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outsourcing

Modern Today, Legacy Tomorrow: The Nature of Fast-Changing Skill Demand in IT Services | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

By | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

It is no hidden fact that the outsourcing industry is on the cusp of change. While the labor arbitrage model and legacy ERP applications ruled the 1990s and 2000s, digital has become the heartthrob of the current decade, and you can see enterprises entering new forays to keep themselves relevant in this fast-changing business landscape.

In this context, even the demand for technical skills has changed tremendously over the past few years. Some skills that used to have the largest pull have become obsolete, and others are struggling to keep their hold in the IT services industry.

Specialist skills losing leverage against generic skills

Consider the case of SAP on-premise business solutions. Until recently, SAP as a skillset had been very attractive among fresh graduates and lateral hires alike. High market demand coupled with supply playing catch up meant higher wages and easy to switch options in the ever-competitive outsourcing market. But over the past few years, on-premise ERP and factory-led offshoring have matured to the extent that once premium technical skills such as ABAP or Basis no longer command the same leverage over generic skills such as Java, .NET, and COBOL. Even functional skills such as finance controller (FICO) or sales and distribution have seen their premium declining over the last few years.

Specialist skills such as Cognos, Informatica, and IBM Websphere are also facing the heat in large outsourcing deals, where high competition and enterprise awareness have forced service providers to utilize a common, generic rate card irrespective of the complexity or diversity of skills involved. Also, organizations such as NetSuite, Salesforce, SuccessFactors, and Workday provide a viable option with consumption-led pricing models, which make them highly attractive. The level of competition and clear buying trends are forcing even behemoths to come to the table with cloud-based, integrated business solutions. Think SAP with S/4 HANA, which is pushed aggressively by the company’s account sales teams.
With the change in the business landscape, there’s increasingly a clear preference for new age phenomena such as big data analytics, hyper-automation, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

The impact of IoT, digital technologies, and automation on skill demand

IoT is one area in which organizations are investing large sums for either cost optimization or revenue generation, depending on their business models. And it is one area in which hardware, firmware, mobility, cloud, and analytics specialists are in extremely high demand to address its hot growth. While the likes of Angular JS and Swift are being used to develop mobile applications, Hadoop and Spark are seeing a huge demand in data analytics. Even firmware and hardware engineers are being required to work in an agile fashion using DevOps methodology, a phenomenon never seen before in industrial manufacturing.

Another big area in which significant investment is being made is Service Delivery Automation (SDA). It is being looked at as a viable alternative to labor arbitrage. Enterprises are looking to automation to reduce costs and streamline business processes. Service providers and enterprises alike are scouting for Robotic Process Automation (RPA) developers and DevOps engineers for onshore/GIC/service provider operations to significantly downsize the low-level tasks performed offshore.

Overall, the current market is in a state of flux as digital takes precedence and legacy becomes less prominent. But the demand for digital services across enterprises is clear, regardless of existing market shares.

H-1B Visa Reform Impact on IT Outsourcing Deal TCV | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

By | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

In a recent blog entitled, “Is rising costs the only impact immigration reform bills will have on the services industry?” our colleagues wrote about a variety of potential effects Representative Zoe Lofgren’s (D-CA) “High-Skilled Integrity and Fairness Act of 2017” H1-B visa proposal would have on numerous parties.

Let’s look squarely at the potential impact of these changes on total contract value (TCV). Some of the key IT service providers, especially Cognizant, HCL, Infosys, TCS, and Wipro – all of which rely heavily on “landed” resources to provide IT services in the U.S. – would have some major decisions to make, ranging from tactical, such as recruitment strategy, to business strategy, such as margin cuts.

If passed, the bill would most likely take away the landed resources cost advantage. Having assessed numerous IT ADM contracts in the last 12 months, Everest Group conducted a simulation to represent a typical three-year IT AM deal, using industry standard offshoring, staffing pyramids, and local-to-landed resource ratios. Our simulation showed that the removal of the difference in pricing of local and landed resources alone would result in a 5-6 percent increase in TCV, not taking into account any auxiliary impact on service providers’ cost (recruitment, organizational restructuring, etc.)

H-1B Visa Reform impact on TCVAlready pressed for margins, IT service providers would try to pass the TCV impact on to their enterprise clients. As it is very unlikely clients would be willing to bear the cost increase, it would remain with the providers. As a margin decline of 500-700 basis points would significantly disrupt any company’s financial standing, the providers would need to deploy countermeasures to mitigate this impact.

To reduce the impact on margins, service providers could use levers such as degree of offshoring and staffing pyramids. Our simulation showed that increasing offshoring by about 2-3 percent resulted in a 50 percent decline in the impact of TCV (essentially lowering the increase from 5-7 percent to 2-3 percent) for a typical three-year ADM deal. While the impact on more complex deals might not be easy to mitigate, our simulation demonstrates there is hope for service providers who play smartly and are proactive in adopting strategies to counter the potential impact of any negative reforms.

Another way service providers can drive down their costs is through automation. For example, key aspects of onshore resources’ work include coordination with offshore resources for alignment of work and managing timelines and quality objectives. If automated, these aspects could significantly nullify the impact of onshore cost increases. And with 300-400 basis points at stake, providers might finally have the motivation to adopt automation at the enterprise level, rather than as a deal- or client-specific objective.

It will be very interesting to see if service providers are able to convince the enterprises to share some of the increased cost burden. What’s your guess?

BPO Industry Challenged: Outsourcing Giant India Losing to China, Small Countries | In the News

By | In The News

“For voice work, the Philippines has a better voice/accent environment even though it is at a cost disadvantage to India. For some kinds of work, close proximity and time zones advantage near shore locations is preferred over India,” said Peter Bendor Samuel, CEO of Everest Group, a Dallas-headquartered management consulting and research services firm.

Citing concentration risk as another reason, Samuel said some firms feel that they are overly concentrated in India creating increased risk in the event of natural disasters or large currency swings for these firms a more geographically dispersed location strategy makes sense.

“Although these alternate locations have taken some share from India such as Mexico, Costa Rica and for Europe, Poland, we believe that these share gains will level off as these alternative locations are priced higher than the low cost high skilled Indian labour pool,” Samuel said.

Read more at the Hindustan Times

Outsourcing Trend Faces Challenges | In the News

By | In The News

H. Karthik, a partner at management consulting company Everest Group and leader of its global sourcing practice, said Duterte’s comments about a separation from the United States altered risk perceptions.

“No companies have publicly stated any significant changes in their Philippines strategy, but many of them are adopting a wait-and-watch approach,” he said.
Karthik compared that wariness about the Philippines to developments in other outsourcing locations, such as the political unrest in the Ukraine, Egypt, and Tunisia, and recent widespread public protests in Romania.

Read more at Treasury and Risk

Is the Philippines More a Paper Tiger than a Real Tiger? | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

By | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

The Philippines has been in the news a lot lately, for a range of negative reasons. But is its risk profile becoming such that U.S. enterprises should stop evaluating it as a global sourcing destination, or that those already there should consider pulling out?

That depends on your perspective, especially when you look at both its risk and benefits profiles. I believe one can argue that the current dynamics in the Philippines are potentially a hidden positive for the global sourcing industry. Yes, this bad thing could actually be a good thing.

Before you tell me I’m off my rocker and should be put in a padded room, hear me out.

Among other things, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte made statements regarding “separation from the U.S.” This understandably caused concerns among multiple global companies with one or another type of exposure to the Philippines. But the Philippine government subsequently tried to clarify that the statements were reflective of intent in foreign and military policy, not business ties. Although a general tilt in military and foreign policy away from the U.S. may eventually hamper business relations, there will probably be little impact in the near term.

That said, while the uncertainty and noise surrounding the Philippines will cause some companies to slow or moderate their exposure to the country’s labor market, a slowing of its offshoring industry growth could be incredibly helpful.

For example, with somewhat less demand for talent, attrition rates should decrease. With somewhat lower attrition rates, employees are likely to develop in their roles to a greater level of proficiency. Additionally, salary increases are also likely to moderate and, with likely less investment into the Philippines, the Filipino peso may weaken and lead to a more attractive cost base.

In other words, assuming that the actual work environment is not disrupted by the new posture, the labor pool should become more attractive – lower cost and more stable – for those organizations continuing to operate in the Philippines.

From an economic standpoint, despite President Duterte’s saber rattling and the unnerving optics, the ties between the two countries won’t be threatened any time soon. The IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) reported that the IT-BPS industry represented revenue of US$22 billion to the Philippines, and employed ~ 1.2 million FTEs in the country in 2015. With those kinds of numbers, an economic split can’t happen.

Socially, there are very deep ties between the U.S. and the Philippines, much of which is rooted in the fact that English is one of the two official languages in the country. One of the strongest predictors of social ties is language, as the more easily you can communicate with each other, the easier it is to talk about family, share jokes, discuss vacations…topics that help forge bonds.

It’s true that the Philippines’ risk profile appears to be shifting, but largely in ways that seem unlikely to materially impact business ties. For enterprises willing to manage and continue to operate within that environment, it would appear that the benefits of more skilled, language- and culturally-aligned talent at lower prices could easily outweigh the perceived risks.

Of course, there are numerous things you and your location-scoping team should monitor when considering the Philippines as a sourcing destination. The top five are:

  • Trade agreements with the U.S.
  • Taxes and incentives for U.S. firms
  • Travel policies, including visa’s and travel advisories
  • Actions and sentiments of market participants
  • 2022 Philippines roadmap for IT-BPO; relative emphasis on the U.S.

Is your enterprise already offshoring to the Philippines, or in the process of evaluating it against other destinations? We’d love to hear your thoughts, perceptions, concerns, and experiences!

HR Tech Market India – The Adolescent In the Adult World! | In the News

By | In The News

The exciting growth and potential of HR tech market have started attracting investors globally. According to the recent estimates by Everest Group in the report “The Promise Of Human Resources Outsourcing In India: A Goldmine Of Growth For Service Providers That Adapt”, the current market which is of the size of 0.5 B USD is expected to grow at the rate of about 25% in the next 5 years. Thanks to this growth and immense potential (which will rise not only through increase in employment numbers in the country but also an increase in ‘formal’ workforce,) we enjoy the interest of VC firms today. Not only this, there are many PE firms looking for HR investments, and even banks are ready to give line of credit. There are some HR-focused funds and angel funds supporting and focusing on HR/workforce entrepreneurs.

Read more at People Matters

Outsourcing Trends to Watch in 2017 | In the News

By | In The News

This year, we saw outsourcing integration challenges multiply, production workloads and enterprise systems hit the cloud, and security hit the top of the agenda.

So what’s ahead for 2017? Uncertainty for one thing. Industry watchers expect a number of shifts in the IT and business process services space — not least of which will be the initiation of more flexible outsourcing terms as the world watches and waits to see what happens once president elect Donald Trump takes office and Brexit takes hold.

Read more

Reimagining RPO through the RPA Lens | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

By | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

The economic downturn following the financial crisis of 2008 forced companies to look at their internal costs and find ways to rationalize spend on various business activities. Recruitment was quickly identified as an area ripe for significant cost cutting, and in subsequent years Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) was widely adopted by enterprises.

While cost reduction had long been RPO buyers’ main aim, in recent years they’ve been facing another set of problems – talent shortage and hard to fill roles.

Employers are always on the lookout for better candidates with niche capabilities. However, these desirable employees can be hard to find, especially in a timely manner. To fulfill their hiring requirements, many employers hire contract or offshore recruiters. Unfortunately, hiring additional contract recruiters results in additional expenses, and offshoring results in loss of personal touch. And in both cases, the recruiters spend a substantial amount of their time on transactional tasks, rather than on professional recruiting activities.

The answer to this problem is robotic process automation (RPA). RPA is being used to automate a wide variety of repetitive, low touch recruitment-related tasks and processes including data entry and validation, file and data manipulation, multi-format message creation, web scraping, text mining, workflow acceleration, etc. Through RPA, the productivity of the recruitment team can be improved manifold, resulting in better and faster hiring.

Processes where RPA can be leveraged to improve the effectiveness of the recruitment process:

RPA - RPO - Recruitment Process Outsourcing

There’s little question that RPA helps reimagine the whole recruitment value chain. RPO providers and buyers that make investments in RPA, and automation in general, thereby enabling their recruiters to handle the professional aspects of recruiting, will differentiate themselves by more quickly and efficiently identifying, securing, and onboarding the most desirable candidates.

For more information on how RPA can improve various recruitment-related processes, please refer to Everest Group’s RPO Annual Report, 2016.

Global Sourcing Activity Declines in Q3 2016, But GIC Setup Activity Marks All-Time High | Press Release

By | Press Releases

Trend to watch: Leading service providers are accelerating investments in cybersecurity as enterprise adoption of digital services continues to rise.

Location activity in the global sourcing industry declined significantly in Q3 2016 from the previous quarter, with 404 deals in Q3 compared to 429 in Q2, according to Everest Group, a consulting and research firm focused on strategic IT, business services and sourcing.

Although outsourcing activity across North America increased during the quarter (with share of transactions jumping from 31 to 37 percent), there was a 24 percent decline in the number of deals across Europe (except in the United Kingdom, which reported no change in activity), and the rest of the world experienced a decline as well.

Conversely, Global In-house Center (GIC) setup activity reached 37 setups in Q3 2016, an all-time high, led by new adopters setting up their first delivery centers. GIC activity on a year-to-year basis also witnessed increased traction, reflecting the growing importance of in-house centers to enterprises.

Key Trend to Watch

Everest Group’s Q3 2016 research suggests that a key trend to watch is increasing service provider investments in cybersecurity. Between 2015 and 2016, service providers have ramped up their cybersecurity portfolios via strategic acquisitions, organic growth and collaborative alliances with technology firms.

“As enterprises increasingly adopt digital services, robust cybersecurity programs are becoming ‘must have,’” said H. Karthik, partner at Everest Group. “This, in turn, is forcing service providers to continuously evolve their offerings and move toward end-to-end cybersecurity services.”

“Baseline cybersecurity capabilities of service providers include having personnel that can follow a client’s security initiatives and use basic security tools and products to manage the security of applications and infrastructure. But service providers are moving quickly beyond that to develop more sophisticated services, ranging from designing security architecture to providing insights through security analytics. Leading service providers are pushing the envelope even further, looking to provide even more advanced support, such as pre-emptive threat intelligence, localized managed security services and incident response.”

Market Vista™: Q3 2016 These findings and more are discussed in Everest Group’s recently published report, “Market Vista™: Q3 2016.” This report provides data and analysis highlighting the key trends and developments in the fast-evolving global offshoring and outsourcing market. The research captures the key developments across outsourcing transaction trends, the health of Global In-house Centers (GICs), location risks and opportunities, and service provider developments.

***Watch the Webinar*** A review of the Market Vista Q3 updates is offered in a webinar available for viewing on demand: “The Impact of Philippine Political Changes on Global Services, PLUS Market Vista™ Q3 Updates.” This one-hour session hosted by Karthik and Salil Dani, vice president at Everest Group, provides the latest insights on the global services industry, including:

  • Major contributors to global services market growth in Q3 2016
  • Demand geographies contributing to market growth
  • New segments that are driving growth
  • Supply geographies best suited to support incremental demand
  • The market outlook for the remainder of 2016

In addition, the webinar features commentary and analysis on the impact of recent changes to the political climate in the Philippines.