COVID-19 impact on GDS and GDC operations
As we speak, COVID-19 is wreaking havoc on business, leaving many losers and very few winners. The good news for the global business services (GBS) sector is that, by and large, service organisations around the globe have been able to rely on their effective contingency plans and agile delivery. Most of them have risen to the challenges of lockdowns and social distancing with minimum disruption to their services. But there is no doubt about it; the coronavirus pandemic is a severe stress test. COVID-19 is mercilessly revealing many organisations’ weaknesses.
So what has COVID-19 taught us, and more importantly, has COVID-19 proven the case for GBS. Many companies rely on an element of GBS and Global Delivery Centres (GDC) to pick up the slack in their IT departments. These services typically extend to monitoring and alerting, support services and service and maintenance. However, many companies have seen this as a necessary evil, outsourcing mundane and repetitive tasks while keeping the business-critical functions in house. The need to touch and feel overrides the benefits derived from outsourcing digital transformation elements, in RPA and Ai, for example.
Digitalisation for an improved agility
COVID-19 forced many companies to implement work from home protocols. These gave many organisations a feel for relying on a remote workforce and highlighted the need for a digital overhaul.
One point that has become abundantly clear is that digital maturity equals robustness. Digitalisation goes hand in hand with virtualisation, i.e., using software to mirror business and communication processes. It allows functions to be accessed wherever a suitable internet connection is available. Companies with a high degree of digitalisation have often invested heavily in agile business processes and employee flexibility and mobility. What COVID-19 has taught many organisations is that it may be simpler to find a GDS provider with these attributes than attempt to replicate these in their own business. Digitalisation and virtualisation are becoming critical competitive advantage.
What has the Coronavirus taught us?
The price to be paid for becoming independent of manual processes and physical presence is a significant reliance on IT and the internet. But this also proves the argument that digitally mature companies have an advantage. They had secure IT infrastructure in place before COVID-19 set in and escaped the pressures faced by other companies. We are not yet over the pandemic, but some important lessons for GDC’s have been seen:
- In the future, remote or mobile working will feature more heavily in crisis planning.
- Demand for digitalisation and virtualisation technologies will increase during and after the crisis.
- Leading GDC providers who have actively supported their customers through the crisis will more closely serve as a transformation engine for businesses in the future.
- GDC’s, and to a lesser extent, the outsourcing model has proven to be surprisingly resilient. This will strengthen their role as providers of both IT outsourcing and remote digital transformation activities.
The COVID-19 pandemic has provided a tough stress test for GDC’s and providers of outsourcing services. Most GDC providers were able to maintain their services without being impacted. But for some, the COVID-19 crisis has viciously revealed its weaknesses. The winners are those organisations with robust crisis planning, agile staff and processes and a mature level of digitalisation.
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