Monthly Archives: Sep 2021

RPA's true value is helping enterprises function commercially in the virtual economy, connecting legacy with the cloud

September 26, 2021 | Phil FershtTom Reuner

New insights by HFS Research from FORTUNE 1000 leaders provide the context of how we have to reimagine the automation narrative. It is not about the myopic view of one bot for every employee or bold claims of progressing toward the autonomous enterprise. It's about delivering immediate outcomes by designing workflows that take the RPA value out of the back office, where most RPA has been buried, and aligns its capabilities with helping the immediate commercial needs for the enterprise.  The need to create immediate solutions with the digital hyperscaler platforms is now far greater than ERP suites, as that is where the hyperconnected business environment operates, as opposed to the traditional back office.

RPA impacts when it helps enterprises function effectively in new virtual customer and supplier environments

Over half of organizations are realizing that it requires rapid investments in process innovation to be effective in virtual environments. Before and during the pandemic, organizations that deployed RPA as a band-aid on badly designed or even broken processes were found badly wanting.  Firstly, scaling fragile processes with RPA fixes is a huge challenge - they are brittle, and usually results in perpetuating a legacy environment.  Secondly, RPA can have much more impact when it is deployed to bridge existing commercial systems with digital platforms that are essential for survival.

The RPA fraternity has reacted to this by accelerating tie ups with the Hyperscalers. The most recent example is Blue Prism (see news) who significantly expanded capabilities across the AWS ecosystem. However, what is urgently needed are proof points of how we are managing the new complexity of cloud native deployments. If applications or processes are running on containers, the interdependencies and consequently the reasons for failure increase exponentially.

As our current in-progress study of the automation focus of the FORTUNE 1000 is already revealing, the majority of automation investments enterprises are making are with the digital platform giants (75%).  Only half of them still keep faith in ERP, while even less are focused on workflow suites and the RPA platforms themselves.  Hence, hooking up with AWS is a masterstroke as it dominates so much of the commercial supply chain in the virtual economy:

The onus shifts from fluffy "strategy" to immediate need fulfillment 

Addressing immediate critical needs at the business and supply chain end is happening... when you get into the whole commerce space the needs are immediate.  Like how does a consumer products firm take data from legacy supply chain systems into an AWS environment... not the sort of thing you can solve overnight.  You literally can't operate seamlessly in the virtual economy if you don't have the tools to link the old with the new, and RPA must be part of the toolbox to make immediate impact with the suppliers and customers which are the lifeblood for survival in a world where supply chains are falling apart at the seams, customer needs are immediate and stitching together processes from the front to the back office is the only way to function in today's hyperconnected markets.  As this new data shows us, more than half of today's F1000 organizations are under intense pressure to implement new capabilities to take them into the future, as opposed to clinging on to the past:

Bottom-line:  Automation is not a strategy it's the native discipline to keep the wheels on as you rush to the future

Organizations are gearing up to drive fundamental operational change. To stay relevant in the virtual world, application and processes must be designed in and run on the cloud. This requires not only a broader ecosystem of cloud native capabilities but a new mindset and culture of running operations. It is literally about operationalizing the OneOffice by driving change that finally delivers on overcoming the organizational silos and experience-led outcomes. Yet, we can only get there by converging IT and business operations and by leveraging IT and business automation

Posted in: Digital OneOfficeRobotic Process AutomationIntelligent Automation

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We’ve now got to get our sh*t in the cloud, but our data’s still crap...

September 07, 2021 | Phil Fersht

So what's our new cloud guru Joel Martin, saying about the frantic rush to the cloud these past few months?  Let's just hear it from the horse's mouth...

Phil Fersht, CEO and Chief Analyst, HFS Research: Hey, Joel. So how should we be thinking about cloud today? What do you think has changed in the last couple of years, and how should we think about the market as it starts to evolve?

Joel Martin, Research Leader, Cloud Strategies, HFS Research: The cloud is the architecture people are building their businesses on. As we move to these virtualized economies, virtualized businesses, and virtualized experiences, inside and outside the organization, the cloud is the only way companies can scale up and scale down their ability to reach those customers and deliver services. They can’t do that within their private data centers. And that’s the biggest differentiation of using hybrid or public cloud, is that scale versus continuing to invest in in-house IT talent, resources, and tools.

The thing that has changed Phil, is the speed of the network. With fiber, 5G, and gigabit speeds working in the cloud feels like you are working on a device on a local network. The pure speed at which we can create, collaborate, and innovate with others, with systems, and with a growing number of AI solutions is truly mind-blowing. And it’s become so simple to use. People don’t have to be technology literate to create solutions others can benefit from ease-of-use at scale is really what we are benefiting from these days.

Phil: Okay. So tell me about the flow of workloads in the cloud. We hear about private cloud, we hear about public cloud, and then we hear about hybrid cloud. What do you think is going to be the ultimate outcome with these workflows, and how are people going to engage with the cloud in the future?

Joel: There are two things I’ll focus on. First, looking at HFS’s recent Pulse survey data, and which workloads are moving to those different cloud models paints a very interesting picture. As you look at that data, and it looks like a black hole. There’s no clear direction of how firms are preferring to deploy, develop, or adopt workloads. Instead, companies are moving their workloads to the Cloud because they have to move; remaining complacent is not an option

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Posted in: Cloud ComputingDigital TransformationIT Outsourcing / IT Services

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Offshore has become Walmart... as Outsourcing becomes more like Amazon

September 05, 2021 | Phil Fersht

We're operating in a short-term period between the "world that was and the one we're emerging into"... there's some feel-good that we survived a pandemic, but the hard change, the very survival of companies' business models and peoples' careers starts now

And we can't get there without the help of partners to plug the skills and resource gaps that will help out businesses make this pivotal shift to survive in this Virtual Economy...

Services are increasingly about accessing skills that are not ubiquitous in a traditional offshore model

In the Virtual Economy, no one cares much about “offshore” as a strategy - it has become part of the fabric of managing a global operating model, where operations leaders just tap into whatever global resource they need to achieve their desired outcomes. This doesn’t mean that traditional “offshore” global delivery locations, such as India and the Philippines, are going bust overnight. But it does mean the playing field is leveling out as the need for emerging skills trumps the desire simply to reduce labor costs.

Our recent HFS Pulse Data of more than 800 major global enterprises is showing the focus on offshoring has sipped behind onshore, nearshore - and even most profoundly - agnostic-shore as enterprises look to realign their operating models:

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The Virtual Economy has shifted the operational emphasis to outsourcing partnerships

In fact, we've never seen a boom like this in demand for tech and business process services since the dot-com days.  What’s more, we believe the services market for the Virtual Economy

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

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Don’t let digital burn-out kill your career

August 31, 2021 | Phil Fersht

The days of everyone talking about the “new” culture of working from home are so over

This isn’t new, it’s the way we do business today across all industries and job functions where physical office visits are non-essential.  If it gets done over Zoom it stays on Zoom.  Most people travel for vacations and personal needs, not business anymore.  18 months in, and we’re not going back – we’re efficient, we’re intense, we get things done in a much faster, cheaper, and family-friendly manner. 

A recent study of service provider staff in India showed that 90% do not want to go back to an in-office culture, with staff getting 10-20 hours a week back from their nightmare commutes; in the UK staff are furious about being forced to commute to work and in the US conferences are being canceled en masse and most offices are virtually empty, despite staff having the option to go to work.  Of course, when the pandemic eventually fades there will be more conferences and physical meet-ups, but the days of many people traveling and commuting regularly for their jobs are over.

As our Pulse Data of 800 major organizations shows, 40% of workers are going to be home-based for the foreseeable future:

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People just don’t want to put their career before their lifestyle anymore... and we have to adapt

We are in serious danger of our careers becoming subdued and de-emphasized in the current climate.  While I am one of the first people to laud the increased focus on family commitments and having a pragmatic approach to the highs and lows of our professional lives, I am seeing clouds of demotivation gathering and sapping much of the passion and excitement out of our industry.  You only need to see the pathetic levels of enthusiasm for digital conferences, webinars, thought leadership right across the industry to realize that many people are just not as engaged with their jobs as they used to be.

I love the fact that so many employers are giving their staff “mental health breaks” (such as Nike recently following similar initiatives from the likes of LinkedIn, Bumble, Mozilla, and Hootsuite).  We’ve even been giving a few Fridays off for staff at HFS to allow them to take long weekend breaks.  However, we won’t be very effective businesses if we grant our staff 6+ weeks of PTO each year! 

In short, mental health at work is a massive issue, and something employees need to tackle head-on.  Employers can offer as much support as they can, with time off, counseling, good management, and good resources, however, there comes a point where staff have to figure out how to keep themselves motivated.  Let's be honest, we're living in a world where your work experience runs the risk of becoming yet another digital channel to fit alongside Facebook, Netflix, Instagram, and whatever else consumes your digital time these days.

The Bottom-line: 10 ways we can re-motivate our careers

  1. Prioritize non-Zoom time to focus yourself.  At HFS we have “no meetings Wednesdays” where we insist staff use the time to get their written / cerebral work done without the constant distraction of video meetings.  It’s impossible to execute well on your work when you don’t have chunks of time to focus your thoughts.  We used to use plane time/hotel time a lot for this type of work… not we need to carve it out.  If your employer won’t sanction a no-meeting day, then create one for yourself and block off you calendar.  If there is push-back, you should seriously question the mentality of your leaders and whether this is a company adapting to the virtual economy.
  2. Embrace change and explore new roles with your leadership.  Many people are discovering/developing new skills in the virtual economy – things they thought they were bad at, they are improving dramatically at.  The fear of change is dissipating from so many, and the ideas of trying new things are so important today.   Careers can go stale and this environment may have accelerated your sell-by date for doing a certain activity, and it’s time to freshen it up.  So talk to your bosses and your mentors… have a look at jobs going in other firms.  It’s time to embrace change and put yourself in a position to do new things that could energize you and refocus your skills.
  3. Meet fellow workers and clients local to you.  Nothing is more energizing than merely seeing faces familiar to you from 18 months ago… just do it.  And don’t sit in an offering staring at PowerPoint, go to lunch or dinner.  Start enjoying meeting folks local to you where there is little stress, and the time investment is minimal.
  4. Orient your work effectively around your family commitments.  It’s been a hard time for so many Moms (and Dads) taking care of our families, and some have been amazing at finding the time to become more focused, efficient, and flexible to get work done.  The nice-to-five is over folks and we need to find times like late evenings / early mornings where we can deliver.  The key is to make sure your employer gets this and judges you on outcomes… not simply that you were online during “office hours” every day.
  5. Spread meetings out over longer periods.  The lockdown intensity of packing your calendar with 10 back-to-back Zoom meetings all day have to end.  You will burn-out and become a jabbering idiot.  It’s OK to book meetings 3-4 weeks out, and you must create mental breaks for yourself during the day.  We aren’t robots and if we don’t manage our time better we will start to become them.
  6. Keep learning new things.  There probably hasn’t been a more critical time to stay ahead of market developments, new business models, new technologies etc.  You must find time to read and network.., the only two ways you will keep learning.
  7. Keep networking and stop making virtual excuses.  The excuses of “I can’t develop relationships over video calls” are done.  If you can’t, then you’re toast.  Find time to keep in touch with key people and also to get to know new folks who can help you. 
  8. Get a decent webcam.  If your laptop camera sucks then buy a webcam.  You can get one for $25 on Amazon for chrissakes.  And get rid of the up-nostril view… please.
  9. Keep exercising and keep healthy.  Sit on a yoga-ball all day… buy a Peloton.  The days of lockdown are over and you don’t have excuses for the expanded girth, the excessive booze consumption, or whatever bad things you do to keep yourself amused.  Poor physical health eventually means poor mental health and your employer giving you mental health breaks won’t cut it forever.
  10. Reevaluate your own goals and stop living off past glories. I know so many people clinging onto their past work glories, which may never return in this very different work culture.  Trying to cling on to an inflated salary is not a strategy - it's potentially asking for trouble down the road if you're failing to innovate your capabilities and value to your organization. The cost of living has changed for many of us - we don't need two cars in the family, we save a lot on commuting and eating out... on all sorts of things.  So why not evaluate what you want to do with your career, the type of organization you want to work for, and whether you can afford to rationalize short-term earnings to chase future opportunities for yourself?  

Posted in: HR StrategyDigital OneOfficeGlobal Workforce and Talent

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Cyber Ralph serving up some sparkle for HFS

August 29, 2021 | Phil Fersht

 

We're thrilled to let you all know that HFS is blessed with the presence of Ralph Aboujaoude Diaz (see bio) as Practice Leader for Cybersecurity strategies with a keen eye on Horizon 3 technologies.

Ralph has expensive experience as a risk management consultant for PwC and EY before leading Core Tech for Life Sciences giant GSK.  Many of you will know Ralph from his extensive LinkedIn humor and his flirtation/obsession/hatred of RPA.  He is based in London and spends time when he can with family in Lebanon... and now he's an analyst!  So let's find out a bit more about what makes Ralph tick...

Welcome to HFS, Ralph!  So what gets you up in the morning? 

Hi Phil! Personal life: my 2 kids (a 6-year-old boy that is driving me crazy these days and a 3-year-old girl that only loves her daddy). I love my wife by the way!

Professionally: Believing in the work I do but more importantly enjoying what I'm doing. You need to work with “Meraki” (a Greek word to describe doing something with passion and creativity).

You've been a Big-4 consultant and an enterprise tech leader... why become an analyst now?  And why with HFS?

I have been lucky and grateful to work with brilliant minds and I never stopped learning along the way. Without all these great leaders and mentors, I will not be where I am today! However, the only thing that I always missed is the inability to speak my mind. I am a proud non-conformist and not a big fan of political correctness. But always pragmatic and respectful.Transitioning to the analyst world is for me the natural evolution of my professional career. I will finally be able to utilize all the hard/soft skills that I have acquired during the past 15+ years but saying things my way. I want to provide direct, unfiltered, and actionable insights. But in a funny way too as I firmly believe that conveying a serious and honest message in a humorous way is much more impactful.

Why and I joining HFS Research? Because HFS is just like me, and I love that. Working with the iconic Phil and a diverse team of talented, bold, and friendly people is what gets me up in the morning.

And why do you think you'll bring something a little different to the analyst industry?  What will you be writing about?  What is it you care about?

The little different thing that I will bring to the analyst industry is quite simple: no previous analyst experience! I have spent more than 10+ years running large-scale tech-enabled security transformation projects. My last 5+ years on the buyer side have been focused on embedding and sustaining processes post-transformation, which in all honesty, is the most difficult part of the journey. So, the little different thing that I will hopefully bring is that mixed experience from the seller/buyer side, allowing me to understand what really matters for enterprises and position the right products/ services. My research agenda will be focused on Cybersecurity and Horizon 3 technologies (with an initial focus on 5G and Quantum Computing).

I am not pretentious enough to say that I will be covering the entire cybersecurity spectrum. My research agenda will concentrate on 6 topics that matter, on real problems that cybersecurity professionals and enterprises, in general, are currently facing. I will be talking about the role and challenges of the CISO, how to reduce the cybersecurity skill gap, how to secure the cloud environment, how to govern identity and access management, how to augment the capabilities of cybersecurity professionals with intelligent automation, and last but not least how to respond to security incidents in this Hyperconnected world.

I will not disclose more for now…

I love Tech and I will be also writing about Horizon 3 Technologies. Exploring and understanding how potentially disruptive technologies could transform existing business models in the next 5/10/15 years. I am very excited about that!

You got a huge following in social media when you dabbled in RPA before you made a hasty exit from the space... can you share what you were doing, what you learned, and where you see that market going in this environment?

Back in 2018, RPA was one of the hot topics that the Office of CEO at my previous employer was keen to explore. I was initially tasked to build the business case and drive the vendor selection process. I then led the design and deployment of a global RPA program across all Business Units (including the implementation of a global Automation Centre of Excellence and enablement of regional scalable Automation Deliver Hubs).

I have learned one very important thing: RPA is just a great tool in the wider automation toolbox that serves very well a specific business case (UI integration). However, RPA is, by nature, a brittle technology. In order to truly scale and operationalize RPA, enterprises need to invest a significant amount of time and resources. Without any doubt, RPA can help organizations rejuvenate their substantial legacy landscape by injecting much-needed automation. But rejuvenating does not mean modernizing. Rejuvenating does not mean transforming. Putting RPA at the center of the digital transformation is like trying to win a gunfight using a knife.

The RPA market is here to stay. As we can see now, ISVs have started to enter the RPA space by acquiring niche RPA vendors. The objective is straightforward: extend their integration capabilities and ultimately offer a holistic framework to customers. The big 3 RPA players are actively transforming their existing offering to include more integration, analytics and AI capabilities. But will this be sustainable and affordable in the long run?

So, finally, what do you think we'll be talking about in a year?  Can many of today's enterprises survive if they don't change their legacy habits?

We will be talking much more about “Enterprise Process Orchestration”. There is an urgent to unify and manage the increasing number of individual tasks, managed by humans and non-human identities, into an end-to-end process that can be easily visualized, monitored and recalibrated. The concept has been floating around in the last few years, but I feel that organizations are now ready to embark on ambitious projects and not just targeted pilots. And I use the word “enterprise” because the platforms that will support such macro-orchestration will be robust, secured and scalable.

Welcome to HFS Ralph - I can see you are already pushing our some insights =)

Posted in: Security and Risk Mgmt.Cyber-security

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Accenture, Capgemini, Cognizant, Infosys, HCL, TCS and Wipro adapting to the Virtual Economy; Atos, IBM and Tech M flat; DXC trends downwards

August 26, 2021 | Phil Fersht

We've never seen a boom in demand for tech and business process services since the dot-com days (hopefully some of you can still remember those when we texted on flip-phones with 12 keys and thought it was cool to put an "e" in front of everything we did).  However, we believe the services market for the virtual economy is only just ramping up, and this is merely the hors d-oeuvre before the real feasting starts...

What is driving this new phase of growth in IT services?

1) A frantic race to the cloud to function in this virtual economy;

2) A worrying shortage of available 'digitally fluent' talent to support both complex and mainstream IT transitions;

3) A high confidence in the outsourcing model as enterprises choose flexibility in unpredictable markets;

4) Aggression from many service providers to win more of the Global 2000 IT pie.  We're in a 'landgrab market';

5) Many firms using this virtual economy to make the shift from legacy shared services to outsourcing models;

6) The German market, along with other European regions, rapidly scaling up their service provider relationships.

So which of the major providers are taking advantage of this?

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Accenture has performed quite the pivot since the pandemic rocked up, de-emphasizing themselves as an advertising firm and reinforcing their prowess in cloud and IT services.  Capgemini has raced on since its acquisition of Altran and making some long-overdue leadership changes internally, which has reflected in a strong uptick in performance that actually saw the French firm sneak above TCS last quarter.  Cognizant has quietly picked up its performance after taking a write-down of its Samlink Finnish nightmare in Q4 last year and has bedded in several new leaders right across the organization.  After a challenging pandemic that included a ransomware attack, the firm is finding some stability to support this renewed growth curve.

While IBM sold-off of its commodity services business lines, it is still struggling to post any significant growth, but at least this is a major improvement from its difficult years where the firm posted declines for several years.  The business is stable, its focus on retaining and growing complex engagements is bearing fruit, but there seems to be an eternal conflict from its leadership on whether IBM's long-term future lies in services or software. With the future of services tied intrinsically to the intersections across SaaS solutions and the services to enable them, IBM needs to forge a clearer path for itself and the role it wants to play.

TCS' performance going into the pandemic was lackluster, after being the market's most consistent, aggressive and dominant Indian-heritage performer - and by some margin - for several years. The firm seems to be ingesting these last few years of heavy growth, but struggling to pivot as quickly as some of its competitors in this market, where responding to demanding clients and aggressively investing in new engagements are the watchwords. There was a time when TCS could win any large IT services deal in the world if it wanted to... those days seem to be from a different era in this environment.  However, the TCS rebound is strong since last year and the "Walmart of IT services" definitely seems to be finding it feet again in this virtual economy.

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When comparing the growth over the pandemic itself, comparing Q2 2020 performance with Q2 2021, the two standout performers, in terms of revenue growth, are Wipro and Infosys.  The first year of Thierry Delaporte at Wipro couldn't have gone more smoothly, where much of the old guard were jettisoned in quick-time to make way for a host of new leaders from within the firm and externally.  In addition, a restructuring of the firm around geographical locations seems to be paying dividends, despite some challenges, and the major acquisition of financial services consultant Capco has really improved the perception of the firm and encouraged several enterprise clients to increase their investments.

Infosys simply sailed into the pandemic after a series of impressive quarters and has continued unabated.  It has a reputation for delivery reliability and has demonstrated real stability in leadership and focus.  Moreover, investments in locations such as Germany and Ireland have helped pivot Infosys as the leading Indian-heritage provider from a perception standpoint. Pre-pandemic investments in its onshore US locations have also paid dividends as the firm continues its impressive growth across both IT services and BPM (BPO) lines.  Infosys is arguably the leading Indian-heritage provider at present, giving the likes of Accenture and Deloitte and real run for their money on major deals.

HCL has continued to command a strong presence as an infrastructure and engineering-focused IT heavyweight, but hasn't been quite as impressive with its performance over the past year, compared to its rise to prominence over the five years prior.  Tech Mahindra has struggled greatly to command a market position and communicate to the industry where the firm's direction is pointed, but its performance is at least stable and 2021 has been a better year for the firm from a financial standpoint. Atos promised a lot leading into the pandemic but seems to be drifting somewhat, as it continues to lose ground to the Indian heritage providers and hasn't done much with its expensive acquisition of Syntel.  Moreover, its weak US presence continues to plague the firm, not helped by a failed takeover attempt of the industry's performer struggling the most:  DCX.  As for DXC? The firm continues to struggle to find any sort of foothold to stem the bleeding... maybe Atos needs to take a second bite at the apple when the stock prices level off...

The Bottom-line: The Pandemic has changed the IT service provider landscape quite significantly... and it'll change even more as the Virtual Economy takes hold

Just observing the world of services providers over the past 18 months, we've witnessed a dramatic sea change in which firms are driving the market, and which ones are losing steam. Am pretty certain we'll see yet more movements occur in the coming months and some firms come back more aggressively, while others get stuck ingesting their recent wins.  I also expect to see consolidation as the impressive wave of mid-tiers continue to snap at the heels of the majors - and the dearth of talent will force inevitable mergers between service providers.  The services market for the virtual economy is only just ramping up, this is merely the hors d-oeuvre before the real feasting starts!

Posted in: IT Outsourcing / IT ServicesService Provider Analysis

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Teleperformance, Concentrix, Telus, Sitel/Sykes and Tech Mahindra kept the CX lights on during the Pandemic

August 21, 2021 | Melissa O'BrienPhil Fersht

If there was one corner of the services market which got severely disrupted overnight by lockdowns and unpredictable customer demand, it was customer engagement.  For example, when Philippine's President Duterte locked down the world's call center capital Manila with 24 hours' notice, there was an almighty scramble from the CX service providers to shift their agents to other locations, such as nearby Cebu, or to work at home agents in the United States or other locations.  As the pandemic dragged on it became clearer than ever that this industry was in dire need of a long-overdue transformation from legacy people-heavy models to smarter use of automation and AI tools.  

One thing I always struggled to understand was why several of the leading IT service providers turned their backs on the customer engagement market, such as when IBM sold off its CX division to Concentrix in 2013 and Capgemini exited the market.  When the full value of automation and AI is realized in the revenue-generating processes driving customer engagement and predicting spending patterns, then the need to couple customer experience services and digital transformation is critical.  This is why Infosys acquired Eishtec in 2019 (1400 seats in Ireland) and Tech Mahindra's Business Process services has risen to number 5 in the rankings this year with 30%+ growth - these firms are able to manage the intersection between traditional BPO delivery and digital capability.  This is also why the number one ranked call center provider, Teleperformance, is known to be exploring an IT services acquisition to supplement its global CX business.  Simply acquiring more call center is no longer reaping exponential dividends as non-linear growth is only possible when embracing AI, automaton and digital workers.

So let's check out the 2021 rankings (download report here), which clearly show which providers kept the wheels of customer services moving throughout the Pandemic and get the insights from the report's lead analyst, Melissa O'Brien...

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Melissa – what on earth happened to the CX services industry over the last year and a half? Was it pandemonium?  What worked and what didn’t?

There has been a considerable boom in CX services in the past 18 months.  This market was already in the midst of a significant revolution, and the pandemic forced a lot of changes and accelerated decision-making that had stagnated.  As with every other industry, the most significant change was the end of resistance to work from home.  The contact center providers we covered in this report largely succeeded in the shift to work from home and made it work really well, much to many of their clients’ surprise. What made the difference is that WFH was an already established and fast-growing business model in CX services, representing almost a quarter of FTEs in January 2020.  A year and a half into almost entirely remote work, many enterprises say they’ll never go back to brick-and-mortar --- in fact, most we spoke to said they don’t care whether agents go back to the office and will leave that decision up to the BPOs.

But there are dynamics at play in the contact center that will even out the WFH balance over the next year.  The CX services providers have long known that employee experience (EX) is king, and employee engagement does not work the same in a remote environment, especially for particular demographics and geographies.  Service providers reported lower attrition and absenteeism levels in the early stages of remote work. These have gradually increased as people lose patience and crave the engagement of working in the center (many of which were explicitly designed to attract and delight employees.)    So while we don’t expect office staffing to go back to pre-pandemic levels (on average, providers said that 2022 will be a 50/50 split), the agent engagement aspect, which ultimately drives customer service excellence, will end up dragging a lot of operations back to the center.

The other big change was an acceleration of the adoption of digital tools – with all the disruptions in staffing and unpredictable volume fluctuations, digital associates (i.e., intelligent chatbots and IVRs) also had their burning platform in the past year and a half.  But we also saw this interesting paradox: while volume volatility significantly increased the adoption of digital assistants, there was also a tremendous demand for traditional voice (human-based) interaction.    The CX services industry now has an increasingly difficult challenge of balancing the right blend of digital and human interactions in a volatile pandemic environment. Enterprises now rely on their service provider partners more than ever to help them find the right balance and differentiate through a dual focus on employee and customer experience.

So who came out on top – and were there any specific examples of heroism/failure along the way?

On the execution side we see the "usual suspects," the big boys like Teleperformance and Concentrix  flexing their brawn with the global scale and breadth of services that many of the other providers can't hold a candle.  They are tops as far as robust global operations models, sheer breadth of delivery locations, and process consistency.  So while shuffling work around and getting capacity sorted out was by no means an easy task, these guys are the ultimate pros. 

Then you have the innovation leaders. As in the past, we were struck with Sutherland’s co-innovation and design capabilities but this time they were utilized to help clients get through this difficult time.  We were impressed with how much proprietary technology Conduent is using in its service delivery, including a COVID-19 outbreak management tool. We also have new criteria for OneOffice alignment where Tech Mahindra and Sitel came out on top, demonstrating the pillars of OneOffice, including collaboration and internal transformation. 

"Voice of the customer" was a tight category because virtually all the customers we spoke to were really pleased with their providers, particularly their ability to shift to remote work with minimal disruption.  The pandemic separated the haves from the have nots in this market. Those that were just making their foray into work from home grappled with the shift.  But firms that had made significant investments significant prior, particularly in the cloud, security, and remote employee engagement, were able to mobilize the work from home environment faster. SYKES stood on the tremendous foundation that is 2016 Alpine Access (a pure-play work from home platform) afforded it as an advantage of being WFH experts. 

Of course, there were hiccups along the way which the providers largely were quick to course correct.  Poor call quality as a result of inconsistent connectivity in certain geographies was the most frequent issue we heard from customers and was often resolved by pivoting calls to chats and sometimes by sending out 5G devices to augment agents’ internet.  Analytics and engagement tools played a huge role in ensuring process adherence but, more importantly employee health and well-being.  There were some examples of heroism for sure, particularly as these firms empowered employees to deliver on CX in spaces directly impacted by the pandemic – think of all the interactions fraught with real customer distress and anxiety in industries like healthcare and financial services during a global public health and humanitarian crisis.

We’re now seeing a lot of consolidation in the space, and while we expect the usual “just buy more call center” attitude from some, I am hearing that we may see some actual consolidation across the IT services / CX services space. Does this make sense to you?  I thought the IT services firms were eager to offload their call ctr business in the past?

Yes, many IT services firms were eager to offload or de-emphasize these capabilities in the past due to their reputation as low-margin services anchored by labor arbitrage and mired in low-value interactions.  But now, there’s a paradigm shift reversing this trend.   As enterprises increasingly adopt a OneOffice mindset, barriers are breaking down between IT and business with ‘experience’ as a common goal.  The leading and most serious CX services firms have known for a long while that having a holistic and technology-enabled capability including design, software development, etc. is required to have a value proposition beyond commoditized contact center services, even if it meant cannibalization of traditional business process revenues.  Providers' investment and focus have been very real and largely organic, but adoption from clients is still tepid – and it’s very hard for these firms to differentiate when literally each of them has a flavor of "digital contact center" offering.   Close to 3/4 of the 50+ enterprises we spoke to as references for this study said they are not using their CX service provider for any technology or innovative solutions, opting for pure operations delivery.  One CX executive put it well: “It’s not that the CX partners don’t have the capabilities, it’s that the enterprises are not open to using them.  The number one problem is perception… I can’t convince my CTO to look at (a CX services provider) the same way she looks at a technology services provider or vendor.”

So, as much as we’ve seen some IT services firms bulking up their CX capability for a more holistic value proposition, I think we’ll see it happening on the other side too with the serious CX services firms buying their way into the IT side of the house -- for example, Telus International’s acquisition of IT services firm Xavient.  These kinds of moves will help to bridge both the perception and capability gap.

In your view, Melissa, what should CX leaders do to be effective in this hybrid work / business environment?

Firstly, have a relentless and continuously evolving focus on EX.  The top providers know very well how important EX is to delivering quality CX services.  The required expertise will inevitably change hybrid remote and WFH emerges, and as automation and self-service continue to take a bigger piece of the customer interaction pie.  Well-designed CX and well-trained customer service agents are always going to be a part of the equation.  Plus, the labor market is changing.  There are pockets of staffing shortages, employee expectations have shifted, and gig work is going to be an even bigger part of the workforce of the future; all this demands an ongoing re-evaluation of how to recruit, onboard, train, retain and motivate people.

My second piece of advice is related to the first because people today care a lot about the values and philosophy of the companies they choose to work for.  “Profit with a purpose” is becoming a mantra in our business environment, and it’s more than paying lip service to ‘feel good’ causes; so be very clear about what you stand for as a firm and take bold action to ensure you live these values. CX Services providers traditionally have awesome CSR programs that involve employees from the bottom-up; allowing employees to choose what programs to donate time and money to has been a staple of the top providers' strategy to attract and retain talent.  But this is becoming a bigger part of retaining and winning new business also.  CX buyers have always cared about how their partners approached ESG efforts but are now devising ways to measure and assess potential providers in the RFP process.  Diversity and inclusion are at the very top of the list, and sustainability is catching up.  We saw some awesome examples of how CX services companies and clients are partnering to jointly address ESG initiatives.   Bottom line, CX executives will not buy from firms that don't share their core values beyond revenues and profit, and act upon them.

Click here to access the full report:  HFS Top 10: CX Services in the Pandemic Economy—The Best of the Best Service Providers

Posted in: Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)Digital OneOfficeCustomer Experience Management

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Meet the billion-dollar baby process miner who steered clear of buying an RPA product

August 11, 2021 | Phil FershtDavid Cushman

It's been a good two years since a young German man sought me out to excitedly tell me about a process mining tool that was set to change how process wonks approached their operations.  After a couple of beers he then 'fessed up to driving around Germany in a crappy old car - as a twenty-something passionate process software entrepreneur - to deliver software demos driving a whole new area.  This area is process mining - a novel analytical discipline for discovering, monitoring, and improving processes by extracting knowledge from event logs readily available in today's information systems. While his firm smartly developed much of its earlier business courting customers of SAP, it is now evolving far beyond the traditional ERP platform to inspire process execution initiatives enterprise-wide as businesses move rapidly into virtual environments. 

With a post-money valuation of $11b following a Series D round earlier this year, an impressive partnership with IBM, and a number 1 ranking in our September 2020 HFS Top 10 Process Intelligence Products, I was thrilled to end a forced 18-month separation with Celonis Co-Founder and Co-CEO Alex Rinke to get a real update of how his firm has driven incredible forward momentum - and investment - during this period of crazy... 

Meet Alex, soon to become the youngest process software billionaire (who avoided buying an RPA product) to focus on adding value to CxOs much higher up the enterprise food chain...

Phil: Tell me how you got started in this game. Is this what you always planned to do?

Alex Rinke, Co-Founder, and Co-CEO, Celonis [Laughs]. Absolutely not, Phil. There was a lot of planetary alignment – a fancy way to say we were very lucky. I was a math student 11 years ago - and I read a paper about process mining and got really excited about the idea of extracting data from information systems and figuring out how an organization operates, and where they’re inefficient. At the time there was no practical adoption of it. I talked to my two friends, who later became my co-founders, Bastian (Nominacher) and Martin (Klenk), and we decided it had so much potential, we had to learn more about it.    

We had an opportunity, through the university, to work with a business on a research project, and we applied process mining to one of their processes in the customer service and IT service domain. We were able to help them to cut their resolution times by 80% just through better process execution. Then we got so excited about it that we decided to start a company.

From boot-strapped to $1billion Series D Round

Phil: So how did you build out the firm, Alex?  How has it evolved for you?

Alex: Early on, we bootstrapped the company. We raised the first round of funding in 2016 when we wanted to expand to the US market. We grew in three waves as the product has evolved. The first was an x-ray system so that any business can do an x-ray of their business processes with process mining. Then, as that got momentum, the second big evolution was to build a process data platform, to not just x-ray, but also to monitor the processes and connect to all the different data sources in a company. And then the third evolution is our execution management system, which takes this process intelligence, and turns it into more intelligent execution of your core processes -  data-driven execution of your core processes.

We raised a Series C round, exclusively from private individuals. That helped us in establishing our brand further and building an executive team of seasoned enterprise leaders. We acquired Integromat, to boost our automation capability. The Series C funding round was really maturing the brand, the product, the company, to move beyond process mining. We crossed 1,000 people in headcount.

We launched our Execution Management System, in October of last year. That, plus the investments made from the Series C funding round, led to explosive growth momentum, so we decided to double down again, and raised this very large $1 billion Series D round to grow the company even faster.

We are working towards building more than a product and a company, but an entirely new software category and an ecosystem around it.

Phil: Where are you looking to invest to get you to IPO, Alex?

Alex: We have heavily invested in our go-to-market and are continuing to do so. That includes strengthening our ability to serve customers directly, but also investing in the partnerships we’re building - with IBM, and the global BPOs and SIs.

The third big area of investment (not in order of priority) is R&D. We have opened an international R&D hub in Madrid, and in the US we are expanding our resources from a product perspective. From an engineering perspective, we continuously evaluate whether to build or buy. We also continue to invest in the infrastructure of the business - HR, finance, all those things.

Meeting customers with an old Opel car to running a global enterprise company – the problems remain the same

Phil: What’s it like to start off driving to customers in an old Opel car, growing a very small business, and now being a hyper-growth enterprise software market shaper? How does that change how you work?

Alex: It’s obviously a little bit different, in terms of what you deal with every day. But it's also not that different. Ten years ago, I woke up every morning thinking, “What do we need to do from a product perspective? What do we need to do to grow? Who do we need to hire?” The problems are very similar now - just at a very different scale.

We’ve got a really strong leadership team now, Phil, so I’m much less focused on the current quarter or the next quarter. I try to focus on doing the things that will help us in 18 months to three years from now. My focus is on building a company that stands the test of time.

Phil: You are just 32 years old. When you make a huge amount of money when you go to IPO, do you plan to stay in the technology space for the rest of your career?

Alex: An IPO is not really an exit event. It is a milestone on the journey. We had multiple opportunities to sell the company to big corporations. We just never thought that was the right thing for us. When the three of us wake up in the morning, we think about Celonis, and when we go to bed, we think about Celonis, and, personally, wouldn’t know what else to do. There is no plan B, at this point in time.

On a (fun-filled) mission to fix peoples processes

Phil: [Laughs]. It’s not all about the money, then?

Alex: Absolutely not. It’s just so much fun to be part of and to build Celonis. I always say our purpose is to unlock the world’s processes. So many processes are frustrating for people and are highly inefficient. And processes are an incredibly horizontal thing, everywhere, in every organization, touching so many consumers’ and employees’ lives. It’s both motivating and fun to be able to have a really big impact on something so pervasive.

Phil: So your life’s mission is to fix people’s processes. I love it. [Laughs].

Alex: [Laughs]. It’s pretty good, don’t you think? [Laughs].

Phil: Yes! You’ve identified something that is in dire need of fixing, and you’re out there doing it with incredible momentum. It’s great to see an independent organization building out both a successful platform and a thriving ecosystem.  Am sure all of us here are excitedly watching you guys to see what's next in this fast-moving market...

Posted in: Intelligent AutomationProcess Mining

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The OneOffice Wheel of Fortune: Where Data is the Strategy, Automation the Discipline, AI the Refinement

August 02, 2021 | Phil Fersht

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.  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.

In short, data has become the strategy to be successful in this new virtual world, and achieving that data is based on these two factors:

  • No more flashy bullsh*t. There is no room for solutions that are confusing, designed to make people look special, but ultimately pathetic in real value and execution.  
  • Data and processes are inextricably linked. The focus on value has shifted firmly to the strategic value of data and how designing processes can help you achieve the data outcomes that create the value.

We need to understand that data is the strategy and how the data cycle works to get us ahead of our markets. Here are five steps we must take:

  1. Get The Data to Win In your Market. This is where you must align your data needs to deliver on business strategy.  This is where you clarify your vision and purpose.
  2. Re-think processes to get the data, Then you must re-think what should be added, eliminated, simplified across your workflows to source this critical data.
  3. Design your new operational workflows in the cloud. There is simply no option but to have a plan to design processes in the cloud over three-tier web-architected applications.  In the Work-from-Anywhere Economy, our global talent has to come together to create our borderless, completely digital business.  This is the true environment for real digital transformation in action.
  4. Automate processes and data.  Automation is not your strategy.  It is the necessary discipline to ensure your processes provide the data - at speed - to achieve your business outcomes. Hence you have to approach all future automation in the cloud if you want your processes to run effectively end-to-end.
  5. Apply AI to data flows to anticipate at speed. Once you have successfully automated processes in the cloud, it is easy to administer AI solutions to deliver at speed in self-improving feedback loops.  This is where you apply digital assistants, computer vision, machine learning, and other techniques to refine the efficacy of your data.  AI is how we engage with our data to refine ourselves as digital organizations where we only want a single office to operate with agility to do things faster, cheaper, and more streamlined than we ever thought possible.  AI helps us predict and anticipate how to beat our competitors and delight our customers, reaching both outside and inside of our organizations to pull the data we need to make critical decisions at speed.

Bottom-line: You can't get the data you need need you don't have the people, partners, processes, technology - and desire to change - to make this possible

You can lead a horse to water, but can you get it to drink? OneOffice is about understanding and discovering the data you must have to win in your market - right now in real time - and in the future - as the market environment keeps changing. Then you need to make your data ubiquitously available, accessible, and mineable - embedding a mindset into your leadership to inspire your people to work together to create an organization that can flip its business model to exploit these seismic market changes. You can't get the data you need if your critical data is not in the cloud and you don't have the people, partners, processes, technology - and desire to change - to make this possible

Posted in: Digital OneOfficeAnalytics, Big Data and BIIntelligent Automation

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The Revolution in Education and Work: Is it for Real?

July 31, 2021 | David CushmanPhil Fersht

One of my heroes driving disruptive and practical thinking in global business models, the impact of the Internet and globalization and foreign affairs is three-time Pulitzer winner and NY Times columnist Thomas Friedman. 

Tom came to prominence in our industry in 2005 penning the seminal book "The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century".  Was that really 16 years ago?  If you're a spring chicken and never read the book, I suggest find the time as this laid the foundations for the world we're hurling into today.  So you can imagine my interest levels bubbling when my friend Ravi Kumar "S" got some YouTube time with him last week:

Click to listen to the full YouTube podcast

Our key takeaways

  • Work has become separated from the workplace and jobs.
  • AI shifts the emphasis of human endeavor from problem-solving to problem-finding.
  • Companies have become giant education systems delivering just-in-time learning at the edge of the envelope; the linear integration of government-education-work is disrupted.
  • Universities should follow the Amazon Prime recurring subscription model to scale lifelong learning to the world
  • For any organization to win in the future will require them to be part of complex adaptive coalitions

Companies themselves have become giant education systems

When the industrial revolution hit we created something called the welfare state, basically a series of walls ceilings, and floors to help people make the best of the industrial revolution and cushion the worst. The politics has since debated how high, strong, etc the walls and ceilings and floors should be. This worked while the assumption was the pace of change would be linear.

Read More »

Posted in: Digital OneOfficeGlobal Workforce and TalentGovernance Practices and Tools

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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:

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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.

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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.

 

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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 =)

Posted in: Digital TransformationDigital OneOffice

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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

Posted in: Digital TransformationDigital OneOffice

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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.

 

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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

Posted in: Digital OneOfficeProcurement, Engineering & Supply Chain OutsourcingSupply Chain Management

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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:

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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

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Posted in: Digital TransformationIT Outsourcing / IT ServicesDigital OneOffice

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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.

Posted in: Digital OneOfficeCustomer Experience ManagementIntelligent Automation

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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.

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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

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Posted in: Digital OneOfficeGlobal Workforce and Talent

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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.

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Posted in: Digital TransformationDigital OneOffice

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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..

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Posted in: Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)Digital TransformationGlobal Business Services

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Accenture, Infosys, KPMG, EY and DXC top the 2021 ServiceNow services rankings

May 30, 2021 | Phil FershtTom ReunerMartin Gabriel

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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

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Posted in: Cloud ComputingDigital TransformationIT Outsourcing / IT Services

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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:

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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.

Posted in: Cloud ComputingDigital OneOfficeGlobal Workforce and Talent

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