The Battle for Jobs: Staying Relevant in the Robotics Age

With robots potentially as not only your coworkers but also your competition, what capabilities and unique talents are essential to keep your job?

We asked the co-chairs of IAOP’s Global Human Capital Chapter: What skills do humans need to compete with robots?

 

KPMG

A recent KPMG white paper titled Rise of the Humans states that automation and robotics will transform jobs according to two main dimensions – Cognitive Automation and Cognitive Processing & Robotic Automation.

The authors said Cognitive Automation changes fall into two main areas: the Leveraged Professional, which enables the people of lesser qualifications to perform at substantially higher levels, e.g., a paralegal giving attorney-level advice, or allowing a lower qualified professional deliver a world-class output. Second is the Connected Worker, which affords everyone in a specific role to access technologies and the best ideas and knowledge on a topic. An example would be surgeons learning the latest techniques from the world leader in a certain surgical procedure.

Cognitive Processing & Robotic Automation also has two areas: Working at the Speed of Thought says that augmented professionals can work faster, more efficiently with much greater throughput and effectiveness, such as delivering better company reporting and analytical judgment making. The Digital Worker describes the use of technologies to replace entire roles and job types. In particular, jobs in front-line and middle-ranking occupations are likely to see the biggest impact. Digital labor can fully replace or work alongside humans – in a call center, for example.

So it begs the question, what are the skills and talents one needs in the future to be a valued and irreplaceable resource? Like all technology, there are limitations. Jobs which require things like empathy, compassion, or those activities where Emotional Intelligence is needed are expected to remain relevant. There have been numerous discussions and research studies performed debating which is better to have, Intellectual Quotient (IQ) versus Emotional Quotient (EQ).

Robotics is not able to replace emotionally driven activities that are involved in some industries and jobs – such as strategists, performance managers, motivators, coaches, teachers, mentors, etc. As a CEO or manager, a computer can help inform you which decisions to make based on the data, but not how to personally connect and motivate employees to entice and inspire action. Those activities and roles will always be there and we should develop our strategic thinking and look at was to strengthen our EQ. Another human characteristic not easily replicated by machines is creativity or ingenuity.

Professions such as musicians, artists benefit from creativity, while many companies and organizations look to a Chief Strategy Officer or strategic arms of their business to develop new innovative ways of doing things to help grow and meet organization’s objectives. There is a movement among millennials to challenge the “status quo” and their ambition in these areas will serve them well in the future.

Lastly, if we think about leveraging the robots themselves as they join the workforce, the technical skills associated with robotics and automation will become increasingly important. Both making these technologies work, and also how to get them to work together with humans will be crucial. There will be a constant need to configure, deploy, redesign and redeploy these in each organization. The ramifications of robotics and automation are significant, but it is nothing we should fear.

While some jobs will be lost, many others will be created. The more quickly we come to understand how these machines will work and how to leverage them to improve each of our individual jobs and realize what tasks we can perform that are unique to humans, the better we are at becoming irreplaceable.

Accenture

At Accenture, we believe that automation represents an entirely new factor of production that enables people to make more efficient use of their time and do what humans do best – create, imagine and innovate new things. Machines offer strengths and capabilities that are different from – but crucially complementary to – human skills.

Beyond simply eliminating repetitive tasks, automation is supporting humans in complex and creative problem-solving by enabling analysis of dauntingly vast amounts of data and the identification of trends previously impossible to detect. As such, it’s improving the pace and scale of risk analysis and business decision-making at an enterprise level, while enabling employees to achieve significant productivity gains – as much as 30 percent to 40 percent – even in functions that are already automated.

Automation, like any other emerging technology, will change an organization’s demand for specific skills, but it won’t reduce the demand for skilled people.

In the Accenture Technology Vision 2017 companion survey of more than 5400 business and IT executives, 85 percent of executives report they will invest extensively in artificial technology-related technologies over the next three years. So there’s no doubt that as automation and AI adoption continue to rapidly accelerate, so too will the demand for skilled professionals.

Specific skill sets are needed around implementing robotics technology, integrating it with existing systems, and managing change management aspects in order to maximize its business impact. As more advanced capabilities are implemented around the broader constellation of technologies that make up artificial intelligence, skills will also be needed in the areas of computer vision, speech recognition, natural language processing, knowledge representation and reasoning, virtual/augmented reality, machine learning, deep learning, expert systems, biometrics and video analytics in general.

Judgment-based skills and general business acumen to best apply the technology in a broader business context are also needed. Intelligent automation and artificial intelligence feed off data; in fact, they can’t exist without it, so content and data curators, data scientists and analytics experts are also crucial in order for algorithms to learn.

Source: pulsearchives.net-The Battle for Jobs: Staying Relevant in the Robotics Age

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Why Corporate Social Responsibility and Impact Sourcing Matter

Everyone’s talking about Corporate Social Responsibility and Impact Sourcing. They’ve been trendy topics in recent years. And yes, we’ve all participated in philanthropic initiatives, whether donating to a charity, volunteering for a fundraiser, getting the staff involved in a cause, running a 5K to support disaster relief, marching in protest, holding a corporate annual food drive, etc.

All of the above are excellent ways to dip our toes in the water of participating in the greater good… and just enough to give each of us the cozies. But these are also just a start.

When it comes to business, buyers want more from the powers that be; they want core value – consistent action and participation. It’s no longer about the quality of a product. Buyers care about society and global issues, and they are zoning in on the organizations proactively supporting these issues. Going forward, customers plan to do business with organizations that weave social responsibility into their entire business models.

It’s no longer about the quality of a product. Buyers care about society and global issues, and they are zoning in on the organizations proactively supporting these issues.

According to a Nielsen survey, two-thirds of global consumers are willing to pay more for sustainably made products. Why? Consumers are trying to be responsible inhabitants of the world, and they expect the same from corporations. Therefore, when it comes to buying, they are doing their research – checking labels, searching websites, reading reviews, watching the news and social media outlets.

On that note… customers, through their social media voices—not to mention their wallets—are letting companies know they need to be on the actionable side of key issues… or else. The public expects an “all hands on deck” approach from their providers in working to solve the most pressing social and environmental challenges across the globe. Otherwise, they will take their business to the competition.

Global Impact Sourcing Award

As a long-time supporter of Impact Sourcing and Corporate Social Responsibility, IAOP and several of its leading members have joined with the Rockefeller Foundation and Global Impact Sourcing Coalition (GISC) to raise awareness, share best practices, test models and measure the progress of this socially responsible business practice. Together, IAOP and the Rockefeller Foundation have launched a new award to recognize industry professionals who are leaders in Impact Sourcing and Corporate Social Responsibility. The Global Impact Sourcing Award will be presented annually at the Outsourcing World Summit, starting at OWS18 in Orlando.

Final Thoughts

Buyers are letting organizations know advocacy isn’t about talking the talk; it’s about walking the walk. It’s about the “why” of Corporate Social Responsibility – the fact that CSR should be an essential core value and must become part of the greater business plan.

Promoting social responsibility should simply be part of an organization’s broader business plan. Being a good corporate citizen is not only the right thing to do, but it’s also good for business. Why? It’s simple. Companies that give back—those that genuinely contribute to humanity and are associated with a cause—people want to do business with them. And that is something that can’t – and shouldn’t – be ignored.

Source: iaoppulse.net -Why Corporate Social Responsibility and Impact Sourcing Matter

CIOs, the age of the algorithm takes hold — for better and worse

The International Institute for Analytics released its annual list of predictions and priorities. Their big prediction for 2018: Companies will experience the pros and cons of what they dubbed the age of the algorithm.

Tom Davenport, co-founder of IIA, fellow at the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy and the president’s distinguished professor of information technology and management at Babson College, and Bill Franks, chief analytics officer at IIA, said that algorithms are nearly ubiquitous and will proliferate in the enterprise.

The good news is that the age of the algorithm will mark a level of analytics maturity for the enterprise: Algorithms will be easier to access, easier to use, and even self-learning, making it possible for companies to interrogate and take advantage of their data like never before. The bad news is algorithm ubiquity will also lead to complexity, impacting technology buying decisions, enterprise architecture strategies and even how job titles are perceived.

IIA’s 2018 predictions were accompanied by corresponding priorities, providing companies with advice on what analytics hurdles to expect in the age of the algorithm and how they can be avoided.

Prediction No. 1: The age of the algorithm arrives

Algorithms have become ubiquitous and will play a more prominent role in day-to-day corporate activities next year, according to Franks. They are now easy to deploy, easy to access, embedded in applications and can be rented in the cloud, eradicating the careful choices analytics experts used to make about which algorithms matter and how to expend precious processing power. “Today, we’re basically able to go ahead, tee up and test a whole range of algorithms and then pick the best,” he said.

Priority: Automate algorithmic testing

Data scientists should embrace tools that automate the testing process as a timesaver. Franks was quick to point out that using these tools, which companies can build or buy, doesn’t negate the need for data scientists. Problems still need to be well defined, data still needs to be prepared and results of the testing process still need to be interpreted.

Prediction No. 2: AI projects grow, but disillusionment rises

Franks and Davenport disagreed on the latter part of this prediction. Davenport said almost every company he talks to has a portfolio of concrete AI projects underway; he believes companies have moved away from “moon shots” to smaller, easier-to-get-at problems, and that they tend to be bullish on the technology. But Franks believes enterprise AI in 2018 will follow a pattern similar to big data, which started out hot and then fizzled before finding its footing. He sees the lack of AI skills as the biggest contributor to enterprise disillusionment with AI. The talent dearth is especially acute for the more complex forms of AI, such as deep learning. That prowess is even scarcer than data science skills. “As demand rises, that’s going to be a challenge,” he said.

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Priority: Incorporate AI into your plans — rationally and incrementally

The key is to be strategic in how AI is incorporated into the analytics roadmap by making it an extension of what the business is already doing with analytics. “About 90% of AI has a statistical underpinning,” Davenport said, which means the foundation for AI isn’t new to data science departments. The roadmap should include top priorities, including AI, according to Franks. Doing so will give the company a contextual understanding of how aggressive it needs to be with artificial intelligence.

Prediction No. 3: Hybrid analytics

The proliferation of analytics products has given rise to freedom of choice — open source or proprietary tools, on premises or the cloud, or, increasingly, a mix of both. But with added choice comes added complexity, Franks said.

Priority: Allocate resources to determine the right technology mix

Companies will need to think hybrid analytics if they want to remain competitive, according to Franks. In 2018, analytics professionals should start to consider not only what a tool does, but where it best performs and how well it integrates with other technology. And in partnership with IT, they should start building flexible analytical architectures, making it easy to snap in or get rid of tools. Added flexibility will ensure a level of resilience if startups go under, if more established vendors stop supporting a product or if the analytics team makes a bad investment. “The architecture can be an insurance policy,” Franks said.

Prediction No 4: Beware the so-called data scientist

The title of data scientist has become watered down. Reporting tools and data preparation tools often have models baked in, making them easier to use and accessible, according to Franks. “People who traditionally would not have had any ability to claim being an analytic professional/data scientist suddenly, in theory, can say I use tools that do this so, therefore, I’m going to put that on my card,” he said.

Priority: Inventory your analytics skills and define job titles

Davenport suggested companies collaborate with HR to inventory and classify the analytics, data science and AI skills they have in-house. Doing so will help to distribute talent appropriately and pinpoint potential skills gaps. An example of classification is to implement a categorization and certification process for data scientists, with junior data scientists taking on simpler tasks such as regression analysis and senior data scientists taking on complex tasks such as developing new algorithms.

Prediction No. 5: Blockchain is a roadblock for analytics

Blockchain, an immutable distributed ledger, won’t have a profound impact on enterprise analytics programs, according to Franks. But it will pose performance issues when analyzing transactional data. Data on the blockchain is distributed and not centralized, it’s repetitive and compressed, and, unlike SQL databases, it isn’t designed for analytics. Data scientists will have to extract data out of the blockchain format and “make it into something friendly,” Franks said.

Priority: Prepare to analyze blockchain data

Franks said understanding how blockchain works and the new issues the technology presents is a good first step. He suspects that, at least in the short term, analytics professionals won’t have a lot of direct interaction with blockchain data. Instead, they will build “enterprise analytic views” into the data to do the analysis. “Those views can then be updated on a somewhat frequent basis and made into an extract or it can run live,” he said.

Prediction No. 6: Analytics are widely applied to improve data

When Davenport mentioned ditching moon shots for easy-to-get-at AI projects, one example he had in mind was applying AI to the data preparation process. For some companies Davenport has talked to, machine learning algorithms took months and sometimes just weeks to find duplicated records in multiple databases — a project that would have taken humans years to complete. “We hear a lot about what analytics and AI can do, but you don’t hear so much about this one, even though it may be one of the quickest ways to value for a lot of organizations,” he said.

Source: searchcio.techtarget.com-CIOs, the age of the algorithm takes hold — for better and worse

Accommodating GDPR email marketing regulations a top priority

Is AI working for your organization? Can you prove its ROI? Are you in the pilot stage and wondering what key metrics warrant rolling it out for marketing automation and at what point to cut bait?

We can’t answer those questions for you, but we can — and did — ask a number of industry leaders and observers to talk about where AI is going in the next year, as well as how it’s reshaping marketing automation.

One thing’s for sure: If you’re marketing to customers in Europe, you’d better get your act together before the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) takes effect in May 2018. GDPR email marketing rules could mean a crackdown for businesses that are ill-prepared to comply with them. The regulation carries the force of law, and it harmonizes a patchwork of privacy rules across the EU’s member states.

GDPR email marketing rules remake workflows

Michelle Huff, CMO, Act-On Software: “The GDPR requires that all companies doing business in the EU — or online with EU citizens — protect the personal data and the privacy of those citizens.

A marketer will need to treat cookie data with the same level of protection as they would a customer’s address or birthdate. This means data security and privacy are no longer just IT’s problem. Marketers need to educate themselves on what data they have, how they use it and how it is protected, then limit access appropriately.

The days of exporting a huge CSV file of user data and uploading it to your email marketing platform are fast drawing to a close. For email, the best way not to run afoul of the GDPR [email marketing rules] is to institute tighter controls on email marketing programs.

Express consent must be granted by your customers, for both the data you are collecting and how you will use it. And, once collected, that data should never leave utilities that have been vetted and approved to meet the required level of data security.

The GDPR will have the biggest fundamental impact on marketing in the last decade, and the biggest impact on how companies go to market since the invention of the cloud. The onus is on marketing technology providers to ensure that their users have access to the tools they need to market safely and securely in the new world of marketing under the new GDPR [email marketing rules].”

2018: Year of the unsubscribe

Matt Harris, co-founder and CEO, Sendwithus: “If you weren’t doing double opt-in before, do it now. 2018 will be the year of the unsubscribe.

People are collectively realizing that they’re being bombarded by far too much online content, and unsubscribing or flagging irrelevant email is a fast and easy way to turn down the noise. Not only will double opt-ins help with regulatory compliance, they will ensure you have only interested, engaged and invested customers on your list, which will prevent unsubscribes and spam reports, which will, in turn, protect your reputation.

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From a technical standpoint, a double opt-in requires a simple click to confirm auto-response upon sign up. But you could use the opportunity to collect more data points to further personalize the user experience. A simple — but optional — checklist on the confirmation landing page would allow the user to select preferences, such as email frequency, product categories or content topics.”

Marketing integrates across channels

Joe Stanhope, VP and principal analyst, Forrester: “For 2018, I see a major shift in how marketers orient themselves — and, by extension, their marketing automation efforts — with respect to multitouch, multichannel customer engagement.

Historically, often by necessity, marketing automation and customer interactions have been very siloed by channel. Marketers are rapidly evolving beyond this state, and we’ll see major progress in this area in 2018.

Marketers will view customer engagement less as a series of independent or lightly related interactions, but rather as a continuous customer journey comprised of highly personalized moments that create opportunities to create value between the customer and brand. This approach will necessarily lead marketers to seek advances in their marketing automation capabilities to support the orchestration and delivery of interactions in line with customer journeys across any engagement point, regardless of channel, touch point or device.”

Chat marketing comes of age

Srivatsan Venkatesan, Freshworks product head, Freshsales CRM: “Consumers will prefer chat as a medium over other forms in 2018. Bots powered with context will become the real enablers.

In addition, bots will begin to adopt the look and feel of the application or website you integrate them with, thereby providing a native or personal experience.”

Enterprises struggle with ‘digital laziness’

Daniel Siegel, independent digital product architect: “Trends change every year, but what seems to stick is something I refer to as digital laziness. Instead of fixing the actual, hard and sometimes messy problem, we come up with an easy technological solution.

We prefer a CRM instead of picking up the phone. We prefer an email reminder instead of meeting someone face to face. We prefer a fully automated website and newsletter instead of staying in contact with our clients ourselves. We become lazy because we think the computer is taking care of it.

Now, we can use websites, drip campaigns, newsletters and digital marketing strategies to get more and better clients, but we’ll fail utterly if we don’t assert the fundamental goal we’re trying to achieve. Instead, we have to see the above as tools we can use to reach these goals and augment parts of our businesses.”

Marketing turns to influencers

Collin Holmes, founder and CEO, Chatmeter: “Consumers are tired of traditional, intrusive marketing messages, and [are] instead turning to their peers to influence what they do and buy. Coupled with the rise of ad-blockers and cord-cutting consumers, we can presume that we will all become influencers as online reviews and social sites become prevalent influencer marketing tools over the next few years.

This evolution is already beginning, as we know from the 92% of consumers who report making a purchase after visiting Yelp — a higher conversion rate than search engines and social platforms where most influencers currently reside. This is arguably for the better, as ad, marketing and content providers are facing pressure to be more creative, personal, relevant and timely with content, while simultaneously continuing to manage spend.”

AI marketing wears thin

Matt Nolan, Pegasystems Marketing Automation director of product marketing, Pegasystems: “The term artificial intelligence is being overused and is increasingly wearing thin on marketers who are way ahead of the CRM learning curve and already leveraging much of the AI tech being showcased, [such as] predictive analytics, machine learning, natural language processing and customer decision management engines.

Marketing practitioners, particularly those focused deeply on martech capabilities, see clearly through the veneer put in place by vendors — and know that a lot of the truly powerful AI tech, like deep learning platforms, won’t fully mature and add functional business value for years. So the challenge isn’t finding a place to leverage new AI — it’s finding a way to consolidate and operationalize the AI components they already have to provide a compelling customer experience and keep those individuals engaged.

In a sector with more than 5,000 unique marketing solutions, the average campaign response rate is less than one percent. There’s one question every company needs to ask itself: What are we actually trying to accomplish with our marketing? Because the answer isn’t ‘to run campaigns.’

Campaigns aren’t the end goal, they are just a means to an end. And despite how marketers are driven to behave, the goal isn’t simply to sell products either — that’s shortsighted. Instead, the goal must be to increase revenue and profit for the company as a whole and, ideally, to increase customer satisfaction at the same time.”

Source: searchcrm.techtarget.com-Accommodating GDPR email marketing regulations a top priority

7 hot IT outsourcing trends — and 7 going cold

As IT organizations become more strategic, so too do their partnerships with IT outsourcing providers. Digital transformation, automation, and the data revolution are not just shaking up how IT operates, they are greatly impacting the kind — and quality — of services under contract with IT outsourcing firms.

Here is a look at the technologies, strategies and shifting customer demands shaking up IT outsourcing right now and the once-hot developments that are beginning to cool. If you’re looking to leverage an IT outsourcing partnership, or want to make good on the market for IT outsourcing as a provider yourself, the following heat index of IT outsourcing trends should be your guide.

Heating up: Rapid software development

IT organizations are increasingly looking for partners who can work with them as they embrace agile development and devops approaches. “Organizations are rapidly transforming to agile enterprises that require rapid development cycles and close coordination between business, engineering and operations,” says Steve Hall, a partner with sourcing consultancy Information Services Group (ISG). “Global delivery requires a globally distributed agile process to balance the need for speed and current cost pressures.”

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Cooling down: IT services silos

As companies embrace new development methodologies and infrastructure choices, many standalone IT service areas no longer make sense. “In the past, companies may have sourced app services from one provider and secured cloud services from another,” says Ollie O’Donoghue, senior research analyst with HfS Research. “Now, thanks to new methodologies like devops and the increased ‘cloudification’ of business infrastructure, the lines between distinct IT services are blurring. Service providers and clients are far more likely to procure a blend of IT services to deliver business outcomes from a single vendor [rather than] contracting segments of IT out to a range of suppliers.”

Digital transformation is driving demand away from compartmentalization and silos of service delivery and toward frictionless integration, says David J. Brown, global head of KPMG’s Shared Services and Outsourcing Advisory.

Some IT service providers are becoming one-stop shops for their clients through brokerage services or partnership agreements. “Offering clients a full spectrum of services from best-in-class providers is enabling providers to broaden the scope of their offerings, and clients to select the technologies and services that suit them,” says O’Donoghue. “Even large providers which formerly cornered the market with proprietary technology are starting to champion vendor agnosticism in a bid to offer clients impartial, best-in-class IT services.”

Heating up: Cloud integration

Enterprises are moving more workloads to the public cloud, but continuing to run certain applications in dedicated private cloud environments for security, regulatory or competitive reasons. So they’re looking for providers that can seamlessly manage and integrate their hybrid cloud environments, says Rahul Singh, managing director with business transformation and outsourcing consultancy Pace Harmon. “Increasing adoption of software-as-a-service models for specific applications (such as Salesforce and Workday) creates further operational complexity for enterprises,” Singh adds.

Cooling down: Traditional remote infrastructure management

Over the past decade, the offshore delivery of infrastructure management services — from network services and help desk support to server maintenance and desktop management — became mainstream. But remote infrastructure management (RIM) is no longer a growth industry for IT services providers; it can’t compete on price with the public cloud, where adoption rates are growing at compound rates of 25 percent a year. “Almost every enterprise is taking a cloud-first strategy,” explains ISG’s Hall. “Service providers are shifting to cloud management services; but with the double whammy of integrated devops, even this is a short-lived venture.”

Heating up: Talent wars

An increase in consultancy-led engagements and the subsequent demand for more specialists and advisors in IT outsourcing is inspiring IT service providers to turn their attention to talent acquisition and retention, according to analysts at HfS Research. “The challenge of recruiting and retaining the talent necessary to deliver high-quality services has been brewing for some time,” says O’Donoghue. “The spectrum of skills in demand is becoming more focused, [and] providers seeking to compete in the modern marketplace will need to work harder to attract talent.”

Cooling down: Labor arbitrage campaigns

Sourcing IT services in the lowest-cost locations is no longer a competitive advantage, as clients demand use of automation and tools to drive efficiencies instead. “Organizations are driving massive productivity improvements through technology, not labor,” says ISG’s Hall. “Developing a solution that is based on low-cost labor won’t even get a CIO meeting in today’s market. Top IT leaders are driving massive digital transformation projects, and most service providers have adapted their message and core capabilities to be more than low-cost labor.”

Geography is becoming increasingly irrelevant to outsourcing decisions, says Marcos Jimenez, CEO of Softtek US and Canada. “Customers demand providers who are responsive, flexible, innovative and able to leverage emerging technology and solve business problems. They don’t care about where the work is done.”

Heating up: Automation results

Cost savings based on human labor are being supplanted by those delivered by so-called “digital labor.” Enterprises are demanding automation capabilities from their outsourced providers. “Automation not only provides increased efficiencies, but also brings proactive capabilities to deal with issues before they become business-impacting events, which adds significant value to enterprises beyond the typical cost reduction opportunities,” says Singh of Pace Harmon.

Automation is taking hold across middle and back-office functions that have been traditionally outsourced. “If you want to compete, you must automate,” agrees ISG’s Hall. “This is causing disruption in traditional sourcing models and driving service providers to make big bets and commitments on future pricing.”

Innovative clients and providers are taking an “automation first” approach, says Rajeev Tyagi, chief operating officer for Softtek US and Canada. “Rather than identifying human activities within an IT or business process that can be automated, enterprises will use digital labor as the starting point,” he says.

Cooling down: Automation hype

The results of automation are also becoming more transparent. Service providers are now expected to detail the iterative efficiencies that automation will create for clients, says Jamie Snowdon, chief data officer for HfS Research. Unfortunately for providers, that means they can no longer keep the savings to themselves. “Undoubtedly, as newer forms and blends of automation technologies enter the marketplace, vendors will be increasingly required to share the benefits with their well-informed clients,” says Snowdon.

Heating up: Captive offshore delivery centers

With technology becoming a competitive differentiator across industries, every company is becoming a tech company — from automakers to oil and gas providers to retailers. And that’s leading a broader swath of previous IT outsourcing customers to set up their own captive technology services delivery centers offshore, says Hall of ISG. “To compete and scale, enterprises want ‘badged’ resources, which means captives are back as a popular model to accelerate the adoption of automation and maintain the intellectual property for cutting-edge solutions.”

Cooling down: Low-cost service desks and call centers

Likewise, in an era that values superior customer and employee experiences, companies are placing more emphasis on the resources and technology employed to operate their internal service desks and customer-facing call centers.

“Call center consolidation and the desire to partner with strategic vendors continues, but call volumes are still high,” says Jimit Arora, a partner at Everest Group. “While virtual agents and chat bots are becoming prevalent, we see companies being reluctant to expose customers to these technologies just yet. They don’t want blow-back akin to interactive voice response system.”

Meanwhile, “the workplace of the future has made the service desk relevant again,” says Hall. “ CIOs and IT leaders quickly realized that outsourcing the ‘face to the business’ to a third party may not be in their best interest. Look for more creative, on-site and integrated solutions as organizations integrate a complete workplace solution into their delivery models.”

Heating up: Populism and protectionism

Concerns about U.S. immigration reform and the impact of Brexit are driving some IT and business services back to domestic locations, says Stan Lepeak, director of KPMG’s Shared Services and Outsourcing Advisory.

Cooling down: H-1B panic

However, anxiety about potential changes to the H-1B program in the U.S. has been allayed — for now. “The Trump Administration’s early saber rattling appears to have sparked renewed interest in artificial intelligence and robotic processing as ways to reduce cost and eliminate jobs without offshoring,” says Dan Masur, partner in Mayer Brown’s Technology Transactions practice in Washington, D.C. “[But] other administration policies and objectives appear to have eclipsed outsourcing issues, at least for the moment.” Many of the biggest users of H-1B visas were already increasing their American hiring prior to the last election.

Heating up: Business-based metrics

One of the biggest changes facing the IT services industry in this period of business transformation is how to quantify services. Contracts are shifting from traditional input or transaction models to those built on business metrics andresults. “We’ll soon see a move from traditional arrangements — like FTE models — pushing beyond convoluted outcome-focused metrics and into the heart of the client companies with business-linked metrics,” says Snowdon of HfS Research. “We can expect more deals to focus on specific outcomes measured by business metrics.”

Client expectations are rapidly evolving. HfS analysts are seeing client engagements begin with a particular business challenge, with prospective vendors asked to tailor a solution to them. The result is an increase in consultancy-led engagements, which carefully design solutions for the customer.

Cooling down: IT services industry growth

Secular forces have driven the outsourcing industry into significant deceleration. The results of the second quarter of 2017 have yet to be announced, but the top 20 publicly traded IT services companies saw 2.1 percent year-on-year organic growth in the first quarter, according to the Everest Group. “This is the lowest growth number in the last three years, and represents an industry that is witnessing significant pressures due to digital technologies, pervasive automation, new business models, and immigration-related concerns,” says Everest Group’s Arora.

The top five Indian IT companies have experienced seven straight quarter of growth deceleration with a forecast growth rate of less than seven percent over the next 12 months, according to Arora. The key will be to evolve from arbitrage-based models to those built for digital transformation, which will require all providers to spend capital on new capabilities.

Source:  cio.com-7 hot IT outsourcing trends — and 7 going cold

What’s The Difference Between “Partnering” And “Outsourcing”?

The terms “partnering” and “outsourcing” are thrown about so frequently …. and in so many contexts …. that it’s hard to nail down an exact definition for either.

These two practices are becoming ever so common among the business community, and although the distinction between them is becoming increasingly blurred, they do have distinguishing traits, which bear consequential benefits and risks.

It has been said that the practice of outsourcing should be looked upon not as a simple customer-vendor relationship, but rather as a partnership where the engaging parties mutually benefit from their agreement. While this may be a sound management practice, and while outsourcing shares many of the same characteristics with strategic alliances, outsourcing should be recognized as its own distinctive tactic.

Outsourcing is the contracting of services via monetary means in order to minimize or limit the resources that would normally be required to perform business functions internally, thus reducing costs.

A partnership, on the other hand, does not necessarily involve monetary payment from one firm to another, or a binding contractual agreement between two companies.

Rather, it is a partnership in which business entities collaborate with one another in order to bring about mutual benefits. This partnership can range from a loose and informal one, to more formal joint ventures, which involve legal measures to set parameters. Such alliances might include practices such as the partnering of manufacturers and retailers in order to reduce logistics costs, or the engagement of hardware and software development firms to create competitive advantage through synergy. Indeed, there are almost infinite ways in which strategic alliances can be formed.

The point here is that outsourcing and the formation of strategic alliances, while similar in some ways, are normally used to achieve different outcomes and involve different methods of binding between the participants.

Partnering will be used more and more in these hard times. If I outsource a job to you, then you are paid a fee to complete your services regardless of the outcome of the project under which your services were rendered. If on the other hand we partner on a project, while you are not a partner per se, I would expect you to provide your services contingent upon the success of our project. If the project failed, you would not get a fee, but if the project were a success, you would expect a much larger fee for your services than if you’d been hired as an outsource.

Source: small-business-resources-cafe.blogspot.com-What’s The Difference Between “Partnering” And “Outsourcing”?

7 Questions You Need To Ask Yourself Before Taking On A Big Project

Seven years. That’s how long filmmakers Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos plugged away at Making a Murderer before they partnered with Netflix, and the series became a true crime sensation. While the idea of being an overnight sensation is nice, most big ideas need lots of time to develop. But how can you tell whether your new business idea or project is worth sinking months or years of your life into? Here are seven questions that might help you set your sights.

1. Can I State My Specific Goal For This Project?

While turning a profit (or at least breaking even) is a straightforward goal, some projects require a more specific finish line. For Chicago writer Jonathan Eig, he initially had the idea for a biography of Muhammad Ali in the spring of 2013 but would need to craft a solid proposal in order to sell the idea. “I knew there wasn’t an authoritative biography of Ali out there. I’d gotten a sense that I’d get his ex-wife to cooperate, and I believed that there was a ton of new material out there that hadn’t been seen before,” he says. His eventual proposal netted him a contract by February 2014, and his book, Ali: A Life, comes out in October 2017.

Minneapolis painter Megan Rye began working on a large-scale series that documents her brother’s time serving in the Iraq war in 2003, which led to her first solo show in 2007. For her, the convergence of critical and collector interest is “the gold standard.” While just one or the other, she says, is “nice,” it’s not sustainable to only have critical interest, but “if you only have financial support, your work isn’t necessarily going to be remembered.”

Being able to articulate your goals is also essential for raising money as you go. Rye likens grants, which should be applied for before a project is completed or even fully begun, to the lottery: “You can’t win a grant unless you apply.” And the grant you apply for now may beget more funding down the line. Chicago documentarian Margaret Byrne received a $120,000 MacArthur grant for her film Raising Bertie, which she filmed for six years. The grant hooked her up with the Chicago production company Kartemquin Films and put her on the radar to receive other grants, including one for $50,000 from the Ford Foundation. “I wouldn’t have stopped making the film, but I don’t know where I would be without the support of MacArthur. That’s what made the film expand and enable me to work with Kartemquin.”

2. Can I Break It Down Into Milestones?

When a project is sprawling, it’s important to build in milestones, if only to avoid freaking out. Eig was excited but also terrified at the prospect of writing a definitive biography of Ali. “It seemed like more than one person could handle, because there’s so much information on him out there, with so many people to talk to. You have to follow your heart but also be analytical about it.” To avoid feeling a sense of overwhelmed panic before starting a project, Eig starts small. “I just start with reading some books, and file some FOIA requests.”

For Byrne, the shorter-term goal was to have a 10-minute demo of Raising Bertieto sketch out her characters and the intention of the film. “That will give funders a solid idea of what you’re trying to do, even if you’re in the beginning stages.” She was able to pull one together in four months.

Rye kept her eye on the prize by keeping exhibition deadlines in mind. “Without exhibitions, I don’t know how anyone would ever complete a body of work. You can endlessly improve and tinker.”

In mid-2012, Steve McFadden quit his job as a mechanic to find a more meaningful career. He started Revolution Coffee Roasters that opened in summer 2013. It’s growing and doing well, but slowly. He maintains his sanity by scheduling six-month check-ins. “We’ve planned this in short-term increments so we can evaluate, ‘This is where we are right now, this is what we can budget for, and this is how lean we’ll have to be this period.’”

3. Do I Have Trusted Sources That Will Provide Me With Valuable Feedback As I Proceed?

Katie Mehnert wasn’t sure at first that her idea was a good one. In April 2014, she left her job as the director of competence, capability, and culture at BP to take a career break. She tinkered with an idea she’d had the year before, and in March 2015, created Pink Petro, a social media platform created for women professionals in the energy industry. “The more I started taking ideas from my head and really putting them out there, people were like ‘Yeah!’ And before you knew it we were on. People were calling and saying, ‘I heard you have a new gig!’ and I was like, ‘We haven’t formed a company yet.’”

While it can be tempting to play your cards close to your vest on a project that’s not a guaranteed success, Byrne says, “It’s important that you do not make your film in a bubble.” Getting other perspectives is key for her, because ultimately, “You’re not making the film for yourself, you’re making the film for an audience.” For her, showing several rough cuts of Raising Bertie in Chicago and North Carolina elicited key feedback that helped shape the film.

Rye agrees. “If you’re applying for shows, talking to curators or collectors and no one is interested, you’ll know, ‘Is this going to be a passion project where I’m alone in my basement slaving away and no one will see this?’” Had she not shared her work as it went, her entire life might have been different: The immediate interest her work garnered led to artistic representation. “That project changed the trajectory of my whole career,” one she had assumed would lead to a life in academia, and not as a working artist.

4. How Long Can I Get By On Little To No Money?

“I think I’m a horrible business person,” Byrne admits. By necessity, she chose to turn down other jobs in order to devote herself to Raising Bertie, which didn’t receive funding until four years into filming. While she was able to take on a few freelance projects while filming, making money wasn’t her priority. “In some ways it can’t be if you are taking the time and the patience to tell these stories.”

Eig’s projects involve a leap of financial faith as well. “When you’re in the proposal phase, you don’t know if somebody else might come up with the same idea, or maybe nobody wants to buy it at all.” Even when a project is bought, he says, “There will be years when I’m between signing the contract and delivering that I don’t get paid. One year I made $10,000: That was my contribution to my family.”

With Pink Petro, Mehnert went two years without pay. “I wanted to demonstrate the passion I had for the business. I’m taking a salary now–I’m not earning what I was earning before, but I didn’t set out to replace my income. I wanted to do something that was meaningful. I’m a firm believer that when you’re passionate and you have meaning in your life, the payback comes.”

5. Is My Family On Board With This?

Every married person interviewed for this story cited their supportive spouse as a reason that they were able to chase their dreams. McFadden’s wife has provided both emotional and financial support. “I’ve seen many other business where it became too much pressure on somebody’s marriage and they had to make a choice–either this is going to be destructive to my family, or I have to call it quits. Fortunately, I have somebody that is solidly in my corner and believes in what I’m doing.”

Mehnert’s husband was a little incredulous when she told him her plan for a career change, but she said that the challenge actually strengthened their relationship as they evaluated their finances and needs. “I tell young women all the time, ‘You’ve got to marry right because this is a sacrifice for a longer term opportunity.’ To my husband’s credit, he saw way more in it than I did.”

6. Could I Walk Away If I Had To?

Nobody wants to spend time on something only to have it lead nowhere, but it’s better to pull the plug rather than try to force it halfheartedly. Byrne had to walk away from a source on her current documentary project after following him for six months. “I decided it wasn’t the story that I needed to tell,” she says.

Eig similarly pursued a biography proposal that he ended up dropping. “That was painful,” he says, but a dearth of material, a less-than-promising sales prospective and a simple lack of fondness for his source ended his relationship with his project. He likens a long-term project to dating. “You have to decide, am I going to stick with this girl or not? There’s things you like and things you don’t like, and at some point you get to a moment, I can’t take it anymore, I’m out of here.”

7. Can I Handle A Rough Ride?

Perhaps you just had a baby or endured the death of a loved one. The point is, there’s nothing wrong with admitting that perhaps it’s not the best time to take something on that might cause heartache or stress.

With a long-term gamble, Eig says, “You have to embrace the uncertainty, and to come up with a good idea, you have to go through a lot of bad ideas. You hope those bad ideas don’t take you too far astray, but they do sometimes.” For his 2014 book, The Birth of the Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution, Eig persevered despite his agent telling him people thought the book would be “small to medium-sized” at best. He reasoned, “They could be right, they could be wrong, but it’s an important enough subject, and I will feel good for telling the story, because I think it needs to be told.”

 

Source: Fast Company-7 Questions You Need To Ask Yourself Before Taking On A Big Project