Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Customer Service At The Heart of Your Business by guest blogger, Amit Shankardass

You spend a lot of money building and promoting your brand because a respected brand helps to keep existing customers loyal and attract new ones. But who is it that really defines your brand? I’m sure you might be thinking of the marketing team, but is this really how most customers form an opinion about your business? In many cases it is very likely to be the way that your customer service teams operate and interact with your customers.  Interestingly, this the same customer service team that used to be considered a ‘non-core’ part of the business?

I have been talking to a lot of people over the past year about the way that customer service is taking on a new strategic importance across companies in all industries. Of course, most executives have repeated the mantra the ‘customer comes first’, but I believe that many companies are now genuinely looking to their customer facing team for ideas, leadership and a competitive advantage.

Take a look at this recent blog featuring the CEO of Mercedes Benz USA, Steve Cannon, in which he suggests that the experience customers have when they interact with your company is now a part of the marketing process:

“Now with social media and the connected environment we live in, a good experience can lead to thousands of connections and a negative experience can lead to potentially more than that,” he explained. “When I started three years ago, Customer Experience was our No. 1 priority. We put a team together under a General Manager who reports to me and we empower them to take a more holistic look at Customer Experience and map the customer journey. This has to be the heart beat within our group.”

I believe we are now on a journey where companies and entire industries are about to be reshaped. The way customers interact with brands has fundamentally changed.  From a world where most communication was post-sale - and only if there was a problem - to the present, where customers expect an ongoing relationship with the brand, regardless of whether they are buying or not. And they expect to have a consistent experience and relationship with the brand across their journey with the the brand.

What this really means is that every customer-facing function within the organization needs to be synchronized with others. Previous silos such as customer service, marketing, advertising, sales, PR, and product management, need to be working together – because the customer is not interested in your internal politics. To the customer all these internal departments just represent your brand.

Customer service is now seen as the heart of a business. It’s where your team interacts with customers every day. It’s where prospective customers ask questions, people who are about to be customers clear up last minute doubts, and existing customers get support. All these other internal departments stand to benefit from a tight integration with the team that speaks to customers day after day.

And the customer service team gains too. Far from being a dead-end job, those who excel in managing customers now have their pick of where to progress within the business. After all, is there a better apprenticeship than talking to real customers about real problems with your products?

Mercedes has shown that they are one step ahead of the crowd in aligning their customer experience team with marketing, operations and sales. I believe that the next few years will see customer service teams take on a key corporate strategy role for companies in all industries.
Amit Shankardass, EVP Marketing, Teleperformance

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Size & Growth as Defined by the New Global Outsourcing 100 (Final Blog in a 4-Part Series)

Tah dah! We have arrived – our Global Outsourcing 100® blog series is coming to a close. Hopefully, it’s been as fun for you as it has been for us here at IAOP. So far in the series we’ve discussed Delivery Excellence, Programs for Innovation and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in filling out the Global Outsourcing 100 application. If you missed either of these blogs, we’ve got you covered…you can check them out here (Delivery Excellence//Programs for Innovation//CSR).

In concluding the series, today’s blog will focus on “Size & Growth.”

This is the 4th and final of four judging categories (Delivery; Programs for Innovation; Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR); and Size & Growth) in the Global Outsourcing 100. We’d like to also give a final shout out to those companies that have distinguished themselves by receiving half or full stars in one or more specific categories.

This judging area combines three questions on the application, which include:
  • Size being given the highest of their score for revenue or employees for the current fiscal year.
  • Growth being given the highest score for revenue growth or employee growth over the three-year period.
  • Global presence, scored based on the number of countries in which the company has multi-client service centers (or offices with full-time employees (FTEs) in the case of advisors). 

Preset bands for revenue, FTEs and number of countries determine the score values; these tables are found in the publicly provided Process & Methodology document downloadable from IAOP’s website. Unlike the other judging categories, which may be influenced by the independent judging panel input, the Size & Growth score is determined purely on information provided by the applicant. 
 Companies are sorted by Size or Revenue into two judging groups:  Leaders or Rising Stars.   Leaders are above either a $50M revenue or 5,000 FTE threshold; Rising Stars are below.  The top 100 provider list is made up of 75 Leaders and 25 Rising Stars.  Most Size & Growth scores for Leaders falls into the 3.5 to 5.5 range, and Rising Stars are in the 2.5 to 3.5 range.  Advisors are in one group, and mostly came in between 3.5 and 6.5.

IAOP and its judging panel, led by Mike Corbett, IAOP Chairman, invite you to use this space to explain how and why your company is one of the highest rated in this judging category by sharing your examples of company Size & Growth with our members.

For more information on the Global Outsourcing 100 Process & Methodology, please visit IAOP’s website, here

Monday, April 20, 2015

Corporate Social Responsibility as Defined by the New Global Outsourcing 100 (Part 3 of a 4-Part Series)

Another day – another Global Outsourcing 100 Blog! So far in the series we’ve discussed Delivery Excellence and Innovation in filling out the Global Outsourcing 100® application. If you missed either of these blogs, don’t fret…you can check them out here (Delivery Excellence//Programs for Innovation).

Today we are going to focus on “Corporate Social Responsibility.”

This is the 3rd of four judging categories (Delivery; Innovation; Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR); and Size & Growth). To those companies that have distinguished themselves by receiving half or full stars in one or more specific categories, you can’t hear it, but there is applause in the background.

With rising global awareness surrounding social responsibility, including Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), it is of utmost importance to recognize service providers who have demonstrated exemplary leadership in, and ongoing commitment to, activities that foster community involvement, fair operating and labor practices, respect for human rights, attention to environmental impacts, consumer issues and good governance.

An increased number of organizations considering provider CSR capability when making an outsourcing decision has led to a maturing of the outsourcing industry’s acceptance of CSR.

This section of the application allows providers to share their company CSR programs as shown through outcomes that address such topics as:
  • Community involvement and development
  • Labor practices
  • Human rights
  • Fair operating practices
  • Environmental impacts
  • Consumer issues
  • Organizational governance
These above-named areas are based on the ISO 26000 in Social Responsibility that provides guidance on how businesses and organizations can operate in a socially responsible way. Each must provide reasonable evidence of company compliance in each area, through independent third party reference sources, and/or a published and audited CSR report.

IAOP and its judging panel, led by Mike Corbett, IAOP Chairman, invite you to use this space to explain how and why your company is one of the highest rated in this judging category by sharing your examples of company CSR with our members.

For more information on the Global Outsourcing 100 Process & Methodology, please visit IAOP’s website, here.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Programs for Innovation in Outsourcing as Demonstrated Through the New Global Outsourcing 100 (Part 2 of a 4-Part Series)

Yesterday, we started this series discussing Delivery Excellence in filling out the Global Outsourcing 100® application. If you missed all of the excitement, check out the blog here.

Today we are going to focus on “Innovation.”

This is the 2nd of four judging categories (Delivery; Programs for Innovation; Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR); and Size & Growth). An extra pat on the back to those companies that have distinguished themselves by receiving half or full stars in one or more specific categories. 

The Programs for Innovation category of IAOP’s Global Outsourcing 100 program gives service providers and advisors the opportunity to showcase how they go about delivering innovation for their customers. It focuses not just on specific examples but on the programs that service providers and advisors have in place to identify and implement innovative solutions.

Some examples frequently cited by industry experts Mary Lacity and Leslie Willcocks are:

  • A better forecasting tool that improves a retailer’s stocking, inventory levels and reduces errors
  • Adding a predictive tool to a claims submission process that significantly reduces rework costs
  • An improvement to an existing manufacturer ordering process that reduces both stocking costs and delivery delays
  • A governance tool that results in more efficient and effective customer management in a multi-vendor environment

Selection process details and company strengths are featured in a special advertising feature, produced by IAOP, in the June 8, 2015, Fortune 500 issue of FORTUNE® magazine.

Defining and meeting service levels and costs is now a given. Today’s customers demand that— and innovation—from their top providers. The addition of this category to the Global Outsourcing 100 gives both providers and advisors an opportunity to showcase what they are doing and will help customers, providers and advisors better focus on this critical aspect of contemporary outsourcing.

Innovation in outsourcing can impact any outsourced process, in any business function and industry. While technology is often a key driver of innovation, innovation is certainly not limited to technology companies or technology services.

Outsourcing buyers understand there are multitudes of qualified service providers and advisors out there; what they really need to understand now is what makes each exceptional. As the outsourcing industry continues to mature, customers have come to expect excellent service that meets or exceeds agreed-to service levels at an agreed-to price. 

Today’s outsourcing environment demands more. It demands service providers and advisors who can work collaboratively with their customers to constantly break new ground, achieve unanticipated benefits and help their clients win both today and tomorrow in the markets they serve. In short, customers across all areas are looking to their providers and advisors to not only see, but to deliver these performance improvements as an integral part of their value proposition.

Finally, innovation in outsourcing is more than just an occasional breakthrough idea. Top outsourcing service providers actually set up company-wide, multi-client programs that encourage, facilitate and support the identification and implementation of improved customer performance through innovation.

Some companies establish productivity improvement targets with all of their customers and then work collaboratively to meet them. Others establish gain-sharing programs at the project-level, while others commit to ‘innovation days’ where customer and provider personnel come together to focus solely on ways to improve customer performance.

IAOP and its judging panel, led by Mike Corbett, IAOP Chairman, invite you to use this space to explain how and why your company is one of the highest rated in this judging category by sharing your programs for innovation with our members.

For more information on the Global Outsourcing 100 Process & Methodology, please visit IAOP’s website, here.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Delivery Excellence as Defined by the New Global Outsourcing 100 (Part 1 of a 4-Part Series)

Hip hip hooray...it's not the New Year but it sure does feel like it around here with the buzz and excitement of IAOP's 10th edition of The Global Outsourcing 100®!

The companies on the list are all top companies and we want you to know what makes them so special and how they got here in the first place. Each organization completed a rigorous, opt-in application (and by the way, hats off to those who applied – not everyone does and it shows your commitment to our industry!) based on 4 distinct areas: Delivery; Programs for Innovation; Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR); and Size & Growth.  Those companies that have distinguished themselves receive half or full stars in one or more specific judging category…kudos to you!   *Note - advisors only eligible for three stars.

In this blog, I'm going to focus on “Delivery Excellence."

Judging for the Global Outsourcing 100 is based on a rigorous scoring methodology that includes a review by an independent panel of IAOP customer members with extensive experience in selecting outsourcing service providers and advisors for their organizations. The Global Outsourcing 100 list is one factor that outsourcing customers need to use as a reference when selecting service providers and advisors. We encourage them to carefully consider all of the great companies out there in determining the right fit for them in making their own business decisions.

When filling out the application, outsourcing service providers and advisors practicing delivery excellence demonstrate it through:
  • the value they create with that company’s top customers
  • industry recognition
  • relevant organizational certifications
  • individual professional certifications 

This multi-part question asks applicants to provide information just as they might in a real-life request for proposal.

The question includes (and is in order of importance):
  • Citing their top customers that best demonstrate sustained excellence in the delivery of services, and to provide published third-party sources, direct customer quotes and/or letters of recommendation. Receiving full credit requires both a well-documented discussion of the relationship—what was done, how long, what problem was solved, services delivered and results achieved—and well documented third-party or client executive endorsements, specifically about services and results (as opposed to “well done, thank you” letters).
  • Providing the three most recent and relevant public recognitions the company has received that demonstrate business and outsourcing excellence, along with independent sources for validation.  These recognitions should be public and competitively judged by a third-party source; where there is an opportunity for a wide segment of businesses to qualify and be selected.
  • Providing the three most recent and relevant certifications the company has received—or its individual professionals in the case of advisors—in the skill and knowledge sets that demonstrate excellence in its outsourcing business, with independent references for validation.  Certifications should be public and competitively awarded by a third-party source.
  • Providing the number of IAOP Certified Outsourcing Professionals® they have on staff (aCOP or COP).

IAOP and its judging panel, led by Mike Corbett, IAOP chairman, invite you to use this space to explain how and why your company is one of the highest rated in this judging category by sharing your examples of company delivery excellence with our members.

For more information on the Global Outsourcing 100 Process & Methodology, please visit IAOP’s website, here

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Excerpts from "Putting the 'Human' Back in HR"

How Viewing Employees as Customers Can Provide Greater Value

Today, when an employee wants to understand more about the programs, policies and processes related to maternity or paternity leave, there are many options to getting the information they need:
searching an employee portal, accessing a policy repository or coordinating directly with benefit providers.

Employees don’t think in terms of traditional HR functional silos, such as recruitment, learning, or payroll. They think in terms of key and impactful work/life events. Rather than having employees track down information from different departments inside and outside of HR, a focus on high-touch employee services offers a better way by providing thoughtful, end-to-end support.

Whether it’s for an employee who is transferring to an office across the country or a manager that is working to hire a new team member, the focus is on addressing personal and professional issues as seamlessly and efficiently as possible.

In the case of the employee going on maternity or paternity leave, the employee services-based approach addresses concerns and reinforces a feeling the organization has the employee’s best interests at heart. Meanwhile, the company maximizes the employee’s productivity before the employee begins their leave and improves the likelihood they will be engaged once they return.

While traditional HR processes supported by self-service technologies and HR functional expertise will continue to deliver the bulk of incoming employee inquiries, employee services will become
valuable as employees continue to bring their consumer expectations into the workplace. By viewing employees as customers who receive the benefits of personal, high-touch services during pivotal
“moments of truth,” companies can change employee and manager perceptions of the company while improving efficiency and productivity.

Read the entire article in the March/April 2015 edition of PULSE magazine.

Original article written by Jill Goldstein, Talent and HR BPO Offering Lead, Accenture

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

5 Takeaways from the IAOP World Summit

Courtesy of Lindy Zars, CBE Companies

I am so excited to introduce you to CBE’s marketing manager in the outsourcing call center space, Mattie Brawner. Mattie focuses on discovering trends, hot topics and emerging needs and challenges in the industry, as well as helping our business leaders develop forward-thinking solutions to help solve those needs and challenges.

I attended the IAOP Outsourcing World Summit in Phoenix on February 16-18. Pegged “The world’s most important gathering of outsourcing professionals,” the Summit is a forum for sharing new ideas and approaches with other industry executives. It was a huge opportunity for me, a fairly amateur outsourcing professional, to gain perspective from some of the most innovative in the industry.

I left the Summit with a notebook full of notes and a mind full of ideas… I boiled down five takeaways in the slides below. I hope they spark some interest for you and inspire you to learn a little more.

Read the full blog and see the slides here: http://blog.cbecompanies.com/2015/03/06/5-takeaways-from-the-iaop-world-summit/
Reposted from Lindy Zars blog at CBE Companies http://blog.cbecompanies.com/2015/03/06/5-takeaways-from-the-iaop-world-summit/

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Seen and Heard at The 2015 Outsourcing World Summit

PULSE Editorial Board Members Share Their Highlights from the Summit

UNLEARNING FOR THE FUTURE, KEYNOTE BY GLOBAL FUTURIST JACK ULDRICH   “If anyone arrived in Phoenix thinking business as usual, they got a wake-up call attending Jack Uldrich’s keynote on Monday morning Feb. 16. The theme was “Unlearning for the Future” and he actually was from the School of Unlearning – sounds like a great place to shed some old habits. Jack had us all mesmerized with multi-media, vivid imagery and just a lot of very cool technology stuff. But it was not all imaginary and futuristic, he made a point of how all these seemingly outlandish technologies and approaches to common-day business challenges, are all happening today. From wearable technology and Google glasses in the operating room, 3D printing challenging our traditional supply chains, to our favorite Uber personal car service which legitimately challenged taxi services overnight, globally. Embrace new technology, think outside the box, and don’t let yesterday dictate tomorrow. This one was inspiring, so I hope you did not miss it."  —Robert Barclay, Vice President, Global Marketing, Genpact

IMPROVING OUTCOMES THROUGH A FOCUS ON COLLABORATION IN A MULTI-SOURCED ENVIRONMENT   “One guitar, five band members, unbelievable harmony. The band is Walk Off the Earth and the song is Somebody that I Used to Know. That’s the analogy Laura D’Ambrosio, director of Bristol-Meyers Squibb and Marie Surrette, managing director, of Accenture used to describe their 10-plus year working relationship. Granted, it wasn’t always that way and the journey towards the current state took some patience, a structured approach, a focus on building relationships … and a few toy cars! A red and green squishy car is provided to each meeting participant – when the meeting is heading in the wrong direction, participants push the red car forward as a signal that a reset is in order. And that’s just one of many tools the two organizations use to create a healthy working environment.”  —Eugene M. Kublanov, Managing Director, Asset Business, KPMG LLP

EMERGING TECHNOLOGY MEGATRENDS, KEY NOTE PRESENTATION BY SCOTT SINGER, COP, HEAD OF GBS, RIO TINTO   “Easily the best GBS story I’ve heard – disciplined progressive, and faithful to all stakeholders. With entertaining, real-life examples, Scott Singer outlined Rio Tinto’s objective, outcome-focused approach in continuously adjusting the blend of in-house and outsourced service delivery, and its principle-based approach to governance across the extended enterprise. Especially impressive was the GBS organization’s commitment to apply new technologies – social, mobile, analytics and cloud – to amplify talent, create organizational agility, and deliver near- and long-term business value. Rio’s journey from ‘doing’ to ‘orchestrating’ should serve as an inspiration and a model for others – a lodestar for sustainable sourcing.”  —John Hindle, Founding Partner, Knowledge Capital Partners

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

5 Don’t-Miss Sessions at IAOP Outsourcing World Summit 2015

Blog Re-Post Courtesy of Jordan McMahon, Automation Anywhere

A must-do event for the outsourcing world is happening in Phoenix this month. The IAOP Outsourcing World Summit is touted as being the “largest and longest-running industry event in the world” and generally draws nearly a thousand participants from around the globe. Robotic process automation is among the topics covered in several of the 9 conference tracks, and we’re eyeing a few of the sessions in particular to be especially informative, inspiring, and maybe even a bit controversial.

Here are a few sessions that have gotten our attention, and what we’re hoping to get out of them:

1. Reimagining Outsourcing with Robotic Process Automation: Its Impact on Delivery, Transformation, and Competitiveness

Not surprisingly, our number one pick for this year’s World Summit is the session focusing on the current wave of RPA adoption in the outsourcing world, and how it’s affecting those who have adopted (or will affect those who don’t). I’m sure we’ll hear some numbers surrounding lower operational costs, reduced error rates, and increases in productivity, but I’m also hoping to hear from participants their perception of RPA as the new kid on the BPO block.

2. Opening Keynote with Futurist Jack Uldrich

With our recent focus on how automation will affect the job landscape in the coming decade, we’re looking forward to hearing what Jack Uldrich, “America’s Chief Unlearning Officer,” has to say about what’s ahead for outsourcing, how embracing new technology can help organizations reach new heights, and particularly if he touches on the impact of automating back-office (and soon front office) work as one of the ways BPOs are currently “unlearning.”

3. The Third Industrial Revolution, Smart Machines, and the Resource Revolution: Impact on the Global Sourcing Industry

Yet another one of our favorite topics, this session led by Mike Fabrizi of The MITRE Corp. will discuss why we’re on the brink of the next industrial revolution. What’s piquing our interest in particular? Hearing Mike’s thoughts on how the “value add web is changed in the face of automation and advanced machine learning.”

4. The TENT Talks

In a smart move for the attention-span-challenged (or any of us who just want a good, quick burst of information), IAOP is offering a series of 10-minute “tent talks” that are meant to spurn debate. I’ll be curious to see a) if the topics are controversial enough to get a good dialogue going and b) if there will be adequate time to delve in to the topics fully. If done right, these TENT Talks, being held the first day of the event, could set the tone for the rest of the conference and provide the fodder for many a lunch conversation.

5. State of the Industry Survey Results

The trends and trajectories for the outsourcing world from the people in the trenches themselves. This short session will review what those in the outsourcing industry see as critical to business in the coming years, and how to get ahead of the “next big thing.”

To visit the IAOP Outsourcing World Summit page, head to http://www.iaop.org/summit.

Check out original blog here.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

The Rise of Geopolitical Risk and What CPOs Need to Know to Keep it In-Check, by guest blogger Nick Ford

The news is dominated by geopolitical events from around the world – the spread of Ebola, the conflict in Syria, ISIS and just about anything that happens in North Korea. Most people will read a few articles, watch the evening news, form an opinion, feel mad, feel glad or feel nothing. Some people will take action. They will be driven to help where they can by donating their voice, their time or their money. Then there are the people who have to leave their emotions, their political affiliations and their prejudices at the door and when disaster strikes, they have to think about business.

As procurement spreads across more and more geographical boundaries, organizations are being exposed to more geopolitical risk. In order to ensure the safety of their company, Chief Procurement Officers and Procurement Directors must proactively consider the implications of these events on the smooth running of their businesses. They need to take into account where they are doing business, where their suppliers are doing business and where their manufacturers are located. What is the volatility of that location? What is the political stability, the currency stability and the stability of the work force within that location? How does that affect your business? Some more progressive organizations are taking this even further down the supply chain and looking at where their suppliers’ suppliers are doing business.

How-to Measure Geopolitical Risk
Historically, supplier risk has ignored location factors and has instead been focused almost entirely on financial performance. This made risk a very binary exercise, but the deeper and broader you go into operational risk, the less it becomes about numbers and absolute answers. To truly understand a supplier’s risk profile, you must undergo stress testing and “what if” scenario planning. What if war broke out in a region in which you operate? What if a fire broke out in a supplier’s factory and destroyed everything? Where would you transfer that work to, and quickly? What impact would that have on your lead times or your payments? What impact would that have on your customer contracts? You could come up with any number of scenarios and run them through your supply chain operating model to see what impact they could potentially have on your delivery to your customers. Once you understand what impact these events could have, you can start to defend against them.

How Geopolitical Risk Has Changed
Due to technology and access to the Internet, the world is becoming a much smaller place. World news is immediate. You’re able to monitor events and changes automatically. Organizations now have an abundance of information available to them. There’s always been political unrest and risk in certain regions, but now there is a far better understanding as to what’s changing on a daily basis, which allows CPOs to begin to proactively safeguard against them.

The Cost of Geopolitical Risk
Reducing geopolitical risk is about supply chain analysis, disaster recovery, your ability to move to a different supply chain supply environment and how quickly you can do that should a situation arise. The other aspect of geopolitical risk to consider is the cost. From a risk perspective, in the short-term, it costs more to work with a supplier out of China than it does to buy from someone down the road. In most companies, there’s not enough emphasis placed on the increased organisational risks that occur when working with some of these low-cost suppliers. But the truth is, the harm done to the business, should something go wrong, could be irreparable. The Ebola outbreak, for instance, could have a huge negative impact on Western organizations if they are no longer allowed to import from affected countries or if new trade restrictions, regulations or possible quarantines are implemented. When selecting suppliers, procurement teams need to take a total cost of ownership approach.

The Cost of Managing Geopolitical Risk
A total cost of ownership approach looks beyond the direct price and takes into account all of the indirect costs of using a supplier, risk and risk management included. For example: based on your risk profiling, you may want to use a double supply scenario to cover areas where you think the geographical or political risks are high. Organizations currently importing from Ebola affected sub-Saharan African may take this approach. That, of course, will add to the cost of the good or service. It’s the procurement team’s job then to convince the board that, although it may cost a little more, at the end of the day, it lowers the risk profile of the organization.

Supplier risks haven’t changed in the past 10 years – as far as I know there’s always been risk of war, disease or disaster – but the increase of global supply chains have left companies more exposed. Thankfully, there has also been an increase of available information to help prepare and defend against these risks. Strategic CPOs and Procurement Directors know that the best offence is a strong defence and are thus making risk management and disaster recovery a priority – even if it costs a bit more. You get what you pay for.

Nick Ford is Managing Director, Global Procurement Outsourcing & Co-Sourcing, for Xchanging. Xchanging is a global, publicly-held business process, procurement and technology services provider. For more information, visit www.xchanging.com

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Trends and Predictions for 2015 by guest blogger, Christine Ferrusi Ross

What will 2015 hold for the outsourcing industry? As we look ahead, here are the top 5 trends Neo Group thinks will have the strongest impact in 2015. Several touch on supplier risk, which we believe will begin to touch everything else in the global services environment.

  1. Supplier Risk Management Becomes More Structured And Actionable. In the past few years, there has been high interest in supplier risk, but it’s mostly been theoretical. Companies knew they needed to understand the risk of their suppliers and they talked about supplier risk a lot. But they didn’t do much about supplier risk in a tangible way. As end customers become more aware of a company’s supply chain, the brand risk that comes with a supplier failure go up dramatically. In 2015, companies will begin to really integrate supplier risk into their daily operations, moving from quarterly meeting risk discussions to making key business decisions based on different risk events on a real-time basis.
  2. Location monitoring will default to sourcing teams. After the Ukraine situation and corresponding issues with Russia in 2014, more companies will care in a tangible way about the locations of their services providers. However, even though these formally would be considered geopolitical risks, because they primarily affect service providers, the location monitoring will fall to sourcing and shared services teams. This is the right approach as we see increased disruptions due to location issues such as shrinking labor pools, changes in laws, weather issues and economic malaise.
  3. Digital officers and services continue their upward climb in corporate suites. The age of digital, focused on empowered customers and automated delivery, continues to become more important. As companies add Chief Digital Officers, the number of service offerings targeted to those executives will also rise. Neo expects a greater focus on revenue impact and more clarity and variety among these services in 2015.
  4. More technology services being purchased by business-line leaders. As consumer products like cars and washing machines and thermostats continue to embed technology, more and more product engineering teams will treat IT and IT services as core purchases and will take over those contracts directly. This will split current shared services organizations that don’t understand the trend. And temporarily it shifts some power back to suppliers who have new target buyers and more opportunity to sell without the formal bidding and RFP processes they’ve become so accustomed to in the past.
  5. Data and analytics will play a central role in sourcing advisory. As the complexity of sourcing rises and clients become increasingly sophisticated, the need to find the next set of opportunities and optimization will benefit greatly from analytics and not just expert advice.
Christine Ferrusi Ross, Partner & SVP, Neo Group — Neo Group is a globalization advisory and analytics company that helps organizations achieve business objectives and address business challenges by leveraging global services and sourcing.

Monday, January 05, 2015

IAOP 2015 - Looking Forward to an Action-Packed Year!

Welcome to 2015. We're really excited for the year ahead!

If you're new to IAOP, please check out our Calendar of Events - full of upcoming chapter meetings & webinars, conferences, training programs & informational webinars, IAOP's latest press releases, Pulse magazine news, awards and so much more!

We've added extra COP Master Classes to our calendar this year - sure to fit anyone's schedule!

The 2015 Outsourcing World Summit, taking place February 16-18 at the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge in Phoenix, Arizona. Each year, the industry's leading thinkers and doers gather for an event many describe as the highlight of their year. Attendees have called it "a calendar must" and “the conference that raises the bar for the entire industry.” More than 800 delegates will attend, including: CEOs, COOs, CFOs and other members of the corporate ‘C-Suite”; Directors and Managers, Professionals from HR, Finance, Purchasing, Legal, Administration, IT, Facilities,  Manufacturing, Logistics, Service Delivery and related business functions; Entrepreneurs building the businesses of the future; Investors, Analysts and Academics; Consultants and Corporate Advisors; Government Officials and Policy Influencers; Marketing, Sales, and Delivery Professionals from across the sourcing industry. We're looking forward to having everyone there...so get ready...we have lots in store for you!

The IAOP Pule Blog is seeking Guest Bloggers!! Want to be part of the IAOP PULSE Blog? IAOP Pulse Blog wants you! Please check out our guest blogger guidelines.

Have any questions? Please email Kate Tulloch-Hammond, Manager of Media and Communications at IAOP.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Best Places to Work Tend to be Green—and Not Coincidentally, Productive by guest blogger Bob Best

Asking the right questions has always been key to success for a corporate real estate executive and workplace strategist.  Today, those questions include asking whether your office is a “Great Place to Work” – and is it also a green one? The two should go together. The new World Green Building Council and JLL’s Health, wellbeing and productivity in offices: The next chapter for green building report provides “overwhelming evidence” that indoor air quality, thermal comfort, access to natural light and other elements of green office design make employees not only feel better, but also more productive.

According to the report, these are five secrets to creating a greener, more productive place to work:
  1. Tired or inspired? Check the air quality. Improving air quality can make a big difference in how office workers feel and function at work. According to the report, numerous studies show that high levels of CO2 and volatile organic compounds (VOCs, which are common in building materials) make employees feel tired and less able to think clearly. In particular, a 2011 lab test mimicking an office with high levels of VOCs found that increasing ventilation improved workplace performance by eight percent. Air temperature makes a difference, too; employee productivity declines by four percent when the office is too cold and by six percent when it is too hot.
  2. Office workers’ new best friend: a pet plant. Biophilia, which is the concept that humans connect with other living things, is an emerging area of workplace design and it’s good news for employees. A plant—yes, a live plant—can help lower office stress, improve cognitive function and enhance creativity. Make sure to have a plant in sight at work and occasionally gaze around the office, as views of other groups or the outdoors create visual breaks that make office workers more productive.
  3. Let the sunshine in. Office workers should sit near a window or take a walk outside during the workday. There are strategies, such as “light shelves,” that can direct more daylight from windows into office spaces.  It not only makes them happier, it also leads to higher-quality sleep that in turns boosts productivity. Many traditional office layouts only allow senior managers to have access to natural light, so reconfiguring the workplace ensures everyone can “see the light.”
  4. Dial down the decibels. Noise pollution is consistently reported as a major cause of workplace dissatisfaction, and one 1998 study found that participants’ ability to memorize prose dropped by 66 percent when exposed to distracting noise. Offices should have a variety of work spaces so employees are empowered to work in a collaborative, discussion space or individual, heads-down “concentration” space, reducing excess noise and increasing staff productivity. 
  5. Invest in elbow room. Are coworkers too close or not close enough? In the quest to cut costs, many companies have adopted open office plans, “hot-desking” and other new workplace design concepts. Done well, these approaches reduce carbon footprints while providing quiet, private workspaces, meeting areas and informal social spaces. Done poorly, employee productivity suffers across the board. Employers that create unique workplace strategies tailored to their corporate culture and business goals with have happy, healthy and productive office workers.
With the new WGBC and JLL research in hand, making the case for green investments in your office space should be easier than ever. Remember that not all environmentally sustainable practices are created equal; you’ll fare better recommending those that increase productivity while reducing carbon footprints, like those mentioned above.
Bob Best, Executive Vice President, Energy and Sustainability Services, JLL

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Ukrainian IT Outsourcing 2014: Trends, Initiatives and Expectations by guest blogger Viktor Bogdanov

In the past few years the Ukrainian IT market was largely impacted by such negative factors as GDP drops, corruption, increased fiscal pressures and a deep political crisis in Q4 2013.

As a result of this, the general IT market saw an 8 percent decrease last year, according to IDC research. On the other hand, the IT exports market that had traditionally boasted 20-25 percent year-on-year growth rates since 2008, showed 6 percent increase, while the cloud-sourcing market showed an impressive 176 percent increase from 2012.

No doubt, 2014 is the most tragic year in the modern history of Ukraine, marked with both political and economic turmoil, and a long-standing crisis in Eastern Ukraine, caused by Russia’s aggression. Yet, in spite of many pessimistic views and forecasts, Ukrainian IT Outsourcing (ITO) has managed to not only survive but provide new interesting opportunities for service buyers, globally, especially in the areas of Cloud computing and mobile applications development.

Here’s my summary of the key trends and initiatives on the Ukrainian ITO scene in 2014:
  • In Ukraine, ITO accounts for 61 percent of the entire IT market.
  • In 2014, the ITO market value is expected to reach $2.4 billion (compared to $2 billion in 2013).
  • The Ukrainian market for cloud services (SaaS, IaaS) is projected to grow to over $7 million from last year’s $5.7 million, which marks 35 percent increase.
  • The Ukrainian government and IT community have launched the Brain Basket Foundation, a project aiming to triple the national IT workforce from today’s 30,000 to 100,000 specialists by 2020 by reforming IT education and aligning it with the actual business needs.
  • Supported by TransparentBusiness.Com, Ukrainian US Embassy and some Congressmen have launched the “Cloud-source to Ukraine” initiative aiming to help Ukraine compete for 10 percent share of the $288 billion global ITO market (and make $30 billion annually in revenues from ITO).
  • The ITO market has seen some high-profile M&A deals this year (e.g., Chicago-based Intersog has acquired Odessa, Ukraine based SoftTechnics for $2.5 million, Ukrainian provider Softserve has acquired German provider UGE Gmbh for $2 million).
  • Large outsourcing providers start investing in / supporting high-tech startups (e.g., Danish provider Ciklum has launched its own Startup Incubator).
  • The average gross monthly salary in the Ukrainian ITO has dropped from $2,600 to $2,100.
  • Ukraine ranks #3 among the Top 10 Freelancers Countries, according to elance.com.
  • Ukrainian software developers are most loyal to startups (over 70 percent) and out-staffing companies (60 percent), according to survey by douua.org.

On October 26, 2014, Ukraine elected a new government. While the final election results are yet to be announced, the preliminary results show clearly that the pro-Western forces outrun the conservative and pro-Russian ones with a big gap. It suggests the new parliament will have a lot of lobbies of IT prioritization and development. As such, we expect a major overhaul of the entire IT market and upgrade of the existing IT legislation in the upcoming months to foster more FDIs, better meet global ITO buyers’ demand for software development resources, and facilitate doing IT business in Ukraine.

Viktor Bogdanov is a brand journalist and head of online marketing / PR at Intersog, one of Chicago’s Top App Developers and UK’s Top 10 Android Developer (as of June 2014) with R&D Centers in Ukraine.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

3 Emerging Trends in Procurement Technology by guest blogger, Patricia Dreghorn

“We don’t need any more savings. Our company is profitable enough.” When is the last time you heard a CEO say that? I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest never. Why? Because every successful business knows that there are always more savings to be had. The trick is to be continuously innovating - never rest on your laurels.

Whatever you’re using to achieve cost savings today won’t be able to deliver the same ROI indefinitely – the geo-political environment is changing, business operations are changing, values are changing and technology is changing. If everything outside an organisation is changing, it stands to reason that the organisation will have to change as well – but how?

Technology is not only a catalyst for change, it’s also enabling it. Looking at technology in the procurement department specifically, in recent years, e-sourcing tools have improved the way we source and communicate with suppliers; analytics have allowed us to more accurately track savings and performance; and increased data volumes permits better risk management. So what’s next?

There are a few trends I’m seeing emerge in the procurement technology space. All of them have effectively the same goal of delivering more, long-term, savings but each approach the problem from a different angle. From better insight to empowered suppliers to expertise on demand, these are the three innovations that I think are changing procurement…for the better.

Predictive Analytics
Companies have really only scratched the surface with analytics. Most of what’s available to procurement teams today relies on historic and retrospective analysis, limiting its ability to provide actionable insight from the start. The advancements with Big Data in recent years are enabling a move towards more predictive analytics and forecasting. Predictive Analytics, as the name suggests, provide the ability to predict, with a high degree of accuracy, the outcome of a certain action or the movement of the market, for example. The boundless potential of this technology has resulted in an onslaught of major investment and new business tools are coming to market every day.

With predictive analytics, procurement no longer requires someone to bang their fists on the table and demand a better deal from suppliers. Those days are gone. Procurement can now be founded on intelligent forecasting, understanding the market trends and knowing when is the right time to take risks and seize opportunities. This ability to make better decisions is made possible by a combination of very, very insightful data and by being able to interrogate that data.

Moving Down the Supply Chain
Another area where we can see technology, specifically data, shifting the industry is with insight and support for suppliers - moving away from procurement per se and going much further down the supply chain. Companies are asking not only what suppliers can do for them, but also what they can do to help their suppliers - delivering more value for everyone.

For instance, at Xchanging some of our customers never purchase raw materials, their suppliers are suppliers of finished goods yet we often do research into commodities for other customers, manufacturing companies who require us to dig quite far down the supply chain. Where before these two activities would be separate, now companies are looking at ways where that in-depth commodities market insight can help their finished goods suppliers deal with their own suppliers. I think buyers will be doing a lot more data mining in the supply chain itself in order to help their suppliers effectively find savings for them.

Support Staff-as-a-Service
Rather than employing individuals to run procurement technology and understand that technology, we are seeing a move towards buying that expertise as a service – and the potential savings are incredible. Some providers, for example, are offering support staff-as-a-service. A customer will say they wish to buy a certain amount of time with a product or service at a fixed cost per hour. This model is starting to take off.

In addition to the impressive cost benefits, having support staff-as-a-service also greatly increases a company’s competencies and know-how – which is where I see the real value lie. Where a company may only do one RFP above a million pounds every two years, for example, the support staff do them all the time, in a plethora of different markets, geographies and industries. Having genuine experts provide advice, insight and support empowers organisations to do better and deliver savings they never knew possible.

With procurement, it’s easy for companies to reach a stage where they just take the low-hanging fruit – stick with suppliers they know, processes they know and tools they know – but change is happening all around them. Procurement cannot operate in a vacuum. It affects too many parts of the business and is affected by too many global factors. It becomes very difficult to drive savings over time if you’re just doing the same things you’ve always done. Companies need to look at innovative ways of changing that. These are just three of the emerging innovations I’m seeing in my world but there are more out there. What are you seeing?
Patricia Dreghorn is Global Technology and Strategy Director for Xchanging. Xchanging is a business process, procurement and technology services provider. Learn more at www.xchanging.com.