"A clear need to prepare for the digital future of the SSO industry"

Bobby Abraham

"Order-taking" giving way to "intelligent automation"

Chairman's Closing remarks at the end of Shared Services Outsourcing Week 2017 – 16th to 18th May 2017 - Manchester, UK

More than 550 Shared Services practitioners and over 50 solution providers and practitioners gathered in the UK, last month, for Europe's premier Shared Services and Outsourcing event – the 17th European Shared Services and Outsourcing Week.

The plenary sessions and breakaway groups were insightful, networking plentiful, and the overall quality of the event outstanding.

In closing the event, conference Chair Bobby Abraham shared a brief summary of what we heard and absorbed on the state of the Shared Services Industry:

  • Over 40% of our attendees this year were first time attendees / new shared service centres which represents the SSO Industry growth in the European region
  • We are seeing a clear need to prepare for the digital future of the SSON industry
  • Through the last few days we have learnt the art of equipping and demystifying robots and the disruptive technologies – we now have a level of comfort talking the same language as our technology colleagues around Blockchain, RPA, Cognitive & Artificial Intelligence
  • The focus on going back to basics and fundamentals that have built this industry remain strong amidst disruptive technology
  • Thought leadership, Controls, Risk Management, Customer experience and governance remain the bedrock across industry verticals
  • Governments are increasingly becoming nationalistic about Data - within organisations there isn't a clear owner for master data yet
  • As we step forward, the future holds the striking prospects of Shared Services shrugging off the task-oriented 'order taker' tag to becoming the core of the business. This will mean a dramatic shift from being a services industry to offering products that enable the core of the business (examples of moving away from traditional HR / Finance / Supply Chain and Customer operations to fact-based data driven organisations that can steer the core of the business towards effective product marketing and channel strategies generating new revenue streams)
  • The opportunity to enhance our own internal reporting and analytical capabilities can be fast-tracked by adoption of newer BI and data visualisation tools. Emerging themes are about moving away from hindsight to insight and foresight in steering the business


Bobby Abraham, Chair, European Shared Services Outsourcing Week added: "Thank you once again for being such an engaging audience over the week. We want to thank all of our Sponsors who have made this week possible and to all the producers for the quality of content."

Note: If you missed this conference, or some of the sessions, you can catch up at SSON’s free online SSO Week Digital event in July. Register now here – and stay tuned for our next series of events across the regions. 

Bobby Abraham is Global Head of Finance Shared Service Centres & Executive Vice President at Vodafone Group Plc. Bobby also sits on the Advisory board of the European Shared Services and Outsourcing Network and is an alumni of Kellogg School of Management (Chicago), Indian School of Business (Hyderabad) & Centre for Executive Development Program (CEDEP) at INSEAD Fontainebleau, France. You can reach him at bobby.abraham@vodafone.com.