People in the BPO world have noticed that Capgemini has really started to win business in the US over the last couple of years – no longer is the firm seen as largely a European/International player, but a global player with a strong US footprint.
One of the key reasons for this has been the introduction of Mike Small, initially to lead US BPO development efforts, before his elevation to global BPO sales leader after his success helping bring in major new clients such as NBC, Office Depot, UBM and Ferro.
Despite being very tall, very charming and very articulate (come see Mike at our Harvard event this December), Mike is also a complex-deal addict – he loves grinding out the really large, intricate engagements, when he’s not out playing golf or running off his business dinners. So it’s high time we made a major introduction to the HfS community to Mike Small…
Phil Fersht, CEO, HfS Research: Good morning Mike, it’s great to have you join us today… please give us some of your background and how you got to the role you’re in today.
Mike Small, Global Sales Officer, BPO at Capgemini: Great Phil, and good morning to you. I’ve been with Capgemini now for over a year and a half. As far as my current role and responsibilities, I head up global sales and marketing including go to market operations for Capgemini’s Business Process Outsourcing business. The best part of my job is working with clients in multiple industries and helping them address their business challenges mostly around finance and accounting as well as supply chain. Capgemini BPO is a leader in both of these disciplines from a marketplace standpoint. So that is my current job. Prior to that I was working at a major technology firm, again focused on business process outsourcing mainly in the North American market. Specifically with a domain focus in both healthcare and financial services, and again running sales and marketing.
When I first started in the industry about 18 plus years ago; I was focused on finance from a controllership and audit perspective and then quickly moved into another multi-national outsourcing firm. Since then, I’ve pretty much been with outsourcing firms, both ITO and BPO as well as applications with experience in solutions and service delivery. Over the past five years I’ve taken what was an IT/ application outsourcing background and really focus on end-to-end business processes. So that’s my passion. Helping clients with shared services strategies, global business services adoption, integration of hybrid models, and full outsourcing of business processes
Phil: What attracted you to join Capgemini? Surely the world was your oyster =)
Mike: Capgemini is a leader in the BPO space and well recognized by analysts like yourself as well as others globally. So that was one initial draw. As I started to explore the corporation, I looked at the cultural fit. Like any career decision a lot of it comes down to feel. So did I feel that I could bring my talent to this organization? Did I feel that this is the right fit? Both of these dimensions for me, personally, were an overwhelming yes. Plus, this is an organization which is extremely entrepreneurial.
When I speak to many of my colleagues that have been around the firm longer than I have, Phil, what keeps them focused and happy is that desire to be entrepreneurial and express our values of freedom in the marketplace, and that’s quite unique to our culture.
Phil: You spend an awful lot of time talking to clients, Mike, and one of the hot topics that we’ve been talking about is the level of hype in the industry today. Do you think there is too much hype in general right now?
Mike: Our market, Phil, is becoming more mature and when you have crowding at a supplier level, what tends to happen is a fierce competitive focus around trying to differentiate. What I have seen to your point is a little bit of hype around robotics process automation as the next wave of business process outsourcing. We’ve obviously embraced the technologies that have emerged and adopted them both for helping our clients and improving our own global operations. We have been delivering robotic process automation for many years and we currently have over three thousand software robots currently in operation.
We use our Global Enterprise Model in the adoption of all technology like robotic process automation and see it as another lever to be pulled in a framework that provides a holistic view of addressing global business processes.
Do I see some hype in the marketplace? The answer is yes. I attribute that to a very crowded field, where many suppliers are trying to push a differentiated value proposition. I think it’s on all of the various members of the ecosystem to continue to test those propositions, so that they are based in reality. We’re not putting any operations at risk. I’d like the adviser and the analyst communities to really dig deep and come back with a re-setting of the market on what’s attainable and what the focus should be strategically. I also think the service providers should really take a step back, and ensure that as we look at going to market and differentiating, that we really are focused on delivering the outcomes. That we commit to it commercially and keep it routed in fact.
Phil: So let’s talk a bit about BPO and where that’s going, Mike. Where do you see real growth coming from as we look maybe three or five years out? Is it in the traditional businesses like F&A and Procurement? Or do you think there are new areas beginning to open up in the market as things mature?
Mike: One area, which coincidentally we have just launched a new offering, is around digital supply chain. Obviously we’re seeing solid growth in our traditional F&A and Procurement business, but supply chain is where we see market demand, specifically in the consumer products, retail and manufacturing industries. For us, when we look at that as a capability and a market opportunity, it’s driven by a couple of drivers that are traditional challenges with clients associated with looking at their supply chain. There is tremendous amount of volatility and customer demands are changing. And there’s also a lack of visibility and companies need a better way to aggregate time sensitive information so they can actually make decisions properly and at a timely manner. We need to get this right to help our clients drive customer loyalty and profitability.
We’ve spoken in past around the proposition around speed to value, and the need for supply chain management and operations to create value with speed. This is where we’re seeing a tremendous opportunity with some of the assets that come to bear within our portfolio. With BPO as well as Capgemini’s consulting, application, and infrastructure capabilities, we can enable a digital supply chain with a lens to in-depth knowledge for consumer product and retail, as well as manufacturing organizations. So that’s an opportunity that’s emerging where we’re seeing tremendous growth. We absolutely take that as the next big opportunity for growth, as we look at the next two to three years. As well as obviously the continuing focus around our traditional business that continues to grow.
Phil: So to finish up, Mike, I’d love to ask you one question about doing something to change this industry. So if you are anointed Emperor of BPO for one week, what’s the one thing you’d do to impact the industry?
Mike: If there is one thing, I would say accelerating the rate at which BPO as a stack services are integrated. If you look at some of the challenges that we see within our client set it’s; how do we integrate? How do we from a value standpoint gain greater insights? How can we be more flexible to adapt to multiple challenges within the environment? How do we overcome barriers to success such as silo-based organizations? How do we extract value rapidly? Because it is very much a changing dynamic.
It’s about extracting and integrating that thinking into strategies to implement into the operations and then delivering it seamlessly across processes and technologies. That’s the one area that is often the biggest barrier for clients – that thinking of the end-to-end integrated view, and how to approach that to address their challenges. So if I were BPO Emperor I would drive that thinking around seamless integration of process and technology in both the client domain as well as the supplier community as I really believe it would deliver an enormous amount of value for the market and for BPO.
Phil: Great answer; did a good job there, Mike! Thanks again for your time with us today.