How to Outsource IT Like an Aussie
Anna Frazzetto’s article from Forbes.com on December 3, 2018.
Does the Southern Hemisphere show a little more outsourcing gumption than the Northern one? As a chief digital technology officer (CDTO) who works frequently in both hemispheres, I sometimes find myself wishing I could sprinkle a bit of the audacity of my Australian colleagues and customers on their North American counterparts.
A country with a GDP that is 10 times smaller than that of the U.S., Australia is a geographically isolated country that is used to struggling for its place and name on the world stage. Australia’s population is around 25 million compared to nearly 329 million in the United States and 500-plus million in the European Union. Not many people, however, realize how big that human capital gap is because Australia’s presence in media, sports and the culture at large is outsized. It’s a small country with a powerful brand.
I am often reminded of the spirited entrepreneurialism of Silicon Valley when we partner with Australian companies on their IT outsourcing. They often see smaller size as advantageous, and that mindset seems to be working across the tech sector. Take, for example, the tech stocks listed on the ASX200, the Australian stock market index that tracks the value of the country’s 200 largest public companies. Since the beginning of 2018, the ASX200 has seen almost a 20% rise in the tech sector, outstripping the Nasdaq’s growth by more than double.
Technology outsourcing, from management of daily IT operations to groundbreaking work in areas such as medical technology and transport innovation, is one important way Australian businesses have learned to increase their capabilities without sacrificing the agility and spirit that drives them to unabashedly go up against longtime titans of industry and global enterprises. Australian firms, in particular, embrace tech outsourcing with unusual speed and an approachable, collaborative spirit. It’s an enterprising approach that can make a powerful difference in the success of outsourcing an engagement, whether it’s measured in key performance indicators, innovation, cost savings, speed or all four.
How can businesses learn from the resourcefulness of so many Australian businesses? Here are three tips for embracing outsourcing the Australian way.
1. Start With A Bolt
Usain Bolt, the eight-time gold medalist sprinter from Jamaica, is now playing soccer to great fanfare in Australia. The Aussie support of Bolt’s adaptation of his tremendous athletic skill from one sport to another is an excellent metaphor for how much the Australian culture respects speed and dexterity.
When it comes to embracing technology, I have seen firsthand how Australian businesses use speed to quickly embrace emerging technologies and gain marketplace advantage. The 2018 KPMG/Harvey Nash CIO Survey identified this difference when examining digital strategy. According to the survey we conducted with KPMG, only 27% of businesses in the U.S. have an enterprise-wide digital IT strategy in place compared to 41% of Australian businesses. That digital edge comes from being faster to accept the rapid digitization of the marketplace.
When it comes to IT outsourcing in Australia, we’ve found that quick-start pilot programs and short-term outsourcing test projects have been highly effective ways to tap into that openness to speed. Rather than beginning with a complex and detailed outsourcing contract, Australian businesses are often ready to embrace a faster outsourcing project that allows in-house and outsourced tech teams to learn together as they work. It’s a fast but smart start that can work for businesses in any hemisphere.
2. Keep Volleyball On The Beach
In technology development circles, there has long been a familiar saying: “Send it over the wall and see what comes back.” It is a reference to completely handing something off to another tech team and seeing what comes back. It’s like the sport of volleyball — two separate teams handling the ball only when it’s on their side. Instead of working together, they hit it back and forth.
In Australia, teams tend to embrace greater collaboration with their outsourcing colleagues to make sure a project stays aligned with their business objectives. I notice that IT leaders in Australia encourage in-house and outsourced IT team members to work together as much as possible and are eager to make outsourced resources feel a part of the team.
One collaborative advantage many Australian businesses have in this area is the time difference. Australians often outsource to other APAC regions such as Singapore or the Philippines, where the time difference is only a few hours compared to a 12- or 15-hour time difference to North America. However, there is also a relaxed team spirit that extends beyond this convenience of location. Perhaps it comes from the famous archetype of the laidback Australian who welcomes everyone to the table rather than worrying about what a contract says or who works for whom.
3. Embrace Outside Ingenuity And Diversity
The tech shortage is challenging the world over, and Australia is no exception. According to a Deloitte Access Economics report, Australia will need 100,000 new IT (ICT) workers by 2023 in order to keep up with demand across the country’s economy. Situated so far away from the rest of the world, Australian businesses must acquire top tech talent any way they can. Outsourcing has often been the way many businesses are able to meet some of that need and not just for simple, operational IT work.
With the growth of the global digital economy, Australian businesses — by circumstance, size and location — have had to be open to strategic, business-shaping input coming from outside sources. And one could argue it’s to the country’s benefit. This openness to outside voices and experience results in more access to a diversity of ideas and more opportunities to embrace innovative disruption.
Australia is often celebrated for its welcoming spirit. Stereotype or not, that welcoming character is something businesses today can tap into as technologies advance at breakneck speeds. Working alone, any business could be left behind by advances in areas like machine learning, AI, fintech and blockchain. No matter the hemisphere they reside in, businesses can keep up with tech progress and disruption by quickly embracing, trusting and collaborating with outside tech partners.