Managing Consultant, IBM Center for Applied Insights
Yesterday, we hosted a virtual livestream launch of our new Sourcing research. We’re live with exciting new research that explores how business and IT services sourcing are shifting – and the link between these shifting motivations and better business performance.
The sourcing market is changing. Clients are looking for sourcing relationships that offer higher value business outcomes in addition to cost savings. From our direct experience working with clients and general market observations, we've recognized technology shifts are accelerating the need for capabilities organizations don't have in-house.
To explore the extent of this shift – and how it is impacting organizations' sourcing motivations and strategies – we initiated a large-scale research project. Through this research, we saw distinct differences in the way that clients view outsourcing, and we uncovered a link between innovative sourcing practices and better business performance.
To better understand sourcing motivations and execution, we had three objectives for this study:
To understand how sourcing motivations are changing
To determine how sourcing strategies impact financial performance of the business
For those customers who embrace a new sourcing strategy, do they have different expectations? And, how do they structure and manage their sourcing relationships?
For the virtual panel, Rich Lechner, IBM VP of Services Marketing, served as moderator. I kicked off the discussion with an overview of study methodology and key findings. Then we were joined by the following experts:
Phil Fersht, CEO & Founder, HfS Research
Pat Kerin, General Manager, Strategic Outsourcing, Global Technology Services
Stan Sutula, Vice President, Finance and Planning, Global Technology Services
Joanne Collins-Smee, General Manager, Globally Integrated Capabilities, Global Business Services
Client Insights, Managing Consultant, IBM Center for Applied Insights
This is my third post in our series about research into changing sourcing strategy and execution. My first post looked at how leaders are taking a broader and more strategic view of sourcing relationships. In the second, I looked at the dramatic financial impact of sourcing decision-making (2x the revenue growth and 5x the gross profit growth compared to their peers!). Here, I’ll explore top business priorities and partner capabilities Enterprise Innovators are looking at to structure, scope, and govern these shifting sourcing relationships.
Priorities are shifting and capabilities must adapt to match Enterprise Innovators include enterprises which put a greater focus on innovation and sourcing for a broad set of capabilities. Agility and market responsiveness are key differentiators. If they are going to get the rapid innovation and growth they seek, they need specific capabilities from their chosen partners.
Enterprise Innovators are looking for providers that can help them wherever they want to go:
Geographic specific experience and expertise
Proven physical and IT infrastructure
Flexible, integrated supply chains
Creative approaches to existing channels
Proactive ideas for new technology
Enterprise Innovators are experimenting with new business models along the way, trying to learn quickly and driving new ideas to results. If partners cannot respond, they may be left behind.
As I’ve said, these leaders are seeking a different kind of provider, in truth, a different type of relationship. To accomplish their business objectives, they recognize the need to alter the way they structure and manage their long-term alliances. Key facets of this change is outcome visibility, a focus on transformation (not just moving capabilities), and keeping all players involved in governance.
How can we see success?
Historically, service level agreements have focused on operational or cost-centric measures like system availability or cost per service desk call. But new leaders are aligning measurements with business priorities. In the financial services sector, that might mean driving uptake in mobile banking; in the telco industry, it might be lowering subscriber acquisition cost or increasing up- and cross-sell rates; or for a retailer, it might involve meeting an aggressive roll-out schedule for expansion into a new market. This shift in thinking gives rise to new vendor valuation models – ones that can help assess a provider’s contribution to broader business objectives beyond cost reduction.
Must everything change?
Enterprise Innovators are sourcing to get capabilities they need to innovate on a broad scale. So there’s a transformative bent to their sourcing relationships. Their contracts are more likely to be vertically integrated – they may include business process, applications and technology infrastructure – to enable more holistic change.
Enterprise Innovators are more likely to engage partners for specific industry or functional expertise which they can leverage to transform the roles of their employees. If their aim is marketing innovation and they’re sourcing analytics capabilities, they want their partner to do more than just provide a basic service – they want help reshaping how the marketing function works – to drive beyond understanding customer segments to understanding individual customers, from describing what’s happening to predicting what’s next.
Can we just work together?
Enterprise Innovators are pushing faster toward enterprise-wide governance. Because they’re focused on results, they recognize the need for input and collaboration across all the business units and providers involved. If the goal is accelerating the launch of new products and services, then marketing, manufacturing, distribution and sales may all need a voice in related services sourcing decisions.
This post concludes my three part series on sourcing market shifts. Want to continue the conversation? To learn more, visit our page and download the whitepaper!
Based on changes we’re observing in the market, along with direct experience working with clients, we initiated survey research to explore the premise that outsourcing motivations have shifted, and therefore, so should sourcing execution. Traditional outsourcing was focused on cost savings – now we’re seeing a shift to sourcing for skills and expertise – cost is still important, but organizations are indicating that they’re looking for higher business value outcomes as well.
To better understand sourcing motivations and execution, we started this research with three objectives:
To understand how sourcing motivations are changing
To determine how sourcing strategies impact financial performance
For those clients who embrace a new sourcing strategy, do they have different expectations? And, how do they structure and manage their sourcing relationships?
The rise in social, mobile, cloud computing and big data is creating tremendous potential for innovation. But it’s also forcing C-suite leaders to reconsider whether their organizations have the necessary expertise to capitalize on these opportunities. Of the number of factors impacting their organizations such as market factors, regulatory concerns, globalization, environmental issues, etc, CEOs reported technology as the most important factor impacting their organizations over the next three to five years. This is forcing organizations to rethink how they operate - creating new challenges and opportunities.
Across the C-suite, we’re seeing a pattern of partnering to get the right skills and expertise to innovate faster and move the business forward.
69% of CEOs are looking to partner extensively
53% of CEOs are partnering for innovation
92% of CMOs will increase use of external partnerships for customer and data analytics
65% of growth-focused CIOs are partnering extensively to change the mix of skills, expertise and capabilities
Sources: 2012 IBM Global CEO Study, 2011 IBM Global CMO Study, 2011 IBM Global CIO Study
We’re seeing a focus on looking to partner extensively, partner for innovation, and gain new skills that they haven’t had before. This shift in mindset – bringing strategic capabilities in, versus sending work out – is one reason enterprises are balking at the word “outsourcing” to describe these sourcing relationships.
To better understand the changing dynamics in business and IT services sourcing, we surveyed 1,351 sourcing decision makers from around the world. Our findings suggest that sourcing motivations are evolving beyond cost savings to include higher-order business outcomes like competitive advantage and innovation.
This sample was intentionally designed to be robust and diverse and included:
Growth and major markets
Business and IT leaders
C-level and key decision makers. Respondents had to indicate they played a key role in sourcing decisions for their organization to participate.
When we looked at breadth of outsourcing and primary motivation, this 2x2 segmentation model emerged:
Four partnering strategies:
Enterprise Innovators are looking to outsource broadly, and indicate a primary motivation of innovation.
Focused Optimizers are motivated to innovate, but are more narrow in their approach.
Enterprise Optimizers indicate they partner extensively, but they do outsource primarily for efficiency. They indicate they’re not yet looking to incorporate innovation in their overarching sourcing strategy.
Focused Optimizers, the largest population, partner narrowly for efficiency and effectiveness.
The y-axis explores primary motivation for outsourcing. We presented a range of options from traditional motivations focused on staff augmentation, IT or business process cost reduction, to productivity improvements achieved through standardization, automation, centralization, to innovation. We defined innovation to be aspirational - changing the way your industry works, changing the way you monetize value and redefining your company’s role in the value chain, including how you collaborate and how you operate.
For the x-axis, we looked at respondents’ current extent of outsourcing. We asked respondents whether they outsource across 80 different business processes, applications and IT functions. Using a trimmed mean analysis approach, the midpoint is 14. Those below the midpoint were categorized as sourcing in a more narrow fashion, those at or above the midpoint were categorized as sourcing broadly.
For those below the horizontal line, their primary motivation is operational efficiency or effectiveness. This includes traditional outsourcing objectives like short-term resource augmentation, cost reduction and traditional productivity improvements. Only 7% of surveyed decision makers said cost reduction and efficiency was the sole reason they outsourced IT infrastructure, applications and business processes. So while we’ll see in a future blog post that cost savings is a key business priority across the sample, it is not the sole reason for outsourcing for the majority of our respondents.
It is not enough to outsource broadly or just for innovation within a discrete process or function. It’s the combination of sourcing broadly across the enterprise for innovation that drives financial outperformance.
My next post explores the link between partnership strategy and financial performance. Log in and leave a comment!
Derek Franks Consultant, IBM Center for Applied Insights
As a former marketer myself, I know that marketing is often marginalized within enterprises, particularly those with strong scientific or development organizations. Marketing is often viewed as being responsible for the “soft stuff” that looks pretty but doesn’t have any real impact on the business. I’m here to tell you that this view is wrong, and if you don’t realize it quickly, your competitors will.
We recently surveyed 362 marketers from around the world, across more than 15 industries, and found that Leading Marketers’ enterprises had 40% greater Revenue growth and twice the Gross Profit growth over the past 3 years when compared to the rest.
What exactly is a Leading Marketer?I’m glad you asked. We identified 2 essential traits of effective marketers: “Effective Engagement” and “Intelligent Investment”. Essentially we defined Leading Marketers as those who had a high level of responsibility forengagingwith customers across channels as well as a sophisticated approach toinvestingmarketing resources.
We then looked at publicly available financial data and found that when we correlated that to our segmentation of leading marketers, a clear trend emerged: Leading Marketers’ enterprises performed better financially.
So how, exactly, do you develop a Leading Marketing organization within your enterprise? Like most things in today’s world the answer is complex but grounded in the principles of Marketing 101. It can be as simple as the 4P’s or as complicated as developing a collaborative relationship with other functional areas within the enterprise. I’ll be blogging more about this topic and other insights from our study over the coming weeks, but get a sneak preview by reading our executive report, How Leading Marketers Outperform: Effective Engagement and Intelligent Investment.
If there is a particular topic you’d like me to talk about, please login and leave me a comment, below.
In my previous blog post on How Leading Marketers Outperform, I discussed how Leading Marketers develop a system of engagement
that drives customer value at every touch.Today, I’m going to focus on the other side of that equation and dig a
bit deeper into what prevents many marketing organizations from becoming Leading
The first question you might ask is “why doesn’t everybody
just establish a system of engagement?”The short answer is because it’s not easy.A look at the barriers both Leading Marketers
and others face in implementing marketing technology is very telling.
To begin with there are a set of barriers we found that are
common to virtually any technology decision: cost, ROI, and organizational structure.
If we continue looking, the additional barriers for leading marketers are ease of
use and lack of appropriate user skills.Alternatively, we found that some others are more concerned with
alignment/collaboration within the organization – particularly with IT.In many cases, marketers may not even have
ownership of marketing technology decisions.
In short leading marketers are collaborating with IT to implement the technology framework that supports a system of engagement and are focused on issues that enable them to improve
the effectiveness and scale of their activities. The others are
struggling to coordinate effectively with IT and other functional areas within
the enterprise. They aren't at a point yet where ease of use or a lack of user skills could be a barrier.
This leads to the second question, “okay, how do
you collaborate more effectively with other functional areas (especially IT)?”This is complicated, but our data
suggests that Leading Marketers are able to collaborate effectively at least in
part because they’ve established credibility within the organization.
There are lots of ways to establish credibility, but a part
of it is being able to demonstrate the value that you bring to the table.To that end, our study found that 88% of
leading marketers attribute business results to marketing activities. They use a variety of different systems,
ranging from spreadsheets to complex software suites, but the common thread is
that they attribute results regardless of methodology.
And of that 88%, 93% of those leading marketers have a set
process in place for determining which marketing activity receives credit for
the business results.Again, the
specific methodology varies – first touch, last touch, results distributed
across multiple touches – but they have a set process in place.
This measurement allows leading marketers to invest resources intelligently.They know what works and what doesn’t, and this allows them to maximize
the impact they have on the business and focus only on the most effective
activities. This in turn builds credibility with the rest of the enterprise. Marketers can finally speak in the same financial language as the rest of the business.
So in summary, it’s very difficult
to become a leading marketer without measuring the results of marketing
activities.Measurement not only informs
operational spending decisions, but also impacts the role of marketing within
the organization. Leading marketers’ ability to attribute results helps them
not only invest intelligently but also build credibility and the financial justification needed to construct an
enterprise-wide system of engagement.
I'll be back next time with a discussion of the overall characteristics of leading marketers and how they illustrate a road-map forward for marketing organizations. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment!
A few months ago, the IBM Center for Applied Insights embarked on a research study to find out how and why business and IT decision-makers are using cloud. At the start of that journey, I fully expected the survey data would lead us to a primarily IT story. After all, IT departments have been turning to cloud for quite some time now to achieve scale, drive cost savings, and improve organizational efficiency. And we’ve all read articles about the cloud stack wars. So, cloud must be mainly an IT thing, neatly handled by the technology parts of the enterprise, right?
Not quite. The true picture is surprising. One worldwide survey and over 800 IT and business decision-makers and users later, the data has revealed that cloud is no longer just an IT crush. Though business is a later suitor, still lagging IT somewhat in terms of strategic interest in cloud, a change in affections is brewing: Over the next three years, cloud’s strategic importance to the business – across virtually every area, including finance, operations, sales and marketing, and product development -- is poised to double from 34 percent to 72 percent – leaping over their IT counterparts at 58 percent.
So, why is business starting to crush on cloud?
Our study has revealed that leading organizations – one of five -- have discovered a secret source of competitive differentiation through cloud and are using it as an engine for growth.
These Pacesetter organizations are building competitive advantage using Cloud in three key ways – through strategic reinvention, better decisions and deeper collaboration. In each of these areas, they’re reporting business results from their use of cloud. For example, Pacesetters are:
• 70% more likely to build new and improved business models through cloud
• 117% more likely to use cloud to make data-driven, evidence-based decisions
• 71% more likely to use cloud to collaborate across the organization and ecosystem
How are the Pacesetters getting so much out of their relationship with cloud? The study reveals all, but I’ll give you a hint: Pacesetters are leading the charge toward more comprehensive cloud strategies – they’re 270% more likely than peers to have enterprise-wide cloud strategies.
This is one case where having your head stuck in the clouds just might turn your organization into a rainmaker!
Just like our State of Smart research has shown that outperforming organizations listen (and anticipate), Amgen CEO Kevin Sharer shows us that listening is no less important for leaders. Interestingly enough, this was something he picked up from Sam Palmisano. Sharer points out that listening with the sole goal of understanding or comprehension, is the greatest sign of respect you can extend to others. As a leader within your organization, do you listen with the sole goal of understanding? And perhaps more importantly, does your company listen to its customers with that same mindset?
If your enterprise is working with Big Data, or at least beginning to stick your toe in the water, and you're not thinking about the concept of "signal", you're about to make a big mistake. Identifying the signal is what will enable you to leverage Big Data effectively. And if you don't, you're going to spend a lot of time and money chasing red herrings.
When we rely on data for decision making, what qualifies as a signal and what is merely noise? In and of themselves, data are neither. Data are merely facts. When facts are useful, they serve as signals. When they aren’t useful, data clutter the environment with distracting noise.
For data to be useful, they must:
Address something that matters
Provide an opportunity for action to achieve or maintain a desired state
When any of these qualities are missing, data remain noise.
I like this definition. It fits hand in hand with the concept of Marketing Science that we proposed earlier this year. Insights (aka signal) are only valuable in so far as they drive business outcomes. And if you're developing insights that influence action within your enterprise, you had better make sure that what you're looking at is actually signal.
This is where Big Data is presents challenges. In his post, Few makes the absolutely correct point that data are noisy. And when data increase dramatically in volume, velocity, and variety (aka it gets BIG), that noisiness grows right along with everything else. All of a sudden, it becomes that much harder to correctly identify signal. As Few points out:
Finding a needle in a haystack doesn’t get easier as you’re tossing more and more hay on the pile.
If you listen to some of the discussion around Big Data, you could easily walk away thinking that if you can capture it, all you need to do is run it through some sophisticated analytic software and "boom" you've got new insights.
The problem with this approach is that pesky noise. As you start dealing with huge data sets, it becomes relatively easy to find "statistically significant noise". You may think you're looking at signal, but instead you're just finding random patterns in the noise that happen to look like signal. This is what can happen when analysts are given lots of data and told to go find something.
How do you combat this? Part of it, as Few points out, is having data analysts that have a deep understanding of how to detect signal and the associated challenges that Big Data presents. The other part, is in how you approach data analysis in the first place.
Again, I'll reference our Marketing Science framework and propose that by applying a scientific approach to data collection and analysis, you improve your ability to correctly identify signal. Instead of randomly looking for patterns in the data, by developing hypotheses and then testing and refining them, you're able to focus on signal that (a is more likely to actually be signal and b) will help drive the business forward.
We've seen some really interesting and impactful results internally with the Marketing Science framework. We've developed insights that both drive business outcomes and challenge conventional thinking. I'll be highlighting a few of these examples in future blog posts. In the meantime, I'd love to get your feedback on what challenges you've experienced with identifying signal within Big Data.
What do you do when your insights challenge prevailing beliefs? That’s the question we faced at IBM in 2007 when a brand new forecasting tool we’d developed started spitting out projections that conflicted with our other forecasts.
Large companies, like IBM, can really struggle with pulling together complete and relevant data to create accurate forecasts. We initially developed the new forecasting tool when IBM missed an earnings target in 2005. After studying the forecasting technology we had been relying on, the Market Development and Insights team discovered that its focus on the longer term had failed to pick up on a shift in the market. That meant we had to improve the accuracy of the longer term view with some sort of early warning system to flag abrupt changes in market direction.
The new tool was designed to track over 2,000 market indicators in the G7 and BRIC countries, including oil prices, key manufacture goods and transportation, on a monthly basis. It uses correlation techniques, regression testing and principal components analysis to identify the best indicators, given the current market climate. Then it combines them to produce a forecast of the market for the next three quarters.
By 2007, our early warning system was ready to roll out to handle short term forecasting and supplement the long view.
There was just one issue: No one knew whether to trust it. Because it was forecasting that black clouds were gathering on the horizon. But our long view and all the third-party sources we used said the sky was blue.
IBM’s top management was understandably dubious of the predictions of an unproven new forecasting tool. So we decided to take the time to track economic data on our own very carefully for two quarters and compare it with forecasted findings.
The result? The alert tool was more accurate. In fact, it was so accurate that we were able to predict the recent global recession two quarters before third-party sources detected it. This six-month lead gave us time to restructure our cost base and realign our investments.
We now use a short term approach to predict the state of the hardware, software and services market by country for the next six months. We’ve also closed the loop by feeding the projections from this into the long term tools to continuously refine our long-term forecasts and monitor downside risks as well as upside opportunities.
Of course, no forecasting tool will be 100% spot on all the time. But as companies battle test and tweak the array of tools at their disposal, they get closer all the time.