Nearshore Americas | The New Axis of Outsourcing http://www.nearshoreamericas.com Experts in BPO, IT and Software in Latin America and the Caribbean Fri, 23 Jan 2015 15:29:32 +0000 en hourly 1 The New Horizon for Business Intelligence and Analytics http://www.nearshoreamericas.com/horizon-business-intelligence-analytics/ http://www.nearshoreamericas.com/horizon-business-intelligence-analytics/#comments Fri, 23 Jan 2015 15:29:32 +0000 http://www.nearshoreamericas.com/?p=42641 By Rado Kotorov, Chief Innovation Officer at Information Builders Successful companies know that achieving a competitive advantage in today’s market is largely a function of deploying better and more advanced analytics of a growing variety of data. Analytics allows companies to gain insight into the behaviors of consumers and competitors; to understand demand and supply trends; and to evaluate operational ...

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By Rado Kotorov, Chief Innovation Officer at Information Builders

Successful companies know that achieving a competitive advantage in today’s market is largely a function of deploying better and more advanced analytics of a growing variety of data. Analytics allows companies to gain insight into the behaviors of consumers and competitors; to understand demand and supply trends; and to evaluate operational performance and a number of other business critical data sets. The technology also helps employees to make fact-based decisions on innovation, marketing, pricing, discounts, logistics, services, and a number of other areas.

The expansion of analytics is also driven by systematic, fully automated data collection and the capture of behavioral data from multiple touch points. Behavioral data provides more evidence of what people do and why they do it than self-reported data, which is typically collected via surveys and focus groups. Behavioral data allows us to see the actual consumer choices and behaviors.

Nearly every interaction today leaves a breadcrumb of information in various systems and formats. As a result, it’s becoming increasingly important to build a conceptual framework that enables enterprises to piece these breadcrumbs together into coherent and comprehensive stories. See below for an example of such an analytics framework.

Analytics The New Horizon for Business Intelligence and Analytics

Different Data Types

Analytics is frequently characterized in terms of breadth (shown along the X axis). This indicates the variety of data types that can be analyzed. Today’s enterprises collect both structured and unstructured data and those two source types have to converge into one analytic system. More often than not, they are treated as fundamentally different and the management and analysis is organized within different groups and departments, thus missing an opportunity to link the insights gathered from both.

Of course the variety within each data type is enormous, but the idea is that unstructured data cannot be treated as a non-standard type of data outside of the business intelligence (BI) and analytics system. It cannot be ignored by IT or business analysts because it is outside of the traditional data warehouse. It has to be an integral part of the analytic strategy and process.

The depth of analytics (shown along the Y axis) is the dimension that characterizes the increasing complexity of analytic techniques and methods that can be applied to the same data types. For example, the same data set can be analyzed both descriptively and predictively and the insights will differ greatly. The descriptive analysis provides insight into what is happening, while the predictive analysis sheds light on what is likely to happen. The depth has to be correlated with the skills and talent available in the enterprise. As more advanced techniques are used, the value extracted from the collected data increases exponentially.

Facilitating Self-Assessment

Naturally, both depth and breadth are increasing over time as enterprises continuously learn from working with the data and seek to expand their knowledge. The value of the present conceptual framework is to allow BI and analytic professionals to assess where their organizations stand with respect to those two dimensions and formulate both near and long term strategies that map to the full scope of analytics.

You may ask why I choose the bell curve? As the chart shows, the higher levels of analytics stack on top of the lower levels of analytics. Reporting is at the base, as it is the starting point for all business analytics in every enterprise. It also requires the least advanced skills for information consumption (if done well) and thus is the foundation for pervasive distribution of data for decision-making. Predictive analytics and optimization are at the top as they are highly specialized methods that must be performed by trained statisticians and mathematicians.

However, I want to convey an important message here: if predictive analytics is embedded into the operational reporting, the average intelligence of the entire enterprise will increase. Conversely, if analytics is implemented by statisticians – and the findings are distributed in memos and presentations – the project will impact the knowledge of the few rather than the actions of the many.

So the key to raising the analytic capabilities of the entire enterprise is to embed the more advanced methods into operational reports and dashboards so that all operational employees are empowered to make better fact-based decisions.

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Getting Business Units To Cooperate When The Global Process Owner Lacks The Formal Authority http://www.nearshoreamericas.com/business-units-cooperate-global-process-owner-lacks-formal-authority/ http://www.nearshoreamericas.com/business-units-cooperate-global-process-owner-lacks-formal-authority/#comments Thu, 22 Jan 2015 19:52:06 +0000 http://www.nearshoreamericas.com/?p=43239 By Richa Jain While many global organizations are trying to consolidate shared services and setting up global process offices to own end-to-end processes across business units, the role of the GPO often tends to be unclear.  Global process owners frequently find themselves driving change and directing all aspects of the process improvement across business units, without being given a clear ...

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By Richa Jain

While many global organizations are trying to consolidate shared services and setting up global process offices to own end-to-end processes across business units, the role of the GPO often tends to be unclear.  Global process owners frequently find themselves driving change and directing all aspects of the process improvement across business units, without being given a clear formal authority and mandate across all functional and business units involved in the project. A study by Tungsten Network and sharedserviceslink shows that more than half of GPOs find themselves in situations where they do not have the authority to mandate change.

Most processes run across multiple functional units, each in their own silo, reporting to a number of executives across global locations. Such silos tend to have their own pre-defined value proposition and success metrics, independent of other groups. Any attempt to optimize, or even standardize, their processes is likely to meet with resistance. Measured performance against key metrics clearly shows the negative impact this has. In the same study, the KPI measuring straight through processing showed a 93% improvement when GPOs had full authority to enforce change, as opposed to 52% improvement when the GPO did not have formal authority.

When the Formal Authority is Missing

Susie West, founder and CEO of sharedserviceslink, a community for leaders in financial shared services told Global Delivery Report “If the GPO doesn’t have the formal authority to see that other business units implement approved projects, it can be very challenging.” That may be the reason behind 74% GPOs responding that support from senior management is the most important factor enabling them to enforce change.

West explained, “If the GPO doesn’t have a formal position to mandate change, the GPO will have to rely on how influential they are, how well connected they are, whether or not they can identify people in the organization who have a significant voice. It can become quite political. It’s not ideal, but it’s also not uncommon for GPOs to rely on this informal structure.” She added, “If you’re relying on influence and contacts, this kind of informal approach can take longer to drive the change. If the GPO is new to the business it can take up to 6 months for them to just identify who the key players are in the business that can help the GPO drive the required change.”

Bonding Over the End Goals

David Hamme, Managing Director of Ephesus Consulting, a boutique consulting firm that focuses on driving initiatives for its clients, shared some techniques GPOs can use to overcome the lack of formal authority, “Immediately after a project is launched, I ask the team to draft an end state of the expected outcome. What are the steps in the end process? Who are the partners? What is the business case including all costs and benefits? My reason for this exercise is not to etch in stone the eventual outcome, but rather to serve as an icebreaker for the team—getting them engaged at a detailed level while building comfort with each other. Perhaps most importantly, having the team pull together the end state so early allows them to think freely about alternative paths to achieve an outcome before they are inundated with restrictions brought on by financial constraints, political barriers, or conventional norms.”

Customer Focus: Internal and External

A GPO who lacks the formal authority and backing from senior management is likely to face greater resistance from local business units. This can be due to the local business unit feeling threatened from loss of manpower and budget allocation, or because they do not see the benefits from a shared service endeavor. In such scenarios, it helps to work with them, to assuage their fears and shift the focus from them, to the end customers. Hamme recommended, “For a global process, think through how geographic or environmental factors may impact the process? Can a solution in one area be beneficially leveraged in another? What could be done to make the end state better? And always, put yourself in the customer’s shoes. How can you delight the customer, both internal and external?”

Again, involving the key stake holders from the local business units is crucial to moving ahead. Hamme elaborated, “My next step is to ask the team and key decision makers to think about the questions requiring answers before a definitive choice can be made as to the end state that delivers the greatest benefit.  With an end state and a slate of critical questions, the team has unknowingly taken a giant leap forward towards a successful outcome. Already they are exploring ideas, plotting a path forward, and perhaps most importantly, working together.”

This article was originally published by NSAM sister publication Global Delivery Report

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Intuit Acquires Brazil’s Accounting Software Vendor ZeroPaper http://www.nearshoreamericas.com/intuit-acquires-brazils-accounting-software-vendor-zeropaper/ http://www.nearshoreamericas.com/intuit-acquires-brazils-accounting-software-vendor-zeropaper/#comments Thu, 22 Jan 2015 16:41:16 +0000 http://www.nearshoreamericas.com/?p=43229 By Narayan Ammachchi Intuit has agreed to acquire its Brazilian rival ZeroPaper in a deal that will give the U.S. accounting software vendor wide access to the lucrative market of small & medium-sized business clients in South America. Brasilia-based ZeroPaper offers cloud-based accounting services to small businesses in almost every major city across the South American country. Founded in 2012, it is the ...

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By Narayan Ammachchi

Intuit has agreed to acquire its Brazilian rival ZeroPaper in a deal that will give the U.S. accounting software vendor wide access to the lucrative market of small & medium-sized business clients in South America.

Brasilia-based ZeroPaper offers cloud-based accounting services to small businesses in almost every major city across the South American country. Founded in 2012, it is the brainchild of Brazil’s start-up accelerator 21212, which also invested in the company along with Totvs Ventures.

Once the deal is closed, Intuit will offer its flagship software QuickBooks to ZeroPaper’s clients. There are also talks that Intuit could persuade ZeroPaper clients to migrate to QuikBooks, the accounting software popular with finance professionals across the world.

It seems Intuit, based in Mountain View, California, is primarily focused on capturing ZeroPaper’s vast base of customers. The Brazilian start-up has about 450,000 clients, most of them small and medium in size.

“We founded ZeroPaper with an aim to provide individual entrepreneurs and small businesses with a simple tool to manage their accounting,” stated André Macedo, CEO of ZeroPaper, in a blog post. “With renowned products such as QuickBooks, Quicken and TurboTax, Intuit is one of the most innovative software makers. It is a pleasure to join Intuit.”

Analysts view the acquisition as a shrewd move from Intuit, because Brazil is home to more than 15 million small businesses, many of whom are about to go digital.

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The Pros and Cons of Utilizing an Agile Methodology http://www.nearshoreamericas.com/agile-methodology-advantages-disadvantages/ http://www.nearshoreamericas.com/agile-methodology-advantages-disadvantages/#comments Thu, 22 Jan 2015 16:24:23 +0000 http://www.nearshoreamericas.com/?p=42801 By Carla Dawson, Digital Marketing Manager, Mobydigital Agile Methodologies are the latest in software development but what advantages and disadvantages do they present from a client and provider perspective? Software development is a complicated process from both perspectives and it is important to understand the pros and cons, common problems, and when to use Agile Methodologies. Software development is something all ...

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By Carla Dawson, Digital Marketing Manager, Mobydigital

Agile Methodologies are the latest in software development but what advantages and disadvantages do they present from a client and provider perspective? Software development is a complicated process from both perspectives and it is important to understand the pros and cons, common problems, and when to use Agile Methodologies.

Software development is something all types of companies around the world are having to adopt. How they go about purchasing custom software development services is key to their success. When purchasing custom software products, companies basically have two choices:

  • Waterfall Model
  • Agile Methodologies

The Waterfall model is basically a linear model of software design. Just as its name suggests, Waterfall employs a sequential design process.  In contrast, Agile methodologies propose an incremental and iterative approach to software design. Agile methodologies were born after the Waterfall model and in response to the shortcomings of the Waterfall model.

Hiring a software development team is a challenging task for most companies. Nowadays everyone seems to sell software development services, prices range significantly, companies are young and quotes are rarely transparent, etc. Software development companies with agile methodologies respond to this inconsistent environment in the following ways.

Pricing and Transparency

Agile contracts offer transparency. The standard Agile contract openly defines resource types, and resource dedication. For example:

  • 1 Project Manager 50% dedication
  • 1 Technical Leader 50% dedication
  • 2 senior .Net developers 100% dedication
  • 1 junior .Net developer 100% dedication

Clients actively participate in requirement definition and associated costs with the development team. Everything is discussed out in the open as a united team. Times and costs associated with every software functionality are discussed openly with the development team.

Business Value Comes First

The agile process promotes and requires that functionalities with higher business value are done first.

Great Communication: Clients are required to actively participate in the project, improving communication overall between the client and the provider. Clients are aware of every detail every step of the way.

Costs: Payment is done in regular installments and based on completed and approved work. Clients see the costs associated to each functionality before it is programmed and can back out on “non essential” items to reduce overall project costs.

The Disadvantages

No Fixed Pricing: Software product pricing is not fixed. In other words, clients cannot know how much the software product will really cost them until the project starts and even then, they just get an estimate.

Agile Methodologies require that clients participate proactively and as a project requirement. Resource availability (on the client side) is sometimes scarce, putting a strain on the client company.

The Lingo: Agile Methodologies require that the client company use Agile terminology such as “scrum,” “sprints” and “points,” etc. This is often confusing and not perceived as necessary.

Working with various clients can be challenging from a software development company perspective. All clients have different backgrounds, products, teams and expectations, etc. The learning curve is constant. What may be obvious to one client is not obvious to the next, yet all clients are what they are and the software product has to be developed regardless of what the party involved may be like.

The Advantages

Transparency: Agile methodologies require transparency, making a project less cumbersome from a communication point of view. Agile methodologies require software development companies to explicitly communicate functionality costs and development times.

Collaborative Effort: Clients are obligated to actively participate in the requirements definition process, thus reducing unknowns and making the overall process more efficient.  And the method requires software development companies to basically “rent out” a software team at a fixed amount until the client chooses to end the project. This pay-as-you-go system makes project finances very easy to manage from a revenue and expense point of view.

The Disadvantages

Complicated Sales Cycle: Clients like fixed amount contracts. This is true in software development as in other types of services. When bidding on a project, clients like to know “how much is this going to cost me more or less”. Selling software with Agile Methodologies makes answering this question very difficult. First of all, it can never be answered until iteration ends and frankly clients don’t like hearing this.

Training the Client: Clients do have to go through a training process to be successful in the product development. The lack of client participation and understanding will affect the software quality and therefore reflect on the software development company.

Small projects and maintenance projects are a big part of software development services, yet Agile Methodologies are not ideal for these kinds of projects. This forces software development companies to have hybrid solutions.

Common Problems: Applying Agile Methodologies has its problems just as all processes do:

  • Selling software with Agile Methodologies is quite challenging since the question “how much will this cost me” arises and an ambiguous answer is not what clients want to hear.
  • The learning curve is repeated with every client.
  • Heavy client participation is required and although clients are told this in the sales cycle, the first couple weeks of the project sometimes overwhelm the client.
  • Developers do have client-facing roles and training them on this matter is required.
  • Poor client participation directly affects product quality.

When to Use Agile Methodologies

Agile Methodology Advantages and Disadvantages1 The Pros and Cons of Utilizing an Agile Methodology

There are many ways to develop software but Agile methodologies really accomplish a win-win solution for clients and providers. Software development is not going away and how companies approach this service is key to their success. Working with Agile Methodologies has its challenges yet in the end, both client and provider win.

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A New International Airport in Limon, Costa Rica? http://www.nearshoreamericas.com/firm-offers-build-airport-puerto-limon/ http://www.nearshoreamericas.com/firm-offers-build-airport-puerto-limon/#comments Thu, 22 Jan 2015 16:01:06 +0000 http://www.nearshoreamericas.com/?p=43220 By Narayan Ammachchi International aviation infrastructure firm Mel Group has offered to finance construction of an international airport in Puerto Limon, a coastal town in Costa Rica home to about 60,000 people. The airport, which would be built in Saborio Matina, 25 kilometers from the port of Moin, would complement the Limon Seaport, a major sea route for cargo destined to North America ...

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By Narayan Ammachchi

International aviation infrastructure firm Mel Group has offered to finance construction of an international airport in Puerto Limon, a coastal town in Costa Rica home to about 60,000 people. The airport, which would be built in Saborio Matina, 25 kilometers from the port of Moin, would complement the Limon Seaport, a major sea route for cargo destined to North America and the Caribbean.

There is already an airport just south of Limon Seaport, but it is too small for international aircraft. It reportedly serves foreign tourists with chartered flights, giving access to the Caribbean towns of of Cahuita, Puerto Viejo, Gandoca and Manzanillo.

Mel Group has reportedly agreed to invest US$700 million in the venture, promising to complete the project in a span of three years. According to previous reports in the local press, the American firm has been pressing the government to accept the proposal for the past year.

With two major port terminals in Limón and Moín, Puerto Limón has long served as a major gateway for cargo moving in and out of Central America. The province is also popular with foreign tourists.

The proposed airport will have a 4-km long runway and a 30,000-square-meter terminal building. The Costa Rican government has reportedly agreed to review the offer along with another proposal made last year by Limon’s Chamber of Tourism.

In August last year, the American firm said the airport would boost the provincial economy, generating about 2,500 direct jobs and 8,000 indirect jobs.

Analysts say the airport would also improve the local quality of life as it would pave the way for the arrival of more foreign tourists.

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Brazil Raises Taxes on Imports, Fuel and Credit http://www.nearshoreamericas.com/brazil-raises-tax-imports-fuel/ http://www.nearshoreamericas.com/brazil-raises-tax-imports-fuel/#comments Wed, 21 Jan 2015 17:35:40 +0000 http://www.nearshoreamericas.com/?p=43211 By Narayan Ammachchi Brazil has raised taxes on fuel, imports and consumer loans as Latin America’s biggest economy battles to narrow budget deficits. According to new Finance Minister Joaquim Levy, the tax rise will raise government revenue by US$7.8 billion in 2015. But analysts have warned that the increase in fuel prices may stoke inflation, another serious impediment plaguing the ...

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By Narayan Ammachchi

Brazil has raised taxes on fuel, imports and consumer loans as Latin America’s biggest economy battles to narrow budget deficits. According to new Finance Minister Joaquim Levy, the tax rise will raise government revenue by US$7.8 billion in 2015.

But analysts have warned that the increase in fuel prices may stoke inflation, another serious impediment plaguing the South American country. Brazil’s central bank is expected to raise interest rates again to combat inflation.

Widening trade and budget deficits, a weak currency, soaring inflation and drying capital inflow have tied the hands of the new finance minister, who is scrambling for tools to reverse the country’s economic fortunes.

The tax increases are the first major decision Levy has taken since taking office a month ago. The measures include doubling financial transaction tax on credit to from 1.5% to 3% and increased taxes on imported goods and cosmetics starting in June

In a bid to overcome its complex economic problems, Brazil is also taking the unusual step of raising fuel prices in 90 days time, despite petrol prices having fallen by more than 60% in the international market.

There is some good news for Brazil. The country’s recent measures, including targeted spending cuts and tighter control of pension and unemployment benefits, seem to have helped reduce longer-term interest rates.

Brazil has raised its benchmark interest rate 11 times since April 2013, from a record low of 7.25% to the present rate of 11.75%.

But its decision to tax technology imports has already hurt the prospects of several international firms. Japanese gaming firm Nintendo, for example, recently exited the Brazilian market, complaining of high tariffs on technology imports.

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IHG Sourcing Manager Impressed by Cultural Affinity in Mexico http://www.nearshoreamericas.com/mexicos-cultural-affinity-impressive/ http://www.nearshoreamericas.com/mexicos-cultural-affinity-impressive/#comments Wed, 21 Jan 2015 16:30:12 +0000 http://www.nearshoreamericas.com/?p=43208 IHG’s Doug Castor was impressed by many Mexicans’ familiarity with American culture at the inaugural FutureSource Summit.

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IHG’s Doug Castor was impressed by many Mexicans’ familiarity with American culture at the inaugural FutureSource Summit.

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Digicel Acquires the Bermuda Telephone Company http://www.nearshoreamericas.com/digicel-acquires-bermuda-telecom-company/ http://www.nearshoreamericas.com/digicel-acquires-bermuda-telecom-company/#comments Wed, 21 Jan 2015 16:13:50 +0000 http://www.nearshoreamericas.com/?p=43202 By Narayan Ammachchi Digicel has agreed to acquire the Bermuda Telephone Company (BTC) in an attempt to keep up with Cable and Wireless, who bought Caribbean’s dominant telecom capacity vendor Columbus International last November. Analysts say the acquisition also puts Digicel in direct competition with CableVision. The agreement is subject to regulatory approval in Bermuda. BTC said the merger injects competition into the region’s ...

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By Narayan Ammachchi

Digicel has agreed to acquire the Bermuda Telephone Company (BTC) in an attempt to keep up with Cable and Wireless, who bought Caribbean’s dominant telecom capacity vendor Columbus International last November.

Analysts say the acquisition also puts Digicel in direct competition with CableVision. The agreement is subject to regulatory approval in Bermuda. BTC said the merger injects competition into the region’s telecom market.

Internet penetration is as high as 91% in Bermuda, although broadband service remains expensive, largely due to a lack of competition.

Digicel moved into Bermuda in 2012 when it acquired local telecom operator Transact. Today the carrier controls nearly 48% of the market share with 94,300 mobile users.

Digicel did not disclose what price it paid for BTC, but analysts estimate it might have paid around US$30 million. That was the price that Canadian group Barrie OpCo paid to acquire the Bermudan firm just six months ago.

It is not clear how many customers BCT is serving in the Caribbean, but Digicel is thought to have been drawn by its extensive fixed-line network and its many broadband customers in Bermuda. However, analysts say BTC’s fixed-voice and Internet services can only supplement Digicel’s existing network in the Caribbean country.

“We always look for opportunities to enhance our service offering,” said Digicel. The Jamaica-based firm appears to have been concerned by the growing influence of its regional rival Cable and Wireless.

In December last year, Digicel executive Denis O’Brien urged Caribbean nations to suspend Cable and Wireless’ agreement to acquire Columbus, saying the purchase destroys competition, giving birth to a monopoly operator.

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FinanceTech’s Take on Business Process Management http://www.nearshoreamericas.com/financetechs-business-process-management/ http://www.nearshoreamericas.com/financetechs-business-process-management/#comments Tue, 20 Jan 2015 17:20:03 +0000 http://www.nearshoreamericas.com/?p=43193 FinanceTech CEO Gustavo Pares explains how a company’s profitability depends on the efficiency of its processes.

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FinanceTech CEO Gustavo Pares explains how a company’s profitability depends on the efficiency of its processes.

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VXI Global Solutions Acquires Software Testing Firm Symbio http://www.nearshoreamericas.com/vxi-global-acquires-software-testing-firm-symbio/ http://www.nearshoreamericas.com/vxi-global-acquires-software-testing-firm-symbio/#comments Tue, 20 Jan 2015 17:09:37 +0000 http://www.nearshoreamericas.com/?p=43187 By Narayan Ammachchi VXI Global Solutions has acquired Finnish software testing services firm Symbio SA from the European private equity firm Capman Group. Financial details of the deal are yet to be disclosed. The acquisition, VXI says, will increase its headcount to 17,000 across its delivery centers, including those in South America. But the outsourcer did not give the precise ...

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By Narayan Ammachchi

VXI Global Solutions has acquired Finnish software testing services firm Symbio SA from the European private equity firm Capman Group. Financial details of the deal are yet to be disclosed.

The acquisition, VXI says, will increase its headcount to 17,000 across its delivery centers, including those in South America. But the outsourcer did not give the precise count of employees being added to its operations in Latin America, where it has delivery centers in Guatemala, El Salvador and Barranquilla, Colombia.

Even after the closing of the deal, Symbio will continue operating under the same brand, but some of its technology platforms will be integrated into VXI, which is headquartered in Los Angeles, CA.

Based in San Jose, California, Symbio counts Alibaba, BNP Paribas, Google, HSBC, Intel, Microsoft, and Volvo among its clients. Founded in 1994, the company has eight development centers and offices across the United States, Europe and Asia.

Symbio offers RDaaS (R&D as a Service) solutions, in addition to strategic insight, agile software development and quality assurance.

“Together the companies will create a unique combination of high-level engineering at scale,” stated Bain Capital, which owns VXI Global. The Bain Capital has also promised that it will provide the new company with expert insight in business development in addition to global business opportunities.

Although Symbio develops software on its own, its specialization lies with software testing.

“Market leaders are seeking ways to evolve into the next phase of servicing in order to move beyond the traditional models of contact center and omni-channel support. The acquisition of Symbio will help deliver business-driven solutions,” said Eva Wang, CEO of VXI.

Analysts believe that VXI Global is planning to integrate its BPO capabilities into Symbio’s product development capabilities to put on offer a broader portfolio of services.

In September last year, a U.S. government agency sued VXI on charges of sexually harassing its male and female employees at its call center in Los Angeles. According to the complaint, supervisors at the contact center showed pornographic images and groped their subordinates.

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