Nearshore Americas

Q&A: The Anthropocentric Future of the Global Services Industry

Inspired by discussions with over 70 global business leaders, Javier Peña Capobianco is helping construct a clearer understanding of the future of the global services industry.

In his new book, The New Era of Global Services (La Nueva Era de Los Servicios Globales in Spanish) to be published by Penguin Random House this year in Spanish and in English in 2022, Capobianco puts forth his belief that what will set successful global service companies apart will be their decision to link sound business models and disruptive technologies with a human keystone.

Capobianco’s outlook is unique. His 12+ years’ experience as the secretary general of the Latino-American Association of Exporters of Services (ALES), and as an academic of international trade in services and offshoring at the Catholic University of Uruguay, meant that he could speak candidly with Nearshore leaders and companies from across the IT, BPO, consulting and academic sectors including Teleperformance, Globant, Sykes, Telus International and CINDE.

The book’s business case studies, interviews and insights explain his view on the industry’s anthropocentric future.

Javier Peña Capobianco

NSAM: What is the DIDPAGA model that you define in The New Era of Global Services?

Capobianco: The DIDPAGA model is the Spanish acronym for the seven characteristics, split between three pillars, that companies that are successful in this new era will combine.

The three pillars are technology (intelligent or Smart companies like those involved in fintech or agrotech), business models (including a distributed workforce, platforms, agile methodologies, a global reach and disruptiveness) and the human being (meaning an anthropocentric view on business and a positive impact of the environment and society). When those three pillars work seamlessly together, companies arrive at what I call the Triple-Win.

I believe DIDPAGA will become more prevalent in the future due to move of Millennials into the C-suite of large global companies and the growing influence of Gen Z which will soon make up the bulk of employees in those companies. Both generations are more aware of the need for social and environmental responsibility and consider these concerns as an important aspect of their professional lives.

Companies that present the characteristics of only the technology pillar and the disruptive impact shown in the business pillar will perform adequately in the new era of global services. They’ll survive. But if companies want to add value, to differentiate themselves and thrive, then the human being must be central to the overall business model. This is the central finding from my book. 

What will differentiate successful companies is their interest in having a positive social or environmental impact, not from an external point of view like the use of ESG metrics, but in their DNA — Javier Peña Capobianco

Those companies able to put the human being at the center, I refer to as anthropocentric companies. We are not talking about NGOs or non-profits here; anthropocentric companies are still for-profit organizations. What differentiates them is that they are interested in having a positive social or environmental impact, not from an external point of view like the use of ESG metrics, but in their DNA.

Right now, there are some companies that are pushing towards this goal. For example, some large companies make an effort to include positive and charitable efforts within the work time of their employees. Initiatives like Tech for Good or Fair Programming are other examples of systems focused on positive societal impact. But this number is still small and it must grow in order to ‘speak’ to the younger generation that will be the major source of employees in global services’ future, as well as the Millennials that will be leading them. 

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NSAM: How can companies move towards a structure that combines those DIDPAGA elements?

Capobianco: The book is full of businesses cases from across the globe that help demonstrate the move towards the Triple-Win of gelling technology and business intelligence with that important human-focused element.

Being disruptive, being a distributed company, thinking along the lines of how to best on-board and inspire youth, being agile and being global from the beginning of the company’s journey are all important aspects to be focused on.

Microsourcing, a talent sourcing model that involves remote work, with workers distributed in small teams – sometimes even individually –  in diversified locations across the globe, will be central to this. Though some companies have shown they can work within this model already, before the pandemic it was absolutely not normal to do so. 

NSAM: The new era the Neashore industry is moving into will pose challenges that must be overcome by business leaders. Which are the most prescient challenges for Nearshore’s new era?

Capobianco: The microsourcing model that I discuss with examples including Teleperformance – which employs 300,000 across 80 separate jurisdictions – enabled great jumps in productivity for the companies that used it prior to and during the pandemic. But this is a model that will take time to adapt, with aspects like employee mental health needing to be considered.

One consideration is innovation, which is far harder to achieve when working in disparate groups. During the pandemic, we’ve seen an increase in and improvement of collaboration platforms that help remote teams or individuals create and innovate together. But being on a collaboration tool is not the same as being in the same room. Innovation is best done in person. This will be a challenge moving forward, with the hybrid model or without. 

A challenge companies will face is balancing the rights of people working from home against the right of those in the office, when people do return — Javier Peña Copabianco

A further challenge companies will face is balancing the rights of people working from home against the right of those in the office, when people do return. The hybrid model that is expected to be a mainstay in the business world will split these two distinct groups and preferences could be split along these lines. This will require governance and HR teams to develop practices to ensure work from home personnel receive the same benefits and opportunities as those working on site. 

In Uruguay and Costa Rica, around 80% of the service exports of these countries came from free trade zones. Companies based in FTZs receive tax breaks and are tied to their physical location. Now, with the pandemic, workers are working from home because it isn’t possible for them to work from the office. Regulations are being changed around this, but the hybrid model will pose a long-term problem for the fundamental FTZ model. Governments will have to find a fair balance for companies set inside the FTZ and those that are based outside it, who continue to pay normal corporate tax rates. 

Peter Appleby

Peter is former Managing Editor of Nearshore Americas. Hailing from Liverpool, UK, he is now based in Mexico City. He has several years’ experience covering the business and energy markets in Mexico and the greater Latin American region. If you’d like to share any tips or story ideas, please reach out to him here.

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