80/20 Stands on Its Head in the Services Industry | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

The mantra of 80/20 (80 percent offshore, 20 percent onshore) has been the war cry for the services industry for the last 10 years. It has stood for the absolute sweet spot for a services player, particularly in terms of maximum leverage of offshore talent. This has been the most profitable space. Providers that approached this sweet spot have been the fastest growing and most profitable players.

It has been a thing of beauty and a joy forever … well, not really forever. Things change.

What we’re seeing in a segment of the industry is that customers now ask for 80/20 in the opposite way – 80 percent onshore and 20 percent offshore. They’re not asking for their entire delivery platform to do this. But in discrete segments they are looking for a much more intimate onshore model – more industry domain knowledge, more company knowledge and the provider’s teams stood up next to their teams or intermingled with their teams where they can drive to functionality very fast. They also want less churn.

To be clear, it’s not happening everywhere. But the desire to move to this alternative 80/20 model is happening in some of the fastest-growing and most lucrative segments of the industry. For instance, we see this model approaching in digital. We hear customers voice this aspiration in healthcare. And we talk with many large, sophisticated clients that express the desire to change the model.

They’re not looking to lose labor arbitrage completely, but they want to turn the 80/20 model on its head. And they are willing to give up some of the cost benefits of the old factory model for the speed, intimacy, and agility of the new model.


Photo credit: Flickr

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