Teaching – and Talking to – Robots: The Benefits of Cognitive-Enabled RPA

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) tools are being widely adopted across a wide range of enterprises and industries. By executing narrowly defined, repeatable tasks, RPA bots can drive dramatic productivity increases and significant cost reductions. For as little as $10,000 to $15,000 a year to deploy and maintain, a single bot can perform the routine, administrative tasks of five to ten people.

RPA is being applied to a wide range of generic business processes related to Finance and Accounting, such as order management and invoice processing, as well as HR functions such as payroll and pension management. In additon, RPA bots are being deployed for industry-specific tasks such as credit card and loan processing in financial servcies, claims processing in insurance and third-party administration in healthcare.

Somewhat counter-intuitively, RPA is not just for “simple” tasks; indeed, the technology is ideally suited to convoluted workflow processes that are both labor-intensive as well as highly prone to human error. For example, in a large, complex environment, account reconciliation can be a painful undertaking that involves rigorous compliance standards and multiple steps to match and verify numbers and records. When people are in charge, they invariably get sloppy or take shortcuts. Robots, meanwhile, aren’t smart enough to cut corners; instead, they follow the directions they’re given to the letter, ensuring accuracy and compliance.

Cognitive Capabilities

Benefits notwithstanding, traditional RPA systems have several major drawbacks. For one thing, the bots can’t handle anomalies or learn from experience. If the steps they’ve been instructed to follow don’t align with the reality of the function they’re working on, they can’t devise a solution. Rather, they report the anomaly as an exception that requires human intervention. This results in a productivity gap for shared services operations managing large volumes of unstructured data, because standard bots can’t navigate the nuances involved in, for example, email requests.

Today, self-learning applications are enabling bots to quickly identify a mistake and apply a fix, without requiring a rewrite of the bot’s instructions. When an exception arises, the cognitive tool flags the exception. And when that exception is fixed by a human administrator, the bot captures the fix and applies it going forward. As a result, the tasks of updating and optimizing RPA tools are significantly streamlined. Over time the expertise of these “cognitive bots” can match that of an operation’s top agents.

Natural language processing tools, meanwhile, analyze the context of words and phrases, enabling business users with minimal technical training to interact with RPA systems by using plain English commands. For example, a user from an accounting department can simply type, “I need to create a cost center for the marketing team,” and the robot understands what’s needed and executes the task. If the request is worded differently, such as, “Create a cost center for marketing,” the robot responds.

By simplifying and speeding the process of updating and reconfiguring RPA tools, integrating cognitive capabilities into basic RPA functionality reduces the need for constant intervention and oversight by technical experts. Given the scarcity of that technical talent in today’s market, smart tools can significantly reduce the productivity-sapping bottlenecks that characterize many RPA initiatives.

Optimizing BPO Capabilities

Cognitive-enabled RPA initiatives extend the benefits of automation and drive additional cost savings and increases in productivity. Equally important, by applying smart tools to continually optimize the automation of routine tasks, enterprises can focus their energies on strategic decision-making and on enhancing their shared services and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) capabilities.

One characteristic of this strategic mindset is the ability to effectively deploy Agile methodologies that leverage collaboration between technology teams and business users – collaboration that is essential to reaping the full benefits of RPA. In addition, enterprises can focus on process optimization and identifying new opportunities to drive intelligent automation. Finally, a mature BPO strategy includes an RPA Center of Excellence (CoE) to enable oversight of the overall automation strategy, prioritize initiatives, manage organizational change and serve as a focal point of innovation.

RPA has had a dramatic impact on the ability of organizations to reduce costs and increase productivity in managing basic business processes. As the integration of RPA and smart tools continues to evolve, smart enterprises will seize the opportunity and leverage these emerging capabilities to fundamentally redefine their approach to managing business processes.

Source: futureofsourcing.com-Teaching – and Talking to – Robots: The Benefits of Cognitive-Enabled RPA

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Procurement with a Purpose

A few years ago, companies used purpose to differentiate. It was an edge over their competition, something that was applauded by consumers. Today, it’s the expectation. Businesses want to not only do well for their companies, they also want to make a difference in the world, and between modern slavery and extreme poverty, the supply chain is the ticket. We’re living in an age where supply chains are becoming more and more complex and what you can’t see can hurt you.

What does purpose actually mean? The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines purpose as “a subject under discussion or an action in course of execution.” The key word here is “discussion.” Purpose is subjective and it’s unique from person to person and business to business. What empowers our own individual purpose though is the power of conversation. Here is where businesses can move the needle.

So why now? What makes purpose not only relevant in today’s world, but critical to success? A Nielsen study reports that about two-thirds of consumers are willing to pay more for products and services from companies who are committed to positive social and environmental impact. Nine in 10 consumers expect companies to not only make a profit, but also operate responsibly to address social and sustainability issues, according to another study by Cone Communications. Additionally, it reports that 84 percent of global consumers said they seek out responsible products whenever possible and they’re willing to pay for the peace of mind in knowing they did so.

But social causes aren’t limited to consumer companies. There are an abundance of ways that companies can do good. Any company. Think about the core of your business and how you can leverage it to serve a higher purpose—one that aligns with the issues that are important to your customers and the industries you serve. Think about cloud and network technologies and how you can leverage big data, machine learning and AI to bring transparency into the supply chain and act with purpose. When it comes right down to it, consumers and businesses alike want to feel that their purchasing decisions are not only beneficial from a fiscal standpoint, but also a personal one. The emotional element that comes with bringing purpose into your brand is deeply powerful and should never be underestimated.

One of the major drivers in businesses adopting a “purpose mission” is the inherent risks that come with not doing so. For example, at each step along the supply chain, businesses are inviting opportunities for inhumane labor conditions and other non-ethical scenarios that pose severe risk to not only their brand’s reputation but also to business growth and talent retention. In today’s world, consumers and employees don’t want to associate with businesses that aren’t able to guarantee a clean and ethical lifecycle for their products.

Businesses want to make a difference. They want to drive ethical behavior across the supply chain, and take on things like supplier diversity, as well as tougher challenges like the elimination of forced labor or the use of minerals that come from conflict zones…and with the help of technology they have the power to do it.

Collectively, companies in the Global 2000 spend an astounding $12 trillion on goods and services annually. And by tying their purchases to purposes, these companies can ensure they provide fair labor practices across their supply chain. They can make opportunities available to minority and women-owned businesses. And they can ensure that no slave labor is being used to make their products.

Companies across all industries are trying to connect these dots. They appreciate that there’s a problem but struggle to identify where and how to solve it simply given the lack of transparency in understanding their own supply chains. This is where networks come into play. Just as social networks allow consumers to share, shop and consume, business networks give companies the power to discover, connect and collaborate across a global network of partners in an open and informed way. That way the learnings of one organization can benefit all. We can all work together to do good and we have a corporate responsibility to do so.

That’s the power of purpose. And it is the greatest power of all. As procurement professionals, it motivates us to innovate and solve complex problems using connected data and transparent multi-tier global supply chains. It enables and empowers us to reimagine and reinvent what is possible. At the end of the day, when you combine the power of purpose with the technology and innovations available, businesses can make more informed decisions. This isn’t just an enormous opportunity, it’s a responsibility.

Source: futureofsourcing.com-Procurement with a Purpose

Supply Chain Sustainability: What We Know and Don’t Know

Supply chain sustainability is a nice idea, but there are a lot of unanswered questions when it comes to the finer details. So, while genuine progress has been made, there are also a lot of businesses whose commitment to a sustainable supply chain is questionable.

When McDonald’s says it wants to start serving “sustainable beef,” this sounds great. The supply chain for meat is one of the biggest causes of climate change, so anything that one of the world’s biggest purchasers of beef can do to make their supply chain more sustainable should be welcomed and applauded.

The issue comes with the self-regulation of McDonald’s “sustainable beef,” as well as the fact that “sustainable beef” is a term that the company has come up with itself. While it is encouraging to see McDonald’s promise to eliminate deforestation from its supply chain, exactly how else McDonald’s beef will be sustainable remains to be seen.

McDonald’s sets benchmarks for many industries, so there is a lot that can be learned from the company’s successes — as well as its failures — with regards to sustainability. In lieu of tough regulation from governments, we need companies to set targets for themselves by which the public and the media can measure them. Striving for “no deforestation in the McDonald’s supply chain by 2020” is a measurable target, but aiming to have “more sustainable beef” is neither specific enough nor truly measurable.

Waste, Wastewater and Pollution

The economics of scale is the principle behind almost every business on the planet, yet its major flaw is waste. When buying in such quantities, the risk of leftover waste increases exponentially. Recycling is an absolute must because the aim shouldn’t be waste reduction; the aim should be zero waste.

Wastewater can be recycled, waste can be recycled and emissions can be reduced to zero…all it takes is imagination and the will to do so. Elon Musk has proven that this is the case. The adventurous entrepreneur has built a solar-powered battery able to give electricity to an entire town in Australia and is also developing electric-powered delivery vehicles. These two inventions could help supply chains the world over to develop zero-emission factories with zero-emission transport. Those two inventions alone could completely cut emissions from a huge chunk of the global supply chain. What’s lacking is the investment and the belief in Musk’s ideas.

This is hardly surprising. Eco-friendly entrepreneurs like Musk have their own version of economics, where the aim isn’t to make as much money as possible but to use his company’s profits to make as much positive impact on the world as possible. It might sound hokey, yet it makes sense that the kind of people ambitious enough to make billions of dollars would also be ambitious enough to commit to such lofty aims.

It’s not just Musk. Entrepreneurs like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg have amassed fortunes while simultaneously attempting to change the world. Of course, this change is not always welcome. As Zuckerberg learned in India, there is a fine line between philanthropy and neo-imperialism.

Things Smaller Businesses Can Do

Away from the machinations of billionaires, what can small to medium businesses do to create more sustainable supply chains? To begin with, it depends on your industry. Reducing carbon emissions might be the aim and there are many ways in which the future of warehousing or the future of shipping could be more sustainable.

However, to run a small business with zero emissions, you need to build the business from scratch, with the idea of zero emissions at the center of what you do. Of course, at some point, you’re going to run into the issue of transport. Without a zero-emission transport system such as the one Musk is developing, you’ll have to resort to whatever you can find.

There are a lot of things that all businesses can do to make supply chains more sustainable…there are a lot of things that governments can do to make supply chains more sustainable…and there are a lot of things that customers can do to influence both groups. What’s more, in some ways, decision-makers at small businesses are also waiting on big businesspeople like Musk to make a sustainable supply chain possible for everyone. In short, the job of supply chain sustainability is everyone’s, meaning everyone has a role to play.

Source: futureofsourcing.com-Supply Chain Sustainability: What We Know and Don’t Know

What those developers really mean

It’s been said that the only people who tell the truth are the children and the insane. Now, developers may seem insane at times and they are just as prone to childish tantrums as anyone, but that doesn’t mean they speak the truth. Indeed they often shade the truth just like the suits in the corner office when speaking to the developer team. They just use a different language.

To help you navigate the subtle inflections and sneaky barbs of your developers, here is a translation guide to some of the terms developers often use in team meetings.

‘Non-standard’

On a good day, standards are a nice way for a group to synchronize their behavior and build up a collective stack of code that encourages cooperation and tons of network effects. On a bad day, they’re a cudgel by which one tribe of developers beats down another.

Outside of a few corners controlled by government agencies, most so-called standards are just regular code with the word “standard” in the title. Some folks announced a “standard” and asked others to join. The real test is whether anyone follows the “standard” — and whether the industry alliances that uphold the “standard” shift as quickly as mall rats to new fashions.

When developers call a work initiative or chosen tool “non-standard,” they may be speaking truth. It would be silly, for instance, to forgo the established code built around HTML for some new layout scheme, no matter how good it is. But most so-called “standards” don’t have the same kind of inertia as HTML, and so you have to poke a bit to see whether your developers are really just saying, “Not my cup of tea”, “not invented here”, or even “we hate this guy.”

‘New standard’

Developers love to tout their new favorite toy by saying it’s the “new standard” or “it’s quickly becoming the new standard.” Again, “standard” becomes a touchstone that’s meant to make everyone feel good about the choice.

The word “new,” however, should raise the hair on the back of your neck. Standards don’t become standards without time. If something is “new” then it’s too early to know whether the crowds will gather behind the bandwagon or your company will be one of the few left out to dry. Developers of the “new standard” may be blowing all the right horns and lighting lots of fireworks, but we won’t know whether the parade will fall into line without time.

That doesn’t mean developers don’t have good intentions when they tell you it’s a “new standard” that they’re hot to adopt. After all, this often means they are interested in abandoning or deprecating some old approach. Perhaps they’ve pulled their hair out one too many times with how you’ve been doing things, and they’re hoping this new approach or tool may actually solve some of the problems that have arisen. But you still have to be somewhat cautious of the new when invoked by developers.

‘One week’

Hope springs eternal. When developers say a feature or fix will be easy, they’re usually speaking truthfully. Because they really hope it will be finished quickly. It’s just that there are all too many things that can go wrong with computers. Sometimes it’s the network. Sometimes it’s the legacy database. Sometimes it’s just foolish optimism. In any case, more often than not, “one week” really means “one month.” Or maybe even “six weeks.”

‘One month’

This is a more standard unit of estimation that you will hear from developers, and like “one week,” it is completely inaccurate as far as reality goes. The level of misestimating is probably similar as it is for “one week,” and it’s not uncommon to see “one month” tasks expand by a factor of four to six.

‘One year’

When developers say something will take a year, they’re not talking about time any more. They’re just saying they don’t want to do it. Maybe it will require learning or relearning to program in some language they didn’t like. Maybe it will mean negotiating with some team in another division, one that stole all the resources and maybe beat them in softball.

They would try the gambit of claiming it can’t be done but they often realize this is a losing ploy. Nine times out of ten, a competitor is doing just what you’ve asked your developers to do, so it’s hard to claim with a straight face that’s impossible. Better to bury it by claiming it’s infeasible or impractical.

This behavior is common in all layers of a bureaucracy, of course. It’s just programmers live in mysterious world inscrutable to outsiders. That makes it easier for them to play the game and then hide behind some odd standard or weird software layer you’ve never heard of.

‘Style’

Someone once said there’s no debating style — you either have it or you don’t. Developers aren’t any different. They have opinions about the most attractive way to write code just as clothes designers care about tie width or skirt length.

Perhaps the most famous version of stylistic fascism is the AirBnB Style Guide for Node.JS, which include rules like one insisting putting a space both before and after a plus sign, rule 19.4. Rule 19.10 also forbids putting a space inside a square bracket while 19.11 insists on a space inside curly brackets. Yes, the rules have numbers, subnumbers and embedded anchor tags so you can send a nastygram to some developer with misplaced spaces explaining exactly which “code style” has been violated.

AirBnB as a company may have a more relaxed view about regulations because they’re actively fighting fire codes and zoning codes that may or may not protect customers, but they’re happy to insist on how many non-functional spaces are in their code stack. (See here and here.)

The problem isn’t that developers have opinions about how to write code; it’s when they try to force others to bend to their will. Many developer tribes like to go to war over “code style,” which can often just be a passive-aggressive burn in a memo about “non-standard” issues. That team’s style is bad. Ours is good. For the most part, when a developer references “code style,” whatever they say next can be safely ignored. If there was a real technical issue around, say, interoperability, “style” wouldn’t enter the conversation. If your developers are stuck objecting to code style, consider it a pretty clear sign they’re just being obnoxious.

‘DevOps’

The name sounds like a combination of “developer” and “operations,” but it really refers to the process of keeping the code running and the servers humming, a process complex enough for some around the office to start specializing in these chores.

But you can often detect a slight sneer in the voice of a programmer who delegates things to the “DevOps” team in the same way a great chef lets someone else worry about setting the table. Programmers think great thoughts about data structures and leave the job of keeping it running to others, regardless of what you would like them to do. In a way, “DevOps” can seem like anything developers don’t want to do but needs to be done.

‘API’

Robert Frost may not have been a programmer, but he understood APIs when he wrote, “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.” Programmers love APIs because they establish clear boundaries with rules for crossing them. By encapsulating the work, APIs allow those outside the API wall to avoid thinking too much about what is going on inside.

But when programmers say “API,” what they are talking about more often than not is control. The team that builds the API gets to set the rules, facilitating complaints about other developers who are using “non-standard” means to abuse the API. They can set up terms of service and rules of access, which no doubt others will want further opened up and arguments will ensue. Perhaps it’s best to concentrate on the happier aspects when developers speak of APIs, like when Frost himself concludes, “Good fences make good neighbors.”

‘Better suited’ / ‘The right tool for the job’

Developers spend a lot of time learning the idiosyncrasies of a programming language and its supporting codebase. After all, the more they learn, the more efficient and valuable they become. So it’s no surprise that they often advocate for what they know best.

When they say that X or Y is “better suited” to the task, they’re often just validating a choice they made long ago to dive deeply into one particular stack. The best approach is just to nod, smile and agree. The differences aren’t worth arguing about. After all, modern languages are relatively equivalent in power and capability, with most differences being largely cosmetic. Python programmers, for instance, are often proud that their language breaks up code into blocks using indentation instead of curly brackets. That may not be enough to pivot to Python with your next programming project.

‘Scope creep’

Projects begin with big dreams — and sometimes we manage to finish 50 percent of them. Choosing how much to bite off is not an easy task. If you’re too conservative, you don’t accomplish much. But If you try to go big, well, you’re much more likely to crash and get nothing done.

The phrase “scope creep” officially describes the process by which a once feasible goal is made impossible by adding all of these extra goals along the way. It’s often mentioned defensively when developers try to stop a manager from adding another neat idea to the mix. Does it work? Sometimes. But managers often counter with phrases like “raising the bar” or even worse, “Do it, or you’re fired.”

‘Cultural fit’

If you’ve ever thought humans have evolved beyond warring tribes, just watch developers use the words “cultural fit,” which are almost always a replacement for “person just like me.” Some see it used to exclude races and genders, but others see it deployed when discussing programming languages, APIs, and many technical items. People have their comfort zone where everything is just how they like it and those outside that comfort zone don’t have a “cultural fit.”

‘Refactoring’

If a programmer called it “fixing mistakes” or “rebuilding things the right way,” it would sound like they were admitting incompetence. But somehow the word “refactoring” sounds scientific and even noble. Is it any wonder that programmers deploy it when they’re cleaning up prior mistakes?

‘Feature’ vs. ‘bug’

If a programmer says “feature,” it means they like the code, often because they wrote it. If they use the word “bug,” they don’t like the code and it’s often simply because the other team wrote it.

While any user understands the concept of a “bug,” it’s actually hard for programmers to recognize them. Code defines itself. Some developers say there’s no such thing as a bug; it’s just a matter of use cases that haven’t been written yet.

Don’t get sucked into their philosophical swamp. If the user can’t accomplish something, it needs to be fixed whether it’s called a bug or a feature.

‘Kludge’

A kludge is just an old slang for a stop-gap measure that’s implemented because there wasn’t time to do things “the right way.” The programmers will probably want to refactor by adding more code. In the future, the next team will refer to this refactoring as a kludge and the cycle will continue.

‘Luser’

The tech community has pretty much banished the attitude that only the high priest caste can work these machines and we should bother worrying about the rest of the world, the so called “lusers”. When the success of a tech platform is measured by the number of noses using it, the programmers get the message.

Still, there’s a deep question about how much work the developers should do to make life simple for the folks who can’t begin to understand the tech. Just how much programmer time is worth spending to attract how many more incompetent dolts. Is it worth it? That’s a tough job for the management. If it were left up to the users, every field would take JSON data structures filled with regular expressions.

Source: Cio.com-What those developers really mean

Outsourcing customers gain innovation with Request for Solution

Several years ago, we launched an innovative new way for an enterprise to contract for services, the Request for Solution (RFS). It was conceived of as a way to harness the service provider community’s best thinking in situations where a client couldn’t or didn’t want to be prescriptive. It was an alternative to traditional RFPs that would still lead buyers and sellers to strong, sustainable relationships with market-correct terms and conditions but leave much more of the solution decisions up to the bidders.

We thought it would be an overnight success. We thought buyer and sellers, in what was a stale outsourcing marketplace, would embrace it. They didn’t. We built it, but nobody came.

Over the years, we helped a few progressive clients with RFS processes, but the vast majority of the deals in the industry continued to happen the old-fashioned way. In the past six months something has changed. I’ve seen an impressive surge in demand for RFS processes. I’d say that close to 50 percent of the new deals we see are using the RFS method, or a hybrid method that combines RFP and RFS. Why is this happening, and why now?

  1. It’s easy to be prescriptive when solutions are standard. Today, more and more buyers want bespoke solutions, so what works for company X may not work for company Y. A key criterion for buyers, whether they admit it or not, is feeling unique, and they want a solution that feels customized for them.
  2. The technology changed, so nobody can claim they’ve done it many times before—it is too new. Yesterday’s marketplace was built on more or less thirty years of fairly well-established and consistent commercial and technical practices. They had evolved over time, but they weren’t turned upside down until recently. With the recent advances in cloud, automation, social and mobility, no provider can demonstrate vast experience, so a buyer is more open to letting them experiment and propose their own creative solutions.
  3. Companies are more comfortable with outsourcing than they ever have been. Before, buyers wanted everything locked airtight to avoid as much risk as possible. It was hard to believe that anyone could handle any given function better than “us,” so we created parameters, rules, processes and hard lines never to be crossed. Today, there are no rules. Sure, clients expect to be kept compliant with regulations and some standards—but what are the standards for something that has never been done? The RFS serves these clients well. And more and more large companies are willing to enter a true partnership with their providers to innovate. You see it everywhere—the Internet of Things, engineering services, social media.
  4. The new technologies are hitting the mainstream, but they are still new. What did we think of the cloud three years ago? Scary. It had all kinds of security, privacy and architecture issues. The cloud today? Table stakes. But that still doesn’t mean it comes in only one flavor. Engaging the creativity of the market can often yield the very best ideas, and the RFS process is designed to allow a buyer to benefit from the ideas of multiple providers, regardless of who they actually select for the work.
  5. The value of intellectual property is declining. This is not something I welcome, but I believe it is a reality. Information is readily available to anyone who is sufficiently motivated, and buyers and sellers of IT-enabled services realize that these aren’t the areas to focus on for protecting the secret formula. The RFS encourages sharing of ideas that would have made us all very uncomfortable just a few years ago.

I don’t believe the more traditional RFP will go away. How many large companies still have mainframe? How many have truly adopted a BYOD policy? There will always be a place for the RFP. In fact, as the pendulum swings and we discover and authenticate the best practices of the emerging technologies, we may swing back to the RFP. The service provider industry, through sheer size and exposure, has far more capability to think big thoughts and turn them into actionable ideas than any single one of their clients. Why not harness all that capability? If you want to prescribe your solution, the RFP will always be there to support you. If you want to engage a broad community in developing the solution, the RFS is the way to go. More and more of my clients are going that way.

Source: Cio.com-Outsourcing customers gain innovation with Request for Solution

From Compliance to Guidance: The Evolution of Outsourcing

The outsourcing industry is adapting and changing rapidly. Outsourcing companies are now much closer to their clients, as technology enables clients and outsourcers to be more connected than ever before.

This technology evolution has also impacted the demand for IT workers, with more companies requiring skilled workers on a project basis. However, whereas an outsourcing company used to begin working with a client and completed any project tasks that were required, outsourcing teams have started to take on an advisory role too.

Outsourcers are now offering ideas to the client and are conversing about what could make the project better, more cost effective and efficient. So, why have outsourcers taken on more of an advisory role in recent years?

Objective Insight

The outsourcing relationship used to involve the company stating what they needed and the outsourcer simply complying with the request. However, outsourcing is no longer this one-way relationship: the company that is outsourcing can gain so much more than just IT support.

The outsourcing company is able to provide objective insight on where the project is heading and can advise on improvements and potential challenges. It is important for both the client organisation and the outsourcing team to align their strategies at the beginning of the partnership to ensure that they work together and optimise their offerings. For this, communication must be clear as collaboration must be two-way.

However, the role of an outsourced or nearshored team is to offer and share their knowledge and expertise with the client company, rather than make decisions and create conflict with them.

Ease of Communication

Location is often overlooked in favour of choosing an outsourcing company based on their specialties. However, it is essential to consider proximity when outsourcing IT services in order to ensure efficiency of the project. Companies are beginning to nearshore to maximise the collaboration potential between the organisations and to enhance the communication. A closer proximity means more meetings with the client and a shared language helps to avoid miscommunication when discussing intricate details that can only encourage a closer working relationship.

Greater communication enables the move from compliance to guidance as, today, outsourcing organisations are much more likely to engage with clients on a business level, taking on more responsibility and talking to department heads.

More Than Just Writing Code

Outsourcing is no longer about simply writing the code, but rather understanding the client’s challenges and providing a solution that may offer them business agility. For this reason, today an outsourcing company should try and understand the non-technical challenges their client is facing and possibly even invest in business analysis and account management skills.

In light of this change, it is important to look at this new relationship between outsourcing and the client to see how it can be optimised for both sides, ensuring that it is mutually beneficial.

True partnerships—in outsourcing and beyond—are based on trust, so building a collaborative two-way relationship can maximise its positive impact on the business. Ensuring that a trustworthy rapport is in place allows projects to progress faster and with greater efficiency as both companies speak freely for the best of the project, each helping and informing the other.

Source: futureofsourcing.com-From Compliance to Guidance: The Evolution of Outsourcing

The Rules of Outsourcing Have Changed

The Pace of Transformation
As the pace of transformation ramps up in the technology industry, the chasm is widening between the number of roles that need to be filled and the number of relevantly qualified resources to fill them. Technology is changing the world and our lives at such a rapid pace that it’s hard for companies to keep up with the shifts caused. Examples of major technology shifts include the Internet of Things (IoT)and apps (cloud-based and mobile). By 2020, it is predicted that 7.6 billion people will have 100 billion connected devices that run 1 trillion apps.
Technology shifts open up, which is good for business, but this creates larger workloads for software development departments. The challenge is that companies lack the technology, skills sets, resources and strategies to manage their workforces effectively. It’s predicted that by 2020 over 80 percent of companies will rely on temporary or contingent workers to fill skills gaps as the battle to recruit talent intensifies. As the pace of transformation increases in the technology industry, companies are struggling to find the people they need, with many claiming that graduates are leaving university without relevant skills and talent. In the same time span, the U.K. is expected to have a shortage of 800,000 tech workers.
The Traditional Offshore Outsource Model is Broken
Due to the current and impending shortfall of IT professionals for the U.K. market and the challenge to find talent, other issues will arise in the form of retention. Supply and demand are already an issue and companies will enter bidding wars to lock down the best IT and digital professionals. Retention will be a problem as IT professionals will accept better paying jobs, so how to secure and keep digital talent must be addressed. The traditional outsourcing model to offshore companies will no longer suffice. With AI developments happening so quickly, it no longer makes service or commercial sense to offshore as it once did. It is no longer true that a supplier who can muster thousands of cheap resources (which are not as cheap as they used to be) represents a compelling proposition.
What is the answer?
When considering outsourcing, which companies will have to do to fulfill demand, they will need to think carefully. Leveraging a nearshore model is becoming very popular. Companies can use nearshore delivery centers with best-in-class experts who are trained and up to speed with the latest technologies and software development tools and methodologies. The nearshore model is proving to be very successful and companies that leverage delivery centers can use several engagement models from managed teams, extended teams and managed projects. This model is proving to be more cost effective, with an increase in quality and speed to market.
Gone are the days when companies can afford to wait for multiple attempts before getting it right. With the velocity of change and the speed at which things need to be done, using an onshore model with a trusted advisor is the key. To lock down and secure resources for the long term, companies should look to partner with outsource providers that have pioneered, built and managed teams that eventually become fully owned assets of their clients (while ensuring that the culture of their client is fully embedded from the outset). This will enable companies to build, recruit and retain their digital talent for an automated, tech-driven future.

Source: futureofsourcing.com-The Rules of Outsourcing Have Changed