Author: RohanKapoor

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]restgrp.com, [email protected], or [email protected].

What’s Driving the Upcoming Wave of Indian Service Provider Layoffs? | Blog

Recent news reports of upcoming layoffs in India’s IT-BP industry are painting a pretty gloomy picture for 2020. Indeed, the reported layoff numbers from Cognizant, DXC Technology, IBM, and Infosys collectively amount to more than 20,000 employees and account for 4-5 percent of their total India headcount. Coupled with the economic slowdown in the country, these layoffs will add to India’s high unemployment rate over the next few quarters.

What’s driving these layoffs? Is it the maturity of legacy systems, as Cognizant and Infosys said? Is it due to workforce restructuring and cost pressures, as Capgemini, DXC, and IBM cited?

There are four reasons that many of India’s IT and BP providers – not just those mentioned above – may have to trim their workforces in 2020.

Cost and margin pressures

The slow economic growth is putting pressure on providers’ ability to meet their target margins. Heavy discounts to retain existing clients, building new relationships, and slow revenue growth are exacerbating the situation. Letting some employees go helps them streamline their costs.

Rise in reshoring

Reshoring continues to grow for multiple reasons: stricter visa regulations, new data security regulations (i.e., the introduction of GDPR in 2018), and buyers’ increasing desire for providers to grow their onshore presence for ease of coordination, better alignment/training, and promotion of customer intimacy.

Given their dependence on multi-national and global clients, service providers have drastically increased hiring in some onshore locations to localize their business presence. This not only adds to the overall costs of operations but also translates into a reduced number of transactional roles in India to optimize overall costs.

Digital uprise

Legacy technologies are fast giving way to new digital technologies like cloud, Internet of Things (IoT), Machine Learning (ML), and Artificial Intelligence (AI). This is increasingly reducing the need for workers with expertise in legacy technologies. And automation adoption has made jobs redundant, leading to lower headcount demand than before.

Rationalization of the experience mix

One lever service providers are pulling to help their clients optimize their delivery costs is rationalizing their middle-heavy delivery pyramid, particularly in India. This is because mid-level resources add to the existing high cost of operations, aren’t particularly adept in emerging technologies, and have been slow to up-skill themselves on them. Thus, providers are increasingly targeting a healthy mix of resources spread across entry-level and experienced talent. This will result in substantial mid to more senior employee layoffs.

The double whammy of the economic downturn and technological transformation might lead service providers to cut more jobs in the coming quarters. This will not only help them streamline their costs, but also redirect their focus towards reskilling and restructuring the existing workforce. While the existing employees struggle to upskill themselves to retain their jobs, the fear of future uncertainties is comprehensible.

To learn more, please read our recently published report, “Market Vista: Q4 2019.” It’s designed to equip global sourcing professionals with incisive research and insights on the latest trends in the sourcing market, sourcing locations, and service provider developments. We develop the Market Vista reports based on deep-dive discussions with leading shared services centers, service providers, and other market participants.

Demand for Next-Gen Services Defining Location Strategies | Blog

Regulatory uncertainty, technological disruption, talent challenges, and a host of other issues have all played significant roles in enterprises’ and service providers’ location strategies for global services delivery over the past couple of years.

The deep-dive analysis we conducted on enormous volumes of 2018 data to develop our Global Locations Annual Report 2019 made it clear that five key trends came into play in 2019, and will continue into 2020:

  • Increased focus on digital and R&D/engineering services
  • Increase in nearshoring
  • Slowdown in headcount growth
  • Increase in onshoring by service providers
  • Growth in emerging locations.

Here’s a quick look at each of these trends.

Digital and R&D/engineering services continue to dominate

Enterprise demand for digital services and the associated R&D/engineering services compelled most global service providers to set up innovation centers and COEs to keep up with the changes in the digital landscape. And there was a significant rise in the number of R&D/engineering and digital service delivery centers – especially in APAC and nearshore Europe – as providers vie to develop data-driven, intelligent, and robust systems using automation, cloud, and AI-based capabilities.

Global services delivery is increasingly being characterized by nearshoring

In a move to rebalance and optimize their existing locations portfolio and comply with data protection mandates, both enterprises and service providers are marginally shifting from offshore to nearshore locations. Nearshore Europe experienced the greatest increase in headcount and new center setups in 2018 due to the availability of complex skills, proximity to customers in Western Europe, increased regulatory oversight, and demand for multi-lingual support.

Poland, Ireland, and Scotland will continue to dominate the global services landscape in nearshore Europe, followed by Ukraine, the Czech Republic, and Romania.

Global services headcount continues to grow, but modestly

Increasing use of automation for low complexity, high volume services is having a considerable impact on the talent landscape. While growth in digital services will lead to newer job and skill profiles, the headcount required for newer digital jobs will be significantly lower than that required for low complexity jobs, and the growth will be slower due to technological advances and the shortage of talent for new-age technologies.

Service providers continue to grow in onshore geographies

Leading service providers have been continuously growing their presence in onshore geographies. This is in large part due to increasingly stringent data protection laws and mounting pressure from clients to have local delivery centers. The United States and continental Europe continue to remain the destination of choice for setup activity across onshore locations. The lion’s share of the work delivered from these onshore centers is in IT services.

We expect the United States to continue to grow in the wake of uncertainty around visa regulations and increased pressure from clients to have local delivery centers for ease of coordination, better alignment/training, and promoting customer intimacy. And, we also expect growth in digital services to push providers to continue to expand in other onshore locations – such as Belgium and Switzerland – due to availability of skilled talent and the ability for extensive collaboration with Europe-based clients.

Growth in emerging locations for global services delivery

While use of the traditional delivery locations continues to grow, other locations are picking up steam, including:

  • Jamaica continues to grow in setups for voice services
  • Ghana and Kenya are being leveraged to support the East and West Africa regions
  • Israel is growing significantly for delivery of R&D/engineering and high-end IT services
  • Lithuania is also growing as a destination for delivery of IT (largely digital) and R&D/engineering services.

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 the regional investment promotion bodies, leading shared services centers, service providers, recruitment agencies, and other market participants.

Four Key Trends in Social Media Content Moderation | Blog

While the numbers vary depending on the source, there are give or take three billion social media users around the world in 2019. With the associated dramatic increase in manipulative and malicious content, there’s been an explosion in the market for content moderation services.

Based on our interactions with leading global enterprises and service providers, here are the four key trends impacting the content moderation services industry.

Key trends impacting content moderation services

1. Demand for content moderation is growing

Given the exponential rise of inappropriate online content like political propaganda, spam, violence, disturbing videos, dangerous hoaxes, and other extreme content, most governments have instituted or begun creating policies to regulate social networking, video, and e-commerce sites. As a result, social media companies are facing mounting legislative pressures to curate all content generated on their platforms.

The following image shows how seriously these companies are taking the issue. And note that these numbers only account for outsourced content moderation services, not internally managed content moderation.

Content generation services BPO Market

Orange boxes indicate CAGR / Y-o-Y growth over the years

2. Both technology and humans are vital

Technological capabilities – ranging from robotic process automation (RPA) to automate repetitive manual process steps, to AI-assisted decision support tools, to AI-enabled task automation of review steps – have certainly emerged as key levers to help social media companies protect their communities and scale their content management operations. For example, established tech giants including Microsoft and Google, as well as fast-growing start-ups, have been investing in developing scalable AI content solutions that deliver faster business value and safer conditions.

While technology will continue to play a big role, it certainly isn’t the be-all, end-all. The judgement-intensive nature of content moderation work requires the human touch. Indeed, with the increasing complexity of the work and the rising regulatory oversight requirements, the need for human employees as part of the content moderation equation will continue to grow significantly.

3. Content moderators need a multitude of skills

Content moderation is an extremely difficult job, at times monotonous and at others disturbing. As not everyone is cut out for the role, companies need to assess candidates against multiple criteria, including:

  • Language proficiency, including region-specific slang
  • Local context
  • Acceptance of ideas that may be contrary to self-held beliefs and personal opinions (e.g., on gender, religion, societal norms, political issues, etc.)
  • Ability to adhere to global policies
  • Ability/maturity to review content that is explicit in nature
  • Exposure to a multi-cultural, diverse society
  • Exposure to freedom of expression, both online and offline, and a drive to protect it
  • Ability to understand and accept increasingly stringent regulatory policies.

4. Content moderation services demand a different location strategy

Because all countries have unique cultural, regional, and socio-political nuances, the traditional offshore/nearshore-centric location selection strategies that work for standard IT and business process services won’t work for content moderation work. Companies seeking outsourced content moderation services need to look at regional hubs alongside multiple local centers to succeed. In the short-term, this means working with leading providers with hyper-localized delivery centers and rising local providers in the target countries.

Outlook

Here’s what we see coming down the pike in the increasingly complex content moderation space.

  • Short-term investments/quick fixes might take precedence over long-term investments
  • Until the regulatory landscape stabilizes, companies might need to allocate a disproportionate amount of resources/spend towards compliance initiatives
  • Regulatory uncertainty and ambiguity will increase demand for specialist/niche forms of talent, including legal professionals and consultants. Today’s content adjudicators will be displaced by forensic investigators with specialized skills in product, market, legal, and regulatory domains
  • Companies must make talent development activities a priority through a specialized focus on structured talent sourcing and training, and strong emphasis on employee well-being through various wellness initiatives
  • As AI continues to grow in sophistication, a more defined synergistic relationship between humans and the technology will emerge. AI will be responsible for evaluating massive amounts of multi-dimensional content, and humans will focus on intent and deeper context analysis
  • The need for a hyper-local delivery model will prompt enterprises to increasingly explore outsourcing as a potential solution to benefit from service providers’ diversified location portfolios.

To learn more about the content moderation space, please contact Hrishi Raj Agarwalla / Rohan Kapoor / Anurag Srivastava.

Can Indian Tier-2/3 Cities Fit the Bill for Digital Services Delivery? | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

India continues to offer an attractive service delivery location proposition for global companies, given its unique combination of a low-cost, scalable English-speaking talent pool, and the breadth and depth of available skills.

As the global digital services industry matures, and with increasing competition in the tier-1 cities, companies are looking to reduce the costs of talent and access additional untapped talent pools for digital services delivery.

Can tier-2/3 cities in India fit the bill? Let’s start by looking at the current state of digital services delivery in these cities.

Existing Landscape

Today, India is the largest destination for digital services delivery, with 75 percent of the market. Tier-2/3 cities in the country currently hold 14-16 percent of the market share, and we expect this proportion to grow by 15-20 percent in the next couple of years. Ahmedabad, Chandigarh, Coimbatore, Indore, Jaipur, Kochi, Lucknow, T-puram, and Vadodara are the top nine tier-2/3 locations, accounting for 55-60 percent of the digital services headcount in tier-2/3 cities.

Tier-2/3 cities are mostly leveraged to provide social & interactive (41-43 percent), cloud (21-23 percent), analytics (16-18 percent), and automation (10-12 percent) related services. When it comes to sophisticated digital technology services, such as cybersecurity, mobility, and Artificial Intelligence (AI), service providers still prefer tier-1 locations such as Bengaluru.

Major digital services Tier 2 3 blog

Now, let’s evaluate how tier-2/3 Indian cities’ value proposition stacks up against tier-1 cities.

 

What’s ahead for India’s Tier-2/3 Cities?

 Here are some of the key findings from our recently published report, “Will Tier-2/3 Indian Cities Carve a Niche in the Digital Story?

  • Tier-2/3 cities will continue to be leveraged predominantly as spokes to major hubs in tier-1 cities for the next two to three years
  • Because of a lack of skilled talent, delivery of advanced digital services such as machine learning, cyber security, and mobility from tier-2/3 cities will remain a distant dream for the next few years
  • An increasing number of enterprises will set up global in-house centers (GICs) or shared services centers for delivery of digital operations, due to increasing confidence and improvements in infrastructure quality
  • Reskilling/upskilling for digital capabilities will be paramount for companies operating in these cities
  • A few large service providers will invest in training talent, and benefit from early mover advantage by becoming distinguished employers in a less competitive market

To learn more – including the metrics around availability of talent, market maturity, cost of operations, business and operating risk environment, and implications for market participants including buyers, service providers, investment promotion councils, and industry bodies – please read our recently published report, “Will Tier-2/3 Indian Cities Carve a Niche in the Digital Story?.” We developed the report based on deep-dive discussions with leading shared services centers, service providers, recruitment agencies, and other market participants.

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