Posted tagged ‘learning BPO’

Can HRO be Social, Smart, Quick, and Effective?

February 1, 2013
Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Smarter Workforce and Smarter Commerce are the two major themes of this year’s conference for customers and business partners at IBM Connect 2013.

IBM is Messaging, Managing, and Delivering

First, I want to complement IBM on the clarity and alignment of its strategy with action. I have not seen this level of aligned organization and action across such a large and complex corporation before.

Building out under the Smarter Planet umbrella, IBM is bundling its many products and services, coordinating internal research and development, making targeted acquisitions, working across product and organization lines, and communicating clearly in its go-to-market campaigns. Given the great number of successful Smarter Workforce client case studies being presented, the proof points are already building to show business value can be delivered.

Smarter Workforce Supports Smarter Commerce

Smarter Workforce and Smarter Commerce are each separate service lines that can be coordinated to achieve greater business impact. Each is a combination of the IBM Platform for Social Business (social networking, social analytics, and social content) bundled with other new and existing products and services. Under the hood is a myriad of product lines making it work operationally, all tied together by messaging:

  • Smarter Workforce: Activate the workforce to improve productivity and unleash innovation
  • Smarter Commerce: Delight customers to increase loyalty, advocacy, and revenue.

Balance Individual Focus with Collective Value

Jonathon Ferrar, IBM vice president of Smarter Workforce, talked about the need to be social, smart, quick, and effective. Other words that were used a lot included community and relationships. Connecting communities of practice and building relationships, not for social intimacy, but for learning, leveraging, and leading to delighted customers and achieve business success.

Embedded throughout the social aspects of the services is a focus on the individual user that takes into account ease of use, mobile device access, points of need, and other behavioral aspects that are built in to increase collective business value creation.

Kenexa is Key to Smarter Workforce

The Kenexa acquisition closed in December 2012 and it is already being integrated into current offerings and it will be a key to plans for enhanced Smarter Workforce services as early as the second half of 2013:

  • Kenexa’s software platforms for recruiting and learning will be used for RPO and learning BPO services as well as integrated with the social business platform
  • Kenexa’s behavioral science expertise will be used to inform leadership, organizational, and talent management services and add to the analytics component.

IBM’s HRO services will be impacted by the changes. New options will be available to existing and new clients as talent management, learning, and RPO are brought together.

A lot of complexity remains to be managed, but it would be great to see IBM set a new high bar for making its services, client workforces, and HRO social, smart, quick, and effective!

Interested in reading the latest HRO news from NelsonHall? Subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here.

What’s New Again in HRO for 2013

January 15, 2013
Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Even though predictions are a perennial New Year activity, the truth is that most trends play out over many years. Most HRO “predictions” are more like annual status checks and updates.

Transformation is new again

Several aspects of our old friend, HR transformation, are back on the table for 2013:

  • Operations transformation: new, upgraded, standardized, and integrated HR tools, systems, and processes
  • Strategic transformation: increases in overall HR performance that improve business performance
  • Accelerated transformation: the cycle of transition, standardization, and improvement needs to move at a faster pace than ever; which provider can help you get where you want to go with a track record of getting there faster?

A return to transformation fits with our NelsonHall 2013 HRO trend of value balancing cost and pent up demand for improved operations.

Even with more client and vendor maturity this go-around, we need to ensure that strategic HR transformation goes hand-in-hand with the evolution of the retained staff, HR generalists, and service delivery operations. One can either leverage and empower the other or hold back real progress in both.

Evolution and the use of new HR technologies  

Rapid technology advancement continues across all HRO services and within in each service line, providing a great opportunity for HRO buyers and a challenge for HRO service providers.

  • Easy access: mobility, bring-your-own-device, and cloud-based SaaS impacts every business including HR BPO. Increasingly, not only clients, but end users are expecting the same types of access and functionality from HR as they experience elsewhere.
    • HRO providers with modern platforms can bring these technologies to clients and their employees faster and at less overall cost
    • Service provider investments and the rapid pace of introduction add cost and stress to release cycles for services rapidly becoming table stakes which could pressure margins.
  • Emerging technologies: social media and analytics are new transformation tools, potentially powerful ways to improve performance of HR services and produce business results.
    • RPO leads in integrating the use of social media in recruiting, which helps RPO become a value play in the war for talent. This is a win-win: improved recruiting for clients and fuel for growth for vendors
    • Leading vendors with an active client community including early adopters will be able to create and test new and effective ways to leverage the new technologies that then can be added to service offerings. Learning vendors are already experimenting with effectively incorporating social media and gamification
    • Investments in leading-edge technologies that have not yet found breakthrough acceptance require a long view of growth and profitability, a risk that not all service providers are willing or able to take on.

From the most basic cost-reducing transactions to advanced partnerships in HR transformation, the full and growing range of HRO services has something for every organization in 2013.

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HRO Today Forum Europe 2012 Demonstrates the Value of HRO

November 20, 2012

Gary Bragar, HRO Research Director, NelsonHall

I attended HRO Today Forum Europe in Dublin, Ireland from November 13th to 15th to present my “State of the Learning BPO Marketplace” analysis and to introduce subsequent speakers of the learning track.This conference was different than those I’ve attended in the past as several of the sessions were interactive small group discussions. The small groups allowed us to learn from each other, and created energy and enthusiasm!

Interactive sessions I attended included:

  • The opening recruitment session where we identified top challenges and solutions
  • A leadership development program workshop to identify top challenges and solutions.

There were ~260 registered attendees (the same as in Amsterdam two years ago), of which 87% were in attendance throughout the three days including ~50 HR practitioners. Here are some of the highlights from the forum:

Opening remarks: Elliott Clark, CEO of SharedXpertise, opened the conference by sharing some enlightening data from a recent survey, primarily Europe centric:

  • Twice the percentage of providers think HRO is thriving compared to buyers
  • 77% of vendors think M&A is good for HRO compared to 55% of buyers.

Opening keynote: David Andrews, CEO of AOI and founder of Xchanging, presented “Reshaping the HR Business and Lessons Learned from Across Europe.” David began by talking about the history of HR BPO and how BP was the first company to sign a major HRO contract with Exult in 1998 to obtain 40% cost savings to remain competitive. David’s concluding remarks were that the outsourcing space in the U.K. needs to be bigger since ~$18bn is spent by the U.K. government on back-office processes and only ~$700m is outsourced.

Panel discussion: “State of the Market Debate” was hosted by David Andrews and participants included Accenture, IBM, Logica, NorthgateArinso, and Xchanging. Margaret Spink, Managing Director of HR Services at Xchanging, stated SaaS will be the most important phenomenon in the industry and the mid-market will be the biggest growth area. I agreed with Margaret’s mid-market comment, but spent the next day wondering about SaaS until the Xchanging hosted breakfast when Margaret stated that HRO is not just about technology – I couldn’t agree more! Technology is an enabler and I believe more focus should be on implementation, process, utilization, effectiveness, and achievement of desired outcomes.

General session: The conference concluded with a payroll presentation led by Julie Fernandez of ISG followed by a panel that included SD Worx, Ceridian, and CloudPay. The focus of Julie’s presentation and panel were on multi-country payroll beginning with the benefits that include:

  • Reduced number of payroll providers for better procurement pricing and contract terms
  • Consolidated interfaces to HR
  • Improved visibility and reporting of employee headcount and cost
  • Reduced compliance and financial risk
  • Harmonized payroll processes and improved governance.

Challenges of multi-country payroll include securing buy-in of all the countries and funding. Part of the challenge is the implication that all countries must fit one model using one provider. All three panelists use partners in countries where they are not able to provide service themselves.

Q&As from the multi-country payroll session included:

  • Q: How do you get internal finance to have confidence in the provider to prevent an extra layer of checking on vendor performance?
  • A: CloudPay stated that multi-country payroll reports into the client CFO and that one way to satisfy finance is for the vendor to do more self-audits and disclosure.

An interesting discussion also took place on “cloud” with the panel in agreement that the true meaning is you can do anything from anywhere for anything, but that the industry is not there yet due to the concern of knowing where data resides. The industry will, however, grow into acceptance.

In sum, it was a worthwhile conference for anyone interested in learning, networking, and meeting potential clients. I look forward to HRO Today Forum Europe 2013 in London, November 12th to 14th, expected to be the biggest event yet.

Interested in reading the latest HRO news from NelsonHall? Subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here.

HRO Confidence Remains Steady for 2012

May 10, 2012

Every quarter, my colleague Amy Gurchensky surveys HRO vendors for the NelsonHall HR Outsourcing Confidence Index (HROCI), which is then available for our clients and the participating service providers. In normal times, the HROCI does not change drastically from quarter to quarter; it more shows changes in trends over time. In uncertain times, however, it is a timely way to see changes in market perceptions even before disruptions occur in contract values, volumes, and revenues.

It is of some comfort that the HROCI is in a steady state of small changes from quarter to quarter. That is not a sign of upcoming exuberant growth, but it is a predictor that we will continue to see solid continuous HRO growth throughout 2012.

The most recent HROCI shows a vendor confidence level of 153, where 100 represents unchanged confidence and higher scores indicate increased confidence. While 153 is down a bit from 164 in 1Q 2011, it is in line with 3Q and 4Q 2011 at 151 and 147 respectively. Vendor confidence is often based on how current business is going, along with the pipeline. In HRO, growth from existing clients is just as important as new business. Ever since deals got smaller in scale and scope, there has been increased focus on retaining and growing existing accounts, and we see positive vendor confidence here as well.

Looking at some of the HR lines of service, payroll is once again in the leading position for growth, followed by RPO, multi-process HRO (MPHRO), benefit administration, and learning. MPHRO is expected to perform well in 2012, primarily driven by the need of organizations to standardize HR services across regions and geographies. Vendors such as ADP and NorthgateArinso that previously offered primarily payroll and employee administration services have been very active in acquiring or partnering to extend capabilities to a wider range of platform-based MPHRO functions. In addition, Logica is becoming increasingly successful in this space in Europe.

There is a slight tempering of growth expectations that can be seen in the data, although pipelines still seem solid. I think this is the same kind of hedge-your-bets thinking that is in the larger economy and what we are seeing from HRO buyers. Everyone still has a healthy sense of caution in case things suddenly go sideways.

Luckily, more and more HRO buyers and clients are willing to move ahead and get on with doing business, even if a bit cautiously. Other buyers still suffer from frozen decision-making and unwillingness to make long-term investments. Buyers with clear direction for what they want to achieve through HRO are the most likely to be deal ready – as along as prices are right and there is not too much upfront investment. The earlier service providers can assess readiness, the faster they will be able to fill pipelines with well-qualified prospects.

Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Interested in reading the latest HRO news from NelsonHall? Subscribe to our newsletter by emailing amy.gurchensky@nelson-hall.com with “HRO Insight” as the subject.

What are the Top Global Skill Shortages?

April 26, 2012

Even when the U.S. unemployment rate was over 10%, we’ve heard that the unemployment of skilled workers with college degrees remained low at ~4-5%, and we’ve read data on just how bad the skill shortage is, including ManpowerGroup’s findings that 52% of U.S. companies are struggling to fill key jobs. We’ve also heard from me as an analyst (and former HRO buy-side client), pointing to the fact that development and retention of talent are more paramount than ever. But not as much has been written about what are the top global skill shortages. Well not until last week when U.K.-based global recruitment and RPO provider Hays issued a good concise summary of the top ten global skill shortages.

The list divides the skills by soft skills and hard skills that are in shortage globally.

Soft Skills

  • Languages
  • People and communication
  • Team management and leadership
  • Organization.

Hard Skills

  • Financial and budgetary
  • IT
  • Green skills
  • Procurement and negotiation
  • Research and development
  • Healthcare.

Beyond being good for job candidates and employees to know the skills they need to focus on; employers need to do a better job of investing in their workforce to develop and retain the talent that they already have. In fact, employees are looking for that. Mercer’s newly released eBook, “What’s Working Around the World”, points to the fact that career advancement and training opportunities are among the top priorities of the employee value proposition in many countries and are needed to address low levels of employee engagement.

As I get ready to publish my next global learning BPO report, I am optimistic to hear that talent management focus is no longer just a desired priority but is now a business imperative. Clients are increasingly focused on learning linked to talent management, including the linkage of learning to performance management and developmental plans. To meet client needs to attract, develop, and retain talent, vendors have been developing their talent management capability. This includes MPHRO vendors such as Xerox, Aon Hewitt, Talent2, IBM, and Accenture, whose talent management offering includes workforce forecasting and analytics, recruitment, performance management, succession planning, and learning.

In the report, I also wrote about the advent of social learning. For now, I’ll just say that speed to competence, followed by how the new generation of employees that are entering the workforce wants to learn, as well as the need for improved talent management, are what’s driving the acceleration of social learning.

If you are not already following me on Twitter, please do so at @GaryB_NH as I will tweet when the LBPO report is published. I’m targeting the 30th of April, in time for my presentation at the HRO Today Forum on May 1st titled State of the Learning BPO Marketplace and the Emergence of Social Learning.

Gary Bragar, HRO Research Director, NelsonHall.

Interested in reading the latest HRO news from NelsonHall? Subscribe to our newsletter by emailing amy.gurchensky@nelson-hall.com with “HRO Insight” as the subject.

Let’s Not Forget About Learning

August 30, 2011

According to a survey by KnowledgePool, a U.K.-based managed learning services provider, 70% of internal client learning and development (L&D) organizations are too busy doing daily fire-fighting to focus on strategic talent and learning issues in their company. Out of 104 L&D managers, 69% say their training department does not have enough resources and 42% say that training receives inadequate support from senior managers. Yet 80% of L&D managers said they could improve their organization’s training ROI; 77% think new opportunities for improvement could be identified through rigorous analysis of their training spend and evaluation data; and 75% say improvements could be made by using more informal and on-the-job learning methods.

Sound like an opportunity for outsourcing? You bet!  The good news from NelsonHall’s most recent quarterly HR Outsourcing Confidence Index is that learning services, which has been the last of the HR outsourcing service lines to recover, is expected to continue to strengthen as the year progresses. Following several strong quarters of growth within RPO, the need is now shifting toward implementing and optimizing learning programs. Good news in learning since the beginning of Q2 includes:

  • Genpact winning a content development contract by JobSkills in India
  • Raytheon Professional Services winning a contract to develop an e-training program for NATO
  • CIBER’s Federal division winning a 5-year training development contract with a potential value of $30.7m by the Center for Strategic Leadership, an institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Accenture winning an e-learning contract with a major bank that may later add classroom ILT
  • General Physics winning $3m in 5 new contracts from energy companies across Africa, the Middle East, South America, and Asia
  • Edvantage group winning a safety e-learning contract by Yara International, providing 7 interactive e-learning courses for 3,000 technicians, operators, engineers, and supervisors at 30 plants across 17 countries.

In NelsonHall’s last learning BPO report, top drivers of why companies are outsourcing learning, which support KnowledgePool’s findings, include:

1.        Lowering costs (average client savings of 26%)
2.        Increasing training effectiveness and ROI
3.        Improving the quality of learning for employees
4.        Accessing experts in the industry whose core competency is                       learning
5.        Flexible services, aligning learning with the customer’s                                 strategic objectives
6.        Focusing on strategic work, not transactional activities.

Look for increased learning outsourcing to continue the remainder of 2011, including by the likes of IBM who continue to see increased demand globally. In 2012, I think learning outsourcing will really soar. Although uncertainty in the economy continues to cause delayed decision-making, there is no doubt in my mind that we will see a boost in learning as companies unanimously agree talent management is more important than ever. To improve and engage talent, you have to invest in your people. There is only so long you can just say the words, eventually you have to walk the talk!

Gary Bragar,  HR Outsourcing Research Director, NelsonHall

ManpowerGroup Solutions Analyst Day – It’s All About Talent – Part II

June 13, 2011

In my blog last week I wrote a bit about RPO and briefly about the broader content presented at ManpowerGroup Solutions Analyst Day June 8th.  Now I’d like to take a broader view. A takeaway for me is there is no doubt in my mind that ManpowerGroup truly gets that there is a talent shortage globally, which is rapidly getting worse, and is actively helping its clients to attract and retain talent. Though unemployment rates may be high, there is a mismatch between availability of skills and demand for skills. Access to talent is going to be critical for companies to succeed! Estimates are that unemployment levels of skilled talent are 4-5% while unskilled talent is nearer the 20% range.

According to ManpowerGroup’s 2011 Talent Shortage Survey, 34% of employers are having difficulty filing vacancies. In the U.S. 52% of U.S. employers experience difficulty in filling mission critical positions. This is not just high-tech positions we are talking about but includes manufacturing, where an ever-increasing number of workers are retiring. It’s not just a U.S. problem, it is a global problem, including countries such as Japan, China and Australia, where 30,000 engineers are needed. As an example, to help solve the Australian problem, engineers in India are being looked at in addition to partnering with educational institutions to develop those skills.

At the end of the analyst event we were given a booklet written by ManpowerGroup, called “Entering The Human Age, Thought Leadership Insights”. In the introduction written by ManpowerGroup CEO Jeffrey Joerres, it states that “a new era is upon us, the Human Age, when optimizing human potential will be the single most important determinant of future business success and growth. From 2011, 10,000 baby-boomers will turn 65 every day for the next 19 years. To thrive and grow, companies and governments will need to engage and motivate older workers to remain in the workforce longer, and find a way to engage and train their youth, particularly by aligning training and education systems with the skills required by employers”. Sounds to me like an opportunity for learning providers to be ready to help! There is much more valuable information and insight to be had at http://www.manpowergroup.com/humanage/index.html

In sum a very worthwhile day and if you are an RPO provider, Learning BPO provider and/or anyone in the talent management business, you are in the right job to help your clients succeed in the new Human Age.

Gary Bragar, Lead HRO Analyst, NelsonHall