One company may see a help desk service as good for company culture and collaboration and keep it in-house. Another may see it as a commodity service that's ideal for an Indian outsourcer. Figuring out the outsourcing/insourcing ratio that delivers the best results is a high-stakes problem for many a CIO.
With that in mind, here are four growing trends in cloud, offshoring, and domestic outsourcing for 2014 and beyond as defined by outsourcing consultants who spoke to InformationWeek.
1. Cloud vs. traditional outsourcing While migrating your IT infrastructure to a cloud service is not "outsourcing" in the traditional sense, it is a form of outsourcing. But even traditional outsourcing models are using cloud technology underneath, whether the outsourcer is using Amazon or IBM is using its own cloud.
Both public and private clouds are getting more traction this year among Fortune 500 companies and could threaten the traditional outsourcing model, says David Rutchik, a partner at IT consulting firm Pace Harmon.
Rutchik points out that, as a result, outsourcers like CSC and IBM are integrating cloud capabilities into their products. IBM, for example, bought SoftLayer last year for $2 billion. "They're going on the offensive to get new business or on the defensive to keep from being priced out by cloud players," Rutchik says.
Big companies that once feared using public cloud because of data security concerns are gaining confidence to use it for development and testing, and even for running customer-facing apps, says Rutchik, based on the activity of Pace Harmon's Fortune 500 clients.
"Major retailers are using public cloud for at least a portion of their service," he says. "It's much faster to provision a server, much less expensive. The security worries haven't been alleviated, but are less paramount."
Expect more companies to compare the prices and benefits of cloud services versus traditional outsourcing models as part of their strategies this year and next, Rutchik says.
2. Outsourcing pricing models based on results How do you measure outsourcing? Liz Herbert, principal analyst at Forrester Research, has seen a move to outsourcing contracts that are priced based on business outcomes.
The common ways to measure outsourcing have traditionally been bodies needed and help-desk tickets filed. However, says Herbert, "those 500 help-desk tickets don't have anything to do with what the business is trying to accomplish." A company needs to understand why it's outsourcing certain tasks to begin with or it'll end up paying for hourly billings for too many people and counting help-desk tickets that don't mean anything.
"If an airline outsources its call center, the purpose of that call center is to solve problems," she says. "But measuring it by call volume doesn't address why the airline chose to outsource. To save money? Yes. But are they improving customer service?"
An example of outcome-based outsourcing: A major retail company Forrester worked with needed its web site and call center to be 100% operational from
Shane O'Neill is Managing Editor for InformationWeek. Prior to joining InformationWeek, he served in various roles at CIO.com, most notably as assistant managing editor and senior writer covering Microsoft. He has also been an editor and writer at eWeek and TechTarget. ... View Full Bio