HfS Network

Meet F&A's new Big Seven: Genpact, Accenture, IBM, TCS, EXL, Capgemini and WNS

October 12, 2017 | Phil Fersht

Welcome back to the F&A business, which we've been tracking religiously on HfS since our very first blog post more than a decade ago, famously titled "Beyond Labor Arbitrage: The New F&A BPO Frontier".  And how much has changed since then (ahem).  However, what has changed is the rampant excitement about the new arbitrage: RPA, where many clients hope they can still avoid that true process transformation by mimicking those same obsolete processes in a piece of robotic process recording software.  At some point, they will need to stop dodging the transformation bullets and actually make real investments in their underlying process and data workflows, but until that time, let's see how the market continues to shake out in our 2017 F&A As-a-Service Blueprint, so let's hear from the blueprint lead author, Barbra McGann...

The HfS Blueprint is a guide for the service buyer to learn more about what to expect by engaging with a service provider. What does this service provider bring to the table above blocking and tackling? Where does the buyer need to challenge his or her own assumptions or organizational culture to see impact beyond tactical conversion of tasks from human to robotic automation or labor arbitrage? How does the service provider need to engage to provide long-term value – beyond green light SLAs for turnaround time and data accuracy?

This year’s HfS Blueprint: F&A As-a-Service reflects a time of transition as service buyers and service providers move to “finance of the future” – more strategic use of talent, technology, partnerships, and operating models to achieve high-quality, more agile, and insight-driven finance operations. Any company not thinking of how to bring together these elements to impact business outcomes is behind the curve at this point, although it’s not too late to get going. And service providers in this mature services market can play a valuable role in helping broker within and across organizations to develop and/or deliver against a roadmap for “virtual finance.”

The question is not whether or not to use RPA or cognitive computing but how, when, and where

Many service buyers, from our research, are mostly interested in low-cost standard delivery. What will get that next level of efficiency and cost savings – and how does robotic process automation (RPA) play a role in it? What is the balance of RPA versus lower cost delivery centers – movement from 1st to 2nd to 3rd tier cities, to use industry terminology? In too many cases, labor arbitrage conversations are being replaced by robotic labor arbitrage – a combination of lower cost delivery locations and RPA. The industry is at an inflection point -- do service buyers and service providers have a choice to make – (a) move up the value chain with strategic collaboration – defining and addressing business problems, outcomes, and designing appropriate solutions that use digital technology or (b) promise 40-50% further improvement through digitization or automation, a tactical approach. Or is there a combination in play? The industry sits on this knife’s edge today.

Last year many of the finance and operations leads we spoke to for this study when asked about RPA, were, with few exceptions, in one of two camps: had heard of RPA or hadn’t. This year, every client is familiar with RPA and has some kind of status to share, ranging from “discussion” of how and where to use it, working on a business case, or already using it either in-house or with service provider partners. It’s driving change in how the industry thinks about operating models, contracts, governance, partnerships, talent development, and change management. Earlier adopters in the business are realizing that automation for the sake of using the technology or in trial/pilot is not as impactful as when there is a business case for change in partnership with IT to achieve a targeted outcome for a process, e.g., touchless invoicing.  There is a disparity in the market as to whether clients want/will develop and keep intelligent automation capability in-house or partner with service providers. We heard examples of both decisions. 

Collaborative engagement is an increasing factor in whether or not service providers have “stickiness” with clients

There is a current trend in “considering options” as contracts come up for renewal. A number of service buyers shared their stories of re-bidding parts or all of their finance BPO contracts to (a) create balance in a service portfolio to have strategic partners where there is stronger alignment on strategy and culture as well as thought leadership for finance and tactical partners to address the transaction and increased use of RPA; (b) shake up service providers that clients believe are complacent, e.g., not consistently raising the bar or challenging the status quo.

Clients are (a) kicking it up a notch in partnering for the long –term with strategic roadmaps, (b) getting impatient with service providers that seem to be “resting on their laurels,” complacent, or just not aligned or insightful about the client culture or work/objectives, and (c) more willing to look beyond the traditional market leaders to “up and comers” who can prove trustworthiness, credibility and cultural alignment. This was reflected in scores for “value of engagement over time.” With the increasing mix of technology – platforms for procure-to-pay, record-to-report, and order-to-cash, as well as robotic and cognitive computing – in the business process services market, clients need to be looking at where and how service providers are investing in their own and third-party software, technical and business/consulting talent, and change management.

F&A As-a-Service Winners are service providers with clear vision and momentum towards transformational finance… but face the challenge of making an appropriate match with clients culturally and having the talent to deliver on these promises consistently

Our study included over 60 client interviews as well as surveys, service provider briefings, and additional research and analysis covering the vision and operationalization of F&A As-a-Service. All of the participating service providers are making investments and progress in some way towards a more insight-driven, digital-enabled finance function. The ones that have the clearest and compelling vision and scale as well as roadmap and evidence of investment and progress toward landed in the Winner’s Circle. However, there are also some unique value propositions by players on the whole map. 

As always, we recommend that when you as a service buyer – finance, procurement, or operations executive – are evaluating a service provider for a new or existing business process services engagement, that you consider that best fit for your organization. Criteria, as reflected in our methodology for the blueprint, should cover culture, strategic, technical, and corporate alignment. 

Click graphic to Enlarge

F&A As-a-Service Winner Review

Accenture: One of the few service providers that consistently through the years touts talent development as a differentiator and is working to create a more flexible workforce management approach (Accenture Agile Workforce). It’s also invested in building out and

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Posted in: Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)Finance & Accounting BPORobotic Process Automation



Got anything better to do Thursday? Come along to the #Nasscom summit in Bangalore

October 09, 2017 | Phil Fersht

Amigos - I'll be waxing on about my favorite new topic "The Future of Operation in the Robotic Age" this Thursday morning at the Nasscom Summit in Bangalore - reserve your spot here!  I hope to see you at my favorite hotel in the world... the lovely Leela in Bangalore...

Posted in: None



Have we finally become an industry? Have we become the Digital Operations Industry?

October 05, 2017 | Phil Fersht

The worlds of software, business operations and services have always been chasms apart – different mindsets, vernaculars, conversations, ideas of what constitutes value – and vastly different cultures.  Software people never understood the operations folks and vice versa – each thought they were top of the corporate food chain.

However, the past couple of years have seen the coming together of these diverse groups of people to rethink completely how we run global operations in this robotically digital era (or whatever we want to call this curious period of time in which we exist). 

One thing is abundantly clear: the outsourcing phenomenon which has gripped the Global 2000 over the past decade is making way for a genuine industry in which we all play a part – an industry where we have no choice but to develop learning programs, sustainable business strategies and make real, actual investments in order to survive.  And what’s most fascinating

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Posted in: Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)Design ThinkingDigital Transformation



Meet Elena the analyst

October 02, 2017 | Phil Fersht


In case anyone thought we were going soft, we're proud to announce another feisty outspoken analyst to the HfS family to help drive our coverage of industries - most notably the hi-tech and banking sectors - Elena Christopher

Elena - it's just terrific to be working with you at HfS!  Can you share a little about your background and why you have chosen research and strategy as your career path?

It's wonderful to join the HfS family. Research and IT and business process services have been the prevailing themes of my professional life. I realized while in university studying social science that research and its various methods provide valuable insights into whatever topics you apply it to. In my second job out of school, I was fortunate to be hired by Dataquest (Gartner), which afforded me the opportunity to learn the IT and business process services industries from the ground up. I never looked back. Since 1994, I have served as either an advisor or supplier partner to clients in most commercial industries, working to make sense of the various waves of seminal change in how businesses operate. 

So why did you choose to join HfS... and why now?  And didn't you want to go back to one of the traditional analyst houses?  

I started my career as an analyst with Dataquest/Gartner. After nine years, I went into industry to build practical experience to complement my theoretical knowledge. I've been in the supplier world for the past ~15 years building and running services businesses. I was resolute in wanting to come full circle and connect my practical experience with my analyst skills. However, I only wanted to go with a firm that was doing things differently and one with which I personally had derived value. I was very attracted to HfS' approach of tackling and breaking down the major trends and issues in an incredibly timely fashion with much of the research accessible open source. I also appreciated the independent perspective and use of enterprise data rather than substantial reliance on supplier research. And as a services research company it is perfectly aligned with my experience base.

So where is the services industry right now, Elena?  Do you see us in a transition state, or is something else bubbling to wake us all up?

We are most certainly in a transition state - with most industries in the process of being remade as disruption and enabling technologies change the fundamental concepts of business as usual. The services industry is enabling much of this transformation but it is also in throes of change with increased impetus placed on platform-based models and business outcomes. 

So what can we expect to see from you at HfS... can you give us a little snippet of what you're going to be working on?

l'll be driving the industry-specific research agenda for HfS - digging into the major trends impacting each in-scope industry and the implications for business process and IT services. I'll collaborate with my fellow analysts to cultivate the industry angle on major trends such as automation, artificial intelligence, blockchain, digital business models and smart analytics. My primary coverage areas are High-Tech and Banking. In addition, I'll drive the industry point of view across HfS research. 

And finally, is the analyst industry going as exciting as it was 10 years' ago? 

Probably more so - there is so much change and transition afoot that creates a great need to research near-term and future horizons

Welcome back to the analyst community, Elena - am sure you'll find HfS a fascinating laboratory for observing the next phase of this industry!

Posted in: None



Azeem Azhar will deliver an exponential keynote at the London FORA Council this December!

September 29, 2017 | Phil Fersht

After the unprecedented success of our inaugural Future of Operations in the Robotic Age (FORA) Council in Chicago last week, we're thrilled to announce esteemed strategist, product entrepreneur and analyst Azeem Azhar will keynote our next FORA council session in London 7th December at the Andaz Hotel. 

Azeem has spoken for TV and radio on BBC, CNN, Sky, among others, lectured at Harvard and London Business School, and writes a column for the Financial Times. Azeem has taken the stage at major tech conferences, including TechCrunch, The Europas, DLD Conference, WHU Founders Conference, Nordic.ai. At the HfS FORA Council, he'll deliver his Exponential View on the impact of artificial intelligence on global business and how our near future is shaping up as we ride this disruptive wave.  He'll also stick around to engage with the council members and co-lead our AI breakout session,

I cannot wait to unveil the full FORA agenda that spans the leading minds and stakeholders across the worlds of RPA, AI, operations services very soon... stay tuned folks, but this will be our most explosive summit yet.

Don't forget to apply for your seat, as this will fill up very fast... be there or be eliminated!


Posted in: Robotic Process AutomationCognitive



IBM, Accenture, KPMG, TCS, Deloitte, Wipro and Atos lead the 2017 Digital Tech Consulting blueprint

September 25, 2017 | Phil Fersht

We interviewed 300 digital technology decision makers across the Global 2000 to get up close and realistic about their experiences working with all the main IT consultants and services providers, when it comes to their consulting and strategy abilities (report can be accessed here).  

What's unique about the HfS approach is we don't allow any of these firms to opt-out of our report, and we also do not need to rely on the wined-and-dined reference clients for their rose-tinted views. So how did this all shake out?

Click here to Enlarge

For us, the standout performers are TCS, KPMG and Wipro, after the obvious "big two".  And this is so much more about pragmatism and focus, than big marketing and glitz.  

Let's take a closer look out the digital tech services firms which make up the 2017 HfS Winner's Circle:

IBM: IBM is all about technical skills and the ability to bring a wealth of enterprise IT experience to fix a problem - the company has thrived on huge transformations, which has proven both a bane and a boon for the firm, as the whole IT industry shifts to smaller-scale deals, more one-off projects and the demise of the multi-year billion dollar managed services contract.  Big Blue has invested in strong business consulting skills across offerings including customer experience/design thinking to help clients understand digital and drive value out of tech projects.  In addition, the arrival of former Accenture consulting head Mark Foster is having a significant impact on IBM's approach to services as the firm seeks to embrace the value of Watson and break out of legacy FTE engagements which are weighing down so many service providers. While it's been a tough couple of years dealing with these winds of change in the traditional global services sector, the firm's focus on designing and operating complex solutions is starting to bear fruit and it's recent top spot in the Digital OneOffice Premier League emphasizes its broad capabilities across the front, middle and back offices. It's big challenge now is to become the ultimate "whole is greater than the sum of the parts" partner for clients.

Accenture: Accenture scored highest in the ability to execute criteria, supported by a plethora of recent acquisitions that shore up its digital business. With digital talent and resources in abundance - the challenge now is to integrate of the likes of Karmarama, Chaotic Moon and Kuntsmaan and align these front office design areas with the firm's digital technology execution.  The landmark acquisition of Fjord has paved the way for the firm to allow its digital assets to maintain their own creative cultures and leverage the Accenture execution and consulting machine.  However, the massive new abundance of digital acquisitions (19 so far this year) could prove challenging, simply because of the sheer size and scale of the new investments.  Whichever way we look at it, Accenture is now firmly competing with advertising agencies for digital accounts, and is redefining the whole digital market place with its aggressive approach. Accenture's challenge now is to capitalize on its terrific momentum in the digital space and really bridge its newly-acquired design capabilities with its execution machine.  With projects increasing in business focus and the need for data-driven consulting, this should be Accenture's market for the taking, but ultimately the firm will need to venture beyond its comfort zone inside the Global 2000.

KPMG: KPMG’s capabilities in the traditional consulting space haven’t held it back from pushing a compelling digital narrative. The firm's digital clients are benefiting from the cross-pollination of design talent and operational prowess to address business challenges. The firm's operational prowess to integrate the back office with the customer experience has been noticeable with several major clients, and its ability to partner effectively with the likes of Microsoft and IBM are putting the firm in a surprisingly strong position as one of the most nimble of the "Big 4" to work on spot projects and larger more complex transformations - a critical component of making these digital initiatives successful. KMPG does need to work on its brand positioning in the digital market as it continues its impressive trajectory - both in terms of thought leadership and perception from CIOs.

Wipro: Investments in Designit and Appirio have created a defining set of digital capabilities for the firm - giving the firm the necessary structure and focal point to repackage the firm’s strong operational IT skills to match a client's digital transformation agenda.  While its current digital footprint is still emerging, its ability to partner with digital native pureplays and fintechs is impressive, and its digital design labs in the US and UK great hubs for driving new client work.  We view Wipro as a well-resourced, disciplined outfit which could emerge as a genuine contender in the digital race, as clients needs become more demanding and providers have to be more flexible and aggressive to take advantage. Its challenges moving forward are scaling its consultative talent and finding smart ways to bring its Holmes AI platform into meaningful client conversation.  Wipro is frequently viewed as a "safe pair of hands" for IT projects and it need to work hard to evolve this perception.

TCS: TCS has the scale and capacity to handle heavy IT and digital engagements, which makes the firm perfect for organisations with a lot on their digital to-do list. They’ve also got a great reputation for packaging their deep domain experience into usable solutions for clients. TCS simply has that ability to win any deal in the world if it really wants - its industrial and relentless approach to execution always stands the firm in good stead, and its aggressive more to analytics and automation will be crucial for digital exercises with clients mired in obsolete processes and creaking infrastructures.  Its challenges are managing its next phase of growth, with the firm famous for avoiding acquisitions in favor of organic development.  With this convergence of digital business design capabilities with IT execution, organic growth may no longer be an option as the market consolidates at unprecendeted speed and the emergence of digital pureplays threaten the traditional IT service model.

Deloitte: Deloitte has solidified its position in the digital space, driving innovative thought leadership and research into the market and using it to develop offerings. Similarly to KPMG, the firm can also bring that same “outside-in” broader market perspective to help firms contextualize new technologies and solutions within the broader market and industry trends.  It's no surprise Accenture has recruited Deloitte's head brand honcho, Amy Fuller, to take on the Accenture CMO role next year (see link) - clearly the brilliance of Deloitte's branding and thinking has impacted the industry at the highest levels. However, while Deloitte is clearly an early leader in the space, we are seeing several key competitors closing the gap, both from the traditional consulting space, as well as the outsourcing industry.  We need to see the "what's next" from the firm as competition intensifies.

Atos: Atos’ broad digital offerings include structured transformation projects – such as the Atos Digital Transformation Factory – which offers clients an accelerated journey to embracing digital.  The firm offers significant experience in some industries (mainly public sector, manufacturing and retail) and especially in Europe with a long list of successful engagements.  On the IT enablement side of digital, Atos is clearly doing well, however, adding capabilities at the design front-end would add significant capabilities if the firms wants to compete more aggressively with the market leaders.  However, outperforming the likes of Capgemini and DXC is a significant achievement for the French-led firm. Atos really need a flagship digital acquisition to take its strategy to the next level and keep it ahead of its traditional competitors.

Premium HfS Subscribers can download their copy of the  Blueprint Report,  "Digital Technology Strategy and Consultancy Services 2017" authored by Phil Fersht, OIlie O'Donohue and Jamie Snowdon, by clicking here.

Posted in: Digital Transformation



Images from FORA: Ever seen all the automation CEOs in a line up like this?

September 22, 2017 | Phil Fersht

Click here to Enlarge

Posted in: Robotic Process Automation



Images from FORA: Kate O'Neill humanizes technology

September 22, 2017 | Phil Fersht

Posted in: None



Images from FORA: A leadership panel spanning some serious brain power

September 21, 2017 | Phil Fersht

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



Who's ready to change the industry this week in Chicago?

September 18, 2017 | Phil Fersht

Posted in: IT Outsourcing / IT Services



HfS has hired Johnny Robo Brien!

September 13, 2017 | Phil Fersht

Fed up with all the helicopter-view prophesizing of the emerging robo world that just leaves you with a headache?  Irritated by those matrices of suppliers which all look the same and tell you nothing meaningful?  Sickened by the bizarre rose-tinted claims of how easy this all is?  

Well... ee're changing all that at HfS, by issuing proper user experience reports of RPA and intelligent automation solutions, based on the real experiences of users, that aren't coming from the same old tired list of wined and dined RPA customers sent straight from the suppliers.  So we've just hired a terrific analyst who not only understands the rules of robo, but can apply them to specific business processes and industry operations.  So without further ado, let's learn a little more about our newest analyst brain, John Robo Brien... whom you may know better using his birth name of John O'Brien (see bio).  

John - it's just terrific to be working with you at HfS!  Can you share a little about your background and why you have chosen research and strategy as your career path? 

Hi Phil, and thanks, it’s fantastic to be here working with you and the HfS team. I’ve been an IT analyst since joining ComputerWire in 2000 where I started out covering European IT services. I’ve since worked in senior positions at Ovum and Datamonitor/Informa covering the global IT, BPO and Public Sector markets. For the past seven years, I’ve worked at TechMarketView, as

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Posted in: Robotic Process Automation



HfS data products get a Suvradeep-dive

September 11, 2017 | Phil Fersht

As you may have seen last week, we officially unveiled our data products at HfS, where we bring together the full gamet of demand and supply side data to share everything you ever needed to know about the big change agents impacting business operations.  So who better to help support our new range of offerings that a veteran analyst with a broad knowledge across all services markets, who's developed a solid reputation with the likes of Ovum and NelsonHall: Suvradeep Bhattacharjee.  

In addition to being a true gent and an eloquent observer of the market, what also appeals is the fact he moved himself to our new HfS headquarters in Cambridge England (where his wife teaches HR practice at one of the local colleges), but he also comes from the great city of Calcutta, where you can actually visit man-eating tigers.  My 8-year-old boy is begging me to take him, so I will need some local expertise to give me the lowdown.... 

Welcome, Suvradeep - it's just terrific to be working with you at HfS!  Can you share a little about your background and why you have chosen research and strategy as your career path? 

I think, I am curious by nature. I am usually stimulated by new knowledge which is mostly

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



It's Design Thinking heaven with TandemSeven as Genpact makes its OneOffice move

September 08, 2017 | Phil FershtBarbra McGann

"You guys really should evolve your lean capabilities into Design Thinking with your clients" was my conversation with Genpact's innovation lead, Gianni Giacomelli (pictured), a year ago.  "You should also do that with your research clients" was Gianni's response.  Exactly a year later, we open our  Research ThinkTank in Cambridge England to perform said exercises with our clients, and Genpact announces the acquisition of Design Thinking specialist TandemSeven in Cambridge Massachussets. 

Why is Design Thinking becoming so relevant to the middle-back office operations?

We see the emergence of Design Thinking as critical to help enterprises collapse these barriers between their front, middle and back offices - one of the core fundaments of achieving a true OneOffice framework.  You really can't be a digital organization if your operations are not supporting the front office in realtime, being able to respond to customer needs as and when they happen:

Click to Enlarge

Design Thinking offers an approach for a diverse group of people to work together to identify

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Posted in: Design Thinking



HfS Data Products are here!

September 07, 2017 | Phil FershtJamie Snowdon

We just love data at HfS - we built this company by surveying our terrific community over the last 10 years to keep on top of all the curious things enterprises do to stay competitive and profitable.  And this year, we are literally surveying 3,000 billion dollar plus enterprises on their intentions and dynamics across the 5 critical change agents of our industry: automation, AI, analytics, blockchain, emerging digital business models, and global sourcing strategies.  

While everything we do is based on data, we've not really packaged it all up in a way for our clients to digest it and use it most effectively for themselves.  Until today.

We’ve set out our research agenda to bring reality to the research analyst world, dynamic engagement with our clients and our vision for the industry: our Analyst 2.0 model. Over the next 6 months, we will be adding more data products and enriching the existing ones, based on the wealth of information we have collected over the years:

1: Contracts Database

Launching in September 2017. As part of its ongoing research HfS has always collected and collated contract data across the different service lines it tracked. HfS Contracts Database gives subscribers access to this data, which provides up-to-date analysis of IT Services and Business Process Outsourcing contracts. This interactive tool allows users to search for specific contracts, view contract progression annually and by quarter, and view heat maps of specific deal categories by region.

2: HfS PriceIndicator™

HfS PriceIndicator™ has been part of HfS Research data tools for over 4 years now. The next 6 months we will start to include RPA and automation pricing.

HfS PriceIndicator™ is a real-time, research based price benchmarking service that provides clients an insight into current ITO and BPO pricing. Currently, PriceIndicator™ provides a biannual set of hourly FTE rate cards for ADM, F&A BPO, Insurance BPO and Healthcare Payor BPO.

3: Buyers’ Guides

HfS buyers' guides provide an independent view of individual service providers across different service capabilities. Giving a summary of the organization's strengths and weaknesses in addition to details in specific service categories.

The long-term plan will be to integrate these guides into the HfS Data website updating them whenever new financial data is available and when we publish new blueprints/vendor analysis – so they always deliver the most up-to-date content on each provider.

4: Quarterly Market Indices

HfS provides market size and forecast for the IT and business services market updated on a quarterly basis. This view of the industry provides a top-level view of service provider performance and uses this to predict market growth and performance within the main IT and business services markets.

5: Supplier Revenue Data

For the past 5 years, HfS has been tracking the IT and Business service supplier landscape collecting key financial data from the industry – creating models which are used to create our Top 25 IT services and our Top 50 BPO provider list. HfS is expanding these models to create revenue maps across key service lines, industry, and geography.

6: Direct Buyer Viewpoints

HfS regularly interviews buyers throughout the Global 2000 organizations, conducting 3,500 interviews over the course of the year. The Buyer Viewpoints opens up this data for additional analysis by industry, and across regions. So our subscribers can create their own views of the information for presentations and infographics, in addition to HfS own drive to make our data more accessible.

The bottom-line

The Analyst 2.0 model means making data more accessible, easier to digest and self-service – the analyst should not be a barrier to insight. HfS wants to enable our community with the right data to drive their own insights and their decision making – revolutionizing the way market data is used and consumed. At the same time letting our analysts do what they do best - drive thought leadership within the operations and IT services community.


Learn More

Posted in: Analytics and Big DataHfS Research Company News



Socially-paranoid media: where did it all go wrong? (Weekend rant)

September 02, 2017 | Phil Fersht

What’s really happened to social media these days? What used to be a fun place to share untethered banter, humor, intellectual conversation and debate, perhaps be a little risqué, has degenerated into a stuffy medium for puffing up corporate brand mush, and regurgitating the same old bland insight we’re having pushed at us daily. Every corporate suit is now on there, lauding how amazing their company is… praising their clients and uttering meaningless, hollow words of adulation. In fact, many of the "senior" people on there have their marketing people even do their social for them... it's not even them.

All of you know I do like to dabble a bit with Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to engage with people - both with people I like socially (Facebook) and industry contacts with whom I consider valuable to stay in regular touch (LinkedIn). I also have the luxury of being the boss, so no one can fire me ;)

Over the years, social has been terrific for communicating with people, sharing insights, opinions, research, news… it’s been fun, and it’s been personal. It keeps you connected with so many people that when you bump into folks at conferences etc., it feels like you spoke just the other day, rather than five years' ago.

But, in recent months, it’s just become so polarized and stuffy. There are people using social only to promote themselves and their companies… the personality has drained from it. I find myself spending more time removing connections than adding new ones.

Case-in-point, I dared to post some (slightly dubious) research on LinkedIn the other day with a joke about how much analysts need to be wined and dined to get the best scatterplot grid placements. I didn’t even criticize the research, I just popped up the grid with a joke on the axes about boondoggles and posh dinners. Within about three hours of posting, I received some really snotty comments from the analyst firm in question berating me for daring to poke a little fun at one of its lovely magic grids. They were pretty nasty about it too. And then I got an aggressive note from a marketing guy in one of the suppliers (which was nicely positioned in said grid), complaining about my "unprofessionalism" for poking fun at a competitor. 

So I took the offending post down – my intent was to generate some banter about the techniques suppliers use to get positioned well in these grids, not a bunch of nastiness from people who just seem so bloody paranoid these days.

To cap this all off, I then get a phone call from the boss of the marketing guy (who complained about my post) requesting me to put it back up as they were getting so much free publicity from it (20K+ eyeballs).  You just can’t win at this, can you?

So where do we go with this?

  • Hone your network to people you get value from. If you find people offensive or not adding value to you, then just remove them, rather than create a nasty discussion thread
  • Get a sense of humor: arguments can be fun. If you disagree with someone, but the conversation is useful, then voice your disagreement about the topic and have a proper discussion… don’t just criticise and disappear. Use the forum to exchange views and ideas – you never know, some good may come of it.  If we all just agreed with each other all the time, we’d never learn anything…
  • Drop the ego. These are networks where you agreed to exchange information with people, so be prepared to see things you have an opinion about. And be prepared to be criticized – that’s the whole purpose of this stuff. If you can’t handle a little professional debate, then stick to Facebook and the pictures of dogs and babies…
  • Be open to the fact that the opinions or research you put out may be flawed. We should be willing to learn from each other and accept some input, flattering or not. If you think I am smoking something, just tell me… and I’ll do the same with you. Challenging each other is the only way we learn and get better at what we do.

Posted in: Confusing Outsourcing InformationSocial Networking



Automation to displace 750,000 low skilled Indian jobs, but create 300,000 mid-high skilled jobs by 2022

August 30, 2017 | Phil FershtJamie Snowdon

HfS subscribers can access the full report by clicking here

A lot has changed in the last year... especially when it comes to automation: it has now become the broadly-accepted efficiency tool for cost leverage with operations.

Every customer has RPA project managers and automation leads hungry for data, advice, and ideas. Every service provider has RPA embedded into their service delivery models, and every credible advisor has a practice that is working with multiple clients to make this happen. The Armageddon days of talking about robots taking our jobs are over - these are now the reality days where we can see exactly what's going on with automation and AI, and accurately estimate how it's going to impact the services industry in the next few years.

There will be impact, but it's manageable provided we focus on new skills and value.  

In short, the global IT and BPO services industry employs 16 million workers today.  By 2022, our industry will employ 14.8 million - a likely decrease of 7.5%* in total workers (see our research methodology below).  This isn't devastating news - we'll lose this many people through natural attrition, but what this data signifies is this industry is now delivering more for less because of advantages in automation and artificial intelligence.  The new data also shows how job roles are evolving from low skilled workers conducting simple entry level, process driven tasks that require little abstract thinking or autonomy, to medium and high skilled workers undertaking more complicated tasks that require experience, expertise, abstract thinking, ability to manage machine-learning tools and autonomy.

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The low skill routine jobs are getting increasingly impacted, and our new demand data shows an acceleration in RPA tools (a 60% increase over the next year) where service providers are the largest adopters into their own service delivery organizations.  We expect to see a more rapid impact on routine job roles which is most notable in 2022 as companies take time to build the impact of RPA into service contracts and figure out how to turn work elimination into hard savings than merely soft efficiency savings.  With barely a 50% satisfaction level, this will take 4-5 years to see the real cost benefits in terms of job elimination.  Most of the short-medium term benefits are being seen in increased efficiencies and more digital process workflows.  All major service delivery locations are expected to be impacted at the low-end, but the higher the wage costs, the higher the expected role elimination (750,000 roles in India and a similar number in the US):

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Medium skilled roles are picking up across the board, especially in roles that are customer/employee facing with the need for more customized support, the ability to handle

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Posted in: Cognitive ComputingRobotic Process Automation



Unveiling the HfS 1-2-3-4 Research Agenda

August 26, 2017 | Phil FershtJamie SnowdonBram WeertsSaurabh Gupta


Last week, we launched the Analyst 2.0 Model along with the HfS ThinkTank to revolutionize our industry. And today we unveil the new HfS 1-2-3-4 Research Agenda. The updated agenda serves the real needs of our clients. The tired legacy analyst model continues to only look at the past and lacks out-of-the-box, stimulating, and forward-looking thinking. We aim to turn this legacy Analyst 1.0 Model on its head, by delivering impactful knowledge and insights that will help our clients survive and succeed in the VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous) world that we all live in.

1: Research coverage across each element of the OneOffice

HfS launched the OneOffice Framework in January 2017. Our industry is evolving to an era where there is only "OneOffice" that matters anymore, one that is focused on creating an impactful customer experience and intelligent operations to enable and support it. At HfS, we like to practice what we preach. We have aligned our research practices with the OneOffice with designated research leaders.

  • The Digital Front Office research explores customer engagement, design thinking, contact center, marketing and sales, as well as social, mobile, and interactive solutions.
  • The Digital Underbelly research focuses on desktop automation, robotic automation, and security.
  • Our coverage for Intelligent Digital Support Functions spans across IT services, Finance, Procurement, Supply Chain, Payroll, and Engineering services.
  • The Intelligent Digital Processes research explores advancements in artificial intelligence, smart analytics, blockchain, and IoT.

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2: Voice of the Customer embedded in the Analyst 2.0 Model

In-sync with the Analyst 2.0 Model, we designed the new research agenda to help us become the leading Voice of the Customer. Our team of global analysts speaks to over 3000 stakeholders across the Global 2000, our industry summits provide us with an unmatched platform to interact with senior stakeholders, and our analysts publish real client stories. We’ve always mandated customer reference calls for every Blueprint report that we publish and with the new research agenda, we are taking this customer focus a notch higher. Some key initiatives:

  • Our recently published and upcoming IT-services research, based on a Global 2000 client-only survey that helps us get beyond the supplier marketing and sales spiel.
  • Similar survey(s) for mature horizontal business process areas as well as industry-specific offerings.
  • Our major Blueprint reports will now be accompanied by a summary of client conversations in the space to present aggregated patterns of how clients view market execution and innovation.
  • A unique buyer experience guide for the top RPA products, based solely on interviews with RPA clients. 

3: Forward-looking research across three-time horizons

A key reason for clients to engage with us is the provocative nature of our research.  We’re future looking, and unafraid to call a spade a spade. The new research agenda aims to arm our clients with the knowledge and insights across three-time horizons they need to navigate the future of operations:

  • Horizon 1 - Act-now: Mainstream topics in the market, such as Robotic Process Automation (RPA). Horizon 1 research is aimed to deliver practical insights into current market trends, supplier capabilities, as well as current client experience that will help institutionalize the concepts.
  • Horizon 2 - Watch-out: Emerging themes and topics that are likely to become mainstream in the next 1-2 years, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI). The objective is to help clients test value propositions and understand potential benefits and challenges in their industry.
  • Horizon 3 - Investigate: Areas that show tremendous potential but are still too nascent to predict adoption, such as blockchain. The purpose of covering such topics is to ensure a healthy dialog with key industry stakeholders to define these spaces, articulate challenges and support awareness.

4: Four-dimensional view of business operations

The future of business operations is not one-dimensional. To provide our clients with a completely holistic view of the market, we have a team of four-dimensional analysts who understand the market across four lenses in their area of specialty:

  • Dimension 1 - Change agents: Major change agents driving the industry including automation, artificial intelligence, blockchain, digital business models and smart analytics.
  • Dimension 2 - Business functions: Detailed coverage across Business Process Services (both back office and front office), IT Services, and engineering services.
  • Dimension 3 - Industry orientation: Business operations impact across 10+ industries including Banking & Insurance, Healthcare, Energy, Utilities, Manufacturing, Telecom, Retail, Travel & Hospitality, and Public Sector.
  • Dimension 4 - ThinkTank: Bringing together our collective knowledge and insights across change agents, business functions, and industries to think out-of-the-box and collaboratively solve real business issues.


Bottom-line: We are raising the bar, and we are revolutionizing the industry with our new HfS 1-2-3-4 Research Agenda.

Check out the details of the Analyst 2.0 Model, ThinkTank, and our 1-2-3-4 Research Agenda.

Posted in: Digital OneOffice



Why Donald Trump should take the Infosys CEO gig

August 25, 2017 | Phil Fersht

There's only one thing in our world that keeps Donald Trump off the headlines... of course... it's good ol' Infosys!  Yes, folks, we actually seem to care more about who is attending these board meetings and squabbling about the cost of refueling the company jet, than the nuclear warheads currently pointed at Pyongyang.  

Yes, people, the $10bn Bangalore-headquartered outfit is trumping Trump in the media... an exclusive on what Murthy had for breakfast is far more interesting these days than the handbag Ivanka just purchased.  And the eighty-seventh article analyzing just why poor ol' Vishal wasn't quite leaping for joy every morning during his tenure, is clearly more impactful to our lives than the US government potentially shutting down, because Donald wants his wall built...

But there is a solution:  Donald Trump can avoid impeachment, quit the Prez job and take the reigns at Infosys. Where better to make something great again, where he will hog the headlines more than anyone has... ever!  Just think:  Trump + Infosys... we will never need to read about anything else again. Ever.  

Why this would be Donald's dream job:

1) Build a wall around Electronic City to keep out the TCS and Wipro headhunters.  Then rename it Trump City.

2) Repeal Murthycare without the need for any new ideas.  Just get rid of it and think of something later.

3) Tweet incessantly about how much he hates Abid, Frank, Premji, Vishal, Meg, Ginni, Murthy... 

4) Ban the Times of India and Livemint from all press briefings - only allowing in the new Trumposys Monthly magazine

5) Invest the whole $6bn warchest in Infosys Russia.  Including a state-of-the-art Kremlin Lab that Putin can open personally

6) Put Sean Spicer in charge of the Artificial Intelligence strategy

7) Impose a travel ban on all robots to keep the FTE model intact

There you have it folks... bring on the Trumposys!

Posted in: Absolutely Meaningless Comedy



Hyping the hyperledger with blockchain boffin Brian Behlendorf

August 24, 2017 | Phil FershtSaurabh Gupta

HfS' Saurabh Gupta recently caught up with Brian Behlendorf (see bio), the Executive Director of Hyperledger at the Linux Foundation. Brian was a primary developer of the Apache Web Server – the most popular web server on the internet. He was a founding member of the Apache Software Foundation, the founding CTO of CollabNet, the CTO of the World Economic Forum, and the managing director at Mithril Capital Management LLC before heading Hyperledger. He is also a board member of the Mozilla Foundation since 2003 and the Electronic Frontier Foundation since 2013.

Two decades after developing the Apache HTTP server that played a key role in giving us the internet and the web, Brian is reimagining our world again with blockchain. We discussed a range of topics around the reality and practicality of blockchain for enterprises along with the one wish that he wants to come true. 

Saurabh Gupta, Chief Strategy Officer, HfS Research: Brian, one of the stated goals for Hyperledger is to create enterprise grade frameworks and solutions. Why do you think enterprises should adopt blockchain?

Brian Behlendorf, the Executive Director of Hyperledger at the Linux Foundation: We have lots of transaction networks that, Saurabh, because of historical network choices, have resulted in many central actors who facilitate digital transactions like a hub in a hub-and-spoke network. And we have to proxy our trust to them - sometimes they do a noble job and charge a nominal rate, but there are times when these central actors charge unreasonable double-digit rates. Blockchain allows business models to become more equitable and agile by behaving more like

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Posted in: Outsourcing HerosBlockchain



Infosys gives up its American Dream

August 18, 2017 | Phil FershtTom ReunerOllie O’Donoghue

Once dubbed the “Indian Accenture”, being the Indian heritage outsourcer with the high-end reputation, the firm now finds itself enduring, perhaps, the most difficult period of its history – and it could be poised to get a hell of a lot worse. 

Vishal Sikka brought energy, fresh ideas, hope… and a Silicon Valley mindset to its leadership when he came aboard amidst his Design Thinking and jeans-to-work attitude just three years ago.  However, all Sikka’s energetic ideas and innovations have been largely forgotten over the past year, as the public spat with Founder Narayana Murthy gathered irritating momentum and completely slammed the brakes on the momentum Sikka had sparked.  Sikka had woken Infosys up to its potential and the Founders were more obsessed with his use of the corporate jet than making the acquisitions the firm needs to be competitive.

From the poster boys for innovative offshoring, epitomized in Thomas Friedman’s seminal “The World is Flat” through to the constant public interventions in corporate affairs by Murthy, Infosys has had a bumpy ride over the last decade of its short history. And to magnify its issues, all of Murthy’s interventions have been played out in public, with the Indian press the grateful recipient of endless reams of news fodder being provided by this corporate soap opera.  

Vishal Sikka’s resignation grinds to a halt this public transition from the Founders' generation to becoming a “normal” corporate company. Without a doubt, this episode will find its way into economics textbooks for future students to learn the lessons in strategy, corporate governance and beyond. However, at least decisive action has been taken, and Murthy and his founders can try and restore a stability that ends this public drama. This is just a bad time to go through such a strategic leadership nightmare, when competition is at its most severe, with too many suppliers chasing too few contracts and margins under extreme pressure. This is especially troubling when you consider Sikka has kept the revenue and profitability ship progressing well, maintaining profit margins close to 25% and revenue growth over 5%, even at a time when the industry growth is flat and political stances towards offshoring are heated, with several US deals being awarded to "Western" suppliers:

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So what are the lessons that can be learned from all this?

Murthy is the dominant father figure of Infosys and he has made that very clear with his actions. As founding CEO, he is synonymous with the early success, the culture, but more crucially, with the decision-making at Infosys. When SD Shibulal, another of the founders, took over it was difficult for him to step out of Murthy’s shadow. Shibulal’s “Infosys 3.0” strategy was designed to address the over-dependence on the US market (see interview) and rebalance the

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Posted in: IT Outsourcing / IT Services