideals underway, it’s then possible to craft an As-a-Service solution that incorporates talent, processes and technology to achieve the Solution Ideals of Intelligent Automation, Accessible and Actionable Data, Holistic Security and Plug and Play Digital Business Services.

2015 showed us that these Ideals resonate with both enterprises and service providers, as they conceive solutions for the future of IT and business processes. Our discussions in 2015 also showed us that security that encompasses the entire solution stack was a critical Ideal that we had initially underplayed. It was this realization that encouraged our research expansion into covering new approaches to digital security and trust.

These Ideals are capturing the spirit and strategic intent of the industry through the journey to the As-a-Service Economy and form the basis of how we will look at our overall Research Agenda and our HfS Blueprints throughout 2016.

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Posted in : Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), Captives and Shared Services Strategies, Cloud Computing, Contact Center and Omni-Channel, CRM and Marketing, Design Thinking, Digital Transformation, Finance and Accounting, Financial Services Sourcing Strategies, Global Business Services, Healthcare and Outsourcing, Homepage, HR Outsourcing, HR Strategy, IT Outsourcing / IT Services, kpo-analytics, Mobility, Outsourcing Advisors, Procurement and Supply Chain, Robotic Process Automation, SaaS, PaaS, IaaS and BPaaS, Security and Risk, smac-and-big-data, Social Networking, Sourcing Best Practises, Sourcing Locations, sourcing-change, Talent in Sourcing, The As-a-Service Economy, The Internet of Things



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  1. […] case you haven’t noticed, we are producing over 30 awesome flagship Blueprint reports this year, each encapsulating an entire market, profiling and rating all the key service providers […]

  2. Hi Phil,

    Just wondering -where do the platform economy fit? And do you have evaluations for digital ecosystem management platforms?

  3. Hi Ludo – if you check out our Blueprint Agenda for 2016, you will see coverage right across the Digital spectrum (analytics, omni-channel, cloud brokers, security) and tied specifically to industries and business functions. I would recommend getting familiar with our As-a-Service Ideals, where “Plug and Play Digital Services” are the pinnacle of the solution Ideals.


  4. we look at platforms and how they can be delivered as-a-service to clients. we don’t just cover “outsourcing”


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