Category: Shared Services/Global In-house Centers

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.

Dark Clouds Gathering for Indian Service Providers | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

The effort around reforming H1B work visas in the global services industry has been dangling for years, entrenched in a political battle in Congress. But there’s movement again, and dark clouds are gathering on the horizon, signaling a coming storm. Five days ago, the US House Judiciary Committee passed HR 170 (Protect and Grow American Jobs Act) with solid, bipartisan support, and it carries onerous policies aimed at India’s outsourcing service providers – as well as problems for their clients. It hasn’t passed into law yet; but it could happen in 2018. Here’s my assessment of the situation.

Proposed Requirements

As I’ve blogged several times since May 2013, reform focuses on service providers whose business model depends heavily on a large percentage of H1B workers placed at US clients. HR 170 raises the classification of H1-dependent firms to 20 percent, rather than 15 percent of workers. Providers would be required to pay higher wages to their H1B workers – with the minimum salary tied to the average occupational wage in the US. That’s a raise from the current $60k up to, and potentially surpassing, $135k.

The bill adds authorization for the US Department of Labor to conduct investigations of H1B-dependent firms – without first having to establish reasonable cause – and provides for a $495 fine to be levied on the firms for the investigations.

HR 170 also would require US clients to provide attestations and “recruitment reports” attesting that no US workers were displaced by H1B workers. This would add the burden of new management and compliance processes.

Impact

Obviously, the onerous requirements are targeted at Indian service providers that heavily use H1B workers (especially Cognizant, Infosys, TCS, Wipro). The provisions would raise their costs. They would not be able to pass those costs through to clients, so it would reduce their margins. Making it more onerous to use H1B workers would also negatively impact the Indian providers’ business models, which rely on the high-margin “factory” structure for talent provision.

Is it a Long Shot?

Although HR 170 was passed with bipartisan support by the House Judiciary Committee and has yet to pass the full House. If that were to happen, the bill would still face bipartisan battle in the Senate. We’ve seen that play out this year in efforts to repeal healthcare laws and now in tax reform efforts.

However, it may not be a long shot. The bill’s main sponsor, Darrell Issa, the Republican representative from California, will face re-election battles next year and is likely to push harder for a win in visa reform. And don’t overlook the fact that California’s Silicon Valley firms would benefit from onerous visa regulations targeting India’s firms.

My Takeaway Warning

India’s service providers are already struggling in an uphill battle aside from visa reform. They struggle to gain competence and market share in evolving to the digital world. Investments in rotating to digital raise providers’ costs, take time and often lead to battles with investors and other stakeholders who want to maintain the current margin levels. In addition, margins in the digital models are low, for at least the short term.

H1B visa reform’s dark clouds gathering on the horizon for the Indian service providers will only heap new burdens on providers already struggling with margins and new business models in trying to become leaders on the digital space. I believe the bill, if passed into law, would inhibit their growth.

US clients, which want more valuable digital services from third-party firms – but want to pay the low cost they have enjoyed with offshore providers for many years – must recognize that strategy is no longer in the playbook. They also need to be mindful of providers changing their business model and delivery practices to accommodate the requirements of H1B worker provisions when the reform passes into law and how the provider’s decisions will impact the client’s work.

Gazing into the Global Services Crystal Ball: Sometimes you get it Right, and Sometimes, Not so Much | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

When I visited India for the first time in the early 2000s, the country was largely unknown in terms of business. The airports were small and dingy. The upscale hotels were really nice but also scarce. That meant they could charge insanely expensive rates…I remember paying US$700 per night at the Leela Palace!

My U.S. colleagues and I were on a mission to visit largely unknown service providers like Infosys, TCS, and Wipro, all of which had around 10K employees. At the end of the trip, we concluded that this was going to be real, and big…very big.

So we, and the other industry analysts in the space, pulled out our crystal ball to see what specifics we could predict. How clear, or cloudy, were our sixth senses back then?

What we got right

We did well in this category. India, along with many, many other low-cost locations, is absolutely capable of doing the global services job with scale. It’s also capable of doing many sophisticated processes (full disclosure: we might have underestimated this one a bit.) And those “unknown” companies I mentioned above? They’ve become truly global players, by some measures even surpassing the original powerhouses like Accenture, ACS, CSC, EDS, IBM, and HP (many of which have already consolidated).

What we got wrong

While inflation slowed in the U.S., it did even more dramatically in recent years in India. This, in turn, slowed the arbitrage difference, creating relatively smaller impacts on our models. And currency moves – such as a change from around 45 to 64 rupees – created a large positive impact, offsetting inflation by roughly 50 percent.

What we got really wrong

Labor supply was the biggie. All of us in the analyst community completely underestimated the impact of the available supply, which created an ongoing downward pressure on entry-level salaries. Using the best available data, the number of college students in India has risen from 13.6 million in 2008 to more than double that (28.5 million) in 2016.

While we didn’t predict it in the earliest years of the global services industry, by the end of the 2000s we were forecasting the end of labor arbitrage. India salaries were rising at double digit rates, and it seemed that it was only a matter of time before we reached parity (for offshoring purposes, 70 percent of U.S.-based salaries was considered parity.) As you see, we were miles off on that one.

What we got really wrong | Supply of labor

Increased labor in India as well as other locations have ensured limited salary increase, especially for junior roles

Future of Global Services

Looking forward (through our much more mature crystal ball) on the cost question

  • Temporary shortages of key skills, particularly digital, will create upwards pressures on salaries. But as the education and corporate systems retool their training curriculums, I expect the resulting surge in available talent will allow a cap and perhaps drive down salaries. Still and all, India is still a viable place to get low cost labor, albeit not quite as good as it was 15 years ago. (Review our Executive Briefing, India Global Services Industry: A Look Back at the Last Decade and Our Future Outlook, to drill down into the supporting analytics for this analysis.)
  • Many functions and processes have reached an offshoring saturation point. This doesn’t mean a complete stoppage of work moving offshore, just that many of the big, concentrated moves have already happened.
  • New automated solutions like RPA are going to create significant process labor efficiencies, in turn increasing headcount pressures.
  • The tipping point in this equation will go back to the supply side, where the ongoing wave of college students will keep pressure on wage advances far into the future, especially for the entry level positions.

Gazing forward to at least a 2040 – 2050 timeframe, other low-cost locations such as eastern Europe may get tapped out, since they don’t have as large a stream of graduates as does India. So, I say: advantage to India in keeping the wages compelling with its tidal wave of ongoing supply. But the looming question will be, what to do with all of those freshly minted grads?

My next blog will tackle the interesting another aspect of my looking back and looking forward retrospectives: “Are the India Heritage Services the new Global Leaders? The answer isn’t obvious. Stay tuned…

Signs of Structure in a Disordered Global Services World? | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

The global services market is in upheaval, and disorder seems to be the new world order. Geopolitical developments, macroeconomic pressures, and unprecedented pace of changes in technology have resulted in huge disruptions to the usual ways of doing business. However, despite the turmoil, the global services market continues to grow, albeit at a much slower pace compared to previous years.

eg5

When developing our Global Locations Annual Report 2017, Everest Group spent considerable time and effort analyzing the underlying data to determine if there are some signs of structure amidst the disorder. Here are some patterns and trends visible from our analysis:

Pervasive rotation of delivery capability toward digital

There has been significant increase in both number and share of new centers focusing on delivery of digital services. Between 2013 and 2016, the number of such centers grew by ~177 percent.

  • Regions: Most of this growth was concentrated in Asia Pacific and nearshore Europe
  • Segments: Cloud, Internet of Things, and Big Data witnessed the highest adoption rates
  • Sourcing model: While the lion’s share of the growth was with the in-house model, service providers also reoriented their delivery portfolios

Greater leverage of nearshore locations

Both service providers and global in-house centers are growing faster in nearshore locations, such as central and eastern Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean, compared to traditionally offshore locations (such as Asia Pacific.) This is driven by multiple factors, most prominently the drive towards digitalization and the different talent demands this imposes. The chart below shows the increasing share of nearshore regions in new delivery center setups:

eg4

Complementary growth in onshore locations

There has been a rapid surge in large enterprises’ and service providers’ service delivery footprint in locations traditionally considered onshore. While firms either retained or reduced the pace of growth in offshore/nearshore locations, they ramped up presence significantly in the United States and continental Europe (see the following chart for new onshore delivery center setups of top-20 IT-BPO service providers.)

eg31  20 leading service providers across IT and BPS that Everest Group uses as “Index” providers to gauge market trends

This is largely driven by enterprises’ desire to deliver complex services coupled with the advantages of customer intimacy. However, for many providers, this is in anticipation of strict work visa issuance guidelines which may make it imperative for them to have a foothold in the onshore market for hiring talent

While there’s some “method to the madness” in these pervasive trends, there are many operational risks that are likely to add to the disorder. These include:

  • Increased safety and security risks (terrorism and border issues) in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand, and high crime rates in Guatemala and Jamaica
  • Continuing conflict between Russia and Ukraine
  • Frequent changes in political leadership in Egypt
  • Macroeconomic instability in Brazil and Argentina.

For more such trends and analyses on the value propositions of different locations through Everest Group’s MAP MatrixTM, which will help you frame your global services location strategy, please refer to our report, “Global Locations Annual Report 2017: Signs of Structure in a Disordered World.”

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