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Client Insights, Managing Consultant, IBM Center for Applied Insights
This is the first blog post in a 3-part series intended to share exciting new Sourcing research with you. To learn more, access our new white paper here: Why Partnering Strategies Matter: How Sourcing of business and IT services impacts financial performance.
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
- 12 countries
- 18 industries
- 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!