Category: Outsourcing

How COVID-19 Will Impact IT Services in the Banking and Financial Services (BFS) Industry | Blog

The BFS industry started 2020 in a cautiously optimistic mood, hoping for a rebound in global economic growth. But then the COVID-19 outbreak swept the world into a state of emergency. The current challenge is far greater for BFS firms than was the Great Recession, as they need to crack the code of how to deal swiftly with both demand- and supply-side shocks. In this scenario, banks face a dual mandate of:

  1. Playing a central role in stabilizing the economy
  2. Ensuring business continuity to maintain normal operations

Breaking down the impact of COVID-19 on the BFS IT services market

To illustrate the variation in pandemic impact across different BFS lines of business (LoBs), we analyzed the severity of impact and speed of recovery for each line. Our assessment of severity of impact involved modeling factors such as the COVID-19 revenue and profitability impact from both a near-term (3-6 months) and a medium-term (6-12 months) perspective. We gave more weight to the medium-term impact as the near-term uncertainty makes the modeling of impact very difficult.

And we mapped impact severity against the speed of recovery by gauging the time it will take for these LoBs to bounce back to the pre-crisis state; this is a function of the health of these business segments before the crisis, as well as expected changes in customer sentiment and buying behavior once the crisis is over.

Our analysis found that BFS LoBs cluster in four zones, each of which exhibits unique characteristics and will face a distinct set of technology and IT services implications. Taking it counterclockwise from the bottom right quadrant:

  1. Aggressive cost take out – Lying on the bottom right, the LoBs in this zone will face the highest degree of impact; we also expect their pace of recovery to be painfully slow. To aid in their recovery, these LoBs should rethink their operating models and get back to basic principles: focus on the core business of provisioning financial services, think of delivering more value to customers, and move away from non-core elements like engineering or IT services innovation.We expect to see heightened asset-heavy deal activity in this segment, as these LoBs will need cash to invest and rejuvenate growth in select focus segments. And they’ll be looking for financial engineering support through activities such as takeover of legacy assets, shared services carve-outs, and even signing of long-term integrated technology plus operations support engagements that are centered around specific business outcomes.
  2. Modernization –This zone at the top right comprises LoBs that we expect to rebound faster to pre-crisis growth levels. From an IT services standpoint, we expect these LoBs to focus on cost savings in the near-term by seeking price cuts on rate cards and pausing some change initiatives. However, soon enough, these segments will get back to modernization initiatives. Hybrid cloud will play a critical role, as these LoBs will place significant emphasis on digital enablement to fuel their long-term growth.
  3. Growth – Odd as this may sound, we expect these business segments to benefit from the crisis in the near term. For example, as governments across multiple geographies have announced relief packages for small businesses that are facing unprecedented economic disruption, banks are needed to facilitate these SBA loans. Financial services firms that have proactively invested in creating a scalable infrastructure and stronger business continuity plans are better positioned to take advantage of this opportunity by generating significant fee income. Enterprises with large LoBs in this zone will also be on the lookout for inorganic expansion and take advantage of the reduced evaluations. Enhancing customer experience, driving product innovation, and improving agility to quickly respond to market demands will be the key investment themes.
  4. Transformation – This zone comprises LoBs that will recover most slowly from this crisis. Hence, these business segments need to rethink their business models and diversify their revenue mix to sustain themselves in the long term. For instance, retail/consumer transaction banking will face profitability challenges due to reliance on interest-based income, and some of the fee-based commoditized businesses, like retail wealth management, have been under stress due to downward fee pressures. As a result, enterprises with large LoBs in this zone will look to transform themselves and invest from a long-term growth perspective.

 

COVID 19 impact vs. response matrix across BFS lines of businesses

Implications for BFS enterprises

At an industry level, we expect BFS firms to completely focus on running the business initiatives in the near term. Our research suggests that banks have put nearly 60 percent of change projects on hold. Most of these suspensions are temporary and will restart once the crisis abates; however, we believe that the prioritization and nature of these change projects will mutate due to a shift in business priorities and budgets.

As an immediate response to the current situation, designing and executing customer assistance programs should be the top priority for BFS firms. In the medium term, the firms’ focus should gradually shift to modernization of legacy systems that slowed down banks’ agility and ability to respond to this crisis. Post COVID-19, BFS firms will need to reimagine their products, pricing, and channel strategies to fulfill evolved customers’ expectations.

Our recommendation for BFS enterprises is to cautiously evaluate their exposure across each of their LoBs and carve out a holistic IT strategy that takes into account not only the near-term implications, but also their long-term business philosophy.

Please share your views on the impact of COVID-19 on the BFS industry segments with us at [email protected] and [email protected].

Are IT Buyers Pushing for Discounts Due to the Pandemic?

Not surprisingly, we’ve been flooded with questions about the implications of COVID-19 on the IT services industry over the past two months.

Let’s take a look at the two most prevalent questions.

How are IT contracts being impacted?

Financial distress – such as a dip in revenue generation and restricted cash flow – is forcing enterprise IT to review their IT contracts. Clients are exploring three options:

  • Putting non-critical projects on hold
  • Deferring payments to keep critical projects running
  • Seeking discounts

Their preferred option is putting non-critical projects on hold. Clients are triaging to keep their business-critical functions – like transactions systems, call centers, datacenters, and supply chain systems – running. However, they’re putting non-critical engagements, such as new application development and feature upgrades, on the back burner.

Second in order of priority is deferring payments. We’re seeing deferral requests increase in frequency, especially in distressed industries such as travel, transportation, hospitality, and medical devices. And we’ve seen payment terms going up to 180 days in a few situations. However, an early trend that will soon establish itself as the IT industry norm is balance sheet (or cash pile) financing; vendor balance sheets have started to play a role in enabling billing deferrals and “deploy now pay later” models. For example, Cisco has set up a US $2.5 billion war chest leveraging its balance sheet to help some of its clients defer payments until 2021.

Our analysis shows that vendor balance sheets, both tech products and IT, are healthy. For example:

  • IT vendors’ (HCL, Infosys, TCS, Wipro, etc.) balance sheet assets over liabilities ratio ranges from 1.3x to 3.5x
  • Tech vendors’ (Adobe, Amazon, Microsoft, Oracle, etc.) balance sheet assets over liabilities ratio ranges from 1.1x to 3.4x.

And there is evidence that they may dip into them to help their clients out.

The third in priority is seeking discounts. We’re seeing anecdotal evidence of clients seeking discounts on contract value and in a few cases extending up to 50 percent of the annual contract value. But to clarify and qualify this:

  • The discount discussions are largely focused on time and materials (T&M) projects. Few are around fixed price and managed service engagements, which form a larger share of revenue profile for large IT vendors
  • And this means that smaller IT and staffing vendors – for which T&M constitutes larger share of the revenue profile – are going to be impacted more than the large IT vendors

Most importantly, we’ve seen enterprises being very flexible and collaborative with their vendors – working closely with them to keep initiatives running.

How will enterprises prioritize and fund IT initiatives during this crisis?

Enterprises are currently preparing their playbooks to navigate the ongoing recession. It’s important to note that recession does not mean that IT initiatives will be broadly deprioritized. Depending on the impact they see on their overall business and their anticipation of recovery, enterprise executives will triage their resources (cash, talent, vendors) to keep critical initiatives running.

Here’s a look at the framework we’re using to help buy-side clients prioritize their decisions:

  • Rescue business critical initiatives most severely impacted by the recession through financial engineering and aggressive cost takeout
  • Revitalize revenue-generating business functions that can gain from automation usage and cloud-driven agility
  • Reinforce the lowest impact portions of the revenue profile through M&A and product launches
  • Restructure those portions of the portfolio – such as vendors, locations, and talent – that already had redundancy and concentration risk issues

Portfolio approach by enterprises

In the coming weeks, enterprises will be using this framework to:

  • Triage between critical and non-critical IT spends
  • Build their blueprints for how they will reallocate budgets and engage with vendors
  • Identify new scope and financial models on which they’ll engage their vendors

Watch this space to see how this playbook evolves. If you have any questions or ideas on other approaches, please write to me at [email protected].

Will COVID-19 Ease the Relentless War for Talent? | Blog

While some people in the global services industry think that large scale unemployment and the slowdown in growth due to the COVID-19 pandemic may reduce the talent demand-supply gap, we wholeheartedly disagree. Indeed, we believe that strategic workforce planning has become even more critical for the global services industry.

Here are four reasons why organizations need to accelerate their workforce initiatives right now.

Talent shortages will become acute

A survey we conducted in early 2020 found that, even before the COVID-19 crisis, 86 percent of enterprises considered the talent shortage a key barrier to achieving business outcomes. This situation will further exacerbate. It’s true that the impending economic downturn could lead to even more unemployment and oversupply in the talent market. However, the available skills profiles may not necessarily match organizations’ current and future requirements, especially because highly skilled talent is expected to be retained even during downsizing. Increasing focus on automation and digital transformation will further widen the demand-supply gap for skills, making it difficult for organizations to source suitable skills internally or in the open market. The prevailing circumstances (e.g., the lockdown, financial distress, and health issues) may impact overall talent employability in the open market, further compounding the talent availability issue.

Rapid digital transformation is inevitable, and it will intensify the demand-supply gap

COVID-19 has accelerated digital transformation across organizations. It has not only reinforced the utility of tech-enabled platforms and advanced automation for seamless service delivery during mandatory Work-From-Home (WFH) protocols, but also enabled organizations to react to the evolving business environment and customer needs faster. The impending budget cliff and business model changes will further push organizations to prioritize digital transformation, which will have implications on the talent needed both to drive this change and to deliver services after transformation. Demand for emerging skills will spike even faster, again creating the need for reskilling, alternative talent models, and productivity enhancement. We are already seeing a spike in hiring by companies like Amazon and Google. Some firms are seeing this as an opportune time to acqui-hire – or acquire startups primarily for their talent. Leading global banks, healthcare firms, and manufacturing firms are rethinking their talent strategies.

Supposedly foolproof location and BCP strategies did not work in the face of this pandemic

COVID-19 has exposed key issues with enterprises’ and service providers’ existing locations strategy and Business Continuity Planning (BCP) approaches. Nearly three-quarters of enterprises that have offshore/nearshore GBS centers operate in only one location. Even enterprises with multiple GBS centers have a high concentration of talent in their largest center. Others have developed centers of excellence with large portions of their workforce for a specific function consolidated in a few locations. Less than 10 percent of GBS centers were truly prepared for a seamless WFH model. Companies will need to re-evaluate their redundancy matrices and location/portfolio mixes to achieve a more robust BCP. Some seemingly obvious responses to locations portfolio questions may not apply anymore.

WFH is here-to-stay

A 2017-18 survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that nearly 30 percent of the American workforce could work remotely. The extended lockdown in the near term and a high utilization, once the COVID-19 crisis has abated, will likely make WFH an integral component of the overall service delivery model. This change will have significant talent implications – motivation, employee engagement, performance metrics, reporting metrics, communication protocols, and collaboration – which organizations will need to proactively address to optimize productivity and enhance output.

COVID-19 has precipitated a fundamental shift in the way we work. There are underlying opportunities for enterprises and service providers that proactively adapt to the new normal. We believe there are four immediate steps that enterprises must take:

  • Review your enterprise global workforce strategy
  • Develop a roadmap for skills development initiatives
  • Review your locations portfolios and BCP strategy
  • Build a playbook for integrating WFH and crowdsourcing into your services delivery models

We’d love to hear your thoughts on how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting talent strategies. Please share with us at: [email protected], [email protected], or [email protected].

Impact Of Coronavirus Threat To The IT Services Industry | Blog

Clearly, the coronavirus (COVID-19) already has an impact on the global economy and broader market. Companies are cancelling conferences and events. They are closing their campuses to outsiders. Travel is restricted. And in some instances, companies impose a work-from-home policy. In the IT and BPO services industry, decision-making is stalled, and we already see clients cancelling planned contracts.

How bad is the disruption to the services industry? It will have a negative impact on revenue growth in the next quarter (ending in June 2020) and potentially in several quarters to come. New projects will be postponed or cancelled. This is because, first, companies simply cannot buy complicated services without some form of travel. Second, any large initiatives require executive support and energy, and they won’t have time to push contracts forward during the next few months.

Read more in my blog on Forbes

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

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.

Ongoing Coverage of the Service Delivery Impacts of Coronavirus | Blog

Ongoing Coverage of the Service Delivery Impacts of Coronavirus

Coronavirus, or 2019-ncOv, creates many uncertainties for organizations engaged in the delivery of business process, IT, and engineering services. While the initial focus is the delivery of services from China, geographies such as India and the Philippines (and perhaps others) may also become areas of increased concern. Global service delivery organizations are typically large and involve extensive international mobility, increasing their risk exposure; at the same time, they are also leaders in virtual interactions via phone, email, and video.

This is the first 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.

Everest Group recently published a Risk Radar update on China related to coronavirus. With this update, we increased our risk rating for service delivery in China from “low-medium” to “medium.” Members of our Locations Insider, Catalyst, and Market Vista memberships can access the report.

We recommend that business process, IT, and engineering services firms migrate their critical operations to alternate delivery locations and promote the use of teleconferencing and work-from-home policies to ensure business continuity with minimal impact to operations. Additionally, companies should implement precautionary measures in compliance with the government guidelines.

In the coming days, we will publish additional blogs covering a range of topics related to this issue. At this point, mortality rates appear low, so the main concern may continue to be basic availability of business operations in China and implications on travel, families, and in-flight initiatives.

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

The Many Languages of Asia, and the Delivery Locations Best Positioned to Service Them | Blog

Asia has long been an important business destination, as it’s home to more than 60 percent of the world’s population and accounts for a major share of world consumption. In fact, forecasts suggest that – with increasing access to credit, low inflation, rising income levels, and a favorable regulatory environment – Asia alone will account for 40 percent of the world’s consumption by 2040. The region also accounts for approximately half (about 2.2 billion) of the world’s internet users, which constitutes an enormous pool of digital consumers.

So, it’s no surprise that many businesses have set up facilities closer to the region and that many indigenous organizations have emerged as well. Indeed, about 40 percent of the world’s 5,000 largest companies are based in Asia.

However, to truly succeed in this market, enterprises need a crucial weapon: a multilingual workforce proficient in Asian languages.

Although English is still widely accepted as the universal language for business, a workforce proficient in Asian languages brings additional value to the table. It acts as a conduit between the organization and the region by helping develop a deeper cultural connection with customers, revealing their concerns and preferences, which might not be understood otherwise.

Major Asian business languages include Mandarin, Korean, Thai, Bahasa Indonesian, and Malay, and each one provides access to a different consumer market. Thus, one key strategic consideration for enterprises selecting an Asian service delivery location is the language capabilities of the talent in the destination.

Let’s take a quick look at some of the major multilingual destinations in Asia and the value proposition they offer.

Malaysia

Malaysia ranks among the top service delivery locations for Asian languages, primarily because it lies close to source markets and is a mature destination that supports a wide range of services and languages. The country supports scaled delivery of Mandarin and Bahasa Indonesian and, to a lesser extent, Korean, Japanese, and Thai. The only challenge is the relatively high cost of operations compared to other Asian service delivery locations.

The Philippines

Another attractive location for service delivery in Asian languages, the Philippines offers moderate cost savings, breadth and depth of services, and scalable language delivery. However, the country struggles with achieving scaled service delivery in Thai.

Vietnam

Vietnam is a moderately attractive location for Asian language delivery, driven by the significant cost arbitrage it offers compared to other prominent locations. Organizations can achieve scaled delivery of services in Japanese and Mandarin but will experience challenges in scaling up service delivery in other Asian languages.

India

Although India is a key global services destination, the country falls behind its competitors in multilingual service delivery in Asian languages. India struggles to scale up service delivery in almost all major Asian languages, and compensation for multilingual service delivery approximately costs 50 percent more than service delivery in English.

With India out of the race, what’s the best service delivery location for your organization’s Asian language needs? If cost is an important consideration in setting up your multilingual team, the Philippines and Vietnam are attractive locations. But if you are looking for market maturity, scaled language delivery, and proximity to source markets, Malaysia is the clear winner. The country can comfortably cater to Indonesia, Korea, Japan, China, and Thailand – a huge belt within Asia – which combined house a population of nearly 1.6 billion.

To learn more about key locations for language-based service delivery and the primary drivers – including infrastructure, talent potential, business environment, adoption maturity, competitive intensity, and financial feasibility – that impact location attractiveness, please read our recently published report, Handbook for Language Skills, or reach out to the report authors: Parul Jain, Kunal Anand, and Pagalam Rajeshwaran.

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