After being re-elected to the Global Sourcing Association Council last month, Jason Barrett of ProArch IT Solutions answered some of our questions on automation, AI, the digital age and the future of the Sourcing industry.
Do you think that the sourcing industry is prepared for the Digital Age?
The digital age is fundamentally redefining the outsourcing marketplace, as buyers sign smaller deals with multiple partners to serve the full breadth of their digital agenda - from brand & experience design to social, mobility, analytics and Cloud. I believe the industry still has some way to go in joining up these moving parts. We need to redefine what Best of Breed Partnering actually means so that multi-source deals don’t compromise agility and customer focus. This will likely require new operational, commercial and people models across digital provider ecosystems. Emerging tech and communications tools also have a role to play here in driving transparency and collaboration between multiple providers.
Which technology are you most excited about now and how do you think it will change the way the industry operates?
For me, the big strides being made in Artificial Intelligence represent an opportunity for the IT Services marketplace. A huge number of IT Outsourcing programmes fail for a whole host of reasons, and at the root of it is bad data. Data that is skewed given the opposing commercial and political agendas between service providers and customers, and project tooling that typically tracks the status quo rather than providing insights for delivery improvement. AI has a role to play here, supporting IT leaders on both sides of the outsourcing industry to know more about what is happening across their combined delivery organisation. Leveraging Big Data and Analytics across engagements to drive intelligent recommendations for service evolution has the potential to transform IT Outsourcing and no doubt will.
Some firms are still sceptical on embracing new technology such as Automation and Artificial Intelligence, how would you explain the benefits of adoption?
Organizations are using artificial intelligence to enhance productivity and cut overhead costs. It’s been predicted that the combination of AI, human capacity, and automation could triple business productivity if balanced correctly.
Intelligent automation - the combination of artificial intelligence and automation - is already helping companies to achieve unprecedented levels of efficiency and quality. Intelligent automation systems that streamline decision making, typically use tools for extracting and analysing complex information such as human speech and this has been seen to reduce error and speed up processes.
Early adopters of Automation and AI will inevitably end up ahead, while those who choose to fear or ignore it will be left playing catch-up. The latter will likely face job losses, while the former will continue doing what they do, just perhaps in a different way.
How is the Digital Age and new technology affecting the foundations of strategic sourcing, such as location and relationship management?
The digital age demands that companies, more than ever, are set up for agility. Customer obsession and rapid response teams to meet changing customers’ needs are now do or die for most companies. Sourcing strategies, especially in the case of software development, need to consider the impact of location on agility. Setting up self-managing, cross functional agile development teams in global locations with an outsourcing partner, brings with it certain challenges; operational, commercial and cultural impediments to accountability and collaboration. “Throw it over the fence” outsourcing is on the decline with companies re-structuring, re-tooling and re-contracting their engagements for a lean and customer responsive setup. However, structure, tools and contracts are only part of the solution. The real magic will only happen for those who build trust and transparency into the relationship and this starts by aligning around a common purpose across the globally distributed team.
As a member of the GSA Council, what will you do to help the Association and its members embrace the Digital Age?
As a member of the GSA, I will be driving an agenda focused on the use of Artificial Intelligence, NLP and Virtual/Augmented Reality for greater performance in globally distributed teams.
I will be working with buyers and providers to pilot these emerging technologies as a vehicle for improving relationships, connectivity and delivery performance through immersive ‘virtual colleague experiences’ and intelligent use of project data for team and enterprise decision making.
Working with the Association and its members, the goal is to demonstrate the business value of these technologies, reinventing the experience of project tooling and enabling human connection across borders for measurable performance improvement.