Is reshoring the future?

by Irina for IBA Group
Posted on May 5, 2014

IBA Group
Mark Hillary

Earlier this year at the World Economic Forum in Davos British Prime Minister David Cameron gave a speech that highlighted reshoring as a key objective of his government. In his speech Cameron said:

“In recent years there has been a practice of offshoring where companies move production facilities to low cost countries. We’ve all seen it. We all know it’s true. And it will continue.

But there is now an opportunity for the reverse: there is now an opportunity for some of those jobs to come back.”

Cameron focused mainly on the manufacturing sector. He cited examples such as the Horby model company bring production back from India to the UK and Raspberry Pi computers moving production to Wales.

What he said makes sense for these companies. By reducing the complexity in a manufacturing supply chain there is the opportunity for these companies to react faster to the market than if their products needed to be ordered many months before delivery.

Cameron went on to acknowledge that this is not a simple argument. He is not describing an ‘us’ v ‘them’ world:

“…I’m not saying there is a finite number of jobs in the world and that our success depends on some kind of tug of war to win them back at the expense of the East.”

But Cameron’s concept of reshoring is very focused on companies and processes that require a physical product delivery. He talked about call centre jobs moving closer to home, but the change in call centre strategy over the past decade has been well documented – people prefer to have their calls answered closer to home.

For many other professional services there is effectively now a global market. Graphic designers, advertising, accounting, and IT professionals are now operating within a global community of expertise and with instant delivery of products via the Internet there is no supply chain difficulty.

So it doesn’t seem like the UK government focus on reshoring will affect those companies or individuals supplying technology expertise. These services are usually sold based on the expertise required, not simply on a low price alone – allowing a global search for the best possible skills wherever they may be found.

Click here to read the full text of the speech by David Cameron at the WEF 2014 in Davos:

https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/world-economic-forum-davos-2014-speech-by-david-cameron–2

Mobile applications: HTML 5 versus native solution

by Irina for IBA Group
Posted on April 25, 2014

Jana Albrechtová
Vítězslav Košina
IBA CZ

With the rise of the mass use of mobile devices the importance of mobile applications has grown dynamically. They are applied in a variety of areas, such as trade, finance, travel, transportation, media, and education, and go far beyond being just about fun or communication in social networks. When used for remote work, they are helpful in solving different operational problems and in receiving information in real time.

The spectrum of mobile technologies is as wide as that of mobile devices. On the one hand, there are purely native applications built specifically for an operating system of a specific mobile device. On the other hand, there is a universal HTML. In terms of user-friendliness, HTML 5 is catching up with native applications. In terms of cost-effectiveness, it often surpasses native applications. Each technology has its advantages and disadvantages.

In this article, I would like to familiarize you with the current issues of mobility and give a high-level comparison of native applications and HTML 5.

Mobility rules the world
According to statistical data, about one third of the Czech population uses smartphones, a phone with its own operating system. Mobile operators report that up to 80% of phones sold today are smartphones.

According to estimates, the penetration of mobile devices in the Czech Republic will double in the near future. However, we are still a few years behind the most advanced countries of the world. In Sweden the world’s leader in the use of smartphones, the penetration is already more than 70%.
Globally, about 37% of users have moved their normal activities from a desktop to a mobile device – a mobile phone or tablet.

In addition to smartphones, tablets hold a significant and steadily growing share of the mobile market. Their penetration in the Czech market climbed to 8% in 2013. It is also worth mentioning eReader or Smart TV that follow smartphones and tablets in the list. However, in terms of interactivity they ‘stand in the shadow’ of smartphones and tablets.

The agency ZenithOptimedia has carried out a research on the spread of mobile technologies in 19 countries, namely: Australia, Brazil, China, Denmark, France, Ireland, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Canada, Germany, Hungary, Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Great Britain, and USA. The following chart shows some of its findings and shows the situation in the Czech Republic.

Penetration of mobile devices by country
Hand in hand with mobile devices, the mobile internet comes. According to Cisco estimates, the mobile internet traffic will grow by a factor of 26 by 2020. We also anticipate a significant increase in the speed of the mobile internet.

Emphasis on UX and mobile context
Mobile devices differ from desktop computers mainly in terms of user interface. Their screen is smaller and the control is less accurate because of touchscreen. The size and mobility also entail a limited battery life. Another feature is unstable internet access because connection is made from different places with different coverage and speed.

With the development of mobile platforms, User Experience (UX) is growing in importance. UX causes the need for the device to have an intuitive interface, be easy to use, provide high quality interactivity, and offer different effects.

A key aspect of mobile devices is mobile context that is the context of place, time, and user. The phone knows its location through GPS. It can adapt to specific conditions. It offers interaction with the environment, is good for remote operation, both online and offline. Mobile devices are used during natural disasters, serves not only for emergency services, but also for example for insurance companies to reimburse damage.

Specifics of mobile devices
• Smaller screen compared to PCs or notebooks
• Touchscreen with less precise control
• Limited battery life
• Unstable or slow access to mobile networks
• Emphasis on usability
• Mobile context

Native applications
Native applications are built to suit mobile devices or to be more exact, for a specific operating system (Android, Windows, iOS, etc.), offering a high degree of interactivity, sophisticated design, and user friendliness. Running in native code, this system is fast, reliable, and able to work with all features of the phone.

Use of native applications, however, faces the problems of diversity of the mobile market and of fragmentation of its users. For each platform and hardware, you need to create and test its own native solution. The application must also adapt to the constant updates of the operating system. This the advantage of native applications becomes also their fundamental shortcoming.

HTML applications
Universal HTML offers web solutions as an alternative to native applications. Although designed primarily for a desktop, HTML 5 is able to meet the specifics of mobile devices. HTML 5 overcomes the disadvantages of an original website. It can work offline and is able to control the basic functions of mobile phone’s hardware.

An important difference between native applications and web solutions is the way users access them. While a web application is accessible to anyone, has its URL, and takes into account search engine optimization, a native application is available at special stores (Google Play, AppStore). They are accessible to potential users but should be downloaded first.

Users can see native applications as an icon on the desktop. They can also interact with the user via push notifications. Web applications are normally started via web browser.

The following diagram illustrates the benefits of native and web applications in several key areas (the better the solution, the higher the proportion of the total scale is).

Native vs. HTML5 apps

Be mobile
Given the universal spread of mobile devices, the question is not whether to be mobile, but how to be mobile. Before choosing between a web or native application, a thorough analysis of the target market and user behavior should be conducted, as well as financial objectives and expected benefits be assessed. For ease of presentation, web solutions are suitable. Complex applications with a high degree of interaction usually require native applications.
It is also necessary to take into account the development and testing costs for different platforms. Based on the experience from the projects implemented by IBA CZ, testing of mobile applications is up to three times more expensive than testing of desktop applications.

“In practice, the use of HTML 5 became very quickly a universal rule. In many cases, it is the fastest and most effective solution. There are also ways to turn it into a native app”, explains Pavel Šafář, consultant at IBA CZ.

Big Data: buzzword or technology trend?

by Irina for IBA Group
Posted on April 21, 2014

IBA Group
Mark Hillary

Big Data is often viewed as a big buzzword, but it’s a technology trend that is affecting everyone in their daily life – as well as changing the way enterprises need to organise their systems.

Ninety percent of all the data that exists in the world today was created in the past two years, according to analyst firm IDC. The average American office worker generates 5,000mb of data every day just by working on documents, sending emails, or downloading videos. By 2015 the amount of data we are creating now will have doubled – we are exponentially creating more and more data faster and faster.
You might think that these figures sound exaggerated. How could I have created thousands of megabytes of new data just by going into the office today? It’s easy with emails being copied and shared and presentations today requiring more images and more video – the enterprise has moved on from an era where text alone was enough.

The figures from IDC suggest that data creation will have grown by 2000% between now and 2020. And regular consumers create 75% of all this new data. This is because 87% of American adults constantly publish their location – often unknowingly – via their mobile phone and 65 billion location tagged payments are made in the US annually.

As more consumers carry more devices with the ability to measure and record more information, often automatically uploaded to the Internet, there is a sea of data being created and it affects every possible business and industry in every location.

Organisations in many industries are now facing pressure to explore Big Data, to find how they can get value from mining the information they have on clients and transactions, but it needs tools and expertise to get right.

This is one kind of enterprise project where it is almost certainly better to outsource the work to an expert than to try performing in house. You can buy some tools and make an attempt at examining the data you have, but if you don’t know how to configure those tools or where to start looking then your Big Data project might just turn out to be a big mistake.

Visual web, Big Data and enterprise technologies

by Irina for IBA Group
Posted on April 14, 2014

IBA Group
Mark Hillary

Our last blog mentioned the growth of the visual web. This is an important trend that is changing how content is consumed on the Internet in general, but is also changing the expectation of how managers consumer content within organisations.

2013 was the year that images surpassed text as the most popular means of communicating online. Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, and Facebook have become the most popular ways to communicate and these tools are largely visual.

Storing and managing all these images is becoming an enormous big data problem too. There is a growing need to take control of Big Data that is becoming more urgent each day. Ninety per cent of all the data that exists in the world today was created in the past two years, according to analyst firm IDC. The average American office worker generates 5,000mb of data every day just by working on documents, sending emails, or downloading videos. By 2015 the amount of data we are creating now will have doubled – we are exponentially creating more and more data faster and faster.

Figures from IDC also suggest that data creation will have grown by 2000% from now to 2020. And regular consumers create 75% of all this new data. This is because 87% of American adults constantly publish their location – often unknowingly – via their mobile phone and 65 billion location tagged payments are made in the US annually.

All this automatically published information combined with images and video mean that the way we communicate is changing fast. This affects the way companies hire, the way they market their services, and the way they communicate internally.

Enterprise technologies will need to reflect the established public networks if corporate communication – internal and external – is going to succeed in future.

How important is visual information in your business?

by Irina for IBA Group
Posted on April 2, 2014

IBA Group
Mark Hillary

How important is visual information in your business? What do you think of as visual anyway – a chart on Excel or some other reporting system?
The most recent funding round for Pinterest boosted its valuation to around $3.8bn, which sounds like a lot of money for something that just looks like a visual scrapbook on the web.

When Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook bought Instagram in 2012 for $1bn many commentators thought that it was outrageous – Facebook had overpaid for a phone based photo-sharing service that didn’t even have a website.

Facebook eclipsed that deal recently when they purchased Whatsapp for $19bn. Whatsapp is a text messaging tool that is popular all over the world, but particularly in fast-growing developing nations such as India and Brazil. But what is really different about Whatsapp is that it allows easy photo and video sharing – it is not just a tool for texting, it offers a complete visual experience too.

Take a look around the Internet. It is becoming more visual. Many bloggers are choosing to just create a video instead, or to create a blog that only contains photographs.

Photo network, such as Flickr, offer free space to users that measures in the terabyte – unthinkable amounts of space just a few years ago, yet now it’s almost essential because the Internet is becoming more visual and more focused on mobile devices as the tool that is used to consume content.
This means that companies using the Internet need to consider how their own information can be reflected. How do you publish corporate reports and information when the trend for information use is becoming more visual?

Consumers are getting used to ‘reading’ Instagram and Pinterest in the same way they used to read the newspaper and this is affecting corporate life. A manager today will not want to read a dense report packed with numbers. Visual information has always been useful, but now it’s essential if you want to convey a message within your organisation.

Visual reporting

by Irina for IBA Group
Posted on March 18, 2014

IBA Group
Kirill Degtiarenko

We live in the era of Big Data. These days everyone is overwhelmed with information. There’s no time to read and analyze the data that come to us from different sources. This is where data visualization can help.

According to Visual Teaching Alliance, “it is hard to argue with the observation that the generation of students now moving into and through our educational system is by far the most visually stimulated generation… In fact, research shows that 65% of our students are visual learners.”

They say a picture is worth a thousand words and we see how images today seize the online content. People and companies document their lives with photos. The web is turning into a visual landscape.

Data visualization is already mainstream. As a result of visual presentation, complicated and potentially dull information becomes easily understandable and comprehensible.

The BI market is also shifting, from tables and spreadsheets to diagrams and infographics. It is inherent to a human being to perceive visual images quicker than plain text or numbers. We “read” graphical information several times quicker than data in a spreadsheet. The user can see the key data at a glance and therefore make efficient analysis and a grounded decision.

Clarity and ease of grasp make a report efficient. Based on visualized data, it is possible to make a timely and grounded management decision. High quality visualization enables managers to achieve good business results.

A report title should be also catching and reflect the essence of the report in a clear and concise form. Diagrams serve as a good tool for data visualization. Color serves to highlight certain details and make selected data easy to remember.

The following is an example of how a complicated spreadsheet turns into a visual report.

Spreadsheet Visual report1 Visual report 2

Offshore outsourcing is about finding the best talent

by Irina for IBA Group
Posted on March 10, 2014

IBA Group
Mark Kobayashi-Hillary

Offshore outsourcing (often called offshoring) often gets a bad press. Many people assume that offshoring must be all about finding the lowest cost service and therefore the world is engaged in an endless race to the bottom, searching for lower and lower costs.

It’s not like that at all. This interesting article in the business magazine Forbes challenges the conventional wisdom on outsourcing. For instance, even though the US and Europe account for about half the economic activity of the entire world, only about 10% of the global population lives in these two regions.

This means that there are an enormous number of highly skilled people outside the wealthiest nations on earth. Working with this talent is essential because of the difficulties involved in finding these people locally.

And many companies are more globally oriented today. If you wanted a new logo designed in the past then it would be done by a local designer, now it’s done anywhere in the world based on finding a designer you like. Any intellectual task can now be performed anywhere in the world so the issue today for companies of all sizes is that if you are not working globally then how are you finding enough skilled resource to keep you ahead of the game?

And finding the right talent to support your team back in headquarters is only half the story. If you want to expand to new markets, what could be better than working with a team of people in those new markets to give you a footprint and a first step into the new region?

Offshoring has often been misrepresented, but it is now an essential part of corporate strategy that aims at making the skills of the entire world available to clients, wherever they are located.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/gregsatell/2014/02/09/how-to-find-the-worlds-best-talent-offshore/

Finding SAP expertise just got easier

by Irina for IBA Group
Posted on March 3, 2014

IBA Group
Mark Kobayashi-Hillary

What is the most common reason any company will work with a technology partner through an outsourcing deal? The most common response is often because it costs less than hiring the expertise internally, but this is not always true – cost is sometimes a driver, but not always.
Flexibility is usually a more important driver. Flexibility to find expertise exactly when and where those skills are needed, especially when the skills don’t exist internally.

When a big project is being designed and created it may be that particular technical skills are only needed for the implementation. It makes no sense to hire the expertise internally in the same way that you probably go to your local car dealer when your car needs a service rather than doing all the work yourself.

SAP is a great example of this principle. Founded in 1972, SAP is the world’s largest business software company having more than 55,700 employees in 130+ countries. Today, more than 183,000 customers in 130+ countries use SAP software on their workstations. SAP is a very popular business tool, but the companies using it don’t need to keep SAP experts on their own payroll all the time – it makes more sense to work with a partner like IBA when the expertise is required for planning and a new implementation.

IBA has worked on the application of SAP projects since 1996. There is now a team of highly–skilled professionals with almost two decades experience in diverse and mission-critical SAP projects.

This principle can be applied to any technical tool, but SAP is one of the most popular business systems used globally. IBA has the expertise and can deploy consultants and even run your technical help desk for questions related to SAP and all for the lifetime of your project deployment.

In this case, outsourcing allows you to tap into a large talent pool. You can get the right SAP skills in the right place at the right time – every time.
You can click here to read more about SAP experience within IBA.

German Outsourcing Association Research Promotes Eastern Europe

by Irina for IBA Group
Posted on February 10, 2014

IBA Group
Mark Kobayashi-Hillary

The Outsourcing Journal published a research paper last year focused entirely on the merits of ITO and BPO in central and Eastern Europe. You can download the complete paper here [http://j.mp/ceesourcing].

Organised by the German Outsourcing Association this is an interesting paper with contributions from across the CEE region, including those of particular interest to IBA, such as Belarus and the Czech Republic.

Stephan Fricke, CEO of the German Outsourcing Association wrote about the future for outsourcing in the introduction to the paper: “The future looks bright for CEE IT and business process service providers. Why? Because, speaking for our home market Germany, the demand for IT skills and business process knowledge will not decrease. Quite the opposite is predicted, which is not difficult to explain. The current situation in Germany, where companies are unable to fill desperately needed positions in IT and higher qualified jobs as engineering is caused by failed educational policy and there are no signs that the government has efficient tools to manoeuvre against.”

Fricke went on to add: “So German companies will be forced to look outside their borders for IT-project support and the most accessible destination for that is the CEE region.”

Once again a major trade association has pointed out that far from sourcing being just a low-cost way of doing business, companies in Western Europe need to look beyond their own borders to grow quickly and expand. CEE-based companies like IBA are well placed to work with companies in countries such as Germany – to help them succeed as Europe enjoys economic growth once again.

New technologies coming in 2014

by Irina for IBA Group
Posted on January 28, 2014

IBA Group
Mark Kobayashi-Hillary

Welcome to 2014 from IBA. This is going to be an exciting year! Not only is the European economic recovery really starting to pick up – with the UK probably leading the way – there are new technologies that are coming onto the outsourcing scene and becoming really important.

This article in CIO magazine highlights the top 10 outsourcing trends to watch out for this year.

http://www.cio.com/article/746575/10_IT_Outsourcing_Trends_to_Watch_in_2014

IT outsourcing experts say: “this could be the year customers — and a few robots — take greater control of the IT outsourcing space”.

Our favourites from the CIO list are:

Hybrid offshoring; offshoring will continue to be an important trend, but many companies will explore how they can do it partly themselves and partly with a supplier – in a more blended way than before.

The cloud being grounded; the cloud is here to stay, that cannot be denied, but many companies have jumped into cloud-based services without realising that they often need a complete culture change, not just a technology change. It’s likely that some companies will step back and plan better for the cloud this year.

Lower cost consulting; we all know that most consulting is overpriced and many companies that deliver services can provide great advice as well as delivery – this is going to become a more popular consulting solution this year.

Of course CIO mentions several more trends, but what do you think will be the big outsourcing stories of 2014? Leave a comment here or tweet us on @ibagroup.

You can also read what was predicted for outsourcing in 2013 and conduct your own reality check :)