The development of IT outsourcing is still a hot topic. How is increasing access to new technologies affecting the ever-changing outsourcing industry?
This question will be answered by Mariusz Bik, Director of the IT Services Center, and Pawel Szymanski, Business Solution Manager at Comarch SA.
Malgorzata Zabieglinska-Lupa: I would first like to ask about your assessment of the outsourcing services market. Business needs in the field of modern technologies are growing, and there is constant demand for programmers and IT specialists. How does this affect the condition of the industry and the challenges is faces?
Mariusz Bik: Today, the IT outsourcing industry is doing well and will continue to prosper for some time. However, I think that it has already reached maturity, primarily due to the lack of access to qualified human resources. Everyone is working on automating processes in order to patch staffing gaps. The entire IT world is moving towards standardized cloud solutions, so it will no longer be necessary to carry out complicated implementations individually for each client. Access to IT solutions is and will continue to be more commonplace, which means that it must also become cheaper. On the other hand, the outsourcing industry is based mainly on human resources, which will have higher demands in terms of maintenance and expense.
And what about the challenges faced by modern companies? What should they pay the most attention to?
Pawel Szymanski: From the IT point of view, the biggest challenge is the increasing importance of specialization. In most cases, it is no longer enough to have an “IT specialist” who will take care of maintaining the entire IT environment in the company. Specialists are needed to make IT systems work efficiently and without failure, and thus to improve processes significantly and provide the company with a competitive advantage.
Mariusz Bik: Additionally, these people are employees with appropriate competences, motivated to develop continuously. The IT world is in a hurry and requires constant improvement of its competences. Currently, many young people want to work in IT because of the relatively big paychecks it offers. Unfortunately, work in IT requires a lot of knowledge, as well as demanding and tedious education, and it is associated with great stress, which translates into the decreasing attractiveness of this profession. IT has a huge impact on the global economy. It controls production lines, provides communication, without which we cannot get around, and delivers entertainment. That is why the requirements are constantly growing.
What do you think is the key factor for customers when they are selecting outsourcing? What internal problems make them outsource their IT management to an external supplier?
Mariusz Bik: No access to human resources and/or lack of know-how in the implementation of IT projects. Entrepreneurs rightly notice that progress is not just the purchase of equipment and licenses, and the employment of IT specialists, but also relies on maintenance, substitutability and rotation of employees, the need to constantly improve competences with access to new technologies.
Are costs still the main driving force behind IT outsourcing?
Mariusz Bik: In my opinion, the cost of IT services in companies is secondary. It is still an important factor and every entrepreneur recognizes the need to optimize it. However, the most significant problem is access to specialists, who are simply unavailable on the market, and there are no prospects that this will change soon. Companies providing IT outsourcing services have, above all, efficient recruitment departments able to attract the best professionals on the market. Obviously, the organization of work, alongside familiarity and understanding of business processes on the client’s premises, enable optimal use of specialists, which also translates into costs.
Pawel Szymanski: I agree with Mariusz. Cost optimization is certainly important, but it seems that in the last few years it has been equally important to get the right IT resources from the market and to maintain them. It is certainly easier for a large IT company to recruit IT specialists and then provide them with an attractive career path and thus reduce employee shuffles in the company. This is particularly visible in Western Europe, where companies would rather pay more for the service and then transfer responsibility to the outsourcer.
Let’s assume that I have decided to entrust my services to an external provider. What shapes the fees for using such services?
Pawel Szymanski: The key is the human factor. The more tasks we are able to execute remotely within IT teams shared among several clients, the more effective will be our use of human resources. Of course, some tasks require the presence of an IT engineer directly in the client’s office or server room, and this is unlikely to change. However, modern technology allows us to reduce the number of such , for example through cloud solutions or virtual desktops.
Industry leaders are increasingly eager to implement the latest technologies such as automation and robotization, crowdsourcing, cloud solutions and big data. So how do cloud services affect the outsourcing industry?
Pawel Szymanski: If you treat cloud services as part of broadly understood outsourcing services, then of course, due to increasingly mature cloud solutions, including mass solutions, the entire outsourcing market is growing rapidly. Classic IT outsourcing, understood as providing support for users and client’s systems, can thus suffer a little. On the other hand, cloud solutions also need to be managed. This is an opportunity for outsourcing companies – a natural alternative to the largest cloud vendors who either do not offer managed services or provide them at very high prices.
And what about automation? It seems that there is still a long way to go before human labor is removed completely from many processes, even if the progressive automation of services is already a fact. Is automation an opportunity or a threat to outsourcing services?
Pawel Szymanski: Automation allows us to counteract the lack of IT specialists to some extent. We automate, above all, the most labor-intensive and unfulfilling tasks (e.g. log analysis), and thus we can use our IT resources much more efficiently.
Thank you for the conversation!