Author: BharathM

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.

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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.

 

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.

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.

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.

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.

Why Pharma Companies View their Indian Shared Services Centers as Growth Partners |Blog

India is clearly becoming the “it” destination for pharmaceutical companies’ shared services centers (SSC) – or Global In-House Center (GIC) – organizations. Why do we say this? Because global pharmas with headquarters in the U.S. and Europe employ more than 11,000 FTEs employees in their India-based shared services centers to deliver not only table stakes transactional finance and HR services but also highly complex processes across all stages of drug development, including drug R&D and clinical trials.

What’s India’s appeal? There are four factors.

Established/Mature Location for Global Pharma Services Delivery

India is a time-tested, proven GIC destination for a wide range of industries. Many of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies started delivering their global services support operations from India back in early 1990s. Now, pharma majors like AstraZeneca, Eli Lilly, and Novartis are delivering complex, judgment-intensive services such as product R&D, biostatistics, and clinical trials site management from their India GICs. Hyderabad, Chennai, and Bangalore are the preferred locations, housing more than 80 percent of the pharmaceutical GIC talent.

Skilled Talent Pool

Talent availability, at scale, is one of India’s strongest value propositions. In recent years, many pharma companies have been able to successfully scale their delivery teams supporting diverse functions such as R&D, commercials, IT, and finance. For example, a leading pharma GIC houses 2,000+ resources providing IT services for various pharma functions. And multiple other pharma SSCs have scaled teams (400+ resources) that support R&D services, and dedicated resource groups comprised of doctors, PhDs, and biostatisticians, for complex drug R&D processes like development of computational solutions for analyzing clinical trials.

Opportunities for Cross-functional Collaboration

India’s availability of diverse talent profiles at scale allows India-based pharma SSCs to support multiple functions. And because many of them house IT resources with R&D and commercial business teams, they have multiple opportunities to collaborate on and insource IT work for drug R&D (e.g., to build IT platforms for drug development and IT services for lab support), and commercial operations (e.g., IT services for finance.) The value of this collaboration? Tighter integration of functions, better understanding of business requirements, and faster execution.

Mature Market for Digital Services Delivery

Leading India-based pharma GICs are working on digital initiatives including analytics and automation, and some are serving as global automation CoEs for their parent enterprises. Many are developing analytical tools for marketing & sales operations, competitive intelligence, and incentive planning. They are also investing heavily in automating less complex and high-volume transactional processes such as expense management, purchase order creation, offer letter generation, résumé screening, and management reporting, and deploying RPA bots to read files, extract data, and report adverse events. As part of the broader digital agenda, some centers have also started exploring the uses of artificial intelligence/machine learning to recruit patients and select sites for clinical trials, and for channel sequencing and optimization in their enterprise’s sales & marketing function.

Going forward, pharma companies not only expect their India SSCs to grow in scale and expand the scope of their process delivery, but also play a significant role in their digital transformation journeys by leading initiatives across all stages of the product R&D lifecycle. To satisfy these expectations, the GICs need to build deep domain capabilities and acquire or train talent to deliver increasingly complex, higher up the value chain services and next-generation digital initiatives.

To learn more about why pharma companies consider India their preferred service delivery destination, please read our recently published report, “Healthcare and Life Sciences – GICs in India Fast-tracking Enterprises’ Digital Agenda,” or connect directly with the report authors Anish Agarwal, Bharath M, and Rajeshwaran Pagalam.

Four Reasons Enterprises Aren’t Getting Full Value from their Automation CoEs | Blog

As we mentioned in our Enterprise RPA Pinnacle report, there are multiple benefits of having an automation CoE:

  • Facilitates best practices and skill development, which eventually help in faster scaling-up
  • Provides structure and governance to the automation program, e.g., clarifies roles and responsibilities of various teams involved
  • Enables optimization of software and license costs
  • Fosters sharing and pooling of resources
  • Develops strong cross-functional collaboration among stakeholders.

While many enterprises have established CoEs to overcome challenges and accelerate their automation journeys, not all have been able to extract value from them. Here are some common pitfalls that limit the true potential of an automation CoE.

4 reasons not getting full value automation coe

No Enterprise-level Mandate to Drive all Automation Initiatives through the CoE

Automation CoEs work when there is a clear mandate from enterprise leadership. This directive helps ensure that the operating procedures and governance mechanisms are standard across the enterprise. Lack of it could result in the enterprise driving automation initiatives in pockets, leading to potential cost increases, lower license utilization, lower reusability of automation assets, and increased governance challenges.

Lack of Relevant Capabilities within the CoE

In its true sense, a CoE represents an entity with the capability to drive automation initiatives across the enterprise independently, with minimum oversight from outside. In many enterprises, however, automation CoEs lack the relevant skill sets – such as developers, project managers, solution architects, and infrastructure support staff – that are critical to driving these initiatives. Successful CoEs typically have three focus areas: day-to-day delivery, operational/tactical decision making, and strategic decision making/providing direction. Each layer, or focus area, has a unique set of roles and responsibilities that are critical to a smooth functioning CoE. Successful CoEs have an intentional focus on developing and nurturing in-house talent to strengthen the capabilities across the three layers. Many CoEs also bring in third-party specialists to accelerate learning. Our blog titled Driving Success in Your Automation Center of Excellence provides more details.

Loosely Defined CoE Roles and Responsibilities

The role of an automation CoE goes beyond just deploying bots into production. CoEs in best-in-class adopters of automation have evolved from executing solutions to empowering businesses across locations to drive initiatives on their own. For instance, the automation CoE in a financial services firm has established standard operating procedures (SOPs) for driving automation initiatives which include a well-defined approach for process selection, evaluation of ROI, talent impact, access to a library of reusable assets, etc. The CoE has created a platform through which business leaders can access these SOPs to evaluate opportunities on their own, and provides necessary governance and execution support, including talent and infrastructure.

As highlighted in Everest Group’s Smart RPA Playbook, the typical roles and responsibilities of automation CoEs include:

  • Providing training and education to develop talent
  • Approving all automation procedures before they are put into production
  • Assessing suitability of Smart RPA versus other Smart IT tools for use cases
  • Ensuring quality and compliance through well-defined standards, procedures, and guidelines owned and developed by the CoE
  • Driving the roll-out and implementation of Smart RPA projects, and ensuring coordinated communication with relevant stakeholders
  • Defining the roles, responsibilities, and skills sets required for driving automation across the enterprise, and regularly reviewing and optimizing them
  • Tracking success/outcomes in collaboration with operational teams so they can build, review, and refine the business case for scaling up.

Disconnect between Automation Strategy and Broader Digital Transformation Objectives

Outcomes achieved through automation initiatives are best realized when these investments are in line with the enterprise’s broader digital transformation objectives. Factors such as investments in other digital technologies (e.g., ERP transformation), changes in leverage of Global In-house Centers (GICs) or shared service centers, changes in vendor roles, etc., can have an impact on automation strategy. Automation CoEs need to closely align with enterprise strategy to realize maximum value.

Pinnacle EnterprisesTM – which we define as companies that are achieving superior business outcomes because of their advanced capabilities – have mastered each of these four requirements for successful automation CoEs. To learn more about how they’re maximizing value from their automation CoEs, please see our Enterprise RPA Pinnacle report.

Feel free to share your opinions and stories on how your automation CoE is evolving in its journey directly with me at [email protected].

Tomorrow’s Talent is Today’s Challenge! | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

Advances in new digital technologies, the emergence of new competitors, new sourcing models, and changing customer expectations are dramatically changing the type of IT skills enterprises across industry verticals require. And, with new service delivery paradigms such as automation, agile, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) becoming mainstream, the underlying service delivery models to support the new talent demand profile are also undergoing significant changes. We expect technology themes such as data management and analytics, omnichannel customer experience, and cloud adoption to dominate near-term demand, and cybersecurity, Service Oriented Architecture (SOA)-based application design, and agile delivery methodologies to become mainstream.

So, what does this mean from a talent perspective? Below are four takeaways from Everest Group’s recent research, much of which is detailed in a newly-released viewpoint titled Closing the Gap – The Future of IT Skills in the United States.

1. New Role Creation

To support their business initiatives in the changing technological landscape, enterprises will have to create new roles. Examples of these include:

  • Chief Digital Officers (CDOs) and digital strategists to drive the adoption of design methodologies
  • Chief Innovation Officers (CIOs) to source and evaluate disruptive ideas from innovation in technology and business models
  • Anthropologists and psychologists to help foster human-centered design thinking
  • Data architects and data scientists to build a holistic data strategy and generate insights to offer tailored experiences
  • Agile coaches and scrum masters to deliver using the agile methodology at scale
  • Enterprise security engineers to design and evaluate security measures across all phases of SDLC
  • Automation architects and Machine Learning (ML) experts to develop automated scripts.

2. New Architecture

The technology revolution is leading to an integrated “thin slice” architecture that is enabled to deliver end-to-end experience transformation. This full-stack structure is a sharp deviation from the legacy silo-based architecture that has fundamentally different attributes for delivery of technology services in enterprises. From a talent perspective, traditional siloed factory models are evolving into smaller teams/pods with capabilities cutting across areas such as application development, infrastructure support, and security. Demand for full-stack engineers will increase significantly as the demand for this future integrated stack becomes more prominent across enterprises. Enterprises will need to invest in upskilling and cross-skilling their existing talent at scale and speed to be able to pivot to this new model.

 

IT Skills blog - architecture

3. Demand Shift for Tech Skills

Emerging technology themes will increase demand for some tech skills, and reduce demand for others. For instance, we expect demand for emerging skills such as Go and R programming to increase considerably, as enterprises explore the adoption of big data and AI solutions. On the other hand, we expect demand for skills specific to middleware tools, such as TIBCO, to remain low-medium, driven by increased adoption of offshoring and automation. Enterprises must have a good understanding of hard-to-hire skills in order to effectively chart out their talent roadmap. Key decisions such as local hiring versus offshoring will also revolve around expected demand and supply for skills.

4. Non-Technology Industry Verticals Demand Increasing

Demand for tech talent from non-technology industry verticals is increasing. From banks to retail firms to healthcare providers, technology-led solutions such as robust mobile applications and chatbots are being leveraged to enhance the customer experience. With enterprises focusing on building in-house capabilities, competition for tech talent has increased significantly in the past two to three years. Everest Group’s recent analysis indicates a higher demand from non-technology industry verticals for emerging skills such as configuration management tools (e.g., Ansible, Chef), JavaScript libraries (ReactJS, AngularJS), datacenter solutions (e.g., skills in handling VMWare, AWS, Azure), and automation tools, as compared to demand for basic skills like programming languages such as C and SQL.

IT Skills blog - skill demand

To learn more about the emerging technology themes, their impact on talent requirements, the skills we expect to gain importance in the future, and their supply outlook, please read our viewpoint on skills of the future in the U.S.  And feel free to share your opinions and stories on how you are managing tech-talent directly with us at [email protected] or [email protected].

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