Companies are increasingly being forced to professionalize their support operations as a result of ongoing cost pressure, rising market instability, and globally interconnected value chains. While the worst effects of the COVID-19 pandemic seem, hopefully, to be waning, the experience continues to drive companies and Global Business Services (GBS).
The pandemic accelerated market trends, especially technology-driven market disruption, and brought about significant changes in how GBS businesses will function in future. To paint a picture for shared services leaders, Barbara Hodge sat down with Tom Bangemann, Head of Data Development & Research at SSON Research & Analytics.
Tom dives right into the future-state of GBS and how it will manage service delivery. “If we include all the different sourcing models into this model (i.e., GBS), then I would say GBS is also going to be the delivery model of the near future. Of course, on the location and sourcing side, lots of things might change. But for many, there is no real alternative in going back to decentralized delivery. Apart from some e-commerce or internet activities, I don’t think anybody is even close to being advanced in automation/decentralization.
The target idea is that everything is automated, and we don’t need to touch or manually do anything anymore. We’re not there yet. Business, as we carry it out now, is immediately reflected in support systems, reporting, and other transactions. And the only thing that a service center, which will still exist, would then do is what we call ‘exceptions handling.’ So there will still be things that fall out of the process because there’s a mistake, or an interface is not working, or whatever may be impacting the system. But that would be the only activity a center would have in the fantastic world of the future!”
What will GBS look like in five years?
For starters, Tom predicts that in five years GBS will not be called GBS anymore. The model will have changed from “shared services center” to “shared services organization” to “global business organization.”
“I think what GBS will be reflecting in the near future is a more advanced scope of activities. Companies, while they don’t always dissect things and analyze in depth, have nevertheless – by gut feel – gotten to many of the right activities. In SSON’s latest research, one of the findings is that there is an increased focus once again on automation. Not surprising, because we automate constantly and it’s a core activity in GBS. But indicators show that there has been a refreshed, stronger focus (maybe because of the pandemic) and a wave of interest in how to finally get automation levels higher.”
Automation-led decisions are tricky, both from a larger business perspective as well as to ensure there is knowledge translation for senior leadership. The solution, as with most things, is within your people – your talent base.
The talent journey: Efficiency → Effectiveness → Experience
Tom lays out a framework for how to move from efficiency to effectiveness, and from effectiveness to experience. Experience delivery, as it stands in 2022, relates strongly to customer-centric activities.
Tom says, “There is now a trend to understand that ‘if I treat my employees right, and if I produce employee satisfaction, I automatically produce customer satisfaction.’ What if, instead of thinking of the customer only, and then mandating employees to do all kinds of things that might not make sense to them, we instead explain to our people what the target is, and what the purpose of the whole activity at hand is? That way, they are taken on a journey with a good understanding of how they contribute to the whole.”
If you like the audio medium, and would like to hear a detailed interview that dives much further into the future of GBS and where the opportunities lie, listen to the SSONext podcast with Barbara Hodge and Tom Bangemann on iTunes or Spotify.