Nearshore Americas

Quick Hits: Colombia Becomes ‘Haven of Stability’, Client Grievances and Brazil Blast

Several sources confirmed during the Gartner conference that Genpact and Sutherland (a mid-tier global BPO operator)  will soon be announcing plans to set up delivery centers in  Colombia. Genpact has been one of the most active providers in the region over the last few years and the firm’s wheels seem to be turning even  faster this year. Its Guatemala City presence is in the process of  expanding, and the move into Colombia – mentioned as a possibility by Guatemala Country Manager Nitin Bhat during a Nearshore Americas interview in July – seems to reflect careful consideration of how to service both domestic and international clients. (Genpact also maintains facilities in two Mexico cities – Juarez and Caborca).

The recent news that HP will locate a Global Service Center in Medellin was just one of a series of indications that the country is also on the map of tier one players.

We heard no reports indicating that Genpact will scale back or close the Juarez (smack on the U.S. – Mexican border and virtually ground zero in the Mexican government’s battle to quell narco-violence) or Caborca, which is about one hundred miles south of the boundary with Arizona.

Sutherland  too has a delivery center in Mexico – in its case, Monterrey. What we’ve been hearing is that Sutherland will shutter its Monterrey operations and migrate further south to Colombia. (We will update readers on this issue when we hear back from the media relations people at Sutherland.)

TAKEAWAY: The move certainly brings with it a major sense of irony. Colombia – long dismissed  for its unsafe image – now appears to have transformed itself into a haven of safety and stability. The country’s unrelenting rise gives further evidence that the  “analysis” of Colombia and, particularly Bogota, by the Black Book on Outsourcing authors in 2009 was a reckless and deeply unfair piece of “research.” The group (now owned by Datamonitor) claimed Bogota was the most dangerous city in the world to outsource. Datamonitor released another Black Book report this year – but we’re maintaining our boycott of the Black Book and won’t be reporting on any of their findings despite the detailed letter Nearshore Americas received from Datamonitor Mark Meek in January, arguing that the Black Book has changed its ways and is now a credible operation.

The Gartner show ended with a definite thud as the closing panel labored through discussion of all the things that can and do go wrong in outsourcing relationships. On one hand, there was nothing all that new revealed with  conference chair and moderator of the panel Linda Cohen stressing that “outsourcing is hard” and there are countless pathways for the relationship to go south.

Disappointment and outright frustration was heard from a variety of attendees who spoke of relationships that were breaking down – but in what I would consider a mildly encouraging sign: Most attendees were openly acknowledging that their own house was not in order.

TAKEAWAY: Enterprise clients, in the words of these sourcing leaders, are frequently ill-prepared to hold up their part in the outsourcing bargain. Corporate cultures seem to take forever to adapt to new ways of doing things; and there are undoubtedly elements of distrust and resentment bubbling under the surface at many USA Inc. firms who rely on offshore partners.

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The folks at Brazil IT, led by Robert Janssen (who also runs Outsource Brazil), managed to provide a much needed break from the mega-networking and brainweaving exercises of Gartner to deliver a knock-out punch of Caipirinha (the unmistakable Brazil cocktail), and samba music and performers during an evening reception that seemed to draw every one the several hundred delegates. Judging from the wide use of digital cameras, i-Phones and blackberries, the proceedings were just as popular as any of the main conference events at Gartner.  Follow the beat!

Kirk Laughlin

Kirk Laughlin is an award-winning editor and subject expert in information technology and offshore BPO/ contact center strategies.

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