Tag Archives: offshoring

Sunday Telegraph Outsourcing Feature

I’m working on an article this week for publication in the Sunday Telegraph feature on outsourcing to be published on Feb 12, 2012.

The focus is on new global hotspots for outsourcing. How expertise in different regions is growing and changing. Are contracts moving back onshore or to different locations and in particular how the BRICs and CEE are looking?

I’m interested in comment on any new services or recent deals and really only interested in end user comment – not suppliers – though I’m happy for suppliers to introduce me to their clients or give approved comment from their client, and obviously if a supplier is involved in the relationship then they will be mentioned.

I need to get comment this week as I will complete the write-up this coming weekend. Please get in touch with your comments or connections…

Lady Diana newspaper poster DSC_4202

Photo by Plashing Vole licensed under Creative Commons

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eCode: Avoid like the plague

Note added after initial publication: The government involved in this blog asked me to remove their name in case of any confusion between their position and that of eCode. I have done so and replaced each mention of the country name with XYZ. However, there never was, and is not now, any claim that the government itself was ever at fault in this case – they paid eCode. It is eCode that did not pass on the money. Apologies if there was any confusion within government XYZ, but I hope this is now clear.


This blog is longer than usual, but read on and you will learn:

  • How consulting firm eCode has refused to pay me £3,000 they accepted into their bank account on my behalf.
  • How a major international analyst group suffered a similar, though much more expensive fate at the hands of eCode.
  • How it pays to contract with a client directly, rather than believing a prime contractor will ever pay you.

The European Centre for Offshore Development sounds like an august institution. At least it sounds that way. One look at their website gives another impression. eCode It looks like something Rodney Trotter knocked together in his night-school classes. That’s right. Possibly the only organisation in the world today still building a website that only works in Internet Explorer. A browser I don’t even have installed on my computer, though I can run through Chrome, Firefox, and Safari trying to improve things, this is a story that doesn’t get any better. I’m digressing from the main story, but it’s interesting to just state upfront how the impression one gets from the website can be reinforced by the behaviour of the company and its executives. More than a year ago, on June the 30th to be precise, I had the first meeting with Stephen Bullas, the MD of eCode regarding an interesting little project for the government of XYZ – specifically XYZ Enterprise, the government agency promoting trade with XYZ. A project that already had the prospect of follow-up work with the government, so although it was initially a fairly small gig, it looked like it could grow. I also had known Stephen for a number of years from the analyst and outsourcing conference circuit, so it seemed a good idea to get involved. eCode had been asked by XYZ Enterprise if they could write a independent research report analysing the good, bad, and ugly of the XYZ offer for IT outsourcing, call centres, and business process outsourcing (BPO). eCode decided to make the report more comprehensive and independent by producing it as a research coalition – so I would focus on the BPO research, eCode would focus on the IT, and one of the leading global analyst firms was employed to work in this partnership, to produce the call centre analysis. Contracts were drawn up. eCode was the prime contractor, the only organisation to have a direct contract with the XYZ government. The analyst firm and myself contracted with eCode, with an agreement that our payments would be made on a back-to-back basis… ie eCode would be responsible for getting cash from the XYZ, but as soon as payments are made, we would not need to invoice eCode again (other than for accounting purposes), payment would just come immediately to us as eCode receives money. As far as I was concerned, the project needed me to visit XYZ in September 2010, with an analyst from the analyst firm and Stephen Bullas from eCode. All expenses would be paid for a trip lasting just a few days. I would get £6,000 to go on the trip, gather information by interviewing people, then writing up my part of the report. I was also offered an additional £1,000 by the XYZ government if I would speak about my findings at a Financial Times conference in November 2010. I went on the trip in September 2010. XYZ is a very nice place and I highly recommend visiting during the European summer. The meetings went well and I filmed many of them, editing together 10 or 11 interview videos that I threw into the deal as a bonus – I never charged anything more for doing this. I received £2,000 in October 2010 – this was a ‘mobilisation fee’ and had been invoiced in September as the project commenced. I wrote up my notes, edited the video and sent everything off to eCode. In November I did my speech at the conference, and I even chaired an additional conference on the same day for the XYZ at a National Outsourcing Association conference. The previous evening I had dinner with the XYZ High Commissioner at his beautiful house in Kensington. When he had told me that he had a few spare dinner places I reached out into my network – again as a favour – and managed to bring along the technology chiefs of several organisations including the Metropolitan police, Transport for London, and the Department for Work and Pensions. The XYZ paid the £1,000 for me to speak at the conference, leaving a balance of £4,000 owed to me. I like XYZ. I had to write in the report that they have a few challenges in the global services market. I live in São Paulo in Brazil and the population of this city alone is about 47 times the entire population of XYZ. So they need to focus on specific services and not try to compete with places like India. But they realise this and, to their credit, they interfered very little in the editorial content of the report – except where they very strongly believed we had factual errors. Time went on. The XYZ government were a bit slow paying up the remainder of the money because of various internal disputes about which part of the government was paying… enterprise or the IT ministry. Time rumbled on, but by March they had paid everything that was owed – an email went out on March 1st thanking everyone for their patience with the editing process and agreeing that the project was complete. I expected to get my money. The project was finished, the client was happy, there was an email closing it all. But nothing happened. I chased eCode. Nothing. I was hesitant to go to my own contacts in the XYZ government because I was a sub-contractor of eCode – it was not up to me to chase payment to the prime contractor. But eventually in May I started asking my XYZ contacts what was going on. “We have already paid eCode!”, was their surprising response. So I started chasing eCode. No joy. Eventually, after what amounted to a series of mild email threats, I discovered that the head of accounts at eCode, John Dee, was on safari somewhere in Africa and Stephen Bullas had recently been taken ill on a flight from Germany to Egypt. I was asked to wait longer. Stephen would be out of action for weeks. I insisted that there was supposed to have been a back-to-back transfer of my £4,000 as soon as eCode was paid. John eventually relented and transferred £1,000 to me, saying that I would have to wait for Stephen Bullas to authorise the rest. I waited for Stephen to call. He did after a couple of weeks only to tell me that the cupboard was bare. His company had collapsed because he was ill. Contracts were failing all over the place because he was not working and he had no cash in the bank to pay me. “But it was never your money to keep. That was supposed to go into your bank account then out to me on the same day…” I cried in frustration. Stephen told me that there was nothing that could be done, other than to wait for him to return to work and to drive more revenue into the business again. I waited. I called him back three weeks later only to find he was still not back at work. I gave him more time because he explained a series of “deals just around the corner” and even an elaborate “we are about to be bought” story that turned out to be just as false as his promise to pay me on the day he got the money from the XYZ government. I waited through the rest of May, I started losing patience in June and gave Stephen some deadlines to pay, but he kept on forcing me to postpone any debt collection action by promising some special deal coming the following week. As July came around I realised that I have now spent more than a year on this contract, for just a few thousand pounds. I wish I had never agreed to work with eCode. eCode still owes me £3,000. Money that was paid from the government of XYZ to me for the work I did, only passing through eCode for the convenience of reducing the number of contracts required. eCode still owes the analyst firm a lot more than me. They were charging much more than me for their time and brand value, so they are much more in the hole than I am, but then as a large organisation they can afford to get a debt collection agency to go after Stephen Bullas and eCode. I personally have filed a case with HM Courts and Tribunal service for the money I am owed. Given that I was promised a back-to-back transfer, this amounts to little more than theft in my eyes. I know it’s not theft in a strict legal sense, but I keep asking myself why did I trust him? Why didn’t I contract directly? Why did I trust Stephen Bullas and eCode?

  • An organisation that has not paid me what I am owed and has consistently avoided my calls and emails on the subject.
  • An organisation that has not done this to me alone, but to one of the biggest and best known analyst groups in the world – and probably has other creditors too.
  • An organisation that has not paid me or the analyst firm, yet the homepage of the eCode website is advertising the XYZ report for £1,250 (see the screenshot above).

If you are thinking about hiring eCode, buying eCode, or purchasing their research then ask yourself a question: Do you want to get shafted? Just don’t do it. Don’t buy from eCode. Don’t buy them. Don’t believe a word Stephen Bullas says. If he can lie to ‘friends’ he has worked with in the industry for years, then what do you think he is capable of doing to those he cares about even less? Welcome to business with eCode, where eCode hires internationally known and respected analysts to produce research eCode then sells without ever paying the analysts involved… I will see you in court Stephen Bullas and eCode. I’m sure the big international analyst firm have their own plans for you too… Lego: Cash machine robbery

NOA Resignation

I just quit as a director of the National Outsourcing Association.

I was co-opted onto the board in 2005 when I was director of technology research at the Commonwealth Business Council, then I subsequently won two three-year main board elections, so it was a fair chunk of time on the board – plus I had worked with the board prior to ever being a director. I’ve seen a lot of people come and go on this board, and in the support team that runs all the admin.

But for the past year, the atmosphere has changed somewhat inside the NOA. It is a not-for-profit trade association and therefore I feel the main priorities should be:

  • to have a strong voice for the collective industry – representing the members, especially to the media by commenting on current affairs
  • to produce good independent research that could not be produced from a single company alone
  • to facilitate great networking events where peers can meet and share information

I don’t feel that we have been doing a very good job on any of these measures. I won’t betray any trust about why I think this way, that would clearly be a blog post too far, but I think it is important to acknowledge that my frustration in trying to steer the organisation down the path above – for the good of the industry – has boiled over and it’s best if I apply my knowledge, skills, and social capital elsewhere.

Good luck to the good ship NOA, I’m sailing off into the sunset.

NOA image on floor

Brazil and technology

I’m blogging next week from the Gartner Sourcing Summit in São Paulo, Brazil. And following that, I’ll be in Rio de Janeiro for a government led event focused on the tech industry in Brazil.

Take a look at the speakers at the Gartner summit by following the link above. If you want me to ask any questions about the tech industry in Brazil to any of these good people, or the government people, then just send me a message…

Hedkandi Brazil

Migrant Tales – the book

Migrant Tales is a book project being developed by Mark Kobayashi-Hillary and Angelica Mari which will capture real-life stories from the migrant community living in the UK. The aim is to reach out to migrants from all sections of society, wealthy or poor, legal or illegal, successful or struggling.

The media and political parties, with both using populism to gain votes or sales, have simplified the immigration debate. We want to hear the voice, fears, and expectations of the migrant community – along with the experts and policy makers.

The final goal is to paint a picture of how migrants contribute to British life in the twenty-first century, raising awareness of the realities of migration

We are using Facebook to gather real stories from real people. Take a look at the page here. Please also tell your friends and family about this project and the Facebook page.

if you can’t post information to the wall or if you would prefer to speak to us, get in touch with us on:
migranttales@gmail.com

The book takes this as a starting point for the debate:

1. The idea of a “job for life” is dead.
2. You are now competing with people from all over the world for your job.
3. Companies are using the Internet to send work to countries where labour is cheaper.
4. Companies can produce more because of better technology. This efficiency means they need fewer people.
5. Across the UK, the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.
6. But, if you have the skills, you can migrate and find work in any country.
7. The media and the public complain about immigrants. Experts say immigrants are essential for economic growth.
8. Politicians of all parties want to restrict or ban immigration.
9. Immigration was the most controversial and discussed subject during the 2010 UK general election.
10. If you are not British, but living and working in the UK, what is your contribution to the country?

Please do go and check out the book information on Facebook and contribute if you can.

Mark Kobayashi-Hillary is an author, blogger, and advisor on technology, globalisation and corporate change. He has written several successful management books, including ‘Global Services: Moving to a Level Playing Field’, ‘Who Moved My Job?’, and ‘Building a Future with BRICs’. He is a regular contributor to the British magazines silicon.com and Computer Weekly and blogs about the politics of globalisation for Reuters. Mark is a board member of the UK National Outsourcing Association and a committee member of the British Computer Society ELITE group. He has advised the United Nations on the development of the IT industry in Africa, the Indian government on service exports, and the British government on developing a hi-tech economy. Mark is a visiting lecturer on the MBA programme at London South Bank University.

www.markhillary.com

Angelica Mari is an Italo-Brazilian journalist specialising in business, technology and socioeconomic change. Since the beginning of her career in the late 90s, she held various editorial positions in publications in Brazil until she emigrated to London in 2002.In the UK, Angelica was editor of newswire Unquote, responsible for news on private equity and venture capital in Southern Europe. She also collaborated in the creation of Cleantech – the leading international business magazine in the area of renewable energy launched in 2003 – where she remains as associate editor. Since then, she has positioned itself as one of the leading journalists specialising in management and outsourcing for three years as chief reporter at Computing, the second largest British business technology magazine.
With a solid history of exclusive reporting featuring several FTSE 100 companies, in March 2010 Angelica was invited to join the team at Computer Weekly, the largest enterprise technology publication in the country, as the editor responsible for management and leadership coverage. Angelica also collaborates frequently for publications aimed at the Brazilian community in the UK, such as the magazine Jungle Drums.

http://uk.linkedin.com/in/angelicamari


Who Moved My Job?

LSBU all weekend

I spent most of Sunday at the Latimer house conference centre in Buckinghamshire at a residential offsite for the London South Bank University MBA.

I was talking about outsourcing. I had an hour to speak and I did not have much guidance from the university this time. Usually I spend a lot of time planning the sessions, and last year I spent all weekend at Latimer. This year, there were a whole range of reasons, but it boiled down to the fact that I could not get together with the LSBU staff.

So, I had an hour to talk on outsourcing. I tried to just make it an interactive conversation with the students and to focus on the pros and cons – so it might be something useful for their research, as they still need to decide what area to write about for their dissertation.

It was nice to find that after I had spoken, many of the staff and students said it was not long enough and we should have scheduled the talk much earlier in the weekend – rather than Sunday morning when everyone was hungover. That’s a nice reaction because it’s not a subject many people would enjoy on a Sunday morning.

I had been planning to try doing some very interactive work using Twitter, but that might have to wait for next year… and given that I’m about to start a new blog focused on social media I might speak on several subjects!

I noticed some of the students had uploaded photos from the weekend to Facebook, marked with the title Much Better with Alcohol – as their MBA weekend…

So who wants to publish me in India?

The past couple of books I have written ‘Who Moved my Job?’ (Lulu 2008) and ‘Global Services: Moving to a Level Playing Field’ (British Computer Society 2008) have both been published under license for South Asia by Viva in Delhi.

Viva took a look at my most recent book – Talking Outsourcing (Lulu 2009) – and said they are not interested in publishing it because they don’t feel it connects to the reader in the same way as the other books I have written.

That’s fine. They have their opinion. Only I think they are wrong.

Here’s why.

I don’t think they understand that this was a book of a blog. This book is drawn from the best of my ‘Talking Outsourcing’ blog in Computing magazine, featuring blog entries from 2006 to 2009. It’s written and presented as a chronological business diary. Everything that’s going on in the world of services globalisation and outsourcing from my point of view over that three year period.

It’s worth pointing out that the British national tech magazine Computer Weekly thought so highly of my blog, they shortlisted it for blog of the year in their IT Blog Awards 2009. The launch event at London South Bank University was also very successful – take a look at the video here.

Clearly there are a lot of people involved in the hi-tech service sector in India and I am sure they would like to see this book.

It highlights the issues, the trends, the failures, and the successes of the past three years in the global hi-tech industry and India gets a fair share of that business.

Sure, it’s a book of a blog and not written with a new narrative focused on a single topic, but that’s part of the idea here. Take the content from the blog and make it work in a different way by putting it all in one place, so it can be quickly skipped through.

If you are a publisher in India and you are interested in the South Asia rights for this book then get in touch with me. I’m planning to be there in February so if you move fast we could do some personal appearances around the launch. You can reach me here…