‘The UK is viewed as a centre of excellence for outsourcing and an international leader in business services’

It’s no hyperbole, I believe, to say that outsourcing currently stands on a burning platform, and that we possess a golden, possibly unique opportunity to reshape and repurpose our industry

For quite some time, the outsourcing sector has been impacted by a number of powerfully disruptive trends, most obviously, of course, new technologies such as cloud computing and intelligent automation, but including political, demographic, organisational, financial and other factors, driving increasingly rapid change in and to many aspects of the space. 

However, it’s undeniable other corners of the industry, and certain professionals and organisations within it, have been resistant to, or unable to cope sufficiently with, that change and, moreover, that such intransigence is having an increasingly deleterious effect in terms of outsourcing’s ability to deliver to its full potential. 

Throw in the media and political backlash following the collapse of Carillion earlier this year – grist for the mill of those for whom “outsourcing” is inescapably a dirty word – and the increasingly voluble threats from a resurgent Labour Party that public sector outsourcing at least may find itself consigned to the scrapheap, and we have an operating climate as unfriendly as any since the initial rise of the outsourcing model some decades ago. 

Nevertheless, here at the GSA we see an opportunity in this predicament to galvanise beleaguered outsourcing professionals to drive much-needed change within and beyond the industry, and to improve its perception in the eyes of a public, which may not fully appreciate the huge benefits outsourcing brings to individual organisations, society and the public purse, nor how the UK continues to be viewed from abroad as a centre of excellence for outsourcing and an international leader in business services generally. 

As a result, we’ve launched our most ambitious project ever, #ReshapingOutsourcing, a broad programme of work intended to address the most prominent problems facing outsourcing and, as the name suggests, repurpose the industry and futureproof its professionals. 

As one major arm of that project, over the next few months, working groups will investigate the challenges and opportunities inherent in each of five key topics selected by representatives from across the industry in collaboration with the GSA Council. 

The themes under investigation by the working groups include proving outsourcing works. A concerted communication effort is required to improve outsourcing’s public standing, focusing on success stories and showcasing the industry’s myriad capabilities at a time of ever-squeezing budgets. 

The second key topic is demystifying technology. The community needs to collaborate to educate professionals on tech’s true value, and its ramifications for aspects of the model, such as pricing and partnership, which are especially subject to rapid change. 

Third are new contract models. Professionals must be made aware of new, more agile and sophisticated options for the contract – the heart of the outsourcing model – which will allow it to remain fit for purpose. 

Fourth is attracting talent. Hiring for today, let alone the future, has never been harder, so how can the industry work to ensure the right skills are being acquired and developed across multiple generations of employees within rapidly evolving organisations? 

And finally we must focus on the digital workforce. What will be the optimal way to combine human and digital workers, and what does this combination mean for the buyer-vendor relationship? 

The activities of these working groups will contribute to the formulation of a comprehensive plan of action for the industry as a whole, to be unveiled at our GSA Symposium and Awards, to be held in London on November 22. If you’d like to help shape your industry by participating in this programme, please contact me today. The day of change has arrived. Let’s seize it. 

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