Points of View

The “Real” Influencers in Sourcing Are Buyers Who Tell The Story

Apr 10, 2016 Barbra McGann

Last week, WNS hosted its annual influencer day in New York City, and explored how it delivers on its tag line to “Extend the Enterprise”—today and the “next” day. The agenda included a snapshot of today, as well as a discussion about what’s next, and here’s what caught our attention.  

 

We all know how difficult it is for business executives to take time out from their schedules and tell the story of how partnering with a third party—outsourcing—has worked (or not) for their company. For service providers, the willingness of a client to tell their story and serve as a reference, let alone travel to a location and stand in front of a group of industry analysts and advisors to share and answer questions about it is really the “Holy Grail.”

 

The term “influencer” is increasingly being used in our industry to describe the collected group of advisor, industry analysts, and consultants. The real influencers, though, are the end users—the client base.

 

Five WNS client executives shared their experience with the service provider—the reason they partnered with WNS in the first place, the challenges they had to overcome—a balance of internal change management and sometimes with WNS, and how it has changed over time.  The examples covered operations support in finance and accounting and customer interaction services, and industry-specific analytics-driven work in travel, logistics, and banking. A common theme they shared was the WNS focus on business outcomes, flexibility, and fast access to the right level of expertise to define and deliver the work. As WNS continues to grow, can it sustain this level of flexibility, responsiveness, and engagement from executive through to delivery staff?

 

In many cases the initial play was (and still is) cost reduction through labor arbitrage, and that approach helped build the employee base at WNS. There is still work ahead to change and re-train the workforce.  WNS has picked the places it wants to play, and aligns its investments accordingly. The service provider wants employees to feel and act as though they work in a vertical industry such as travel or insurance, not in “outsourcing.” It focuses on developing industry specific and operations capabilities. WNS also partners with universities on defining curriculum and requirements for areas such as “data science” so that graduates leave schools “work ready.”

 

In the past, HS has commented on WNS’s lack of capability and support for platforms and IT, and the service provider has stepped up its effort, under the CTO’s leadership to better position and use automation and cloud-based platforms it develops on its own (e.g., RePAX and Verifare for automated flight and fare management solutions in travel), through partnership (e.g., LIPD in insurance) or acquisition (e.g., Value Edge Services for research support in pharma).  While there is not as much depth in IT services capability as in some of its peers in the industry, WNS is prioritizing where to build and acquire over time to build out platform-based and automated services.

 

The WNS brand may not be the most well known, but one of the best ways to gain momentum is by “word of mouth” from people who have a story to tell and are excited and vested enough in the long term value of the service being delivered to step up and share. These are the real influencers, and we appreciate the effort of both WNS executives and clients to to share the ups and downs and insights that come from truly collaborative engagement in outsourcing.