Switching IT Outsourcing Providers Easier (and Less Costly) Than Ever
Heading into 2014, IT outsourcing service providers will be hard at work stealing business from their competitors -- and having theirs stolen as well.
Fri, October 04, 2013
"Back in the day, with the big 'one-neck-to-choke' model, when you switched providers you had to switch everything," says Thomas Young, partner with outsourcing consultancy Information Services Group (ISG).
"But as the services supply chain continues to fragment by tower all the way down to out-tasking and implementing point solution, customers are much more likely to switch out those components," Young says. "It's the difference between switching out the stereo in your car and switching out the whole car."
What's Making It Easier for Outsourcing Clients to Switch?
Some other factors are contributing to an environment where outsourcing clients are more likely to jump to a competing outsourcing vendor than in the past. As buyers move from the very structured and prescriptive request-for-proposal model to a more open-ended, collaborative purchasing process, they're able to obtain more standardized services from outsourcers. Thus, "the actual mechanics of switching involves less disruptive change," Young says.
"If the old agreements were like marriages, these new agreements are more like dating. They have an easy-on, easy-off mechanism that's implicit in that kind of relationship," Young says.
In addition, some new pricing propositions may tempt customers to stray from their existing relationships. For the past year or two, labor automation has increased, enabling outsourcers to offer customers deals that are as much as 60 percent cheaper than in the past, says Young. Clients locked into deals with higher labor costs may find a compelling economic case to provider-hop.
Indeed, 2014 should be a record year for customers changing providers, says Young. "The game is on for service providers stealing work from one another."
While most service providers will be able to poach customers from their competitors with their own new, more automated service offerings, they're unlikely to want to lower the cost base for their existing customer. So "as they steal work, others will be coming in the back door to steal their work," Young says.
Big Providers and Offshore Outsourcing Vendors Hit the Hardest
Those vendors that stand to lose the most from this new dynamic are offshore outsourcers. "The providers that have the most at risk have business models based on a competitive advantage that's anchored in labor arbitrage -- that's the Indians," says Young. "The services supply chain of the tomorrow relies less and less on labor."