We spoke to Miguel Ferreira of HCCM about sourcing and the current trends in the market as our spotlight interview.
1. What are the key trends affecting your business and what challenges are you having to overcome?
HCCM’s business services are structured in two main verticals: IT consulting (including technology advisory and implementation and application development) and BPO-Business Process Outsourcing, area on which we also provide process optimization and advisory (service solutions in outsourcing from back-office to contact center in Omnichannel) – and we have a very strong track-record in all our activities. As these services are solutions-oriented and our customers’ demands are accelerating both in terms of speed and technological complexity and yet pressuring for better service quality and competitive costs, it is fair to say that the combination of such factors has been the most complex challenge our business has always to be ready to overcome. We also take into consideration that change is coming faster than ever and artificial intelligence and intelligent automation is already starting to impact our industry and we at HCCM are taking the steps to be part of that change. Apart from technology challenges and the buzz on automation and robotization that is out and loud, the main challenge today still is – and will probably remain as so for a few more years – the availability of hard and soft skilled human resources to tackle some of the quite large-scale near-shore projects and opportunities we have been able to identify and engage with and this is where HCCM, as a people driven company, is making the difference.
It is quite clear that the automation of business processes with AI and IA is what’s exciting us the most. Digital transformation as a whole is creating new business opportunities, strategies and operation models that can make us, in partnership with our customers, go far in competitiveness.
3. What are the advantages of being based in Portugal? Is the digital age rendering location a lesser priority?
We believe there are several. Some related to what the country has to offer to those who base operations – partnering with local providers or on stand-alone models – and some related to what the business ecosystem and community is capable of delivering, and here you can find world class services. On the first set, we definitely have to highlight Portugal’s safety and security, the country’s geographic positioning with regards to time-zone and EU general regulatory frameworks, and also the global market reach due to cultural and historical links to both European markets and those spread-out in the world which have Portuguese as their speaking language. On the second set, it is fair to say that some of the most prominent global corporations have already ‘tasted’ what Portugal’s advantages are: the quality and (still) availability of highly skilled professionals with proficiency in foreign languages, the state-of-the-art ICT infrastructures, the very competitive operating costs and taxes which have been boosting competitiveness of those installed in the country and last but not least a very appealing life quality context.
With regards to the digital age rending location topic, we believe and even more so observe that the digital age is actually thriving location. It’s not just a trend, it’s reality: those who have been the game changers are the ones looking for better and ‘cooler’ locations to work and develop what the future will be like.
4. Has Brexit had a major impact on sourcing in the European Union?
Being the UK the most advanced sourcing market in the EU and a totally open economy up till very recently it is obvious that Brexit has an external impact, mostly in the banking, insurance and financial services.
However, we are still observing a lot of uncertainty and it’s definitely too early to really get a solid understanding and measuring on the real impact. Anyway, we are prepared and analyzing the possibility of receiving some operations that are now in the UK and that can be relocated due to Brexit.
5. How would you describe the importance of having strong fundamentals in sourcing in an increasingly digital age?
Our understanding is that strong fundamentals including good financial standing and investment capability are key to reduce risk and increase success, with strong and good fundamentals we can get the best people, technology and practices. This also leads to innovation, creativity that can impact very positively the outcome of the project in this digital age. This is also why we believe that partnering with industry associations is key to share and get the best ideas that help to build strong business fundamentals.
6. How important is it to have a universal standard for sourcing, such as the global sourcing standard in an increasingly globalized and disruptive industry?
Every industry creates standards to allow interoperability, interconnection, safety and costs control, it is also important to have standards in the sourcing industry for the same reasons and also to allow all players from costumers to providers to have a better interaction and choice of options.
7. What is the greatest change that the industry will witness in 2018 and into the 2020’s?
In our opinion a world of options is opening and a lot of innovation and technologies are very, very promising, but as always in Human history some will prove, some will not result and doing the right choices or even a choice is the most challenging thing in the years to come. And here is where good talented and skilled people, working as a team and strong fundamentals can make the difference.