In this episode, Derek speaks with Kerry Hallard, CEO of the Global Sourcing Association (GSA) and Chairperson of the Global Technology & Business Services Council (GT&BSC).
Global Sourcing Association
Global Sourcing Association is “an industry association and professional body that really looks after the best practice of the buying and delivery of technology and business services.”
“Everything we do is really focused on improving and growing the industry. So lots of work on best practice, lots of work on standards, on professional development, on qualifications, but also on a vision of where the industry needs to go.”
The Global Sourcing Association focuses on what Kerry calls “strategic sourcing.”
As she details, “It really is all related to technology and business services. So whether that is customer service, digital transformation, financing accounts, or legal, all of those types of professional [and] technology services are within our remit.”
Kerry also introduces her other association, the Global Technology & Business Services Council. She notes that the pandemic was a driving factor in her reaching out to different industry associations worldwide to “reposition” the outsourcing industry.
She recalls, “When the pandemic hit, it was the partnerships all around the world that quickly mobilized businesses of every nature to actually be able to deliver services from a remote environment.”
“I think this is an opportunity for us to work on a global vision and a global repositioning of the industry.”
Open talent and new outsourcing dynamics
Kerry outlines some of the ways that the industry is evolving.
“We call it technology-enabled business service delivery. We don’t call it the call center industry anymore, we prefer to permeate all customer experience and delivery. And obviously technology is improving the way that we deliver [it].”
When asked about the growing presence of freelancers and gig workers, Kerry refers to them as “open talent.”
“We have for three years now said that open talent is probably the biggest game changer to the outsourcing industry since the advent of offshoring.
[There’s] a massive move to individuals wanting to work for themselves and work from anywhere. [So] our industry has to get on board with open talent because we’ve got a global talent crisis.”
As the conversation turns to AI, Kerry reveals existing talks within the associations on the impact of generative AI on the industry, but she remains hopeful it won’t replace the human element.
“Of course [AI is] going to change the industry. [But] there’s still going to be a requirement for people to do a lot of the work and to deliver a lot of the processes.
AI will improve those processes, insights, and analytics. But we don’t believe [it’s] going to eradicate the need for people.”
Kerry added, “One of the programs we have in place [is] focused on responsible automation.
That’s ensuring that individuals that are doing jobs and have roles that are being automated, [are being] upskilled, and that there are skills convergence programs that ensure that individuals and professions are not left by the wayside, but that they are redeveloped and reskilled for the jobs of the future.”
Kerry brings up the need for standardization and her organization’s roles.
“It’s a global industry, buyers are buying from multiple different delivery destinations all the time, and it’s just growing and growing.
[As] a global industry, we’ve got a whole host of work to do to actually move towards more standardization and more standard terms.”
“At the end of the day, you’re a global buyer. You want to buy the same competencies and capabilities from every country.
You don’t want to have different terminologies for every different country because it doesn’t make it comparable and easy [to] understand what you’re getting delivered from every destination.”
Kerry meets with the GT&BSC members for monthly updates on terminologies, roles, and performance roadmaps.
Some of the members of the council include:
- International Association of Outsourcing Professionals (IAOP)
- Outsourcing Malaysia
- IT & Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP)
- Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA)
- Business Process Enabling South Africa (BPESA)
Positioning the BPO industry for good
Kerry affirms that outsourcing is a “people-based industry,” and should be leading on aspects of the ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) agenda.
“We’ve got really good programs for diversity, equity, and inclusion within our workforces. [When] our buy-side members outsource, they look at applying DEI and an ESG lens to countries before they choose service providers.”
“So I think governments around the world [need] to step up and recognize that they need to reform some of their labor laws and ESG credentials if they want to be key players on the global delivery stage.”
“We’re positioning the [outsourcing] industry for good. That’s our vision.
We’re not an industry that produces huge amounts of hazardous waste, we’re pretty good at making sure our data centers are as green as possible. [And] our industry is built on governing relationships and projects and programs.”
Kerry’s work heavily focuses on social and sustainable sourcing.
“If we can get that messaging out better globally, I think the industry will be recognized as a true global leader that can lead [others] to perform better across the entire ESG agenda.”