Tag: recession

CXM Outsourcing Providers Can Thrive and Grow in the Upcoming Recession: Here’s How | Blog

The looming recession offers opportunities for forward-looking Customer Experience Management (CXM) outsourcing providers to emerge stronger. To learn five strategies that can help providers get ready for an economic downturn and win in the long term, read on.

With spiking interest rates across major economies, yield curve inversion in the US, and workforce layoffs by several tech giants, it is largely accepted that the next global recession is imminent (if not already here). A global slowdown may force enterprises to review new or large investments, expansions, or CXM sourcing decisions, directly impacting the CXM outsourcing industry.

While coping with the challenging environment is the immediate priority for third-party CXM providers, it also presents opportunities for proactive providers to emerge from these uncertain times stronger and chart a path for long-term success.

Here are some ways a recession could affect the industry: 

  • CXM outsourcing is expected to endure: Historical data suggests that the demand for Business Process Services (BPS) outsourcing remains resilient during an economic downturn as shown below:

Picture1 3

Source: Everest Group

In a global slowdown, enterprises look for short-term cost wins and quick and tangible benefits from their investments. The variability in cost structures outsourcing offers helps enterprises free their company’s resources, lowers fixed costs, and makes enterprises more flexible and eventually more competitive. This effect can be seen in quarterly releases where many leading CXM providers have raised their most recent like-for-like revenue growth guidance percentage 

  • Essential goods and service industries can act as a safe harbor: According to an Everest Group analysis of the historical correlation between an economic downturn and industry growth, the sectors of Fast-Growth Technology (FGT), travel and hospitality, manufacturing, and luxury retail typically have a higher risk of growth slowdown due to recessions. Healthcare, utilities, consumer packaged goods, and business and financial services (BFS) verticals are less risky and may offer a safety net 
  • Contract renewals may get tough: Enterprises, especially those impacted by the downturn, tend to focus on extracting maximum value at lower prices. To achieve cost efficiencies, enterprises may look for a no-frills approach to CXM outsourcing and remove non-essential components from deals, including value-added services and upsell/cross-sell services – resulting in a decline in the Total Contract Value (TCV)
  • An enhanced focus on digital CX can counteract the effects: During a global slowdown, focusing on superior CX and customer retention becomes imperative while also reducing or keeping operational expenditure stagnant. Third-party service providers with higher technical capabilities can sort customer queries and resolve simple queries with self-serve or other cost-effective channels, reducing voice volumes and operational overheads

Five strategies for CXM providers to navigate a potential recession

A recession can offer opportunities for well-prepared CXM providers to emerge stronger and triumphant. Service providers need to seize the moment and focus on developing strategies that will provide them with short- and long-term gains.

The following strategies can help providers mobilize for a recession:

  • Adopt a digital-first value proposition: Understand that cost reduction while maintaining CX quality is vital for enterprises during an economic downturn. Digital CXM solutions drive cost savings by reducing the cost of operations and service, and support through process optimization, automation, encouraging self-service, and enabling efficient workforce management. Service providers with the capability to manage simple queries leveraging digital technologies such as automation, agent-assist solutions, and conversational Artificial Intelligence (AI) can offer better pricing, helping their clients win new contracts, as well as more easily extend and renew existing ones
  • Demonstrate operational flexibility: In economic uncertainty, anticipating operational volumes over the coming months is extremely difficult for enterprises. Service providers should focus on adopting flexing staffing models to quickly ramp their operations up and down based on demand, helping enterprises reduce fixed costs and mitigate operational risk
  • Take a proactive customer approach: Capitalizing on every opportunity for additional revenue becomes even more important during unpredictable economic times. Enterprises should look to partner with third-party providers who actively monitor customer journeys, can identify customer pain points, and offer self-service solutions for addressing low-complexity queries, reducing inbound issues and support tickets. B2B enterprises should explore partnerships with service providers having defined roles, such as Customer Success Managers (CSMs) who are focused on identifying customer preferences and demand patterns to identify the best-fit opportunities to upsell or cross-sell to end-customers
  • Avoid being pressured into bad deals: As the economic cycle enters a downturn, competition over a potentially smaller pie will intensify and can lead to declining prices. Service providers must be financially prudent and avoid pursuing significantly margin dilutive deals. Further, they need to relook at their pricing models and optimize their strategy based on their risk appetite
  • Diversify into recession-proof industries: Service providers with a focus on high recession-prone sectors such as travel and hospitality, luxury retail, or debt-fueled start-ups should look to diversify their portfolio and target verticals where the demand for customer experience management is expected to pick up or at least have the lowest impact during the recession. For instance, payment collection in the utility vertical generally experiences increased demand during recessionary times. While entering new verticals is not an easy task, service providers should identify synergies between their current portfolio and targeted industries to develop their market-entry strategies accordingly

A recession in the next few months appears to be an inescapable reality. Regardless, service providers must be well prepared for continued economic uncertainty. While some providers may need to aggressively transform costs and offerings, others can diversify their portfolios and develop flexible offerings for the future. Providers who prepare now and take appropriate steps will not only navigate through difficult business conditions but also emerge stronger than the competition when conditions improve.

This is the second blog in our latest CXM blog series. To learn about CXM strategy, read the first blog, How a Robust CXM Outsourcing Strategy Can Help Enterprises Navigate the Economic Downturn.

To discuss CXM outsourcing opportunities, contact Shirley Hung, David RickardSharang Sharma, or Divya Baweja.

Key Issues for 2023: Rise Above Economic Uncertainty and Succeed | Webinar

LIVE WEBINAR

Key Issues for 2023: Rise Above Economic Uncertainty and Succeed

As we look toward 2023, economic uncertainty is prime and center. Rising inflation, interest rate hikes, and GDP contraction – matched with low unemployment rates and high talent demand – have left business leaders unsure of what to expect and how to prepare for 2023.

Join Everest Group’s Key Issues 2023 webinar as our experts provide insights into the outlook of the global IT-BP industry and discuss major concerns, expectations, and key trends expected to amplify in 2023.

All the data is based on input from global leaders across enterprises, Global Business Services (GBS), and service providers.

Our speakers will discuss expectations for 2023, including:

  • The outlook for global services
  • Top business challenges and priorities
  • Changes in sourcing spend and service delivery costs
  • In-demand digital services and next-generation capabilities
  • The evolving strategy for talent, locations, and the workplace

Who should attend?

  • CIOs, CDOs, CTOs, CFOs, CPOs
  • Service providers
  • GBS / Shared services center heads
  • Global services leaders
  • Locations heads

The R-word and What It Means for IT Services Spending This Time | Blog

What factors make this economic downturn different, and is IT services spending recession-proof? Despite recessionary fears, digital transformation and post-pandemic demand will help maintain IT services growth with more cautious tech spend moving forward. Learn the three strategies service providers should take now to plan for the slide in this blog. 

By all accounts, it seems we are entering a cyclical phase of economic downturn. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) declined for the US, Italy, and Japan in the first quarter, while the UK, France, and Canada flatlined or deaccelerated meaningfully.

This has been visible a long way off, and the equity markets have adjusted their guidance for IT services stocks accordingly. However, we at Everest Group believe this is very different than past cyclical downturns.

To truly understand the nature of the impact on the IT services industry, we need to ask the following three questions:

  1. Is IT services spending truly discretionary?

Chart one tells us a few things:

  • During a downturn, IT services spending tends to follow a meaningful lag effect. Our channel checks reveal careful prioritization of fresh capital expenditure (CAPEX) items, but not cancellation of committed tech spend
  • Modern enterprises view technology and tech spend to transform their business and become more innovative and efficient. A downturn will sharpen the focus on pragmatic digitalization to create new revenue streams
  • A meaningful part of the inflationary pressures can be attributed to global fiscal expansion post-pandemic. This is not necessarily true for private businesses and tech spend. If anything, remnants of pent-up demand continue in the wake of pandemic-induced austerity

A combination of the second and third factors is leading to the divergence between the IT services and aggregated economic activity, as measured by the GDP.

Chart 1

Picture1 1

  1. How much has already been baked in?

Now, look at this second chart. Suffice to say that IT services stocks have taken a beating in 2022.

While some stock price erosion can be attributed to inflationary pressures leading to margin compression, a significant part is due to negative macro expectations.

Curiously, during the same period, consensus revenue estimates have continued to expand (Accenture, Cognizant, Infosys, Wipro, TCS), and book-to-bill ratios remain healthy (expanded Year-over-Year for Capgemini and IBM, with mild deceleration for TCS and Accenture).

Quite simply, this downturn was visible a mile off. All of us could see it, as could customers, economists, governments, central banks, and equity markets. And a little bit like seeing a slow train coming, we skipped the tracks and readjusted our expectations. Consequently, it’s unlikely we will see a trainwreck, but tech Return on Investment (RoI) will be increasingly scrutinized.

Chart 2

Picture2 1

  1. Are the usual lemons drying up?

Finally, we need to remember that the world is still coming out of COVID-19. Every enterprise made massive cost adjustments during the pandemic by automating routine tasks, moving to the cloud, and divesting non-core assets. In other words, many of the usual cost adjustment levers are already pre-adjusted, and one has to pause and ask – how much padding do we still have before we risk cutting too close to the bone?

What’s likely to happen – our prognosis

  • Yes, there will be a downturn in the IT services industry. But it is very unlikely to be severe. We forecast 6.7 % growth (organic, constant currency basis) as the base case for the year ending March 2023. This includes a set of very large supply side players with company-specific issues (e.g., Atos), while more resilient companies will comfortably beat the average. Irrespective, industry growth will be significantly above the pre-pandemic trendline. The reality is that we are in the midst of a decadal mega cycle of digital transformation, which will significantly counteract a slow-burning cyclical downturn
  • Enterprises will have to grow out of the recession through waste avoidance, innovation, and digitalization, and not through canceled tech spend
  • There will be limited manifestation of the usual downturn-linked opportunities (e.g., shared services divestments, vendor consolidation, etc.)

Three service provider strategies

Service providers will still need to readjust. Here are some recommended immediate steps to take:

  • Examine your portfolio: Not every industry and customer within the same industry will be impacted equally. Now is the time to critically examine your portfolio and evaluate every account. Ask yourself:
    • Which parts of my portfolio are critical to the customer’s business success? If they are not core, how can I gain share in business-critical categories?
    • Have parts of my portfolio already been adjusted for maximum efficiency during the pandemic? If not, what can I proactively do about this?
  • Focus on systems of growth: Systems of growth are digital platforms that help enterprises create new revenue streams and transform the customer experience. In a downturn where brute-force cost-cutting options are likely to be limited, having a robust strategy to help customers grow will be a true differentiator
  • Continue hiring: The talent market may move from “white hot” to “warm,” but the war for tech talent is not over by a long stretch. A temporary lull may represent a brilliant opportunity to attract and train differentiated talent. When the markets rebound, it will make a difference

What is your outlook for IT services spending? And how are you planning for the downturn? Please feel free to share your perspectives, email me at [email protected] or Contact Us.

To learn more about the increase and changing rates across the services industry, request a 30-minute briefing.

6 Innovation Myths Busted by Everest Group Research on Global Business Services | Press Release

May 7 Webinar to Address How GBS Organizations Can Leverage Innovation to Prepare for Economic Downturn

For those enterprises striving to create a culture of innovation, Global Business Services divisions* can be an enormous asset, markedly accelerating the innovation journey and driving the enterprise innovation agenda, according to Everest Group research.

In its newly published report, Innovation in GBSs: Pinnacle Model® Analysis, Everest Group examines 51 GBS organizations and identifies Pinnacle™ (best-in-class) GBS centers—those entities that are achieving superior outcomes because of their advanced capabilities.

Collectively, Pinnacle GBS organizations debunk six common myths associated with innovation.

1.    Myth: Bigger and older GBS centers are not agile and lean enough to deliver better business outcomes. Reality: Bigger and older GBS centers deliver better business outcomes.
2.    Myth: GBS centers should not focus on in-house technology development. Reality: Pinnacle GBS centers primarily develop mature technologies in-house while leveraging ecosystem partners for niche technologies.
3.    Myth: Mature GBS centers deliver only high-end innovation. Reality: Pinnacle GBS centers focus mostly on incremental innovation.
4.    Myth: The GBS innovation team should have more leadership members to ensure better outcomes. Reality: Pinnacle GBS organizations exhibit a balanced team structure while other GBS organizations are more top-heavy.
5.    Myth: Centralized innovation teams in GBS centers and parents are essential to deliver business impact. Reality: A hybrid team structure at the parent level and an innovation head or dedicated steering committee at the GBS center level have proved to be more successful.
6.    Myth: Service providers and technology vendors are the most important value creators in the innovation ecosystem. Reality: Pinnacle GBS organizations extensively leverage a mix of service providers, technology vendors, and startups for driving innovation.

“The entities we’ve identified as Pinnacle GBS centers are adept at leveraging their unique position and capabilities to help their parent organizations build truly disruptive innovation capabilities,” said H. Karthik, partner at Everest Group. “This is demonstrated by significantly higher ROI and cost savings as well as operational and strategic impact.”

Pinnacle GBS centers have been able to achieve significant business impact by effectively driving their innovation engines. Here are a few examples:

  • Cost impact: Pinnacle GBS centers generated 1.5X higher return on investment (ROI) and cost savings than other GBS centers. An example of an innovation initiative with cost impact is identifying potential opportunities to consolidate multiple product lines and processes, thereby realizing the benefits arising from economies of scope.
  • Operational impact: Pinnacle GBS centers have achieved 1.9X greater operational impact than other GBS centers. For instance, a leading Banking, Financial Services and Insurance (BFSI) GBS organization built a smart contracting platform to seamlessly process unstructured data and automate multiple transactional processes, reducing FTE time.
  • Strategic impact: Pinnacle GBS centers delivered 1.6X more strategic impact than other GBS centers. An example of a GBS center having significant impact is a leading electronic and hi-tech GBS organization who leveraged next generation technology solutions to revamp its existing cold chain to preserve and increase the shelf life of perishable goods and chemicals, ensuring the quality through last-mile delivery to the end customer.

***Download a complimentary abstract of the report.***

May 7 Webinar: How GBS Centers Can Leverage Innovation to Prepare for the Economic Downturn

Everest Group is hosting a complimentary webinar to assist senior enterprise executives in understanding how they can effectively leverage their GBS organizations for driving the enterprise innovation agenda. The webinar will address these questions:

  • For what kinds of innovation initiatives are enterprises leveraging the GBS model?
  • How does the current uncertain environment present a significant opportunity for GBS centers to build and demonstrate innovation?
  • What business outcomes have Pinnacle GBS centers delivered for their organizations?

The live webinar will be held on Thursday, May 7, at 9 a.m. CDT.

***Register here.***

About Everest Group
Everest Group is a consulting and research firm focused on strategic IT, business services, engineering services, and sourcing. Our clients include leading global enterprises, service providers, and investors. Through our research-informed insights and deep experience, we guide clients in their journeys to achieve heightened operational and financial performance, accelerated value delivery, and high-impact business outcomes. Details and in-depth content are available at http://www.everestgrp.com.

*Note: For the purposes of this report, Everest Group uses the term GBS to include Shared Services Centers (SSCs), Global In-house Centers (GICs) and Global Capability Centers (GCCs), although distinctions in these business models can be made.

Redefining the Status Quo: The IT-BPM Industry Post-COVID | Webinar

This webinar is hosted by IBPAP (IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines). Attendance is by invitation only. 

The spread of COVID-19 has wreaked major havoc across nations, people, and businesses, and disrupted the global IT-BPM industry. In this webinar, industry experts from Everest Group will discuss the impact of COVID-19 and the economic recession on the global IT-BPM industry, the outlook going forward, opportunity areas, and action steps that can help IT-BPM players better prepare for the future, followed by an open discussion in which IT-BPM leaders from the Philippines can ask questions and share perspectives.

When

April 29, 12:30-1:30 PM IST

Presenters

H. Karthik
Partner
Everest Group

Prashray Kala
Vice President
Everest Group

Are IT Buyers Pushing for Discounts Due to the Pandemic?

Not surprisingly, we’ve been flooded with questions about the implications of COVID-19 on the IT services industry over the past two months.

Let’s take a look at the two most prevalent questions.

How are IT contracts being impacted?

Financial distress – such as a dip in revenue generation and restricted cash flow – is forcing enterprise IT to review their IT contracts. Clients are exploring three options:

  • Putting non-critical projects on hold
  • Deferring payments to keep critical projects running
  • Seeking discounts

Their preferred option is putting non-critical projects on hold. Clients are triaging to keep their business-critical functions – like transactions systems, call centers, datacenters, and supply chain systems – running. However, they’re putting non-critical engagements, such as new application development and feature upgrades, on the back burner.

Second in order of priority is deferring payments. We’re seeing deferral requests increase in frequency, especially in distressed industries such as travel, transportation, hospitality, and medical devices. And we’ve seen payment terms going up to 180 days in a few situations. However, an early trend that will soon establish itself as the IT industry norm is balance sheet (or cash pile) financing; vendor balance sheets have started to play a role in enabling billing deferrals and “deploy now pay later” models. For example, Cisco has set up a US $2.5 billion war chest leveraging its balance sheet to help some of its clients defer payments until 2021.

Our analysis shows that vendor balance sheets, both tech products and IT, are healthy. For example:

  • IT vendors’ (HCL, Infosys, TCS, Wipro, etc.) balance sheet assets over liabilities ratio ranges from 1.3x to 3.5x
  • Tech vendors’ (Adobe, Amazon, Microsoft, Oracle, etc.) balance sheet assets over liabilities ratio ranges from 1.1x to 3.4x.

And there is evidence that they may dip into them to help their clients out.

The third in priority is seeking discounts. We’re seeing anecdotal evidence of clients seeking discounts on contract value and in a few cases extending up to 50 percent of the annual contract value. But to clarify and qualify this:

  • The discount discussions are largely focused on time and materials (T&M) projects. Few are around fixed price and managed service engagements, which form a larger share of revenue profile for large IT vendors
  • And this means that smaller IT and staffing vendors – for which T&M constitutes larger share of the revenue profile – are going to be impacted more than the large IT vendors

Most importantly, we’ve seen enterprises being very flexible and collaborative with their vendors – working closely with them to keep initiatives running.

How will enterprises prioritize and fund IT initiatives during this crisis?

Enterprises are currently preparing their playbooks to navigate the ongoing recession. It’s important to note that recession does not mean that IT initiatives will be broadly deprioritized. Depending on the impact they see on their overall business and their anticipation of recovery, enterprise executives will triage their resources (cash, talent, vendors) to keep critical initiatives running.

Here’s a look at the framework we’re using to help buy-side clients prioritize their decisions:

  • Rescue business critical initiatives most severely impacted by the recession through financial engineering and aggressive cost takeout
  • Revitalize revenue-generating business functions that can gain from automation usage and cloud-driven agility
  • Reinforce the lowest impact portions of the revenue profile through M&A and product launches
  • Restructure those portions of the portfolio – such as vendors, locations, and talent – that already had redundancy and concentration risk issues

Portfolio approach by enterprises

In the coming weeks, enterprises will be using this framework to:

  • Triage between critical and non-critical IT spends
  • Build their blueprints for how they will reallocate budgets and engage with vendors
  • Identify new scope and financial models on which they’ll engage their vendors

Watch this space to see how this playbook evolves. If you have any questions or ideas on other approaches, please write to me at [email protected].

What Is Your Post-COVID-19 M&A Strategy | Blog

The International Monetary Fund has recently confirmed what most of us already know – we have entered a recession. Given the evolving COVID-19 situation, in the short-term, organizations are doing their best just to implement business continuity plans and keep the lights on. At this point, they simply don’t have the bandwidth to take a forward-looking view.

However, now – or at least very soon – maybe the best time to be bold – to consider the opportunity to slingshot through and out of the recession with a strong M&A strategy.

Increasing acquisition activity

As part of our technology research over the past few years, we’ve analyzed innovative firms (which we call Trailblazers) to identify high potential start-ups based on their growth stories, innovation, and the impact they have created in the market.

More recently, we’ve seen an uptick in M&A activity across the IT services market as organizations have sought exponential inorganic growth to expand their geographic footprints and/or fill gaps across their services portfolios. (See the exhibit below.)

timeline of acquisitions of high potential start ups presented by everest group 1

How we expect the recession to impact this activity

Although this has been an acquisition-rich industry in recent years, everything is completely different now – the post COVID-19 market is clearly headed straight into recession, or worse. If previous recessions are any indication, M&A activity is likely to take a hit. While we believe M&A activity in the immediate aftermath of the pandemic will be subdued, we also believe there will be some interesting opportunities for those willing to invest some thinking and strategizing.

Is now the right time for you to consider M&As?

As the world adjusts to the next normal following the pandemic, some specific technologies/tools are likely to see a surge in adoption, including cloud, collaboration and CX, network and security, IoT and edge, to name a few. These technologies will play an important role in ensuring business resiliency and serving a distributed and remote workforce.

Within this context, a well-planned acquisition strategy can enable competitive advantage for those organizations willing – and able – to take a bold approach. We believe this segment-specific activity will be further fueled by:

  • Lower valuations: Most start-ups take a relationship-based selling approach, with about 80% of their revenue coming from a few high-value, large clients or markets. As the recession deepens, start-ups that are highly dependent on a few clients and markets will struggle to survive, lowering their valuation and increasing their propensity to be acquired. The lower cost of capital and the impact of the financial stimulus are also going to provide acquirers an impetus to re-examine their M&A playbooks. One such example is Magic Leap, which is looking at opportunities to be acquired as the hardware sector faces threats from the COVID-19 crisis, the impending recession, and the trade war between the US and China. Cash-rich organizations (PE/VC firms, service providers, and BigTech companies) are already looking at leveraging their balance sheets amidst this downturn
  • An opportunity to fill portfolio gaps: As growth across IT services is expected to soften for the foreseeable future, now may be the time – and the price may be right – for organizations to augment their capabilities, expand their addressable market, and increase their top line

We are already seeing interest from acquiring firms focused on cloud services (AWS, Azure, GCP), enterprise platform adoption (capabilities in ServiceNow and Salesforce), network services, and security, to name a few. As we approach the fallout from the pandemic, a range of investors will be eyeing the technology sector for M&A opportunities, and we believe there will be a lot of activity. Picking the right segment bets and timing these initiatives will be crucial.

What is your post-COVID-19 M&A Strategy? Please write to us at [email protected] and [email protected].

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