Category: Shared Services/Global In-house Centers

Understanding the Commercial Construct of a Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) Model for Your Global Business Services | Blog

Transformation has become an imperative for all industries, more so during the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. A majority of our clients have highlighted the increasing pressure to manage their margins and balance their long-term vision and strategy with short-term needs in a post-COVID-19 landscape. One way for enterprises to achieve this objective is by re-assessing the setup model for their future Global Business Services (GBS) centers.

This blog focuses on one such setup option – Build Operate Transfer (BOT) – and its commercial underpinnings. In these uncertain times, BOT seems to be an especially relevant option, as it offers the unique advantage of lower short-term investment and a better long-term business re-prioritization opportunity. But only if the price is right.

Let’s take a closer look.

Can BOT be your business’ panacea?

In a BOT sourcing model, an enterprise can partner with a third-party service provider to build a delivery center (which includes investing capital, leasing the facility, and sourcing talent), operate it for a pre-defined period (based on the operational agreement), and allow the enterprise the option to transfer the center back to itself. The model helps avoid upfront capital investment, reduces operational risk, limits the burden of managerial and operational oversight, promotes new capabilities, and expedites speed-to-market. As it comes with an exit option, enterprises can also test the model without fully committing to it.

In fact, as part of a recent engagement, we helped a global technology firm assess the best-fit setup option for its GBS center in India. The firm opted for BOT, preferring to partner with a local service provider to reduce financial and operational uncertainties. While the BOT model’s benefits were evident from the start, a key learning from the engagement was that these benefits come at a relatively high cost. Thus, understanding the price tag is key before committing to the model.

Understanding the costs involved

While the key cost components of a BOT model can vary based on the specifics of the service contract, we outline below standard commercial practices prevalent in the market across the build, operate, and transfer stages.

In the build phase, the enterprise is either not required to invest or invests a limited amount, and vendors typically provide most of the upfront investment. In most cases, the service contract stipulates that the service provider’s investment includes setting up the facility (which includes both real estate and technology infrastructure), establishing the hiring mechanism, and laying the ground for services delivery. The service provider recovers this investment in the next two stages.

In the operate phase, the service provider charges the enterprise an ongoing fee to meet all operating expenses and day-to-day operations and to track and maintain pre-determined Service Line Agreements (SLAs). The ongoing fee includes the service provider’s margins, which are typically 2-5% higher than those in a pure outsourcing construct. The additional margin is often dependent on the scope, scale, and nature of services, the service provider profile, extent of initial investment, and lock-in period.

In the transfer phase, the service provider typically charges the enterprise a one-time transfer fee, which could vary widely – 20-30% in some cases – based on other contractual agreements, in lieu of transferring back all services and procured assets. Typically, this fee is charged as a percentage of the ongoing annual fee in the build phase, and an enterprise can pre-determine this percentage in the service contract. Beyond this, if rebadging is required, the service provider charges the enterprise a one-time transfer fee to give up employer rights on resources that are successfully rebadged.

Considering these cost elements, a BOT construct can be about 15-30% more expensive than a de novo / fully owned GBS model. Hence, each enterprise needs to consider the cost-benefit trade-off when selecting a suitable setup option for itself.

Making the move

When evaluating future GBS setups, we urge enterprises to be mindful about the overall business case and assess both the financial and non-financial aspects of the setup model. Doing so will help them understand both the costs involved and associated benefits. Our research strongly suggests that enterprises are likely to find a robust business case for the BOT model to navigate these uncertain times.

Are you looking to understand whether the BOT model would be suitable for your next GBS setup? Connect with us at [email protected], [email protected], and [email protected]

Scaled Work From Home Inevitable for GBS Organizations Following COVID-19 | Blog

GBS organizations have traditionally been reluctant to adopt work from home

Before COVID-19, most Global Business Services (GBS) organizations have been reluctant to adopt a Work From Home (WFH) delivery model, viewing it as hard to govern and only relevant for a few work types and employees. As a result, organizations primarily used WFH for Business Continuity Planning (BCP) purposes – and with less than 5% of organizations deploying WFH at any scale (i.e., 20-50% of the workforce working from home), there was limited/no focus on building an enabling ecosystem to support remote working.

COVID-19 has redefined the art of the possible

COVID-19 led to widescale (and forced) adoption of WFH in GBS organizations across verticals and geographies, as organizations were compelled to scale up WFH quickly to ensure operational continuity and prevent large-scale absenteeism. After initial challenges to ensure home infrastructures were optimal, robust, safe, and compliant with service delivery standards/regulations, most GBS organizations found that productivity did not suffer. In fact, several organizations have reported productivity gains, though the volume of these gains remains debatable. As of May 2020, more than 90% of GBS organizations were delivering services in a WFH model. COVID-19 has redefined what’s possible, truly changing global leaders’ view of WFH, as Exhibit 1 shows.

Exhibit 1: Blueprint for scaled WFH adoption in GBS – the next normal

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When we find ourselves on the other side of this pandemic, there will be a growing appetite for more WFH adoption, with many organizations considering it a permanent model. Leading organizations, including Facebook, Google, Microsoft, TCS, and HCL, have already announced plans to adopt WFH. We expect WFH to emerge as an imperative for GBS organizations, with more than 30-40% of GBS organizations adopting scaled WFH even after lockdown restrictions are lifted.

WFH – a strategic lever for GBS to evolve delivery and operating models

Even when there is no pandemic or other external threat forcing organizations to engage a WFH model, there is a strong business case to scale it. Our assessment shows that WFH can help drive significant GBS operating cost savings (anywhere from 5-15%), improve the talent model, lower risk in the location portfolio, strengthen the GBS value proposition, and provide societal and environmental benefits, as highlighted in Exhibit 2.

Exhibit 2: Business case for WFH

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Adopting a WFH model can drive the next wave of cost optimization for GBS. WFH can directly impact and reduce costs related to real estate infrastructure, transportation, and consumption. WFH can also reduce people-related costs by lowering attrition and increasing employee productivity. To support these gains, GBS organizations would have to invest in technology-related infrastructure such as equipment, tools, platforms, and technologies. Detailed Everest Group analysis indicates that GBS organizations can save up to 15% of their annual operating cost with 50% of the workforce working from home. They can further increase savings potential by:

  • Increasing process standardization;
  • Reducing permanent real estate;
  • Increasing cloud adoption;
  • Creating remote sites in low-cost locations;
  • Employing automation; and,
  • Using digital collaboration tools.

WFH can help GBS organizations improve talent acquisition and engagement. For the current workforce, WFH can improve GBS employee retention, improve employee productivity due to reduced stress (such as eliminating the commute) and office-based distractions, and help strengthen branding as a socially conscious organization. For the future workforce, WFH allows the GBS organization to improve the speed and effectiveness of talent acquisition, accessing talent far from its physical site locations, as well as by leveraging the gig economy.

Beyond these benefits, WFH reduces GBS concentration risk without necessitating a change in locations portfolio. Some GBS model features, such as greater control and governance, better protection of IP and domain knowledge, and ease in driving long-term transformation, may be better suited to the WFH model. Thus, GBS organizations can leverage adoption WFH to further strengthen their value proposition to their parent enterprises.

Such a strong business case seems to indicate that WFH is a win-win-win for enterprises, GBS organizations, and the workforce. As a result, it seems inevitable that WFH will become an integral part of the services delivery model.

However, before scaling WFH, organizations must understand the interplay of various decision drivers to determine overall potential to scale it. WFH adoption does not come without challenges, such as its implications for employee development and expectations, social capital, leadership development programs, the role of front-line managers, and work-life balance. Further, there are several regulatory aspects – such as data security, labor and employment laws, SEZ norms, and current limitations of the Shops and Establishment Act or telecom departments – that may hinder scaled WFH. Stay tuned – we will cover these aspects in our subsequent blogs.

For more details on this topic, see our “Playbook: Integrating Work From Home in the Global Business Services (GBS) Delivery Model.” Or reach out to us with your perspectives and experiences, write to us at [email protected] and [email protected].

Paradox Of GBS / GIC Marketplace Due To COVID-19 Crisis | Blog

American politician Rahm Emanuel advised, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” As companies begin to exit the COVID-19 crisis, they look at the business world through new eyes. In a recession, they need to reduce costs. Further, most employees now work from home. Together, these factors, forced by the pandemic, cause boards of directors and CXOs to ask, “How can we operate as a leaner, more competitive company structurally?” But they look at more than how to operate more cost-effectively. They look at how they can add more strategic value in their operations.

Read more in my blog on Forbes

The Silver Lining in the Current Crisis: Retail and CPG Global Business Services Centers Seizing Opportunity | Blog

The recent months have been challenging for retail and Consumer Product Goods (CPG) firms due to the COVID-19 outbreak, with the industry suffering from both demand and supply shocks. However, this situation is actually a blessing in disguise for many shared service centers or Global Business Services (GBS) centers, which have seized the opportunity to showcase their capabilities to adapt to newer and more agile operating models.

As we discussed in detail in an earlier blog, retail and CPG GBS centers have evolved over the years to provide support across the value chain, delivering core processes such as sales and marketing and supply chain management. And digital services increasingly core to service delivery. In fact, about 40% of all new retail and CPG GBS set-ups in the past two to three years have been centered around digital capabilities, analytics and automation technologies in particular.

Many GBS centers have gained confidence and visibility across their enterprises during these turbulent times. In one example, a CPG firm’s GBS center swiftly moved to a work-from-home delivery model, while simultaneously helping its service provider get back on its feet by supplying spare laptops and other assistance. The center also took on additional activities from other parts of the enterprise, completing complex tasks such as quarter-close and year-close using a work-from-home construct – a first for the entire enterprise.

The disruptive environment provided many retail and CPG GBS centers the opportunity to elevate the support they provide to their enterprises. We believe these GBS centers can have an impact in a variety of ways, three of which we describe below.

Retail CPG future

Strengthen support across the value chain

With the re-orientation of consumer behavior and supply chain disruptions, retail and CPG enterprises are likely to adjust several elements across the value chain – from supply chain and logistics to e-commerce architecture. GBS organizations are well placed to lead initiatives related to the revised value chain such as managing e-commerce webpage design, AI-driven customer sentiment analysis, and pricing optimization. The sharp increase in online purchasing also increases the scope of delivery opportunity in areas such as fraud detection, identification of counterfeit products, integrated cashless payment systems, and promotion management, all of which have been in nascent stages of adoption to date.

Expand digital support

In the short run, GBS centers are likely to continue to concentrate on established technologies such as analytics and automation to provide robust solutions in areas such as demand forecasting and customer retention. Supply chain analytics, for example, will become imperative for the organizations. In another example, a leading CPG company’s India-based GBS center is using advanced analytics to help its company reduce customer churn and adopt more targeted marketing practices.

Some mature retail and CPG GBS centers, as part of their longer-term strategy, are looking into technologies such as computer vision, IoT, and Augmented Reality (AR) or Virtual Reality (VR). A few large chain retailers have started to implement smart IoT-based solutions for better warehouse management, which has helped to increase staff efficiency, reduce error rates, and reduce turnaround time.

Ride the disruption wave and adopt newer operating or business models

Many GBS organizations are modifying their current workforce and governance strategies – testing virtual/remote working models as alternatives to locations/BCP strategies, deploying a wider array of metrics to measure value beyond the cost benefits, taking end-to-end responsibility for specific services or technologies/platforms (cultivating an intrapreneurial mindset), and identifying opportunities to better collaborate with external ecosystem, to name a few. We are likely to see structural and governance changes in the next 12 to 18 months as GBS organizations look to integrate better with the enterprises as strategic partners.

The virus has impacted some enterprises more than others. Based on our recent research of retail and CPG enterprises with GBS centers in offshore/nearshore locations, about 60% of retail/CPG enterprises (those that are considered “non-essential,” or are in a single retail brand) are likely to face increased cost pressures, primarily driven by industry headwinds. In the immediate term, these enterprises are likely to be more selective in terms of strategic investments, and their GBS organizations will need to be proactive in adjusting their operating models, adjusting workforce strategies, and accelerating delivery to provide higher value add.

The next 12-18 months is sure to be a turbulent – but transformational – time for GBS centers; their roles are likely to change. Keep an eye out for our upcoming report on the next wave of evolution for retail and CPG GBS for more details. And reach out to Bharath M or Samartha Agrawal if you have questions or comments.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Understanding tier-2/3 locations’ value propositions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The road ahead

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

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

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

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

Please click here to register for the webinar.

Seven Key Global Services Market Developments in 2019 and the Outlook for 2020 | Blog

The global services industry saw a dramatic shift in 2019 across multiple dimensions, described in detail in our Market Vista™ Annual Report, which is based on an assessment of 1,800+ annual outsourcing deals, 550+ new delivery center setups, GIC market activity, trends in digital adoption, and other developments across 30 leading service providers.

Our research identified seven key global services market developments in 2019.

  1. After a significant uptick in 2018, the number of outsourcing deals declined marginally in 2019, primarily driven by a decrease in IT outsourcing. Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) deals grew.
  2. Short-term deals rose as a percentage of overall deals, driven by growth in outsourcing among small companies, an increasing share of digital services-focused deals, and global uncertainty resulting in apprehensions among buyers who are now signing smaller contracts.
  3. Global Business Services (GBS) center setups hit an all-time high, driven largely by an increase in setups by small and mid-sized enterprises. We also saw a lot of activity in R&D/engineering center setups.
  4. The share of digital-focused outsourcing deals far exceeded pure traditional services deals, with strong demand for cloud and automation services. GBS center set-up activity was also driven by digital services with automation, analytics, and IoT being the most dominant.
  5. We saw an increase in onshore delivery center set-ups by both enterprises and service providers. While the Asia Pacific region continues to lead in offshore and nearshore location activity, the Middle East and Africa saw significant activity growth.
  6. Tier-2/3 locations experienced rising activity, as both GBS centers and service providers increasingly explore smaller cities, especially in mature markets.
  7. Offshore-heritage service providers saw higher revenue and employee headcount growth than did global service providers.

Turning our attention from the past to the future, let’s take a look at what these shifts may mean for the global services industry – and your organization – in 2020.

  1. Uncertainty will rule in 2020 driven by environmental changes, geopolitical and macroeconomic concerns, business model disruptions, rapidly emerging technologies, and, most importantly, the impact of COVID-19. This uncertainty will require organizations to be increasingly agile in order to be able to respond quickly to changes. Driving agility will require a comprehensive shift across multiple dimensions, such as organization culture and people strategy, and a deliberate change to operating models.
  2. The economic slowdown caused by COVID-19 disruptions will have multiple implications for the global sourcing industry:
    1. Weakening financial performance resulting in significant cost pressures across organizations. Rapid and radical cost takeout will become a top priority for enterprises.
    2. A new focus on risk, which will force enterprises to reassess their global sourcing strategies and service provider portfolios.
    3. Accelerated technology adoption to unlock the next wave of cost savings and drive resiliency.
    4. An evolving role for GBS to provide higher value-add services to help mitigate the impact of recession. Simultaneously, financial pressures will result in divestitures of GBS centers that operate as a typical service provider.
  3. The global services market outlook remains uncertain across locations, driven by global macroeconomic and geopolitical concerns and the COVID-19-caused slowdown.
  4. The Center of Excellence (CoE) model will grow within GBS centers as they focus intentionally on building depth versus merely expanding breadth of services. Further, CoEs will act as powerful enablers to revise and execute the required shift in the GBS-parent relationship and help blur the boundaries between the parent and GBS.
  5. As organizations increasingly realize the benefits of various strategies such as offshoring, cost optimization, and automation, they will need to boost their focus on workforce productivity. There are multiple levers organizations can pull to enhance workforce productivity, such as optimizing active time, increasing efficiency, and improving effectiveness/quality.
  6. Customer experience is a key priority for both enterprises and service providers, and they plan to invest in technologies and capabilities to improve customer experience, even during the economic downturn.

For more details on these developments and the 2020 outlook – and to understand the implications for your organization – please see our report Market Vista™: 2019 Year in Review and Outlook for 2020.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Proactive proofs of concept and solutions

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

A dedicated innovation fund

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

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

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

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

 

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].

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