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HP's Laws of BPO Business Platforms

HP’s Bob Law, is a Director in the BPO organization, responsible for the Technology platforms that support HP’s F&A, HR, Document Processing and CRM services. This global team enables the tools and processes used daily by over 25,000 HP employees and supporting over 100 HP clients. Bob has over 25 years’ experience in data/voice communications, business application development, infrastructure design/deployment/support and product engineering. With a career that spans a variety of roles from Sales through Production Delivery, Bob has a 360 degree view of the BPO business across a wide range of Industries and Business Processes.


Bob took part in HfS Research’s webinar on “The Emergence of the Business Platform”; replay available here.  We sat down recently with Bob to talk further on Business Platforms. Below is the first of two excerpts of the conversation.

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Q: Let’s start with Business Platforms – do you see this as a real trend in the BPO market?

Bob:  Yes.   It’s not necessarily a new trend per se, because service providers have been providing hosted application sets in conjunction with business process and labor for years.  But I think the market acceptance, pricing flexibility and breadth of these services is expanding.   The sheer number of these types of services has grown, especially when you look across the market tiers.


Q: Can you give me an example?  

Bob:  Sure. Take eBay & PayPal, which to most people wouldn’t necessarily be thought of as a Business Platform.    For the item seller, it’s a fully automated business platform for Marketing, Selling, Credit Card Processing Cash Management, Dispute Management, and Survey Processing.   In this case, the Business is SOHO market. 

Then, PayPal as its own business platform extends well up into the mid and enterprise tiers as an electronic Payment platform.  So I think Business Platforms are coming into the market from a lot of different starting points.


Q: Why do you think buyers are looking at Business Platforms?   What is really driving Business Platforms - accountability, process improvement or the Cloud?

Bob:  We see clients looking primarily for process improvement across the enterprise and the resulting cost reduction.    Ultimately for the large enterprise, this is the next wave improvements beyond shared services organizations and best shoring of labor.


Q:  What type of Buyers are moving to Business Platforms?

Bob:  Most outsourcing buyers are looking for either cost savings or access to skills/knowledge that their company does not possess.   So the same principles apply here to those that are looking to outsource Business Processes or portions of them.  Depending on the size of the company, I think you can make some generalizations.  Smaller companies that are reaching the point of inflection where they are looking for a little more scale and sophistication but without all the fixed expenses and time to deploy – so subscription based services are attractive.

With larger companies, the driver tends to be process standardization and consolidation – and expense reduction.  Platforms become an element in a global business services strategy, best shoring type mix where they are looking to optimize across multiple geographies and business units.



Q: How ready are enterprises to adopt Business Platforms?

Bob:  We still see a fair share of clients asking us to support a tie & run model where we provide labor and facilities, and tie back to client systems and processes.   But, from a provider perspective, what clients are asking for is efficiency and productivity.   The market has/continues to move from labor arbitrage towards automation.   Client’s are asking us “How are you going to take me forward over the next X years and help to drive efficiency and cost reduction on my behalf?”  Business Platforms – which are basically a form of shared automation – fit into that client demand.




Q: What Business Platforms are already established and what's cooking for the future?

Bob: On the first part of your question, our BPO heritage is anchored in the Financial, Insurance, Health Care, Transportation and US Government industries and we have platforms that are highly verticalized for each.  We’ve been developing and using Business Platforms for over 40 years.   More horizontally, our primary services footprint has been in the CRM, Document Processing and F&A space.  And so we’ve been able to look at common process elements and aggregate operational practices and volumes to get the cost efficiencies and leverage at that level as well.


In terms of what’s cooking for the future, specific to HP, we’ll continue to support and enhance our industry aligned services and you’ll see a growing number of service announcements in the areas of Mobility, Big Data and Analytics.


Look for part two of our conversation later this week.

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Most clients have a pretty solid team and functional representation to the effort, along with relatively current process documentation.  Founder and Chief Executive Officer of HfS Research, the leading global research analyst organization covering global sourcing strategies.

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