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Forces of change in the services industry, outsourcing

Forces Driving Change in the Services Industry | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

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The outsourcing industry is at an inflexion point. It reminds me of Bob Dylan’s hit song from the 1960s, “The Times They are A-changing.” I believe the industry will undergo dramatic change over the next two to three years.

Three forces are driving the change. The first is a shift in user and company expectations. I’ve blogged before about the watermelon phenomenon. Although performance dashboards indicate green for service levels and KPIs, the true picture is often red when it comes to user satisfaction with IT services.

Why is the satisfaction indicator red? One reason is a shift in users’ perception of what value is. Companies historically thought about value as a function of quality and cost. Quality was defined in service levels. Cost was defined as unit costs (per hour, per transaction, per server, etc.). But user’s focus on value has shifted from to the value of the business function.

As an example, consider the business function of employee onboarding. Value used to be viewed as the cost of providing the applications and the quality of the apps (reliability and resilience, and whether they provide the necessary functionality). But the perception of value shifted. For example, now it could be tied to how the new employees view their onboarding experience and whether or not the process results in employees that are well prepared to work in the company. It used to be viewed as the cost

Another reason the user satisfaction indicator is red is the dimension of speed. Companies have always been aware of the need for speed, but historically quality took precedence over speed. Increasingly we find users value speed more. It’s not speed in developing an application; it’s the speed to change the business functionality (such as the employee enrollment system in the example above). It doesn’t matter how quickly an IT group or a third-party service provider can make a change to the application or server; it’s how quickly they can change the functionality.

Users no longer associate value with the delivery components that make it up (such as the infrastructure uptime).

This shift in user’s perception of value is a fundamental reason why the services world is changing, and it’s driving different behaviors and decisions.

One way the change is manifesting is that companies that have outsourced processes now want to bring the work back in house so they can better focus on the business value and less on the service delivery components. The preference for insourcing and GICs is gathering momentum. This is evident in statements of leaders at leading companies such as:

  • “Shell is clearly on a path to insource our project delivery capabilities.” (Jay Crotts, CIO, Shell)
  • “We believe having our own center and doing more of the work ourselves will lead to lower turnover of people, we’ll have people who really understand our systems, people who are passionate.” (Therace Risch, CIO, JCPenney)

Historically, GICs or captives performed only low-cost delivery work. But they’re now gaining share in the marketplace for sophisticated work. Companies are investing in their GICs as they recognize the need for stronger alignment between IT and business users to drive value. The GICs are still located offshore, but the functions are back in house instead of performed by a third party.

The times, they are a-changing. In my next blog post, I’ll discuss two other forces driving change in the services industry.

analytics - service providers

Analytics Pose Competitive Advantage Questions for Service Providers | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

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Analytics technology is like a three-legged stool. Its rests on three necessary components: talent (data scientists, analysts and project managers), tools (from Excel all the way to Watson) and data. The most powerful is data. Data yielded in analytics are incredibly valuable in addressing business problems. As I recently explained, that value can be extremely profitable for service providers. But when it comes to designing a significant competitive advantage for providers, analytics pose strategic questions.

Should a provider sell analytics as a pure, standalone service? Or should the provider sell analytics embedded into its other service markets? Or should it do both?

And there are additional questions to consider in making that decision:

  • If the provider sells pure analytics as a service, will it cannibalize its business?
  • Or does the provider even have a choice since, if it doesn’t do what the customer wants, another provider will grab that opportunity.
  • Will selling pure analytics instead of embedding it in other service offerings cause the provider to forego the opportunity to create differentiated services?

The issue at the core of whether or not to embed analytics in existing service offerings is the fact that the data service providers have access to is proprietary, owned by their clients. We’re seeing that increasingly clients recognize data value and are not willing to cede that value.

The Analytics Holy Grail

A service provider having the ability to use a client’s proprietary data in a broader context and therefore the base of a broader service business would be the Holy Grail in the analytics space. But how can providers achieve this outcome?

We at Everest Group have seen examples where the service provider creates a multi-tenant platform and provides the same or a similar service to multiple clients. The provider extracts the multiple clients’ data, combines it with broader industry data and embeds the analytics from that to provide an enriched service for the clients on that platform.

An example is a service provider that leverages proprietary transportation data from state and local government clients. The provider integrates those clients’ data into broader traffic data and gives back to those states and municipalities actionable insight that they use in reconfiguring road systems where there is an accident or delay.

Another example is analytics services derived from logistics systems of multiple tenants such as railroads, airlines or shipping businesses. Their data allows the provider to identify bottlenecks to the benefit of all. Healthcare analytics is another instance where it makes sense to sell analytics embedded in existing service offerings. Such an offering could compare patient data in large populations to extract information and patterns that allow for better patent treatment or clinical outcomes across a broad population.

Analytics technology is incredibly powerful and valuable, and service providers will enjoy profitability from this service, whether they sell pure analytics as a service or sell embedded analytics. But embedding clients’ proprietary analytics data into existing service offerings is the strategy for getting the Holy Grail.

Forbes logo

How Can A CFO Become A More Strategic Business Partner? | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

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Two years ago, I blogged about the switch from CIOs to CFOs as the new influencer in technology spend decisions. Fast forward to today, and there’s a lot of talk about how CFOs can become a more strategic partner to the business by adding more value. There are a couple of approaches that companies take to achieve this objective, but, alone, these tactics don’t achieve the desired outcome.

One thesis, as described in a recent SandHill article, is that companies need to implement different software to capture and integrate data from multiple sources so the CFO will have the framework for data-driven opinions to present to the C-suite.

In the context of the CFO role, what is strategic?

Read more at Peter’s Forbes blog

ubiquitous payments

In the Age of Ubiquitous Payments: Convergence of Technologies | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

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Payments has continuously evolved from physical currency through mobile-based payments and further improving the experience with contactless payments through technologies like NFC.

The next stage of the payment evolution has already started, with payments from social media messenger applications, smart watches, voice-enabled devices (e.g., Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri), and Internet-connected home appliances.

Indeed, we are evolving to the age of ubiquitous payments – where consumers can pay through any Internet-connected device present anywhere. These devices are programmable to automate several transactions, and help create an ecosystem of value-add services. And as payments technology evolves, digital currency may almost replace physical currency, becoming the most preferred mode of payment.

 

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The fundamental tenets of a superior payment experience are invisibility and completely integration into the consumer’s buying process.

 

ubiquitous payments evoulution

Let us take a look at the components of the ubiquitous payment ecosystem:

  • Payments infrastructure: The payments infrastructure is the backbone. It includes the entire payments network, including the issuers, acquirers, processors, inter-bank network, card manufacturers, and providers.
  • Internet-connected devices: One of the keys to improving the payments experience is making it frictionless. The consumer should only have to focus on buying the product or service, and the actual payment should simply be a background task. Internet- connected devices – including mobile phones, smart home appliances, smart watches, smart utility meters, and connected vehicles – are being built with payment capabilities.
  • Cloud: Infrastructure scalability, predictability, and agility are top drivers for making ubiquitous payments a reality. The Cloud provides the critical infrastructure necessary to enable storage and processing of data arriving from various Internet-connected devices.
  • APIs: Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are the key to unlocking the financial services digital ecosystem. They are a set of tools that expose the payments capabilities of underlying financial institutions to a broader ecosystem of providers.
  • AI, ML, and analytics: The payments process can be made more efficient, smarter, and automated by leveraging digital technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and analytics. For example, bots used for payments on Facebook Messenger enable several value-added services created around the payments ecosystem.
  • Identity management: The ability to make secure payments through any desired device, regardless of location, requires a digital identity and authorization process.

As we move toward ubiquitous payments, banks, payments firms, and other enterprises will need to evolve their strategy to address all the above components in a holistic manner. Industry standards will need to evolve to ensure secured payments between devices, as will regulations, such as the Payments Services Directive 2 (PSD2), which is an example of an encouraging step in this direction.

Make no mistake about it…changes in customer payment behavior to align with new payment methods, and the pervasiveness of technology, will drive the industry to the stage of ubiquitous payments.

What has your experience been with the evolution of the payments ecosystem?

Analytics Services

Analytics Services – the X Factor | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

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Just a little over a year ago, I predicted that the analytics services market was maturing quickly. I pointed out that it was moving beyond the early “gold rush” stage and becoming core or necessary to customers’ businesses and competitive advantage. Today I characterize analytics as “the X factor” – something that has a strong but unpredictable influence. So since it’s already heavily adopted, why would I say the analytics services space is unpredictable?

Analytics is an X factor because it’s one of the high-growth business process service (BPS) areas and it has great potential to enrich a service provider’s value proposition, increase the intimacy and commitment between service providers and clients and potentially increase a provider’s profitability. The unpredictable aspect is the profitability because it depends on which path a provider and client take.

There are two areas in the market where providers can apply their offerings:

  • Pure analytics
  • Embedded analytics

Pure Analytics. In the market for pure analytics offerings, providers provide the talent (analysts and data scientists), proprietary and third-party tools and analytic support to their clients. Typically, in this model, the provider uses its client’s data as well as third-party data. This is currently a $3.3 billion market, and it’s growing at a rate of 30 to 35 percent. We at Everest Group believe this will continue to be a good market. But its growth will slow.

Providers’ profitability in this market over the long term will depend on whether their clients go down the path of bringing the services in house and perhaps even establishing an analytics center of excellence (CoE). As the value of analytics becomes even more powerful, companies are likely to seek to own their own data scientists and move third-party providers to overflow or augmentation roles.

Embedded Analytics. In this market, providers embed analytics in their other service offerings. This path can be very profitable for providers because it would enhance their offerings as follows:

  • Make offerings more powerful – allowing providers to price the offering higher
  • Make offerings more sticky – making it harder for a client to switch service providers or to bring the process in house
  • Make the relationship with a client more intimate (creating more value that can lead to additional scope and higher margins for the provider)

This potential for augmenting analytics to providers’ existing service lines is enormous and spreads across pretty much every service. All business process services hold potential to be enriched with analytics.

Ultimate Path to Profitability

This raises really interesting questions. Should a service provider centralize its analytics functions so it can get scale and depth and build data scientist capability for the pure analytics market? Or should a provider distribute analytics capabilities into its service offerings where it can align analytics more closely with the services and drive the services up? I’ll discuss these issues in my next blog post.

IT Infrastructure Servcies

Automation Economics for Service Providers – Not So Straightforward? | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

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IT infrastructure environments are getting increasingly complicated to manage, particularly because enterprises are adopting agile delivery models – e.g., cloud and as-a-service – to meet the dynamic needs of their digital businesses. As assets proliferate, process complexities rise, and management costs escalate, enterprises realize the need for a more coherent, strategic approach to automation to regain control. This renewed focus of automation within IT infrastructure services has new-found implications for IT service providers.

Service providers stand to derive significant cost and productivity benefits from, and showcase value within engagements through, automation. That said, revenue cannibalization is a short-term outcome for which they need to brace. However, this comes against the backdrop of a highly competitive pricing environment and enterprises’ increasing insourcing initiatives. To complicate matters, the margin implications of automation can be tricky, as automation runs fundamentally contra to the arbitrage-driven margin model.

IT Infrastructure Services Automation Blog

 

It’s time to get running and cut the fat…

Service providers lagging in industry growth will be caught in a vicious cycle of margin contraction and degrowth unless they focus on reducing overhead, and make significant and prompt investments in strengthening their core delivery and account management capabilities to capture revenue run-off as a result of automation.

High-growth service providers also need to remain wary, and use automation as a growth lever without holding an excessive margin orientation in order to stay ahead of the pack. This includes firming up their strategic business model by assessing automation strategies in the context of aspirations for a product + services versus a services only play. And the answers may crucially depend on their current starting positons.

As automation stands to disrupt the IT infrastructure services space more than ever before, you can be certain we’ll continue to pay close attention to developments. If IT infrastructure services helps you win your daily bread – so should you!

For drill-down and detailed insights into latest trends in the IT infrastructure services automation space, please see Everest Group’s newly released report, “IT Infrastructure Services Automation – Codified Consciousness is the Future.”

Digital, Google, APIGEE

Google acquires APIGEE – APIs to Overhaul Enterprise Technology | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

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APIs have been around for a long time; however, the hyper-connected convergence of digital technologies and the increasing maturity of the digital ecosystem as a business model have made APIs a priority across industries. They have become the keys to unlocking a digital ecosystem (also commonly known as an API economy) that includes digital value chain, digital manufacturing, digital marketplaces, and an ecosystem of connected devices as adoption and advancement of technologies such as cloud, IoT, mobile, and analytics continue to increase.

The chart below explains a basic API value chain

Google acquires APIGEE

API management plays a critical role to help enterprises get maximum value out of their API strategy, hence we are witnessing an increase in activity in the API management space.

As enterprises accelerate their journey to build a digital ecosystem, technology companies like AWS, Dell, IBM, and Microsoft among others are helping enterprises on their digital transformation journey with tools and technology platforms. APIs and API management play a critical role here, with examples of investment that include IBM API Connect, Azure API Management, Oracle API manager, CA API management, and Amazon API Gateway among others. Recently Google announced its plan to acquire APIGEE, an API management company. The deal, for US$17.40 per Apigee share in cash for a total of US$625 million, is subject to shareholder and regulatory approvals. This is a significant acquisition for Google as it looks to enhance its enterprise cloud offerings. Adding APIGEE’s technology to its Cloud Platform provides Google with a more compelling value proposition for enterprise customers looking to move IT to the cloud.

Key benefits for Google:

  • API management as a differentiator/value-add for its enterprise cloud offerings
  • APIGEE acquisition brings tools that will help Google better manage its own set of APIs
  • Enhance experience for developers on its platforms
  • Enhance Google’s play in the container market, with its planned Integration of Apigee tools with Kubernetes

In the API management space, several specialist API management firms have been acquired by bigger technology firms looking to offer integrated (value add) services to their customers.

  • In June 2016, Red Hat acquired 3Scale, an API management firm
  • In January 2016, Axway acquired Appcelerator, which provides a framework for building and running APIs called Arrow
  • In April 2013, Intel acquired Mashery, a firm specializing in API management. However, Intel sold Mashery to Tibco in August 2015

We wonder what would happen to other API management specialists such as Akana, Cloud-Elements, Pokitdok, and WSO2 among others – will these also be scooped up by larger technology companies?

API management platforms are used by enterprises to manage their burgeoning need to open up their systems and expose functionality to the outside world due to digital transformation and the need to leverage innovation outside enterprise boundaries. Some implications of the increased activity in the API management space are listed below:

  • Consumer technology firms are pivoting their offerings to target the enterprise market
  • Enterprises need to look at API management as a separate stack in their IT systems
  • A key differentiator for enterprises in the age of connected digital ecosystem is the ability to offer high availability, security, and scalability of its APIs
  • Enterprise technology teams with modern infrastructure and strong API culture are able to attract better talent
  • Increased competition among technology firms that promise to play the role of efficient enablers in the enterprise digital transformation journey – leading to a wave of acquisitions and consolidation as technology firms look to become one-stop shops for all the technology requirements
  • Containers take API design, deployment, management, and integration to the next phase
  • Enterprises can accelerate their DevOps journey with APIs – API management embodies core DevOps principles of continuous delivery by modeling and governing the lifecycle of an API and provide developers and administrators with the needed tools and transparency

Are there other implications you believe should be considered? How do you see the API management landscape shaping up?Google acquires APIGEE

Matrix

IT Infrastructure Services Automation – What Enterprises Need to Know | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

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IT infrastructure services automation is evolving rapidly as the objective function shifts from efficiency gains to service resiliency and agility. IT infrastructure processes have become dynamic and complex, and traditional automation strategies, characterized by siloed initiatives and reactive script-based automation techniques, are becoming increasingly obsolete.

Autonomics holds the key to the “as-a-service” world…

Autonomics is poised to disrupt the automation space, and lay the foundation for business-aligned infrastructure services delivery. The self-learning and self-healing capabilities offered by the technology can help enterprises drive significant efficiencies and control within complex and judgement-intensive IT operations (think availability management or capacity management.) Efficient management of such processes, driven by autonomics, will be a critical enabler of the shift in IT service delivery towards the consumption-based/as-a-service paradigm.

infrsrvcsauto-srvcs-auto-interplay-image

We believe that the nirvana state of the IT infrastructure delivery-automation interplay, though a fair distance away, will involve the leverage of cognitive computing to create a “self-aware/alive” IT infrastructure model. Such a model will help deliver services contextualized to real-time user/business needs leveraging data from human-to-machine and machine-to-machine interfaces – i.e., making infrastructure “truly conscious.”

What is the best mode of automation adoption?

We observe three broad adoption modes for automation within enterprises:

  • Tools-based approach: This primarily focuses on automating low-end, high-volume tasks with the key objective being cost/FTE headcount reduction. While suitable for processes that are extremely well-defined and static, this approach does not unlock the full value of automation. Initiatives are siloed and lack business context, leading to accumulation of legacy portfolio with poor integration.
  • Adoption embedded within managed services constructs: Here, the focus of automation is on streamlining operational processes (i.e. balancing cost reduction and operational efficiency gains.) This model is being increasingly adopted by enterprises with significant outsourcing experience. Although well-understood, it is reactive, and cannot drive business innovation. Additionally, the focus on generating new use cases and creating common standards and best practices across the enterprise remains limited.
  • CoE-based adoption: A centrally-driven initiative with a strategic view to harmonize adoption benefits across each layer of the IT infrastructure stack, this approach helps drive long-term innovation by proactively identifying new use cases/scenarios, acting as a conduit for business enablement. That said, this model requires extensive upfront planning, seamless between business-IT collaboration, and a strong change appetite. Enterprises also need to brace for a significant gestation period before business benefits (commensurate to investment levels) are realized.

While each of these models offers varied levels of benefits, we observe that the eventual mode of automation adoption chosen is highly dependent on enterprise imperatives/mindset and pre-existing service models, and rightly so.

Our recommendation to enterprises…

Traditional automation within IT infrastructure services has been around for ages, but is simply not designed to deal with today’s dynamic environments. It is time that enterprises took a coherent, business-context-aligned approach to IT infrastructure automation. Such a strategy should:

  • Focus on what automation can achieve for delivering services in an agile and resilient manner, not on technical sophistication alone
  • Involve a pragmatic and phased adoption approach with a clear roadmap to scaling, taking into account organizational change constructs
  • Keep in mind that automation is not a one-shot affair – it needs process improvement as pre-work, and downstream maintenance and harmonization with new and changing business requirements
  • Balance the trade-off to protect existing tool investments against the need to avoid lock-in.

For drill-down and detailed insights into the latest trends in the IT infrastructure services automation space, please see Everest Group’s newly released report, “IT Infrastructure Services Automation – Codified Consciousness is the Future.”

empower pakistan blog

US$6/hr IT Developers? | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

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In early August, I participated in the 13th Brookings Blum Roundtable on Global Poverty, which focused on “The future of work in the developing world.” Our earlier work on Impact Sourcing with the Rockefeller Foundation was one of the featured pieces of content for the roundtable. The event included discussions on the impact of new technologies (e.g., automation, cognitive) on the nature of work and how that changes the required skills, training, and placement in jobs. In addition to incredibly engaging discussions, I had the opportunity to meet some innovative and passionate leaders of companies seeking to address these challenges in the developing world, from places such as India, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines, and South Africa. In this series of blogs, I will share some of the things I learned.

Sajid Shah is the co-founder of Empower Pakistan, an organization that utilizes freelancing platforms as a catalyst to nurture Pakistan’s nascent talent for digital skills. Upon graduating from college in Pakistan with a degree in electrical engineering, Sajid was unable to find a job. He started exploring the freelancing market available through digital platforms, and quickly began to grow a business that served clients globally. He also realized that many others could do the same thing if they simply had the right coaching and support to tap into global opportunities.

Understandably, geopolitical conditions have limited the attractiveness of Pakistan for multinational organizations. As a result, with a very young population of 200 million and an established education system, Pakistan can offer strong talent at highly competitive price points. Some organizations are indeed utilizing service delivery from Pakistan, but this is rare and tends to be for project work or non-critical business operations.

Empower Pakistan’s innovation is using the freelancing model to make global opportunities accessible to the talent in Pakistan, and doing so in a manner which helps accelerate the development of entrepreneurial businesses. To accomplish this, Sajid co-founded Empower Pakistan in 2014. The model works as follows.

First step – get “digital”

Individuals (already computer literate) are trained on “digital literacy” – the hot skills expected in the global market for contemporary technical development. This is accomplished through a series of workshops and exercises, and lasts about two months.

Second step – gain experience

Empower Pakistan coaches individuals on how to use freelancing platforms to find individual project work that helps them apply their skills plus learn from the work itself, e.g., project management, client management, and pricing. This approach also helps the individuals begin to develop entrepreneurial skills. This stage lasts for approximately a year.

Third step – the decision

Individuals have two basic options after gaining the relevant experience. One option is to receive further coaching from Empower Pakistan via its “LevelUp” program on how to expand the freelancing model to take on larger projects and become a business owner, typically employing other individuals to support completing larger and more comprehensive projects. LevelUp is world’s first accelerator for “digital nomads,” and Empower Pakistan aims to convert the independent entrepreneurs into business owners through this accelerator program. With over 2 million people in Pakistan registered on freelancing platforms, the potential is significant.

The second option is to join Grow Distributed, a service provider affiliated with Empower Pakistan. Grow Distributed provides distributed and dedicated teams to startups and major logos in developed countries.

This set of options allows individuals to either tap into their passion for developing their own entrepreneurial business, or pursue a deeper technical career. Regardless, both help the individual access opportunities for personal development and impact beyond the domestic Pakistan market.

In just over two years, Empower Pakistan has already conducted a series of nine freelancing starter workshops, with several hundred individuals participating. Over 13,000 freelancing projects (most fairly small) have been completed, providing a significant series of learning opportunities.

They aim to create 100,000 digital employment opportunities for Pakistani youth by 2020. Fresh college graduates employed in the domestic market of Pakistan typically earn about US$250 per month or roughly US$1.50 per hour. The freelancing work allows an individual earn roughly double this amount per month, while having a price point on the global market of approximately US$6 – a tremendous value for the quality of talent that is underutilized in Pakistan. The volume of individuals that can be impacted, combined with the increase in earnings potential and advancement of skills, can be a game changer for Pakistan.

So why might this be interesting to your organization?

For starters, this is a nice illustration of how freelancing work models are creating new ways to access talent and how work can be done. It not only globalizes the talent pool, but also enables small businesses to be built versus the typical assumption of just individuals working through a freelancing model. If you aren’t intentionally considering when to use freelancing models, you should be.

Further, with the increasing demands for digitization, talent is in short supply globally and a freelancing model is applicable for many digital marketing-oriented initiatives. At US$6 per hour, the cost of experimentation is exceptionally low – why not allocate several hundred or several thousand dollars to test out the model with a small project? Many marketing efforts are not subject to the same concerns about security (public-facing, easily separable,) and at such a low price point can be run in parallel with completing the work via a normal model.

A special thanks to Sajid for sharing the story of Empower Pakistan, and best wishes on the journey ahead!

Is automation worth the cost

How to Determine Whether Automation is Worth the Cost | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

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There is a lot of talk in the marketplace about the benefits of automation. Even so, people ask Everest Group whether automation is worth the journey. Essentially, they want to know if, after having gone through the cost and effort of automating and deploying a robotic or cognitive agent they will have saved enough money to warrant the initiative.

Here’s an interesting use case that answers that question. We worked with a client that had moved its business process work to rural sourcing in India. Its average cost for labor was $2.00 an hour. Yet, they deployed robotic process automation (RPA) agents. Why? Because it made sense – the company got a high rate of return from digitizing its workforce.

What can we learn from this? First, even low-labor-cost areas are rich targets for deploying service delivery automation (SDA). Second, the benefits go far beyond saving money. For the company I mentioned, automation improved throughput, the time it took to clear the backlog. It also improved the quality of the work; the error rate dropped precipitously in an RPA model versus a low-cost labor model.

The company was excited about the cycle time reduction for clearing its backlog. Sending the work to India involved a several-week backlog; but the automated solution cleared the backlog almost instantaneously. The reduced cycle time and improved quality delivered a huge benefit to the company’s customer experience.

The second component that enabled the cycle time reduction was the proximity of the work to the claims area. By moving it to an automated platform and making that data regularly available to the claims area, they were able to use the data in new ways.

Finally, automation eliminated the complexity of shipping work to India and the governance work involved in going offshore and satisfying regulators. The automated solution needed much less regular scrutiny and was easier to operate.

It was also easier to change. One of the issues around automation is whether you’ve “hardened your arteries” – diminishing the ability to make coding changes. It turns out it’s much easier to make script changes in RPA than going through the process of changing policy and process in a remote location.

So it was a real win-win-win in what appeared at first to be sending work to a very low-cost arena. It made sense to switch to automation just on the basis of the savings from labor replacement and eliminating the complexity of managing a remote low-cost labor workforce. But with the improved cycle time and work quality, the decision became a no-brainer.