Daily Archives: September 2, 2010

Is India About to go through Classic Economic Growing Pains?

Reading Scott Anthony’s Innovation Notes from India over on the HBR blogs, I can’t help but noticing that India is about to face the growing pains that North America went through during the information technology revolution of the last few decades. Consider Scott’s points one-by-one:

India is a land of contrasts

Every revolution, from the telephone through television to the PC made North America a land of contrasts between the haves and the have nots. The culture of entire communities, cities, and counties, literally changed overnight. Take silicon valley for example. It was a new gold rush economy.

There are more people than jobs in India

That’s usually the case, and usually what propels a country to try anything to create jobs. And when unemployment hits a high, that’s what drives real innovation energy.

The innovation energy in India is tremendous

This is a key requirement for an innovation boom that is always accompanied by growing pains when a country tries to adapt to rapid change.

Indian companies might have it too easy

First-to-market companies always have it too easy during a new technology boom. As a result, they don’t innovate enough and that’s why the first-to-market companies are rarely the winners over the long term (and why what counts is being best-to-market).

There will be more SKS‘s in the coming years

Giving that developing economies are charging ahead, you can be quite sure there will be multiple micro-finance options in the years ahead as the rich try to take advantage of the boom and seize the opportunity, leading to more growing pains as the micro-financiers reach capacity when the companies they are financing require even more money to sustain their growth.

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FieldGlass is Determined To Take Off In the Tens

FieldGlass, which provides a unified platform for contingent workforce management, service provider management, and direct hires, is determined to tear forward through the tens, which also happen to correspond to its second decade of corporate existence. Founded in Chicago in 1999, it celebrated its tenth birthday with a bang by adding 33 new customers in 2009 before tearing into 2010 and adding over 30 new customers year-to-date to double its customer base in less than two years.

With localized support for sixty-three (63) countries and counting, over one third (33%) of the new customers it has added in the past year were from outside the US — and they expect this number to rise over time as they add more satellite offices in various countries and continue to add localized support for more countries. And like Coupa, which happens to be one of the many enterprise platforms their solution can peacefully exist with, they plan to keep up the fervant pace of customer acquisition for some time to come.

So how are they pulling this off? It’s a combination of

  • persistence

    like the little engine that could, they just won’t quit,

  • technology

    they have a solid platform which gets better every year,

  • limited competition

    Google might return over 100K hits for contingent workforce management, but only a few players (like IQ Navigator and Taleo) have platforms in the same class,

  • a truly global focus

    their localized support (which includes local laws, regulation, and policy) for 63 countries and counting is a differentiator, and

  • the economy

    since no one wants to hire direct full time employees anymore.

So what have they done since our last update last April (which followed the incredibly deep coverage brought to us by the Sourcing Maniacs in their 2008 vendor tour)? Two things of note: they finished flushing out their core BI suite and started working on Active Guidance. And while the latter is still in its infancy, it will be very useful when taken to the next level.

Their BI offering consists of three core capabilities:

  • intelligent benchmarking

    across equivalent job categories in equivalent locations,

  • drill down reporting

    which lets the user drill through the various spend cubes maintained by the application, and

  • visualization

    which presents the user with innovative graphs, comparative dashboards, and informative trends.

Most of the work has went into improving the benchmarks, to make sure the industry averages presented are for equivalent jobs in equivalent locales, and extending the visualizer, to try and find the best ways to present a lot of information in an easy to understand, but yet impactive, manner. In a few cases, they’ve really hit the mark. The first case is the country-based graphs which allow a user to see relative spending by state on a geographically correct map. These graphs take the concept of Shneiderman diagrams (or visual crosstabs) to a whole new level. The second case is the integrated trend graphs that allow you to simultaneously see the trends across contingent worker, service worker, and direct hire for any job position or category. This is important because whenever spending drops sharply in one category, it tends to increase significantly in another. (Can’t hire any new workers? Service workers. Can’t sign another long term contract with a service provider? Contingent workers. Contingent workers been here too long? New hires.) The third case is the comparative rate-range graphs which simultaneously present the average rate, the range, and the market average for a set of related positions — it makes it really to easy to see where the company is likely spending too much for its contingent and service labor.

However, what is really interesting is their new focus on “active guidance”. Having deep insight from meaningful benchmarks and comprehensive spend reports is one thing, but knowing what to do — and when to do it — is another. For an organization with thousands of contingent and service workers, this can be a challenge. To this end FieldGlass has launched new capabilities that is has bundled under the heading of “active guidance” with more in development. The three capabilities it has launched to date are:

  • Rate Guidance

    using the benchmark data and spending history, the platform will advise the user on the recommended rate range to associate with a contingent or service position,

  • FieldGlass Advisor

    built on top of their alert functionality, the advisor will let a user know when a certain action should be taken (such as initiating a request for additional funds or to extend a current position), and

  • The Project Management Office Dashboard

    a quick summary into the past due, current, and forthcoming tasks that require the users attention with respect to payment and procurement, the dashboard is built on top of dozens of user configurable thresholds relating to processes, documents, and spend tracked by the system.

As FieldGlass continues its quest to automatically identify trends and associate them with suggested behaviors,this role-based feature should get quite interesting. The holy grail of performance analysis lies in the ability to take tactical data and derive meaningful strategy.

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