Category: Shared Services/Global In-house Centers

Upskilling and Reskilling: Is It Just Good L&D or Something Different? | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

Is upskilling and reskilling little more than a thinly disguised attempt by HR departments to rebrand Learning and Development (L&D)? The answer, as one practitioner pointed out at a conference in Poland, is “no.”

I recently presented to the Association of Business Services Leaders (ABSL) Chapter in Krakow, Poland about the talent acquisition challenges that digitization poses to Shared Services Centers (SSCs.) The argument runs roughly like this:

  • Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is replacing human agents in transactional roles, freeing up capacity in the workforce. This can mean lay-offs at worst, or unqualified internal candidates reapplying for roles at best
  • There is greater demand for people with new skills both technological (design thinking, robotics, autonomics, analytics) and soft (pattern-recognition, complex problem solving, leadership, intuition) than can be met by simply recruiting externally
  • As automation takes care of transactional processes, organizations can enhance the value of their brands and the service they provide by having more people in roles which emphasize first contact resolution, emotional intelligence, listening, etc.
  • This new value chain focuses on outcomes: people are measured against quality of outcome rather than throughput (for instance, a shift from average handling time to CSat), which in turn requires new management thinking around staff incentives, culture, and business model.

The data in the presentation was based on the Everest Group survey of 81 SSC leaders in Poland, the Philippines, and India, published earlier this year (see “Building a Workforce of the Future – Upskilling/Reskilling in Global In-house Centers.”)

So obvious was the message that emerged from the survey that one or two skeptics in the audience questioned why retraining that part of the workforce most affected by the trend of automation was even worthy of discussion. Is it not just good L&D practice? And surely survey respondents would not admit to anything other than good practice when asked the question?

Not quite true: there were survey respondents, albeit no more than 10 percent of them, who said that they were not planning to undertake upskilling and reskilling as a means of addressing talent shortages. A small majority, 58 percent, said upskilling/reskilling was the highest priority in addressing this same problem, while 10 percent, possibly the same nagging 10 percent, said it was a low priority.

The discussion continued after the presentation. Without experience as a practitioner, I wrestled with an explanation as to why this 10 percent stubbornly refused to fit the theory. Thankfully, the HR head of a Krakow-based SSC rode to my rescue and gave the answer.

This is the group, she said, which understands that reskilling and upskilling is indeed good L&D practice but remains wedded to external hiring of permanent and temporary staff. It is the group that fails to see that existing employees must be recognized as the key pool to meet scarce talent requirements in SSCs.

Her explanation, thankfully, echoed our contention that successful application of reskilling/upskilling to talent acquisition needs:

  • Senior leadership backing to ensure adequate resource and profile within the organization
  • Implementation of a skill-specific talent acquisition strategy to identify both critical areas of shortage and those most suitable for reskilling/upskilling
  • Quick roll-out of pilots in critical areas of shortage to build confidence and to learn
  • Breaking down of functional barriers and giving employees wider exposure to functional roles
  • A combination of effective duration and appropriate method (job rotation, on-the-job training, mentoring, peer-to-peer learning, and specialist external providers)
  • Clear communication of career paths, internal opportunity, incentive, and compensation
  • Patience and persistence!

She explained further. In her experience, the real difference between reskilling/upskilling as good L&D practice and reskilling/upskilling as a talent acquisition solution is simple. The talent acquisition solution approach is not considered aspirational, “something that HR does,” or nice to have. Rather, it is a strategic imperative.

How nice to have somebody who really knows what they are talking about answer a difficult question on my behalf!

Shared Services Set-up Success: Intent is as Important as Execution | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

Clients considering establishing a shared services center – or what we refer to as a Global In-house Center (GIC) – to deliver services, almost invariably ask us how successful the model is and whether it delivers on the expected business impacts.

To set the stage for answering the first question – how successful is the model? – the following chart shows that the number of new annual GIC set-ups has increased from <100 centers in 2015 to 145 centers in 2017, indicating a preference by companies to join the DIY bandwagon.

Shared Services Set-up Success Intent is as Important as Execution blog - GICMultiple factors contribute to this DIY trend, including: the need/desire to take a digital-first approach to service delivery; capacity/growth constraints in onshore locations; challenges with service provider performance; increased adoption of agile/DevOps; pressure to replicate the success of early adopters; and focus on end-to-end ownership in internal delivery.

Related: Is a Bigger Shared Services Center (or GIC) Always Better Performing? Maybe Not

But that chart only tells part of the pervasiveness story. While it would be reasonable to state that the primary adopters of the GIC model are large enterprises, almost half of the new centers set up since 2014 have been established by small (USD <1.5 billion revenue) and mid-sized (USD <10 billion revenue) enterprises.  This adoption – seen across technology, telecom, manufacturing, healthcare, and BFSI verticals – reflects that small and small and medium enterprises recognize the successes the large organizations in their sectors have achieved with the model. By all accounts and measures, it’s clear that use of GICs is becoming truly broad-based.

Related: Learn more about Everest Group’s Shared Services Center capabilities

Expected Business Impacts

Here are a few examples of the business impact real-world GICs are delivering beyond arbitrage.

  • Improve Customer Experience – a European insurance firm’s GIC developed a mobile app for auto insurance customers; the app has reduced claims turnaround time from 2-5 days to 3-6 hours
  • Drive Innovation – a leading snacks company’s GIC developed an app for selling in-store displays to retailers; the app has reduced the rejection rate by 20 percent
  • Contribute to Revenue – a financial services firm’s GIC has helped increase product revenue by 17 percent through analytics on product positioning in the retail market
  • Drive Operational Excellence – a leading bank’s GIC has delivered savings of ~40 percent with substantial reduction in end-to-end delivery time for the customer by deploying robotic process automation
  • Reduce Errors – a leading financial institution’s GIC has improved the commercial lending analytical models, resulting in identification of additional US$15 million worth of deals that would otherwise have been ignored.

Getting Intentional with Business Impacts

Of course, the only way to ensure business impact beyond arbitrage is by intentionally establishing the GIC to deliver business impact.

For example, we’re currently supporting a global investment management firm through the “impact-first” approach to its GIC set-up. Instead of starting operations with low-value transactional processing, the GIC will predominantly deliver high-end technology services to build tools and systems for quantitative research. The talent model is skill-centric, not scale-centric, and geared to build high-end skills in a sustainable manner. And because a key enabler of delivering business impact is ownership, the GIC will have end-to-end delivery ownership and a seat at the parent’s table to shape its evolution journey from the beginning. All these intentional actions will give the GIC a head-start in delivering business impact, and enable it to leapfrog its more tenured peers.

Overall, having an intentional approach during set-up can significantly influence and enhance the type of business impact the GIC delivers, and how soon it kicks in. And a well-thought-out approach is more likely to keep the expectations from the GIC in check, and its performance assessment objective.

Have you taken an intentional business impact approach with your GIC? Please share your experiences with us at [email protected] or [email protected].  To learn more about how we serve GICs, click here.

Is a Bigger Shared Services Center (or GIC) Always Better Performing? Maybe Not | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

We recently conducted a deep analysis of the digital maturity of almost 60 shared services centers, (also referred to as GICs) across diverse industries and geographies, and disseminated summary findings through a series of round tables across different Indian cities, including Delhi NCR, Bangalore, Mumbai, and Pune. You can read the detailed results in our recently released Digital Maturity in GICs | Pinnacle Model™ Analysis.

Here, I want to focus on a question that recurs in most of our conversations: Does the size of a GIC have any implication on its Pinnacle performance on digital maturity? Note that we define Pinnacle GICs™ as those that achieve superior performance because of their advanced capabilities.

The answer to this question is not as objective as it seems.

Related: Commercial Options for India GIC Setups

Our study revealed that scaled GICs (those with 3,000+ FTEs) have consistently delivered better impact across cost savings, operational KPIs, and even strategic metrics such as contribution to revenue growth. It also showed that small (those with less than 1,000 FTEs) and mid-sized GICs (those with 1,000 – 3,000 FTEs) have demonstrated lower improvement across all business outcomes.

Is a Bigger Shared Services Center or GIC Always Better Performing Maybe Not blog image

Does this Mean that all Scaled GICs are Pinnacle GICs? Not Really

Based on our analysis, less than one-third of scaled GICs have been able to demonstrate Pinnacle performance, while multiple small and mid-sized Pinnacle GICs (~30 percent of the Pinnacle performers) have achieved superior outcomes because of their advanced capabilities.

  • For instance, a multinational conglomerate’s GIC (mid-sized with 1,000-1,500 FTEs) delivered 20-30 percent improvement on operational KPIs such as process agility and SLA compliance. This GIC operates as the global competency center for IT solutions development with end-to-end ownership across the application development lifecycle, thereby allowing it to drive process transformation changes and yield impressive improvements
  • A U.S. food & beverages major’s GIC (also mid-sized, with 1,500-2,000 FTEs) is leveraging pricing analytics to drive competitive advantage for its parent. The GIC developed a competitive intelligence and analytics platform, which allowed the firm to view what its competitors are selling and make recommendations on the necessary price changes to its merchants. This platform is tied to a machine learning engine that dynamically prices their products.

Related: Learn more about Everest Group’s Shared Services Center capabilities

Common Threads across all Pinnacle GICs’ Journeys

We believe it is the triumvirate of the approach to demand creation, strategic focus of the digital strategy, and orientation towards cross-functional collaboration.

Demand Creation

A pull-based approach to demand creation – i.e., a proactive approach to creating Proof of Concepts (POCs) and showcasing capabilities – has not only helped shared services centers secure CXO-level sponsorship, but also increase the existing breadth and depth of services to enable end-to-end process orchestration. For instance, a European BFSI major’s GIC currently operates as the RPA CoE, and champions the end-to-end global RPA program for the enterprise. However, this was not the initial mandate for this shared services center. It proactively started developing POCs, capitalized on visits by onshore C-level executives to showcase their capabilities, and subsequently received buy-in from the parent company. The CoE now operates in a hub and spoke model, wherein the India GIC (hub) provides global governance and drives RPA for Europe through the CEE shared services center (spoke).

Strategic Focus of Digital Strategy

While other GICs solely focus on technology adoption, most Pinnacle GICs focus on using technology to enable operational improvement, which consequentially results in employee and/or customer experience enhancement. With achievement of these objectives, financial benefits – both top-line and bottom-line growth – follow suit automatically. Technology adoption per se needs to be viewed as a means to the end, not the end itself. Pinnacle GICs’ more holistic approach allows them to see both higher chances of success and ROI.

Cross-functional Collaboration

The third – and most underrated – differentiator is the focus on cross-pollination of resources by breaking functional barriers. We believe that a siloed approach to digital enablement will not work, and that shared services centers need to break silos and provide employees with wider exposure to functional roles across the firm. This will not only improve knowledge flow and increase productivity, but also stimulate innovation. For some GICs, creating CoEs for select digital capabilities has significantly enhanced the pace of adoption, and sharing of skills and best practices

All these aspects, along with dedicated enterprise leadership, have enabled Pinnacle GICs to champion organization-wide digital services delivery.

If you’d like insights on how your shared services center stacks up against the competition on the digital maturity front, please feel free to reach out to me at [email protected].

Commercial Options for India GIC Setups | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

There are two primary commercial options – or export-oriented schemes – available to GICs looking to export IT/ITES services from India. One is setting up a 100 percent Export Oriented Unit (EOU) under the Software Technology Parks of India (STPI) scheme. This allows operations to be carried out from any location in the country. The other is setting up a delivery center in a specified, demarcated, duty-free enclave called a Special Economic Zone (SEZ). These offer additional economic benefits (e.g., tax holiday) in lieu of positive net foreign exchange earnings from the export of IT/BP services.

Which option is best for your company? Read on to learn the differences, the trade-offs, and the variables you should factor into your decision.

The Major Differences

  • Income tax holiday: SEZ units enjoy a graded income tax holiday period that translates to significant tax savings for a large-scale setup in India. The tax holiday incentive for STPI units expired in March 2011
  • Indirect tax benefits: both SEZ and STPI schemes provide custom duty exemption on imports of capital goods. However, SEZ units are also eligible for a “zero-rated” Goods and Services Tax (GST) that effectively decreases the cost input for domestically procured goods and services
  • Location: STPI units can set up operations in any location in the country. SEZ units are restricted to a designated area.

Key Decision Variables in Selecting SEZ or STPI

  • Financial attractiveness: SEZs outweigh STPIs in both direct and indirect tax incentives. Where cost savings are significant (e.g., a large-scale setup) and need to be prioritized, SEZ is a clear choice for many enterprises
  • Access to a broader ecosystem: Many SEZs offer a complete ecosystem, with easy access to commercial, residential, healthcare, and educational options. Further, SEZs offer quality infrastructure and business continuity planning advantages including:
    • Large reputed SEZs offer a more reliable supply of utilities including electricity, water, telecommunications, and overall security
    • The office space standards and building compliances (e.g., natural disaster preparedness) are typically more stringent in SEZs
  • Access to large talent pool: Given their size, SEZs offer ready access to a large, skilled talent pool with relevant technical, functional, and managerial skills. And the ecosystem often developed in and around SEZs is a significant attraction for the talent pool to work in them
  • Site and scale flexibility: STPI units provide far more location (e.g., financial district or central business district) and scale options than do SEZs. Many small-sized GICs tend to prefer this flexibility
  • Ease of compliance: Compliance and statutory reporting requirements in STPIs are relatively more lenient than in SEZs. For instance, introduction of GST has increased the compliance and record maintenance burden on SEZ units. Exiting SEZs may involve more scrutiny given the higher economic benefits involved.

SEZ vs STPI

How a Financial Services Firm Made the Decision

Everest Group recently supported a U.S.-headquartered financial services company looking to set up a small-scaled GIC in India to deliver high-end niche IT services. Our setup advisory team used a three-step process to ultimately recommend the right facility and commercial model to meet all the client’s requirements: outlining the space, handover timeline, and proximity to the central and/or secondary business districts; assessing potential savings in operating from an SEZ; and evaluating and scoring the additional pros and cons of shortlisted sites to make our final recommendation.

When we evaluated and scored the client’s “must-haves” — scope for expansion or relocation, access to social infrastructure, lower commute time, and proximity to talent hubs – against the limited SEZ options available, it became clear that an SEZ was not the right answer for the client.

Thus, we recommended that the client go ahead with an STPI option in a large IT business park, and register the unit with the STPI to benefit from indirect tax benefits. This option allows the client to take advantage of all the business park’s large talent pool, marquee tenant profile, social infrastructure, and other amenities, and gives it flexibility for any future expansion or potential relocation within or outside the business park.

More than 30 new GICs are set up in India annually, and half of these are first-time center setups. In order to ensure their success, the enterprises establishing these centers must take the time upfront to clearly understand their objectives and requirements against the trade-offs of SEZs and STPIs.

GICs are Evolving from “Delivery Centers” to “Capability Centers” | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

Historically, companies have leveraged the GIC model to deliver business process (operations) and IT services. However, as the model is maturing and incremental demand for these services is declining, enterprises are increasingly looking to their GICs to build more strategic Research & Development (R&D) and digital capabilities, drive innovation, and focus more on value-added services. In other words, they want their GICs to be “capability centers,” not just “delivery centers.”

There’s clear evidence that this is happening. In 2017, there was a significant increase in set-up of such capability centers focused on R&D and digital skills, especially in areas such as design, innovation, automation, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), and cybersecurity. Indeed, our recently released GIC Annual Report 2018 shows that the share of centers supporting R&D/engineering services – including digital services – increased by almost 150 percent during 2017, as compared to 2016. And these centers accounted for more than 50 percent of total GICs setup in 2017.

Breakdown of new GIC setups by services delivered

These capabilities are expected to be the key differentiators and success drivers for global enterprises going forward. In 2017, ~46 percent of all new centers were focused on developing or expanding digital capabilities for the enterprise. There are multiple examples where offshore/nearshore GICs have been given a global mandate to lead organizational initiatives in new and emerging areas such as automation and blockchain.

Related: Simplifying skilling in Global in-house Centers (GICs)

So, how exactly are GICs becoming the global capability centers? What are the key enablers? Another of our recent research studies shows that GICs need to take a FORCEful approach:

FORCEful approach to becoming the global capability centers

  • Foster innovation: GIC leadership needs to invest in developing a customer-centric culture, and test small-scale Proof-Of-Concepts (POCs) to demonstrate end-client value and build credibility
  • Orchestrate transformation: GICs should leverage their well-established foundation by identifying their core strengths and upshifting the value they deliver through improved operational excellence with productivity enhancements, optimized pyramids, and better managed external spend. Simultaneous focus on leveraging these new capabilities to drive both growth and efficiencies will be critical to deliver true value to the enterprise
  • Reskill and upskill workforce: GICs must radically change their reskilling/upskilling initiatives to ensure talent readiness for next-generation skills. They also need to adopt a bespoke approach for specific requirements, and undertake pilots in areas with the highest skills gaps to assess the effectiveness and relevance of the capability centers model
  • Collaborate with ecosystem: GICs should proactively leverage the external ecosystem – specialist providers, startups, educational institutions, etc. – to develop holistic solutions, increase agility, and reduce go-to-market time
  • Expand existing capabilities: GICs have a unique insider’s view that enables them to provide strategic insights to orchestrate enterprise-wide digital/technological transformation, facilitate integration between IT and operations, and break functional siloes to achieve truly breakthrough results

Related: How we support shared services centers (or GICs)

To learn more about the research behind our FORCEful approach, please click here. And if you’ve already established a capability center, or are in the process of doing so, write to us at [email protected] or [email protected]. We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences!

GICs Winning the Analytics Game | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

Enterprises are increasingly looking to analytics to achieve top line impacts – think marketing and pricing analytics to support new product launches and better understand consumer behavior – and positive contributions to their bottom line through, for example, risk and fraud analytics. And they’re increasingly favoring GICs over third-party providers to support their analytics initiatives.

Why? By the nature of their engagement model, GICs are tightly integrated with the parent organization, which better enables the high levels of governance and management that are essential to deliver analytics services. GICs also have an edge as they can bundle analytics services into the business process services they deliver to provide integrated solutions.

Real-world Value Examples

Here are just a handful of examples of the types of value GICs are delivering to their parent companies.

  • The India GIC of an European financial services firm helped increase product revenue by 15 percent through analytics on product positioning in the retail market
  • A leading retail company’s India GIC leverages analytics to study the shopping patterns of customers in 20+ countries to predict how the market will grow or decline, understand customer loyalty patterns, etc.
  • By delivering more than 50 percent of a global bank’s consumer business marketing analytics, the India GIC has enabled targeted outreach that has increased consumer card sales
  • The Poland GIC of a leading U.S.-based consumer goods company implemented prescriptive analytics algorithms on its AdWords account to eliminate inefficient spend on paid searches, in turn saving substantial amounts of money.

How GICs Can Jumpstart Their Analytics Capabilities

Of course, the quality of the analytics and the impact of the resulting outcomes are directly related to the analytics talent the GIC employs.

Some GICs have chosen to upskill and reskill their existing workforce. While one has made it mandatory for select teams to undergo analytics courses and training, others have provided monetary incentives to team members who willingly opt into the training. Both approaches make GICs talent-ready to deliver analytics capabilities and face demand fluctuations. GICs are also exploring partnerships with specialist firms that can provide resources for a short duration, as needed.

Upping the Ante

To deliver even greater value, many GICs are proactively identifying areas within their operations to plug-in the analytics layer. To facilitate this, they have established analytics as a shared horizontal capability in their organization structure so that the skills and knowledge attained from one team can be leveraged by others. Further, GICs are heavily investing in training data scientists, and providing them global exposure to understand business needs better.

The days of providing just arbitrage are long gone. If your GIC wants to deliver the value your parent company needs in today’s business environment, analytics capabilities must enter into your equation.

To learn more about our view on GICs’ analytics capabilities, be sure to attend our sessions at the NASSCOM GIC Conclave (note, Everest Group is the Strategy Partner for the event) and visit us at Stall 7.

Enterprises are Betting Big on India GICs for Driving Digital | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

The rise of India-based Global In-house Centers’ (GIC) role in supporting enterprises’ digital transformation through digital technologies, such as RPA, mobility, and IoT, has been significant in the past few years. In 2017 alone, over 50 percent of the GIC set-ups in India were focused on building/enhancing enterprises’ digital capabilities.

Indeed, enterprises are making their India GICs the hub for developing solutions and products for next-gen technologies, such as machine learning, NLP, predictive learning, cognitive, and blockchain. Recent examples include Samsung, State Street, and Western Union.

Why India?

  • Talent availability: The ability to scale next-gen skills at low cost is a key differentiator. For instance, India accounts for 50-60 percent of the talent pool employed for delivery of automation services from offshore/nearshore locations. A strong base of third-party service providers has also established digital and technology labs in India
  • Mature delivery model: India accounts for 30-35 percent of all nearshore/offshore GIC set-ups, and more than 45 percent of their FTEs. Mature operations and middle-/back-office delivery presence in India give them a strong foundation on which to build their digital efforts. And it allows them to develop more integrated operations, technology, digital, and analytics solutions to address the evolving business needs of their parent organizations
  • Strong start-up ecosystem: India has one of the most evolved technology start-up ecosystems in the world. As of 2016, it had more than 4,500 tech start-ups employing a pool of around 100,000 FTEs. This situation not only allows enterprises to access next-gen technological solutions, but also to tap into the ecosystem to accelerate progress when additional resources are needed
  • Economies of scale and cost benefits: While cost may not be the primary driver, it certainly is a key differentiator. Budgets are always scarce, and needs are always plenty. India offers quality talent at lower cost and allows companies to drive low cost innovation and development

Digital Pinnacle™

How are the best-of-the-best enterprises and GICs leveraging India and other locations for digital? To expand our insights beyond the work we conduct with our clients, we’ve launched a Digital Pinnacle™ survey to learn more about successful GICs’ digital journeys.  We invite you to participate in the survey and/or to share your thoughts and experiences with us at [email protected] or [email protected].

Watch this space for more insights on GICs and for the deep-dive survey results.

Talent Management in Global In-house Centers: Are You Future-Ready? | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

There’s no question that digital technological advancements, evolving business requirements such as changing consumer needs and faster time to market, and a heightened focus on customer experience are significantly changing the profile of skills needed to deliver services. As most global in-house centers (GIC) are already facing challenges in hiring people with the right skills for the future, it is concerning that their talent-related preparation for such a tectonic shift is lacking.

Talent Management GIC_1

Here are four talent management imperatives for GICs to develop the workforce of the future.

1. Identification of Skills Gap

As automation and other technological advancements kick in, human skills, such as innovation, design thinking, problem solving, empathy, and ethical thinking will become more critical. Identification of skills gap will be pivotal for GICs’ talent acquisition and development strategy. A recent Everest Group study of 80+ GICs across India, Philippines, and Poland identified multiple, and difficult to hire, skills that are likely to become more important in the future.

Talent Management GIC_2

2. Upskill/Reskill Current Workforce

Firms’ talent challenges will intensify with the automation of transactional services. They will face the dual risks of a large existing workforce with many skills that are likely to become redundant, while struggling to find talent with the right skills for their future needs. Upskilling/reskilling existing talent is an important lever for GICs to address these challenges while preserving their trained workforce with string domain/industry know-how. (See our detailed report on upskilling/reskilling in GICs for additional perspectives.)

3. Evolve Talent Acquisition and Development Strategy

As GICs look to develop a future-proof talent strategy, they will need to think outside the box to tap into alternative sources of talent. Opportunities include hackathons, hiring from startups and other industries, project-based partnerships with specialist agencies, and flexible resourcing. From an L&D perspective, traditional classroom model needs to evolve as learning is becoming more real-time, customized, and digitized, e.g., MOOCs, simulation, and gamification.

4. Agile Human Capital Planning

With a dramatic decline in skills’ half-life, particularly in the technical space, GICs need to identify and focus on skills that are more likely to be critical for their growth. A more frequent approach to human capital planning might be essential to account for rapid changes in these skills.

While many GICs are still taking a wait and watch approach to the talent management issue, some have already embarked on this transformational journey. And those that are proactively addressing it are reaping big rewards.

Watch this space for more insights and success stories. And if you’d like to share your challenges, successes, or questions with us, please feel free to write us at [email protected] or [email protected].

How GICs are Unblocking Blockchain Value | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

At a NASSCOM-hosted event earlier this year, I moderated a roundtable discussion on “Blockchain: Looking beyond the hype” among executives from 20+ GICs. The discussion quickly elevated from the “what” to the “how and how not” to do blockchain initiatives.

Here are some of the key take-aways from the session, in part sparked by discussions on some of our blockchain research.

Blockchain is Inching Closer to Prime Time

Blockchain has crossed the chasm: With the definitive number of live deployments and successful PoCs, we believe that the early adopters will be able to demonstrate early results by year’s end. Because timelines for technology evolution have compressed, we also expect a wave of fast followers will invest in this space.

GICs are Taking the Lead

GICs’ innovation can transform them into Global Capability Centers (GCCs): GICs are leading blockchain initiatives, from education, evaluation, use-case design, and PoCs to live deployments. They are also externalizing the technology solutions to create newer business and revenue models, and driving blockchain adoption at speed and scale. And their R&D investments are extending beyond live blockchain deployments to patent filings to retain competitive advantage.

Building a business case: GICs are researching every possible use of blockchain in their industry. We are seeing GICs helping enterprises across a variety of use cases in insurance, capital markets, banking, supply chain, education, and technology – and one leading financial services GIC prioritized four use cases from a long list of more than 40. A framework, like the one we recently published, will help firms prioritize business use cases that are ripe for blockchain adoption.

GICs and the ecosystem: Blockchain adoption requires significant orchestration among governments, regulators, technology vendors, enterprises, startups, and customers to create a win-win environment for all. GICs are not just consortium and forum participants; they are highly active contributors to the advancement of blockchain technology maturity.

Talent is not a huge roadblock: Leading adopters have started by building a core blockchain team that invests its time in understanding the ecosystem, undergoing training, and exploring multiple use cases. Lead steers we’ve spoken with stated that re-skilling efforts to build a blockchain developer pool have not been the uphill battle that leading blockchain consulting firms hypothesized. They’ve approached re-skilling by driving blockchain awareness to a broader group in the firm, and then identifying a pool of talent with adjacent skills, e.g., Angular JS developers to be trained on solidity, for the first wave of training. More developers join these teams as they scale up. Enterprises are conducting a series of hackathons to tap into the talent pool – both in the GICs and the extended ecosystem – and provide on the job training opportunities.

On the Technology Front

Evolution of the enterprise blockchain technology stack: Enterprises are taking a fundamentally different approach than the public or cryptocurrency related initiatives in building their blockchain technology stacks. Blockchain-as-a-service vendors have helped manage the complexities of the blockchain stack for early trials and pilot stage activities. However, early stage trials that did not plan for the blockchain technology stack for the live deployment phase have found it difficult to scale up their pilots. Node-level identity and access management, interoperability, quality assurance for smart contracts, and current scalability limitations of existing blockchain consensus mechanisms and transaction validation protocols are some of the key challenges highlighted by early adopters.

Sidechains are a key feature of the enterprise blockchain tech stack, not limited to cryptocurrencies: Several enterprises are solving the data privacy issues by creating both off-chain and side-chain applications that can then write final-hash on the blockchain network. This unique approach can accelerate blockchain adoption for specific use cases. However, interoperability on different blockchain platforms is a key challenge.

With all this, there should be little doubt that GICs are quickly evolving into global capability centers that further the digital transformation agenda for the enterprise.

As we continue studying enterprises’ and GICs’ blockchain journeys, we’d love to hear about yours. Please share it with me on [email protected].

And please participate in our ongoing GIC Digital Maturity Pinnacle Model™ survey to learn more about successful GICs’ digital journeys and see how your GIC compares.

Retrospective on the 2017 Global Services Market | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

As I look back on this year, it’s impossible to unplug digital from the determinants of the year’s most significant business changes. A review of how the rotation to digital impacted the global services market in 2017 provides a glimpse of factors that will be at play in 2018 as companies seek to be more competitive. In this blog, I’ll focus on three of the top factors that affected businesses this year.

Global Services Market Deceleration

Both the global services market and the Indian sector further decelerated this year. When we made projections for 2017, Everest Group was the only firm to make that call. In fact, although we were overly criticized for being overly pessimistic, the market decelerated even more than what we forecasted.

Deceleration is not the same as shrinkage. In the legacy space, the offshore labor arbitrage talent factories went from a growth space to a three percent contraction this year. Also, there has been portfolio rationalization and industry consolidation in that space. As the space shrinks, the larger firms do better than the smaller firms.

Related: 2018: The Year When Faking Digital Won’t Work Anymore



This year brought the rotation to digital with companies moving from services based on labor arbitrage to services based on disruptive digital technologies. The digital space now constitutes 25 percent of the overall market and is growing at 20 percent. The legacy arbitrage factory is 75 percent of the overall market and it’s shrinking at three percent. Within the shrinking, the big five Indian players are consolidating the market to take share; so they eked out a 1.5 percent growth while other providers shrank.

Interestingly, the compression driven by the cannibalization of digital and legacy environments is partially offset by new workloads coming into the legacy environment due to changes in market segmentation.

Market Segmentation Changing

A major factor at play in the services market in 2017 is the market beginning to segment between (a) digital transformation and (b) modernization of IT and business process services (BPS).

The digital market began splitting this year into two pieces: digital transformation vs. modernization. We clearly see two distinct, separate markets emerging in digital. This year we also saw digital transformation pilots go into programs. Pilots that ranged in size from $500,000 to $2 million in size now consistently hit between $50 million to $500,000,000 billion.

The legacy environment is also splitting into two markets: work that will be modernized and work that is too risky or expensive to modernize. We’re now 30 years beyond the inflexion point of where the market began moving from mainframe to client-server environments. Many companies still have a portfolio of applications remaining on mainframes. This is a classic example of legacy work that is too expensive or risky to modernize. As a result, companies are content at this point to let that work remain in the legacy structure. However, this year clearly brought movement in this space of companies building APIs and microservices to connect with that work, whether it is in an internal legacy infrastructure or in an outsourced legacy talent factory. This enables the companies to turn their attention to the work that they need to modernize.

What we haven’t seen is business process services (BPS) modernization take hold. IT is leading the pack currently. At the beginning of the year, we thought that BPS might lead the modernization, but it turns out we were wrong. The IT segment is moving much faster than the BPS segment in modernization work.

Rise of Small Firms

Also in 2017, we saw the rise of small provider firms. Where we see industry consolidation on the legacy side, we see vendor proliferation on the digital side. We believe this proliferation is because companies are looking to new firms to do new work. They believe the incumbent service providers are distracted and have a conflict in interest in moving to digital – a self-interest in preserving their profitable legacy arbitrage-based work. Consequently, this year brought a surge in companies looking to smaller, new service provider firms to help them understand and drive both digital transformation and IT modernization.

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