Last week, as part of the debate on the 600B border security bill, Senator Charles E. Schumer from New York reportedly called the Indian offshore IT firms in general and Infosys in particular “chop shops” — a reference to the locations where criminals dismantle stolen cars for spare parts. As always, the Indian press has immediately reacted. But let’s not take the comment out of context; US Senator Charles Schumer calls Infosys 'chop shop' - India Business - Business - The Times of India. Senator Schumer is showing that in an election year, he is “standing up” for American jobs.
But that said, as we head into the midterm elections with 9.5% unemployment and very little job growth, there will be more comments like this unfortunately, and the Indian firms and NASSCOM need to be prepared with their own PR counterattack and story. Offshore customers would also be advised to take the same advice and have a clear PR plan ready to go at a moment’s notice in case they get raked over the coals as part of the rhetoric.
On my current trip to India multiple Indian and multinational companies asked where we saw the future of a global delivery model headed. This caused me to reflect, and here is my formal answer: There are a number of areas where we expect to see changes that not only reflect the maturing of the market but also changes in buyer demand. Forrester expects that developments and investments will take place along four vectors.
A continued focus on building out domain and technology centers of excellence.To date, these activities have been fairly isolated to one or two technologies like SAP or the mainframe and one or two top verticals. That will continue to expand especially on the domain or industry side. The COEs will be required to support the greater focus on specific business process for application work and the need to build out a portfolio of solution accelerators with a high level of domain input.
Building out a network of centers with a new wrinkle.With every day, it is becoming clearer that no single country is going to match the scale and breadth of India. In many cases, expansion had been driven by one or more clients looking to expand in a particular market like Latin America or China. Forrester believes that there will be a greater focus over the next two to three years around turning each alternative geography center into a particular center of excellence to clearly differentiate its capabilities and cost structure from the India mother ship.
An extension of process investments into the multicenter world. The current process investments have been largely at a center-by-center level to improve an individual location’s consistency and predictability. The emphasis will now shift to the knowledge management, collaboration, and social networking tools to allow firms to tap into the COEs in the alternative geographies.
Forrester’s newest survey of the IT spending environment has encouraging news that underpins our forecasts of a rebound in industry fortunes after the nasty recession of 2008-09. The good news for tech vendors is that IT budgets and purchasing plans are starting to reflect an improving economy. Last week, Forrester released results from our “Global IT Budgets, Priorities, And Emerging Technology Tracking Survey.” Among the top-level results: just over 40% of the 2,800 IT decision makers surveyed expect to increase their organization’s overall IT spending in 2010, up from just 12% in 2009; another 33% expect to hold their spending steady. So the overall IT budget environment has turned positive.
Respondents identified the top business priorities supported by IT investments as: 1) grow company revenue, and 2) reduce operating costs. No surprises there. But we were intrigued to see that “Drive new market offerings or business practices” ranked number 4, indicating that respondents are looking to IT to support and enable new product innovation.
We also see an uptick in spending on offshore IT services in 2010 vs. 2009, across ALL geographies. Survey results also show that more than half of respondents have either implemented or are planning to implement SaaS, illustrating the tech industry’s continuing shift toward new purchasing models based on operating rather than capital expenditures.
I was recently asked about the importance of selling skills for CIOs - does a CIO need to be a good salesperson? It seems to me the answer to this should be a resounding yes. After all, IT executives need to be able to sell themselves effectively in order to attain the heights of the C-Suite. Great CIOs must be great communicators, capable of delivering a compelling presentation or a memorable speech, and inspiring others to follow them.
But what of sales skills beyond being a good presenter? Since many sales skills are focused on understanding people and connecting with them, I've found sales training to be highly effective on two levels:
Developing better listening skills. One of the first things you learn as a salesperson is not how to make a pitch, but how to listen to a customer - only by listening can a good salesperson effectively satisfy the needs of a prospect/customer.
Understanding how products/services meet the customer needs. Salespeople spend a lot of time learning about a firm's products and services; they learn how they meet the various customer needs and they learn how to present them in the best light.
Late last week, ExlServices acquired PDMA, Inc., maker of the LifePRO Insurance Policy Administration System. In his discussions with Forrester, Yogendra Goyal, VP & Global Head - Insurance Practice, was very clear on how the deal will help theBPO provider. He said the LifePRO platform will enable the company to move to a more sophisticated outcome pricing model as well as enable it to to cut costs and drive higher value and up the process stack. It's another clear example of how the BPO market is moving to have a standard software platform underpin its process work (see my report Platform BPO: Process Outsourcers Take A New Approach To Traditional BPO for more information).
Yesterday at its annual analyst meeting, Accenture unveiled its new software group. Yes, the company has formally set up a software organization to sell packages and SaaS offerings. The group was internally established back in September 2009, but publically launched this week. The group has 48 products, 36 of which are vertical packages that Accenture has done on its own; the remainder are enhancements to existing packages from vendors like Oracle and SAP. The vertical packages include freight and logistics, hotel property management, and a claims components solution. Sample “enhancements” cover P&C billing with SAP, banking with both SAP and Oracle, and a human capital management offering with SAP. The numbers on the group: the offerings cover 8 industry segments and it has 2,000 people and claims that it has signed 600 deals where there is an explicit software license. There are 12-15 software factories in support of 48 products. This is an extreme example of the standardized offerings that services vendors will bring out as the market evolves.
A combination of factors is combining to reshape and recast the IT services sector. These factors include the continued weak economic environment, the further development of a global delivery model (GDM), new uses of technology across clients’ go-to-market and supply chain ecosystems, the adoption of cloud and SaaS utility-based pricing and delivery models as well as the adoption of a selective sourcing model by buyers. Forrester asserts that these changes will have a dramatic impact on the make-up and dynamics of the IT services business just as the shift to PCs dramatically changed the minicomputer/hardware market in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Over the past several weeks my colleague John McCarthy and I have conducted extensive research around the future of the IT services market which forms the basis of our forthcoming major research report to be published in June 2010. We talked to approximately 20 of the leading vendor strategists from both leading service provider organizations as well as other key market players like ISVs, SaaS providers and communication services firms. We now offer interested vendor strategists the unique opportunity to hear from us what the major outcome of the research was and what key implications and recommendations they draw for vendor strategists. For this we have designed a workshop format that will deal with the following key questions:
Will the emergence of cloud and SaaS impact the traditional IT services market?
When and how will that impact play out?
How will the economic slowdown and declining IT budgets impact users’ services spending?
What are the key attributes for success in the new services market?
If you are interested in such a workshop (either in person or via web conference) please let us know and we will be happy to schedule according to your needs.