Monthly Archives: Jun 2013

Welcome to the Six Tenets of Sourcing 2.0 - where a "lights on" approach might just get you fired

June 30, 2013 | Phil Fersht

Forget all the "phases" of outsourcing that have been debated so vigorously over the last twenty years - the industry is only now evolving  to a new phase, where middle and upper managers are being challenged like never before to bring value to ambitious organizations, or face worrying consequences.

All that rhetoric, all that PowerPoint, all those white papers.  Many providers and advisors desperately tried to portray the outsourcing of IT and business operations being more than simply saving money.  But they were all really painting a pretty veneer over why enterprises were really interested in it:  they wanted to reduce the cost-burden at the bottom of their enterprises.  They wanted to get smaller.  That really was the premise behind Sourcing 1.0.

Welcome to 2013.  We're only now limping away from five years of cost-containment and reactionary measures, into a world where much of the cost-burden at the bottom of most enterprises' operating functions has now been hacked away.  Ambitious enterprise leaders are now zoning in on those next layers upwards of their staff investments to understand how to become even more cost efficient and even more nimble, in terms of managing their global operations.  Big and clunky is ugly, lean and scalable is the new corporate sexy.

The transformational capability of middle and upper management is under intense scrutiny as enterprises shift from the reactionary to the radical

Times of economic recovery pose an entirely new set of challenges and skill requirements for middle and upper managers:  no longer is their primary job focus simply to keep a lid on costs and keep the machine ticking along.  Suddenly, they are expected to come up with the "what next?"  Managing operations to drive new ways of achieving value is far, far harder than keeping the lights on and the costs contained.  And it's exposing many middle and upper managers as being legacy-thinkers and legacy-operators - unable to grasp new ideals, new ways of doing business and letting go the inefficient, cost-bloated ways of the past.

Suddenly managers, whether they sit in IT, finance, procurement, marketing and so on, are expected to be transformation experts, constantly innovating and aligning their focus areas with the objectives of the business.  If they are incapable of driving value beyond maintaining the status quo, they become walking bloated costs waiting to be exposed, analyzed, and eventually removed or replaced.  I cannot count on both hands how many conversations I have had over the last few months with executives who have found themselves moved out of their firms because they were not seen as "transformational" enough in their approach.  Most were not bad at their job - it fact, some are very capable, but the common thread is simply that they had found themselves overseeing a static operational function and no longer could prove their value beyond keeping the lights on.

The Onset of Sourcing 2.0:  Embedding third-party services into the broader Business Operations Value Chain

You only have to analyze the prime motivations of enterprises - and how they are shifting - to understand the new challenges facing middle and upper managers, as their business leaders seek to manage their operations in their entirety across outsourced, shared services and inhouse elements.  Suddenly, we need managers who understand processes, how they are enabled by technology, and how they can be best delivered by their own staff in tandem the workers contracted to their outsourcing partners.

We've taken the data from our 2011 State of Outsourcing Study and compared it with the same study we ran earlier this year to see where the motivations are shifting across delivery frameworks, whether they be predominantly outsourced, predominantly inhouse, predominantly shared services, or predominantly a hybrid approach:

Click to Enlarge

Externalization of internal capability still remains a significant objective of most organizations. HfS Research analysis (see above) of several hundred major organizations’ outsourcing behaviors, over the last three years, shows that 45% of companies in 2013 are decreasing reliance on in-house operations, up from 35% in 2011. While interest in pure outsourcing has slid from 70% in 2011 to 59% in 2013, 62% of companies in 2013 are looking to build hybrid shared services and outsourcing operating models. This clearly tells that, while externalization of operations is increasing, enterprises desire operating models that encourage inter-company collaboration across the base of external partners.

The Six Tenets of Sourcing 2.0

So how can today's middle and upper managers approach sourcing in today's environment to find new thresholds of value?

1)    Value is created by collaborating with multiple providers

The first major shift with Sourcing 2.0 is that value can no longer be generated solely by a single company. In fact, value in the future must be leveraged by an extended value chain of services provided across marketing, human resources, finance and the business units. Successful companies of the future must actively collaborate to identify mutual sources of value.

2)   Innovative services are inspired by some providers' creativity and investments

The second major shift is that a company’s providers have an onus to innovate on behalf of their clients in order to win their business. Today's enterprises simply cannot create every innovation for every function, process and technology. They are becoming increasingly reliant on their providers’ investments and creativity to drive value for them. The challenge, of course, is on the enterprise executives to build the right alliances that encourage their providers to deliver innovation in the areas they need it most. Today, the vast majority of companies are failing miserably at communicating their strategic needs and encouraging their partners, or potential partners, to meet them. When it comes to funding, few enterprises are willing to invest in either their internal or external resources to improve their provider relationships. Instead, their managers persist in grinding their providers’ prices lower and lower. How can companies expect to achieve innovation from their providers when the benefits are not shared or funded?

3)    The flow of data across the operations value chain creates invaluable IP with which providers can arm their clients

The third major shift is the massive amounts of data and IP embedded into processes that is increasingly transferred outside of enterprises, or even owned by providers. With increasingly large networks of providers, data flows across an enterprises' entire operational environment is becoming increasingly complex to manage. Highly proprietary data frequntly flows through shared services centers, internal business units and across the various interfaces of the externalized operations being managed by the service providers. The question of intellectual property ownership is increasingly being tested as providers’ inventions are used to drive client value.  Moreover, enterprises need to develop capabilities that create a visibility of processes to manage risk and compliance across their internal and external operational partners.

4)    Enterprises must treat their providers as strategic partners and judge them on capability, as opposed to merely being low-cost

Providers have become integral to the success of the smart enterprise.  They need to play a major role in driving the capability and productivity of the people that remain in their clients.  They need to have a meaningful impact on the operational effectiveness of their clients' business, but their clients have to treat them fairly and engage them as an extension of their own enterprise, as opposed to the "master/slave" model of Sourcing 1.0.  Successful enterprise managers view alliance-building as more than a contractual document and more powerful than cross-functional team facilitation. Pulling together a disparate set of executives across various internal and external entities and encouraging them to team together to improve the competitive nature of their enterprises is a critical capability for the successful operations leader.

5)    Operations executives must align themselves with the front office of the enterprise. The need for creative thinkers, who can act as peers to senior stakeholders and can understand and influence their businesses’ needs, is a pre-requisite for today's workplace. Operations executives must be more commercially-orientated to the business needs in a way that better achieves corporate objectives.  This is already happening in IT, for example, where many CIOs are being put in revenue-generating roles where they need to talk to customers and be much more aligned with their product marketing and sales teams.  Many “old-school” CIOs are finding themselves quickly being cast aside as their companies look for innovators leading their business functions, as opposed to “operators”.

6)    Enterprises must shift their negotiation focus to collaborative deal-making. Collaborative deal-making must over-ride the ability to grind every last penny out of providers in negotiations. The Sourcing 2.0 skillset requires a shift of focus toward maximizing the size of the entire pie to the benefit of all participants.  Smart operations leaders need to learn the capabilities of their providers better in order to create contracts that inspire co-investment an co-learning from both parties.  For example, helping providers develop technology and IP that can leveraged across their client base is a smart way for many enterprises to benefit from innovation investments without paying exorbitant consulting fees.   On the flip-side, if the provider only really operates with a low-cost, standard-value model, then the buying organizations needs to make a strategic decision whether cost trumps long term value for the services in questions.

The Bottom-line:  Executives ignoring the Tenets of Sourcing 2.0 run the risk of Extinction

Lets not make any bones about it - there is an increasingly large number of former middle and upper management entering the job market today realizing that the 30 year career job is fast becoming a thing of the past.  The last 20 years if outsourcing has essentially created a culture of externalizing staff where possible, as companies simply do not want to employ hundred upon thousands of people to turn widgets, write code, scan documents, cleanse data, run reports etc.   Now many of those tasks have been externalized, the onus has shifted to the next layer of staff upwards to prove they do more than run operational tasks, that can easily be replaced by others for half the wage (or even less).  Operations executives running business functions have to get smarter about how they source their work and drive value into their businesses.  In most cases, there won't be a rule book published entitled "Steps to get more valuable in your organization", you just have to figure it out for yourself!

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



Replay of "Outsourcing is DEAD! Long Live Outsourcing..."

June 27, 2013 | Phil Fersht

Firstly folks, apologies for the dramatic title, but it certainly worked - we had a record 1,400 participants tuning in to yesterday's webcast, to discuss the key findings of the largest-ever global study of enterprises' outsourcing intentions and dynamics, covering 1,355 industry stakeholders, which we conducted with the support of KMPG's Shared Services and Outsourcing Advisory group.

A hat-tip to to KPMG's Dave Brown and Stan Lepeak for their excellent contributions to the discussion.

As per usual, we're sharing our collective learning and data with the industry, along with the replay

Click here for the replay & Click here for the slides. Enjoy!

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



Our hearts are with you Nelson

June 26, 2013 | Phil Fersht

Has anyone inspired the world more in the last half a century than Nelson Mandela?  Peace be with you during this time old friend...

Posted in: Homepage



It needn't be marketing hell, with EXL

June 23, 2013 | Phil Fersht

The whole discussion surrounding Visa Reform, and how it could damage the outsourcing business, raised much bigger questions in my mind than clients simply having a few extra dollars-per-hour slapped onto an invoice.  It has highlighted the failure of outsourcing to become truly global and deliver more for clients than offshore body-shopping services.

It's the over-reliance on the offshore that is holding back the whole industry from moving beyond the back office and into the front office, where providers can truly help clients with solving business problems and driving new growth, as opposed to merely making processes more cost-efficient and cheaper to run.  The more a provider can present itself as a local partner, a business companion, an extension of its clients' enterprises, the more its clients will think about their provider as a business partner, as opposed to an "outsourced" service.  Hence, if Visa Reform can be a catalyst for driving more local investment from Indian-centric providers, then it will eventually prove to be a blessing in disguise for an industry still struggling with its identity.

I am already seeing positive steps with most of the Indian-centric services firms developing onshore workforces, but we need to see it happen more publicly and more aggressively.  I would advocate more acquisitions of onshore services firms from the Indian leaders to speed up the rate of progress... there are plenty of candidates out there.  There also needs to be greater focus on developing management and marketing leadership outside of India. You just can't keep putting the same lipstick on the same pig!

One example of an Indian-centric provider which is setting the standard for many others to follow is up-and-coming BPO provider EXL, which has not only invested heavily in local delivery resources, but has also put significant resources into developing its corporate, sales and marketing leadership in the United States.   With revenues at the $500m level, EXL has greater capable US marketing presence than most Indian-centric services firms several times its size.  It is also becoming much more effective - just check out its new website.

Substance over Puffery: Becky Dennis is Chief Marketing Officer for EXL

When EXL first started hawking its services about a decade ago in New York City, its first sales recruit told me he was paid $40/day to knock out 150 cold calls daily, with the marketing support being a single poster he could mail to interested prospects. The firm relied heavily on executive networking and pure word-of mouth to grow its business.  About two years ago, the firm's leadership clearly had an epiphany:  it realized that most of its Indian-centric competitors were also pretty weak at marketing themselves and it could gain a significant jump in the market if it invested in some quality marketing resources.

Hiring Becky Dennis was one of the smartest steps the firm could have taken. Becky had earned her BPO marketing chops at ACS, during its golden years, and more recently WNS, before EXL's leadership realized it was time to unleash her potential and give her the CMO reins in 2011.  What I like about EXL's leadership is they tend to be a pragmatic bunch, who can see beyond the spin and puffery when they do things - and Becky provides exactly that.  She understands the business and is

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Posted in: Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)Buyers' Sourcing Best PracticesCRM and Marketing



Just incase you missed all those riveting Visa Reform webinars...

June 20, 2013 | Phil Fersht

Missed yesterday's record-breaking webinar on the proposed Visa Reform? Or, were you one of the 870 registrants who enjoyed the discussion so much, that you've come back for more?  Either way, we have what you're looking for...

As promised, you'll hear from both the offshore and an onshore perspectives, from a lawyer, a buyer, an onshore provider and offshore provider and a couple of analysts. We doesn't get much better than that!

And a big thanks to Steve Semerdjian, Ed Caso, Stephanie Moore, Jeff Lande, Joe Hogan and Tim Norton for taking time to share their insights with everyone.

Click here for the replay and here for access to the slides.

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



Ensure you get a decent car service when you next visit Europe

June 13, 2013 | Phil Fersht

Posted in: Absolutely Meaningless ComedySourcing Locations



Why the Indian W-I-T-C-H providers have yet to break the IT Services Top Ten

June 08, 2013 | Phil Fersht

New research from HfS clearly shows all is not as it seems in the global services landscape.  HfS' Jamie Snowdon investigates...

It would be easy to forgive anyone for assuming that the Indian services majors Wipro, Infosys, TCS, Cognizant and HCL (aka the "WITCH" providers) are dominating the global battle for services supremacy, given the hype that surrounds India’s dynamic IT outsourcing economy. However, In spite of their impressive growth over the past ten years, none of the WITCH providers have yet to make the HfS Top 10 of global IT services firms, despite dominating the application development and management business:

The first of the WITCH providers likely to break the Top 10 is TCS, provided it can maintain its current growth trajectory, break through its landmark $10bn revenue barrier, and there aren't major acquisitions or merger amongst the Top 20 providers.

The IT services competitive landscape is still dominated by the traditional large global IT firms (HP, IBM, Accenture), the global enterprise software companies and local IT services firms with strong domestic/regional market positions (Fujitsu, NTT, Capgemini, CSC, CGI).

HfS Research's new Global IT Services Market Size and Forecast 2013 provides an analysis of the recent financial performance of the leading IT Services companies and the key drivers and inhibitors that are driving growth in these markets, particularly how they are coping with the endlessly on-going economic crisis in Europe and the key technology and business dynamics driving growth in 2013 and beyond.

Ten ways the WITCH providers can break the IT Services Top Ten

1.     Develop a greater client base outside of the US - particularly continental Europe where the benefits of offshore development are beginning to be recognized

2.     Move up the value chain – too many of them are being “ring-fenced” into the IT back office and struggling to get a bigger chunk of the integration business

3.     Expand into the upper-middle market ($1-$5bn revs), where the heritage western firms are much less dominant and demand is highest

4.     Acquire more consultative capability to move clients into the cloud

5.     Invest in word class BPO and business transformation capabilities to become genuine “technology enablers” and not solely IT body shops

6.     Focus on verticals where they can really differentiate with institutional expertise and stop trying to be “all things to all people”

7.     Become more global in nature, establishing more middle and upper management in locations outside of India

8.     Diversify more aggressively IT infrastructure-based services and become less reliant on lower-level ADM work

Jamie Snowdon is EVP Research Operations, HfS (click for bio)

9.     Diversify beyond legacy ERP services into supporting SaaS enviroments such as, Workday, Netsuite etc.

10.   Acquire a "traditional" onshore IT services business that can add many of the areas mentioned in points 1-9


Posted in: Cloud ComputingConfusing Outsourcing Homepage



HP and CSC beware: Dell is quietly becoming a major threat to the traditional IT services providers

June 02, 2013 | Phil Fersht

Rather than panicking about the next quarterly earnings, Michael Dell is focusing on building something for the next couple of decades

I don't want to shock everyone, but occasionally I do have positive things to say about some providers.  And it's nice to be pleasantly surprised by one which is clearly on the right path, because when Dell acquired Perot Systems in 2009, many of us were skeptical as to whether a product-centric firm, such as Dell, could make a genuine push into high-end services.

It is my personal belief that the likes of HP and CSC will be sweating from the oncoming threat from the Austin-based firm's $8.5 billion services arm in the not-too-distant future, not to mention some of the flagging Indian firms struggling to rediscover their mojoes.

Why Dell is a dark-horse future services powerhouse

Strong leadership and deep resources.  Michael Dell is a great guy, liked and respected by everyone who knows him and works for him.  He is also a smart businessman and smart communicator and his no-bullshit style has permeated its way throughout the company.  Moreover, he is very, very rich - with his Dell investment rumored to be only a third of his entire personal fortune.

Taking Dell private will shelter the firm from the intense public scrutiny being placed on services firms today, consumed with unrealistic margin pressures and gobbledygook strategies that mean

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Posted in: Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)Cloud ComputingHealthcare and Outsourcing