Author: ParulJain

Work from Home: 3 Underrated Impacts We Should be Talking About | Blog

When COVID-19 pushed millions around the world to work from home, little focus was given at the time of urgency to the longer-term impacts if the practice continued post-pandemic. Work from Home (WFH) is here to stay, but what effect is it truly having on the environment, society and families, and individuals? To learn more about the less obvious repercussions of this new work model, read on.

COVID-19 impetus   

COVID-19 accelerated a workplace experiment that had struggled to gain traction before the pandemic. As we emerge from the immediate crisis, global companies are increasingly clarifying their stance on the future of WFH.

Some are more bullish about sustaining a scaled WFH model than others. Many organizations are contemplating hybrid delivery models for the long term. Google CEO Sundar Pichai agrees on the importance of incorporating remote working. But other sectors such as the financial industry have a different take, with Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon calling WFH “an aberration.”

While some organizations flourished during WFH with reported cost savings and productivity increases, others had issues below the surface as we previously reported in our blog post on Future of Work From Home in GBS Organizations – Separating Hype from Reality.

Impacts to pay attention to

The indelible impact of WFH on the environment, society and families, and individuals cannot be downplayed as it affects not only the current workforce but also future generations. Let’s take a look at how these three critical areas have been altered – both positively and negatively.

  • The environment

Transportation, especially business travel and commuting, plays an oversized role when we talk about the environmental impact of remote working models. The lack of commuting reduces fossil fuel usage, leading to reductions in greenhouse emissions, air pollution, and the Scope 3 carbon footprint. Another positive for the environment is the significant reduction of paper and plastic usage in offices.

On the other hand, as we previously reported, virtual meetings require large amounts of data that need greater power. This puts huge energy demands on data centers that power the internet and could partially offset the positives.

Other aspects are a mixed bag of positive and negative impacts. Before the pandemic, the lighting, cooling, or heating generally ran at all times in an office building. Individuals working at home will likely use less energy as they tend to be responsible about energy usage as the onus of power bills is on them.

However, one can argue that the power used by individual homes could be collectively higher than offices using well-designed zonal heating and cooling. Another impact to consider is that the WFH model could duplicate enabling equipment (such as external monitors, keyboards, and printers, etc.), which could offset the positives to some extent.

  • Society and families

 WFH has opened up employment opportunities for those who have challenges working in traditional environments, directly improving diversity and inclusivity in organizations and potentially reducing social inequalities in the long term.

Remote working, for example, has enabled organizations that have not yet made their workplaces accessible for people with disabilities to hire these individuals. It also has allowed companies to improve inclusivity by providing opportunities for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds for whom office location and delivery models have been obstacles.

Further, WFH can help organizations retain workers who have young children they are caring for at home, as household responsibilities are more redistributed today and both partners play a greater role in upbringing children. The flexibility of work from home also can benefit employees in single-parent households in juggling competing priorities of work and child care.

WFH has also allowed employees living in expensive tier-1 cities to move to lower-cost areas and return to their hometowns, providing the benefits of more time with family and social circles along with cost savings. With the pandemic impacting older adults more severely, work from home has allowed adult children to provide much needed support.

On the other hand, remote working has led many people, particularly the marginalized, to feel excluded and left out. A majority of women have reported a negative impact of WFH due to increased household responsibilities and disruption of work-life balance attributed to traditional gender roles.

The social aspects of interacting at work with many different individuals also have been diminished, limiting the development of employee’s social skills and organizational culture. The virtual environment has made it more difficult for people from under-represented groups to be visible and have their voices heard.

Online networking in discussion groups and forums has been a positive social outlet but tends to favor employees with digital skills and an existing large network base.

Another challenge is the increasing numbers of individuals hired during the pandemic who have never met their colleagues in person. While companies are taking new initiatives to solidify peer connections and foster team collaboration with remote workforces, this is a difficult road that will need concerted, ongoing efforts.

  • Individuals

Of all the aspects addressed so far, the impact on an individual is, by far, the most understated. While employees found the WFH model flexible and enjoyable during its early days, most of them have now reported fatigue and tiredness with the model.

Employees feel a negative impact of remote working on their physical well-being, including weight gain and musculoskeletal problems. Those who walked or biked to their jobs or during breaks are no longer getting this exercise. Lockdowns also restricted other physical activities they may have done outside work. Using non-ergonomic furniture like sofas and beds to work also has had negative health consequences.

WFH has had a profound impact on the mental well-being of employees who have difficulties separating work-home boundaries and managing their workloads with irregular long hours. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has commented that online meetings can make employees tired as well as make the transition from work to private life hard, saying, “Work from home feels like sleeping at work.”

Employees are increasingly complaining of sluggish cognitive performance, commonly dubbed as “pandemic brain,” which arises from long periods in isolation. Increasingly, more employees are facing changes in sleep patterns, difficulty in stopping working, increased distractions, and greater work anxiety.

The negative impact of WFH varies across groups but seems to have disproportionately affected the disadvantaged, although a certain amount of this could be attributed to the pandemic and lockdown isolation.

The ability of each individual to cope with the changes has largely depended on the degree of their social and peer connections and support from their organizations. Employees of proactive organizations who have actively supported their mental health have adapted well to their new WFH environment, with improved performance and productivity.

Future of work  

While WFH has been a big success out of necessity, organizations need to adopt a pragmatic approach as they strategically re-think the future of work. WFH is not going away. We expect companies to use different variations and combinations to create their own version of a WFA – Work from Anywhere model.

By going beyond a mere tactical approach and getting their hybrid model right, organizations will realize the benefits that WFH can bring of higher productivity, optimized costs, a loyal and diversified workforce, and a stronger cultural fabric.

How are you dealing with these softer, yet unignorable, impacts of WFH? Reach out to [email protected], [email protected] or [email protected] to share perspectives.

Africa: On the Frontier of IT-BP Services Delivery | Blog

In the last few years, for a number of reasons, there’s been a major uptick in global services delivery from Africa. The most significant driver of growth is Africa’s emergence as the next frontier for small-scale delivery centers. Another is strong government support that enables global services delivery. But there are a variety of other key forces that are making Africa a destination of choice for companies of all sizes, including some of the world’s biggest brands, such as Accenture, Daimler, Google, Microsoft, Standard Chartered, and Teleperformance.

There is less competition for talent in most locations in Africa compared to key offshore/nearshore talent hubs across leading geographies. Expansion into African cities helps organizations diversify their delivery location risk, as most locations have the ability to serve as Business Continuity Planning (BCP) locations to nearshore/offshore centers. Moving services to Africa also helps organizations differentiate themselves by capitalizing on early-mover advantage.

Other factors, such as an attractive talent-cost proposition, strong domestic demand across East and West African countries, and improving infrastructure capabilities (including rapid adoption of Work From Home (WFH) / remote working models), have improved the business case for new center set ups. For example, there’s been an increase in services maturity for delivery of key services across the region, including voice- and non-voice-based BPS services, IT services, and engineering/R&D delivery. And while most locations have low operating costs, ongoing currency depreciation and lower attrition costs across leading countries like Egypt and South Africa have helped bolster overall growth.

Trade-offs and risks

As market players prepare consider options for service delivery from Africa, they need to be cognizant of the key tradeoffs and associated risks for operating in the region, including:

  • At present, Africa is best suited to deliver transactional services. Companies seeking to support more specialized operations or judgement-intensive processes may find it difficult to operate, or they may find that they need to make substantial investments in the talent market
  • There’s a limited pool of experienced talent. Companies will need to invest in growing and developing talent locally, by training recent graduates and building a recruitment engine from the ground-up, among other options
  • The region poses potential challenges with delivery enablers (including utilities, transportation, meals/catering, and stationery providers), low quality office infrastructure, and comparatively poor connectivity to domestic/international locations
  • The business environment in East and West African countries is less favorable than nearshore Europe locations, including infrastructure quality, digital readiness, and safety and security
  • Given low talent availability, language support beyond English is limited and commands high premiums
  • The presence of key players supporting global services is limited in most African countries; the entry of a few large companies could easily congest the market and quickly increase costs

Most leveraged African countries for IT-BP delivery

Exhibit 2

Here’s a quick look at the top four global services delivery locations in Africa, by market size – largest to smallest.

#1 Egypt

Companies leverage Egypt as a hub location for multi-lingual delivery to the EMEA region, as well as delivery to the US, UK, and Australia markets. It offers an attractive cost and talent proposition to support to a wide range of functions – including voice- and non-voice business processes, IT application development and maintenance, and digital services – and high availability of talent to support English and some European languages. While it offers a favorable business environment, it has some geopolitical stability challenges.

#2 Morocco

Companies largely leverage Morocco as a spoke location for multi-lingual contact center and IT services delivery. It provides extensive support to the North Africa markets. While organizations extensively leverage Morocco to support IT services delivery, it also increasingly supports business process delivery as well, including sales, client support, HR, and F&A. French and Spanish language services continue to be in high demand, and are the most widely used for services delivery. The country offers a favorable business environment but has some geopolitical stability challenges.

#3 South Africa

Organizations continue to leverage South Africa as a global hub to support the UK, US, and Australia markets, and – in many cases – South Africa serves as a regional hub for Africa and Middle East countries. It offers an attractive talent proposition to support both transactional and judgement-intensive processes, including customer analytics, actuarial modelling, fund administration, HR, and procurement. IT services delivery has gained traction over the years, and the country boats a large talent pool to support English and multiple European languages. It has a favorable business and operating environment with no significant challenges.

#4 Mauritius

Organizations primarily use Mauritius as a spoke location to support French language delivery and a suite of services including IT services (application development, maintenance, infrastructure services), voice and non-voice transactional business processes (e.g., F&A, HR, and procurement), and analytics. French language talent availability continues to drive overall demand. The country is highly favorable from a business and operating environment standpoint and has no significant challenges.

While the global services market in Africa is relatively less mature than leading offshore geographies such as India and the Philippines, there is significant potential to tap into the domestic market across the top locations. Industry verticals including BFSI, telecommunications, and IT services continue to drive overall domestic demand. Further, with the strong government support, offshore advantage, growing talent pools, and infrastructure capabilities, several African countries offer a multi-pronged value proposition to enterprises seeking an IT-BP services delivery destination.

To learn more about the dynamics in the region, please read our recently published report Africa: Emerging IT-BP Delivery Force, which highlights the relative attractiveness and talent-cost proposition of key African locations to support global services delivery, based on our holistic and multi-faceted assessment across 10 key parameters parameters.

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

Leveraging Tier-2 and -3 Locations to Strengthen Business Continuity Planning | Blog

It’s time for a fundamental rethink in the way companies approach their Business Continuity Planning (BCP), in general, and their locations strategy in particular. More than 70 percent of enterprises leverage only a single – usually tier-1 – location in one country for global business services delivery, according to our analysis. And even for companies that leverage tier-2/3 locations, deployment is the highest at their tier-1 location. This deployment model not only limits the full value they can achieve from location diversification, but also significantly increases their BCP risk. Let’s take a deeper look at this.

As our recent blog on unlocking value from tier-2/3 locations pointed out, with tier-1 locations fast maturing and saturating, enterprises may soon have to factor in tier-2/3 locations to minimize risk, capitalize on the cities’ advantages, and ensure business continuity. Leading co-working players are also expecting a rise in real estate demand in tier-2/3 cities, and planning to expand to these locations.

In India, in particular, a leading global services delivery location, companies that deliver Global Business Services (GBS) and have leveraged tier-2/3 locations as part of their location strategies (such as IBM and Tata Consultancy Services) have benefited significantly from a BCP standpoint by successfully diversifying their:

  • Concentration risk: Multi-city location strategies, coupled with workload flexibility across delivery centers, have helped minimize prolonged disruption during the pandemic.
  • Delivery locations risk: Tier-2/3 cities help diversify the location risk and also face lower macro-economic and political risk than tier-1 locations, which adds to their viability.
  • Functional risk: Many firms, such as Capgemini, leverage tier-2/3 locations as spoke or support centers in a hub-and-spoke delivery model network. In fact, they don’t shy away from distributing highly critical services and processes across tier-1 and -2/3 locations to reduce the functional risk.

And it’s not just the risk diversification advantage – our client interactions have revealed that leveraging tier-2/3 locations across India can help facilitate business continuity during the pandemic in the following ways:

  • The spread and impact of the virus is concentrated in major tier-1 locations, which account for ~40 percent of the total cases in India. In contrast, most tier-2/3 locations are largely unaffected, and only about 15 percent of them are classified as red zones, or areas with high active cases of COVID-19 and a high doubling rate. Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi in Kerala, Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh, Bhubaneshwar in Odisha, and Trichy and Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu are some of the tier-2/3 locations designated as orange/green zones. Thus, restrictions are likely to be relaxed or lifted earlier in those areas, with a faster return to business as usual.
  • The resilience and back-to-work rate for tier-2/3 locations are higher, as they’re easier to traverse, and employees typically live near offices, unlike in most tier-1 cities, where employees typically rely on public transport to go to work
  • Most firms that operate in tier-1 locations have a considerably large pool of migrant employees who have returned to their native towns/cities in the light of the lockdown and might not be willing to return to work immediately, given the risks.

At the same time, to unlock the full scale of BCP benefits from tier-2/3 cities, firms need to ensure certain baseline factors to facilitate business delivery:

  1. They need to make sure they have ready, skilled, and trained staff for all critical processes in secondary locations, as it’s difficult to transfer employees from one city to another in the event of an emergency.
  2. They need to establish leadership representation in these locations to better govern and manage the increasing workload.
  3. They need a seamless communication system to facilitate data accessibility and transfer.
  4. They should simplify and redesign their processes to reduce handoffs, decision points of contact, and people dependence.

 

We’d love to hear about your BCP experience with tier-2/3 locations and thoughts on the viability of these locations in the coming years. You can also read our blog on “The Coming of Age of India’s Tier-2 and -3 Service Delivery Locations” to understand the key drivers and challenges inherent to tier-2/3 locations to develop your own locations strategy. Please share your inputs with us at [email protected], [email protected], or [email protected].

The Coming of Age of India’s Tier-2 and -3 Service Delivery Locations | Blog

India is widely regarded as a preferred service delivery location for global companies, given its attractive low-cost proposition, skills availability and scalability, and mature global services ecosystem. Until recently, the country’s tier-1 locations shouldered the weight of the services delivery agenda. However, with increasing maturity and saturation, enterprises and service providers are expanding their footprints across tier-2 and -3 locations throughout the country to take advantage of lower competition, cost savings, and better living standards, as well as to diversify location risk.

Read on to learn about the tier-2/3 global services delivery market in India and their accompanying advantages and underlying trade-offs, as well as what it takes to successfully operationalize a tier-2/3 delivery center in the country.

Understanding tier-2/3 locations’ value propositions

Tier-2/3 locations currently account for 18-20% of the global services workforce in India. Unlike most European countries, where a small clutch of cities offer services delivery, India offers a plethora of tier-2/3 location options, including: Ahmedabad, Gujarat; Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu; Jaipur, Rajasthan; Kolkata, West Bengal; Kochi, Kerala; Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh; Chandigarh and Thane, Maharashtra; Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh; Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala; and, Indore.

Delivery of global IT services is more mature than is global business process services (BPS) in most tier-2/3 locations, but the share of global voice and non-voice-based BPS is on the rise. Service providers occupy a larger market share than enterprises’ Global Business Services (GBS) organizations in most tier-2/3 locations, facilitating transactional work, servicing incumbent clients and fixed-price projects, and, at times, supporting complex workstreams.

Multiple factors enhance the tier-2/3 locations’ value propositions:

  • Lower compensation and facility costs translate into considerable cost savings of 10-20% versus a typical tier-1 location
  • Relatively low competition allows the scope to differentiate, create a better brand image, and attain leadership in talent markets, and provides access to a largely untapped talent pool with relevant skills
  • Tier-2/3 locations also experience 10-15% lower attrition than tier-1 cities, resulting in better service delivery and lower hiring and training costs
  • In contrast to most tier-1 locations, which are experiencing increasing traffic congestion, worsening quality of life, and health-related issues, tier-2/3 locations offer a better standard of living at a lower cost, making relocation an attractive proposition
  • Various state governments have started offering incentives such as single window clearances, ease of land allocation, stamp duty exemptions, Floor Area Ratio (FAR) relaxation, and capex/interest subsidies to further increase the attractiveness and viability of tier-2/3 locations

All these advantages have driven companies already to open centers in tier-2/3 cities or at least to begin to explore the viability and value. For instance, a leading telecommunications services firm employs over 40% of its Indian workforce at its tier-2 delivery center; a leading professional services firm is looking to scale its overall GBS headcount at existing tier-2 locations; and, a leading e-commerce firm is evaluating multiple tier-2/3 cities to support customer services delivery. Many service providers are also showing keen interest in expanding their tier-2/3 footprints to support both transactional and complex workstreams.

But, of course, tier-2/3 cities aren’t panaceas, and both enterprises and service providers must be fully cognizant of the realities of establishing a center in one of them and address challenges quickly to unlock their maximum potential.

Key challenges in supporting service delivery from tier-2/3 locations

Scalability, especially beyond 1,000 FTEs, can be a challenge in some tier-2/3 locations (such as Chandigarh, Visakhapatnam, and Coimbatore) with limited peer presence and better opportunities in nearby tier-1 locations. Given the relatively low market maturity and paucity of adequately skilled talent, companies would have to invest in training recent graduates and/or building a recruitment engine from the ground-up. Additionally, the entry of a few large companies can easily congest the market and increase costs quickly.

Challenges with infrastructure and delivery enablers like utilities, transport, meal/catering, and stationery providers, as well as inferior connectivity to domestic/international locations, also pose hindrances. Thus, it might be difficult to relocate experienced talent at the managerial and leadership levels. Further, most tier-2/3 locations primarily deliver transactional services, and companies that want to support more specialized operations would have to make substantial investments in the talent market.

At the same time, we believe that a sound understanding of the location and its advantages and challenges, coupled with a nuanced strategy, can help companies establish successful delivery centers in tier-2/3 locations and integrate them into their portfolios.

How to successfully operationalize a tier-2/3 location delivery center

To extract maximum value from their tier-2/3 centers, we believe that companies should undertake the following steps:

  • Capitalize on the early-mover advantage to access benefits beyond cost savings, such as footprint diversification, lower attrition and competitive intensity, and wider access to talent
  • Create a distinctive employee value proposition, such as defined career paths, exposure to leading technologies, and financial benefits, to ensure better positioning
  • Invest in talent development and revamp the existing operating model to support complex workstreams. A case in point is a leading BFSI firm, which is betting big on its tier-2 delivery center in Thiruvananthapuram to move up the automation and analytics value chain and support new processes
  • Play a talent shaper role by working with the local academic and government bodies to influence educational curricula, training infrastructure, and programs, and reskill/upskill talent or seed talent from other centers. A leading service provider, for instance, has opened one of the largest corporate education centers globally in Mysore, Karnataka, helping it attain leadership in the regional talent market
  • Enhance the relocation proposition for existing talent by providing adequate monetary and non-monetary incentives, especially those that alleviate some of the problems associated with tier-1 locations, such as congestion, pollution, safety, and security

Are you currently leveraging or considering tier-2/3 locations for your service delivery efforts? We’d love to hear your thoughts on including tier-2/3 locations in your portfolio, and/or your views on how the tier-2/3 delivery landscape will evolve in the coming years. Connect with us at [email protected], [email protected], or [email protected].

And keep your eyes peeled for an upcoming blog on how tier-2 and -3 delivery locations can support organizations’ business continuity planning efforts.

Strengthening Your Global Services Delivery Location Strategy for Unprecedented Times | Blog

The global services market experienced lower revenue growth in 2018-19 than in the previous year due to the global macroeconomic slowdown, the tightening legal/regulatory landscape (GDPR and Brexit, for example), and volatility in currency fluctuations. The COVID-19 outbreak has further aggravated the slowdown, pushing the global economy into recession and slowing enterprises’ decision-making.

Given the current situation, organizations must rethink their global services delivery location strategies to help ensure long-term success.

Our just published report, Global Locations State of the Market 2020: Moving Forward in Turbulent Times analyzes the ways the global services market has evolved in key geographies/locations, and how sourcing models/functional delivery has shaped up. Here we are sharing a few of the emerging location trends in the global services industry that may help companies strategize their location portfolios/delivery model.

Location portfolios evolving to nearshore and onshore – Nearshore Europe has experienced growth due to the proximity of customers to Western Europe, demand for multi-lingual support, and availability of high-skill talent. Ireland, Poland, and Scotland are the top delivery locations in nearshore Europe, followed by Ukraine, the Czech Republic, and Romania. There has also been an increase in onshore delivery presence due to stricter data security regulations, the US government’s conservative approach to offshoring, increasing work complexity, and greater pressure from buyers to grow their onshore presence for ease of coordination.

In-house sourcing models gaining prominence – GBS organizations are surpassing service providers in new center setup activity due to increased insourcing. Enterprises are extensively leveraging the GBS model to accelerate their digital transformation initiatives, provide a better customer experience, build niche capabilities, and drive operational excellence. In fact, almost two-thirds of the companies that established GBS centers in 2019 were new entrants with no existing offshore/nearshore GBS center. And most new GBS organizations were set up in APAC due to cost arbitrage and high talent availability.

Shift in delivery to digital and engineering/R&D services – Enterprises and service providers are increasingly focusing on digital and R&D/engineering services delivery, with APAC and nearshore Europe setups leading the way. In APAC, India continues to be the largest delivery location for digital services delivery, followed by Singapore and China. Growth in India has been primarily due to high cost arbitrage and strong talent pool availability across digital and engineering/R&D services. The increase in digital delivery setups in nearshore Europe has been driven by high growth of setups in Ireland and Romania. Digital center setups in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) have also picked up pace and even surpassed the number of setups in Latin America and the Caribbean. The majority of center setups in MEA were led by technology and automotive players, and Israel turned out to be the location of choice in this region for delivery of advanced engineering/R&D services, primarily to support the US and Europe.

The road ahead

Onshore delivery will further increase in 2020 as digital delivery and remote work gain prominence. Further, rising unemployment in key demand geographies like Italy, Spain, Germany, and the US might result in protectionist sentiments, which could lead to less offshoring. Enterprises will increasingly embrace the GBS model, as it will enhance their ability to deliver additional business impact in these turbulent times. Enterprises and service providers will both focus on rapid digital transformation and accelerated automation adoption as they struggle to thrive amidst myriad disruptive forces.

To learn more about the global services locations landscape and locations-related developments, and to get an update on locations activity by region and country and trends affecting global locations and locations portfolio strategies, please read our recently published report Global Locations State of the Market 2020: Moving Forward in Turbulent Times. The report is based on deep-dive, first-hand discussions with investment promotion bodies, leading shared services centers, service providers, recruitment agencies, and other market participants.

Relatedly, we’re hosting a webinar on Tuesday, May 19, that will cover topics including:

  • How COVID-19 has impacted enterprise workforce strategies to date
  • What the next normal is for locations and delivery strategies in this unfolding economic environment
  • How organizations can make their Business Continuity Planning (BCP) strategies simultaneously resilient and responsive.

Please click here to register for the webinar.

What Are the Characteristics of Truly Innovative Global Business Services Organizations? | Blog

To gain – and retain – competitive advantage, enterprises are increasingly tapping their Global Business Services (GBS) centers to build innovative, future-ready capabilities.

But what are the characteristics of truly innovative GBS organizations? What sets a small handful of GBS groups – those that we call Pinnacle organizations – apart from the rest? How have they succeeded in generating innovation-oriented business outcomes? To find out, we analyzed 51 GBS centers across diverse industries and geographies.

In this blog, we share a few of these world-class GBS organizations’ distinguishing characteristics. You can find the complete analysis in the full report, Innovation in GBS | Pinnacle Model™ Analysis.

Recalibrated talent strategy with a special emphasis on developing a culture of innovation

As part of their talent management strategies, Pinnacle GBS centers:

  • Invest significantly in upskilling/reskilling programs for their teams
  • Strongly emphasize education and awareness of innovation’s capabilities and benefits
  • Leverage multiple levers to foster an inn­­ovation culture and mindset among their employees
  • Recognize highly innovative employees/teams with non-financial rewards
  • Promote a spirit of intrapreneurship to give employees ownership of their innovation ideas
  • Conduct innovation talks, ideathons, and hackathons to help embed an innovation culture throughout the group

One example we found in the course of our research was a leading electronics, hi-tech, and technology GBS center that has trained about 40 of its employees to work as in-house intrapreneurs responsible for driving and owning their own innovation ideas. This approach not only sends a strong message about the important role innovation plays in the center, but also helps institute a start-up culture and make the workforce more agile and lean.

Proactive proofs of concept and solutions

Pinnacle GBS organizations have recognized that proactively creating their own proofs of concept (POCs) and innovation solutions is one of the vital ways they can evolve from cost enablers to strategic partners, and gain buy-in from their parent companies to drive and support their innovation agendas. For example, one Pinnacle GBS center proactively initiated an innovation-themed accelerator program focused on social entrepreneurs as a part of its parent’s corporate social responsibility initiative. It leveraged this program to showcase its capability and gain buy-in from stakeholders within the parent organization to take a high degree of ownership over the corporate innovation program and drive the organization-wide innovation agenda. Today, the GBS center has significant ownership in the entire innovation journey – from ideation and concept testing to detailed design and development.

A dedicated innovation fund

Pinnacle GBS organizations have realized that a formal and dedicated innovation budget – rather than an ad-hoc or informal one – is essential to drive innovation and achieve long-term success. A dedicated fund introduces more structure to innovation initiatives and ensures that innovative ideas don’t get stuck in the pipeline but instead receive timely and necessary funding. For example, a leading financial services GBS center extensively leverages its centralized GBS innovation budget to drive innovation-focused upskilling and reskilling programs for its innovation workforce. Additionally, it utilizes this fund to drive innovation initiatives at the ideation stage. Then, as the idea progresses to the pilot and development stages, the business unit within the GBS center that owns the idea must generate the requisite funding from its BU-specific innovation fund to drive the idea further.

We’ll be taking a deep dive into our analysis on how Pinnacle GBS centers are building out their innovation capabilities in our May 7, 2020, webinar, How GBS Can Leverage Innovation to Prepare for the Economic Downturn. In it, we’ll discuss:

  • The characteristics of Pinnacle GBS centers
  • Why what they’ve achieved to date is just the tip of the innovation iceberg
  • How they’re likely to build on their current foundation and penetrate deeper into their organizations with ever more complex and value-generating innovative solutions
  • Popular myths – and debunking insights – surrounding innovation delivery from GBS centers

Please reach out to us at [email protected] or [email protected] if you’d like insights on how your GBS organization’s innovation capabilities stack up against the competition, or want more information on the webinar. Click to register for the webinar.

 

Coronavirus Service Delivery Update | Blog

This is the third 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.

Over the past two to three weeks, media focus has shifted away from China, where the growth rate of new infections has slowed markedly. Hubei province remains the epicenter of the disease, but 8 of the 10 provinces that make up that core group of provinces where the disease has been most prevalent, have seen no new cases for several days. Hubei and the coastal province of Zheijang alone among the 10 are reporting new positive cases. There have been no public reports of service delivery interruption from any of the 44 Global In-house Centers (GICs) inside the core group of 10 provinces. Indeed, the last week has seen a steady return to work outside Hubei province.

The new global focus is on a group of high-risk countries including South Korea (Daegu and Cheongdo), Iran and Italy (specifically the whole of the north of the country and not just the provinces of Lombardy and the Veneto), and on a secondary group comprising Japan, Singapore, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar.

Data from Everest Group Market Intelligence (EGMI) shows that there are 470 Global Inhouse Centers (GICs) – or shared services centers – and 196 service provider delivery centers located in China and across these additional nine countries. Based on travel advisory and media reporting of regions that are more or less severely impacted, China still has the greatest exposure to delivery risk, with 73 delivery centers in high impact areas, and a further 272 in areas that are likely seeing little or no impact. Italy has 14 service provider delivery centers in the high-risk Northern provinces. South Korea has one or two GICs in Daegu, the city most affected by coronavirus infections. See details by country and sector in the two tables below.

exposure by country

exposure by sector

In view of restrictions imposed by governments, or companies implementing business continuity protocols, or simply out of fear of contracting the virus through proximity to large numbers of people, it is highly likely that most, if not all, of the delivery centers in high impact areas are closed and will remain so until further notice.

Many multinational corporations with offices in China and Hong Kong have imposed either complete travel bans (Amazon, Apple, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Ford, Goldman Sachs, Google, HSBC, JP Morgan, LG, Salesforce) or have banned non-essential travel (GM, Johnson & Johnson, P&G, PwC, Siemens) to and from mainland China, Italy, Japan, and South Korea. In some cases, cross-border travel has been suspended indefinitely.

The same imposition of a work from home policy for all staff of multinationals in China and Hong Kong, which is beginning to ease, is now the norm for many businesses in Milan, the capital of Lombardy. The cancellation of meetings or conferences involving even modest numbers of international participants is now a daily occurrence.

The outward spread of the disease has also started to impact major service delivery locations, especially India, which comprises 40 percent of the world’s global services delivery capacity. As of March 6, 2020, 30 Covid-19 cases have been confirmed in the country. Initially, only passengers from high-risk countries were being checked at airports, but the government has implemented universal screening for all passengers flying into the country. Multiple companies such as Cognizant, PayTM, Wipro, and KPMG have temporarily closed select offices in Delhi NCR and Hyderabad and stepped up their employee safety efforts. In addition to encouraging the remote working model, these efforts include disinfecting and sanitizing office spaces, putting hand sanitizers at entry and exit points, discouraging staff from conducting physical meetings, restricting the entry of outsiders in office premises and distributing N95 masks amongst employees.

We continue to monitor these locations.

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

South Africa – The Emerging Hub for Information and Communication Technology Services Delivery | In the News

The Global Business Services (GBS) industry in South Africa experienced about a 25 percent Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) from 2015 through 2019 – that’s three times the global average. Business process services, especially for English language voice-based delivery, has been the strongest foothold for the country, driven by growing availability of a large, accent-neutral, and empathic workforce, government support with improved access, and enhanced enabling infrastructure. Now, the country is fast emerging as an attractive location for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) services delivery, a segment that today comprises about one-fifth of the total global services market in South Africa.

So, what’s propelling South Africa’s appeal as a destination of choice for all kinds of IT services?

The digital value proposition

South Africa has kept pace with increasing global demand for digitalization and offers capabilities for next-generation services including testing, data services, analytics, and end-user support. The growth rate for next-generation technologies, such as AI, blockchain, machine learning, and IoT, is almost double that of the country’s ICT sector. The country consecutively ranked among the top 20 digital nations in the Tholons Globalization Index in 2018 and 2019, and secured the fourth highest innovation/digital score globally in 2019. Within the continent, it is the leading destination in terms of technological readiness for a digital revolution, and it was ranked among the top five for AI readiness by the Government AI Readiness Index 2019.

The talent value proposition

South Africa has a sizable pool of technically skilled and trainable English-speaking talent, with a more neutral accent than offshore geographies such as India and the Philippines. And because of lower infrastructure costs, GBS-focused government incentives, and relatively low attrition rates, the country offers cost arbitrage rates for ICT delivery that are 25-35 percent less than in competing central and eastern European (CEE) locations, and 50-60 percent less than tier-2 locations in the UK.

The government support value proposition

In the past couple of years, the government has proactively rolled out various incentive plans and policies to develop ICT capabilities for domestic and global companies. Programs including GBS incentives, employment tax incentives, the Export Marketing and Investment Assistance (EMIA) scheme, and the Sector Specific Assistance Scheme (SSAS) are aimed at creating employment by servicing offshore activities and contributing to the country’s export revenue from offshoring services.

The central and provincial governments have also made concerted efforts to build more complex IT skills through industry-academia collaboration and training programs such as Digital Innovation Precinct and ImpaCT, which provide training and education for software engineering, game development, data science, and other digital skills. Cloud engineering, cyber security, data services, and analytics are among the top investment areas for the government’s 2030 Green Target Plan to develop digital/ICT outsourcing capabilities in South Africa.

With all this, it’s no surprise that the country is experiencing increasing demand for IT services across industries, including healthcare, BFSI, and telecom. The country is home to a fast-growing cluster of companies providing website architecture and development, application and platform development, big data analytics, RPA, and cybersecurity solutions. Currently, South Africa houses two Azure datacenters by Microsoft and one by Huawei, and Amazon has plans to open a data center in 2020. South Africa’s thriving start-up community further supports innovation and advances in emerging fields such as Fintech, EdTech, InsurTech, and HealthTech.

While contact center continues to be the mainstay of the South African GBS industry with almost three-quarters of the total headcount, the country’s capabilities in other functions, including ICT, are growing quickly. To learn more about South Africa’s attractiveness as an ICT delivery destination, please contact H Karthik, Parul Jain, or Ratandeep Burman.

Impact of Coronavirus on Service Delivery Is Limited But Ongoing | Blog

This is the second 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.

To date, over 99 percent of the officially confirmed total of 45,000 (61,000 if the Chinese authorities’ newly expanded definition is used) Covid-19, or Coronavirus, cases are inside China. The impact of the virus is pronounced in a core group of ten Chinese provinces: Hubei, where the virus originated, the six neighboring provinces of Shaanxi, Heinan, Anhui, Jiangxi, Hunan, and Chongqing, plus the adjacent coastal provinces of Guangdong, Fujian, and Zheijiang. As of February 9, these areas account for 90 percent of the total reported confirmed cases and 92 percent of China’s new cases.

While supply chain organizations in these provinces are facing severe impacts due to closures, we believe the level of exposure to risk of disruption for service delivery organizations is limited because the service delivery centers are largely servicing internal customers, which are themselves operating at reduced capacity or are closed completely until further notice.

Data from Everest Group Market Intelligence (EGMI) shows that there are 51 Global Inhouse Centers (GICs) – or shared services centers – and 20 service provider delivery centers located in these 10 provinces. Of the seven GICs in Hubei at the epicenter of the outbreak, two, owned by FedEx and UPS respectively, are thought to deliver internal shared services to domestic and near-Asian employees. The rest are technology research or innovation centers.

In view of restrictions imposed by the Chinese government, provincial governments, or companies implementing business continuity protocols, it is highly likely that most, if not all, of these delivery centers are closed and will remain so until further notice.

Examples of the restrictions imposed by the authorities or by companies themselves that have been in place for at least two weeks and look set to remain include:

  • The Chinese government extended the New Year holiday, which began on January 24, to February 2. Authorities in in 24 provinces and cities further extended closures by a week to February 9, and many businesses look set to remain closed the week of February 10; authorities in Beijing have urged businesses to adopt flexible working policies, including working from home
  • Places of business in Hubei will remain closed until February 15 at the earliest
  • With extensive internal travel restrictions in place, many workers who had returned to their home provinces for the New Year holiday are now unable to return to work
  • All multinationals with offices in China and Hong Kong have imposed either complete travel bans (Amazon, Ford, Google, HSBC, and LG) or non-essential travel (GM, Johnson & Johnson, P&G, PwC, and Siemens) to and from mainland China
  • Many multinationals have imposed a work from home policy for all staff in China and Hong Kong until further notice; in some cases, this policy has been backed by widescale closure of offices and facilities
  • Some businesses have cancelled meetings or conferences involving large numbers of international participants, including, for example, Citibank’s annual investor conference in Singapore, ZTE’s press briefing at MWC in Barcelona, and Ericsson’s attendance at MWC in Barcelona.

As an example of specific defensive measures businesses are taking, all businesses and public facilities in Singapore, in accordance with government guidelines issued on February 10, are now:

  • Scanning people entering and leaving buildings for raised temperature
  • Increasing the frequency and intensity of cleaning
  • Making hand sanitizer widely available
  • Requiring all visitors to make a health and travel declaration
  • Issuing face masks to staff who interact with members of the public

It is possible that some enterprises will use the disruption caused by the outbreak as justification for cost cutting and capacity reduction, but we don’t yet see clear evidence of that.

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

Selecting the Best Multilingual European Service Delivery Destination for Your Needs | Blog

Although Europe is the second smallest of the world’s continents by surface area, it packs a huge business and economic punch. And because the continent is home to 24 official languages, businesses that are headquartered or have large operations there need to have workforces proficient in languages beyond the native tongue in the country in which they’re located. Extensive language capabilities will help them penetrate new European markets and enable them to have more productive conversations with stakeholders across the globe.

So, just as we did in a recent blog on service delivery destinations best suited for Asian language delivery, we’re taking a look at the countries best equipped to handle the wide range of European languages.

European Countries and Regions

While Europe is, of course, the go-to continent for European language delivery, there are considerable differences among the Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and nearshore regions, and among the different countries within each region.

Central and Eastern Europe (CEE)

CEE locations offer high scalability of multiple European languages at relatively moderate cost, but many face certain regulatory and macroeconomic issues.

Poland is the premier location in the CEE region. Because many shared services centers – or global in-house centers – are based in Poland, it has a mature service delivery ecosystem and robust infrastructure. Poland also has significant talent availability with the ability to support complex service delivery, and a multilingual talent pool with high scalability potential for a number of European languages, particularly German and French, and Russian, Italian, and Spanish to a lesser extent. However, because it’s a preferred location in the region, high competition for talent has created sourcing and talent retention issues. The country also lacks the ability to scale delivery in other European languages, such as Dutch and Portuguese.

Romania and Hungary are other good options in the region; they offer particularly high scalability for French, Spanish, and Italian language skills at a moderate cost of operations.

Nearshore Europe

Nearshore locations provide the best quality of life in an optimum business environment, but operational costs are high.

Ireland is the top nearshore destination in Europe. It offers a high quality of life, a favorable business environment and infrastructure, and significant availability of multilingual talent, with high scalability potential for French, German, Spanish, and Italian due to its ability to attract quality talent from other countries. And many companies are attracted to its high proximity to onshore locations.

However, like Poland, it suffers from high global and regional player competition for talent and struggles to achieve scaled service delivery for Dutch and Portuguese. It’s also among the most expensive locations in Europe for service delivery.

Scotland is a good alternative, as it offers comparable languages skills and infrastructure at a lower cost of operations.

Beyond Europe

There are also destinations in Latin America and the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region that can satisfy some European languages needs.

Most Latin American countries have large graduate pools with bilingual capabilities, despite a general lack of high-quality educational infrastructure. In particular, Mexico and Costa Rica provide strong Spanish and English skills, along with mature global services ecosystems and proximity to onshore locations. However, as the premier location in the region, Costa Rica suffers from high competition for talent and the highest cost of operations in Latin America.

Destinations in MEA also have large graduate pools with strong multilingual capabilities. For example, Egypt and Morocco offer abundant French – and, to a lesser extent, Spanish – language skills, driven by a strong cultural and historical affinity to France and Spain. But the cost of operations is high in Morocco, and Egypt is politically unstable.

To learn more about the relative attractiveness of key global locations to support global languages, please see our recently published Talent Handbook for Language Skills.  The report, which assesses locations against 20+ parameters, uses our proprietary ”Enabler-Talent Pulse Framework” to determine the attractiveness of locations for language delivery. You can also reach out to the report authors: Parul Jain, Kunal Anand, and Pagalam Rajeshwaran.

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