Over the past three years, multinational companies’ (MNCs’) approach to outsourcing in China has steadily matured as they seek to leverage broader outsourcing models and source from a combination of global providers and local Chinese providers.
In my latest report, Lessons Learned From Outsourcing In China: Part 2, I analyze the key outsourcing trends and approaches to help sourcing and vendor management (SVM) professionals at MNCs select the right local outsourcing suppliers. As part of this analysis, I’ve highlighted the main service capabilities of local Chinese vendors broken down by service model and profile the different types of service providers that currently operate in China.
Key findings from the report include:
MNCs are adopting sophisticated outsourcing approaches in China. Many MNCs are shifting away from a pure global service provider approach to a broader shortlist that also includes Chinese providers. SVM professionals at MNCs appreciate local providers’ broader geographic coverage, lower outsourcing cost and more flexible service deliverables.
MNCs are also diversifying their outsourcing requirements. After signing the first wave of outsourcing contracts in the past five to 10 years, MNCs are becoming increasingly comfortable considering more sophisticated outsourcing contracts, such as best-of-breed selection, vertical outsourcing, etc.
Local outsourcing service providers are continually improving their capabilities. To approach more MNC clients in China, local providers have enhanced their geographic coverage in remote cities, accelerated consolidations, recruited senior talent for improved depth at key positions and aggressively recruited fresh graduates to manage costs.
On November 2 in Shanghai, Microsoft announced the availability of Office 365 and Windows Azure services for customers in mainland China; both have been available in Hong Kong for several years. Through its collaboration with 21Vianet Group and HiSoft (now part of PactEra, a merger of HiSoft and VanceInfo), Microsoft is the first multinational vendor to provide public cloud services in mainland China delivered through onshore cloud infrastructure.
Under the agreement, Microsoft has authorized 21Vianet Group, which has a “value-added telecommunications service” license, to operate Office 365 and Windows Azure in China. This is critical to Microsoft’s overall strategy in China, as only Chinese companies qualify for this government license, which is normally issued by ministry or provincial bureaus of MIIT (the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology). Under the terms of the agreement, Microsoft is sharing cloud services revenue with 21Vianet Group and in exchange is able to leverage 21Vianet Group’s license to operate cloud data centers in China.
Microsoft’s entrance into the public cloud services market in China will affect both local and multinational cloud services/technology vendors in a number of ways:
Government regulations restricting multinational companies from offering public cloud services in China are gradually loosening. We expect other multinational cloud providers to follow Microsoft’s approach of partnering with a local service provider that has the “value-added telecommunications services” license. The government’s primary objective with this license is to protect local providers and stimulate onshore cloud infrastructure investments, and this goal is met through partnerships like this.
On August 10, rival IT outsourcers hiSoft and VanceInfo announced their intention to merge. The resulting entity will comprise a much bigger organization, with more than 20,000 employees mainly located in China, making it one of the largest IT services vendors in the country. In another recent example of market consolidation, BeyondSoft announced on August 18 that it would acquire six Chinese and Japanese subsidiaries of Achievo, a US-based offshore IT services provider.
Over the next 18 months, we believe that IT services vendors in China will face increasing price and margin pressure driven by rapidly increasing local labor costs. The days of relying on low labor costs to drive business in the US, Europe, and Japan are numbered. Chinese IT services vendors are being forced to evolve from a cost-based to a business value-based approach. As a result, we expect the Chinese IT services market to consolidate over the next 18 to 24 months as vendors seek ways to improve their organizational and operational maturity.
The challenges hiSoft and VanceInfo will face after the merger are indicative of broader market pressures, including:
An increased capacity to better compete in large deals. As separate entities, hiSoft and VanceInfo both faced significant challenges when bidding on large-scale outsourcing projects with a total contract value of more than $50 million. With this merger, we expect the newly formed organization to gain better access to these deals as they become more visible to MNCs. However, the new company will still be small by Indian offshore standards.
I would like to take couple of minutes to introduce myself and the research topics I’m working on. I came to Forrester through the acquisition of Springboard Research and specialize in helping Vendor Strategy Professionals understand trends in IT services and outsourcing in Greater China.
With my latest research paper, “Driving Outsourcing Success In China,” I want to help vendors raise awareness on the Chinese outsourcing market, which will grow at 17% CAGR over the next five years. Nonetheless, entering this lucrative market will pose several challenges for international newcomers. In my research, vendor strategists will find insights about:
Introduction to the market dynamics with drivers and inhibitors.
Possible go-to-market approaches for outside vendors entering into China's IT services market.
I'd love to hear from you. Feel free to share your own experiences and ideas with me. Are there other questions that you would like me to address in my upcoming research?