Shared Services & Outsourcing Week Europe 2017 [Chair's Reflections]

Bobby Abraham

Message from the Chairman – SSOWeek Europe 2017

16th May 2017 - Manchester, UK

Welcome to the 17th European Shared Services & Outsourcing Week, here in Manchester (we did our very best to arrange for the quintessential English weather!). I promise we will have an exciting week ahead, and lots of learning over the next few days. 

The Shared Services & Outsourcing Industry continues to evolve from the trends that SSON is tracking, and we are here to explore the changes and prepare ourselves for the future.

The narrative has changed quite dramatically over the past 12-18 months. My own reflections coming into this glorious week are as follows: 

  1. #ProcessStepsMoreImportantThanOutcome – Shared Services are no longer just outcome based transaction factories – there's never been a more important time when the number of steps in a process is more important than the outcome. Process engineering and automation is increasingly more important than merely achieving SLAs (Service Level Agreements ) and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators).

  2. #PeopleWantInterestingWork – The large number of people this industry employs requires a massive reboot. People want to do interesting work that's adding value. Clerical work will vanish, and that should be the motivation to move towards automating clerical work.
  3. #SkillsDivide – Work will go where the skills and quality are, and the skills need to be global – this is replacing the shift that happened several years ago, with offshoring to low cost centres.

  4. #ProductivityDrain – It's all about the people enabled by technology: Productivity is growing at a very slow rate in spite of technology. The drivers for this are the fact that we haven't redesigned our organisational practices and our digital strategies. People are distracted and employees are overwhelmed. We have given people way too much information, emails, and systems – they don't have time for families and it's causing a vacation crisis! We are working a lot but getting a lot less done.

  5. #OrderTakersToProblemSolvers – Engagement remains a challenge in organisations. Work has become harder and less interesting so how do we move from #OrderTakersToProblemSolvers? The boundaries between technology and Operations are blurring, and those that are able to leapfrog and understand both sides will flourish along with the understanding of the core of the front end of the business. 

Bobby Abraham

This is the backdrop of the industry as we start SSOWeek Europe 2017: 

A. In SSON's own research, we are seeing the Shared Services industry being revolutionised by RPA and Artificial intelligence

B. It's changing business models, talent requirements and th enature of outsourcing contracts or Captive Shared Services.

C. We are going from transactional to value added services. The industry is changing rapidly, and is getting "futuristic" – so, how do we get there? 

In addition:

  • Within Europe, the UK, Poland and Germany are the largest bases for Shared Services organisations. We are seeing Poland, France and the UK growing their industry footprint over the past year. 
  • Within the Top ten cities for SSCs: Dublin, Krakow and Budapest remain on top.

Questions to ponder: How much of this mix will change once we see the impact of Brexit? Also, we explore how much is RPA changing the location strategy? 


  • The fundamentals and basics don't change 
  • Improving Customer Experience, protecting the organisation's assets, and a strong and robust control environment with increasing focus on driving simplicity, is going to be the bedrock of driving innovation from the Shared Services Outsourcing Industry.
  • Incubation of Innovation ideas and execution can be driven from Shared Services for a better business case.
  • Focus our conversations around solving problems.

Stay tuned for more!

Best wishes,

Bobby Abraham

Chairman – Shared Services Outsourcing Week Europe 2017