5 Cons of Offshoring
Offshoring and outsourcing are two popular business models that have grown in recent times as businesses look to reduce costs, streamline processes, reach organizational goals and reap the benefits of specialization. Now while there are some benefits of offshoring and outsourcing, many organizations have learned that there are several disadvantages to offshoring. If you are considering offshoring for your business, it's best to do your homework. What's the Difference between Offshoring and Outsourcing? Before diving into the disadvantages of offshoring, it's important to understand the differences between offshoring and outsourcing. In recent years, these two terms have been used interchangeably because some of the aspects of each of these processes are present in the other. Outsourcing is a practice used by companies to transfer portions of work to outside suppliers rather than completing it internally. Companies may be motivated to outsource work for a variety of reasons. The most significant factors usually relate to cutting costs and reducing internal infrastructure. Outsourcing is an "umbrella" term, and while the process has been used for years in functions like accounting and legal, it has become wildly popular in software development and support. What is an Example of Offshoring? Offshoring happens when you relocate the work to a different country and is a form of outsourcing. For example, offshoring could be when a company from within the United States may work with a company located in India or China for a specific project. So, offshoring is always outsourcing – but not all outsourcing is offshore. Get it? In many cases, these companies look to take advantage of a much cheaper labor market. However, there are several hurdles and risks involved with offshoring. Disadvantages of Offshoring Jobs Time Zone Differences One of the biggest disadvantages of offshoring is the time zone differences. Many offshoring companies operate within a 5-12-hour difference from their client. Work schedules may need to be adjusted to accommodate time zone differences when working with offshore companies. Furthermore, unless your offshore partner commits to staffing late night shifts that work with your company's time zone, you may have to wait for responses from the offshore staff. These time differences can also lead to lengthy delays in project deadlines as both companies struggle to accommodate one another. Misaligned work schedules cause internal friction as the staff must tolerate unnatural working hours that also do not provide the responsiveness and speed required in the digital economy. Communication and Language Issues When working with a company from a different country, it is usually safe to assume that most people on your team speak English as a second language. When working with someone who natively speaks another language, this can make communication and collaboration a unique challenge even if they speak English with relative proficiency. For example, some accents are difficult to understand when speaking another language (such as accents of various Indian dialects). So, even though a team can speak English very well (which is impressive in and of itself), that does not mean that communication will be as smooth as it is when communicating with someone who is a native speaker. Cultural and Social Differences Even if the language barrier can be overcome or minimized, an overseas team can have cultural and social practices that you will have to accommodate. For example, if you contract an agency from India, they can have up to sixteen public holidays a year depending on their regional location. Couple that with the US's ten public holidays, and that is twenty-six days a year that rarely coincide. While members of the team might tolerate Christmas Day conference calls, it's more "Bah, Humbug" than "Happy Holidays." So, you must consider the impact of the fragmented calendar during the project and it will affect your deadline. Work styles will exhibit social differences. For example, it is considered acceptable and expected for a North American worker to be assertive and straight-forward. However, this is not always the case in other cultures which view the employer-employee relationship very differently. These cultural variations dilute the valuable input and feedback loops expected in Western business. The discrepancies in culture and social practices can also lead to a lack of understanding of a complex business problems which in turn leads to business and personal misunderstandings and challenges that would not be the case when everyone on a team has a similar understanding of the project and overall business dynamic. Disadvantages of Offshoring to India Critics of offshoring note that the level of unemployment of the local economy increases. For example, if you outsource jobs to India, one of the disadvantages of offshoring to India is there is less opportunity and open positions for qualified Americans, which can hurt the national economy and livelihood of cities and towns across the country. By choosing a provider in the US, that creates more open positions for qualified local individuals and keeps more money circulating in the US as opposed to sending it overseas. Proximity Thinking about visiting your offshoring partner? This could be difficult considering the distance, costs, and time spent traveling to an overseas location. If meeting with your partner and having any face time is essential to your company, offshoring may not be the right fit for your business' needs. Geopolitical Unrest The unstable political climate in prominent outsourcing countries can causeincreasing geopolitical risks for businesses. The Philippines, one of the world's most popular outsourcing locations, is frequently a victim of political unrest which seems to flare up without warning. This is true of many developing countries that are generally go-tos when looking to outsource work. Whether the issue is a government shutdown, military coup, riots over an election, or pressure involving drug cartels – all of these "far away" issues could quickly become much more real when your project or business is directly impacted because of the fallout. An Offshoring Alternative: Onshoring within the United States Fortunately, there's no need to look overseas for quality software services. A simpler and more effective outsourcing alternative is onshoring. Onshoring is a business practice where companies source services from within their own country. Onshoring is highly effective. Onshoring offers improved communication and increased productivity between both parties, while still working to reduce costs. It also eliminates the risks of compromised IP and data, geopolitical uncertainty and contextual misalignment. For example, a company located in Los Angeles or New York City can reduce costs by contracting services from a company located in smaller cities in New Mexico or the South, where living costs and prices are much lower. The blend of finding quality talent at an affordable price point is quite advantageous for companies located within the United States. By working with a company located in the same country, both parties will benefit from more convenient time zones, faster and cheaper business travel, and easier collaboration. Rural Sourcing: The Nation's Leading Onshoring Partner If you’re looking for an offshore alternative for your organization's IT solutions, Rural Sourcing can help. As the leader in domestic sourcing, Rural Sourcing's innovative domestic model eliminates the obstacles of data security, IP protection, political concern, time zones, distance, language barriers, and more. We help bring jobs back to the United States and provide high-quality work at a fraction of the price of providers in major metro areas. With development centers strategically located throughout the United States, Rural Sourcing provides world-class solutions for organizations across various industries including pharmaceutical, healthcare, hi-tech, insurance, and consumer & retail goods. Get in touch with us today to learn more about our capabilities and to see how we can help your business outsource responsibly and economically without compromising quality.
What Exactly is Nearshoring?
As organizations seek out solutions to save on overhead and labor costs while continuing to scale, outsourcing has grown in popularity. Outsourcing has been an effective model that allows companies the option to adjust their resources to improve productivity and efficiency while giving them the opportunity to focus on their core competencies. It allows businesses to save on direct and indirect recruiting and labor costs.While overseas companies used to be the preferred choice for outsourcing as it offered the lowest cost alternative, many organizations have started to realize the unique challenges associated with offshoring and have started looking for an option that saves money and cuts down on the headaches involved.One of the options many companies consider is nearshoring. Nearshoring is a type of offshoring that occurs when an organization decides to outsource work to companies that are geographically nearer (hence the word "near") to them than some of the previously popular countries in Asia and Eastern Europe. For example, instead of offshoring development work to India which is between 9-12 hours ahead of the US, a company might choose a company in Central America, thus cutting the time difference down so work can take place in relatively real time.However, although nearshoring allows two companies to be in more similar time zones, this doesn't solve all problems with overseas outsourcing – just one of them. Nearshoring still presents contextual, cultural, and language challenges as well as those of cybersecurity, IP protection, and political uncertainty. Companies need to be aware of these dangers before considering this option for outsourcing any projects.In this blog, we explore nearshoring in depth, including its benefits and drawbacks, and how it differs from other outsourcing models.Nearshoring vs. Offshoring As companies sought out solutions for reducing operating costs and gaining greater operational scalability, many organizations looked to other countries overseas such as India, China, and Russia to outsource their activities, otherwise known as offshoring.Offshoring takes place across national borders and can be a cost-effective solution as offshore companies are willing to set lower hourly rates that are more in line with their cost living. For example, India became popular for knowledge-based offshoring (the best example being technology related) as India combines a relatively educated workforce with low wages. China became popular for manufacturing types of offshoring, with a lower skilled workforce and an even lower incomes.However, although offshoring is a cheaper option, there are many drawbacks. Offshoring can present many communication issues, as language and cultural barriers can get in the way of effective communication and put a strain on the workforce. Plus, deadlines are often extended due to the large gap in time zones, making it difficult to collaborate, stay on schedule, and communicate in real time. Tomorrow can mean different things in different parts of the world. Combine these significant intangible hazards with the material presence of risks around cyber-security, IP protection and economic and political stability, and risk soon outweighs a perceived lower price with uncertain delivery.Many United States-based companies wanted quicker turnaround times, which is why they started looking for partners that were located a bit closer to home.The Nearshoring Advantage The biggest benefit of nearshoring is that the organizations are physically closer, reducing time zone discrepancies. Fewer time zones differences allow teams to make faster decisions to stay on schedule and reduce delays. Closer time-zone alignment greatly enables operational cohesion, effectiveness, and team camaraderie. The geographic proximity improves productivity in both teams as they will no longer have to shift their hours to accommodate the outsourced employee group. Finally, travel between locations is made much easier under the nearshore model, making team interaction and regular inspection much easier.What are the Disadvantages of Nearshoring? As with any business model, it's important to be aware of the challenges associated with nearshoring.While nearshoring solves most time zone barriers, it doesn't quite answer all of the challenges that operating in an international context – usually with developing countries - presents. Different countries will have varying national holidays, languages, and cultural differences that can prove a challenge to efficient working and communications.For example, a US-based company that works with a Mexican or Central American company may run into some language barriers, which can make communication a challenge. National holidays can be different between US and Mexico-based companies, which can lengthen deadlines and delay turnaround time. Differences in work schedules can also prove to be a challenge, as typical work days may vary between countries.Furthermore, it's also important to consider any new laws and regulations you'll need to adhere to when working with a company in another country, which can prove to be a challenge. Finally, nearshoring does not inspire much more confidence around geopolitical balance, the threat of compromised IP, or the management of sensitive data. Frankly, nearshoring is illusory in its ability to solve the problems of delivering high-quality software, cost effectively, at the required speed with an acceptable amount of risk.Onshoring: An Alternative to Nearshoring While nearshoring brings two companies closer in proximity, this business model certainly isn't fool-proof. There are many language and cultural considerations that can lead to delays and problematic communication and navigating a nearshoring partnership - and the regulations associated with it - can be tricky. The real reason people opt for nearshore is nothing to do with the business conditions. It's just more fun, or at least less onerous, to travel "nearshore" to inspect their teams on a regular basis. Let's face it; most people would prefer a few days in Central, South America or The Caribbean than a quarterly 24-hour trek (maybe in coach) halfway around the world for a ten-day tour of duty inspecting your offshore resources in a far-flung country that feels as culturally uncomfortable as it is geographically remote.Fortunately, there is a solution that provides businesses with a cost-effective alternative to nearshoring and overcomes any apprehensions with cultural barriers and delays. Onshoring, also known as domestic sourcing, is when a firm seeks out services from a partner within the same country. For example, a company in Los Angeles may look to an IT group in New Mexico or Georgia for help with a project as the cost of living offers more affordable rates in these areas than Southern California.Onshoring cuts down on time zone concerns, language, and cultural barriers as well as preserving the rule of law over IP and data security. You can benefit from real-time collaboration and produce a high-quality product within budget, on schedule, and at the speed that modern business demands. With onshoring, you'll be less likely to encounter delays that would typically occur with cultural and language barriers associated with nearshoring so that you can get to market faster with a high-quality product at an affordable price. You'll also support jobs in your own country, so you can feel good about creating opportunities close to home.Rural Sourcing: The Leader of Remote Delivery IT Services Rural Sourcing is the leader in remote software development. To help companies lower their costs and create high-quality products, Rural Sourcing's innovative onshore model allows you to benefit from talented, qualified IT teams living in mid-sized and small cities across the United States. With our onshoring services, you'll eliminate time zones, language barriers, cultural differences, and delays to speed up deadlines and improve collaboration. If you think onshoring can benefit your organization, get in touch with our team today.
Outsourcing, Offshoring, Nearshoring and Onshoring: What’s the Difference?
One of the biggest challenges companies face is finding ways to scale while being as efficient and productive as possible. Perhaps a company is looking to launch a new app, enhance their business intelligence, or has another significant software project that needs to be completed, but they don't have the staff or resources in-house.Many leaders and executives find the idea of developing an in-house team to be too expensive, especially if they are in a major US city where salaries can be high and competition for top talent fierce.In addition to being costly, hiring new staff can be time-consuming, and companies may not even have the recruiting resources to find qualified candidates. In many cases, these companies end up turning to more cost-effective alternatives that provide flexibility and convenient solutions for their needs, one of which is outsourcing.There are many ways to outsource a project – such as onshoring, offshoring, and nearshoring - each with its benefits and challenges. While all three of these most popular types of outsourcing models are similar, they differ in a variety of ways. The Basics: What is Outsourcing Let's start with the "simplest" term, outsourcing, as it has set the foundation for onshoring, nearshoring, and offshoring.Outsourcing is when you find a third-party company or individual to complete a specific project or many projects instead of completing the work in-house. There may be many reasons a company looks for outside help. They may not have the capabilities, breadth of knowledge or experience, or are looking to manage costs and simplify the process from idea to completed product.Not only does this open the door to new opportunities and experts with a breadth of capabilities, but outsourcing also gives you the flexibility to work with an outside firm for a project under a specific period and then move on to completion of the project. For example, your company may need assistance on a huge project, like developing an app, but may not need the additional resources once the project is complete. Plus, it will cut down on the need to hire individual's in-house, minimizing recruitment and operational costs associated with finding qualified applicants in your area (or moving expenses if you need to recruit specialists from other parts of the country).One of the significant benefits of outsourcing is that you'll work with experienced vendors who specialize in a particular field allowing you to complete projects faster and with a better quality output.However, while there are many benefits of outsourcing, there are several drawbacks and unique considerations depending on where and how the work is outsourced. Your company may run into communication issues around domain experience. In other words, if your chosen outsourcer is less familiar with your industry, you should allow extra time for some education. Traditional outsourcing business like accounting and law have overcome this challenge by setting up practices that specialize in vertical industries. The most obvious example is that of the outsourced team working in a different time zone with a significant language barrier. These communication risks become real as we look to an example of outsourcing, like offshoring. What is Offshoring? It's a common misconception that outsourcing and offshoring are the same things. They are not. The primary differentiator between outsourcing and offshoring is that offshoring is a type of outsourcing. Offshoring is when a business hires a third-party firm to perform work in a nation other than one where the business primarily conducts its operations. This business model developed from outsourcing, as companies looked for cheaper alternatives to services overseas, usually in a developing country such as India, Bangladesh, or Eastern Europe.While there are many reasons companies look to offshore their services, it mainly comes down to lower costs. As we have said, some of the most popular countries to offshore IT solutions and software needs are India, China, and Eastern Europe, just because they offer lower production costs due to lower local salaries and less stringent labor laws.Unfortunately, offshoring poses many risks. Working in different time zones, language and cultural barriers, cyber-security threats, political instability and intellectual property concerns are all challenges when working with a company located in another country.This misalignment may require some adjustments on your internal team's schedule, especially with time zones that could be well over 12 hours. You'll likely have to lengthen deadlines as work can take much longer with a team in remote parts of the world. Plus unless you find people in other countries who speak your native language fluently, you may run into language and understanding barriers, which could end up costing your company in delays. How does Nearshoring Work? Nearshoring is a subset of offshoring with the main differentiator being that the outside company is located a little bit closer to you, but still in another country. For example, a company located in New York City may outsource their work to an agency in Mexico or South America.When referring to nearshoring, the third-party companies will be in a closer time zone so that communication can happen either in real time or your schedules may only have to be altered a few hours. Closer time zones can help when it comes to collaboration and can allow for identifying problems faster.However, it's important to note that nearshoring isn't fool-proof and cannot overcome all the challenges that offshoring your work can present. It only solves the time zone issue. Even if the country is in a similar time zone, there may still be differences in holidays, language struggles, cultural misunderstandings, and geopolitical risks. Can Onshoring Benefit My Company? First lets answer, what is onshoring? Onshoring is a unique outsourcing business model as it utilizes partners in the same country for increased efficiencies and productivity without the headaches of offshoring. As an advantageous and increasingly popular alternative to offshoring, onshoring is ideal for companies who are seeking outside resources but want the work produced closer to home enabling faster delivery of higher quality software.For example, a company in San Francisco may be looking for Sharepoint support but finds that a local provider's quotes are above their budget due to being located in such a high-priced area. To save money, they can onshore the work to a partner in a smaller city to produce a high-quality product without having to deal with the headaches, timeline issues, and questionable quality of offshore firms.Onshoring is beneficial for a variety of organizations as it breaks down barriers and hurdles that are typical of offshoring and nearshoring. As a result, companies can speed up deadlines and produce quality products – all while keeping costs lower than the resources in their local areas. Companies that seek out onshoring realize the benefits of real-time collaboration and enjoy working with a scalable network of qualified professionals who possess a breadth of knowledge and capabilities. Additionally, it's easier to explain to your partners your business problems and challenges, so there are no misinterpreted requirements, and you can feel confident in your partner's capabilities. Onshoring vs. Offshoring Once it comes to finding the solution to streamline internal teams and save money, it comes down to whether you want to offshore your projects or onshore your projects and what is ultimately best for your business. In comparison to offshoring, it's easier to see why onshoring is the smarter choice: • Offers similar teams regarding language and cultural barriers along with the ability to understand complex business problems. • Minimizes time zone concerns for improved collaboration and problem-solving • Allows for faster response time so that you can reduce delays • Lowers travel costs • Supports jobs within your county • Provides you with access to professionals with years of experience and a breadth of capabilities which are all focused on helping your business succeed The Shift to Onshoring in Recent Years While offshoring to India, South America, and Eastern Europe was a method of saving on labor costs, the shift in recent years has favored onshoring. In addition to more businesses realizing onshoring as a viable solution for improving quality and convenience, wages in some of the top offshoring locations, are rising with a shortage of capable talent.This lowers the labor savings associated with offshoring and without the advantage of cost savings, the disadvantages of outsourcing at such a physical and cultural distance aren't worth the headaches, delays, and hassle. Digital business is unforgiving. Commerce moves fast and does not stop to grant second chances, so it's no wonder more people are choosing to reshore their operations back to the United States to improve quality and convenience while still saving money over in-house teams. Rural Sourcing: Your Source for Onshoring Support Rural Sourcing is the leader in onshoring within the United States. Whether you are looking to build a new application, enhance a product, or scale your business intelligence, our team can help. With development centers located across the United States, you can access a network of people for specific projects or areas of focus that are most important to your business' success. You'll get the results you desire at the cost you can afford with onshoring services from Rural Sourcing. Onshoring Capabilities at Rural Sourcing At Rural Sourcing, we aim to provide cost-effective and convenient solutions to our partners across a variety of focus areas: • Application Development • Business Intelligence & Analytics • Cloud Solutions • Enterprise Applications • QA & TestingWhat sets us apart from other onshoring companies is that our teams are experts in modern application development, and no one is more expert in remote software delivery. We work hard with our community partners in the selection of our center locations and in bringing jobs and a positive culture to those communities, our colleagues, and our customers. With our extensive network of brains' trusts and experienced professionals, you'll tap into a valuable resource across a multitude of IT industries. Along with having an experienced team with a deep understanding of your field, we utilize state-of-the-art technology to meet the ever-changing and ever-increasing market demands. Contact Rural Sourcing to Learn More About our Onshoring IT Solutions In today's fast-paced world, your company can benefit from the experience, knowledge, and capabilities of an onshore team. Not only is it a faster alternative to offshoring, onshoring breaks down time zone, language, and cultural barriers that can delay deadlines, lengthen problem-solving timelines, and hurt your overall bottom line. Tapping a firm that's closer to your organization will reduce response time and allow you to take your product to market faster, so you can achieve your overarching goals quick.If you're ready to see if onshoring is right for you, contact Rural Sourcing. We've helped clients across the United States achieve their strategic goals with our unique IT solutions. Get in touch with us today to see how we can help your business.
How SAP technology Helps Enable Growth
Executives will push IT and their staff to support top-line revenue growth and profitability actively; and, of course, IT professionals will do their best to accommodate leadership. The lines that separated business units from I.T. are disappearing. While I.T. is pervasive too many executives fail to understand that SAP core systems were designed to enable business processing and financial analyses – not revenue and profitability. So what role can SAP play in supporting growth, driving revenue and profitability without deviating from its core of process execution and business analytics?In recent years, SAP developed many modules aimed squarely at supporting companies as they grapple with the Digital Economy. S/4 HANA, Leonardo, and Hybris represent a new wave of SAP business solutions. Further, these solutions enable prospect acquisition, customer retention and satisfaction of users and constituents generally as the technology aligns with and allows more natural digital experiences. This enablement leads to increased revenue and profitability.To ensure the decisive role of SAP technology in influencing top-line growth, the revenue creation side of the equation must be pre-defined before starting an enterprise-wide project. Bolting on powerful new systems, after the fact, will not enable a complete adaptation to the digital world. Early planning for enterprise-wide SAP development or upgrade must focus on critical top-line metrics and business processes to:Stay competitive Enhance the selling process Create great customer experiences Build loyaltyKeeping it simple – top-line growth is fueled by gaining new customers, retaining old customers, and adding new products and services for customers to buy. Growth is all about the customer. Customers seek out singular experiences which are convenient, natural, mobile and thoughtful. Companies that provide these will enjoy the rewards of loyalty and advocacy.In typical implementations, SAP is good at reducing costs by integrating operational processes with accounting data across the enterprise. However, when using SAP to drive revenue and profitability, that particular adaptation requires accessing a different layer of data, various analytical tools and ultimately aligning these with sales processes that sit on top of the operational/accounting proceduresA company's revenue and profit data must synchronize with the sales and marketing strategy to achieve top-line growth. With this in mind, the typical focus of SAP on process improvement, business automation, cycle-time reductions, and other common operational issues is not enough. Revenue generation and profitability require digital adaptations to the typical SAP implementation. The lesson here is not to leave it till too late to consider this requirement.The Cautionary Tale - A Good Example of a Bad ExampleAn independent executive sales leader for a consumer goods company recognized the need for prioritization, identifying strengths and gaps and the value of third-party expertise and perspectives, when describing their SAP challenges, the best:"The whole system did not work when it was launched, and to this day (2014) there are glitches and problems. Many representatives couldn't even get logged into the new website, and once you got in, the system was not accepting orders, it wasn't saving orders properly, and it wasn't reserving inventory. We couldn't use it."Let's not forget this ghastly corporate failure damaged the reputations of all involved. It also derailed revenue generation for months and tanked profitability.Among other things one of the main culprits was the back-end operational and process systems which were never designed to work with the front-end sales systems; in particular, the sales representatives.That was Then; This is NowA lot has changed in the intervening years. SAP is still, at its core, a business process, and operations improvement system. As discussed in our previous SAP blogs, delivering exceptional customer experiences requires understanding behaviors. This understanding is achieved by capturing vast amounts of free-flowing data and then the ability to create valuable insights by analyzing this data. Smooth supply chains then enable the fulfillment of the promise. Once you push the "order" button, it's all about the technology "behind the scenes." As we have all begun to realize, adapting to the digital world is a tricky business and requires careful orchestration across the enterprise and relies on technology from dependable partners like SAP.Wherever your company is on the journey to digital adaptation, it is and will be engaged in a drawn-out process. Executives, managers, and workers will make thousands of decisions and will rely on teams of people that may or may not stick around to finish the job. I did mention that digital adaptation is a tricky business.Ok, But Can SAP Drive Top-Line Growth?Yes, SAP can enable top-line growth. Almost every company seeking to use SAP to enhance revenue and profitability needs to start with a quality design and expert technical guidance. Moreover, nearly every company begins the journey to improve top-line growth by building on top of their legacy computing systems.Of course, these older systems can't and won't lead to complete digital transformation, but they provide a foundation, upon which digital adaptation usually begins. Transformation is a scary concept. Adaptation is a more practical description of what happens and includes adapting valuable technology from reliable partners.As we have said before; you can rarely buy your way to success. Of course, you need to participate in the Digital Economy, but you must deal with your realities today, and that means keeping the lights on. Your in-house SAP technical resources may need extra help in supporting the present while specialized experts help you move the organization, step-by-step, into the future. Wise and prudent spending demands that precious financial resources be used to drive the company from milestone to milestone, not to fund a wild leap into the unknown.If you want SAP to drive revenue and profitability, sales and marketing must be involved from the beginning to integrate their strategies, plans, KPIs, and other quantifiable criteria into the blueprint. When that happens, IT can understand and support those processes. SAP does not exist in a void; it is dependent on data derived from discrete or calculated business metrics throughout the enterprise.While maximizing the use of existing technologies, you need partners to secure the present (supporting current systems) or help deliver the future (that SAP digital experience). These partners need to be digitally capable, technologically competent, and culturally creative. To learn how we can help you with your SAP challenges contact us at SAPinquiry@ruralsourcing.com.
SAP – The Customer Experience
A Guide To Crafting Great Digital Experiences - From Inside Out with SAP In our series on Digital Adaptation, one of the things we discuss is the importance of the digital experience, and in this series, we try to shed light on what that means in the SAP world – the SAP Customer Experience. The digital experience is talked and written about as the deciding factor in business these days. We also talked about how the consumerization of IT has raised our expectations and blurred the distinction between our business and social experiences. If the "experience" is as significant as everyone says it is, how do you achieve it? Can't you just buy the latest and greatest technologies? In other words, can’t you buy your way in? Well, maybe. However, there's more to creating an excellent SAP customer experience. You must tie together the back end and the front end while leveraging insights by gathering, manipulating and analyzing the biggest of big data. The good news is that SAP users probably already have the technology in place to do it, but like most companies are short of resources that can help.As a reminder we defined digital adaptation as the ability to predict, or perceive, quickly evolving business needs, and adjust through new combinations of technology, process, and workforce management. We also said it requires the use of new technologies; a willingness to adopt less familiar methods and the utilization of innovative workforce models. The goal is to create faster, more flexible solutions that simultaneously exceed user and consumer expectations while keeping competitors on their heels. However, we acknowledge that companies can neither afford, and do not need, to continually acquire new technology and dispose of the "old." There are trusted vendors whose technology has helped us come so far and whose technology can provide the backbone for our digital endeavors. SAP is one of these so let’s see how the technology can help on the CX side with a little adaptation in three areas:First, the SAP customer experience is clearly important. SAP is attacking the problem from both ends, as was made clear at this year's Sapphire Conference in June. According to Dom Nicastro’s Jun 18, 2018 article “Takeaways from SAP's Sapphire Now” in CMSWire “The traditional database-management, ERP, back-end enterprise software billionaire giant companies are taking on customer experience (CX) and the front-end." This is true when you consider SAP's acquisitions of companies Hybris (commerce), Gigya (customer identity management) and CallidusCloud (sales performance management and configure-price-quote). However, for as much noise as SAP has made at the front end, they already have the expertise in the back end. Second, an understanding that the fundamentals of crafting a great SAP digital experience is not just about what you see. It is about keeping your promises, which in the modern world means being able to deliver what you promised when you promised it. You need to seamlessly fuse the supply chain in the back end to the SAP customer experience in the front end, and that's about leveraging data. One of the keys to a creating and maintaining a satisfying (and differentiated) customer buying experience is the ability to harvest meaningful data. This can be achieved by leveraging SAP Business Objects for BW/HANA Analytics., SAP Gateway APIs for Fiori, and Personas technologies for streamlined UX. The digital footprints left by the modern customer provides insights into habits and preferences. These footprints enable your talented people to better shape that experience encouraging customers to return leaving even more of those digital footprints as their loyalty grows. Once more, Dom Nicastro emphasizes this as one of the essential takeaways from Sapphire. “SAP’s big play this year at its conference was the front-end meeting the back-end for complete customer experiences. That’s what marketers strive for, right? Complete customer journeys from purchase intent to actual purchase and post-product success and support.” Third, what does that say about SAP's current technology, roadmap, and your investment? Does this mean you have to invest in all the shiny new front-end technologies to adapt in the digital world? Well, maybe, and maybe not. Digital Adaptation isn’t about chasing the shiny new toy. It is about being able to look inside your existing business to liberate new enterprise and find new business models. It’s also about being smart about your current technology investments and leveraging them as much as you can. Only a small percentage of SAP users are on the latest versions or upgraded to the newest systems like S/4HANA or Leonardo. Therefore, most SAP customers rely on Basis, ABAP, function expertise, and improved business processes to adapt their systems to the digital economy. We encourage you to look at everything from SAP’s machine learning capabilities within Leonardo, to the new HANA Data Management Suite. You should also be looking at how you leverage SAP’s heritage in the back office (to help you deliver on the front end promises) and business intelligence technologies (so you can analyze and interpret the meaning of those digital footprints) by using the SAP NetWeaver Development Tools and SAP BW/BI platform to streamline and maximize the performance of your business transactions. While SAP has made strategic acquisitions in front office technologies, they continue to provision and integrate robust back-office expertise and technologies with the data management and intelligence tools they have perfected over the last 15 years, like SAP Gateway and Ariba. As Kevin Cochrane, chief marketing officer for SAP Hybris made clear at Sapphire, “SAP's main competitive advantage is its ability to connect the back and front office. That will require the use of existing technologies as opposed to going on a buying spree in new technologies only.” The importance of partnering was a big topic of conversation at Sapphire. Partnerships at the enterprise level in the SAP world have become more critical, more complex and require more than just technical and functional expertise. Maintaining the current while planning (and delivering) the future presents unique challenges. It demands partners not only with proven skills but that offer expertise in modern methods as well as innovative delivery models. No one can go it alone, and partnering and outsourcing models that worked in the past are proving incapable of delivering that singular SAP customer experience demanded by the digital world. You must squeeze all the value you can out of your current technologies while making smart investments in new technologies. While maximizing the use of existing technologies, you need partners to secure the present (supporting current systems) or help deliver the future (that SAP digital experience). These partners need to be digitally capable, technologically competent, and culturally creative. To learn how we can help you with your SAP challenges contact us at SAPinquiry@ruralsourcing.com.
Without Maturity, You Could Disappear in the Digital Economy
No business will be untouched by the Digital Economy. It affects the way organizations interact with customers, suppliers, and employees; and, as we know, it even stimulates alliances with competitors. As we move deeper into our digital adaptation journeys, the skills and expertise needed to overcome obstacles and recoup from setbacks are essential. To manage the digital adaptation process, corporations need ‘digital maturity.’It is dramatic to say that we are in an ‘adapt or die’ scenario, but there is much truth to that claim. Perhaps a more accurate statement is this: it takes digital maturity to lead an organization through the adaptation process. As we have discussed before; digital adaptation enables an organization to predict or perceive quickly evolving business needs, and adjust through new combinations of technology, process and workforce management.What is digital maturity? The term comes from the field of psychology. It means that ‘maturity’ is a learned ability to respond appropriately in a particular environment. Digital maturity is about adapting an organization, so it competes effectively in a digital environment.For comparison, it might be useful for readers to see how 3500 business executives lined up on a digital maturity scale, from 1 to 10: An international maturity study conducted in 2017 by MIT Sloan Management Review, in collaboration with Deloitte University Press, reports that: 34% (1190) of the executives were in the early stages of digital maturity; 41% (1435) were developing, and 25% (875) were further along in the maturing process. If those statistics are reliable indicators of digital evolution, the maturation process is well underway.According to the MIT Sloan Management Review article referenced above – Achieving Digital Maturity; the leaders who exhibited the highest degree of digital maturity were able to implement systemic changes within their organization, focus on the long-term, start with small projects and evolve them into enterprise-wide projects, and secure the talent to implement the company’s digital vision. To accomplish all that, those leaders had help.Digital Maturity and SAPBased on many SAP projects over the years, we divided digital maturity into four dimensions:Leadership Maturity and Capability Data Accessibility and Accuracy SAP Technology Systems and Processes Workforce Readiness and CultureLeadershipThe digital economy is focused on meeting the unique needs of each customer. For that reason, digital adaptation is about tailoring business operations to be more human. Consequently, mature leaders work from the premise that digital adaptation is about building relationships, not about technology. As a result, seasoned leaders construct business models that cater to the needs of people first and avoid getting hung up on the limitations of their in-house systems.SAP announced that it collaborated with the European Research Center for Information Systems (ERCIS) to create a maturity model that enables leaders to assess, track and develop the digital skills their in-house systems need to function in the digital economy.The maturity model helps the leaders prepare for a digital future by defining a skills development strategy and reinforcing the technical environments needed to keep pace with the new economy. The model is based on a survey of 116 business and IT decision makers from 18 countries, as well as a series of in-depth interviews with 24 global companies.DataTurning data into action is the cornerstone of digital adaptation. While a true statement, turning data into action is not a linear process. It requires building a sophisticated infrastructure that lets people store, protect, and analyze information. Primarily, the infrastructure enables people to access information when they want and how they want. For this reason, the mere existence of mountains of data is not enough to indicate maturity.The term data has evolved; it is now often called Big Data. However, the mystique surrounding Big Data is fading, yet it remains the primary force pushing wave after wave of digital transformation. These waves include artificial intelligence, customer experience, in-memory processing, machine learning, and the Internet of Things (IoT). SAP has been developing advanced Data Management solutions for decades, and they recently released SAP VORA (formerly known as SAP HANA VORA), which provides enriched interactive analytics on Big Data stored in Hadoop. VORA is a query engine with in-memory capabilities, and it plugs into the Apache Spark execution framework and helps to combine Big Data with enterprise data in an efficient manner.SAP TechnologyLike the new world economy, SAP is maturing. For the thousands of companies that leverage SAP, virtually all of them focus on business capabilities to react in real-time, forecast changes before they happen, and enable self-learning systems. In response, SAP is developing powerful new technologies that support Big Data, Cloud Computing, and Blockchain. However, maturing companies must use these new tools and adapt them to their needs to be considered mature.We mentioned VORA, but there are other technologies that SAP has to integrate HANA and Hadoop. SAP has the following tools to integrate data between those two components and choosing the right one depends on the use case being followed.ETL tools – such as SAP BODS Smart Data Access – such as SAP HANA Smart Data Access (SDA) SAP BusinessObjects Universe SAP LumiraWorkforceWhen it comes to the workforce and talent, nothing has changed! Nothing has changed because skills, expertise, and experience have ALWAYS been highly valued and necessary in the workplace. That said, the new digital economy has many unique and complex skills that didn’t exist a few years ago, which makes it challenging to have the right people – in the right place – at the right time. The mature business knows how to find the right people and ensure that they work on the right project and how and when to partner.Within the SAP ecosystem, hundreds of skill sets are required, but which ones are most in demand now? According to Red SAP Solutions, the following skills are the hottest and will continue to be hot well into the future:SAP FI/CO (Financials) SAP S/4HANA Finance which is part of the new SAP S/4 HANA solution SAP SD (Sales and Distribution) SAP Hybris SAP Fiori SAP NetWeaver and SAP BI skills A Time for ChangeWe are living through the Digital Economy’s version of Darwinism. The challenge for most of us is that technology and society are evolving so fast it is hard to keep up. In response, savvy business leaders, young and old, recognize the need for a proactive change and innovation mindset.With maturity comes wisdom and, in our new economy, wisdom is the best guide into the digital world. To drive the evolving economy forward, mature leaders rely on capable partners to help. It makes no sense to go it alone.SAP systems are often at the core of Digital Adaptation programs, and technical partners have been helping clients resolve complex challenges for decades. Throughout the transformation process and beyond, a partner should support the entire organization, leveraging skilled consultants when and where they are needed. Domestic, or rural sourcing, is a solution for companies that need an IT partner but want to keep the work closer to home. To learn how we can help you with your SAP challenges contact us at SAPinquiry@ruralsourcing.com.
A 3 Step Process to Quality
In today’s digitally charged environment, executives leading software development companies consistently walk a tightrope as they balance two very different interpretations of the word, “quality.” Users’ perception of quality focuses on software that meets business requirements, while development teams concentrate on building programs and applications that satisfy product and system requirements. These diametrically opposed perspectives put software executives in the crosshairs of a heated debate as both sides attempt to evaluate quality.In reality, business requirements spring from the minds of customers and stakeholders who seek a software solution to a conceptual business challenge. Business requirements, which refer to the “what” of software development, do not translate smoothly into product requirements. In most, if not all, cases, several technology-based solutions can resolve the stated business problem. To select the most technically appropriate and efficient path to resolution, business requirements must be broken down into detailed capabilities, or “hows,” that align with business needs. The tightness of that alignment produces value for the end user customer. Loosely aligned technical capabilities are seen as less valuable by customers, often eroding the software’s price point and damaging the development company’s reputation.To protect the bottom line and reputation of a software development operations, company executives can take a three-pronged approach to extend quality assurance across the entire development process. This three-step methodology, which embraces a universal definition of quality as contrasted to value, incorporates best practices associated with a “right the first time” development approach, and calls for a cultural shift to reward the early identification and resolution of issues, is particularly relevant in today’s fast-paced marketplace.First: define quality, valueFor software company executives navigating this tightrope of conflicting expectations, it would be useful to distinguish between the concept of quality and its value in the marketplace. Conceptually, quality is a measurable outcome of development. The amount of quality associated with any software development project is constrained by available resources and the business priorities of a software development company.One approach to evaluating software quality uses three dimensions:Quality of design – the functions, capabilities and performance levels required by stakeholders. Quality of conformance – how a software product conforms to design, leverages appropriate standards and is completed on time and on budget. Quality of performance – how the software functions post-delivery, especially as it meets user needs, functions as intended, manages its workload, and is supported and maintained over time.While most customers will agree that some degree of quality is a baseline expectation, it is critical to understand that a high degree of quality may or may not be perceived as valuable in the marketplace. Customers perceive quality as driving value, and value is relative when compared to the software’s cost. For example, a customer’s limited budget can eliminate a high-value software solution from consideration when company finds a lower quality product acceptable because of its price.Second: Implement ‘fail fast’In the digital world, customer expectations change on a dime, which can force development teams to pivot frequently. This rapidly changing environment, which has increased pressure on development companies to deliver software faster and at more competitive price points, calls for a new approach such as “fail fast” and “continuous integration.” However, misdirected emphasis has muddied the perception and value of the widely held fail fast principle. More than a few people place importance on the first word, “fail,” when it’s the second that matters. The success of a failing fast development initiative hinges on identifying issues, bugs and errors early in development, the sooner the better.To support failing fast, taking a “continuous integration” approach can help software development companies increase quality and keep costs in line. In this agile development practice, developers integrate their current work into a shared depository several times each day. Automated builds verify each integration, flagging problems and assuring immediate correction. As a result, the software stabilizes at a faster rate.Additionally, many software development companies share software in development with intended users at regular intervals in development. For example, presenting in-development software to users after major agile iterations can be another way to implement the fail fast approach. These frequent releases to end users brings defects to the surface faster than waiting until the development team is deep into the project to find issues.Three: Shift culture to reward early detection, correctionOften, implementing a fail fast approach requires a culture shift in the software development organization. The importance of this cultural shift cannot be overemphasized. In the fail fast environment, quality assurance spans the entire development process rather than being an exercise that takes place at the end of development. When developers understand that identifying and resolving bugs early in the development cycle is rewarded, improves productivity, boosts quality and saves money, the organizational emphasis continuous improvement will begin to resonate.In the digital environment, customer expectations change frequently, and development teams must pivot quickly to maintain the tight alignment between technical capabilities and business requirements. Applying the fail fast and continuous improvement tenets to the software development process can increase the velocity of response to evolving customer requirements.
How to Best Leverage SAP’s S/4Hana in Digital Adaptation
S/4HANA has been called the engine driving digital adaptation. That is a bold statement. However, is that statement marketing hype, or is it true?To begin to answer that question, we must understand what digital adaptation is, and what it is not.Digital adaptation is not just another wrinkle in the landscape of process re-engineering. Further, it is not a system or a piece of software that drives incremental change. Business leaders who cling to these outdated ideas soon will see an erosion of their customer-base and a loss of market position.Digital adaptation enables an organization to predict or perceive quickly evolving business needs, and make critical adjustments through a combination of technology, process and workforce management.At its most rudimentary level, digital adaptation takes an organization out of a process-defined world and into a data-driven world. Digital adaptation is based on continually delivering new value to every user, raising operational efficiency and accelerating the speed-of-business to levels never before experienced.Leaders who adapt their operations to the digital economy understand that digital adaptation requires a shift in how business is conducted, and how goods and services are delivered.SAP – Scaling UP and OUT with Digital Adaptation Before digital adaptation, concepts such as scaling up and out meant opening an overseas office, merging with another company to run more efficiently, or upgrading data storage/access infrastructure. Now, scaling up and out looks more like digitizing business processes and leveraging data to provide compelling online experiences for customers, employees, suppliers, partners, and the general public.SAP is facilitating the digital experience by helping business leaders see their entire organizations clearly and focus on operational details that help them to run efficiently. The results are improved agility and better positioning of resources to seize market opportunities.Three examples of how SAP is helping to drive the digital economy are:For manufacturing, the average dollar value of invoices is decreasing as the number of invoices is exploding In logistics, the average value inside shipping containers is going down while the number of containers transported is growing exponentially For new economy companies like UBER, AIRBNB, and NETFLIX, these businesses are based more on the user-experience rather than the product or serviceThe digital economy is stretching the supply chain and challenging financial systems. SAP is evolving with the new economy and delivering advanced user-experience and functionality for Accounts Receivable, Inventory Management, Accounts Payable, and Available to Promise functions.To answer the question posed in the first paragraph of this blog – Yes, it is true, SAP technology is the engine that drives digital adaptation. S/4HANA, Fiori and Personas are proof!For companies currently using SAP systems or planning to acquire new SAP technology, an entirely new version of SAP ERP is available to support the transformation to digital. S/4HANA is designed to significantly streamline the adaptation process by enabling businesses to be immediate, intelligent and integrated.S/4HANA – SAP’s Digital Core: The next-gen of ERP supporting operational excellence, business process automation, and seamless integration with core business systems. S/4HANA is a complete rethinking and remediation of SAP code to leverage maximum performance of their in-memory HANA database. It is designed to simplify the underlying database that slowed down R3 and ECC and made it difficult to support the high-speed computing needs of the digital economy. S/4HANA eliminates the locking and latching problems and enables dramatically higher throughput. Moreover, aggregated indexes are gone, status tables and headers are gone, and the entire database collapses into a single digital record. Making S/4HANA easier to support, a single version of the facts, and offering three environment options: off-premises, on-premises or hybrid.Add to the significant changes in S/4HANA, SAP has replaced the old traditional GUI screens with new Fiori applications and Screen Persona UIs to improve user-experience and streamline business tasks.Fiori and Screen Personas: SAP’s reimage for a greater user-experience providing personalized and simplified UX of SAP applications. Fiori and Screen Personas deliver web and mobile applications and UIs that are role-based, consumer-grade user experience across all lines of business, tasks and devices. They simplify data access and streamlines tasks for improved business processing.An intricate system like S/4HANA requires sophisticated and complex skills to design, install, configure and manage. However, to compete in the digital economy, this level of computing power is not just helpful, it is essential.You Do Not Need to Go It Alone? To thrive in the digital economy, company leaders must acquire the tools, expertise, and workforce management skills to adapt. Whether these specialized tools and skills come from internal sources or outside the organization, no company can go it alone.Installing, configuring, and migrating complex systems like S/4HANA, Fiori, Screen Personas, Leonardo, or Business Objects Planning & Consolidation require an enormous amount of expertise. But…companies desiring to move forward with digital adaptation plans are faced with a shortage of technical resources, difficulties balancing the rigors of business transformation with their employees’ daily routines and managing the often-ignored step of QA & Testing.In a world where the Internet blurs competitive differences, finding a partner who ensures that digital adaptation technology yields real-time operational capabilities, and then supports measurable competitive advantages, is essential. To learn how we can help you with your SAP challenges contact us at SAPinquiry@ruralsourcing.com.
Understanding the risks of offshoring in today’s digital marketplace
Offshoring, the approach many U.S-based companies take to secure IT talent, has lost much of its original appeal. In the past, U.S. companies sent IT jobs overseas for one key reason: to capitalize on inexpensive labor. In many cases, offshore vendors claimed hourly rates that were 80% less expensive. IT leaders, originally seduced by offshoring’s attractive bottom-line savings, quickly found out that offshoring’s challenges and risks often increased project costs, eroding the much anticipated savings. A few of these risks include:Time zone differences Language compatibility Cultural barriers Domain expertise Employee turnover Geopolitical riskIT leaders, now familiar with the risks associated with offshoring and its eroding potential savings, are replacing offshoring with a proven alternative to talent acquisition: domestic sourcing or onshoring. Domestic sourcing taps into talent inside the United States to deliver the speed to market and responsiveness IT organizations require in today’s digital marketplace. In addition, it leverages a deep familiarity of complex business problems, a depth and breadth of capabilities, access to a scalable brain trust, efficient collaboration, and attention to quality. However, determining the value of domestic sourcing has been difficult to illustrate. Today, companies can utilize the Rural Sourcing TCO Calculator, a robust tool that enables the customization of six distinct and commonly accepted productivity factors to a company’s current situation. This allows for a more accurate assessment of their total cost of ownership of outsourcing needs.A key advantage to domestic sourcing however, is its ability to deliver the agility needed to pivot IT priorities in response to changing customer expectations. It allows companies operating in this hyper-responsive digital environment to add and recast IT talent as needed. For example, this agility was recently demonstrated when one of our FinTech software clients asked Rural Sourcing to refocus our existing team and add a second scrum team to meet the regulatory demands of one of their largest clients. Taking a flexible approach allows IT teams to adjust project priorities and delivery timelines on the fly – based on the actionable recommendations that come from real-time analysis of customer expectations.
Competitive Threats Driving Digital Adaptation
While digital adaptation may evoke visions of continuous improvement and innovation-led initiatives, the real impetus behind digital adaptation is more basic – survival. 70% of B2B companies have digital adaptation projects underway in direct response to competitive threats, according to a recent poll of 300 leading business-to-business companies.Three main sources of competitive threats are looming: those from existing companies, emerging digitally native online competitors, and overseas suppliers offering lower price points. And of these three, the biggest threat is the emerging digitally native company – the totally new player that didn’t exist yesterday. They are the smaller, niche players that can turn on a dime, or venture-backed startup operations, or even students in dorm rooms, all armed with a passion for change and the latest technology. While some of these brand new competitors may be capital-challenged, they have a major competitive advantage over established players by avoiding the expense and upkeep of legacy systems. In fact, executives participating in the research mentioned above pointed to the manpower, expense and operational risk associated with legacy systems as the number one roadblock to their digital success. Internal resistance to change came in number two.It’s not just the shifting competitive landscape that trips up established companies aiming to digitally transform themselves. Competitive threats in the digital age are more complex and more difficult to defend against than traditional types of marketplace assault. Today, competitors can use a laser focus to take down a piece of business they find attractive, compromising profit and market share, one demographic or market slice at a time. For instance, the banking industry, which previously owned the relationship between the financial institution and the customer now sees a deluge of application-based companies shearing off its most lucrative transaction-based offerings. These competitors completely avoided the expensive real estate and extensive human resource requirements of building and maintaining a network of physical locations, which significantly lowered their operational costs.In addition, these digitally-oriented competitors can appear unexpectedly in an industry. Imagine the surprise to the auto industry when they found that consumers were willing to forgo visiting car dealerships to purchase a car online. Several companies emerged encouraging consumers to bypass the vehicle dealership all together. These digital-only companies allow consumers to configure, price and order a new vehicle completely online – from the comfort of their homes or offices – and have the new vehicles delivered to anywhere they choose.While each of these pure-play start-up competitors is disrupting a different sector of a different market, they share a common goal: to put the consumer back in control. B2C companies learned this lesson when, in the early days of digital, the Internet lowered the barriers to entry for new competitors. Retailers were slow to respond to consumers’ online shopping preferences and only took the threat seriously when new online-only players began to take market share from the leaders. This slow response left many market leaders reeling and caused a massive amount of physical stores to close and companies to declare bankruptcy.It’s no longer enough for executives in any market, industry or geography to keep tabs on known sources of competition. On the digital landscape, competition can come from anywhere, which means executives need to be especially vigilant about protecting their market share. To remain successful, companies must digitally adapt to build and maintain an edge over their competitors – the traditional ones they watch regularly, as well as the emerging and digitally native startups, and, even those students in dorm rooms.To learn more about how digital adaptation is changing more than just the way businesses compete, read our white paper, “An Introduction to Digital Adaptation.”
3 Key Ways to Manage Speed to Market
Today’s age of digital adaptation mandates innovation and quality – at great speed. Way back in 2000, Jack Welch, in GE’s Annual Report, warned us, “If the rate of change inside an institution is less than the rate of change outside, the end is in sight.”For some companies, delivering innovation and quality simultaneously is exhilarating, while, for others, it’s a fast path to disaster. Consider these pivotal questions:Why is it that some companies can marry methods, such as Agile and DevOps, to continuously deliver successfully, while others struggle? What puts some companies at the forefront of market demand, while others strain to keep pace with the pack?Success, it seems, often comes down to the ability to unleash technology’s inherent productivity. ". . . companies have been early adopters of these capabilities and have reaped the benefits. Amazon, for instance, can release code every ten seconds or so, update 10,000 servers at a time, and rollback website changes with a single system command," as Satty Bhens, Ling Lau and Shar Markovitch of McKinsey point out.While most companies' leaders would love to bask in the reflected glory of these technology icons, the reality is most of us are not Amazon or Google. But, we can all learn from these market innovators that speed is an important factor in their success. They are constantly adapting and striving to be first to market.To meet the speed-to-market demands digital adaptation presents, executives should consider:Building collaborative development organizations to expand market capabilities. Empowering a cross-functional mindset that bridges internal and external resources. Creating partnerships that flex and reflect the need for speed.Collaboration is one of the keys to delivering software at speed in your business and getting it right the first time. For example, traditional brick and mortar financial institutions, under siege from digital-only startups, tapped internal development resources to create their own digital products and services – often carving out a competitive advantage for themselves in the process. Marcus, an online lending platform from Goldman Sachs is an example of how digital disruption re-energized collaborative internal development to expand the firm’s footprint in an underserved market segment.Originally begun as a way for retail clients to refinance credit card debt, Marcus leverages Goldman Sachs’ technology expertise to appeal to its smaller segment of retail clients. Smaller banks have little incentive to help retail clients refinance debt, which was the driving factor behind Goldman Sachs effort to build the Marcus platform specifically for that purpose in 2016. Having a cross-functional mindset helped Goldman Sachs identify an untapped market opportunity and quickly develop a solution to meet that need. Today, Marcus has expanded from a one-product platform to a multi-product business, which has created a competitive advantage for Goldman Sachs.Finally, consider combining internal skills with partner capabilities. With the precipitous growth of niche skills, the expense of hiring and retaining these resources on staff may not be feasible for the long term. Looking to partners for these skills allows you to flex your staffing as you grow and keep pace with market demands. In addition, supplementing internal resources with assistance from a partner can enable you to deliver to the marketplace a high-quality product quickly -- likely ahead of your competition.Today’s rate of marketplace change requires innovation and speed to market – a tough order for most companies to fulfill. However, taking a collaborative approach that unites internal and external resources behind shared goals can build the sustainable competitive advantage needed to prevail.
Reengineering the Digital Experience
Today’s consumers apply the same digital experience standard to both their personal and professional lives. This merging of experiences, which calls for digital adaptation, has changed business forever.Even though each digital experience begins and ends with the customer driving the interaction, taking a customer experience (CX) only view short-changes digital adaptation’s potential to push business forward. Inside the whole of these transactions exists a multitude of opportunities to reengineer business operations from the inside out – in front office and back office, with partners and suppliers, and finally with our most important resource: our own people.Digital adaptation requires us to focus on ALL our stakeholders, especially the internal teams thinking, developing, testing, and provisioning digital capabilities for all the other stakeholders’ use. Taking a broad, sweeping view of digital adaptation enables revolutionary customer experiences, and it also helps us create a forward thinking company culture. This culture not only delights our customers, it can make our digitally adapted companies into destination employers for the talented people we need to succeed.The Back Office ExperienceThe digital adaptation of business does not solely live in the customer experience. While it’s the digitally adapted customer experience that gets all the headlines, digital impacts all parts of the business, not just revenue. While these results are less visible, they are equally important from a competitive standpoint.Digital Adaptation serves two equally important constituencies: internal workforces and external customers. In the digitally adapted business, the term, "customers," refers to everyone involved in the purchase – the people and businesses that buy our products and services as well as the internal workgroups, teams and staff that create, deliver and support those offerings. Empower internal customers and they will look after your customers, as Richard Branson reminds us. That empowerment centers on access to the latest technologies and tools as we reengineer the customer experience.This consumerization of IT has an impactful spillover effect on our technological/digital experiences outside of "the office," which shapes our thinking "inside the office." Potential new hires assess an organization’s technological ambition and its current capabilities. Candidates don't want to work in companies that are technologically inept – refusing to adapt or failing to invest in ways that put them in the best place to succeed. This candidate and employee dilemma becomes a huge issue that sits at the intersection of culture and technology. An organization’s ability to harness the power of technology quickly becomes, from a staff perspective, personally impactful from a career standpoint.Technology moves so quickly that spending two or three years with a technologically backward company can damage an employee’s career – seriously. Not only can this time be “wasted” working on outdated technologies and methodologies, the time is lost in terms of acquiring new, more in-demand skills. In truth, this “double whammy” is more crippling to a career than the lost time itself. Digital adaptation is about more than saving money, improving operational efficiency and satisfying customer demand. It can also attract and retain the talent you need as you build your teams for the future.We do ourselves a disservice and miss out on opportunities if we restrict our thinking around "experience" to relate to the customer at the expense of considering its very real impact on our current and future employees. Thinking more broadly across the organization, from back office through the customer’s journey and back, can create an experience that makes a "destination company" for employees as well as customers. Experience tells us that companies will discover unexpected benefits in unlikely parts of the back office’s digital adaptation. Check out this case study to see how one leading beverage distributor used a single, new application to correct an order processing problem and discover an unexpected staff retention benefit. And, to learn more about digital adaptation, download our white paper.