COVID Times Prove Critical Importance of Partnerships


By: Sandy Frinton, PULSE Editor


Strategic partnerships between customers and trusted providers have always been key to outsourcing success.

COVID-19 has put these relationships to the test as customers are relying more and more on suppliers to perform critical work and deliver innovation during a time when both parties are faced with new challenges never seen before.

Many alliances between buyers/advisors and providers are withstanding the extraordinary pressures and proving to be more essential than ever during this global pandemic. 

“COVID-19 has exposed intense vulnerabilities for businesses from productivity losses, supply chain disruptions and reduced consumer consumption,” says Kevin Parikh, Chairman and CEO, Avasant. “It honed the realization that businesses need a range of skills, experience and expertise which is not resident in one organization alone.” 

Excellence in Strategic Partnerships

IAOP has recognized 15 of the very best in class partnerships with its inaugural Excellence in Strategic Partnerships award. These companies are demonstrating excellence in collaboration, innovation and outcomes. 

The companies nominated were judged on collaborative problem solving, the impact of their innovation and the resulting value achieved. And this was all before the coronavirus truly began to impact business operations so think about the tremendous value these partnerships are providing today. 

At IAOP, we can only imagine how much stronger these alliances will grow in the future based on the very strong foundations established. For the full list of winners, see Excellence in Strategic Partnerships.  

Winning Examples 

“We need to tackle the challenges associated with COVID-19 through a lot of innovation and courage,” says Bill Concannon, CBRE’s Global Group President, Clients and Business Partners.  “Now more than ever, we rely on partners to form our extended enterprise and help us advance new ideas.”

Commercial real estate and investment firm CBRE’s alliance with JCI’s Global Workplace Solutions business has resulted in the integration of both firm’s building innovation labs and a business-to-business partnership to deliver even greater value for clients. 
This strong relationship began in 2015 through CBRE’s acquisition of JCI is weathering the new realities of remote work environments and less need for large corporate real estate spaces.  

“In these days of extraordinary priorities due to the pandemic, safety and security driven by technology innovation are key elements to back-to-work,” says Mike Ellis, EVP Chief Customer & Digital Officer at JCI. “We are excited to continue our strategic partnership with CBRE on this key journey.”

Digital technologies like those provided by HGS also are standing out as critical solutions during the current disruption most companies are facing.  

“Our strategic partnerships have become increasingly important during this unprecedented time we face with COVID-19,” says Jayme Kiester, Vice President, Channel Partnerships, HGS.

“Having strong digital partnerships has empowered us to provide real-time data insights as well as to provide great capabilities like AI and bot-automation to our clients.  Our partners have a native ‘digital’ focus which assists HGS to move quicker and provide our clients with a personalized and consistent omni-channel experience through the entire customer lifecycle journey.”

HGS EPIC Team’s award-winning partnership with Sprinklr, a social enterprise platform, and PR agency Golin provided the ultimate end-to-end social engagement solution for an American multinational retailer faced with overwhelming social media volume and rising negative sentiment that was negatively affecting the company’s online reputation.

In another Excellence in Strategic Partnership example, leading advisory firm Avasant partnered with DAI to establish Palestine as a competitive business destination to buyers by creating a holistic value proposition for the economy demonstrating the sovereign state is open for business.

“Strategic partnerships are proving pivotal in helping enterprises navigate this changing and challenging work environment,” says Avasant’s Parikh. “Partnerships and strategic alliances will have greater value in the future as it is integral for growth, innovation and establishing a competitive advantage.”  

The partnership between HCL Technologies Limited, an Indian multinational information technology services, outsourcing and consulting company, and global law firm DLA Piper took hold last year to help manage the multi-billion-dollar global Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) agreement with Xerox around the world. 

“While strategic partnerships have been core to our business, they are more important than ever,” says Kit Burden, Partner and Global Co-Chair of Technology Sector, DLA Piper. “Companies are having to reexamine their business goals and partnerships allow them to exercise a full array of seamless and global options.”

“There is no doubt that partnerships will increase in value,” he says. “They are incredibly essential to any organization in all its forms, whether it be now or in the future. When challenges occur, strategic partnerships provide a client with more options to exercise no matter how dynamic the market is so it creates resilient agreements.”

According to Patrick L. O’Malley, president of Vee Technologies, “The Beatles got it right, ‘you can get by with a little help from your friends’.”

The company’s Healthcare Revenue Cycle Management Customer Company worked with Children’s Mercy Hospital to develop an algorithm-based system to make quicker processing decisions on aged accounts receivables.

“All successful partners are committed to mutually beneficial results,” O’Malley said. “The vision is we will help each other, no matter what. No company is an island unto itself.”

The current health crisis has made this mutual reliance even more essential. 
“The coronavirus has been a threat to many businesses very existence,” he said. “The challenge to survive and prosper was so unexpected, so unusual, so fast and so powerful that the very character of each company and its partnerships were questioned and threatened. This pandemic has actually created the opportunity to double down on flexible, compelling, relevant offers, achieved through real trust between partnerships. It will continue to test our resolve and challenge the way we grow our partnerships so we can be the best version of who we are, together.” 


Avasant and DAI
Putting Palestine on the Outsourcing Map 

Opportunity: Palestine’s broader economy supported by a burgeoning educated youth has been largely overlooked as a business destination historically but offers enormous potential for buyers and investors.

Solution: Avasant collaborated with DAI-Europe to assess the supply-side capabilities of the technology sector and key service providers in the West Bank and Gaza. Based on the assessment, a Palestine outsourcing value proposition was developed to solicit the UK market. The objective database for the economy developed through the solution enables potential investors/corporations looking to do business with Palestine IT service providers the ability to get a total view of the economy and elevate it in comparison to other nearby destinations like Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt.

Why It Stands Out: Avasant’s Global Equations solution platform help buyers and investors build a holistic picture of a business destination that can be found in one easy-to-access location, assisting them in making business-savvy decisions and evaluations. 

Results: 11 potential and active opportunities were identified and are actively being pursued, creating a new level of awareness of Palestine.

Takeaways: “Partnerships, of the nature that we have with DAI, engender mutual trust and understanding in each other’s value system and creates greater comfort and confidence with each other’s working style,” says Kevin Parikh - Chairman and CEO, Avasant. 

CBRE and Johnson Controls 
Union Provides Greater Client Value

Opportunity: CBRE’s acquisition of JCI’s Global Workplace Solutions business in 2015 created an opportunity for clients operating in the commercial real estate industry to reduce costs and create other operational efficiencies in their real estate portfolios.

Solution: Launch of a Building Innovation Lab to solve common facilities-related challenges for select clients, introducing innovative programs that are implemented portfolio-wide. Some examples include a cloud-based platform the uses a modular approach to analyze and optimize a building’s energy usage and equipment; and a revolutionary solution that provides laboratory utilization insights so lab and facility managers can identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies. The companies also developed a business-to-business partnership to leverage the economies of scale for both CBRE and JCI in a way that drives down costs for available products and services for clients of both firms.

Why It Stands Out: The ten-year partnership between CBRE and JCI has resulted in the development of programs of considerable value that otherwise would not exist in the industry and are not practical for most firms due to size, scope and duration.

Results: Clients of both firms have achieved more than $39 million in savings with another $50 million in the pipeline.  

Takeaways: “This partnership leverages the strengths of two industry leaders in a manner that has helped grow the service and product delivery of both firms while also driving considerable value for clients in cost reduction, innovation development, and solutioning and delivery speed,” according to CBRE.  

Deloitte and Genpact
Alliance Draws on Each Company’s Strengths

Opportunity:  Recognizing the strong cultural fit across both firms, Genpact and Deloitte began a dialogue starting in 2015 about partnering more closely. Deloitte’s brand, deep strategy acumen, design and target operating model expertise fit nicely with Genpact’s digital assets and deep process and domain expertise in the run/operate space. 

Solution: Two joint solutions leveraging the strengths of each organization were developed. GenOne is the first Finance-as-a-Service (FaaS) solution built on Workday that provides customers with a fully deployed version of Workday, pre-built Finance and Accounting (F&A) best processes, and a subscription-pricing model based on F&A best practice costs as a percentage of revenue. The second solution offering developed was “Digitally Enabled Accelerated Lending.” DEAL improves the wholesale and commercial lending experience for banks by improving customer outreach and shortening the credit review process by reducing the decision-making cycle time.

Why It Stands Out: Deloitte-Genpact has created “Evangelists” with experiences at both firms to help drive the connection between respective teams. The Evangelists are sourced through a “talent exchange” and assigned to various initiatives to help the teams collaborate, such as helping translate terminology or providing insight on each firm’s operating structure and practices and helping create project plans. 

Results: In less than two years, the partnership has already produced two industry-transforming solutions, created two unique customer value propositions to challenge major incumbent competitors and partnered on 10-plus pursuits.

Takeaways: “Together, the alliance is better positioned to offer complementary and combined cutting-edge solution offerings that allow for increased flexibility, improved customer experience and an improved response to competitive threats. The combination of the alliance is a powerful one that will help win in the marketplace against sizeable global players,” according to the companies. 

HCL Technologies and DLA Piper
Contract Negotiated with Xerox in Record Time

Opportunity: HCL Technologies and Xerox were entering a multi-billion-dollar global Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) agreement in 2019. HCL turned to partner, DLA Piper, to handle the legal complexities of the agreement that covers the global provision of HR, F&A, administration and IT services to Xerox operations all over the world, and transfers Xerox captive operations in the U.S., Guatemala, Bulgaria, India and Philippines across to HCL.  

Solution: DLA Piper mobilized a team of lawyers from the U.S., Australia and UK to physically relocate to Xerox’s global headquarters in Connecticut for an initial intensive three-week “lock-in” negotiation phase. The lawyers were at the very heart of the strategic decision making for the project and the commercial structuring of the deal, while also “holding the pen” on the negotiation and drafting the full set of contract schedules.

Why It Stands Out: The partnership has allowed a cross border solution for core services. The agreement was negotiated across time zones, in record time to meet financial goals and to process multi-jurisdictional legal concerns. 

Results: The contract negotiations were completed at an unprecedented rate of three months from start to finish compared to a typical time frame for such a deal of between 6 to 9 months or longer. HCL was able to capitalize on DLA Piper’s large legal deployment in key Latin America, Asia and Eastern Europe markets to gain advantages against growing IT and consulting firms.

Takeaways: “We engaged in proprietary processes that expedited the deal and provided HCL with a win-win scenario alongside our team,” says Kit Burden, Partner and Global Co-Chair of Technology Sector, DLA Piper.

HGS and Sprinklr 
Partners Solving Social Media Woes for Major Retailer

Opportunity: A U.S. multinational retailer was seeing its online reputation suffer because it couldn’t effectively filter through millions of social media mentions from thousands of local store pages quickly to find the posts that needed action to resolve negative experiences. Sending customers to an online form or 800 number was not the answer. The big retailer had the opportunity to create the image of a friendly neighborhood store customer experience.    

Solution: The partnership between HGS, a global leader in Business Process Management, with social enterprise platform Sprinklr and public relations agency Golin provided the ultimate end-to-end social engagement solution to the retailer’s social media challenges. Together the three companies brought the right people, expertise, process, Artificial Intelligence (AI), automation, and analytics to address all of the obstacles the retailer was encountering on social media. 

Why It Stands Out: Using Sprinklr, a best-in-class social engagement platform, the partners employed AI to filter out nonactionable posts leaving only engage-worthy messages. This tool also leveraged rules-based routing and automation to help prioritize posts based on context and keywords and routed them to the right social care agents or internal customer care, marketing or PR teams. Using analytics and a structured tagging system, the partners decoded the voice of the customer (VoC) to inform the enterprise on competitors and trends to help make operational business decisions. In addition, a team of 60 brand ambassadors who possessed the right skills to effectively engage customers on social were hired and extensively trained among many other tactics.

The Results: The retailer has saved more than $10 million by filtering eight and a half times the number of non-actionable posts and using an automated tagging structure.  The positive social media content also has resulted in 19.2 million likes, shares, retweets and comments in the first year. The solution providers helped the client achieve best-in-class response times of under 30 minutes and under four-minute average handle times.

Takeaways: “Most importantly, we broke down internal silos to provide an amazing customer experience, around-the-clock 24/7/365,” said Jayme Kiester, Vice President, Channel Partnerships of HGS. “HGS is bringing significant thought leadership to enterprises who are pioneering new solutions to mine the full benefit of providing social media care at scale,” says Doug Balut, Global Vice President of Alliances, Sprinklr.

Sitel Group and Rulai
Using AI to Improve Tire Maker’s Chat Channel

Opportunity: Sitel Group had the opportunity to help one of the world’s leading tire manufacturing brands accelerate digital transformation and improve its chat channel experience for consumers through the use of AI. By launching a successful chat and messaging strategy, the client improved customer satisfaction and gained cost efficiencies in their servicing strategy.

Solution: Sitel partnered with Rulai, a state-of-the-art conversational computing platform, to scale the tire company’s chat channel. Deep Artificial Intelligence and Digital Agents are used for customer support.  Sitel built intelligent chatbots on top of Rulai and provided the client with a robust conversational computing platform that is context-centric vs. intent-centric to enable next-level customer experience across digital and voice channels.

Why It Stands Out: The company views Digital Agents as part of the overall agent population and commits to training and improving the AI technology as it gets smarter over time, much like coaching and upskilling human agents. Human and digital agents support each other.
Results: Significant cost savings and immediate speed of response improvements. The client can now provide 24/7 support versus limited business hours previously. 

Takeaways: “We are committed to a performance model and put skin in the game so clients could make the lead into Rulai’s innovative technology,” according to Sitel.  

Vee Technologies and Children’s Mercy
Aged Account Receivables Turnaround

Opportunity: By finding the right trusted partner, Children’s Mercy could correct the issues of   rising aged accounts receivables, backlogs and operational inefficiencies, improving the bottom line for this leading children’s hospital.

Solution: Vee Technologies’ account management system, PROMIS, delivered a more flexible, variable cost model than the hospital previously had. The system allowed Children’s Mercy to analyze process defects, and implement processes and systems to address their root causes, giving it better insights.

Why It Stands Out: Using jointly developed algorithms, this innovative technology makes the processing decisions on which claims to work first and routes the most appropriate, not the easiest, work to the operator.

The Results: Children’s Mercy Hospital has seen a 69 percent reduction in the initial aged AR that was assigned to Vee Technologies enabled through the innovation and technology of PROMIS.

Takeaways: “Because of the collaboration, we formed a true partnership with the best possible business terms and a more aligned delivery model for Children's Mercy,” says Patrick L. O’Malley, president of Vee Technologies.


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