Tag: CSC

The CSC Split: More than What Meets the Eye | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

Yesterday, Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) announced that it was splitting the company into two independent, publicly-traded entities – U.S. Public Sector and Global Commercial. The split, expected to be completed by October 2015, will be accompanied by a special cash dividend of US$10.5 per share. After the bifurcation, the U.S. Public Sector business will focus on federal, state, and defense customers within the country, and employ 14,000 people. The remaining 51,000 employees will be a part of its Global Commercial business that will focus on commercial customers, and public sector organizations outside the United States. The two businesses generated US$4.1 billion and US$8.1 billion, respectively, in annual revenue during FY2015. Everest Group’s CEO Peter Bendor-Samuel shared his top-level insights shortly after the announcement. Following is our evaluation of the different potential scenarios arising out of the split.

Last attempt to avoid a buyout?

The announcement comes after the latest set of rumors about CSC’s potential sale. In February 2015, Carlyle Group and Capgemini were reported to be in talks to jointly acquire the company. Around the same time, CSC was said to be working with Royal Bank of Canada to review buyout options. Similar reports emerged in September last year with CSC exploring leveraged buyout via multiple private equity firms, including Bain Capital and Blackstone Group. CSC’s buyout (if it had materialized) would have been the largest leveraged buyout since Dell went private for US$16 billion in 2013. However, the talks over the year fizzled out as buyers baulked at CSC’s expected valuation.

If this move is a precursor to a possible sale, the question comes around to the identity of the suitor. Rumors have floated about interest from HCL and Accenture, but things don’t add up with those two suggestions for a number of reasons. HCL already has what it needed from CSC through its alliance, and Accenture already enjoys pole positon in the consulting markets, so they would have to radically depart from their infrastructure strategy to take on the CSC asset base. Given that Accenture is integrating infrastructure with operations as part of its GTM (go-to-market) strategy, we do not see the change in strategic direction that would indicate acquisition of an asset like CSC. A more plausible candidate would be someone looking for scale in the North American enterprise market with allied economic models creating scale and IP synergies.

Driving rationale 

The decision to split can be viewed as the culmination of CEO Mike Lawrie’s efforts to revitalize this ailing company. Since his inception in 2012, CSC has witnessed firm-wide cost takeout measures as a part of the “Get Fit” phase of its turnaround efforts. Attributable to these efforts, the company managed slight melioration in its operating margins during FY2014 and FY2015. Recognizing the fact that the cost takeout measures have already liquidated as enhanced bottom-line, and in the absence of a successful buyout, the management has settled on forming two separate business entities catering to different customer segments. Increasing profitability and value for shareholders could also shore up CSC’s valuation.

Apart from catering to different customer segments, the two entities have inherently exhibited great divergence in terms of their growth profiles and cash flow dynamics. The Global Commercial business has faced strong tailwinds, with revenue in FY2015 declining due to contract completions and lack of new opportunities. On the other hand, the Public Sector business managed to maintain the figures, backed by demand for next-gen IT solutions such as cloud. As it gears up for a potential sale, the government business is potentially value dilutive, and may not find many takers. There’s also an aspect around risk compartmentalization – troubled contracts in the federal marketplace can get service providers stuck in long-drawn out lawsuits and punitive damages.

The future

Keeping this context in mind, splitting the overall businesses can play out in a number of different ways for CSC. It can help offload the new entities of assets not core to their business, enabling them to be more strategic in serving clients and pursuing new opportunities. The new entities will be in a better situation to position themselves as specialists in their respective markets. While this may not be a pivotal factor for the Global Commercial business, it could be a turning point for the Public Sector business, wherein, organizations increasingly seek to engage with specialized technology partners. Despite the split, both entities stay as multi-billion dollar businesses, thus, ensuring that none of the two entities face any scalability issues in the market.

With its decision to split, CSC joins the league of technology companies that have lagged in adapting to the changing market dynamics (shift to mobile, cloud computing, and the As-a-Service economy), and are splitting up in response to market pressure. Last year, HP, another service provider plagued by similar challenges, announced a similar split. Two years ago Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) went down the same path and spun off its government technology services business as SAIC and rebranded itself as national security and engineering company Leidos Holdings Inc.

While the ultimate success or failure of such a strategic move is murky at best, it is beyond doubt that a rapidly disruptive and evolving services landscape will lead providers to ponder hard choices. In the last year we have seen multiple instances of this realization translating into different maneuvers – movement towards an integrated value proposition (Cognizant-TriZetto), geographic/vertical expansion (Atos-Xerox and Capgemini-IGATE), and focus on next-generation tenets (Apple-IBM). As this continues to happen, expect more industry churn, realignment, and consolidation.

CSC Splits Itself Apart | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

CSC announced it is splitting into two companies. One will provide service to commercial and government organizations worldwide; the other will serve the U.S. public sector businesses. What are the implications for the services industry?

CEO Mike Lawrie has been running CSC’s turnaround. The story line he drove was that he would first drive earnings and then fix growth. He has been spectacularly successful in driving earnings, but the pivot to growth hasn’t worked so well.

Certainly there were rumors that CSC was up for sale, but it didn’t transpire. We believe this split into two entities is the natural next step, especially since it comes at a time when the industry is maturing. The separation allows CSC to behave differently.

Everest Group believes the federal component will become an attractive acquisition target with both defense contractors and private equities interested in the consistent cash flow and book of business.

The commercial side may also attract interest, but from a different group. Certainly there has long been speculation that one or more Indian-based service providers may have an interest in acquiring CSC’s infrastructure-based business. It would be a large acquisition with substantial adjustments as the Indians move the book of business to their labor arbitrage model.

For both of the new entities, whether they are acquired or remain independent, the split should allow them to focus more strongly on growth at time when growth is coming at a premium.

As to the implications for the industry, we see this split as playing into the industry’s ongoing story of maturing and playing also into the theme of industry consolidation and industry realignment.

The Facts About the Recent Service Provider Restructurings

In the past year, multiple global service providers have engaged in restructuring initiatives that will significantly alter their business model and fundamentally change the competitive landscape. Some of these restructurings include:

sp_restructuring_2

Numerous providers have also announced plans around changing operating and talent models. For example:

  •  Workforce rationalization
    • HP has announced ~55,000 job cuts since 2012 in a move toward workforce rationalization
    • IBM’s company-wide employee count dropped in 2013 for the first time in a decade as a result of massive lay-offs
  •  Increased offshoring leverage, particularly in India
    • Capgemini plans to increase share of India to 50 percent of overall firm’s headcount by 2016
    • Atos has announced plans to double its employee strength in India by 2016

While this is not the first instance of service provider restructuring, this time is unique because multiple firms have announced programs at essentially the same time. In addition, there is speculation that other global majors will launch business portfolio restructuring initiatives (i.e., carve-outs, leveraged buyouts).

Why is this happening now? The reasons are relatively straightforward. First, many global providers have experienced reduced profitability in traditional “non-core” businesses. This, coupled with increasing competitive intensity and the shifting competitive landscape is resulting in pricing pressures. Second, next generation capabilities (e.g., social media, SaaS, analytics, and cloud) are poised to become the next growth engines, and all leading players are channelizing their investments in these areas. Finally, most global players are moving toward rationalizing their portfolios for focused investments, due to strained management bandwidth and focus.

But these initiatives will create multiple impacts beyond the obvious strategic objectives. Consider this: over the last eight quarters, the operating margins of the leading global service providers (Accenture, Aon Hewitt, Convergys, CSC, HP Enterprise Services, IBM Global Services, Unisys, and Xerox Services) grew the most in Q2 2014. This restructuring trend will likely continue as some of the long-term benefits translate into improved profitability for global service providers.

Improved profitability of global majors will also impact buyers and other service providers. We anticipate increasing focus by offshore-centric service providers on inorganic growth by acquisitions. They are also likely to scout for more collaboration opportunities to build capabilities, particularly in next generation global services. We also foresee buyers aggressively monitoring provider investments to evaluate sourcing model decisions (i.e., build vs. buy).

Interestingly, one of the unintended after-effects of these restructurings is that the offshore-centric service providers have witnessed better revenue growth than the global majors, and thus have improved in their relative rankings by revenue. For example, TCS recently overtook CSC in terms of overall revenue. And other offshore-centric providers are also bridging the revenue gap with their global counterparts. While this ranking reshuffling has been occurring for some time, the global major’ restructuring initiatives and focus on profitability (sometimes at the expense of revenue growth) has further accelerated this trend.

For more details on these restructuring initiatives and their impact on the global services industry, and other information on leading service providers, please refer to our Market Vista™ Q3 2014 report.

Pivot Perspective for CSC | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

CSC just went through another employee layoff, and it’s apparent that it might be as much as 5 percent of its total staff. This move comes within the backdrop of the impressive turnaround that CEO Mike Lawrie has been driving. Since he took over, the stock has done exceptionally well and is back up in the 60s. But can CSC pivot from cost take-out to growth?

The turnaround plan Lawrie laid out was to go through two years of cost take-out and then pivot to growth. Now at the two-year point, it appears that he has taken about $2 billion in costs out of CSC. Like the IBM playbook of cost take-out, he has succeeded in significantly increasing CSC’s margins — to the applause of the shareholders.

We’ve watched CSC in the marketplace during the turnaround, and its morale remains adequate and its ability to execute seems to have improved.

But the provider hasn’t been able to grow. To be realistic, the plan was always to address the cost base first and then grow. It will be interesting to see if CSC can now pivot from cost take-out to fast growth. As we’ve blogged before, at a minimum, the firm will need to grow quickly to offset the cloud-driven likely revenue losses in their mature core business.

We look forward to seeing how successful CSC becomes.


Photo credit: Philipp Pohle

What If CSC and HCL Get Brave? | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

CSC and HCL announced an alliance a few weeks ago, which is more of a go-to-market than structural change. But what if the twosome were to agree to a follow-on alliance to do something really big — something with huge industry and market consequences? It would be extremely brave and very risky. But it would address the inevitable whopping market threat for CSC and position both companies for future growth. Let me paint a picture of what that speculative alliance would look like.

The alliance would address the elephant in the room: CSC losing half its client work 

Such an alliance would first enable CSC to grasp the mantle and really address its big problem — its current huge commitment to an asset-heavy outsourcing model. CSC has invested at least $12+ billion in this model.

Our research and insights reveal that over 50 percent of the workloads currently in an asset-heavy model are able to migrate to the cloud over the next three to five years— and are incented to do so. With half of its work exiting the asset-heavy model, this mass exit would leave CSC with a huge revenue hole.

And that’s only part of the problem. The situation is doubly threatening in that the exit from the asset-heavy model will leave CSC with huge stranded costs on facilities, equipment and people along with the revenue hole.

A really brave alliance with HCL would deal with this situation.

Alliance step one. Step one is to deal with the people. CSC could move its people servicing clients in the asset-heavy model over to HCL, taking costs down and removing the stranded costs. CSC already has a vehicle in its offer set to catch the cloud work but would be replacing this revenue at 50 cents on the dollar. It’s much cheaper to do the work in the cloud than in the asset-heavy model.

Step two. Step two would move CSC’s data centers into an industry REIT to deal with the data center overhang. It would leave CSC with a much smaller set of stranded assets in overhead and equipment to deal with. In this way CSC would be able to navigate the inevitable shrinkage of its asset-heavy business and deal with those stranded assets.

The emerging CSC 

A brave alliance between CSC and HCL would also make CSC “all in” on the cannibalization of its own footprint. Although CSC is attempting to drive this strategy now, it has conflicting incentives as it fights to maintain revenue in its existing asset-heavy model while standing up new revenue. The speculative alliance I’m describing would send a message internally to the CSC organization and to its external market that CSC is “all in” on the cloud transformation issue.

What would emerge from this alliance strategy would be a cloud-based CSC — a smaller, more profitable, more nimble CSC without the huge write-downs that it likely will incur as the cloud transformation happens naturally over the next few years.

The picture for HCL also makes a lot of sense

Such an alliance would create big growth in HCL’s infrastructure because of gaining significant advantages in economies of scale, market credibility and greater profits to invest.

HCL would pick up CSC as a huge client and capture probably 15 percent of the entire RIMO (Remote Infrastructure Management Outsourcing) market in one fell swoop. It would cement HCL into the undisputed RIMO leadership position with a wide margin between HCL and TCS, its nearest competitor.

What do you think? Will the twosome be brave and take the risk of a market-changing follow-on alliance?

CSC’s Path: One to Watch | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

Under new CEO Mike Lawrie, CSC’s well-publicized turnaround is showing increased momentum. He put CSC on a new path, and that strategic shift shows modest improvement in margins. But they still have a big wrinkle to iron out — despite increased profits, CSC’s revenue has been flat to down. The question is: Will the market continue to support an increasing stock price without seeing increased revenue?

Lawrie took some big — and critical — steps to reshape CSC’s market position. He brought in new leaders, divested non-core portions of the business and invested those funds in a set of cloud offerings for CSC’s core infrastructure business.

He also revitalized the dispirited and somewhat lost CSC sales engine. Since Lawrie stepped on board, CSC consistently goes to market with an interesting and powerful story focused on next generation IT. And unlike some of its provider brethren, CSC is quite willing to sponsor disruptive cloud and other disruptive next generation technologies — even if they cannibalize CSC’s own client portfolio while attacking competitor offerings. We increasingly observe customer organizations reacting favorably.

The hard truth

Nevertheless, I think it will be difficult for CSC to increase revenue — ironically partly due to the fact that it clearly demonstrates willingness to cannibalize its portfolio of work. I think we’ll inevitably find that CSC is replacing existing captured work at 50 cents on the dollar.

To increase revenue, CSC must capture new logos and new opportunities very aggressively, and I think that will be a significant challenge. But I give them full credit for facing reality and taking a cannibalistic approach.

CSC-HCL Partnership – A Big Deal or Much Ado About Nothing? | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

On January 15, rival IT service providers CSC and HCL made an announcement that they were joining hands to deliver application modernization services. The partnership entails modernizing legacy applications (the HCL angle) and hosting them on cloud platforms (the CSC slant). CSC and HCL will open delivery centers in Bangalore and Chennai as part of this alliance, with a CoE for banking, and will share equally all revenues and costs of these operations.

The announcement sounds a lot like the one from Accenture and Dell a month ago where the two companies teamed up along similar lines. Read the release here. So what makes the CSC and HCL announcement more interesting? For starters, the simple fact that it is not the announcement we were anticipating (or were made to believe). The anticipation was for a broader alliance for infrastructure services, which would have had far significant implications on the supply landscape.

In reality, the announcement is not that big of a deal.

In our opinion this is more of a sales and marketing alliance versus a strategic re-alignment. But since it did catch our attention, here’s a brief analysis:

So why is this important?

Our research on cloud services shows that buyers place a high value on application modernization. While clients acknowledge the value of cloud adoption in order to transform their operating models and save costs, cloud-incompatible legacy applications limit the ability to harness this value. But oftentimes they are reluctant to make significant monetary investments for this pursuit and are looking for self-funding mechanisms. CSC and HCL, exploring mutual synergies, will theoretically be able to lower the risks and costs for clients transitioning to the cloud.

How does it benefit CSC and HCL?

CSC will get an additional channel for its cloud platform (BizCloud, a private cloud offering for the enterprise) and gain access to HCL’s offshore delivery capabilities in applications services. Also, this alliance will enable CSC to offer Proof of Concept (PoC) for its cloud platform to its clients at a lower price, something not feasible earlier with its U.S.-centric workforce.

For HCL, the alliance promises to:

  • Strengthen its presence in the financial services sector to match up with peers (HCL currently gets only 26% of revenues from BFSI, which is lower than that of its larger peers)
  • Boost its applications services business, which has been struggling for a while (infra business is driving growth) and position it well for potential downstream maintenance work
  • Allow it to offer a complete modernization solution across the application and infrastructure stack

Interestingly, CSC and HCL have been rivals traditionally with HCL being highly vocal about being a “replacement” for the likes of CSC. Like shrewd warring factions, CSC may have just married its enemy, turning it into an ally. The alliance likely enables CSC to not only protect its market share but also offer a compelling alternate proposition, to existing and new clients. 

Key questions that this alliance raises

  • CSC has been aggressively investing in augmenting its cloud and big data capabilities. The company, already a leading provider of cloud services will now be able to offer these services at a much reduced cost. Is there a possibility of market disruption?
  • Will HCL Technologies continue to be platform-agnostic with respect to its cloud offerings? Can there be a clause for an exclusive CSC-HCL partnership? We think there is little likelihood of this scenario, but it will be interesting to see how HCL manages demand for competing cloud platforms including IBM, Force.com, Rackspace
  • Will HCL be demanding a premium price from some of its traditional buyers as it gains access to CSC’s strong technological competency and knowledge of transformational solutions?
  • The alliance will enable HCL to augment its capabilities for application-related services, bringing it in head-on competition with the likes of TCS and Cognizant. So far HCL’s USP was its infrastructure management capabilities. Will the combination create a formidable competitor among the offshore majors?
  • Will the two rivals be successful in scaling up this alliance? How will the enterprise buyers react to this changed dynamic?

It is still too early to answer any of these questions. But one thing is clear – cloud and next-gen IT certainly create some strange bedfellows.

Just Like CSC and Dell, Sell Your Truck While It’s Still Running | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

When Bobby Pinson recorded his country & western song “Don’t Ask Me How I Know” dispensing bits of wisdom, I’m sure he didn’t realize he was providing advice to service providers. But my favorite line in the song is also great advice for today’s BPO providers — “Sell your truck while it’s still running.”

That’s what CSC and Dell did. In December 2012 CSC sold its credit services division “truck” to Equifax. A month earlier, Dell sold to Conifer Health Solutions its revenue cycle solutions line of business for healthcare providers. Wisely, they sold these business lines while they were still profitable. But they were not growing and were not consistent with the firms’ long-term strategies.

The business lines were sold to providers where the assets fit well with those companies’ core business and growth strategies, and which will invest in growing those lines of business. Both CSC and Dell then used the cash from those asset sales to invest in developing cloud services, which have a greater growth potential for their business.

The BPO space is full of big ideas and big investments in industry solutions or functional solutions that grew quickly and then stopped growing. In some cases the service providers are finding that they hit on a need in a micro industry and that the total market is only four or five companies that have that need. So the service line did not expand from the initial few clients.

In other cases, the provider built an offering that is now an unattractive area, so the business faces declining margins. Or perhaps the offering is based on technologies that are under attack by new disruptive technologies.

As we look across the landscape of service providers and their offerings, it’s clear that most companies have several of these kinds of businesses. Some are starting to look like a scientist’s attic stuffed full of experiments that didn’t work out.

These business pockets arose over the last few years because of the providers’ desire to drive growth by entering new markets. Many offerings were put together and sold at a price point that would allow them to scale and then become profitable after scaling. A few of these experiments in service offerings succeeded, but many stopped growing. When they don’t scale, the provider can damage its reputation by trying to drive profit improvement exercises on them afterwards in the form of price rises or a cut back in services. Existing clients become unhappy, and it affects other work they would otherwise do with the provider.

Fundamental question for BPO providers

There are many reasons to divest these BPO experiments that didn’t grow. The CSC and Dell asset sales pose a fundamental question for all BPO providers: Should you, too, sell your truck while it’s still running? Should you harvest these BPO pockets or should you run them out and let them decline?

If you leave them in place, the best that can happen is they become an anchor against growth because their future growth prospects are limited. It will make it more difficult to grow your company going forward. These BPO pockets contribute to mass but not to growth.

We wonder if others will follow CSC and Dell down the path of divestitures. What do you think? Other than these providers and IBM, we we have not seen many firms with the discipline to prune their business. Will we see a movement of others learning from these examples and start pruning back some of their portfolio?

For the right buyer, it might be a great model to aggregate these BPO business pockets and build a business around them. Pull them out of the fast-growing areas and build a separate company that has an appetite for this kind of investment. There’s an interesting proposition.

Selling the truck while it still runs is poignant advice that we should reflect on. Who knew that CSC and Dell were getting their strategic thinking from country/western songs?


Photo credit: Don O’Brien

Request a briefing with our experts to discuss the 2022 key issues presented in our 12 days of insights.

Request a briefing with our experts to discuss our 2022 key issues

How can we engage?

Please let us know how we can help you on your journey.

Contact Us

  • Please review our Privacy Notice and check the box below to consent to the use of Personal Data that you provide.