The Context of Europe’s Economy
The European economy is a stark drama that continues to unfold in real-time, as Germany and Greece in particular try to come to terms with how to best move forward on the European project. In fact, negotiations between Greece and the European Union may turn out to be a turning-point for the Continent. Consider that in February, 2015, Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis wrote in The Guardian newspaper that, “In 2008, capitalism had its second global spasm. The financial crisis set off a chain reaction that pushed Europe into a downward spiral that continues to this day. Europe’s present situation is not merely a threat for workers, for the dispossessed, for the bankers, for social classes or, indeed, nations. No, Europe’s current posture poses a threat to civilization as we know it.”
Regardless of one’s views on the best medicine for Europe’s ills, these are strong words that illustrate just how vexing the current European dilemma is. By late June, 2015, Greek banks had been shut down to avoid a meltdown and bailout talks with European creditors seemed frozen. Greek default and withdrawal from the euro seemed a real possibility. By mid-July, 2015, an accord of sorts seemed to have been reached, but with austerity for Greece as the theme. In any case, one wonders about the future of the European project going forward.
The economy has had real effects on some BPO providers in Europe that focus on customer management. Consider Serco BPO in the UK. In 2015, just four years after having acquired Intelenet BPO for over $630 million in an effort to reduce Serco BPO’s reliance on the UK and the public sector, that business was valued at a little over $400 million. By December, 2015, private equity firm Blackstone (which had owned the business from 2007-2011) announced that it had closed its deal to once again acquire Intelenet. What had once been Serco’s private sector BPO business thus returned to using its original name, Intelenet Global Services. Serco BPO has therefore been dropped from this year’s Europe Buyer’s Guide
The pace of exponential technological change is impacting a variety of industries. When it comes to Customer Management, innovations Customer Experience Analytics (CEA), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and machine learning have nothing less than transformational potential. How artificial intelligence (AI) in particular may influence the market going forward should be at the center of strategic planning, while the acceleration of omnichannel and digital transformation, coupled with the C-suite demands for stronger and swifter growth, should drive future strategy, particularly in M&A.
For service providers, staying competitive in the delivery of services will necessitate blending technology with human beings in new and even perhaps disruptive ways. All providers should therefore be thinking hard about exponential technological change and its possible impacts. The big question is, how successful will BPO providers be in confronting the classic Innovator’s Dilemma?
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan's Digital Transformation practice entitled, "Growth Opportunities in the Europe Customer Management BPO Market" finds that providers that strategically pursue omnichannel capabilities and value-add technology solutions will have a competitive edge over providers that largely compete on cost, location, and labor arbitrage.