Outsourcing has been around for decades and is now considered an integral part of many business’ services due to the pressures associated with streamlining business processes.
Before Brexit comes into force, Ireland’s position as a multilingual hub within the Eurozone has become an attractive opportunity for UK organisations looking to outsource their services closer to home, rather than further afield.
As a result, ‘nearshoring’ has grown in popularity as an option for many UK companies. The combination of Ireland’s skill pool and multilingual advantage, as the only native English-speaking country to remain in the EU, are key reasons why.
Here David Corcoran, Global Outsourcing Advisor for Enterprise Ireland, explores the benefits of nearshoring and why they may outweigh those of offshoring.
The Shift Towards Nearshoring
There has been a huge, global shift away from the traditionally favoured offshoring model, which previously saw service providers across Asia and the Middle East secure UK service contracts, and more towards nearshoring. While offshoring provides some benefits, it fundamentally misses a number of advantages that the nearshoring model has to offer, including cost, proximity, language and time zone synchronisation. There are also concerns about poor communications, differences in work practices and culture.
Skills on Tap
Ireland has been providing competitive BPO services since the 1980’s; offering stable, innovative and flexible services to top organisations around the globe. There are more than 6,000 jobs supported by outsourcing contracts between Ireland and the UK, with Irish companies providing a vital skills injection on tap to UK companies.
Ireland’s reputation in the field is a result of their provision of services to a number of international organisations based in Ireland. Global names including Citibank, Dell, Facebook, Google, HP, Microsoft and Paypal, have moved their EMEA and global headquarters to Ireland, with many Irish based multinationals harnessing Irish service providers including Abtran, Arise, Eishtec, SalesSense, and RigneyDolphin during their relocation.
Ireland offers competitive employee salaries as well as an excellent work life balance, and as a result has facilitated the country in attracting and retaining the best talent from across Europe. With the addition of these employees, to an already young, well educated, and progressive workforce, Ireland has progressed itself into a leading country within the outsourcing industry. As partnerships with multinationals developed domestically, Irish providers saw opportunities to scale and grow internationally. Many even now have their own new customer bases across the UK, in various industries, which include financial services, pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, and utilities.
For UK companies sourcing a nearshoring relationship with the Irish, there’s a host of clear advantages. Proximity, operating in the same time zone, and retaining the same business hours eliminate some of the issues experienced when outsourcing to countries further afield. Issues can be resolved in real time without delay or communication error. Ireland is extremely close to the UK, allowing a more interpersonal relationship between businesses to develop. Benefits of this include trust and effective training. This has helped to ensure that the culture of a UK organisation is being reflected by Irish providers, and to their end users, service providers are seamlessly considered to be an extension of the UK organisation.
Multilingual skills, industry experienced talent, and proximity are clear contributing factors to the recent shift in outsourcing behaviour, but the principal competitive challenge in the outsourcing market revolves around the need for flexibility and speed in implementing customised client solutions.
Irish companies have risen to this and have strived to make the ‘customer journey’ centric to their business operations, with Irish SMEs recently noted among the most innovative in Europe by the European Commission. This customer-first focus has led to the creation of seamless services , giving UK organisations an ‘Irish advantage’ in customer engagement and is a key reason why UK companies are looking across the Irish Sea for their outsourcing needs.
David Corcoran is Global Outsourcing Advisor for Enterprise Ireland, based in London. Enterprise Ireland is the Irish Government organisation responsible for the development and growth of Irish enterprises in world markets.