Demands of the next-generation investor
Everest Group’s March 22 symposium, Thriving in a World of Perpetual Change, brings together industry expertise and rich resources to help you identify practical strategies to thrive in a time of global disruption. Join us as we explore ways leading enterprises are planning and organising to take advantage of disruption to improve outcomes.
Ongoing global disruption – in the form of economic uncertainty, political upheaval, legal/regulatory change, and technological development – is forcing the global services market to completely transform how service delivery is organised and executed. Keeping up with the latest developments is difficult enough, let alone understanding and planning for potential consequences.
What you will see, hear, and learn
The programme will be followed by a networking session industry colleagues and Everest Group analysts over drinks and canapes.
Thursday, 22nd March, 2018
3:30 to 7:00 pm
Last year’s event exceeded capacity very quickly – register today to save your space!
The adage, “Disruption does not discriminate,” rang true again with Office Depot’s acquisition of CompuCom last week.
The beleaguered office supplies retailer bought the IT infrastructure firm for US$ 1 billion, illustrating yet again the disruptive impact of Amazon and the digital economy. With this deal, Office Depot expects to add US$1.1 billion in revenue, and achieve cost synergies to the tune of US$40 million in two years. As part of the transaction, Thomas H. Lee Partners LP, the PE firm that owns CompuCom, will assume an 8 percent ownership in Office Depot.
The deal comes at a time when Office Depot’s business is in the doldrums due to diminishing demand for traditional office supplies as offices go digital and online retailers eat into brick and mortar sales. CompuCom had its own share of problems, with four CEOs in the past four years, declining revenue, and diminishing investor confidence.
As the proposed takeover by Staples fell at the antitrust altar last year, Office Depot had been looking for ways to strengthen sales that had continued to slacken for several quarters. Its hiring of a slew of tech executives indicated that a drastic change was in the cards.
With this acquisition, Office Depot aims to pivot towards a business services and technology play in order to achieve:
While the CompuCom acquisition is in line with the “Software Eats Everything” theme, meaningful questions exist:
There have been previous instances of retailers acquiring Managed Service Providers (MSPs) to enhance their value proposition and margins. This includes Staples’ acquisition of Thrive Networks in 2007, and Best Buy’s acquisition of mindSHIFT in 2011. Although worthy pursuits, these acquisitions failed due to executional fallacies, lack of a clear-cut strategy, and their erroneous belief that SMBs would choose them to outsource their IT in a managed services model.
On the other hand, most of CompuCom’s revenue comes from conventional project-based and procurement engagements. The customer experience point is important here. If Office Depot can make this model a de facto choice for customers looking for a better customer experience, this might just work.
That said, the continuous disruption by players such as Amazon and the proliferation of digital users who demand a personalized user experience across all channels will play a key role in determining the success of this acquisition.
Creating a definitive digital value proposition aligned to customer expectations and chalking out a clear, dynamic execution strategy are the key tenets Office Depot must embrace for the CompuCom acquisition to succeed. Indeed, they are our words to the wise for any service-related organizations considering M&A activity in today’s digitally-disrupted environment.
Most enterprises and technology vendors focus on the smaller developer productivity improvement opportunity, missing out on the truly disruptive value they can create for clients
Digital technologies adoption is riding the crest of a powerful wave. I think one of the most interesting aspects is an emerging trend of service providers successfully using digital capabilities as a springboard for positioning themselves beyond the services industry.
A case in point: Leading successful service providers including Accenture, Deloitte, KPMG, IBM, McKinsey and PwC are acquiring advertising agencies. Think about that for a minute. This is not a trend of advertising agencies acquiring other marketing-related agencies to bolster their growth. Traditional consulting and IT service providers are spreading out and starting to disrupt the advertising industry.
This trend evidences a key factor in the way digital transformation is “crossing the chasm.” The same phenomenon is evident in findings in Everest Group’s January 2017 Enterprise Pulse Study on digital and IT services, “Customer (Dis)Satisfaction: Why are Enterprises Unhappy with their Service Providers?”
In the study, we interviewed 130 “reference clients” of leading service providers. We uncovered a significant differentiation. When ranking services firms according to providing the best overall client experience, three rise to the top: TCS, Cognizant and HCL. But when we look at how the clients ranked digitalization, the providers that shoot to the top are IBM, Accenture and Deloitte (three of the six I mentioned earlier as service providers acquiring advertising agencies).
Simply put, clients look to a different set of providers for their digital needs. Why? Because the traditional, arbitrage-first service providers aren’t well positioned or credible as digital providers. The magnitude of the problem for traditional service providers trying to convince clients of their digital credibility is a bit like trying to spread thick, dry peanut butter on a soft slice of bread – it gets bogged down and doesn’t go far.
But consider this: IBM, Accenture and Deloitte faced the same problem that the traditional and Indian providers faced. Two years ago, when the rotation into digital became apparent, they were no more credible than the other players. How did they manage to become more credible in digital services?
They gained credibility largely by acquiring digital companies instead of attempting to build digital skill sets themselves. This strategy has been far more effective in shifting market perceptions of their ability to drive digital transformation.
Digital platforms are driving a sea change in ecosystem support. Advertising is just one example, but it’s starting to happen in all industries. The winning players will be those that quickly gain credibility in digitalization and deep expertise in industries.
In the heat of battle in the services industry’s rotation from labor arbitrage to digital, Genpact made a significant move today that signals to everyone it’s playing to win. Genpact announced it signed an agreement to acquire Rage Frameworks, a leader in enterprise Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation technologies and services. Genpact moved the cheese.
Three aspects of Genpact’s acquisition of Rage are especially significant.
Requirement for Digital Rotation Success
When an arbitrage company such as Genpact thinks about its rotation into digital, it must focus on managing three constituencies: shareholders, internal constituencies and customers.
The Rage Frameworks acquisition helps Genpact manage across all three constituencies, as follows:
Genpact’s bold move is important to watch. How many other arbitrage providers will follow this path of serious investment to accelerate their journey to become digital-first service providers?
The general insurance (GI) industry has largely remained silent in a world where conversations either begin or end with the word “digital.” Products and services from the traditional GI providers have failed to keep tempo with the rapid technological developments happening everywhere else. One reason for this is that GI offerings are low-touch products about which customers interact with the provider just once or twice a year. Another is that GI providers have traditionally not focused on customer experience or value generation for their clients. They lag the Ubers and Amazons of the world by many miles.
However, the landscape has started to change recently due to the entry of disruptive start-ups trying to bridge the gap between service delivery and customer expectations. Areas gaining traction include price comparison services and mobile-based services. The real standout is peer-to-peer (P2P) insurance. It has gained more market buzz because the business model is not as opaque as the traditional model and provides clear benefits for the customers.
The P2P insurance business model
P2P insurance is a novel model facilitated by social media. Customers form their own online networks, and each pools in money to build a corpus. They allocate some portion of the fund to the mutual pool and pay the balance to a traditional insurer. When a claim must be made, members pull money from the mutual pool. If a claim exceeds the mutual pool corpus, they approach the reinsurer. If the claim is less than in the mutual pool, the remaining amount is distributed back to the members.
What are the benefits?
How does this disrupt the status-quo?
In the medium to long term, as this model gains maturity and acceptance, customers may switch to the P2P model. This will shrink the market share held by traditional players. Reduced demand for traditional insurance plans, coupled with increased supply, will drive down prices. Thus, customers are likely to benefit in the end.
Who are the current prominent P2P start-ups?
These companies are the hot start-ups in this space for a number of reasons. First, they are the early movers that have leveraged cutting-edge technology tenets such as social media and mobility. Second, they are trying to tackle a real business problem and, in the process, are improving efficiency in the market. Finally, they are managing to raise substantial funding from prominent investors such as Sequoia Capital and Horizons Ventures.
An urge for innovation in the industry, coupled with high potential demand from the customers, will drive further disruptions in the GI market. Start-ups are likely to be the vanguard in this evolution, by introducing value generating products and services. Sooner than later, the traditional players will wake up to the new normal, and will try to catch up by either acquiring these start-ups or partnering with them. Ultimately, the end-customers will be the beneficiaries, as competition forces the prices down and innovation drives the quality of services up.
Whether your company is a service provider or a consumer of business services, you’ll see dramatic change in 2017. This is our 25th anniversary at Everest Group, and reviewing the past 25 years of the services industry got me thinking about where services are taking businesses for the next few years. I’ve seen substantial changes in 25 years, and we’re about to see change again – but in a bigger, more profound way.
I view the services industry through the lens of what a “service” is. It’s the exchange of value – value deemed significant enough that the buyer is willing to pay for that service.
The first services disruption over the past 25 years was in the asset-intensive IT infrastructure space.
In 1991 when I founded Everest Group after I left EDS, the service provider landscape was dominated by ACS, Capgemini, CSC, EDS, and IBM. These infrastructure providers delivered value primarily as operational excellence. The key leverage point in the operational excellence model was economies of scale.
Our value proposition at Everest Group at that time was that we understood the operational excellence model – where to apply it, how to select a provider, how to define the services, how to negotiate an equitable contract and how to measure the results. I wrote a book, “Turning Lead Into Gold: The Demystification of Outsourcing,” published in 2000, which laid out this information.
At that time, we at Everest Group were working with a client that was a large energy company, which moved its work to a service provider in India. We started to see the emergence of a radical new way of delivering services by moving U.S. and European work offshore. The key leverage point in this second services disruption was talent pools in lower-cost locations.
Then came Y2K, which catapulted India’s talent resources into prominence because the U.S. lacked necessary resources to remediate computer systems for the new century. This further validated using offshore resources and the labor arbitrage model.
Yes, the providers delivering operational excellence achieved impressive results in delivering value for their customers. But the labor arbitrage model delivered greater value. Then we saw companies taking advantage of business process outsourcing (BPO) services, leveraging low-cost talent. BPO and the labor arbitrage market exploded with growth.
New challenges arose. Mature buyers of BPO services needed to evolve their outsourcing strategies and realized a decreasing capability of internal purchasing organizations to buy and measure outsourcing services effectively. Service providers wanted to provide wider, deeper offerings. At Everest Group, we opened a new research group to provide more data and perspectives to assist mature buyers, and we reached out to providers to help them with their expansion growth agendas.
We worked with providers using the labor arbitrage model as they started experimenting with how to add more value as the labor arbitrage space matured over the past few years. Providers experimented with some early automation and analytics offerings that enabled customers to do work even better, faster and cheaper than before.
That brings us to today and the major disruption we’ll experience in 2017 and beyond.
Now in 2016 it feels like a similar place to where we’ve been in the past – where we were with Y2K, on the cusp of explosive growth in delivering a disruptive model for business services. But today there is no external catapult like Y2K driving businesses to adopt a new model. Instead, there are disruptive digital technologies such as automation, analytics, cloud and cognitive computing.
Services based on digital technologies will deliver value even more powerful than the labor arbitrage model. How much value? Ultimately it will depend on changes in business and service models accompanying the digital technologies.
Viewing this new disruption again through the lens of value, here is my assessment for both sides of the services market – customers and providers. The services market will change even more dramatically in the coming years than what we saw in the two disruptive models over the past 25 years. We’ll see a lot of companies redefining value and changing models to deliver powerful new value. There will be a lot of service providers and customers going back to the drawing board, getting creative with opening new opportunities for greater value. Get ready for profound change!
After a long, drawn-out, and scrutinized sale process, Verizon is acquiring Yahoo’s core operating business for ~US$4.83 billion in cash, marking a tumultuous fall for the once-iconic Internet giant, which once had a market capitalization exceeding US$125 billion. Verizon’s purchase includes “core” Yahoo, which spans search, email, advertising products, and the media business, including Yahoo Finance. It does not include Yahoo’s ~ 3,000 patents with an estimated value of over US$1 billion, which reportedly are being hived off through a parallel auction process. Beating out competing bids from a range of probables such as Advent International Inc., AT&T, Bain Capital, TPG, and Vista Equity Partners, the deal adds an important dimension to Verizon’s burgeoning digital media and advertising business, building on its 2015, US$4.4 billion acquisition of AOL.
Not surprisingly, numerous digital revolution themes are reflected in this deal.
Going forward, we expect other marquee tech companies to also face the heat, whether it’s Apple trying to tackle plateauing iPhone sales, and perhaps pivoting to a rising enterprise business, Facebook/Google endeavoring to increasingly monetize their saturating mobile advertising moats, or Twitter attempting to answer its user acquisition dilemma. The future is uncertain, and there are no longer clear winners in the digital era.