This year, we saw companies embrace increased standardization and cloud computing options of all flavors, use their leverage to renegotiate or rebid their deals, and settle into a best-of-breed approach to offshore outsourcing.
So what will 2016 bring? Our experts expect a number of shifts in the industry—including a focus on hyper-speed deal making, the emergence of new multi-sourcing headaches and potential cures, increased man-machine collaboration, and significant expansion of the service provider universe.
1. Security takes center stage
Security is top of mind from the boardroom to the break room, and it will influence outsourcing strategy in 2016. Indeed, security risk is poised to increase as telematics and the Internet of Things (IoT) becomes more prevalent in consumer and commercial products, says Paul Roy, partner in the business and technology sourcing practice of Mayer Brown. “Increasing numbers of threat actors will use increasingly creative ways to exploit weaknesses, often with devastating effect. Regulators will exact increasingly large fines for poor security. Service providers have often been the weakest link in a company’s security and will need to find better ways to address that concern.”
“The threat profile changes every day and with every added protection comes a new vulnerability, not to mention it is becoming harder and harder to tie products together to deliver a robust security solution,” says Rahul Singh, managing director at outsourcing consultancy Pace Harmon. “In 2016, we expect to see the rise of the Chief Security Officer and more enterprises opting for specialized security vendors with Security-as-a-Service capabilities that can protect data no matter where it resides.”
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2. Offshore captives come back
Companies will leverage the experience they have gained in process maturity as a result of working with outsourced offshore teams and set up their own shops, predicts Randy Vetter, senior director with outsourcing consultancy Alsbridge. “The objective of this approach will be to reduce costs by taking away the provider’s margin, as well as increase flexibility by removing contractual constraints.” Companies are likely to get smarter about insourcing in general, says Alsbridge director Mary Patry. “Rather than insourcing as a knee-jerk reaction to a bad outsourcing relationship and repeating past mistakes, clients will benefit from lessons learned and be smarter about what and how they repatriate.”
3. Production workloads—and more—hit the cloud
There’s no denying Amazon’s first mover advantage with the public cloud. And IT shops who reached for the cloud first did so with non-critical systems. But in 2016, we’ll see more production workloads move to the cloud—and not just AWS, says Lynn LeBlanc, CEO of HotLink. “No CIO wants to cast all bets on just one cloud provider,” LeBlanc says. “IT pros recognize that the future of their data centers will embody many platforms, so we’ll start to see more CIOs experiment with other major public cloud options, such as Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform.”
“In 2016 the potential to move outsourcing from the ‘lift and shift’ of non-core processes to something more substantial is entirely do-able in the cloud,” says Michael Corcoran, a senior managing director overseeing growth and strategy for Accenture Operations. “The as-a-service outsourcing model makes it possible to combine infrastructure, software, and business process to create a platform that is much more modular, scalable and intelligent. This platform can tackle higher-level processes, creating results that increase revenues, improve margins, enhance customer service, and move the business forward instead of running in place.”
4. VMOs go mainstream
Multi-sourcing has multiplied the vendor management workload. “As clients look for ways to address the challenges of overseeing increasingly complex multi-vendor service delivery models, the [vendor management office] will establish itself as a way to provide a high-level, enterprise-wide view while at the same time managing day-to-day operational details and multiple touch points between different providers in the service delivery chain,” says Mike Slavin, Alsbridge managing director.