April 2012 Archives

Freudian slip by union reveals outsourcing organisation's perception

Karl Flinders | 1 Comment
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I covered a story today about job cuts at CSC. This was related to an announcement on Friday of an unexpected 600+ job cuts on top of the 400+ already announced.

Within the story the union Unite has a real dig at the NOA about its attitude towards CSC's offshoring strategy. In the press release I was sent by Unite it refers to the NOA as the National Offshoring Association rather than the National Outsourcing Association.

It is an easy mistake to make but is it a Freudian slip? Or was it deliberate?

The union is clearly unhappy with the organisation and suggests it is supporting offshore jobs at the expense of UK jobs. Has UK outsourcing become synonymous with offshoring?

This is what it said: "Unite and our members at CSC are disgusted at the National Offshoring Association's (NOA) backing of CSC's redundancy plans as has been reported in some IT and trade magazines. The position it has taken is clearly misinformed.

"The NOA has taken no consideration of the fact that the union plans to allow for voluntary redundancy rather than compulsory redundancies. It also did not take into account, that from day one of the consultation, CSC has guaranteed that all its workers in India have had their jobs guaranteed regardless of expertise or level of skill."

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The UK must ensure that it is investing in technology and innovation.

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Just got this comment in on a survey I ran on my blog. It asked for people's views on the UK IT skills gap. You can still contribute below.

This from a survey respondent: "We must ensure that the UK is investing in technology and innovation.

"We need bright young students to enter the field of technology in the knowledge that is an exciting, dynamic, and valued part of Britain's future. Innovation in technology has the power to change all aspects of our lives, from our working environment to our leisure time, to our social interaction, on a global basis.

"As it is in Silicon Valley, it should be perceived as an attractive and 'cool' industry to be in, where smart people attract funding and investment and turn ideas in to reality. Ensuring the UK is an innovation leader it needs a large investment in the education system, ongoing support for R&D and creativity, and the right backing to allow innovative ideas to become business reality."

Barclaycard stick on card is unglamorous but appropriate technology

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In a detour from my outsourcing coverage I attended a contactless payment innovation announcement from Barclaycard. This was being hailed as a technology that would enable contactless payments to be made by mobile phone.

The rationale is that the mobile phone is never far from your side and is therefore the perfect accessory for making quick low value payments. As a Computer weekly journalist I was expecting some app that had been created to embed technology into a phone.

But to my surprise it was a card, a third of the size of a normal one, that is sticky on one side. The user simply sticks it on their phone and away you go.

Not only is it simple to use, but it works on any phone. For that matter, on any extremity.
This does actually seem a great way to get more people using contactless payments.
My only concern is that someone could easily remove the sticker from your phone and use it with theirs. It would take ages to notice such is the seamless integration with your handset (see pictures for different versions).

Here is the Apple iPhone version:

Barclaycard and IPhone_.jpg

Here is the Nokia version:

Barclaycard and Nokia.jpg

Here is the Blackberry version:

Barclaycard and Blackberry.jpg

Here is the KarlPhone  version:


78% blame outsourcing for UK IT skills shortage

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I ran a Google survey over the last couple of weeks to ask for peoples' views on the perceived UK IT skills shortage and the contribution to this from outsourcing.

Outsourcing and particularly offshoring is often the beneficiary of the UK skills shortage. But could it be the cause? With thousands of entry level jobs being outsourced and offshored UK IT professionals are struggling to get their feet in the door to begin building the skills that employers want.

The survey has had 106 respondents.

This is how they answered.

Do you think IT outsourcing has contributed to a shortage of UK IT professionals?

Yes - 78%

No - 16%

Don't know - 6%

Many respondents blamed the use of Intra Company Transfers (ICTs), where cheap labour is brought to the UK through a mechanism that allows multinationals with a UK base, including big Indian IT suppliers, to bring offshore staff onshore at a fraction of the cost of UK workers.

For example one respondent said the government should "stop importing inexperienced graduate trainees from India under the ICT scam and start giving UK graduates and experienced staff a chance instead."

When it comes to people's views on the role that apprenticeship schemes can play the results were more mixed.

Do you think apprentice schemes are the answer to the skills gap?

Yes - 47%

No - 36%

Don't know - 17%

"More business focused IT courses and placements in industry are needed," said a respondent.

If you want to contribute the survey is still open below. 

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Headhunted Accenture director plans UK health drive

Karl Flinders | 1 Comment
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I recently met up with Ruth Ormsby. She is now a senior executive in Accenture's Public Sector operation.

She has moved around a bit in recent years. She ran the NHS's Shared Business Service (NHS SBS) until 2010 before moving to Capgemini as Public sector BPO head. She has since been headhunted by Accenture.

Her focus at the moment at Accenture is around opportunities in the healthcare sector.

A major part of this is helping shape Accenture's contribution to a department of health campaign known as 3 million lives. The campaign is an attempt to improve the lives of three million people through the use of telehealth and telecare.  This will keep people in the comfort of their own home rather than for example having to travel to hospital and possibly stay overnight for tests.

This offers the NHS major savings. A government report said the use of telehealth can deliver; a 15% reduction in Accident and emergency visits, a 20% reduction in emergency admissions, a 14% reduction in elective admissions, as well as a 14% reduction in bed days.

It will also deploy remote medical devices - such as home-based equipment that can send details of the vital statistics of at-risk patients to doctors.

And there are other areas where Accenture sees an opportunity. The company recently published research that revealed that secondary care organisations are way behind those in primary care when it comes to using technology. Ormsby says the better use of things like CRM and business analytics could really improve care.

Service providers will have a part to play.

Here are some of Ruth Ormsby's ideas on areas that could transform the health system and integrate primary and secondary care:

"1 - Developing integrated systems that blend electronic medical records with new methods of communication, remote care and process management to build seamless systems and workflows. There are, for example, new clinician and patient interfaces under development that will make healthcare data and analytical tools easier to access, navigate and put to good use, and natural language processing and voice recognition technologies are being developed that can instantly digitize healthcare consultations and integrate them into EMR systems.
2 - Redirecting healthcare interventions away from expensive hospital settings and into people's homes through telemedicine, remote care and mobile health. A whole new range of applications--from handheld devices to facilitate remote diagnosis to touchscreen technologies and "smart" devices (such as "intelligent shirts" that use electrodes and sensors to monitor patients' vital signs, activity sensors and webcams)--will enable remote monitoring and communication.
3 -  Transforming the role of patients in managing their own wellbeing through shared decision-making, condition monitoring and chronic disease management. New, independently developed, mobile healthcare apps are giving people the tools to educate themselves on how to eat well and live well, while personal health records (PHRs) and patient portals help them to manage their own care needs.
4 -  Exploring the potential of genomics to personalise treatment and wellness plans, present clinicians with a powerful range of analytical and diagnostic tools, and enable managers to coordinate care, target resources and improve public health outcomes. Among other benefits, this will help identify early--even preventative--interventions where patients have a genetic predisposition to certain medical conditions."
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Has the outsourcing industry collectively conspired to strip its value?

Karl Flinders | 2 Comments
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I blogged yesterday about how quiet things are in the IT outsourcing market at the moment. I asked for peoples' views and have had some interesting feedback.

Robert Morgan, director at sourcing consultancy Burnt-Oak Partners says. It is "too easy to blame the economic recession" for the current lull in outsourcing activity.

Read his full comment here: "Outsourcing has become synonymous with cheap service rather than Business enablement via using third party assets and know-how. It is a huge subject and the below simplifies things possibly too much, but the points below will offer insight as to the root causes of a lack a deal activity.

Blame sits with three entities:

1-Clients who have handed outsourcing service responsibility to junior management and procurement departments who push for lower pricing, plug and play service agreements, short contracts and high overhead multi-sourcing. Management then fail to provide training and governance for the hapless Service Relationship Management (SRM) team;

2-Intermediaries who have prolonged procurement cycles to maximise revenues to the point where doing global deals takes 18 months, or fixating on multi-sourcing which again is to maximise earnings. They carry zero responsibility or skin in the game after completing the assignment. Measurement of success still lives in techno-babble and not business related measures. Resurgent procurement departments where external advice is shunned or un-budgeted for, merely add to the downgrading of workable contracts, insight, risk mitigation and supplier accountability.

3-Service providers whose executive is technically and not business orientated and who fail to understand how to raise outsourcing importance up to client executive level. Suppliers employ technologists to sell services to technologists, rather than business enablement via technology. The Executive command the headlong rush to automate and virtualize everything via cloud etc. This is in turn makes everything transportable - real plug and play - denying the value of relationship and loyalty. Salesmen are overpaid and totally self-centred around how to maximise the commission payable not the best client solution. These days outsource service providers do not want your staff or assets thereby defeating a large-part of the Business Case to externalize.

Add all these aspects together and we collectively have conspired to strip outsourcing of its value and pivotal importance as a strategic tool for the benefit of the business. Hence times are very quiet in outsourcing.

However before you lose all hope; Burnt Oak believes that new shared equity models with real mutual commitment to risk sharing, investment rules, and common directorships for client and supplier, etc offer a real opportunity to reinvent enablement of Business through outsourcing."

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Is it just me or has the IT outsourcing sector gone dormant?

Karl Flinders | 2 Comments
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Things seem to be really quite in the IT outsourcing sector at the moment. I was expecting the Spring to bring the shoots of recovery if you pardon my optimism and cliché.

It seems that most the news in the IT outsourcing sector at the moment is in the public sector and most of this seems related to a transformation of IT outsourcing rather than an increase.

Could it be that the slowdown is related to a major transformation in the sector? And how much had the growing interest in cloud computing got to do with this?

I am interested in getting the views of readers so if you have any thoughts please feel free to post a comment in this blog.

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Cloud computing versus traditional outsourcing. Better or not?

Karl Flinders | No Comments
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Last week in a blog post I asked the question: Do you think cloud computing is more beneficial to a business than traditional outsourcing?

This was following an article I wrote about research commissioned by Google. It revealed that 64% said cloud computing is more beneficial than traditional outsourcing.

So far I have had 8 respondents. Half said yes and half said no.

I also asked for people to give a reason for their answer.

The four that said no gave the following reasons:

1 - "Hidden costs and security get you every time"
2 - "It's a different way to achieve a contracted result. The means by which this result is achieved is of little interest, as long as it's supported by sufficient safeguards."
3 - "Data location and ensuring data protection can be a major issue for many businesses."
4 - "Client loses even more control than with outsourcing."

I want to write an analysis about this so would appreciate feedback from readers. Please take time to fill in the questionnaire below.

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from April 2012 listed from newest to oldest.

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