Tech research firm Gartner said a survey of executives about their outsourcing deals shows that 50 percent of external service provider (ESP) projects will be considered unsuccessful by senior executives. The biggest reason: they didn't, or have yet to, deliver the anticipated value.
The report, "Outsourcing Strategies and Challenges" was presented during Gartner's annual Symposium/Itxpo event, which is taking place this week in San Diego.
"IT enterprises must skill up to the competencies of developing robust sourcing strategies that map to business requirements and develop the competencies to deliver a mix of internally and externally vended services seamlessly. This requires not only new skills, but new behaviors, new processes and new measurement schemes."
But most important, the study continued, is that the relationships between buyers and suppliers of outsourcing services will have to change.
Linda Cohen, Gartner's managing vice president, said as IT and business strategies have become steadily more intertwined over the past decade, different phases and approaches to outsourcing have begun to spread. They range from cost-focused, to adding value, and more recently, with the advent of the Internet, to improving speed to market and scalability.
"Understanding and choosing what type of relationship best fits an enterprise's business strategy, and the value it wants from the deal, lays the groundwork for all subsequent decisions on how the deal is managed," said Cohen, who presented the study.
The study results arrive as businesses are increasingly adopting Internet-based models, which means that speed and skills are increasingly trumping cost efficiencies. At the same time, ownership of technology is giving way to "utility" service provider models, Gartner said.
Cohen said the impact on businesses is that they are left to square two very different strategies -- IT infrastructure that is largely internally built and managed by enterprises or IT infrastructure that is built and managed by external service providers for on-demand usage by enterprises.
Meanwhile, as enterprises become more dependent on external service providers, they also have to decide whether to build their strategy around a single, external outsource, or multiple, integrated outsourcers.
A single-source approach works for enterprises that can manage a single, complex contract, but lack the capability to manage and integrate multiple suppliers, Cohen said.
However, Gartner analysts said that through 2004, multisourcing will remain the dominant sourcing strategy, and 40 percent of large enterprises will adopt a prime or general contractor to manage the ESP chaos.
"As the enterprise's understanding of multiple suppliers increases, as well as the processes to manage and integrate them, a prime or general contractor approach is beneficial for obtaining a mix of suppliers without the job of managing the suppliers directly," said Cohen. "The single or multisource decision must be made with full recognition of the enterprise's business competencies to manage the relationship, contracts and integration requirements."
The report concluded that executives need to adopt skills that help them distinguish between the different flavors of outsourcing available today.
Still, the results said that through 2003, fewer than 30 percent of enterprises will have formal plans for managing long-term relationships with their service providers.
And for all the disappointments and dashed expectations that enterprise executives experience with outsourcing results, outsourcing will continue growing at a compound annual growth rate of 6 percent a year, the report said. According to Gartner's data, the IT services market, estimated at $520 billion market in 2000, will reach $696 billion by 2005.