The IT outsourcing market has been enjoying substantial growth for several years now. This growth is the result of a combination of factors:

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1 Firms and Markets IT Outsourcing Risks & opportunities for telcos Bruno TEYTON IDATE, Montpellierf T he growth of out-sourcing, first generated by IT infrastructures, now involves more and more business functions. Faced with the decline of their core business area, telcos are revamping their service portfolios, turning to telecom outsourcing, IT services and even BPO solutions. But competition coming from integrators, consultants and business process outsourcers is fierce. IT outsourcing: groundswell The IT outsourcing market has been enjoying substantial growth for several years now. This growth is the result of a combination of factors: Companies refocusing on their core business area Companies are electing to concentrate their efforts on their core business area, pulling out of more peripheral activities. This means that, more and more, they are delegating non-strategic functions to outside specialists. Reduced and variable costs Out-sourcing allows businesses to convert a portion of their assets into current expenses, and to rid themselves of assets whose rate of return is below their other assets' average rate. In addition, outsourcing contracts COMMUNICATIONS & STRATEGIES, no. 58, 2 nd quarter 2005, p. 207.

2 208 No. 58, 2 nd Q allow companies to transfer economic demands to the outside provider, which they themselves cannot achieve in-house with so low a volume. Expanding the company's scope Outsourcing is stimulated by mergers and takeovers which leave the new management juggling with dozens of contracts with a host of service providers around the globe. Increasing complexity of IT and telecommunications systems Companies are having to assimilate new technologies on an ongoing basis, a process which requires expertise that they do not necessarily have in-house. It should also be said that calling on outside experts often allows companies to enjoy the advantages of offshoring (i.e. qualified cheaper foreign labour). IT and telecom service providers' strategy Now faced with shrinking margins on their core business areas. As a result, for the past several years they have been rolling out outsourcing services that enable them to manage longer term contracts, to mount entry barriers against the competition, and to maintain their margins. Business Process Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) Internal IT Service Out Tasking Selective outsourcing Partial control over managing Infrastructure components & IT contracts -IT systems management -Applications management -LAN or WAN management -Telecom service contract management Full Outsourcing Control over all IT tasks Partial control over information network, applications & information systems management Full control over business process Full control over IT Partial control over information network, applications & information systems management Limited Level of outsourcing Source: IDATE High

3 B. TEYTON % of IT spending outsourced in 2004, 40% in 2010 In 2004, close to 230 billion USD worth of outsourcing contracts of over 50 million USD (regardless of function) were signed. The growing number of contracts involves both megadeals (of over 1 billion USD), and smaller contracts (which account for 84% of all outsourcing agreements). The majority of contracts involve IT infrastructures and servers: an estimated 20% to 25% of outsourcing spending is on telecoms. But BPO's share of the outsourcing business is growing: rising from 7% in 2001 to 31% in The geography of outsourcing too is undergoing some major shifts. The market was essentially an American one up until recently. In 2003, however, the United States' share slipped below 50%, as the European market began to grow and the German market in particular which is now ahead of the UK's. The Asia-Pacific zone still lags behind, but business is growing in Australia and Japan. The market's growth is being driven by all sectors, but particularly by the financial, industrial and telecom industries. The leading outsourcers' positioning BPO/Business value Accenture SCS Business software IT infrastructures (LAN and desktop) Telecom Italia DT / T-Systems Atos Origin SBS Capgemini BT Infonet HP EDS IBM GS Telecom Services (voice and data) Telefonica MCI AT&T BT Equant National Regional Global

4 210 No. 58, 2 nd Q In addition to growth, the market is home to several trends Competition heightened by the involvement of a great many of the value chain's players Software publishers, telecom and computer hardware manufacturers, integrators, telecom carriers, classic business process outsourcers. Some players were late in making the transition to BPO, and BTO is experiencing serious difficulties. Contracts with shorter lifespans Up until recently, contracts lasted an average 5 to 7 years. Now, 3 to 5 year contracts are becoming more and more common. Some last as little as a year, carrying a longer-term renewal option. As a result, outsourcers themselves are having to reduce their costs by cutting staff, unifying their platforms and relying increasingly on offshoring. Bundled BPO and IT outsourcing More and more BPO contracts include an IT component, which marks a major development in the sector, in the way that companies are organised and the way that service providers are managed. This trend also means that the process outsourcer becomes the prime contractor, and will either have the expertise needed to supply all of the solutions itself, or will subcontract a portion of the contract to IT or telecom specialists. Single sourcing vs. multi-sourcing Some companies hand over control of all IT services, or a selection of processes, to a single provider. But, in most cases, companies prefer to break down their contracts into geographic blocks, and especially by type of service. This is especially true when the array of processes is vast and so is difficult to find a single provider. Added to this, when dealing with only one provider, it can be more difficult to oversee the out-sourced processes inhouse. Opportunities for IT service companies IT service companies were hit hard by the recession that affected the entire IT market, and consulting and integration in particular. Facilities management, on the other hand, not only managed to weather the crisis, but

5 B. TEYTON 211 even reported double digit growth. This increase was driven by government contracts in the US and by the fact that European countries were busy catching up to their US counterparts. Furthermore, outsourcing contracts made it possible to generate relatively healthy margins (around 8% to 10%), well above those generated by other operations. Taking advantage of the ubiquity of IP architectures, IT service companies are now able to compete with telecom carriers: server hosting, mail hosting, WAN management, security services, VoIP, And they have been awarded a great many WAN con-tracts, particularly in the US. Nevertheless, these contracts are not risk-free, as the EDS and IBM examples reveal. Signing a megadeal in-creases both the level of dependency and the risks involved, if relying on only a few clients. The impact is on the outsourcer is massive if one of those clients changes its mind: cases in point here being EDS with NMCI and IBM GS with JP Morgan Chase. Because of the competition between integrators, telcos, and business process outsourcers, it is entirely possible that we will see a number of takeovers. Some big businesses' subsidiaries (e.g. SBS) are in trouble, and others are struggling to generate margins that will satisfy the financial markets. Effecting a radical change in the phone company business? Telcos are having to contend with very stiff competition on their core business area: drop in the price of telephone services, drop in the price of data network services, difficult negotiations with multinationals. Developing an outsourcing strategy is now indispensable, though telcos are taking a very wide range of approaches. All of the world's leading carriers market services related to their core business area: hosting, network management, security services, general CPE services. But, because of the growing use of Ethernet and IP technologies, telcos now find themselves competing with integrators. A number of telcos are therefore developing IT infrastructure services further along the value chain: LAN management, PC fleet management, LAN-WAN integration. Prominent among those who have taken this tack are T-System, BT, Swisscom and Telefonica. These services often generate smaller margins than net-work services, but at the same time allow telcos to

6 212 No. 58, 2 nd Q mount entry barriers for other operators, and keep them from losing their core business to integrators. A handful of carriers have begun to offer management of the leading business applications, which requires very advanced computer skills covering a relatively wide field. Taking up this position also requires ongoing cooperation with the top software publishers (SAP, Oracle, Siebel, Microsoft). BT and T-System are the two main telcos who have opted for this strategy. Swisscom and Telecom Italia too are following this path, but in a more limited fashion, confining themselves to only a few sectors of activity: notably government services, banking and transportation. The following stage involves transforming a portion of a company's IT and telecom structure. These services require highly specialised consulting skills, in both IT and the client company's area of business. These services involve optimising the company's contracts, and defining the evolution of their equipment, architectures and services in a bid to boost the company's productivity. This value-based offering is very similar to BPO solutions marketed by classic outsourcers. Very few carriers currently have the expertise required to be able to fulfil the demands of BPO. Here only BT and T-System appear to cover the spectrum of business processes fairly extensively (CRM, payroll, e-administration,...). Other operators such as Telecom Ita-lia and Telefonica target a much smaller array of processes. The geographic coverage of outsourced services is key to a telco's ability to compete against leading IT service companies, namely IBM GS, EDS, CSC and Capgemini all of which boast worldwide coverage. With this in mind, telcos have adopted a variety of strategies. Swisscom and Telecom continue to focus chiefly on their home markets. T-System is present chiefly in Ger-many and Western Europe, and pro-vides services in counties where their customers operate subsidiaries. France Telecom-Equant and BT- Infonet have both sought to build an international network, deploying teams in a number of countries. This strategy has meant that they are now in a position to offer telecom out-sourcing services around the globe. For their IT services, however, BT is present chiefly in Europe. Once telcos have made the move to begin marketing outsourcing services, a key step is to form partnerships with an array of players along the value chain. In addition to the business software publishers already mentioned, they need to have agreements with telecom and computer equipment manufacturers. Agreements with other outsourcers may also be

7 B. TEYTON 213 needed to compensate for a lack of expertise in the area of process transformation or a lack of knowledge of certain processes. It is difficult to establish a clear cut evaluation of the strategies that telecom operators have deployed in this area. Among the most highly involved players, T-System are reporting very mixed results since they are suffering from the impact of a drop in prices on the telecommunica-tions and PC management portion of their business. Added to this, the German market is in particularly bad shape at the moment. As to Telefonica and Telecom Italia, outsourcing services have contributed very little to their overall earnings, and synergies with the rest of their business are still minimal. BT offers up the most promising results, and is now clearly bene-fiting from recent investments in MPLS data network management and consulting and BPO services.

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