CGI’s plan to acquire Logica for approximately $2.6 billion, amounting to the combination of two distinctly regional entities into a single “global” provider, offers further proof of a consolidating globalized service industry — as if we needed any after the series of service industry consolidations during the last few years. This acquisition makes sense for several reasons:
Geographic synergies: In terms of complementary regional strengths, the two entities could hardly be better paired. CGI is well established in selected vertical domains such as government, financial services, telecom/utilities and others, but it remains a mystery to many customers outside of its native Canada and the DC beltway. Although present in several European locations, CGI registers only 6% of its revenues from Europe, while Logica does not play in the North American market. Not only is Logica strong in its native UK and in governmental circles like CGI, but it also has strong Pan-European presence. Once complete, CGI can legitimately claim to be a global player, although presence in Asia/Pacific remains limited for both entities.
Competitive benefits: With strong capabilities in both ADM and infrastructure services, Logica’s ongoing financial weakness made it an attractive acquisition candidate. Part of this was due to the unique challenge facing European services players that must fend off not only global players, but also the India-based suppliers, who are active primarily in the English-speaking nations such as Logica’s native UK. Existing Logica customers can take comfort that it will not likely face intensifying financial challenges, while CGI’s customers can take comfort from a generally positive reaction from the investment community.
Sourcing and Vendor Management professionals aren’t known for their high risk tolerance. In fact, most focus a significant portion of their time reducing risks in their supplier base, protecting the business from supplier-related risk.
That’s admirable and necessary. Of course the business shouldn’t be subjected to predictable and preventable risk events. But let’s think for a minute about what risks we’re really avoiding: Are we avoiding the unnecessary risks that we could see coming? Or are we so focused on reducing any risk that we’re not able to take advantage of new opportunities that could transform our businesses?
Innovation has once again become a business imperative — because of the shaky economy, not in spite of it. Many SVM professionals tell me that being innovative in both what you buy AND how you buy it is what will make sure their businesses stay viable regardless of the economic situation. Innovation requires us to think about new technologies, and most likely new suppliers. It also requires us to think differently about how we manage those supplier relationships.
So what are the new supplier-related risks we face in this innovation-focused environment? We asked Jason Busch, Azul Partners, one of our keynote speakers at the SVM Forum this week, this question. He recorded his answer for us here:
And if his response leads you to have follow-on questions, don’t forget to tweet them with the hashtag #SVM12. We’ll ask him for you during the forum.
Next month, I will be relocating to Singapore after two years in India. These two years have been an amazing learning experience for me, both from a personal and professional point of view. A very intense experience too! Of the few Hindi words I learned during my stint in India, there is one that I am particularly fond of: “jugaad,” which can be translated as “making things work.” This is one way to summarize what India is all about — and why India works as an economy, in spite of the gods and despite all of the challenges that India currently faces as a society.
This concept has taken on a lot more importance on the global scene in recent years from an innovation management point of view. A former Forrester colleague has recently coauthored a book about the concept and how it could “reignite American ingenuity.” The economic and ecological crises that we have been through over the past few years call for new ways of approaching economic development and growth. And the “jugaad” concept could bring interesting solutions to our modern societies.
At SAP SAPPHIRE (SAP’s biggest user conference, May 14–16), SAP announced that it has deployed more than 1,400 instances of Rapid Deployment Solutions (RDS) at more than 1,000 unique customers. These solutions help customers deploy SAP modules in as short as a few weeks at a reduced price point by productizing typical configurations. SAP boasts cost savings typically in the 20% to 40% range versus similar deployments that do not utilize RDS.
SAP has more than 70 of these solutions currently available. Additional solutions are available through partners like Accenture and TCS. RDS solutions are available in a wide range of areas like CRM, Sourcing, Financials, and even SAP HANA.
SAP positions these solutions as “lego-like,” meaning that customers can build one on top of the other and can customize and extend as much or as little as they want.
Our take? These RDS solutions are a great way for companies to quickly realize value out of SAP, an issue which has long plagued the SAP community. Even clients who need to go far beyond what an RDS offers and create a much more customized deployment might be able to jump-start their project with an RDS. However, these offerings are not available in all horizontal or vertical areas. SAP customers who want a complete solution heavily tailored for their industry-specific needs will likely need to turn to SAP’s ecosystem of pre-built solutions, rather than lighter-weight RDS offerings.
Innovation is again the hot topic for clients, as it was before the economic downturn. Clients have a renewed interest in innovation and business growth, and they seek services partners who can help. But what is innovation in this context?
In this context, clients seek business innovation. They want a provider who delivers new ideas and insights that will change business processes to drive revenue or improve business processes (for example, through product innovation, customer process innovation, supply chain innovation). They do not mean delivery innovation or continuous improvement, where the provider improves service delivery efficiency to drive lower IT cost and/or higher quality of IT service to clients (for example, through improved delivery processes, shared services, reusable assets). (Of course, they usually do want this as well — but this will not necessarily drive business innovation such as new products and processes.)
What do leading firms do to drive ongoing business innovation from services providers?
1) Put process around innovation. Organizations who successfully get innovation from their services providers put processes in place, from idea discovery to incubation to implementation to measurement. They also select services providers who have codified the innovation process. Ongoing innovation cannot happen by accident.
2) Use social media to collaborate at fast paces with customers, partners, and employees. Tools such as social networking sites, microblogs, and collaboration sites let firms gather ideas, evolve ideas, and rank ideas with a wide audience.
Infosys’ continuing visa issues are causing concern for Infosys clients. While at first, the problem sounded isolated and related to a single whistle-blower, the continuing coverage suggests that the problem may be more widespread. Two recent events are increasing client concern. First, there was a CBS Morning News broadcast which seemed to support the original whistle-blower’s accusation. Then, Infosys itself disclosed that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security had found errors in a significant percentage of I-9 employment authorization forms.
To make matters worse, clients are puzzled by Infosys’ lackluster response to these charges. For sure Infosys has denied all charges, but this is not a sufficient response to clients that rely on Infosys to keep the lights on every day. Clients are worried about things such as: the impact on Infosys visa-carrying employees if Infosys does “lose” the whistle-blower case or is penalized for irregularities in its I-9 processing; and the public relations risk if Infosys becomes an election year scapegoat for American job loss. Clients want to understand what the worst-case scenario is and work with Infosys to mitigate potential risks. So far, Infosys’ response has been to re-iterate that there is no risk. However, a good sourcing and vendor management expert knows that he or she needs to do more than hope for the best.
So what should clients do? Well, I will tell you what some Forrester clients have been doing: putting contingency plans in place to insulate themselves and their companies from risk. This includes:
Asking Infosys for documentation about the visa status of all on-site employees.