Category: Locations

The Ukraine-Russia War is Impacting Global Sustainability Initiatives and Derailing Progress in Meeting SDG Goals

The Ukraine-Russia War has hindered the progress of nations and businesses toward achieving global sustainability goals. Along with its humanitarian and economic consequences, the crisis has altered investment in energy, defense, and autocratic states. Can the enthusiasm the world felt just seven years ago about reaching Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) be recaptured, and what does the future hold for sustainability enablement service providers? Read on to find out.

The optimism around achieving SDGs, also known as the Global Goals, has waned since its adoption by the United Nations in 2015 with the promise of improving people’s lives and preserving natural resources.

Global sustainability initiatives have been impacted by the Ukraine-Russia War, the pandemic, and supply chain issues. According to the UN, income for about 60% of the global workforce declined during the pandemic. Supply chain issues further exacerbated the economic contraction and humanitarian losses by inflating food and fuel prices.

The war is impacting progress in accomplishing SDGs, directly through its humanitarian and economic consequences, and indirectly through its effect on Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) investments.

The following three major challenges have emerged due to changing perceptions about ESG investments in light of this crisis:

  • The war has ramifications on global energy transition

The Ukraine-Russia war has slowed down the global energy transition to renewables in two ways:

Increased metal and gas prices slowing renewable technology investment – The region is a leading supplier of “energy transition metals” like nickel, palladium, copper, and lithium. Russia accounts for 7% of the world’s mined nickel and 33% of the world’s mined palladium, which are used in electric vehicle batteries and to reduce automobile emissions, respectively. Ukraine is the largest supplier of noble gases like krypton, which is used in renewable technologies. The war has reduced the already sluggish rate of renewable technology investment by increasing the prices of these metals and gases.

Ramped up coal production and fossil fuel investment – Russia accounts for 17% of the world’s natural gas supply, which is perceived as a transition fuel globally. Before countries develop sustained sources of renewable energy, natural gas is replacing fossil fuels due to its lower carbon emissions. The issue is more pronounced in Europe, as about 80% of Russia’s natural gas is exported to Europe, fulfilling about 40% of Europe’s gas demand. The war has inflated gas prices. Although the US has agreed to supply more gas to the region, this raises the question of sustained gas supply and puts pressure on European governments to accelerate their net-zero strategies. The market is optimistic that Europe will transition to clean energy faster than expected because it needs to become energy self-reliant.

Slow investment in renewable energy has further dipped since 2018. While renewable energy requires patient and risk-tolerant investors, fossil-fuel investment generates considerable returns quickly due to the massive existing hydrocarbon infrastructure. In the war’s wake, fossil fuels are seeing an investment frenzy, with Canada, the US, Norway, Italy, and Japan increasing production. Many countries across Europe again are ramping up coal production to avoid depending on Russian gas. In the short run, it seems that the world has taken steps back on global warming

  • Investment in defense is being reclassified as sustainable

Before the war, steering away from investing in arms and ammunition was considered prudent and ESG conforming. However, the war has brought back fears of traditional warfare. Now, many nations have started taking a U-turn from this narrative by categorizing defense investment as sustainable for national security and global alliances. Many global defense suppliers’ share prices spiked upward the first day Russia invaded Ukraine.

Many European nations, including Germany, Poland, and Sweden, have announced increases in their defense budgets. SEB Investment Management, a leading asset-management firm in the Nordics, has revised its sustainability policy to allow some of its equities and corporate bonds to be invested in the defense sector. With skepticism associated with traditional warfare restored, investors and governments are bound to pump more money into arms and other defense products.

  • Investors are steering away from autocratic states

Investors are facing heightened reputational risks for associating with authoritarian regimes. The boundary between investing in government bonds of an autocratic state and investing in companies conducting business in/with the autocratic states is now blurred for investors. Western investors are striking Russia off their investment list, especially if the investment is ESG-compliant. This can dampen investments in other autocratic states and the businesses associated with them.

How does the war impact sustainability enablement service providers?

The war has temporarily derailed the uptake of renewable energy investments. To start, this will impact enterprises’ Scope 2 emissions reduction goals. Scope 2 emissions are generated from purchased electricity, and reducing these emissions requires enterprises to turn towards renewable electricity sources.

The sustainability enablement technology industry also will experience a short-term supply crunch of semiconductor chips, which is an important input in producing sustainability technologies.

To deal with these choppy waters, organizations will need help from consulting and technology providers to shift their sustainability mix to access net-zero strategies to still achieve their committed targets for global sustainability initiatives.

Moreover, as the sustainability ecosystem matures, forward-looking investments in scaling undertakings such as enhancing trust in data and reporting (avoiding greenwashing claims), scaling operations to accelerate net-zero targets, and creating persistent governance systems will continue to create momentum.

To further discuss global sustainability initiatives, contact [email protected], [email protected], and [email protected]

You can read more about the impacts of Russia’s military action in Ukraine on services jobs and global sourcing in our blog, “Will Ukraine’s Invasion Have a Domino Effect on Other Geopolitical Equations?”

 

Rising Prominence of Africa in Technical Support and Other Value-added Services

While not a newcomer to service delivery, Africa has recently been experiencing a surge from buyers and service providers in adoption and investment, making this a region to watch for technical support and other value-added IT and business process services (BPS). Read on to learn why perceptions of Africa have changed, and explore six factors fueling Africa’s growth and its emerging delivery locations.

Africa has been part of the sourcing strategy of numerous Information Technology (IT) and BPS leaders in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) for quite some time. Lately, Everest Group has witnessed a sudden uptick in interest and adoption of Africa by both buyers and service providers.

More importantly, Sub-Saharan Africa has moved from primarily being leveraged for transactional services and low complexity customer experience (CX) queries to accelerated adoption of specialized operations and judgment-intensive processes as part of the region’s delivery portfolio mix.

Enterprise (business-to-business) technical support is one such area where buyers and service providers are proactively investing in Africa. We have noted several new technical support locations being set up in Sub-Saharan Africa by third-party outsourcing providers serving European and other English-speaking global markets.

Let’s take a look at what is contributing to this increased higher-level activity.

What factors have changed the perception of African talent and delivery sites?

  • STEM-focused education – The African Union (AU) has repeatedly reinforced its commitment to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education among member countries. The High Level Panel on Innovation and Emerging Technologies (APET) encourages AU Member States to implement STEM education regionally. Some emerging and nascent sourcing destinations, like Rwanda, have taken significant steps in this direction by introducing STEM education in 2019 at all education levels through its “New Competence-Based Curriculum,” focused on STEM and Information and Communications Technology (ICT)-led education
  • Investments by leading technology players to develop a local talent pool – Several multinational companies have set up delivery centers in the region to deliver services to Europe and North America, and tech giants including Google, Microsoft, and Netflix are leveraging it for global services delivery. These companies have invested heavily through well-designed upskilling programs with a focus on technology and digital services, creating a pool of managerial expertise as well as technology delivery capability for complex technical support and other value-added services in BPS and ITS
  • Acceptance of the remote work environment and related experience – The past two years have proven the remote and distributed work environment is as effective as traditional on-premise office setups. Service providers now have greater flexibility to enable their agents and managers to gain experience by working with global teams while delivering from Sub-Saharan Africa. This has significantly lowered the talent barrier for agents and supervisors

Six factors fueling Africa’s adoption

While the above factors have been instrumental in changing the perception and quality of the region’s talent pool, the following additional macro factors are driving the increased adoption of Africa:

  • Favorable demographic – As one of the youngest regions in the world, Africa boasts the greatest youth population in the world, with more than 60% of its population younger than 25 years of age, according to the World Population Perspectives of the United Nations. By 2035 the working population in Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to be larger than the rest of the world combined. This becomes even more relevant when viewed from the prism of the aging population elsewhere, including India
  • Cost arbitrage: Some countries in Africa offer highly-attractive cost arbitrage compared to onshore locations in Continental Europe (CE) and North America (NA). For example, Egypt, Nigeria, and Kenya’s pricing come in at 70-80% less compared to onshore locations in CE and NA, although Nigeria and Kenya are primarily leveraged to serve domestic markets. South Africa (for non-voice Finance & Accounting) and Morocco (for voice-based services) offer cost savings of 40-60% over onshore locations
  • Strong domestic market: The latest African trends show that consumer spending growth in Africa is projected to rise to $2.1 trillion by 2025 and $2.5 trillion by 2030, according to market forecasts. This is expected to create a fast-growing and lucrative local market for contact center and ancillary services, further fueling growth in Africa’s CXM delivery landscape
  • Increased confidence due to the presence of global enterprises: Some of the world’s largest brands from across industries, such as Accenture, Daimler, Google, Microsoft, Standard Chartered, and Teleperformance, are leveraging Africa as the destination of choice for global service delivery. This has given a lot of confidence to prospective companies as they look at Africa while exploring new delivery locations
  • Proximity to Europe: Proximity to various European countries is a big selling point of many African locations. Companies are increasingly leveraging Morocco for French and Spanish voice-based BP services because it offers both cultural and geographical proximity to France and Spain. Additionally, since most African countries share similar time zones with Europe, delivery and client teams can collaborate in real-time, optimizing work in both geographies
  • Business Continuity Planning (BCP) measures: Expansion into Africa further diversifies delivery location risk, which has become even more important in light of COVID-induced disruption in traditional delivery locations in Asia. Enterprise buyers of CX services are keen to balance their locations portfolio to manage business continuity risks for nearshore and offshore services
  • Government and regulatory support: African governments have progressively aligned the local data security laws with global standards, particularly the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (EU GDPR). For example, Nigeria released its Nigerian Data Protection Regulation 2019, which is aligned with EU GDPR. Similar laws, with regional variations but common intent, have been implemented by countries such as Egypt, Kenya, Rwanda, and Mauritius, providing potential investors and customers comfort around data privacy standards. Besides regulation, the government has also invested in infrastructure and security measures to boost outside investment

Emerging delivery locations in Africa

The map below highlights key locations leveraged by global enterprises and service providers for global service delivery. Of these, established locations such as Egypt, South Africa, and Morocco are quite mature and may house 20,000 to 100,000 full-time equivalents (FTEs), while emerging/nascent locations may have less than 20,000 FTEs.

Picture1 1

Illustration 1: Emerging delivery locations throughout Africa | Source: Everest Group

Below is a snapshot view of key emerging/nascent delivery locations:

Nigeria: Boasts a huge graduate talent pool with 460,000 to 465,000 graduates every year. It has significant IT services delivery in addition to inbound/outbound customer services. Nigeria has the potential to support multi-lingual contact center delivery in French and English as well as meet significant domestic demand for CX services

Rwanda: Utilized for both voice and non-voice business process services and French and English language support. It is increasingly being leveraged for IT service delivery across global markets with a strong government focus, excellent infrastructure, and educated talent pools

Uganda: Used extensively to support African countries and also to provide some support to US markets. Uganda supports both voice and non-voice service delivery (inbound and outbound customer service, Finance and Accounting Outsourcing (FAO), etc.). It has the potential to deliver complex IT skills, given the huge ICT talent availability
Mauritius: Leveraged for IT (Application Development & Maintenance (ADM) and infrastructure), non-voice business process services, and R&D services to serve French and Canadian markets. This location offers a favorable business environment, with government incentives for the IT-BPS sector, such as tax-free dividends and foreign tax credits

Kenya: Leveraged primarily for voice-based services and providing support to the US and Canada. While it has relatively low maturity for IT-based services, it can serve as a gateway/regional hub for organizations looking to expand in the East/West Africa region

With these positive conditions shaping its future, it will be interesting to see how the next decade fares for Sub-Saharan Africa. If the current trends continue, many countries in Africa are set to emerge as a close competitor to India and the Philippines for technical support and other value-added services delivery as long as it can successfully overcome misconceptions about safety, security, and talent. Continued public-private partnerships like the ones described in some countries above will need to continue for the region to accelerate its growth in this vibrant sector and positively impact Africa’s broader industry.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss global service delivery in Africa further, please reach out to Rananjay Kumar, [email protected], or David Rickard, [email protected]

Europe Embarks on a New Technology Regulation Wave

Big changes are coming as Europe moves toward digital empowerment by 2030. Governments are building frameworks for the regulation of emerging technologies to protect consumers and companies while promoting innovation and digital leadership. What impact will the drive toward technology sovereignty have on BigTech providers, buyers, and investors? Read on for the latest in our series on technology sovereignty.  

In our last blog, we explored the emerging and growing focus on technology sovereignty in the United Kingdom and Ireland (UK&I) and European markets. Let’s continue our discussion of this important topic.

The focus on Europe’s data sovereignty is back in the spotlight as a result of new European Union (EU) rules to limit big online platforms’ market power. The risk of global cyber-attacks by Russia as retaliation against Ukraine also has made this an issue to watch.

Europe’s latest moves for technology regulation are not in isolation. Representatives from business, politics, and science from Europe and around the globe have already been working together since 2019 to create a federated and secure data infrastructure through the GAIA-X initiative.

With data security, privacy, and technology sovereignty becoming key issues for the region, Europe is setting up new regulatory frameworks to protect consumers and companies, while trying to ensure a competitive market and encouraging innovation.

What does the Digital Markets Act (DMA) entail?

Under consideration by the European Commission, the DMA intends to ensure a higher degree of competition in the European Digital Markets, by preventing large companies from abusing their power and by allowing new players to enter the market.

Beyond the hyperbole that surrounds any technology regulation, the DMA provisions include:

  • New regulations on BigTech companies providing “core platform services” that are most prone to unfair business practices, such as social networks or search engines. These companies that have a market capitalization of at least €75 billion or annual revenue of €7.5 billion are considered gatekeepers
  • To be designated as gatekeepers, these companies must provide services such as browsers, messengers, or social media, which have at least 45 million monthly end users in the EU and 10,000 annual business users
  • Sizable messaging services (such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, or iMessage) will have to open up and interoperate with smaller messaging platforms, if users ask, promoting more choice
  • Combining personal data for targeted advertising will only be allowed with explicit user consent from the gatekeeper. Similar to instant messaging, allowing users to freely choose their browser, virtual assistants, or search engines will be required
  • If a gatekeeper does not comply with the rules, they can receive fines of up to 10% of total worldwide turnover in the preceding financial year and 20% for repeated infringements. Companies who systematically violate the regulations could be banned from acquiring other companies for a certain period

In addition to DMA, the EU reached a consensus on the Digital Services Act (DSA) in April, which focuses on setting up a standard for the accountability of online platforms regarding illegal and harmful content. If voted into law, the DSA will apply across the EU within fifteen months or from January 1, 2024, whichever is later. Meanwhile, the DMA likely will go into effect next summer.

The battle for sovereignty and security is just getting started

While these acts are significant steps in Europe’s focus on curbing the perceived monopolistic power of BigTech, they are part of larger movements such as:

  • A growing global reckoning exists around BigTech companies that control multiple industries, such as enterprise cloud computing, consumer-oriented economies, and media and advertising, to name a few. Complicating this further is the way their roles (especially social platforms such as Meta, Twitter, etc.) are evolving into digital town squares, and the subsequent impact on democracy, free speech, and bullying
  • Most BigTech companies originated in North America but are now global businesses. There’s a degree of circumspection in how Europe views this shift in innovation and control and reining it in. These acts are a natural successor to Europe’s previous foray into data protection through the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which came into force in 2018. It subsequently inspired other acts globally, including the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)
  • The region’s increasingly fragile geopolitics is creating new implications for cyberwarfare and rogue state actors, fueling the desire to shore up digital resilience. We can also expect this to have a knock-on effect on other regions (the US is considering similar steps and Australia took measures to regulate the relationship between BigTech and traditional media, to name a few)

We expect this conversation on the regulation of emerging technologies to evolve and shape the future of technology spending and strategies in the region.

Implications of technology regulation for the European ecosystem

Owing to these triggers and the broader conversation around technology regulation, sovereignty, and BigTech reach, we expect the following three implications for buyers, providers, and investors in the European technology space:

  • Buyers should include sovereignty requirements in sourcing decisions: We are starting to see enterprise buyers of technology and services embed sovereignty of the tooling and service providers they choose in RFPs. Expect this to continue and become a hygiene factor for technology providers to showcase in the sourcing process
  • Establish regional market partnerships: BigTech companies are smart and understand they can’t be upstaged overnight. They are already establishing partnerships and tweaking their business model to ensure compliance with the evolving European regulatory environment. Look for more partnerships with specific players in the region to play by these rules (for instance, Google Cloud and T-Systems partnering on cloud sovereignty in the region). IT service providers will also train more people on BigTech technologies as a result
  • Look beyond sovereignty-washing: As with any big shift and trend, new and existing competitors to BigTech will latch on to this market theme. We foresee more press releases announcing the amped up focus on sovereignty. Investors, buyers, and partners should look beyond this marketing hype and truly understand how these firms are solving these issues. For instance, are they embedding sovereignty at the application or data layer? Where does the data reside, and who owns it? Answering these questions can help buyers spot the real innovators

We anticipate a floodgate of activities as we approach implementation timelines in the next 12-18 months. This will create a one-time discontinuity in the market and result in additional spending on compliance. However, market participants will be wise to consider the long-term impact of technology regulation in Europe on their strategies.

To discuss further, please reach out to [email protected] or contact us.

You can also tune in to our webinar, Discover 5 Ways to Transform Your Workforce and Location Strategy Amid Global Uncertainties, for key insights and strategies that global talent leaders can use to readjust their workforce strategies.

Strategies to Expand Labor Pools Today and in a Recession | Blog

In today’s hot labor market, with a difficult gap between talent demand and available resources, companies must try to widen the area where they can recruit workers, and hunt for labor pools in new, smaller markets. Google and other tech companies are reaching out to labor markets on the West Coast and in small markets in remote cities. FedEx and other large companies are investing in expensive TV ads to reach workers in non-traditional labor pools. However, the signs are clear that a recession will be upon us in months, and the new strategies for expanding a labor pool often have long run times. What are the best approaches to expand labor pools now?

Read more in my blog on Forbes

Ukraine IT Sector: Resilient, Agile, and Hopefully Here to Stay | Blog

The Ukraine IT sector has grown as a result of, and not despite, its humble, post-Soviet origins, and characteristics of agility and resilience appear to be serving it well. Read on as we share the viewpoint of our expert who traveled to Ukraine after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in this blog.

In March 1992, four months after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, I traveled to Ukraine to attend a hastily convened conference on the liberalization of post-Soviet telecommunications in the Commonwealth of Independent States. Delegates flew into Simferopol on a Swiss Air charter, and we took a rickety bus ride across the Crimean Peninsula to Yalta, the site of the eponymous wartime conference.

The conference was chaotic but enlightening: Soviet telecommunications had been so Moscow-centric that at independence, Ukraine did not have a singular, state-owned telecom carrier and virtually no direct international circuits. Disparate local networks loosely managed by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications were spread across Ukraine’s 22 administrative districts. These networks became Ukrtelecom in 1994, but outdated and inefficient fixed-line service was overtaken by rapid mobile take-up from the mid-1990s.

The results? A generation of Ukrainians grew up with mobility as their default. And the legacy of decentralized infrastructure led to a fragmented internet marketplace with ten or more internet service providers. Mobility and decentralization spawned an entrepreneurial and healthy, if not spectacularly large, IT services sector that now has some 290,000 professionals – 79% of them “individual entrepreneurs,” that was worth over $6.83 billion in export revenue in 2021, according to industry association IT Ukraine.

The Ukraine IT sector, innately agile and resilient, was in many ways prepared even more thoroughly for the dislocation caused by the Russian invasion, having endured 20 months of pandemic-enforced remote working. Anecdotal evidence, popping up in podcasts, on LinkedIn, and in mainstream media, suggests that the Ukraine IT sector is very much still working. Companies like Intellias and Sigma Software in Lviv, GeeksForLess in Mykolaiv, Reface in Kyiv, and many more, have contributed, according to IT Ukraine, quoted in an April 6 article on DOU.ua, to “almost 85% of [IT] companies operat[ing] in a normal business rhythm.”

How long the Ukraine IT sector can maintain that normal business rhythm, of course, remains uncertain. While some look to post-war opportunities in an independent Ukraine, created by the outflow of business from Russia and possibly Belarus, the current reality is that the reduced appetite by foreign businesses for risk and the execution of business continuity plans have meant that work has started to move outside Ukraine.

That said, I expect a significant share of work that is currently being delivered, and that can continue to be delivered remotely, will remain longer-term with Ukrainian companies or contractors, irrespective of whether specialists are operating in western Ukraine or outside of the country.

Indeed, Lviv IT Cluster, a body representing business, academia, and local government, claims that upwards of 40,000 IT specialists have relocated to Lviv in western Ukraine since the invasion, swelling the available talent headcount in the city to between 70,000 and 100,000. For now, internet and power in Lviv still function, and as long as they do, the Ukraine IT sector will find a way to continue its normal business rhythm.

To discuss the Ukraine IT sector further, please reach out to [email protected] or contact us.

Learn more about the current impacts in the Ukraine region in our LinkedIn Live session, How to Manage the Ukraine-Russia Impact on Service Delivery.

Innovative Strategies Driving Talent Sourcing and Acquisition in the Philippines

The traditional strategies for finding the best recruits for jobs are changing. With the talent shortage across all industries, companies are taking innovative approaches to talent sourcing and acquisition. Where will your next-generation talent come from? To stay on top of the war for talent, read on to learn the emerging tactics and a comprehensive framework to expand the candidate pool. 

Traditional talent sourcing strategies

The commonly used practices for proactively locating the best potential hires for open or future positions are no longer enough with the great need and talent shortage. Traditional talent sourcing strategies have included:

  • Using internships to lure top prospects and hiring recent graduates
  • Hiring from within the same industry or location, which offers the benefits of domain knowledge and cultural fit
  • Relocating talent from other locations for their experience, skills, and ability to learn
  • Offering flexible employment such as part-time work and fixed-term contracts. While this is a growing trend, alternative talent for most companies is typically less than 15% of the total workforce, especially for IT and niche skills
Innovative talent sourcing and acquisition strategies

The quest for the right skill sets and talent is driving organizations’ hiring decisions and motivating them to try new operating models. Based on our latest research on the Philippines market and beyond, here are eight emerging talent sourcing and acquisition strategies to consider:

  • Acqui-hiring or hiring through Mergers & Acquisitions: Acquiring start-ups primarily to recruit their employees with specific talent
  • Satellite centers to augment traditional hubs: Setting up small satellite offices to diversify delivery location portfolios, creating extended “spoke” offices without setting up large physical sites to attract talent from a wider area
  • Collaborating with the external ecosystem: Strengthening connections with academic institutions, start-ups, and service providers to leverage their talent pools to develop holistic solutions, increase agility, and reduce go-to-market time
  • Work from Home or Anywhere (WFH/WFA): Exploring work from home or work from anywhere models now, particularly since COVID-19 has increased the acceptance and openness to virtual delivery models
  • Gamification/simulation-based screening assessments: Using gamification-based assessments instead of a traditional interview process with a focus on hiring for learnability and applying skills rather than possessing the core skill itself
  • Hiring next-generation talent and “problem solvers” through hackathons: Hiring candidates through coding events such as hackathons to attract a wider pool of talent from multiple sources and different backgrounds, and to engage with the student community
  • Co-creating a curriculum: Partnering with educational institutes to introduce curated courses for developing and attracting talent with specific skillsets
Comprehensive framework to expand the talent pool

Everest Group has developed the following comprehensive framework to incorporate the many ways organizations in the Philippines are widening their access to candidates to meet ever-increasing talent requirements.

Philippines Blog Image

Below are some approaches leading enterprises are exploring:

  1. Leverage tier-2/3 locations: Tier 2/3 locations: Bacolod, Cebu, Davao, Iloilo, and Pampanga (Angeles City, Metro Clark) for the following reasons:
    • Lower operations costs – Costs in tier-2/3 cities are 10-20% lower compared to a typical tier-1 city because of lower salaries and facility-related expenses
    • Better work-life balance – Tier-2/3 cities provide a decent alternative because employees don’t need to travel to tier-1 cities for employment. The growing adoption of the long-term WFH model may also increase the pool of tenured IT talent operating from these locations
    • Reduced risk – Tier-2/3 locations can act as Business Continuity Planning (BCP) locations to tier-1 locations, providing opportunities to diversify delivery location risk
    • Lower human capital costs – Multiple tier-2/3 cities offer a large, untapped talent pool with relevant skills, providing scalability and the potential to reduce people costs
    • Greater retention – Attrition rates in tier-2/3 locations are 10-15% lower than in tier-1 locations, translating into better service delivery and lower hiring and training costs
  1. Adopt the contingent workforce model: Using contingent workers such as freelancers, independent contractors, consultants, or other non-permanent workers offers cost savings, increased flexibility, and caters to workers’ changing preferences. This trend is growing with 36% of enterprises classifying more than
    16% of their workforce as contingent workers
  2. Increase the use of gig workers: Accessing next-generation skills in locations where companies do not have a physical presence for short-term assignments, tasks, or jobs
  3. Establish satellites/pods: Setting up small-scale (less than 50 full-time equivalent employees) or sub-scale centers, typically within a shared workspace to tap into new locations. Additionally, these arrangements enhance access to scarce talent and aid in Business Continuity (BCP) goals, provide a platform for possible collaboration, Centers of Excellence (CoEs), and offer flexible workspaces
  4. Adopt internal and external crowdsourcing: Leveraging social media and networks to spread the word about job availability. Crowdsourcing across companies has been on the rise
  5. Explore talent hotspots: Establishing a presence in emerging talent hotspots (e.g., Israel, Lithuania, Egypt) to access next-gen skills

We expect a notable increase in the adoption of these talent sourcing and acquisition strategies over the next six to 12 months by Philippines-based shared service centers and other organizations.

To share your comments and questions on talent sourcing and talent acquisition, please reach out us: contact us.

To learn more about the talent shortage and hear ways to rethink talent strategies and expand reach, watch our webinar, “Is the Talent War Threatening the Success of Your GBS?”.

Look at Latin America to Emerge Post-COVID as a Leading Global Service Delivery Destination

As the world emerges from the pandemic and looks for new destinations for high-end information technology and business process services, put Latin America on the radar screen for its lower costs, talent availability, language proficiency, and other factors. Learn why this region is an attractive emerging destination for global service delivery, what countries offer the most promise, and the trade-offs and risks.  

Latin America has emerged in recent years as a leading nearshore destination for companies in the US and Canada, primarily driven by its unique position of cultural parallels and geographic proximity to the North American market.

This popular delivery destination for IT and BP services has undergone dynamic shifts in the past few years, and its location can be increasingly critical post-pandemic to filling talent gaps and providing a more stable geopolitical climate than destinations in Europe, given the current Ukraine-Russia conflict.

Increased capabilities, aided by digital infrastructure investment, and scaled operations delivery are attracting companies to leading locations such as Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, and Costa Rica. Companies that are reimagining delivery in Latin America and growing operations in the region are differentiating themselves by capitalizing on the region’s attractive proposition.

Other favorable factors such as lower costs compared to North America, increased government support, and rising English proficiency are enabling growth, especially for the contact center industry. While promising, organizations need to be aware of some trade-offs and associated risks for operating in the region.

Trade-offs and risks

Organizations looking to enter the Latin American market should be concerned about market congestion, lack of digital infrastructure, and an unfavorable macroeconomic environment in a few key locations.

Leading cities in the region (e.g., San Jose, Mexico City, Sao Paulo) are experiencing growth in competitive intensity, threatening their cost arbitrage against North America. Moreover, countries like Argentina, despite their large talent pool, are facing major macroeconomic challenges brought forth by the pandemic.

On the other side of the coin, countries such as Jamaica, Uruguay, and Guatemala have low market congestion and are primarily leveraged for transactional BP services but have limited maturity in IT and engineering services. Organizations keen to support complex and judgment-intensive processes will need to make substantial investments in talent development in these markets.

Further Latin American destinations also face some challenges around reliability and digital infrastructure scalability. While investments are continuously being made in this area, certain countries within the region still rank relatively lower on the digital readiness scale. This potentially poses challenges for remote working in the post-COVID era.

Leading Latin American locations for financial attractiveness, talent availability, and operating and business environment

Latin America Blog

Here’s a quick look at the top four global services delivery locations by largest to smallest market size in Latin America:

  1. Mexico – boasts the largest scale among Latin American locations for global services delivery (both transactional and judgment-intensive processes). Leveraged to support IT-BP service delivery along with next-generation digital services (e.g., Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, analytics), the market faces one of the highest competitive intensity in the region, driven by a large player base and strong sector growth
  2. Colombia – primarily a global hub for voice-related services and transactional BPS delivery. Although it has limited maturity for next-generation digital services delivery, it holds the potential for increased IT and non-voice BP services delivery, given its large talent pool
  3. Argentina – a large-scale, multi-functional hub location to support service delivery to the Americas and some European locations. It exhibits relatively high maturity for next-generation digital services, including AI, analytics, cloud, and IoT, delivered from its highly congested Tier 1 cities
  4. Brazil – primarily delivers IT and BP services to Latin American locations. It has a large base supporting domestic demand (within the country) but global service delivery is limited. While it has a highly skilled talent pool supporting complex/niche skills and judgment-intensive IT work (e.g., cloud computing, big data), its more costly base owing to higher salaries and real estate costs affects its attractiveness as a global service delivery destination
Global service delivery destination to watch

Latin America is well placed in its growth journey to emerge as one of the leading nearshore destinations. Industry verticals such as retail, telecommunications, and Financial Services and Insurance (BFSI) continue to drive overall regional demand. Its unique positioning, strong government support, and growing talent pool make the region a destination of choice for some of the world’s biggest brands, including Amazon, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Galileo, and Pinterest, among others.

To learn more about the dynamics in the region, please read our recently published report Reimagining Latin America Delivery in a Post-COVID World, which highlights the relative attractiveness and talent-cost proposition of key Latin American locations to support global services delivery, based on our holistic and multi-faceted assessment across 12 critical parameters.

For more information on Latin America as a global service delivery location, please reach out us: contact us.

Will Ukraine’s Invasion Have a Domino Effect on Other Geopolitical Equations? | Blog

The Russian military action in Ukraine has already significantly impacted thousands of services jobs in this region, but the potential reverberations to nearshore European countries and the larger global services industry could be far more damaging – making it essential to integrate geopolitical risk management in your decision-making now. Learn the immediate steps to protect against risks during these increasingly unpredictable times as we continue our expert analysis on this critical issue.   

In our recent blog, we wrote about service delivery risk in Ukraine. Since Russian forces invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, almost 150 companies operating out of the region supporting IT, Engineering, and Business Process services have ceased or at least suspended operations in the region, impacting thousands of jobs.

But the crisis is not limited to Ukraine, Russia, or even Belarus. Several Eastern European countries such as Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, and Romania are directly impacted. These neighboring countries are taking in refugees, providing financial aid, declaring states of emergency, preparing for military confrontation, and most importantly, witnessing a significant drop in employee morale as individuals and families experience anxiety over the recent events.

These nearshore European countries – Poland, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia – collectively host nearly ~1.5 million Full-time Equivalents (FTEs) in global services delivery, accounting for 15-18% of the total global services workforce worldwide.

We are advising our clients that significantly rely on Central Eastern Europe to stress test their Business Continuity Planning (BCP) strategies at the same time hoping that the ongoing conflict doesn’t escalate to the neighboring countries.

But while we hope for the best, we must prepare for the worst. One of the lessons from this crisis is to not assume that diplomats have everything under control. The events of the past few weeks are extremely disturbing and could embolden authoritarian leaders in some of the other countries.

Below is our analysis of some of the hostile geopolitical equations globally that could impact the global services industry in the event of a major escalation in the associated countries:

  Risk scenario Likelihood Locations impacted Global services Impact

(number of centers and FTEs)

Key players with large footprint
1. Russia versus NATO High Poland, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia ~1,000 centers

1.5 million FTEs

Amazon, Coca-Cola, Deloitte, Dell, Microsoft, E&Y, Nokia, Huawei, IBM, HCL, Cognizant, Accenture
2. China versus Taiwan

Or direct US versus China

Medium-High Taiwan (directly)

China (if US imposes sanctions on China)

~400 centers

320,000 FTEs

Barclays, Citigroup, ExxonMobil, HSBC, Microsoft, Accenture, Capgemini, Tech Mahindra
3. Gulf tensions – Iran versus US and Israel Medium Mainly Iran.

Could impact Kuwait, Iraq, and Lebanon in case of escalations in the region

~100 centers Alibaba, Apple, AT&T, General Motors, Volkswagen, LG Electronics, Accenture, Genpact, IBM, HCL
4. India versus Pakistan Medium-low Locations in Northern and Western parts of India (including capital city); Northwestern region of Pakistan ~2,000 centers

3.1 million FTEs

Amazon, Bank of America, Citigroup, Ford Motors, Dell, Nestle, Microsoft, Accenture, TCS, Wipro, IBM
5. India versus China Medium-low Locations in Northern parts of India; major global services hubs in China are too far out from border regions ~2,500 centers

3.3 million FTEs

Citigroup, ExxonMobil, HSBC, Ford Motors, Nestle, Microsoft, TCS, Wipro, IBM, Capgemini, Tech Mahindra

Risk management actions to take

While we can only hope that none of the above-mentioned scenarios take place, organizations need to be well-prepared to manage the risk impacts. Everest Group advises the following:

  • Move geopolitical risk management up your enterprise agenda
    • New risks require newer risk management systems. While most global companies invoke reactive measures to the changing risk environment, they lack integrated capabilities for managing the cross-enterprise impact of geopolitical risk. Integrate geopolitical risk management into a systematic process and move risk functions beyond the formal views of governance/administration to influence your firm’s core strategy
    • Deploy refreshed risk management mechanisms and take a portfolio view of risks to better understand the implications and interdependencies
    • Empower risk management teams with access to geopolitical intelligence relevant for not just short-term, but long-term challenges and opportunities. Ensure that updated assessments and implications of geopolitical risks regularly feed into the decision-making machinery across the firm
  • Anticipate business-risk implications
    • Examine and understand potential business consequences of geopolitical risks. More often than not, geopolitical movements lead to regulatory changes (e.g., sanctions), thereby impacting corporate risk exposure, with implications for tax rates, cross-border trade, and exchange-transfer risk
    • Scan the horizon for changing sanctions and resultant changes to your third-party ecosystem
  • Rehearse and stress-test the readiness of contingency plans regularly
    • Consistently run tests of work from home and other BCP models to ensure familiarity and effectiveness (in terms of devices, connectivity, collaboration, and project management tools)
  • Strengthen digital security and ensure tech readiness
    • Cyber risks are increasingly associated with political origins, including war and terrorism. Keep a hawk-eye on potential threats related to cybersecurity and invest in strengthening network infrastructures and stronger encryption algorithms to insulate against potential cyberattacks
    • Be aware that historical evidence suggests that cyberattacks are not restricted to just the conflicted zones and often spill over, causing collateral damage in neighboring countries and also putting them at risk
  • Maximize delivery portfolio resiliency
    • Diversification is becoming mission-critical. Instead of operating large hubs in one or two locations, look to dip toes in multiple talent pools across locations (while simultaneously assessing fragmentation risks)
    • Reassess your Global Business Services (GBS)/shared services and vendor portfolio to ensure enough overlap and redundancy across both operational and management processes
    • Invest in process simplification and re-design to reduce hand-offs, decision-points, and dependence on people
  • Increase BCP-led talent management
    • Cross-skill/cross-train the workforce across centers in critical processes to enhance BCP and resilience, and manage workloads in case of a country/center work stoppage scenario
    • Maintain select forms of dispersed/distributed workforce (not co-located with delivery centers). Examples include remote working models or “pods,” contingent and gig workforces

The nature of geopolitical risk is changing and becoming increasingly unpredictable. It is now imperative for organizations to integrate geopolitical risk management in decision-making processes across the organization.

If you have questions or would like to discuss this topic, please feel free to reach out to us at [email protected], [email protected], or [email protected].

As we continue to watch the events in Ukraine, you can access our  resource center where you’ll find our consolidated coverage of this evolving situation, or watch our LinkedIn Live event, “How to Manage the Ukraine-Russia Impact on Service Delivery.

The Impact of Climate Change on International Business Strategies – Why Corporations Should Pay Attention | Blog

Acknowledging the reality of the current climate crisis, forward-looking corporations are adopting business strategies to make their organizations more resilient to its far-reaching consequences. Climate change can directly impact employee well-being, service delivery location decisions, and other critical business operations. Read on to gain a better understanding of its short- and long-term impacts and what to consider.     

“Jakarta is sinking,” screamed headlines as Indonesia announced moving its capital 2,000 kilometers northeast to Nusantara, on the island of Borneo. The move that could cost Indonesia upwards of $30 billion is driven by concerns of Jakarta’s submergence by 2050. Jakarta could be the first of many cities to be adversely impacted by climate change.

The debate on climate change has moved from whether it is real to when will it impact us. Climate change has become inescapable. The discussion on climate change featured primarily in social media, conferences, academia, and educational institutes have moved to boardrooms. Corporates are increasingly concerned about the short- and long-term impact climate change can have on their businesses.

Facing pressure from employees, customers, and investors to act on climate change, corporations are increasingly forced to acknowledge climate change’s economic, physical, and operational impact on their business and human capital.

Weather warnings

Hotter summers, colder winters, and an increasing frequency of extreme weather events like storms, hurricanes, and floods are all signs of the climate crisis. According to multiple studies, the earth’s surface temperature has seen the highest increase in the last 40 years, with 10 of the warmest years occurring post-2005. Scientists worldwide have reported record ice cap melting and glacier retreats.

The exponential increase in extreme weather events and natural disasters should be a more pressing concern. In 2020 and 2021, the world has seen a spike in natural disasters in the last few years, with a five-fold increase over 50 years. Climate change has led to warmer temperatures, leading to more frequent heatwaves and droughts. Sea levels have been rising steadily, coupled with frequent coastal region flooding.

Corporations taking notice

Corporations are now acknowledging that climate change can have a significant impact on business functions. Extreme weather events in recent years have disrupted business operations and resulted in the loss of human life, physical assets, and infrastructure.

Companies are trying to think beyond the short-term consequences already being felt and understand the long-term effects of climate change on international business strategies. In addition to business disruptions, climate change can have implications on employees’ mental and physical well-being and, in extreme cases, loss of life. In most companies, especially the global services industry, human capital is the most critical asset. Climate change can significantly impact business operations due to lower productivity, loss of work hours, and possible higher attrition rates.

As companies acknowledge climate change’s direct and indirect business impacts, the more forward-thinking companies have started adopting plans to make themselves more resilient to climate change and its consequences. Although this is just the beginning, a lot more needs to be done in terms of workforce and location strategies.

Location strategies need to consider climate change

Most companies are still more focused on the short-term, like building climate-resilient buildings and reinforcing existing infrastructure to make it more resilient to the impacts of climate change. Location strategy is a long-term decision with significant investment and sunk costs. Once a company decides to start delivery operations from a particular location, it is an irreversible long-term decision due to the high capital and labor investment.

Companies will have to consider the impact of climate change on future location strategy decision making, which traditionally includes talent, cost arbitrage, and conventional operating and business environment parameters. Climate change impacts different regions, locations, and geographies differently. Although two locations might be neighboring coastal cities, the impact of climate change could differ depending on the landscape.

Hence, it is paramount for companies to understand the effects of climate change on the particular location they are accessing and the degree of its impact. The holistic, long-term assessment should consider historical and predicted climate patterns, government mitigation measures and their effectiveness, and geographic factors.

In our recent viewpoint, Impact of Climate Change on Delivery Location Sustainability, we cover climate change’s impact on significant delivery locations around the world, across multiple parameters including rising temperatures, heatwaves, floods, hurricanes, storms, and rising sea levels with qualitative insights on select sites. The report provides a high-level view on short-term and long-term risk management measures to mitigate the effects of climate change on companies and employees.

To discuss further, please reach out to [email protected] or [email protected].

Also, don’t miss our webinar, 5 Success-driving Actions: How to Unlock Untapped, Affordable Talent, exploring key talent strategies in various geographies.

How the Russia-Ukraine Crisis Can Impact Customer Experience Management Services and Alternative Locations to Consider for CXM Outsourcing | Blog

With Eastern Europe serving as a major hub for Customer Experience Management (CXM), the Russia-Ukraine crisis poses a serious threat to service delivery. Now is the time for enterprises with large presences in this region to diversify delivery locations and mitigate risks.

Read on for our expert analysis on the state of CXM outsourcing here, the potential disruptions, and alternative countries to consider for multilingual customer service and tech support to ensure continued CXM services.      

Just as the world was looking to emerge from the global pandemic that caused a seismic shift in work and collaboration models, another highly disruptive crisis looms on the horizon. The recent geopolitical developments in Ukraine and Russia have caused the whole world to take notice, and with new sanctions kicking in every day, many are already preparing for adverse scenarios.

Given that this rift involves nuclear heavyweights in Russia and the NATO countries, the consequences could be far-reaching for the entire world. Consequently, these tense developments have created a lot of uncertainty and consternation for companies having a presence in the affected region.

Eastern Europe, which forms the immediate vicinity of Ukraine, is a major hub for delivering a plethora of customer experience management services for end-users both within and outside this region. Let’s take a look at the potential impacts to CXM outsourcing and alternative locations for CXM services.

Eastern European region CXM snapshot

As a strategic location for CXM services, eastern Europe offers strong multilingual capabilities, relatively inexpensive skilled talent, and cultural similarities and a minor time difference to western Europe. Leading global enterprises and Europe-focused players have a significant footprint in this region, putting them at risk in the current situation. The heatmap below illustrates the country-wise vulnerability index based on the number of delivery centers and corresponding CX agents present in each of them.

Screenshot 2022 03 23 084703

Potential CXM services disruptions and alternate solutions

Due to its skilled and relatively inexpensive IT talent pool, Eastern Europe is highly leveraged for its multilingual support for not only the regional languages such as Russian, Czech, Serbian, etc. but also for many of the major west European languages such as German, French, English, Spanish, and Italian. Poland and Romania also are sizeable talent sources for technical support.

Major cities in Ukraine such as Kyiv and Dnipro have been the most severely impacted by the armed conflict with Russia, and enterprises must accelerate Business Continuity Planning (BCP) measures to relocate affected CXM agents to safer parts of the country or outside of Ukraine to provide immediate relief.

If the conflict escalates beyond the borders of Ukraine in the coming weeks, major cities in Romania, Poland, and Bulgaria – which have the highest concentration of CXM delivery centers – could also be directly impacted.

We also envision a potential threat of cybersecurity breaches in Ukraine, inevitably causing collateral damage to its neighboring countries as well. While no one can foresee how the situation will unfold or its duration, enterprise clients must stay well informed and start devising backup scenarios and activate disaster recovery plans if needed. Although we believe the disruption will be temporary, a long-protracted war can’t be ruled out.

Alternative locations for CXM support services

Considering the uncertainty and volatility, let’s look at some viable alternate locations to help enterprises mitigate their emerging risks:

  • Multilingual customer support – Enterprises should consider new offshore and onshore locations to support major European languages for CXM outsourcing, as illustrated below:
    table
  • Tech support – The best strategy for enterprises is keeping their complex tech-related support in-house through onshore locations. However, for simpler queries, alternative nearshore locations such as South Africa and Egypt offer similar advantages that Eastern European locations can provide at lower price points without any dip in the talent pool. Even offshore locations such as India and the Philippines are suitable alternatives to consider as long-term tech support outsourcing locations

Mitigate risks

The last two years have taught enterprises the glaring importance of risk mitigation as a strategic priority to ensure service continuity, and this year seems to be behaving no differently. Customer experience has established itself as a true differentiator for enterprises of all sizes and shapes in every industry. As such, ensuring that customer support services run unhindered is vital for enterprises to achieve their business outcomes.

Now, more than ever, diversification of service delivery locations will become increasingly relevant to counteract the rising instability that the current geopolitical tensions between Russia and Ukraine as well as similar such events could bring in the future.

While we hope that this devastating humanitarian crisis comes to an end as soon as possible, enterprises that closely re-examine their service delivery footprints and proactively mitigate their risks will be better positioned to absorb any shockwaves that could potentially arise in the coming months.

With the continuing escalating events, it is important to stay informed on the latest developments in this region. Contact us at [email protected] or [email protected] to discuss your situation and solutions.

Discover more about the impacts to the service delivery ecosystem in our LinkedIn Live event, How to Manage the Ukraine-Russia Impact on Service Delivery.

You can also keep up on the impact of service delivery from Ukraine and the CEE region in our  resource center where you’ll find our consolidated coverage.

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