I'm back...

I am very excited to be back at Forrester. After 2 years of being immersed in the customer experience, I can’t wait to share new insights and advice with both Sourcing and Vendor Management (SVM) clients and the vendors that service those clients.  Together we can watch as the consulting and outsourcing market faces yet another tipping point driven by:

·         The increasing sophistication of the Sourcing and Vendor Management executive.

·         The expanding “cloud “and the need for service aggregation and integration.

·         The democratization or consumerization of technology (if users can buy an application for 99 cents to optimize their commute to work, why can’t internal IT build an effective claims processing system with a million times that budget?)

·         The increasing importance of contextual knowledge in the building and maintaining of enterprise IT systems.

·         The need to expand the idea of global sourcing beyond India and China in order to efficiently harness the requisite contextual knowledge.

In returning to the analyst role, I plan to devote my energies to exploring this transformation and helping clients to exploit newly emerging global sourcing benefits.

Starting next week, I’ll do a weekly wrap up of the interesting things I learned/saw/analyzed during the previous week. This could include vendor briefings, conversations with clients and industry experts, industry events, earnings announcements and/or consulting assignments. On a more frequent basis, I’ll also try to blog specifically about inquiries that I answered during the day or week.

Next week I will also publish my first new piece of research. This short document will cover some of the top priorities that I’d like my clients (and readers) to be considering.

·         How to de-risk managed services engagements by avoiding a pure black box approach and writing meaningful SLAs.

·         Why SVM executives need to revisit the basics even as they focus on advanced topics.

·         Why a vendor’s training competency is a critically important differentiator today.

·         The importance of understanding your vendors’ employee practices.

·         How to make sense of the productivity and price debate: are you getting more for less or less for less?

·         Understanding the value of contextual knowledge in the productivity equation.

·         Monitoring your vendors’ stability and viability in an evolving IT services market place.

·         Assessing whether your vendor has the know-how to help your company innovate.

 

To keep this blog interesting, blog readers should contribute questions, comments and feedback. What is on the top of your mind?

Comments

You CAN go home again

Welcome back to the analyst ranks. The world becomes a better place.

What is on the top of your mind?

Stephanie, welcome back!

· How to de-risk managed services engagements by avoiding a pure black box approach and writing meaningful SLAs.

I was reviewing with Alex and we were arguing how engagements that enforced business SLAs (with technical ones as a secondary precautionary measure) - even if we don't have the end to end control of the business process - did MUCH better. Instant alignment. For example, in once case we have a penalty associated with business SLAs across several different business processes. e.g. if the books are not ready by certain date, regardless of who's fault is, we have a penalty. Shared responsibility creates instant alignment and SLAs that make sense to the business.

· Why SVM executives need to revisit the basics even as they focus on advanced topics.

I've seen a spike in location arguments. And I would love to see a back to basics!

· Why a vendor’s training competency is a critically important differentiator today.

Great topic. I've seen generic assessments of dozens of locations. But when one looks at real, specific engagements, there's always the challenge of onboarding the right talent with the right skills. And it's not never a commodity set. This happens regardless of locations, delivery models and across all industries: if you can train well, and fast, you can make things work. If you can't (or aren't allowed due to time constraints) well, we see delays and complains as a next logical step, regardless of vendor.

· The importance of understanding your vendors’ employee practices.

I was looking into this talking to colleagues. Each company is so different, and I mean miles apart in how everything works, that a best-fit partner can never be the right one unless you know the attitudes and practices that will be used to solve the business or technical challenges. Research looking deeper into this would be amazing.

· How to make sense of the productivity and price debate: are you getting more for less or less for less?

Great question! I've seen dozens of "less for less" projects and the worst part is that sometimes the buyer is aware of this but the alternatives aren't even evaluated. If you can't define productivity, you will focus on what you think it costs and delude yourself that you are getting value - but the hidden costs usually are huge, and the opportunity costs even more so.

I was discussing this with our head of SAP, on how sometimes the focus is on the pebbles and not the big stones (sorry John, I borrowed your metaphor). We discussed this with evidence from a client that had reduced costs by 79% in one year, without ANY reliance on global delivery or labor arbitrage. We know of another client that reduced the bulk of maintenance to 35% while at the same time reducing the offshore component (meaning the savings came in spite of slightly higher rates).

So many interesting questions.

The other that I see as critical is the Consumerization of IT. We see it everyday changing how we conduct business. In marketing alone, we now use 4 different cloud sourced applications that are helping us do much more than we could have done through normal means.

The challenge is integrating the information. IT bargaining power might have come from owning the infrastructure (as one had to ask for permission to install a server, buying licenses, etc.) but the equation is shifting and users, like it or not, are promising more results if they get to choose their tools and fund that directly. Yet, organizationally speaking, the sum of the parts is what creates more value. And there's a huge challenge for users and vendors alike.

I am glad you are back, and love the topics you are setting up for discussion.

Democratization or consumerization of technology

Hi Stephanie,

The democratization of technology is an interesting topic. Users can get their hands on all kinds of technology apps directly themselves, bypassing IT or approval channels.

What are sales strategy for vendors selling consumerized technology to the enterprise?

Can IT really become a producer of consumerized technology? That's a tough one. Agile development is at the heart of making this happen, and I don't see too many large enterprise IT shops being agile. They tend to outsource their agile developments which defeats half its purpose because it puts a management layer on top of it which slows it down.

Wiser and younger...

Great to have you back Steph -- can't wait to see you and work with you once again!!!

George