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Our industry has been debating the pros and cons of converging service organizations for years. And for good reason—there are so many obvious and truly meaningful benefits that can be realized by breaking down the silos:
Yet to date, there has been little more than lip service paid to the idea of collapsing and blending service organizations and capabilities. Understandably so, as there are careers and jobs at stake, not to mention just how daunting a task it is to dismantle and reassemble longstanding and highly stable structures and processes.
But in spite of the inherent forces of resistance, we at TSIA believe that 2017 is the year where we will see widespread and meaningful progress made on services convergence. Here's why.
TSIA is witnessing several industry trends that are stressing the current practice of completely independent service lines:
Currently, TSIA benchmark data shows managed services as the fastest growing service line in the industry (compared to professional services, support services, and education services). The challenge is that managed service contracts often require service capabilities from across multiple service organizations. The managed services P&L now requires resources from other service line P&Ls.
"Managed services is the fastest growing service line in the technology industry.>
TSIA benchmark data shows that technology companies are creating customer success organizations with two primary objectives: help customers successfully adopt technology, and make sure those customers renew. Just like managed services, customer success may require capabilities from other service line P&Ls to drive adoption and retention.
The TSIA T&S 50 index clearly documents the struggles incumbent technology companies have been facing over the past four years to grow top line revenues. This has created immense pressure on service line P&Ls to create new offers to help drive revenue growth. Support organizations are creating new premium offers that look very much like managed service offers. Professional service organizations are creating annuity offers that could be interpreted as premium account services. Turf wars are quickly emerging between service lines.
Last and clearly not least, there is the confused customer. All of these independent service lines are vying for the customer's attention. All of these service lines are advocating their service offerings will have the greatest impact on success. In essence, technology companies are arguing in front of the customer—and it is not very becoming or helpful.
Managing independent service lines is a play the technology industry knows how to run well. Converging service lines sounds terrifying. For this reason, we believe that most companies will ease themselves into this journey. Here are a set of plays your company can run to begin leveraging the benefits of converged services:
Support services and more recently, professional services organizations, have been building Centers of Excellence (COE) that allow them to leverage centralized resource pools located throughout the globe. While to date, these have been largely separate initiatives, we see tremendous value in blending support and PS COE capabilities. Yes, there may be different skills requirements, but clearly there are synergies to be had. Add the needs of managed services to the mix and the business case for coordinating the location and management of centralized COEs becomes more compelling.
When a customer engagement is in play, having the ability to deploy the right employee with the right skills, regardless of what service line they report to, is a powerful capability. In our 2015 Organizational Structure survey, almost 65% of the respondents reported they were sharing delivery resources across service lines. The traditional sticking point in pursuing this tactic is the “internal transfer rate.” How much do you pay to use the resource from another P&L? The market rate? Some discounted rate? Discounted how much? If you let this one number stall the conversation, bad things can happen:
For these reasons, we believe it is well worth the effort to agree on internal transfer rates that keep resources flowing freely between service lines.
"65% of surveyed technology companies are sharing service delivery resources across service lines
TSIA has been advocating for this tactic since 2013, which I discuss in my blog post, "The Outcome-Based Services Portfolio". This is the move where you migrate everyone that is working on service offer definitions into one team. That team is responsible for defining the offers that will be delivered by all service lines. This play can be run without collapsing the individual service line P&Ls.
TSIA is observing there are two powerful sub-plays to run after establishing a consolidated portfolio group. The first play: Have this group build detailed customer experience journey maps for key customer personas. That information will inform gaps in the service portfolio. The second play: Have this group build offer journey maps which clearly document what service offers customer segments should be consuming over time to unlock greater business value from the technology.
These are just three of convergence tactics that we recommend. There are others.
To learn more about TSIA's point of view on services convergence, I invite you to download my new paper entitled “Primer on Services Convergence” that provides the following insights:
Thomas Lah is
executive director and executive vice president of TSIA. Since 1996, he has used his incisive analysis, strategic thinking,
and creative solutions to help some of the world’s largest technology companies improve the
efficiency of their daily operations. He has authored several books, including, Bridging the Services Chasm (2009), Consumption Economics (2011), B4B
(2013), and Technology-as-a-Service Playbook: How to Grow a Profitable Subscription
Business (2016), and
Digital Hesitation: Why B2B Companies Aren’t Reaching Their Full Digital Potential (2022).
He is also the host of TSIA’s podcast, TECHtonic: Trends in Technology and Services.
Post Date: January 12, 2017
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The Technology & Services Industry Association (TSIA) is dedicated to helping technology and services organizations large and small grow and advance in the technology industry. Find out how you can achieve success, too. Call us at (858) 674-5491 or we can call you.