State of the outsourcing, shared services, and operations industry

A deep dive into how enterprises are harnessing the power of emerging automation technologies and business services delivery models to thrive in the 21st century.

The 2018 State of the outsourcing, shared services, and operations study – conducted by KPMG and HfS Research tracks changes to organizational operating and service delivery models with an emphasis on automation, talent challenges, and innovation.

The study, that surveyed and interviewed more than 375 executives globally across all major industries, covers:

  • Current and future state service delivery operating models
  • Shared services and outsourcing futures
  • C-suite imperatives and digital disruption
  • The impact of intelligent automation across all service delivery and operating models


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State of the outsourcing, shared services, and operations industry 2018 research study
Results from the 2018 edition of an annual, global market research study conducted jointly by KPMG and HfSResearch on the state of the operations and business and IT services markets.


Key findings from the study include:

  • Near-term expectations are high for returns on advanced data and analytics and intelligent automation investments. But these expectations are often unrealistic due to multiple organizational, talent, data integration, and strategy-related challenges. A proof point: Only one third of the organizations that participated in the study have an enterprise-wide or holistic plan for the adoption of automation.
  • Organizations continue to struggle to understand the best way to implement organization-wide automation. Various organizational models, including use of centers of excellence, show potential, but need executive support to drive the existential change.
  • Traditional outsourcing continues to lose favor as companies look to smarter forms of sourcing and internal options to drive innovation and cost reduction; it’s all about deeper and more diverse partnerships to get access to solutions and talent.
  • The role of the global business services (GBS) organization is continuing to evolve and expand, including potentially as the organization-wide broker and enabler of intelligent automation and data integration efforts; the transactional heart of GBS is shifting from people to automated processes.
  • Enterprises’ operations strategy is increasingly at odds with reality—particularly balancing cost savings and strategic investment priorities.
  • All intelligent automation efforts and ambitions will continue to suffer from talent and skills shortages, and from uncertainty over how to deal with leftover talent from process automation efforts (i.e., retrain, reskill, retire?).
  • The C-suite still wants savings, but is increasingly frustrated in efforts to achieve them. Legacy ways of cutting costs are no longer delivering the cost savings desired, underscoring the need for a greater emphasis on automation.


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