Management Update: Gartner s Updated Help Desk Outsourcing Magic Quadrant

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1 IGG R. Matlus Article 19 February 2003 Management Update: Gartner s Updated Help Desk Outsourcing Magic Quadrant The North American help desk outsourcing market is growing despite a down economy. Gartner s 2003 Help Desk Outsourcing Magic Quadrant serves as a selection aid for enterprises evaluating which vendors provide the help desk services they need. The North American help desk outsourcing market is growing despite a down economy. Gartner s 2003 Help Desk Outsourcing Magic Quadrant serves as a selection aid for enterprises evaluating which vendors provide the help desk services they need. Help Desk Outsourcing Overview The help desk outsourcing market is a commodity service that continues to grow even in the down economy. Many large and small enterprises have an interest in outsourcing their commodity services, and they want to know which vendors can provide the help desk services they need. Toward that end, Gartner s 2003 Help Desk Outsourcing Magic Quadrant (see Figure 1) positions 15 North American external service providers (ESPs) based on the completeness of their help desk outsourcing vision and their ability to execute their vision. Figure 1 Gartner s 2003 North American Help Desk Outsourcing Magic Quadrant Gartner Entire contents 2003 Gartner, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction of this publication in any form without prior written permission is forbidden. The information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. Gartner disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of such information. Gartner shall have no liability for errors, omissions or inadequacies in the information contained herein or for interpretations thereof. The reader assumes sole responsibility for the selection of these materials to achieve its intended results. The opinions expressed herein are subject to change without notice.

2 Challengers Leaders Ability to Execute Computer Sciences Corp. EDS IBM Lockheed Martin Perot SAIC Unisys CompuCom Systems STI Knowledge Getronics Hewlett-Packard Northrop Grumman Siemens Business Services Affiliated Computer Services Ciber As of January 2003 Niche Players Completeness of Vision Visionaries Source: Gartner Research For clarification, the function of an outsourced help desk is to handle queries from an enterprise s employees. The help desk agents record and attempt to answer the query or they route it to another workgroup that can resolve the problem. That service differs from a customer contact center that supports the enterprise s external customers. Magic Quadrant Evaluation Criteria Many criteria are used by Gartner analysts to evaluate ESPs for the Help Desk Outsourcing Magic Quadrant (see the sidebar, Help Desk Outsourcing Evaluation Criteria ). The Magic Quadrant study relies heavily on checking customer references that are supplied by ESPs for work the ESPs performed in the help desk services category. To qualify for Gartner s Help Desk Outsourcing Magic Quadrant, ESPs must have at least $15 million in help desk revenue and be able to provide 10 North American references. Some smaller and regional help desk providers were excluded from the study because they could not meet the minimum requirements.

3 Each participating ESP was required to deliver a formal presentation to Gartner and provide a list of 10 North American customer references. In the presentation, the vendors described their capabilities and provided their strategic direction for their help desk outsourcing business. Then Gartner contacted references from each of the vendors and gathered information from them regarding their experiences with their ESPs. The compilation of the results from the presentations and the reference checks led to the final placement of the ESPs in the Help Desk Outsourcing Magic Quadrant. Among the ESPs are varying capabilities to their service offerings, and some have primarily concentrated in specific vertical markets. Leaders Quadrant ESPs in the Leaders Quadrant are performing well, have a clear vision of market direction and are actively building competencies to sustain their leadership position in the market. Eight ESPs are positioned in the Leaders Quadrant: Computer Sciences Corp. EDS Hewlett-Packard IBM Perot SAIC STI Knowledge Unisys All of those ESPs demonstrated that they had significant help desk outsourcing experience and understood the dynamics needed to successfully deliver help desk services. Experience weighs heavily in the Leaders Quadrant. The top tier-one service providers (based on revenue) proved their ability to execute their strategic help desk outsourcing visions. However, some tier-two service providers also demonstrated that they belong in the Leaders Quadrant. Visionaries Quadrant ESPs in the Visionaries Quadrant have a clear vision of market direction and are focused on preparing for that, but they can improve in terms of optimizing service delivery. After reviewing the ESPs completeness of vision, two were placed in the Visionaries Quadrant: Affiliated Computer Services Siemens Business Services

4 Both ESPs have a sound vision position that can be attributed to their strong emphasis on focused growth and good market innovation plans for their service offerings. However, their clients in North America gave them a lower ranking in their ability to execute. With further emphasis on the quality of service delivery, they have the potential to move into the Leaders Quadrant. Challengers Quadrant ESPs in the Challengers Quadrant execute well, but they have a less-defined view of market direction. Therefore, they may not be aggressive in preparing for the future. Three ESPs emerged in the Challengers Quadrant: CompuCom Systems Getronics Lockheed Martin Those ESPs were able to demonstrate that they have a solid base of help desk outsourcing clients that are very satisfied with their services. The ESPs in the Challengers Quadrant have great potential to become market leaders by raising their strategic vision and broadening their service offerings to meet their clients future needs. Niche Players Quadrant ESPs in the Niche Players Quadrant focus on a particular segment of the client base, as defined by characteristics such as size, vertical focus or selective help desk service offerings. Their ability to outperform or be innovative may be affected by that narrow focus. Niche players concentrate on particular market segments and often support applications that apply only to those targeted segments. The following niche players provide tier-two application help desk support, offer specialized services and concentrate on the government vertical market: Ciber Northrop Grumman Northrop has concentrated on the government area and gradually has been adding other clients in the commercial market. Based on Gartner s findings, it is close to moving up to the Challengers or Leaders Quadrant. Ciber is known as an application service provider and offers supplemental help desk services, often as a tier-two help desk. It has also focused its help desk offerings primarily on the government vertical market. Being identified as a niche player should in no way imply that those ESPs do not provide good services. They may have limited experience in the general or commercial North American markets or they may only provide specific service offerings (for example, tier-two application help desk support).

5 Bottom Line Gartner s 2003 North American Help Desk Outsourcing Magic Quadrant is a useful starting point to identify and evaluate help desk outsourcing ESPs. All ESPs in the Help Desk Outsourcing Magic Quadrant can provide help desk services. Selection should be based on a detailed evaluation of an enterprise s outsourcing objectives and technical requirements and an ESP s capacity to fulfill those expectations. Help Desk Outsourcing Evaluation Criteria Completeness of Vision: Strategic planning. An ESP should take a position on its future direction for help desk services and should have specific plans to support that direction. Contract deal structure. It is important to understand the terms and conditions used in the ESP s contract. Management practices, processes and methodologies. Effective management practices, processes, procedures and methodologies are very important in outsourcing engagements and illustrate the ESP s capabilities to deliver quality, repeatable, cost-effective services. Relationship management. An ESP s success is linked to its organizational structure and the processes used to manage the relationship. That deserves special attention in any outsourcing deal. Market innovation. ESPs must be innovative relating to the products and solutions they use to provide help desk services. That can provide differentiation and increased market share or potential.

6 Operational tools and expertise. The price of admission into the help desk market for an ESP is its proven ability to apply specific toolsets and the associated personnel expertise to satisfy the needs of various deals. Marketing and sales responsiveness. Successful ESPs often achieve economies of scale and expertise in execution through sales volume. Stable financials. Gartner reviews the ESP s financials to determine if it exhibits a positive financial return. Ability to Execute: Pricing acceptance. An ESP s ability to manage price and reduce costs is key in outsourcing deals where gaining economies of scale is a prime objective. Effective resources. Help desk ESPs must deliver the right kind of talent, at the right time and place, in the correct quantities and have the ability to rapidly ramp staffing across client or supplier locations as needed. Innovation practices. ESPs must stay abreast of new technologies to benefit both parties and successfully satisfy new requirements for all Internet activities and self-help tools, as well as assisting clients with managing their assets. Clarity of services, roles and responsibilities. ESPs must be willing to establish clear roles and responsibility matrices. That will avoid confusion. Subcontractor management. An ESP may have to rely on the use of subcontractors especially for remote desktop support. Therefore, the ESP must take responsibility for managing the services delivered.

7 Service-level agreements, metrics and measurement programs. An effective performance measurement program is essential for determining if the ESP is providing effective service delivery. Continuous improvement and quality assurance. ESPs should have formal procedures to implement and use continuous improvement and quality assurance. Customer references. Work that can be referenced is the ultimate measure of a help desk outsourcer s ability to execute its vision. Written by Edward Younker, Research Products Analytical sources: Richard Matlus and William Maurer, Gartner Research

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