Phil Fersht
 
CEO and Chief Analyst 
Learn more about Phil Fersht
The Five Fundamental Changes that have Reset how we Work
July 20, 2021 | Phil FershtSaurabh Gupta

On the surface, not much has changed… we go to work, we try to do what we did before without physically engaging with each other.  We talk a lot about a “return to normal,” but deep down, we’re starting to suspect those days are gone for good.  So what’s changed?

1. Most of us now have a work-from-home mindset ingrained, whether we like it or not. We have become so efficient working from home, and we don’t have time to commute/travel unless there is some urgent need. If anyone hasn’t already noticed, most folks in the East coast of the US, London, and other major cities have had the green light for several weeks to meet up.  And while the brave few have had a few socials, people aren’t exactly champing at the bit to “renormalize.”  It’s not a fear of Covid as most folks in our industry in the US are fully vaccinated, it’s the new intensity of the virtual work culture – we just don’t have the hours in the day to give up  Our calendars are constantly clogged up for immediate needs weeks ahead and our businesses will struggle to function if we started to block out entire days for conferences and meetings.  While many employers will try and force an in-office culture, it will prove very challenging, getting many people to break from their ingrained work-from-home mindset.

2. The hype days of technology are over. It’s all about what enterprises need, not what vendors are trying to sell them.  The change in the enterprise mindset towards technology has gone through a genuinely pragmatic revolution over the past year.  The realization that being able to function in a virtual model has gradually drained the remnants of hype of the technology value propositions.  Our Pulse study of 800 Global 2000 enterprises clearly illustrates two factors that dominate the focus of leaders:  moving operations into the cloud at speed and training staff to understand how to balance digital business needs in a virtual environment:

Click to Enlarge

Whether we talk about automation, AI, blockchain or quantum… every business leader will answer with “So what?  we need data to be relevant… and it needs to be accessible and immediate in the cloud.  Once we have that we can consider how to get smarter, faster and more efficient”.

3. We are not so afraid of change as Horizon 3 unfolds before our eyes. The last 12 months were the most significant change in our lifetimes, but we are still standing. Change does not sound so scary anymore. Embracing change has also made us more ambitious as business leaders. Are we satisfied with slightly cheaper, slightly better, or somewhat faster, or are we searching for fundamental new sources of value? The OneOffice approach now resonates with practically 99% of enterprise leaders. Horizon 3 initiatives to develop hyper-connected enterprises are also no longer five years away…Horizon 3 is now unfolding right before our eyes:

Click to Enlarge

4.Locations have become irrelevant, as access to talent takes center stage. The days of resistance to offshoring are over as Global 2000 enterprises literally cannot function without access to IT and operations talent. In pre-pandemic times, many US politicians advocated against offshore resources, but this is no longer an option as the talent shortages in the US are a serious issue. We see a continued growth period for hybrid offshore/onshore outsourcing over the next few years, which will accelerate as we gradually emerge from the pandemic over the next few months.  As the Pulse data shows us, enterprise leaders are looking at all business talent models to get what they need, whether offshore, nearshore, onshore, or from a location-agnostic model where they may have no idea where they are that resource is located.  We also expect crowdsourcing to (finally) emerge as a significant model for access specific talent, especially in crucial areas where deep skills are scarce, such as cybersecurity, machine learning, and data science.

Click to Enlarge

5. Values and philosophies beyond capitalism increasingly dictate where our emerging talent chooses to work. This forced embrace of change has had a positive impact on pure capitalism ideals. We have seen a big boost to a profit with a purpose philosophy with initiatives like sustainability and diversity becoming far more ingrained in enterprise-wide goals than just CSR initiatives. Three-quarters of major organizations are centering investments in emerging technologies to support initiatives around sustainability.  We expect many employees to choose employers that stand for important values, beyond merely profit.  CEOs' personal views will become increasingly important to set the tone for their organizations as people increasingly look to leadership for purpose and motivation.

 

Click to Enlarge

The Bottom-line:  We're ready for change, we're truly virtual and we're pragmatic about achieving real business outcomes

However which way we look at things, we're becoming realists and the old days of technology hype and fear of change are receding into the past.  Over the past year, we've gradually let go of the many shackles of the past and started to realize we're in a new reality, a wholly new environment, where we're all trying to focus on achieving real business outcomes, on values that are important to us, and a new work reality where its intense, high-touch and very real.  

What Covid has taught us is there is no reason to fear change, and how important we are to keeping our organizations moving forward.  We just need to keep our eyes wide open that the world has changed, we have changed and we have to accept and adapt.  Onwards an upwards folks =)

Nominations now open for the inaugural HFS OneOffice Awards!
July 17, 2021 | Phil FershtDenise Colgan

HFS OneOffice Awards

(Click to visit the Awards page on our website)

As you all know by now, no one gets a prize for coming last at HFS... but you can now get one for coming first in each of eight different categories!

This Awards program is close to our hearts at HFS. It allows us to showcase and laud organizations who have embraced the opportunities presented by our new business reality, those that have taken a transformational leap rather than a simple step-change. Denise Colgan, the OneOffice Awards program director, spoke with me to learn more about the story behind the awards and the timing of the launch.

Denise Colgan, Director, Awards & Strategic Programs, HFS: Hi Phil – and thanks for your time. Nominations are now open for the OneOffice Awards and we are all very excited that the program is live. How are you feeling about it? And why has HFS launched an awards program in the first place?

Phil Fersht, CEO and Chief Analyst, HFS Research: Hi Denise. I am also excited that the OneOffice Awards are now live. HFS has always been a trusted resource for clients looking for data, information, and informed opinions about what is happening in the market, but we wanted to add another layer – real-life examples of truly transformational projects and programs. People want to be inspired. Being able to learn from the journeys of others and see the real, quantified results they have achieved can help spark the flame of their own transformation. And those who have led the way and taken those leaps of imagination and commitment should be applauded. So, it’s a win-win situation really – we can celebrate the great results achieved by visionary companies and their provider partners while inspiring and informing the next wave.

This is a great fit for HFS. We always strive to think differently and are passionate about combining knowledge with impact to help organizations realize long-term value rather than simple incremental improvements. I can’t wait for people to send in their nominations so we can see some of the great work people are doing – and their results!

Denise: It sounds really exciting – and such a great idea. But why now? Is there any significance to the timing of the OneOffice Awards launch? 

Phil: Yes, there is - our research has shown that the pandemic has added another level of urgency to the need for transformation. Pre-Covid-19 organizations talked about transformation but were stuck doing so alongside legacy dragons and embedded thinking. The pandemic has flipped that one-track corporate mindset of resisting change to one of demanding change overnight. Business resilience is now front of mind rather than the old trope of quicker, faster, cheaper.

We are now seeing the dawn of the OneOffice organization, bringing together connected, global talent and intelligent, automated processes and data running in the cloud. The bold enterprises, who design their organizations to thrive in this era will be the winners – and we can’t wait to share their stories.

Denise: That’s wonderful to hear Phil. It’s great to hear that the OneOffice Awards are focused on the creative use of technology, data, and people skills to keep businesses relevant and successful in this new world. What award categories are being included?

Phil: We have decided on eight categories, each of which is close to our hearts and can bring about real and lasting business change. 

  • Data and Decisions: Recognises organizations and teams that create a culture of data that drives new opportunities through interactions, insights, and predictive capabilities, giving the ability to access data at a speed that drives critical decisions for their business
  • Native Automation: Rewards organizations and teams that leverage a range of emerging technologies to create intelligent and automated workflows in the cloud, enabling the new "native" standards for consistent cross-functional enterprise operations
  • People and Process Change: Applauds organizations that develop and manage talent to build OneOffice skillsets, address process debt by eliminating wasteful activities that plague our organizations, and manage change across the organization to make a meaningful impact 
  • Horizon Three Innovation: Identifies organizations that find completely new sources of value by collaboration across multiple organizations with common objectives and who demonstrate organizational characteristics like an infinite mindset, data monetization, and autonomous processes, while leveraging horizon 3 technologies such as blockchain, 5G, and/or quantum computing 
  • Innovation Ecosystem: No one can be everything to anyone! This category recognizes the service provider that embraces collaboration across start-ups, technology providers, academia, industry bodies, researchers, influencers, and even competitors to drive unmatched value for its clients
  • Sustainability: Celebrates organizations that meet the triple bottom line: social, financial, and environmental. An enterprise that has a positive effect on the global or local environment, community, society, or economy
  • Diversity: Applauds organizations and teams that unleash human potential by getting serious about people diversity to maximize the potential of every person and drive real innovation
  • OneOffice Mindset: Recognizes an enterprise that runs processes end-to-end across the organizational value chain, focuses on employee experience as a significant component of the overall customer experience, and drives organizational alignment and metrics that measure value creation, not just cost reduction. It represents an organizational mindset that breaks down front-to-back legacy silos to create the only "office" that matters. 

Denise: I can’t wait to see the entries flood in! Who can get involved? And where/how can they get started on nominations?

Phil: Everyone is welcome! Nominations are open to client-side organizations and their key partners worldwide and across all business sectors, including the public sector. Technology and service providers are also encouraged to nominate their own clients and share their success stories. All of the information needed can be found on our OneOffice awards homepage. We have a dedicated, easy-to-use awards platform where entrants can register and start their awards entry. It’s a really simple process. Everything can be saved in progress, so start your entry here.

Denise: Well, good luck to all entrants! Are there any key dates or considerations they should be aware of?

Phil: That’s a great question – thanks. The OneOffice Awards are open to enterprises from across the globe and must have been live at any point between January 1st, 2020, and the date of entry.

Nominations are now open, and we encourage people to get started as early as possible, especially if they need to gather information from different sources or get executive sign-off. Key dates for the OneOffice Awards are:

  • Nominations Close: Monday, 24th November 2021
  • Finalists Announced: Friday, 24th December 2021

The winner in each category will be announced at a celebratory event to be held in London on Thursday, 24th February 2022. We will share more details about that event nearer to the time.

Denise: Do you have any advice for companies considering getting involved?

Phil:  Yes – just do it! Sharing our successes and inspiring others is so important. There is so much hype out there, so real stories about real projects and quantified results are a must-have for organizations who want to make lasting change. So, my advice is - just get started. And if people have questions or need any help, they can contact you at [email protected].

Denise: Indeed they can. I will be happy to help!

Click to visit the Awards page on our website

EY, Accenture, Infosys, TCS and IBM lead the unchaining of supply chain sevices
July 01, 2021 | Saurabh GuptaPhil Fersht

Many industries are experiencing more change during these times than they ever have... anticipating customer demand, staying ahead of emerging ecosystems, grappling with constantly-changing supply channels, regulations and logistics... the list of challenging for supply chain leaders is endless.  So who's helping enterprises stay ahead of these secular shifts in supply chains? Let's hear from our very own Saurabh Gupta, who led our recent Top 10 research into supply chain services.

Saurabh - you've been researching supply chain services for 15 years (sorry, but I can remember when you started!)... how have they developed over the years, and why has the pandemic created the burning platform for the market?

Yes, Phil…about 15 years since my first report as an analyst … you've made me realize that I am getting older! The very definition of the supply chain has changed over the last two decades from linear supply chains (input, process, output) to circular sustainable supply chain (to re-use, re-make or refurbish). But I feel that the term 'supply chain' is a misnomer for meeting the realities of today's world. It connotates constrained thinking. We need to break free. It's time to unchain your supply chain.

For too long, supply chains have been shackled by the idea that they must be linear—a "chain." But the pandemic shock changed the supply and demand equation. Business priorities changed overnight, creating new opportunities for some and threatening survival for others. Enterprise leaders finally recognized the need for supply networks. Supply chains need an ecosystem approach—both internally and externally. Organizations will need to collaborate across industries to pinpoint sources of disruption, where to disrupt, and how to keep reinventing themselves.

How have service providers evolved over the years to drive supply chain innovation?  Which ones impressed in the recent study?

First, I've seen a convergence of third-party technology, business, and consulting services for the supply chain. They were three different market segments, but leading service providers realize that they need to operate at the intersection of all three. Second, the budding romance between the supply chain and emerging technologies is exhilarating. For instance, supply chain provenance (track-and-trace) is the no. 1 use case for enterprise blockchain technology adoption today. And third, the scope of third-party supply chain services has expanded beyond traditional areas like order management, inventory management, and sourcing & procurement into emerging areas like supply chain planning and design, aftermarket services, and sustainability services. Improving supply chain resiliency, transparency, and sustainability emerged as the top 3 areas of focus across 200 supply chain executives that we surveyed as a part of our 2021 OneOffice Pulse study.

We assessed 11 leading supply chain providers with robust supply chain credentials across a defined series of innovation, execution, and voice of the customer criteria.

 

Click to Enlarge

The Top 5 service providers in the HFS winners circle were:

  1. EY brings together the capabilities of all its service lines (Technology Consulting, Business Consulting, PAS (People Advisory Services), Tax and Strategy and Transactions) for the supply chain practice to offer services that cut across consulting, managed services, and technology products.
  2. Accenture is delivering the promise of intelligent supply chains with its new "One Accenture" organization structure oriented around three markets (North America, Europe, and Growth Markets) that allows it to bring together all its services (strategy consulting, technology, and operations) to its clients in a simple and easy to consume way.
  3. Infosys has developed "Live" supply chain solutions designed to make supply chains adaptive and resilient, resembling living organisms' ability to sense, reason, respond, and evolve to uncertainties
  4. TCS’ large scale, MFDM (Machine First Delivery Model) powered and end-to-end SCM offerings to deliver resilient, adaptable, purpose-driven, and future-ready supply chains
  5. IBM brings to the supply chain a triple-A trifecta (automation, AI, analytics) powered intelligent workflow along with exponential technologies such as Blockchain, IoT, and Quantum, as well as championing open supply chain innovation through investments like RedHat.

Other notable performances that stood out for me included:

  • Genpact's Barkawi Consulting acquisition enables it to deliver to clients global, end-to-end supply chain services bolstered by domain, digital, and data science expertise.
  • Capgemini's frictionless supply chain vision is strongly aligned with our OneOffice mindset
  • HCL's integrated digital portfolio and Inorganic strategy to build a services + product offering
  • PwC's industry-focused approach and investments in digitally fluent talent
  • GEP's expansion from sourcing & procurement provider to consulting, managed services, and products for supply chain

So finally, Saurabh, what will we talk about in the next couple of years as we see organizations become increasingly "hyper" connected?  How fast is this new market moving, in your view?

Extremely fast, Phil! We are rapidly approaching Horizon 3 (the Hyper-Connected enterprise) of HFS' Innovation framework. The scope of innovation is quickly expanding beyond the functional silos. It needs to extend beyond the four walls of your organization, and it requires collaboration across multiple organizations with common objectives around driving entirely new sources of value. Even the traditional boundaries of industry definitions are blurring, and new industries are getting created.

 

Click to Enlarge

We need to embrace the change happening in front of us or be prepared for an "oh crap, I wish…" moment in two years.

 HFS Premium subscribers can click to access their copy of Top 10 research into supply chain services

Dig in with Dr. Truong Gia Binh – How Vietnamese IT services powerhouse FPT is vying to be a global transformation challenger
June 26, 2021 | Phil FershtSarah LittleShantanu Tewari

The scramble for talent and resources triggered by the virtual environment has thrown the world of global sourcing on its head.  Our new HFS Pulse study covering 800 Global 2000 Enterprises clearly shows us enterprise leaders are evaluating all options (offshore, nearshore, onshore, WFH, crowdsourcing).  Simply put, the need for tech talent and niche specialization is at an all-time high and we need more options available than merely the traditional vehicles:

Click to Enlarge

Dr. Truong Gia Binh, Chairman of FPT Corporation, has a vision to bring Vietnamese capabilities to serve the world and make Vietnam one of its premier AI hubs. FPT has charted its roadmap to enter the Global Top 50 digital transformation provider list in the coming decade – the key drivers to this being FPT’s experience across multiple sectors, its focus on emerging technologies, a whopping 76% demand for digital transformation within Vietnam as a result of COVID-19, and a young population that excels with numbers. FPT formally launched its transformation consulting practice FPT Digital in February and raised its overseas transformation revenue targets by 50% for 2021.

Here are 5 key highlights about FPT you need to know: 

  1. FPT’s desire to be at the top of the game
    In the initial years, FPT started off by democratizing Office Computer Skills across all backbone sectors of Vietnam. FPT’s global presence now covers 26 countries around the world, with the goal of becoming one of the Global Top 50 digital transformation providers within the next ten years.
  2. Vietnam: An Aspiring Digital Nation
    Vietnam is a young nation, and FPT desires to make Vietnam an AI hub of the world and bring Vietnamese quantitative capabilities to the world through implementations of Digital Transformation. Through encouraging support of the government, he is hopeful that the digital economy will contribute to 30% of the overall in the next 10 years.
  3. COVID-19 as a catalyst for digital transformation
    Vietnam has been highly resilient during the COVID-19 pandemic, and technology has played a key role. Vietnam’s Government adopted innovative digital tools for contact tracing and disseminating information.
    To respond to the COVID challenge, FPT transformed internally and changed the approach towards customer delivery. They became a comprehensive digital transformation partner of various industry leaders, enhanced their consulting capabilities through acquisitions, and set up new delivery centers in 2020 to expedite the new approach.
  4. Emerging Technologies and Made-in-Vietnam Software
    FPT plans to bring its synergy of methodology and industry experience to the world. In the first 3 industrial revolutions, Dr. Binh notes they were busy fighting for survival whereas today, as the world embraces Industry 4.0, Vietnam has the opportunity to join the race from the same starting point – just as any leading country in the world. A lot of enterprises in Vietnam do not have legacy technology and are hence making a start directly in digital.
  5. The Rise of Digital Platforms
    The world post-COVID-19 will look very different, and Dr. Binh believes a platform economy is on the rise. Most business leaders in Vietnam have planned for digital transformation, which is an indicator of huge market potential for FPT and digital platforms such as FPT.AI.

To go deeper, we invite you to dive into the full details of the discussion between FPT's Chairman, Dr. Truong Gia Binh, and Phil Fersht:

Dr. Truong Gia Binh, Chairman FPT Corporation

FPT’s desire to be at the top of the game

Phil Fersht, CEO and Chief Analyst, HFS Research: Dr Binh, tell us a more about yourself and how you came to be Chairman of Vietnam’s premier IT service provider?  Was this what you had always planned when you were starting out with your career?

Dr Trương Gia Bình, Chairman, FPT Corporation: Starting a business was not in my initial plan, Phil. In the late 1970s, the wars left Vietnam as one of the poorest countries in the world, with GDP per capita less than $100. Food was not sufficient to feed the population.

As a research fellow in Russia at the time, I noticed that Vietnamese people were often looked down upon. So I gave up pursuing my research career and joined 12 fellow scientists to found

Read More »

Sitel buys SYKES. Now a CX juggernaut triumvirate emerges with Teleperformance and Concentrix
June 22, 2021 | Phil FershtMelissa O'Brien

It’s been a couple of years since we’ve seen any major consolidation in the contact center BPO top ten providers with Concentrix acquiring Convergys, but last week Sitel made it clear that large contact center acquisitions are still in vogue by announcing its intention to buy peer SYKES.  

As for the $2.2b price tag, Sitel now expects to generate $4b in revenues from the combined entity.  The combined revenues will be biting at the heels of their next-largest competitor, Concentrix, which is second only in revenue and scale to contact center BPO giant Teleperformance. In 2020 SYKES revenues grew 6%, whereas Sitel’s grew 18%.  With this acquisition, Sitel jumps ahead of the now 4th largest competitor, TTEC:

WFH leadership is the significant boost behind SYKES’ appeal

SYKES has arguably been the work-from-home (WFH) contact center leader since pre-pandemic days, with the foundation of its 2012 Alpine Access pure-play home-based contact center acquisition.  Since, SYKES has further developed this core capability into a very sophisticated recruiting, onboarding, training and collaboration platform – fully virtual.  The long-standing WFH expertise and the capability of its OneTEAM platform enabled a successful shift to remote in early 2020 and continues to be one of SYKES’ major differentiators. 

With 40% of staff expected to be working from home across Global 2000 organizations over the next year (see below), having the broadest geographic experience and depth will surely align the merged entity with the strategic resourcing desires of many leading customers.  If Newco leads with WFH, customers will surely entrust more with them.

 

In addition to the WFH and tech capabilities, SYKES offers an attractive and complementary geographic footprint, including a European multilingual hub with delivery out of Egypt.

SYKES brings the only scaled-up global automation services capability that could position Newco at the heart of OneOffice

Its other key capability, which we touted as the first real automation investment by a contact center in 2018 is the RPA strategy and implementation capability of Symphony ventures.  While the Symphony resources have largely been held together by SYKES, the firm declined to embrace automation into its core value proposition and failed to excite the market by rebranding this unique capability as the bland “SYKES Digital Services” last year.  If Sitel can embrace automation to drive front-to-back processes and a OneOffice mindset for its clients, it’s not too late to revitalize the former Symphony team to create a genuine edge for itself in the market.

In a OneOffice organization (see Exhibit 4), automation becomes a native competency, where human performance is augmented by unleashing creativity and personal interaction, where the immediacy of data creates insights to support decision-making that can make or break the firm. The only true way to create a OneOffice experience is to be able to integrate the front office processes and interactive technologies (most of which are embedded in the call center) with the operations of the organization:

OneOffice is where teams function autonomously across front, middle and back-office functions to promote broader processes with real-time data flows that support rapid decision making. It’s where front, middle and back offices will cease to exist, as they will be, simply, OneOffice.  Sitel+SYKES has a unique opportunity to consult to enterprises to make these front-to-back connections and weaves these capabilities into their managed services offerings.  The merged entity can offer real expertise to provide automated processes as-a-service and help their clients through the journey.

Bottom line:  While scaling up to compete with Teleperformance and Concentrix is clearly the game-plan, Sitel/SYKES needs to focus on the value of the parts and integrate at speed

Sitel is virtually unrecognizable from the firm it was six years ago.  A debt restructuring plan following its sale to French conglomerate Groupe Acticall was completed in 2018, opening up the firm to footprint expansion, digital investments, and a major rebrand which unified the company and all of its complementary assets.   Sitel has recently made major investments in growth. Its design thinking and discipline organically, including hiring design experts and developing its MaxHub and EXP + model. 

This latest major announcement sets in stone the firm’s intentions to be a leader in this global, remote, and increasingly digital contact center market. Now speed is of the essence to integrate the two firms, and we can expect an aggressive competitive response to this.  Sitel and Concentrix were widely rumored to have come close to a merger, and neither top two firms will stand still and take this new competitive threat lightly.  There are several mid-tier CX providers which will struggle to maintain growth in the coming short-medium term, and we will be surprised if we do not see some more large-scale CX services mergers over the next 6-12 months.

Unleashing cultural innovation is dictating the emerging work environment
June 19, 2021 | Melissa O'BrienPhil Fersht

Not only is a clearer picture of the “future of work” emerging in today's new reality, but its very nature is also changing day-by-day. In short, no one can paint an accurate picture of what the emerging work environment will eventually look like, but we can develop scenarios to understand how this will play out in the coming months and years.  What is clear is enterprises are grappling with the need to drive unprecedented innovation in a work-from-home culture, and are figuring out how to arrive at a more predictable, acceptable, and effective work culture as we look beyond this pandemic era. Developing a work-from-home capability is the table-stake to survive in today's environment, but innovation will only thrive in a hybrid work environment where people can inspire and motivate each other.

There is only so much you can achieve remotely – the smart way forward is a hybrid work model

We've talked to hundreds of executives over the past year, and they all complain about the same thing - they are managing an almost unmanageable amount of internal meetings over video calls, simply to keep the wheels on basic task management and accountability.  Simply put, it's becoming increasingly complex and awkward to run business operations in a remote model where training is a huge challenge, where motivating people is almost impossible, where getting beyond the basics of keeping activities functioning is a huge challenge.  Communicating, collaborating, idea-sharing, white-boarding, etc are critical for taking businesses forwards and driving real innovation.  They are also critical for helping employees become comfortable with change, to be comfortable with automating mundane elements of their jobs, and to become adept at embracing ways of accessing the data needed to exploit market opportunities. 

With industry lines blurring, supply chains fragmenting and new opportunities and challenges springing up at a breathtaking pace, the time to bring people back together is fast-arriving, and so many enterprise leaders are now seeing this in spades.

Embedding digital fluency into your workforce is paramount to drive a truly cloud-enabled business architecture

The clearest barometer that shows the major changes facing Global 2000 enterprises over the next 12-18 months are the clear priorities to develop “Digitally Fluent” workforces to be best equipped to function effectively in the cloud. 

Digital Fluency describes the ability to drive the seamless interplay between business and technology:

  • Ability to translate the understanding of digital tools to create new ways to serve customers’ needs and drive value;
  • Ability to consider how digital technology will impact every aspect, every functional area of the organization;
  • Ability to examine the organization’s business model, strategy, and operations in the context of digital technology.

Click to Enlarge

While the magic number from the new HFS Pulse study of 800 Global 2000 indicates that 60% of staff will return to the office over the next year, we must recognize that this is not a static

Read More »

Time for some Sharma Karma
June 14, 2021 | Phil FershtSarah LittleRam Rajagopalan

Talking to Manish Sharma is like going through a karma carwash – you feel pretty fresh and sparkly at the end. But don't take the effervescence lightly – Manish has cultivated his career at Accenture over three decades, now leading "the largest operations business on the planet." I had the opportunity to catch up with Manish during HFS' OneOffice Symposium, in addition to a behind-the-scenes catch-up call. He uses words without embellishment, so when he speaks of dramatic mindset shifts, super compressed transformations, and the multiplier impact, you know this era has been a stunning one. 

Both Rohan Kulkarni and Sarah Little captured key highlights from our Symposium "Digi-side" chat (think "greatest influencers" and alignment with the OneOffice mindset).

You can create your own karmic take-aways from the closed-door call below: 

Phil Fersht, CEO and Chief Analyst, HFS Research: Good afternoon Manish. It is great to see you again. You’ve been traveling for some time, right? Great to have you on here. For some of the folks not so familiar with you personally, maybe you could just give us a little bit about you and your background, and how you came to be in your current role. Did you always want to be leading a multi-billion dollar P&L within Accenture? Or did you have other plans when you were starting out?

Manish Sharma, Group CEO of Accenture Operations: First of all, Phil, it’s always good to chat with you, and catch up about the industry trends. In terms of my own journey, I have been with the firm now for 27 years. When I joined, it was a small consulting office in Mumbai. That is where I joined, and my background, funnily enough, is an engineering background, and never in my life, in my early years, did I ever think that I will be in an operations business or a BPO business. My dream was to design the best ever machine tool, whether it is the boring machine tool, or for cutting, or any other stuff, but that was my original plan, with my background. I joined because, at that time, it was Arthur Andersen in 1995, and I joined for setting up a manufacturing excellence practice in India, including supply chain, and everything else. That is where I spent all my years on, and I was always. I lived in Mumbai.

After a few years, when the outsourcing started, we got our first few clients, and I was told that “Can you help with one of the clients for few weeks?” I said, “Okay,” and I did my Monday to Friday from Mumbai to Bangalore, as we were setting up our business. Now, that two or three weeks, or two or three months, has got converted into virtually a decade, two decades out there. Right? That is the funny part of it. I have always enjoyed my journey in this. ’95 to 2002 consulting, 2002 onwards in this business, right from the formative years.

 

"It is exciting to lead the largest operations business on the planet. Right?"

It is exciting to lead the largest operations business on the planet. Right? When I think of it, what inspires me is our people. I think the best thing for me has been that I have seen people who joined us, when they came in, in early 2000, and now they are having families, and great infrastructure where they live in, great careers, growth of their people. It has been fascinating to just see the people grow, along with our client portfolio.

Read More »

Are you ready for the HFS OneOffice Digital Symposium?
June 05, 2021 | Phil FershtNischala Murthy Kaushik

Click to Register and make a voluntary donation to India's Covid-19 fight

The countdown has officially begun for the first HFS One Office Digital Symposium on June 8 and 9. This is an exclusive digital symposium for industry leaders in business and technology to gain access to the most expansive global community of pioneers, practitioners and peers.

HFS CMO Nischala Murthy Kaushik spoke with me to learn more about the complete story around the symposium...

Nischala : Firstly, Thanks for your time Phil. We are a few days away from the HFS One Office Digital Symposium. How are you feeling about it?

Phil : I am excited about hosting the HFS One Office digital symposium. As a company, our events are well known and popular in the industry as we bring together executive leaders for thought-provoking discussions and unfiltered dialogues – in the unique and exquisite HFS signature style.

However, the reality is that we are far from doing live events yet! And so, as a company, we felt it was a good point in time to host our first digital symposium. I am personally excited about the amazing speaker line-up of 70+ speakers from across the world, the topically relevant agenda we have curated, the sponsorship support we received from our clients, and also the phenomenal response from the industry in terms of registrations.

When I last checked, we had more than 800 sign-ups and are still counting and expect to surpass 1000 before registration close on Monday! And the interesting insight is that we have registrations from across all industries, geographies, roles and functions. The best part is that doing a digital symposium presents us the opportunity to connect and engage with a wider section of the global industry and ecosystem; it’s almost ~4X the numbers we typically host in our live events!

Nischala: That’s wonderful to hear Phil. And I am sure there is excitement in the air at HFS around the upcoming HFS OneOffice Digital Symposium. I also know that you have committed to use the proceeds from the HFS One Office Digital Symposium towards the COVID-19 relief response work in India. Can you please share more about it?

Phil: Yes, Nischala, a lot of our business and clients are based in India - it is the heartbeat of the global services industry. Over the past few weeks, we have seen and heard of the ground reality of the situation in India. And we made an executive decision to make immediate donations from the Symposium proceeds for the collective fight against the pandemic in India.

These are the organizations we are supporting – please join us in doing so today in lieu of registration fee: Give IndiaUnited WaySewa International, and Kinaara.

I am incredibly happy that the funds we have given are making a real difference on the ground. A facility for pregnant women with COVID-19 needed $7,000 to open.  We just made that happen. We also funded a 200-bedded hospital in a small town in Tamil Nadu and have just helped a maternity center become operational for women with Covid-19. So it truly gratifying to see the realization of our passion for a purpose to make a real difference.

In addition, HFS commits that the symposium proceeds will also be used to support causes we believe in – especially the importance of accessible college education for all racial minorities..

Read More »

Accenture, Infosys, KPMG, EY and DXC top the 2021 ServiceNow services rankings
May 30, 2021 | Phil FershtTom ReunerMartin Gabriel

Click to Enlarge

One platform which has scaled new heights over the past year, geared to orchestrating processes in the cloud, is ServiceNow.  One area that is becoming increasingly critical for these platforms is driving up the excitement of the leading - and emerging - services providers to train their staff to deploy, develop and help manage the solutions.  Hence, it is no coincidence that we're seeing SNOW rise in prominence with the service providers with ex-SAP chief Bill McDermott at the helm. 

HFS' IT services leader, Dr Tom Reuner, supported by analyst Martin Gabriel, have spent the past few months talking with an exhaustive quota of end-customers of ServiceNow, in addition to drilling into HFS' customer perception surveys, to draw up the definitive Top Ten guide to

Read More »

The big digital flip: 60% of staff going back to the office
May 23, 2021 | Phil Fersht

What a difference six more months of staring into the digital abyss has made

When we interviewed leadership from 400 Global 2000 enterprises at the end of last year only 37% saw them returning to an in-office environment.  Our very latest HFS Pulse study, covering 800 Global 2000 enterprises, clearly shows a marked shift towards sending staff back to the office, with a 60% ratio of staff expected to be office-based over the next year:

Click to Enlarge

We're entering a hybrid reality, where digital and physical work cultures are blended

The digital exuberance of 2020, where declarations from many leading enterprises - the likes of Unilever, Hitachi, Mastercard, Google and Amazon - that they had become "work-from-anywhere enterprises" is clearly losing steam as so many enterprises have struggled to maintain a motivating, dynamic culture. Employees - from leadership down to interns - are burned out with the sheer monotony of a 100% digital environment and the inability to whiteboard ideas, share ideas, collaborate on process design and embrace emerging tech.  This is especially the case with Gen-Z and Millennial staff who are desperate to get back to an office environment.  In fact, many are choosing to work for firms that are embracing an in-office culture - something we have already seen happening aggressively in the call center environment (download POV here).

Bottom-line:  We're seeing a significant "digital-flip" towards an in-office model

We can't deny the experience of the last year has driven a genuine need to configure business operating models to function in a remote virtual environment, as most businesses simply can no longer limp along with on-premise systems, fragmented processes, and an inability to operate in the cloud.  However, as we evolve towards a new reality where we can really visualize a physical future for businesses, it's also become clear that businesses are struggling to function entirely in the cloud and depend more than ever on a people-driven culture.  Why is this?

Businesses thrive on people and technology empowers us, not dictates how we work.  While many businesses struggled - or failed completely - during the pandemic, many have thrived as costs have been decimated and a return to growth has created so many new markets to exploit and customer demand to satisfy.  This has also created a highly fluid job market, where people can get hired rapidly over Zoom and staff can dictate where they want to work.  Companies with strong, dynamic leaders who inspire staff to learn new things, collaborate together, and focus on purposes beyond mere profit and efficiency are fast becoming venues where ambitious staff want to apply themselves.  While much can be achieved in a pure remote model, it's simply not sustainable for a healthy, energizing work environment in the medium-long term.  Running data and processes in the cloud is critical to keep companies operating effectively, but those are merely the baseline table-stakes to survive in this new hybrid reality.  Technology is critical to provide the infrastructure to exist, but it doesn't dictate the business model... people do.

There is only so much you can achieve remotely.  We've talked to hundreds of executives over the past year, and they all complain about the same thing - they are managing an almost-unmanageable amount of internal meetings over video calls, simply to keep the wheels on basic task management and accountability.  Simply put, it's becoming increasingly complex and awkward to run business operations in a remote model where training is a huge challenge, where motivating people is almost impossible, where getting beyond the basics of keeping activities functioning is a huge challenge.  Communicating, collaborating, idea-sharing, white-boarding etc are critical for taking businesses forwards and driving real innovation.  They are also critical for helping employees become comfortable with change, to be comfortable with automating mundane elements of their jobs, and to become adept at embracing ways of accessing the data needed to exploit market opportunities.  With industry lines blurring, supply chains fragmenting and new opportunities and challenges springing up at a breathtaking pace, the time to bring people back together is fast-arriving, and so many enterprise leaders are now seeing this in spades.