Category: Outsourcing

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.

Dark Horses Challenging Mexico City’s Status as Top Mexican Services Delivery Location | Blog

Mexico continues to be the destination of choice for global services delivery across Latin America. Indeed, our  research for our “Global Locations Annual Report 2019: Demand for Next-Gen Services Defining Locations Strategies” report found that 26 percent of LATAM’s new set-ups established during 2017 to 2019 were in Mexico, including those by Atento, Continental, Harman International, Hexaware Technologies, Neoris, Tech Mahindra, and Zensar.

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There are multiple reasons that Mexico is the top LATAM global services delivery destination. First, while voice and non-voice business process services continue to grow moderately, the country is the leader in digital due to an increase in support for services including analytics, cloud, mobility, big data, IoT, and artificial intelligence. Second, very few locations offer a better cost-talent proposition to North American enterprises than does Mexico. And third, the fact that it’s a nearshore location makes it highly attractive to North America-based companies.

So, what are the top delivery destinations in Mexico?

Mexico City has the largest share of the Mexican market and is the most mature location in terms of breadth and depth of IT and business process services delivered, including IT consulting, digital, accounting, tax, and actuarial services.

However, despite being the country’s capital city and biggest business hub, Mexico City lags behind most of its Mexican counterparts in quality of life aspects including crime rates, traffic congestion, and air pollution. And, it ranks second to last of 32 cities assessed across Mexico on “ease of doing business.” All of this, coupled with the fact that clients care most about the talent capabilities in the destination, is opening the door for several other Mexican cities to carve out greater portions of the Mexico services delivery pie.

Let’s take a quick look at these dark horses.

Guadalajara

Guadalajara, often referred to as the “Silicon Valley of Mexico,” continues to grow due to its availability of IT-related talent and delivery of key skills such as IT-ADM, cyber security, and IT consulting. Large pools of talent from adjoining areas have been migrating to the city. Today, Guadalajara is home to some of the top service providers, including HCL Technologies, IBM, and TCS.

Monterrey

Monterrey continues to grow in the finance and accounting space and is one of the country’s most mature locations after Mexico City. The city also delivers some of the more complex functions including tax and accounting. Given its proximity to the U.S. border, the English language proficiency and scalability potential of its global services workers is the highest in the country. The city also offers the best overall business environment, primarily due to better quality of life, infrastructure, and connectivity.

Queretaro

With its proximity to Mexico City, Queretaro has grown steadily as a delivery location across functions over the past several years. The city has had maximum percentage growth in graduates across Mexico since 2015, albeit on a smaller base. However, its development is still nascent, so it’s largely being leveraged as a smaller spoke to a larger hub within the region. From a cost standpoint, most global companies view it as a low-cost alternative, primarily driven by lower people- and non-people costs.

 

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To learn more about the dynamics shaping the global services locations landscape, please read our recently published report, “Global Locations Annual Report 2019: Demand for Next-Gen Services Defining Locations Strategies.” We developed the report based on deep-dive discussions with regional investment promotion bodies, leading shared services centers, service providers, recruitment agencies, and other market participants.

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

Companies Waste Or Overpay Service Vendors At Least 10% | Blog

Organizations buy services from a wide variety of service providers — ranging from managed services for IT applications and infrastructure, contingent labor to supplement gaps in skills and availability, cloud services, business process services, and more. We at Everest Group looked at the administration of these contractual relationships and discovered that most organizations leave tens of millions of dollars on the table. Why does this happen and what is the answer to this dilemma?

Read my blog on Forbes

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

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

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

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

Cost and margin pressures

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

Rise in reshoring

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

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

Digital uprise

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

Rationalization of the experience mix

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

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

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

Demand for Next-Gen Services Defining Location Strategies | Blog

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

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

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

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

Digital and R&D/engineering services continue to dominate

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

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Global services delivery is increasingly being characterized by nearshoring

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

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

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Global services headcount continues to grow, but modestly

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

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Service providers continue to grow in onshore geographies

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

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

Growth in emerging locations for global services delivery

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

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

To learn more about the dynamics shaping the global services locations landscape, please read our recently published report, “Global Locations Annual Report 2019: Demand for Next-Gen Services Defining Locations Strategies.” We developed the report based on deep-dive discussions with the regional investment promotion bodies, leading shared services centers, service providers, recruitment agencies, and other market participants.

Middle East and Africa: An Emerging Frontier for Global Services | Blog

Numerous locations in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) are emerging as upcoming destinations for global services delivery. Several multinational companies have set up their centers in the MEA region to deliver services to Europe and North America, and tech giants including Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Uber are leveraging it for global services delivery.

What’s the appeal?

Availability and quality of talent pool

There’s been a consistent increase in the pool of entry-level talent and experienced professionals with domain-specific skills. Egypt is the leader in the region; due to various government measures to improve education quality and a significant rise in contact center operations in multiple languages, including English, French, and Arabic, the country posted an enormous 35 percent increase in the headcount for global services exports in 2018.

There’s also been a considerable rise in R&D centers and Centers of Excellence (COEs), where talented professionals with relevant and often advanced technological skill sets work to develop state-of-the-art solutions.

Less competition for talent

Because there’s a relatively large population base, limited jobs, and high unemployment rates throughout much of the region – for example, South Africa is at 27 percent and Nigeria is at 23 percent – organizations can procure talent easily and train the workers as per their specific business needs.

Cost arbitrage

Some of the countries in the MEA region offer highly attractive cost arbitrage compared to source geographies. For example, Egypt, Nigeria, and Kenya come in at 70-80 percent less (although Nigeria and Kenya are primarily leveraged to serve domestic markets), and South Africa (for non-voice F&A) and Morocco (for voice-based services) offer cost savings of 40-60 percent over source geographies.

Proximity to Europe

Proximity with various European countries is a big selling point of many African locations. For example, because Morocco offers both cultural and geographical proximity to France and Spain, companies are increasingly leveraging it for French and Spanish voice-based business process services. Because the English language was introduced by British colonists, and because there’s shared cultural affinity, South Africa is becoming a popular destination for voice-based services delivery for U.K. companies. Additionally, because most African countries share similar time zones with Europe, delivery and client teams are able to collaborate in real time, thereby, optimizing work in both the geographies.

The leading locations in the MEA region

The map below highlights key locations leveraged by global enterprises and service providers for global services delivery. While the emerging locations house 20,000 to 100,000 FTEs across global services, nascent locations employ less than 20,000 FTEs in this space.

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A snapshot view of the top five global services delivery locations in MEA

  • Egypt: Offers the most attractive cost-talent proposition, with strong multilingual skills, especially in English, French, and Arabic languages. However, relatively higher operating environment risk with concerns around high inflation rates and repressive government policies
  • Morocco: Primarily leveraged for French and Arabic language voice-based BPS and IT services. Morocco offers moderate-high competitive intensity and strong government support (especially for the IT-BPS sector through financial, tax, and customs advantages)
  • South Africa: Characterized with large, high-quality talent pools and the highest maturity across functions, South Africa houses multiple organizations delivering voice and non-voice BPS, including complex processes. It has a stable geopolitical environment, well-developed infrastructure, high ease of doing business, strong government incentives for the IT-BPS sector, and limited safety and security concerns
  • Mauritius: It is leveraged for IT (both ADM and infrastructure), non-voice business process services, and R&D services to serve French and Canadian markets. It offers a favorable business environment, with government incentives for the IT-BPS sector, such as tax-free dividends and foreign tax credits
  • Israel: Leveraged for delivery of advanced IT (including IoT, ML, and AI) and R&D services, primarily to support the U.S. and Europe. Israel offers a highly favorable business environment with lower tax rates and conducive government incentives, such as low corporate tax and grants up to 20 percent of the amount of the investment.

For a detailed view of each of these locations, please read our latest Location Spotlight reports. Each report analyzes the individual country’s global sourcing profile, key opportunities, drivers, challenges, talent and skills availability, financial attractiveness, and environment risks.

 

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

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

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

Established/Mature Location for Global Pharma Services Delivery

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

Skilled Talent Pool

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

Opportunities for Cross-functional Collaboration

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

Mature Market for Digital Services Delivery

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

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

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

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