Tag: collaboration

How DevOps changes the delivery of IT functions | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

Labor arbitrage and shared services companies have had a perfect marriage over the last 20 years. Then along came the Digital Revolution with new business models and a new construct for services. One component of the digital model construct is DevOps. It makes a significant impact on business services, but it’s important to understand how it changes the picture for labor arbitrage and shared services.

Shared service companies are structured on a functional basis. One way to think about them is they are a stack of functional expertise. In the case of IT, the stack includes such functions as infrastructure, security, application development and maintenance, and compliance. There is a multiple stack hierarchy, with each functional layer having shared service champions responsible for delivering that function cost-effectively at a high level of quality. Labor arbitrage fits perfectly into this equation in that each functional layer uses people, and the work can often be done more cost-effectively offshore than onshore.

Read more at my CIO blog

Tips for Creating Relationships across IT and Business Boundaries | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

Proven actions that enable more effective communication across lines of business, departments and other silo boundaries.

In today’s fast-moving digital world, creating relationships that enable and sustain collaboration to solve problems or create new value is a key to success. And as I’ve blogged before, CIOs need to create relationships between their IT teams and the business stakeholders to achieve more effective communication. Not an easy objective, considering how siloed most organizations are these days. I want to share with you some of the successful strategies deployed at Jacobs Engineering to build such relationships.

I learned of these strategies in one of my conversations with Cora Carmody, who served as CIO of global technology companies including Jacobs Engineering Group and SAIC for the past 19 years. Jacobs Engineering provides technical, professional and construction services to industrial, commercial and government clients.

Read more at CIO online.

Digital Transformation – Will IBM Attain its Aspirational Leadership Position? | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

Everest Group had the opportunity to attend IBM’s APAC analyst day in India on 11-12 June 2015. Business and technology leaders from IBM presented their offering portfolio, demos, and real life transformative case studies with active participation from their clients. One thing that stood out was how Big Blue is communicating not only its technology vision, offerings, and organizational commitment toward open technologies, but also its internal transformation to serve clients and reclaim its technology leadership position. It realizes that the “old IBM” ways will no longer work, and it needs to become more nimble and innovative, and play an important part in shaping the technology disruption the digital age has brought onto us.

What’s happening?

Earlier this year, IBM aligned its go-to-market strategy around key industry verticals. It also created internal structures to make myriad of its offerings, technology groups, services business, sales and marketing, and its research lab work in sync. It believes this will help create solutions that are required to leverage digital technologies, and thereby not only redefine itself, but also create a new ecosystem of product and service providers around it.

Going back in the history, IBM truly transformed the technology industry when it invented the Mainframe. And while today’s technology becomes tomorrow’s legacy, no one can deny that the Mainframe was a historical system that shaped and created the technology industry as we know it today.

However, since then, IBM became a nuts and bolts company providing middleware, desktops, and back-end efficiency solutions focused on enterprise computing. While it did introduce incremental innovation and acquire many technology companies, it did not play a meaningful role in shaping the industry vision. It continued to invest in its research labs, and its products were always considered leaders in enterprise computing. But it hasn’t been a leader in true enterprise technology transformations such as the rise of ERP, virtualization, SaaS, or IaaS.

This has changed. The analyst meeting demonstrated that digital has become the new pivot around which IBM will take back its earlier pedestal position of being the company that forms, shapes, and guides the technology industry. This story was ably supported by multiple client interactions during the event. Clients say that this is not the IBM they had earlier worked with, or had expected to work with.

IBM’s much publicized partnerships with digital native firms like Facebook and Twitter, and leading user experience and design companies such as Apple, are an important but small part of its digital journey. The bigger part is moving away from its traditional way of working, and realizing that it must play a key role in the digital everywhere environment. Its increased focus and core commitment toward open technologies is highly apparent. And it has always had the technology, scale, and reach to transform businesses. Now, the muscle it’s putting behind Softlayer and BlueMix, its mobility play, and its investments in analytics, the Internet of Things (IoT), and Watson have the potential to transform not only its clients but itself as well.

Is there any challenge?

With its go-to-market alignment with industry verticals, IBM can bring effective solutions to clients looking to transform their businesses. However, disruption in most industries is happening from the outside, (e.g., Uber to the taxi industry, Airbnb to hospitality, Apple Pay to banks, and Google cars to automotive), rather than within. Therefore, a rigid structure around industries may not work well. IBM will need to ensure that its technology, industry verticals, and innovation groups talk to each other, an area where it has historically struggled.

Moreover, monetization of some of these innovations will be a long, drawn out process. IBM has had significant growth challenges, and has shed many of its businesses. For its growth and profitability to return –which should be the big drivers along with reclaiming its innovator status – IBM has to do a lot more. It has historically been viewed as a company that helps clients’ operations run more efficiently; it now needs to carefully position and communicate its willingness and ability to partner in clients’ growth.

Where does IBM go from here?

In addition to the digital technologies IBM possesses, other of its strong strategic initiatives include: internal transformation around reskilling the workforce toward innovation and design thinking; commitment to open technologies; collaborative alignment between its services business and its technology groups; renewed commitment toward client centricity; improved sales effectiveness; and focus on solving core industry problems.

IBM’s changes have been pushed right from the CEO’s office, and IBM executives believe results will be visible in the next 6 to 12 months. IBM needs to play a dual role in which it helps some clients disrupt their industries and business models, and assists others sail through the digital disruption. It again needs to become a technology innovator. While it’s a difficult task, we believe it has the needed technology, vision, and now internal alignment to achieve these objectives.

Hybrid Sourcing: A Win-Win Scenario for GICs and Service Providers | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

The Global in-house Center (GIC) model continues to grow across industries, functions, and emerging markets ‒ from the financial services and technology industries to most verticals, from call center and R&D to a diverse set of functions, and from India to most emerging markets.

As the model continues to grow, with GICs evolving from low-cost service delivery centers to strategic entities driving value beyond cost savings, they face strategic and operational challenges: demand fluctuation management, talent management, driving further optimization through adoption of industry best practices, and knowledge management, to name just a few.

Third-party service providers can come into play here, helping GICs overcome these challenges by providing:

  • Additional cost savings through economies of scale and delivery pyramid optimization
  • The flexibility to ramp-up and ramp-down the capacity based on demand
  • Expertise in tools/technology and best practices on processes/control mechanisms
  • Large global footprint and language capabilities to serve for all regional centers across geographies
  • Niche skills such as digital and analytics

In this hybrid sourcing model, the GICs use service providers and/or manage their delivery on behalf of the parent organization. This also includes situations in which the GIC is driving or supporting sourcing initiatives (e.g., service provider selection or contracting) on behalf of the parent organization.

Everest Group, in collaboration with the Shared Services and Outsourcing Network (SSON) and NASSCOM, recently conducted a survey on hybrid sourcing adoption trends in offshore GICs. Eighty percent of the respondent GICs have adopted hybrid sourcing, leveraging service providers predominantly to manage volume fluctuations, lower costs, and access best practices. As the graphic below shows, most (80%) responded that hybrid sourcing is meeting or exceeding their expectations.

 

Our research shows that service delivery improvements and governance enhancements are the top priorities for the GICs. Therefore, it is not surprising that GICs collaborate with service providers across three key associated areas – supporting service provider delivery, supporting/implementing the parents’ service provider sourcing program, and identifying global sourcing opportunities and designing the sourcing model strategy. As GICs evolve in their operating models, they are likely to look for more opportunities to work with service providers in these priority areas to enhance the overall impact.

Areas of GIC-Service Provider Collaboration

Going forward, it is safe to assume that there are multiple opportunities for service providers to work with the GICs. However, further adoption of hybrid sourcing in GICs will be driven by their ability to influence the mandate from the parent organization, and service providers’ ability to assess the opportunities. Understanding GIC maturity will also be a critical factor driving these collaboration opportunities.

Everest Group has recently released a report on adoption of hybrid sourcing that provides a detailed landscape of current adoption and future trends for this model. For more information, please download a preview of the report, Adoption of Hybrid Sourcing in GICs – Driving Impact through GIC-Service Provider Collaboration.”

Better Together | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

At Everest Group we’ve noticed a growing trend in our client base. As I’ve blogged before, business stakeholders have become increasingly independent and make independent decisions. Mostly they have adopted point solutions, standing up functionalities and making decisions to use SaaS products and developing their own skunk works, agile teams to develop fast functionality. The implications for the services industry are interesting.

We’re now seeing that, as these point solutions embed themselves, they flourish and become more ubiquitous. They then need to stretch and integrate into legacy systems as well as affect multiple stakeholder groups.

At the same time, we see the CIOs upping their game. They no longer resist these new technologies and are willing to embrace them.

Here’s the growing trend: increasingly organizations make decisions in a collaborative group with business stakeholders and CIO groups working together to initiate, plan and execute these activities.

Using a skiing analogy, as point solutions grow beyond the capability of business stakeholders to appropriately manage, they get in over their skis, which opens the door for partnering with IT. We see IT eager to take advantage of this opening and forging effective partnerships going forward.

This is an encouraging trend, but it presents a more complicated selling picture for service providers. They can be easily confused as to buyers’ decision-making rights, which necessitates reaching out to each stakeholder to make sure they leave no one out. That’s the downside – increased selling costs and complexity.

But there’s also an upside: as these collaborative partnering opportunities grow, we observe they are well worth a provider’s sales effort.


Photo credit: Flickr

Enterprise Mobile Apps – Are We Done? | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

The state of today’s enterprise mobile apps industry is akin to the dark side of a jungle: a dense forest and tangled vegetation, inhabited by hundreds of largely unfamiliar animals and plants that rely on its delicate ecosystem to survive, perhaps to thrive. This is creating frustration among stakeholders including the CIO, CFO, CMO, and CEO, who believe they might have over-invested in mobility initiatives.

However, this is far from the truth. Mobile apps have a long way to go in enterprise. Yet, to avoid the earlier pitfalls, enterprises and technology providers need to be fully aware of the following dangers in the mobile apps jungle:

  1. Business process transformation: Few enterprises or technology providers even consider that enforcing mobile access to an existing business process may be a poor idea. Making the end-user consume the same business process albeit through a different, perhaps “cooler,” app is not true mobility. User interest will not last if the business process is itself unsuitable for mobile. At the same time, not all business processes require this change. Enterprises must be selective in changing business processes while undertaking the mobility journey. Consultants, vendors, and others with vested interests will always extol the virtue of business process transformation for mobility, but enterprises should be very wary of this aggressive spiel.

  2. Line of business collaboration: In their desire to be the first movers, many line of business managers are creating all kinds of mobile apps with little collaboration with other business units. Given the increasing influence of non-CIO budget centers to approve technology funding, the tried and tested processes of application development are being compromised under a convenient, self-pleasing argument that mobile apps do not require a structured or “traditional” approach.

    Will this ad-hoc development blow up in our faces? I think it will. Can we prevent this? Unfortunately not. Business users are happy getting the needed application functionality on mobile devices, yet no one is thinking about the mobile application lifecycle. A long-term technology adoption framework is an unthinkable thought for these budget owners. They do not believe collaboration is their mandate or their responsibility. Their KPIs are linked to business outcomes, not to channelizing or seamlessly introducing mobile technology, and thus they will rarely ever have an incentive to create the needed structure.

  3. Cost of mobility: Enterprises and technology providers need to understand that while business agility, flexibility, and access is all good, the cost of these should not outweigh the rewards. Therefore, enterprise mobility should be viewed in its entirety to understand whether the incremental business has come at a greater cost of management and complexity. Yet the existing mechanisms across enterprises, where different unconnected lines of businesses are creating their noodly soups of mobile apps, does not engender great confidence that they will take a view of the broader picture any time soon.

  4. Mobility governance: It is fashionable these days to ignore any advice from someone who wants to instill structure or a governance model on enterprise mobility. Governance is perceived as “anti-growth” and “uncool.” Given this perception, few technology managers, despite their strong opinions, express any sentiments against the ad-hoc enterprise mobile strategy. This is a recipe for disaster.

So what can enterprises do to quash the mobile apps jungle’s beastly flora and fauna?

  1. Be selective about changing/transforming the underlying business process while mapping to mobile apps
  2. Create an environment that incentivizes lines of businesses to collaborate rather than compete in creating the next “cool” mobile app
  3. Adopt a lifecycle management approach to mobile apps
  4. Balance the growth objectives with the cost implications of enterprise mobility
  5. Incorporate an “eagle eye” to govern mobility projects

If you are undertaking an enterprise mobile application initiative and want to share your experiences and perspectives, please comment below or reach out to me directly at [email protected].

Driving Impact through Collaboration in Global In-house Centers: Myths and Realities | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

Originally posted on NASSCOM


Dilbert collaboration

The comic strip to a large extent reflects the current thinking on what “Collaboration” really means. There is a tendency to confuse collaboration with normal, day-to-day liaisoning for the purposes of service delivery. We define collaboration as a “way of working together through the formal/informal means to achieve common goals, often beyond ongoing service delivery mandates.” There is a higher emphasis on achieving goals beyond the “normal call of duty.”

Now that we have defined collaboration, let us look at the various entities in the ecosystem with which Global In-house Centers, or GICs, (formerly called Captives) are collaborating today. The GIC ecosystem comprises of parent stakeholders, vendors to the parent, other GICs within the same organization and GICs outside of the organization. We will focus this blog on demystifying  some common myths regarding collaboration between GICs and these entities.

Myth #1: Collaboration with the parent is likely to remain the sole priority for GICs; collaboration with other ecosystem entities is not important

Most GICs primarily focus on strengthening collaboration with their parent organizations. This form of collaboration comes naturally to GICs as the interaction and engagement with parent stakeholders is significant. Further, the impact of collaboration on achieving organizational objectives is quite visible.

While GIC-parent collaboration is and will continue to remain top priority for GICs, collaboration with the broader ecosystem is becoming increasingly important. Collaboration with other entities, such as vendors, other GICs (within the company) can also drive meaningful organization-wide impact. Best practices, ideas and knowledge (residing within GICs or other ecosystem entities) can be shared and collectively used to create value for parent. GICs must leverage their vantage positions as extensions of the parent to drive ecosystem-wide collaboration agendas.

Myth #2: Collaboration with other ecosystem entities will lead to loss of competitive advantage

This risk of losing competitive advantage is more a perceived risk rather than a reality. This perceived risk impacts multiple types of collaboration, especially with vendors and with GICs across companies. However, some GICs have overcome this risk by putting in place collaboration models to successfully reap the benefits of collaboration. Examples of these models are:

  • Service-delivery collaboration: GICs and vendors collaborate on service delivery to achieve common objectives for the parent
  • Competence-based collaboration: GICs within the same company have designated leadership roles for specific functional or technical  competencies (e.g., centers of excellence), which form the basis for collaboration among GICs
  • Issue-based collaboration: GICs across companies collaborate on common issues (e.g., talent development, regulatory) that impact the industry

Myth #3: Collaboration can be enabled primarily through formal mandates from the parent and GICs can do little to drive it on their own

While formal mandates can help initiate collaboration, it is just a “starter.” GICs need to adopt a more proactive approach towards collaboration to reap full benefits. Mature GICs are using informal modes of collaboration with great efficacy to meet their organizations objectives. Instead of waiting for the mandate, GICs need to emerge as collaboration “champions.” The collaboration journey of GICs can be classified into three stages:

  1. Participate: GICs adopt a largely reactive approach to collaboration, as a consequence of parent-driven mandates
  2. Influence:  GICs proactively start to enable collaboration but within a limited sphere of influence
  3. Champion: Collaboration is a strategic-priority for GICs and GICs initiate large global collaboration initiatives across the ecosystem

In summary, to pursue the collaboration journey successfully, GICs need to pursue three action items:

  1. Extent focus of collaboration to a broader ecosystem beyond parent to capture full potential
  2. Align talent/leadership model and goals to ensure successful collaboration
  3. Intentionally challenge the perceived risk of losing competitive advantage and convert this into opportunities

Download the complimentary report, Driving Impact through Collaboration: Collaboration in the GIC-Parent, GIC-Vendor, and GIC-GIC Ecosystem.

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