By Patrick Haller
With 2012 in full-swing, a critical look at what lies ahead for Nearshoring is in order. With a shaky global economy, and some forecasts calling for a sluggish year in IT and BPO sourcing, this is no time to be complacent. Whether it’s building solid skill sets, creating sufficient scale, matching client’s expectations, managing expansion, or doing business amidst social change and myopic political theater, providers have a lot to confront. We tapped some of the leading experts in the Nearshoring space for their answer to the burning question: What is the single biggest challenge you think the Nearshore outsourcing industry faces in 2012?
Partner, Pace Harmon, LLC
For outsourcing buyers, Nearshore vendors are often a better buy because of the typically touted travel, time zone, and language benefits, not necessarily the capabilities provided. As Nearshore economies become stronger and currency arbitrage becomes a challenge, Nearshore outsourcing vendors must build out their skill sets so they can stand on their own. For ITO they need to develop a greater breadth of capabilities, and for BPO they need to improve on both the depth and breadth of capabilities.
President/Partner, Avasense Inc./Avasant LLC
Globally, 2012 will be an interesting year for outsourcing as technological (cloud) and economic disruptions will shape the future of the industry. Gauging by recession-affected market sentiments, most companies are unlikely to tinker with their current outsourcing strategy (new contracts, change service locations, etc). This would in turn limit new expansion opportunities at a global level.
From a Nearshore point of view it will be a crucial year. While many providers have established significant presence in Latin America, the second stage of scaling-up looks challenging. The key reason for this is the lack of depth in service delivery maturity. Many companies in the region are finding it challenging to replicate quality, and lack maturity models as well as training programs that have been one of the successes in other offshore destinations.
It is imperative for the region to develop a strong mechanism to ensure constant flow of trained professionals and educate middle management on business aspects of remote service delivery (IT management, maturity models, IT security, client relationships, etc.). Some of the smarter providers have achieved this by cross-pollinating resources between their Nearshore and offshore locations.
Chairman/CEO, Neo Group
I think the biggest challenge is the ability to show a value proposition beyond cost at scale. While one can show resources in many locations lower in cost than the USA, one needs to show capability at scale that can show better outcomes: quality and/or speed and/or greater ability to collaborate.
In the end, it’s about credibility.
Lead Analyst, Ovum
In my view, the single largest disruptor in the coming 12 months will be political/economic instability in the region. The year has not gotten off to a good start with Daniel Ortega hosting political pariahs Hugo Chavez and Iran’s Ahmadinejad in Managua for Ortega’s inauguration . The optics of this are beyond terrible in the US. Couple that with a Mexican election that no one knows how it will turn out in a country that is facing monumental problems around violence and uncertainty around Argentina’s economic direction, it is possible that American firms may look to other regions, or even domestically. for service delivery alternatives.
CEO, Sourcing Interests Group
The biggest challenge with Nearshore as a “destination,” in my opinion, is that it is truly “many destinations” with few overlapping commonalities, laws, and capabilities. My hope is that 2012 is the year of increased awareness of the issues facing Nearshore, resulting in the initiation of more government support for infrastructure, education, and legal reform. Until Nearshore can start converging as a single destination, it is going to struggle to gain the traction that India or China is capable of creating.
Managing Partner of Research, Everest Group
Nearshore outsourcing will face continued concerns about its security risk profile, which may be compounded by rhetoric from the US election cycle. The political spin will potentially heighten the criticism of Nearshore/offshore jobs. More fundamentally, we may see the US questioning its objectives and commitment to projecting itself beyond its own borders. Growth in Nearshoring is likely to face headwinds as uncertainty awaits around most corners.
Senior Vice President, Site Selection Group
To be fair when discussing Nearshoring, it should always be a two-part question:
This may seem like a broken record regarding the challenges/concerns for Nearshoring, but this is what I believe:
To begin, many companies have gone beyond having concerns for Nearshoring and thus removing the challenge for the growth in Nearshoring. With that being said, we clearly are still seeing companies, when we discuss the opportunities of Nearshoring, having concerns in making a decision to be the pioneer as “they” see it, in making a jump to Nearshore. For many companies, countries such as the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, and Guatemala are seen as making progress in building their base with a skilled workforce and such but still are a ways away from being ideal to some groups. Countries such as Bolivia and Venezuela are very touchy due to the political environment. With that being said, we are currently looking at sites for various clients in several Central American countries. For manufacturing groups, the economic numbers are too compelling, especially in Mexico; supply chain relief, speed to market, NAFTA, cultural affinity. The challenge for Mexico is simply safety. This has been compounded for the worse with the ongoing perception/reality of the violence….this is a HUGE challenge. The business benefits are great but the perception/reality of doing business there is one that needs to be changed; many companies will not take that risk.
Research Manager, Argentina Office & Enterprise Communications Industry Manager,
Frost & Sullivan
I think during 2012 the big challenge that Nearshore providers will face is the pressure from clients for consistent achievement of key performance indicators while keeping costs down, along with the ability to measure customer satisfaction and first-call resolution.