Monthly Archives: Jun 2009

It’s time for disruption, not stagnation

June 30, 2009 | Phil Fersht

Stagnation_by_empatia 2009 is going to be remembered as the year of cost-containment. Most client discussions are not very sexy – it’s largely about cost, as opposed to innovation or revenue generation. McKinsey recently revealed 70% of its current client engagements are cost-reduction focused, only 30%focused on revenue-generation (the opposite of a year ago).

I strongly believe our businesses, while being diligent about cost-containment, must use this opportunity to make fundamental changes to their business operations in order to emerge more profitably in the future. Simply ripping away cost elements and failing to improve access to global corporate data and processes, is a massive wasted opportunity to be more competitive over the long-term.

I wrote recently about how the lay-off culture that has afflicted both the US and UK in recent years, where many firms treat their labor as a variable cost that can be scaled-up or down at will, depending on the next quarterly forecast. I cannot stress enough the damage this can cause to businesses as the economy recovers. One common theme that has dominated discussions with business leaders recently has been their surprise at the amount of visible cost they have been able to take out of their businesses as they move from a revenue-generation to cost-containment strategy.

It’s not solely the cost of labor that is highly visible – it’s the costs of technology, travel, infrastructure, real-estate etc. that can often be easily driven-down in a desperate business climate. Less visible are costs associated with poorly-integrated business processes and procedures, of dated analytical tools, of ERP systems incapable of supporting global process templates, and so on.

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



Outsourcing drivers in today's climate: large companies want to globalize, mid-sized companies seek expertise

June 27, 2009 | Phil Fersht

I wanted to share some recent dynamics from our new survey of outsourcing adoption intentions in mid-2009.

While the onus on firms today is to drive out as much cost as they can from their businesses (close to four-fifths view cost-reduction as the primary driver for outsourcing), other factors are becoming crucial for companies’ planning as they evaluating outsourcing business models, notably globalizing their businesses more effectively, re-engineering business processes, and accessing expertise from service partners.

If there's one thing this recession taught us, it is how integrated global economies and markets are today, how businesses need to adapt to move in and out of diverse regional markets, and how they must make rapid decisions to invest or divest global service / product lines in order to prosper.  Read more over at Think Global...

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



Being Frank about Global Sourcing: An interview with Cognizant's CEO (Part II)

June 24, 2009 | Phil Fersht

Francisco D'Souza

Since Part I of the Francisco D'Souza interview, I've been assured Frank has improved his golf handicap. Now he'll discuss his views on how ITO service providers can differentiate themselves, the convergence of IT and BPO solutions... and a few other tidbits...

PF: How can ITO providers differentiate themselves in today’s market? Is it by vertical focus, or other elements?

FD: Given the extraordinary pressure that clients are under, I think that the key to differentiation is to focus on how to make clients’ businesses stronger. Rather than focusing on technology, process or methodology, I think providers need to really understand a client’s business drivers and then sell and deliver solutions that further those business objectives. As I said before, clients are facing both cyclical and secular pressures. As a result, depending on the client, their objectives of outsourcing will be very different. Some clients seek to improve efficiency or effectiveness. Others are looking to use outsourcing as a enabler of innovation. Still others are looking at outsourcing as a tool to gain access to the best talent in the world – regardless of where that talent is located. And of course, given the significant secular changes we are seeing, many clients are looking to outsource as a way to enable agility and transformation within the organization.

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



Being Frank about Global Sourcing: An interview with Cognizant's CEO (Part I)

June 21, 2009 | Phil Fersht

Francisco D'Souza (Part I)Observing the rise of the new wave of service providers over the last few years, the one that has scared the living daylights out of all of the incumbents is Cognizant. 

Now a $3bn company with deep footprints in the world'slargest global financial institutions, consumer businesses, manufacturing and healthcare organizations, Cognizant can no longer be considered an upstart.  It's now part of the industry elite; quietly and cleverly aligning its value proposition to the post-recession era.  As CEO Francisco D'Souza points out,  we're in a time of not only cyclical change, but also secular change.

I've had the pleasure of talking with Frank a few times over the last couple of years and have been impressed by his high-energy, thoughtful and common-sensical approach. I was even more surprised when I received emails from an "FDSouza" on the Horses... took a couple of times for me to realize who this guy was.  To cut to the chase, Frank is one of the youngest IT and BPO industry leaders of the modern age, having risen through the management ranks of Cognizant to assume the role of President and CEO at the beginning of 2007 when the company was announcing its landmark Kimberly-Clark engagement.  And when Frank isn't busy hacking his way around the local golf course, or playing with his kids, he managed to find some time to share some of his views of the global sourcing industry with us...

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



Remote Infrastructure Management anyone?

June 18, 2009 | Phil Fersht


Posted in: Absolutely Meaningless Comedy



Can 6-sigma really help execute an effective sourcing process?

June 15, 2009 | Phil Fersht

Debashish Sinha One major service provider that has quietly - and very effectively - grown its US presence over the last couple of years is HCL.  And behind the scenes is a very classy guy, Debashish Sinha, who pulls the strings across its US sales, marketing and operations units. 

Anyone dealing with HCL these days is always glad to have Debashish around (despite the fact he organized their last industry event in Orlando).  Prior to HCL, Deb has consulted for both Conscient Partners and NeoIT, in addition to being Gartner Group's principle analyst for IT services and sourcing.  And when he's not comparing the subtle nuances of Malbecs or flying planes (not simultaneously, I assure you), he has some excellent views on the effectiveness of 6-sigma methodology in a sourcing environment.  Over to you Deb...

About four hundred years ago, Galileo Galilei noted that “We must measure what can be measured, and make measurable what cannot be measured,” a philosophy now embodied in the well-tested axiom “You can’t manage what you can’t measure”.

So how about managing the Sourcing cycle? How do you actually measure Risk, or Internal Readiness, or even effective Governance?

One potential option could be to use Planning for Six Sigma tools to “make measurable what can’t be measured”. After all, it’s still one of the most prominent approaches for managing by measurement.

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Posted in: Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)Buyers' Sourcing Best PracticesIT Outsourcing / IT Services



Hear the great Hags on global finance transformation

June 12, 2009 | Phil Fersht

I never knew that one day I would get to co-host a webcast with the great John Hagerty, but tune in on June 18th at 2.00pm ET to hear about Transforming the Global Finance Function in Today's EconomyClick here for full details, or register directly here.  And like everything else here, it's FREE FREE FREE.

John is a true legend in the analyst world, where he delivers insights in the world of finance transformation, performance management and corporate governance. He could also convince Newt Gingrich to vote for the communist party in 2012.  In addition to the great "Hags" and myself, you'll also get to hear from Joe Spears, senior finance executive at eBay, and Dominick DiPaolo, BlackLine Systems.

tHE Great Hags

John Hagerty (pictured) is Vice President and Research Fellow for AMR Research. He is the recognized worldwide authority in business intelligence and enterprise performance management.  This picture also reveals the wear and tear of the analyst life -:)

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



Supply Management BPO - short-term body shopping trumps business transformation

June 10, 2009 | Phil Fersht

Overheat It's easy to get excited with high-growth markets, but supply management BPO's different. 

While the market has grown exponentially, and a 30% increased expenditure last year is eye-opening, the nature of these engagements doesn't give me confidence that this market will sustain its growth trajectory unless customers think beyond short-term labor arbitrage, and service providers introduce significant process and technology enhancements to the early adopters to help them optimize their delivery.  This "lift and shift" model could well result in customers losing more than they save.  Read more at Think Global.

Posted in: Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)Buyers' Sourcing Best PracticesProcurement, Engineering & Supply Chain Outsourcing



Executive ADD: The disruptive scourge of social networks in the services industry

June 06, 2009 | Phil Fersht

Donkey Overload When you try and quantify the impact social media is having on industry, it's actually quite alarming how dangerous this medium can be on our lives and our careers. 

We discussed the impact of blog culture over a year ago, but the speed by which social media has crept into our daily activities, already dates many of the opinions expressed back then. The information world has altered radically, and this economic environment is accelerating the speed of change.

As an analyst in global services industries, my job is to get across insight and opinion to as wide an audience as possible.  A couple of years' ago, if I'd produced an article or report, I'd probably send it out to about 100 people... that was the extent of the audience with which you would typically deal, and you'd rely on your firm's marketing department to disseminate press releases and media advisories to drive more eyeballs to your craft. 

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Posted in: Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)Confusing Outsourcing InformationIT Outsourcing / IT Services



The Campbell chronicles: an exclusive interview

June 02, 2009 | Phil Fersht

Kevin CampbellIf the Queen was handing out honours for outsourcing, then "arise Sir Kevin" would be a likely outcome.  However, unless Accenture can grant him a British passport, even their PR heavyweights may struggle to pull that one off.  

Kevin Campbell is a legend in the outsourcing business (I refrained from saying "the Tiger Woods"...), having begun his career with the old Andersen Consulting business in the 90's before making his name as the COO of Exult, the protagonist of HR BPO, where he b ecause synonymous with many of the early multi-process BPO deals for clients such as BP, Bank of America and International Paper. 

Upon Exult's sale to Hewitt in 2005, Kevin found himself returning to his roots with Accenture, where he how has been elevated to overseeing the firm's entire $9.2 billion global outsourcing business, when he's not watching re-runs of the Packers and terrorizing his kids. 

I managed to catch-up with Kevin recently, and was surprised to hear he's a regular visitor here, so convinced him to share some of his views on the industry with us...

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



Shaping your career in this sourcing industry

June 01, 2009 | Phil Fersht

Larry JanisThere's one character in the sourcing business those "in the know" know... Larry Janis.  When senior management look to hire or poach key talent, Larry is known as the discreet man with the black book.  He's also a great guy, and agreed to post a few suggestions on what sourcing executives should be doing to shape their careers in this environment.  No-one in the business knows the hiring dynamics of buyers, consultants and service providers as well as Larry...

PF: Larry – you’ve been a lead search consultant in the sourcing industry for many years. In terms of roles and openings both buyers and service providers are looking for, what’s changed today?

LJ: The stress in the global economy has certainly changed in the outsourcing provider space. Add to this, HP/EDS merger/acquisition, the Satyam scandal and staff reductions at several of the major providers. As a result, both the

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Posted in: Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)Buyers' Sourcing Best PracticesIT Outsourcing / IT Services