BPO Platforms – a Springboard or a Swan Dive?

Last week I attended Infosys BPO’s analyst day and BPO conference in Baltimore, Maryland, overlooking the beautiful Inner Harbor. Platform BPO was one of the big topics, and one of Infosys BPO’s big bets for new avenues of growth. 

Platform BPO is the service delivery model whereby end-to-end processes are offered as managed services on a standardized business platform based on an ERP solution that is hosted, managed and maintained by the BPO provider. Platform as a Service (PaaS) providers bundle operations, integrating management of an end-to-end process with their technology suite and staff. Designed to be configured instead of customized, platform BPO will accelerate mid-market BPO adoption with its lower cost of entry, scalable services, variable pricing and ease and speed of transitions.

Platform BPO service providers will continue to build out their global service delivery footprint with service centers and partnerships, taking advantage of locations with low cost labor and access to skilled talent. These true multi-tenant service platforms will renew the promise of economies of scale the earlier generations of customized client-specialized services did not deliver. It’s an enticing value proposition designed for today’s capital constrained and challenge and change fatigued buyers. If the adoption rate is good, it will be a more economical infrastructure for vendors which can provide a springboard for profitability.

The timing is right. Clients are asking about and for solutions they would have rejected pre-downturn. The advent of new technologies like Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) and the openness of ERP providers like SAP and Oracle to work with service providers are enablers supporting the degree of needed integration.

There will be challenges, especially for the provider community. In return for moving to a configurable platform, the buyer gets to pass some risk and increased expectations over to the service provider. The provider becomes responsible for managing and integrating specified processes, applications and technology, including the investment in development and upgrades, and the selection, management and fit of any third-party applications and delivery partners. Also, accepting accountability for the increased complexity of integrated IT and operations requires a greater level of skilled staff capabilities and coordination across the expanded value chain. 

Hmm…not hearing any HRO platform BPO cannonball splashes yet? It’s a big leap for HR to make and platform BPO is not expected to fit everyone. Yet it is a viable option for many in the mid-market and even some in the large market. PaaS for HR will be especially appealing to those with openness to new solutions, positive experiences with hosted services and point solution SaaS providers, and those pushed by economic realities.

Single service platforms are not new; think payroll or benefits administration as managed services platforms. What is new is the possibility of multi-client and multi-process HRO on a platform that delivers globally for buyers and providers.

There are already some buyer toes in the water. Infosys reports it has several clients up and running on its new Hire-to-Retire HRO business platform which includes talent acquisition, development, retention and management services. At the conference I spoke with an attendee from a borderline mid-market to large-sized company who was thinking about replacing several current separate HRO provider services and wanted to learn more about the new Infosys HRO offering.

Overall, PaaS sounds great and the water is warm, so jump on in! Not ready? Then watch the pool of platform-based services and providers expand, learn about the challenges and successes, and get ready to test the waters.

Linda Merritt, Research Director, HRO, NelsonHall

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Explore posts in the same categories: hr outsourcing, hr outsourcing research, hro, HRO providers, hro research, mid-market HRO, multi-process hro, nelsonhall, outsourcing research, SaaS

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