Author: BharathM

Six Highlights from the 2022 NASSCOM GCC Conclave to Watch | Blog

India’s continued position as a leading destination for Global Capacity Centers (GCCs) was among the key themes emerging from the first hybrid National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM) GCC Conclave on June 29-30 in Hyderabad. To learn the top priorities among GCC leaders, read on for takeaways from our experts who attended the mega event. 

While we had doubts over GCC participation in the first-ever hybrid conclave since 2019, the event was a huge success for GCC leaders who enjoyed making and renewing contacts, exchanging learnings and best practices, and sharing fond memories of past gatherings.

As the strategic partner for NASSCOM, Everest Group is pleased to share these six key takeaways from the GCC Conclave, themed Leaning in for Impact in the Networked World:

  1. Continued endorsement of India as a leading GCC location

India remains at the center of the offshore/nearshore global delivery portfolio across most enterprises. Most GCC leaders expect higher growth from the India centers than other locations. Some have plans to double their India headcount in the next two to four years.

  1. Return to office (location) is a top priority for GCC leaders

Two out of three GCC leaders highlighted their efforts to bring employees back to work locations as part of the hybrid model. With location flexibility emerging as a strong value proposition for employees, balancing employee preferences and organization goals (e.g., building workplace culture) is becoming critical.

  1. Increased endorsement for the GCC model has positively impacted GCCs’ influence across the enterprise; however only in pockets

GCC influence across the organization has increased post-pandemic but only in pockets. Building strong adjacencies with core enterprise priorities goes beyond scaling high-skill capabilities in the GCC. Many GCC leaders still have concerns about managing cost competitiveness with third-party providers, securing buy-in for expanding capabilities, etc. To top this, several enterprises are restructuring, which is also impacting GCC growth.

  1. The next wave of growth is likely to be anchored around centralization (again)

The “scale-optimize-centralize” cycle is not new for GCCs. Across different stages of evolution, GCCs have experienced this cycle and have also come out successfully post internal restructuring initiatives (e.g., banks centralizing third-party risk compliance that supports different businesses).

Over the last two years, many GCCs expanded the breadth and depth of services offered (with insourcing also being a factor). Many leaders are now looking at the next wave of centralizing capabilities. However, this centralization wave will likely be more borderless because the remote model has helped address location dependency constraints. In that context, the role of India-based GCCs as an “orchestrator of services” (see next point) across the global delivery network will likely increase. Click here to check out Everest Group’s thought leadership content around the borderless GCC/GBS model.

  1. Mature GCCs are betting big on services orchestration

As GCCs expand ownership, a wide array of responsibilities exist. Mature GCCs are already orchestrating services – coordinating with in-house teams, third-party vendors, start-ups, etc. – and are owning end-to-end accountability for services in scope. See the exhibit below for an example of GCC ownership, from skills to processes to platforms, with distinct needs from talent and operating model perspectives.

 

NASSCOM GCC Event blog table

Exhibit 1: The spectrum of GCC ownership (tech example)

  1. The GCC journey is akin to a Snakes and Ladders game!

Factors such as increased sponsorship and niche talent availability can help accelerate the journey towards being recognized as an entity delivering competitive advantage for the global enterprise. At the same time, conditions like macroeconomic impacts (e.g., the Ukraine war) and spinning off divisions at the enterprise level could deter GCC’s progress.

Several leaders enthusiastically played the GBS 2022 Snake and Ladders game, developed by Deborah Kops and Everest Group team, at the 2022 NASSCOM GCC Conclave. The game highlights the perils and opportunities for GBS organizations as they strive to become entities delivering competitive advantage for global enterprises. Learn more about this game in our upcoming LinkedIn Live event. As one GCC leader noted, “Yes, there are several ups and downs. The key is to keep rolling the dice!” And the same can be said about the GCC journey.

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Discover more about Everest Group’s research on the GCC evolution.

The Road Ahead for GCCs – 2022 and Beyond | Blog

At the forefront of innovation across products and processes, Global Capability Centers (GCCs) today are creating a competitive advantage for their global enterprises and those based in India are particularly well-positioned to accelerate to the next level. With increasing global leadership roles, these Centers are providing end-to-end support on complex work areas to deliver business impact that goes well beyond cost savings and operational improvement.

Year 2021 saw many GCCs initiate their transition to a new normal post the pandemic – one anchored on increased endorsement for the GCC model, increasing responsibilities beyond traditional workstreams, and accelerated adoption of digital technologies. However, these organizations will still face the challenges of navigating through factors such as accessing niche talent, adopting newer digital technologies, handling rising consumer expectations, increasing demand for analytics, and rapidly transforming business models driving the need to regularly recalibrate strategies.

According to Everest Group conversations with more than 100 GCCs to learn their priorities in planning for 2022 and beyond, the following five areas emerged as being critical to the success of these Centers.

Read more on NASSCOM

 

Is Your GBS Organization Ready for IT Infrastructure Evolution to Enable Business Transformation? | Blog

A sustained focus on digital, agility, and advanced technologies is likely to prepare enterprises for the future, especially following COVID-19. Many enterprise leaders consider IT infrastructure to be the bedrock of business transformation at a time when the service delivery model has become more virtual and cloud based. This reality presents an opportunity for GBS organizations that deliver IT infrastructure services to rethink their long-term strategies to enhance their capabilities, thereby strengthening their value propositions for their enterprises.

GBS setups with strong IT infra capabilities can lead enterprise transformation

Over the past few years, several GBS organizations have built and strengthened capabilities across a wide range of IT infrastructure services. Best-in-class GBS setups have achieved significant scale and penetration for IT infrastructure delivery and now support a wide range of functions – such as cloud migration and transformation, desktop support and virtualization, and service desk – with high maturity. In fact, some centers have scaled as high as 250-300 Full Time Equivalents (FTEs) and 35-45% penetration.

At the same time, these organizations are fraught with legacy issues that need to be addressed to unlock full value. Our research reveals that most enterprises believe that their GBS’ current IT infrastructure services model is not ready to cater to the digital capabilities necessary for targeted transformation. Only GBS organizations that evolve and strengthen their IT infrastructure capabilities will be well positioned to extend their support to newer or more enhanced IT infrastructure services delivery.

The need for an IT infrastructure revolution and what it will take

The push to transform IT infrastructure in GBS setups should be driven by a business-centric approach to global business services. To enable this shift, GBS organizations should consider a new model for IT infrastructure that focuses on improving business metrics instead of pre-defined IT Service Line Agreements (SLA) and Total Cost of Operations (TCO) management. IT infrastructure must be able to support changes ushered in by rapid device proliferation, technology disruptions, business expansions, and escalating cost pressures post-COVID-19 to showcase sustained value.

To transition to this IT infrastructure state, GBS organizations must proactively start to identify skills that have a high likelihood of being replaced / becoming obsolete, as well as emerging skills. They must also prioritize emerging skills that have a higher reskilling/upskilling potential. These goals can be achieved through a comprehensive program that proactively builds capabilities in IT services delivery.

In the exhibit below, we highlight the shelf life of basic IT services skills by comparing the upskilling/reskilling potential of IT services skills with their expected extent of replacement.

Exhibit: Analysis of the shelf life of basic IT services skills

Analysis of the shelf life of basic IT services skills

In the near future, GBS organizations should leverage Artificial Intelligence (AI), analytics, and automation to further revolutionize their IT capabilities. The end goal is to transition to a self-healing, self-configuring system that can dynamically and autonomously adapt to changing business needs, thereby creating an invisible IT infrastructure model. This invisible IT infrastructure will be highly secure, require minimal oversight, function across stacks, and continuously evolve with changing business needs. By leveraging an automation-, analytics-, and AI-led delivery of infrastructure, operations, and services management, GBS organizations can truly enable enterprises to make decisions based on business imperatives.

If you’d like to know more about the key business transformation trends for enterprises in  IT infrastructure, do read our report Exploring the Enterprise Journey Towards “Invisible” IT Infrastructure or reach out to us at [email protected] or [email protected]

The Silver Lining in the Current Crisis: Retail and CPG Global Business Services Centers Seizing Opportunity | Blog

The recent months have been challenging for retail and Consumer Product Goods (CPG) firms due to the COVID-19 outbreak, with the industry suffering from both demand and supply shocks. However, this situation is actually a blessing in disguise for many shared service centers or Global Business Services (GBS) centers, which have seized the opportunity to showcase their capabilities to adapt to newer and more agile operating models.

As we discussed in detail in an earlier blog, retail and CPG GBS centers have evolved over the years to provide support across the value chain, delivering core processes such as sales and marketing and supply chain management. And digital services increasingly core to service delivery. In fact, about 40% of all new retail and CPG GBS set-ups in the past two to three years have been centered around digital capabilities, analytics and automation technologies in particular.

Many GBS centers have gained confidence and visibility across their enterprises during these turbulent times. In one example, a CPG firm’s GBS center swiftly moved to a work-from-home delivery model, while simultaneously helping its service provider get back on its feet by supplying spare laptops and other assistance. The center also took on additional activities from other parts of the enterprise, completing complex tasks such as quarter-close and year-close using a work-from-home construct – a first for the entire enterprise.

The disruptive environment provided many retail and CPG GBS centers the opportunity to elevate the support they provide to their enterprises. We believe these GBS centers can have an impact in a variety of ways, three of which we describe below.

Retail CPG future

Strengthen support across the value chain

With the re-orientation of consumer behavior and supply chain disruptions, retail and CPG enterprises are likely to adjust several elements across the value chain – from supply chain and logistics to e-commerce architecture. GBS organizations are well placed to lead initiatives related to the revised value chain such as managing e-commerce webpage design, AI-driven customer sentiment analysis, and pricing optimization. The sharp increase in online purchasing also increases the scope of delivery opportunity in areas such as fraud detection, identification of counterfeit products, integrated cashless payment systems, and promotion management, all of which have been in nascent stages of adoption to date.

Expand digital support

In the short run, GBS centers are likely to continue to concentrate on established technologies such as analytics and automation to provide robust solutions in areas such as demand forecasting and customer retention. Supply chain analytics, for example, will become imperative for the organizations. In another example, a leading CPG company’s India-based GBS center is using advanced analytics to help its company reduce customer churn and adopt more targeted marketing practices.

Some mature retail and CPG GBS centers, as part of their longer-term strategy, are looking into technologies such as computer vision, IoT, and Augmented Reality (AR) or Virtual Reality (VR). A few large chain retailers have started to implement smart IoT-based solutions for better warehouse management, which has helped to increase staff efficiency, reduce error rates, and reduce turnaround time.

Ride the disruption wave and adopt newer operating or business models

Many GBS organizations are modifying their current workforce and governance strategies – testing virtual/remote working models as alternatives to locations/BCP strategies, deploying a wider array of metrics to measure value beyond the cost benefits, taking end-to-end responsibility for specific services or technologies/platforms (cultivating an intrapreneurial mindset), and identifying opportunities to better collaborate with external ecosystem, to name a few. We are likely to see structural and governance changes in the next 12 to 18 months as GBS organizations look to integrate better with the enterprises as strategic partners.

The virus has impacted some enterprises more than others. Based on our recent research of retail and CPG enterprises with GBS centers in offshore/nearshore locations, about 60% of retail/CPG enterprises (those that are considered “non-essential,” or are in a single retail brand) are likely to face increased cost pressures, primarily driven by industry headwinds. In the immediate term, these enterprises are likely to be more selective in terms of strategic investments, and their GBS organizations will need to be proactive in adjusting their operating models, adjusting workforce strategies, and accelerating delivery to provide higher value add.

The next 12-18 months is sure to be a turbulent – but transformational – time for GBS centers; their roles are likely to change. Keep an eye out for our upcoming report on the next wave of evolution for retail and CPG GBS for more details. And reach out to Bharath M or Samartha Agrawal if you have questions or comments.

The Evolution of the Automation CoE Model – Why Many GBS Centers Are Adopting the Federated CoE Model | Blog

Automation CoEs in Global Business Services (GBS) centers or Shared Services Centers (SSCs) have evolved over time. Mature GBS adopters of automation have made conscious decisions around the structure and governance CoEs, evolving to extract maximum value from their automation initiatives. Some of the benefits they have hoped to gain from the evolution include:

  • Faster scaling
  • More efficient use of automation assets and components, such as licenses and reusable modules
  • Better talent leverage
  • Greater business impact

The typical CoE model evolution

CoE models generally evolve from siloed model to centralized and then to a federated:

Siloed model – kick starting the journey

Most GBS centers start their automation initiatives in silos or specific functions. In the early stages of their automation journeys, this approach enables them to gain a stronger understanding of capabilities and benefits of automation and also to achieve quick results.

However, this model has its limits, including suboptimal bot usage, low bargaining power with the vendor, lower reusability of modules and other IP, limited automation capabilities, and limited scale and scope.

The centralized model – building synergies

As automation initiatives evolve, enterprises and GBS organizations recognized the need to integrate these siloed efforts to realize more benefits, leading to the centralized model. This model enables benefits such introducing standard operating procedures (SOPs), better governance, higher reusability of automation assets and components, optimized usage of licenses and resources, and enforcement of best practices. This model also places a greater emphasis on a GBC-/enterprise-wide automation strategy, which is lacking in the siloed model.

However, this model, too, has limitations, suffering slow growth and rate of coverage across business units because the centralized model loses the flexibility, process knowledge, and ownership that individual business units bring to the bot development process.

The federated model – enabling faster scaling

The federated model addresses both of the other models’ limitations, enabling many best-in-class GBS centers to scale their automation initiatives rapidly. In this model, the CoE (the hub) handles support activities such as training resources, providing technology infrastructure and governance. Individual business units or functions (the spokes) are responsible for identifying and assessing opportunities and developing and maintaining bots. The model combines the benefits of decentralized bot-development with centralized governance.

The federated model has some limitations, such as reduced control for the CoE hub over the bot development and testing process, and, hence, over standardization, bot quality and module reusability. However, many believe the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.

The three CoE models are described in the figure below.

Automation Adoption in GBS centers and the Rise of the Federated CoE Model

The table shown below shows how the three models compare on various parameters.

Comparison of salient features benefits and limitations each CoE model

Why GBS organizations are migrating to the federated model

There are several reasons why GBS centers are moving to the federated model, as outlined below.

  • The federated model helps to better leverage subject matter expertise within a business unit. With bot development activity taking place within the BU, the federated model ensures better identification of automation opportunities, agile development, and reduced bot failures
  • The federated model leads to efficient resource usage. Centralization of support activities ensures: efficient use of resources, be they human, technology, reusable modules, licenses, etc.; standardization; and, clear guidance to individual business units
  • The federated model facilitates development and sharing of automation capabilities and best practices, which helps in the amassing of standardized IP and tacit knowledge important for rapid automation scaling

Federated model case study

A leading global hardware and technology firm’s GBS center adopted the federated CoE model, which houses the CoE hub, in 2017. In the three years since, it has grown to over 400 bots across more than 20 business units in a wide variety of locations, and saved more than $25 million from automation initiatives. The CoE hub has also successfully trained over 1,000 FTEs from technical and business backgrounds on bot development. As a result, firm-wide enthusiasm and involvement in the GBS center’s automation journey is high.

Transitioning to a federated CoE model has helped many GBS programs scale their automation initiatives rapidly. For more details, see our report, Scaling Up the Adoption of Automation Solutions – The Evolving Role of Global In-house Centers or reach out to Bharath M  or Param Dhar for more information on this topic.

The Evolving Role of Retail and CPG Shared Services Centers | Blog

Over the past few years, India has emerged as an attractive destination for both the expansion of existing shared services centers – or Global In-house Centers (GICs) – and new GIC setups by retail and CPG enterprises. This change is due largely to access to skilled talent, especially for digital services, and the relatively low operating costs. Today, India accounts for 20-25 percent of offshore retail and CPG GICs, of which roughly 50 percent were set up in the last five years.

While these GICs initially focused on the delivery of services such as IT, HR, F&A, and contact center, the need for digital integration to obtain faster results and innovation is driving retail and CPG GICs to help deliver core operations by leveraging next-generation technologies such as AI, advanced analytics, and automation.

In recent years, India-based retail and CPG shared services centers have started to deliver complex, judgment-intensive work such as sourcing and procurement, merchandising and inventory planning, sales and marketing, supply chain and logistics, and customer experience management; this work was earlier managed in-house by enterprises themselves.

In fact, best-in-class GICs have been aggressively pushing the envelope by building capabilities to deliver niche/complex processes for core operations. For instance, an American multinational CPG that set up its GIC in India in 2019 focuses only on the delivery of core services such as consumer science, packaging, and product development from the facility.

And that’s only one among many examples of enterprises leveraging shared services centers to deliver core functions. In the sales and marketing function, for example, India-based retail and CPG GICs are delivering some of the most niche/complex processes within the function. Here’s a look at these processes and the extent of GIC adoption for process delivery.

Processes managed by India based retail and CPG GICs

As you see, India-based centers are increasingly delivering processes like customer engagement and site merchandising, and there’s significant delivery potential for processes such as promotion management, marketing communication, and channel management.

Of course, the availability of skilled talent is key for the successful delivery of these core processes from India. Even when most companies globally face an acute talent shortage, best-in-class India-based GICs have been quick to scale up niche talent to deliver both core operations and digital services by hiring resources from adjacent industries. For instance, an American retailer’s shared services center has hired employees with TV, visual media, and digital content experience from the domestic advertising industry to support less-adopted processes such as promotion management and marketing communication. The GIC plans to establish structured upskilling programs to familiarize these new hires with global delivery operations.

Over the coming years, we expect this trend of GICs delivering core operations to continue and, in fact, increase significantly. Doing so will drive accelerated innovation, as the centers’ talent will have the advantage of deeper business context.

To learn more about the growing synergies between enterprises and GICs, please reach out to Bharath M or Ranjith Reddy.

A World Caught Unaware: Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery in the Wake of COVID-19 | Blog

This is the fourth in a series of blogs that explores a range of topics related to these issues and will naturally evolve as events unfold and facts reveal themselves. The blogs are in no way intended to provide scientific or health expertise, but rather focus on the implications and options for service delivery organizations.

These insights are based on our ongoing interactions with organizations operating in impacted areas, our expertise in global service delivery, and our previous experience with clients facing challenges from the SARS, MERS, and Zika viruses, as well as other unique risk situations.

A virus originating in China has brought life to a standstill around the globe – and that includes service providers and shared services centers or Global In-house Centers (GICs). From delays in procuring office supplies (most of them sourced from China) and rescheduling of important meetings/events to the threat the virus poses to human capital, the risks have pushed most firms to revisit their business plans and potentially prepare for another worldwide recession. The virus spread has also been a wakeup call for providers and shared services centers, testing their preparedness in terms of business continuity and disaster recovery. In fact, it has made some firms comprehend the need to balance their cost-competitive mindset with a risk-competitive one.

Some organizations are well prepared and offer examples for others to follow. In this blog, we take a look at some of these noteworthy business continuity and disaster recovery measures, based on our conversations with more than 20 GICs and service providers globally. Strategies that stand out in particular include:

  • Site-based strategies for senior leadership – A few firms have balanced their leadership positions across centers and geographies to ensure that all senior roles for critical processes are not based in a single location
  • Headcount thresholds – Some firms have thresholds on the maximum number of Full Time Equivalents (FTEs) in a particular location – both at a city level and country level
  • Dedicated resilience management groups – Some firms maintain a full-fledged business continuity team to manage crises and their responses
  • Robust work placement strategies – A number of firms ensure that critical activities are spread across locations

For example, a UK-headquartered bank (with GICs across multiple locations) has an intra-city, inter-city, and inter-country Business Continuity Planning (BCP) strategy. The bank follows a robust BCP operating procedure by: (A) assessing a service’s/process’ business impact /criticality if work were to stop due to reputational, financial, or customer-related reasons, among others); and, (B) identifying the work location based upon criticality – highly critical services/processes are typically distributed across two countries. To understand this better, the company invokes:

  • Intra-city BCP for extremely short-term events, such as shutdowns for three to four hours due to maintenance work at a site
  • Inter-city BCP for short-term or limited impact events affecting a city, for example, transport strikes
  • Inter-country BCP for critical events such as natural disasters. For instance, during the recent floods in Chennai, India, the bank moved critical processes such as risk and analytics to other GIC locations, such as Poland

Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity in Service Delivery Centers

In the aftermath of the coronavirus outbreak, we are likely to see significantly strengthened business continuity plans – those that take into account talent availability, work placement strategy, infrastructure availability, and newer metrics to manage performance. In particular, we encourage enterprises to explore answers to the following questions to develop robust business continuity plans:

  • Can the virtual model emerge as an effective alternative to physical locations? What does it mean from an infrastructure perspective?
  • How can automation solutions be deployed to manage down time?
  • What additional features need to be added to office communication tools and applications to enhance collaboration?
  • Is there a need to adopt new metrics to monitor resources working from home for an extended period of time? What should these metrics be? How will they co-exist with privacy laws?

Visit our COVID-19 resource center to access all our COVD-19 related insights.

Dark Horses Challenging Mexico City’s Status as Top Mexican Services Delivery Location | Blog

Mexico continues to be the destination of choice for global services delivery across Latin America. Indeed, our  research for our “Global Locations Annual Report 2019: Demand for Next-Gen Services Defining Locations Strategies” report found that 26 percent of LATAM’s new set-ups established during 2017 to 2019 were in Mexico, including those by Atento, Continental, Harman International, Hexaware Technologies, Neoris, Tech Mahindra, and Zensar.

IMG2

There are multiple reasons that Mexico is the top LATAM global services delivery destination. First, while voice and non-voice business process services continue to grow moderately, the country is the leader in digital due to an increase in support for services including analytics, cloud, mobility, big data, IoT, and artificial intelligence. Second, very few locations offer a better cost-talent proposition to North American enterprises than does Mexico. And third, the fact that it’s a nearshore location makes it highly attractive to North America-based companies.

So, what are the top delivery destinations in Mexico?

Mexico City has the largest share of the Mexican market and is the most mature location in terms of breadth and depth of IT and business process services delivered, including IT consulting, digital, accounting, tax, and actuarial services.

However, despite being the country’s capital city and biggest business hub, Mexico City lags behind most of its Mexican counterparts in quality of life aspects including crime rates, traffic congestion, and air pollution. And, it ranks second to last of 32 cities assessed across Mexico on “ease of doing business.” All of this, coupled with the fact that clients care most about the talent capabilities in the destination, is opening the door for several other Mexican cities to carve out greater portions of the Mexico services delivery pie.

Let’s take a quick look at these dark horses.

Guadalajara

Guadalajara, often referred to as the “Silicon Valley of Mexico,” continues to grow due to its availability of IT-related talent and delivery of key skills such as IT-ADM, cyber security, and IT consulting. Large pools of talent from adjoining areas have been migrating to the city. Today, Guadalajara is home to some of the top service providers, including HCL Technologies, IBM, and TCS.

Monterrey

Monterrey continues to grow in the finance and accounting space and is one of the country’s most mature locations after Mexico City. The city also delivers some of the more complex functions including tax and accounting. Given its proximity to the U.S. border, the English language proficiency and scalability potential of its global services workers is the highest in the country. The city also offers the best overall business environment, primarily due to better quality of life, infrastructure, and connectivity.

Queretaro

With its proximity to Mexico City, Queretaro has grown steadily as a delivery location across functions over the past several years. The city has had maximum percentage growth in graduates across Mexico since 2015, albeit on a smaller base. However, its development is still nascent, so it’s largely being leveraged as a smaller spoke to a larger hub within the region. From a cost standpoint, most global companies view it as a low-cost alternative, primarily driven by lower people- and non-people costs.

 

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To learn more about the dynamics shaping the global services locations landscape, please read our recently published report, “Global Locations Annual Report 2019: Demand for Next-Gen Services Defining Locations Strategies.” We developed the report based on deep-dive discussions with regional investment promotion bodies, leading shared services centers, service providers, recruitment agencies, and other market participants.

For more information on Mexico as a global services delivery location, please contact us at [email protected], [email protected], or [email protected].

Retailers’ Evolving Sourcing Strategy Industry | Blog

The National Retail Federation, industry analysts, and economists alike have debunked the idea that the retail industry is struggling, dying, or on the verge of an apocalypse. While some retailers and CPG manufacturers have sung their last swan song, many are dramatically transforming their businesses to effectively compete – and indeed, thrive – in the dynamically changing marketplace.

As part of this transformation, retail and CPG firms are evolving their sourcing strategy for: industry-specific processes including sourcing and procurement, merchandising and inventory management operations, sales and marketing, and customer experience; and horizontal processes like IT services, digital services, compliance and quality, and corporate functions such as F&A, contact center, and HR.

Global sourcing maturity across functions

Our recently released Industry Insights – Retail and CPG report looks at the changing shape and flavor of sourcing in the industry.

Here are the four key takeaways from the report.

Key takeaways

The in-house model is gaining ground

Historically, retail and CPG firms leveraged third-party service providers to deliver a broad range of services such as IT, F&A, and HR. However, in the past several years, many have invested in building what we call Global In-house Centers, or GICs. These in-house shared services centers (SSCs) give them more flexibility and control over the quality of work and reduce their costs. And they’re not only delivering standard back-office processes; they’re also building strong capabilities in areas such as store layout management, pricing optimization, custom application development, financial planning and analysis, customer sentiment analysis, predictive threat monitoring, and other digital services. For example, a US-based retail SSC in Bangalore, India, is developing a new order management system to scrape competitors’ websites for pricing data.

Service providers are moving up the value chain

Just like SSCs, third-party service providers in the retail and CPG stage are also upping their game. They’re not only delivering rules-based and transactional tasks, but also much more advanced services like cybersecurity, blockchain, ERP implementation and maintenance, and legal services.

Delivery destinations are similar to other industries

Retail and CPG firms choose their sourcing delivery destinations based on their competencies, just as enterprises in other industries do. They typically leverage locations in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), such as Poland, for marketing and analytics, and India for business process services – including those specific to the retail industry – IT and digital services. The Philippines and other APAC countries offer capabilities such as customer service (both voice and non-voice) and regional language delivery of accounting services, while LATAM primarily supports the U.S. market.

As is the case with most industries, India has emerged as the most popular offshore location for retail companies’ SSC setups, delivering both business process services and IT/digital services (product analytics, application design and development, R&D, etc.) to North America and Europe. In fact, a U.S.-based retailer’s GIC in Bangalore, India, provides it a full suite of solutions including technology, marketing, HR, finance, merchandizing, supply chain, property development, and analytics and reporting services.

GICs and providers are building deep domain and digital skills

To help make sure their digital strategies are up-to-date, CPG and retail firms are opening dedicated R&D and innovation labs in offshore locations with the help of third-party providers and GICs to support them in automation, analytics, cloud, and social media services. And with the spread of e-commerce and mounting competition, some retailers have started employing engineering talent in India to build pricing systems that determine how demand would respond to a change in price.

As part of the broader digital agenda, some centers have also started exploring the use of AI for certain activities within operations and sales/marketing, such as store layout and pricing optimization, as well as RPA solutions for automating rule-based processes. For instance, Tech Mahindra signed a contract with a Nordic retailer for end-to-end managed services, wherein it will automate and consolidate the retailer’s existing IT infrastructure and enhance the end-customer experience through digital solutions.

Going forward, we expect both service providers and GICs in the retail space to evolve their capabilities with an increased focus on the use of digital technologies such as analytics, automation, blockchain, augmented and virtual reality, and IoT. These advanced capabilities will help retailers stake their claim in the highly competitive marketplace.

To learn more about sourcing in the retail and CPG space, please read our recently published Industry Insights – Retail and CPG report, or connect directly with the authors Bharath M and Sana Jamal.

 

Is Your Shared Services Center Driving Automation Across Your Enterprise? | Blog

Over the past few years, automation has become an integral part of Shared Services Centers’ (SSCs) growth and evolution. Whether large or small, whether onshore, nearshore, or offshore, SSCs – what we refer to as Global In-house Centers (GICs) – have made strong progress in adopting automation solutions.

Some have only dipped their toe into basic RPA. Others have moved ahead with more advanced automation technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence. And a handful have started emerging as key strategic and revenue-generating entities for their parent companies. These GICs have built scaled delivery teams with strong domain knowledge around the implementation of automation solutions. There are multiple instances of GICs housing the global automation Center of Excellence (CoE) and driving initiatives across the enterprise. Aggressive adopters have moved beyond automating processes within the center and are now supporting process automation across locations and businesses. And they’re increasingly leading the design and execution of automation strategy, and are influencing decisions on go/no-go opportunities.

Everest Group’s recently published report Scaling Up the Adoption of Automation Solutions – The Evolving Role of Global In-house Centers discusses the key adoption trends and challenges in the GIC and automation space.

Let’s take a quick look at the four key trends.

4 trends GIC

Solutions and support

Some mature GICs have developed multiple offerings to support different businesses. Typical offerings include advisory support, platform or infrastructure support, and end-to-end implementation support. For instance, the India GIC of a leading European insurance firm provides bot infrastructure support to the company’s Singapore entity. With this set-up, the Singapore-based team didn’t have to invest in its own infrastructure to gain full access to the bots’ capabilities.

The talent ecosystem

From developing in-house automation talent to managing vendor resources, SSCs are making major strides in the talent management space. As part of their talent management strategy, many best-in-class GICs are investing heavily in building in-house talent, especially for AI-based solutions. This includes developers, data scientists, and project managers. These GICs are also investing significantly in upskilling/reskilling programs for their resources, and are strongly emphasizing education and awareness of automation’s capabilities and benefits. Some GICs are also training their business/operations resources on automation skills; this helps them scale-up faster.

CoE roles, governance mechanisms, and structures

Many GICs are upgrading their CoE model, roles, and responsibilities as they progress along their automation journey. Many successful centers are moving towards the federated hub and spoke CoE model, wherein the GIC houses the CoE hub and the functions have their own automation team (spokes.) The federated model enables rapid scalability and better opportunity identification than centralized CoEs. But, with either model, there are some pitfalls to avoid. Our blog titled Four Reasons Enterprises Aren’t Getting Full Value from Their Automation CoEs details what they are.

In-house automation platforms

Building on their understanding of automation capabilities, some mature GICs have started exploring the use of custom-built in-house platforms to run automations. While in most cases these are for attended RPA bots, some best-in-class SSCs have developed platforms using advanced technologies such as interactive virtual assistants (IVA) and machine learning. There are even a few examples of GICs adopting a 100 percent in-house development model, meaning no third-party vendor support. While we expect GICs to continue exploring in-house automation tools, we don’t expect that these will replace the use of third-party vendor products in the near future.

What GICs have accomplished over the past few years in scaling up the adoption of automation solutions across businesses and locations is just the tip of the iceberg. Going forward, they are likely to build on this foundation and penetrate deeper into the enterprise with ever more complex automations.

To learn more, please read our report — Scaling Up the Adoption of Automation Solutions – The Evolving Role of Global In-house Centers – or contact us directly at Bharath M or Param Dhar.

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