I have been around the BPO marketplace for almost fifteen years now and I have seen it evolve from delivery based largely on the provision of people on a client’s technology and process to becoming a more comprehensive service provider based “As-a-Service” model. One of the recurring themes behind that evolution has been emergence of the role of the CTO as one of the key leadership roles inside major BPO service providers. While the role has existed in some form for years, it is my point of view that it was generally a supportive rather than a driving role in the past, often relegated to project management of internally borrowed or third party IT resources to deliver a disconnected set of macros, tools and desktop deployments.
Over the last 18 months in my role with HfS I have seen a fundamental shift occurring in the CTO role in BPO. No longer a project manager, the CTO is becoming a visionary who helps set the future offering strategy of the service provider, and who also has the power and the funds to make the required investments and partnerships necessary on a centralized basis. I have seen this shift reflected in my discussions with BPO CTOs such as Lee Beardmore (Capgemini), Liv Sandbaek (Accenture Operations), Sanjay Srivastava (Genpact), and Richard Mason (HP BPS), to name but a few. These leaders are helping direct their organizations into a more technology centric vision of business process offering development and delivery.
To remain relevant to evolving client needs, BPO service providers must be investing in creating a strong CTO position and empowering that role with the centralized budgets and power that were never required before.
In the past, it was the global delivery leaders inside of the BPO service providers who drove the strategy and investment priorities as what was most valued by clients was “noiseless, global delivery.” While this is still critical, the rise of the “As-a-Service Economy” and its transformative implications on BPO solutions and delivery is shifting the balance.
Going forward, success in BPO sales and delivery will come down to not just how many people the service provider has and where they are, but what underlying technologies are in place across clients and offerings. It will be about the vision of workflow deployments, the integration of robotic process automation, the cognitive tools adapted for structured and unstructured data analysis, and the mobile platforms launched for performance management and analytical insights.
Without a strong CTO in the role with the centralized investment budget required, BPO service providers will increasingly be marginalized as the client discussion and solution evaluation process moves on to a new more technology biased mix. There is an opportunity now for BPO service providers to use the role of the CTO to change the industry and bring to life the implications of the “As-a-Service Economy”.