Tag: UK

Impact of Brexit on the UK Outsourcing Industry | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

There’s no doubt that Brexit created a slowdown in European outsourcing during the last two quarters, especially in the UK. How long will the slowdown last? Let’s look at what’s really going on.

The reason Brexit contributed to slowdown is because it created indecision and senior management attention was captivated by the unthinkable prospect of the UK exiting the EU. That indecision caused the slowdown.

Having just returned from the UK and talking to UK leaders, I believe that the indecision has passed and decisions are reversing back to their normal rhythm. I expect there to be a little ongoing hangover; but going forward, I expect an increasingly low impact on outsourcing growth due to the UK exiting the EU. Yes, it’s still uncertain as to how the UK will exit, but that’s different from the indecision based on whether or not it would actually happen. I’m seeing signs that the indecision and senior management attention necessary to do outsourcing deals has now reverted back to running the business.

On their earnings calls, a number of outsourcing executives called out that they expect Brexit will create an imperative to do more outsourcing and to accelerate deals. I see no indication that is likely to happen. Here’s why:

  • The UK has a mature outsourcing market, which is already well along in its shift to cloud, automation and cognitive computing.
  • The imperative for UK businesses to save more money due to Brexit is likely to be resolved in an acceleration of the automation strategies, not an acceleration of further outsourcing in the labor arbitrage model. Work that has been available to move offshore has already moved, so I don’t see an uptick in demand for further offshoring. If Brexit has an effect, I believe it will accelerate the move to automation, which provides even greater savings than labor arbitrage.

Summing up, Brexit has had a modest impact on growth of UK outsourcing; but I think that impact is lessening dramatically by the day and will have little or no impact within a month. Where it does have an impact, and counter to well-publicized prophecies, I believe Brexit will not lead to further growth in the labor arbitrage space, but it’s likely to impact the transition to automated solutions.

“Food” for Thought: Biscuits Versus Cookies | How UK- and US-based Firms Differ in Their Sourcing Decisions | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

While Brits eat biscuits and chips, Americans eat cookies and French fries. You take a lift in a multi-story UK building, but an elevator takes you to different stories in a building in the US. In the US, you get over-the-counter medications from a pharmacist; in the UK, from a chemist. But, in addition to vocabulary differences between the two countries, they both have very different global in-house center (GIC) adoption models. In the overall GIC landscape (with more than 1,900 in total) UK-based firms have an 11 percent share, which is second only to US-based firms (more than 50 percent). Over 35 percent of the Forbes 2000 UK-based firms have adopted the GIC model, as compared to just 29 percent of US companies. Why are the sourcing decisions in the two countries so different?

Among UK-based firms, BFSI is the dominant vertical (~44 percent), while the technology vertical leads the pack among the US-based companies (~41 percent.) The delivery requirements, regulatory obligations, and intellectual property are significantly different in the two sectors, which partly explains the contrast in their sourcing decisions.

GIC adoption among small and medium sized firms (parent revenue <US$ 10 billion) has been much higher (~50 percent) for US-based firms, while the GIC landscape of UK-based firms is dominated by large firms (revenue > US$ 10 billion) with a staggering 73 percent share. Significant disparity is also seen in the GIC adoption levels for emerging verticals such as consulting, professional services, and legal services, which constitute ~7 percent of UK-based firms as compared to ~3 percent of US-based firms.

There are also big differences in the business leadership style and risk averseness of UK versus US firms. Companies in the UK are much more averse to risk when making a sourcing decision, as evidenced by their choice of mostly tier-1 cities with proven delivery ecosystems, while US-based firms also adopt tier-2 and tier-3 locations to manage costs. Additionally, there’s a lot of nearshore location activity by the UK-based buyers, primarily for contact center delivery, as you’ll see in this Everest Group Nearshored GICs Experiencing Significant Growth among UK-based Buyers. This trend continues, with more and more UK-based buyers embracing CEE and nearshore UK locations.

The following sneak peek into our upcoming report on the GIC landscape among UK-based buyers demonstrates these firms’ changing delivery location preference.

GICs of UK-based buyers by delivery location

Stay tuned for the report, which provides more analysis of the GIC landscape among UK-based buyers, and differences in delivery trends by offshore and nearshore geographies. Our report will be published by end of June 2015.


Photo credit: Flickr

“You’re Still the One” – Why Nearshore UK Contact Center Locations Still Matter | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

Despite changing market needs, key locations in Scotland, Ireland, and N. Ireland continue delivering value in the contact center space to the greater UK market. First off, these locations remain relevant in terms of the 3 C’s – cultural affinity, cost savings, and coordinates. But if you broaden the view, you’ll also see that the nature of the value derived from these locations continues to evolve, ensuring relevance into the future. Let’s take a closer look.

C#1 – Cultural Affinity: As with the rest of the market, about 83% of the traffic through UK nearshore contact centers involves voice-based interaction. Unlike the rest of the market, about 31% of such interaction involves supporting public sector needs. This combination underscores the draw for UK citizens to receive customer support from other UK citizens with a shared cultural compatibility. This dynamic, while most pronounced with public sector consumers, also resonates within banking, telecom, retail, travel, utilities, etc.

C#2 – Cost: UK nearshore costs remain compelling compared to operating costs elsewhere in the UK. Today ranging from 15-30% below that of locations in the southern UK regions, these nearshore locations are expected to continue offering favorable cost differentials for at least another 4-5 years. ­Further, this cost savings occurs in an environment with relatively low business and operational risk.

UK Nearshore CC I4

C#3 – Coordinates: Under coordinates, the most important element is the availability of talent. In cities such as Dublin, Glasgow, and Edinburgh, available entry-level and experienced talent in the areas of customer service, sales service, and order/payment services remains strong. In emerging delivery locations such as Derry and Limerick, similar skills exist, though fewer in number. However, these emerging locations typically have lower attrition rates, so talent volatility remains low. In the more mature locations, two sources keep the CC talent pool active, namely the influx of university populations and the growing base of experienced customer care professionals.

Beyond the core 3 C’s, the nearshore UK locations highlighted here continue to evolve their value propositions along with client requirements. One area involves voice interaction. Everest Group sees a future where the nearshore UK locations become increasingly specialized in complex customer voice support, with lower complexity interactions either moving to non-voice channels or to lower-cost offshore locations. This is especially true in the case of retail and telecom industry clients. We have also seen these delivery locations expand their scope of delivering value-added services. Activities such as customer retention and customer analytics are increasingly being serviced out of these locations. As evidence, over the past several years, spending on nearshore UK voice interaction has grown by 5-10%, notably above the global average of 4-6%.

The second key enhancement area involves expanded language capabilities. Across the region, we see many centers delivering services in the languages of Central and Eastern Europe, and to a limited extend, Asia. Whether Polish, Dutch, Norwegian, Lithuanian, and Hungarian, or Urdu, Hindi, Punjabi, and Mandarin, UK nearshore contact centers have expanded their reach beyond English-only populations to offer customers a more targeted and effective consumer experience.

Despite their relative maturity in the scheme of the contact center market, UK nearshore locations continue delivering value to clients and customers. The trick to staying relevant will be keeping the value proposition balanced between cost savings and differentiated capabilities and higher skill sets.

For more information, download a complimentary preview of our report, “Cultural Affinity, Cost Savings, Coordinates – 3 C’s of Targeting UK Contact Center Market.”

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