In this episode of IT Leadership Insights, Michał Grela speaks to Tom Quigley about international associations which can be helpful in accessing European IT talent.
Tom talks about what organisations are available to IT leaders and explains the role these organisations play in connecting buyers with local vendors. Tom provides more detail of how the Global Sourcing Association and the Emerging Europe Alliance can help clients and shares some success stories of how these organisations facilitated access to local IT market.
Tom Quigley has spent 20 years working as a marketer in the outsourcing industry; initially for one of the largest BPO providers in the UK, then as marketing director for the Global Sourcing Association, before setting up his own marketing agency servicing CEE businesses. He is also the CEO of Emerging Europe Alliance, a member coalition for innovation and technology companies, and sits on the International Association of Outsourcing Professionals’ (IAOP) European Outsourcing Council.
Michał Grela is Future Processing’s Relationship Manager, working within the marketing department to establish and nurture relationships with prospective customers and expand the company’s network of contacts. He strongly believes that business is about people and that, at the end of the day, it’s all about Human-to-Human rather than Business-to-Business.
The transcript of the episode
Michał Grela (MG): Hello, and welcome to IT Leadership Insights by Future Processing. This program is for CIOs and senior IT executives who struggle with current IT and are considering nearshoring as a solution. We talk with industry’s experts to gain their perspective and insights on how to do IT outsourcing right. My name is Michal Grela. Today my guest is Tom Quigley, the CEO of Emerging Europe Alliance for Business Services, Innovation and Technology, and the CMO of QUIGLEYMEDIA, a marketing agency from the UK.
MG: Tom, would you like to tell us something more about yourself, please?
Tom Quigley (TQ): Yes, thank you. My career spans something like 30 years. Two-thirds of that was probably in an outsourcing context. I worked for a large BPO provider, probably the largest in the UK, and I was Head of Marketing, Design and Events for one of their divisions. Subsequent to that, I left and became the Marketing Director for the National Outsourcing Association. We rebranded that to the Global Sourcing Association in October 2016. Shortly after that, I left and set up my own marketing agency to serve the central and eastern European market for businesses that are looking to raise their profile in the UK and other markets. We also co-created the Alliance for Business Services, Innovation and Technology at the same time.
MG: That’s very impressive. We’re very glad to have you here. In this episode, we’re going to talk about various international associations and some spaces that companies looking to outsource could use to access local markets and make outsourcing easier. But, first things first, what are the associations available for the companies right now?
TQ: I think there’s a huge range of associations, depending on what you’re looking for, what your desired outcome is. There’s member associations where it’s really just a network for businesses to get together and share knowledge and expertise and maybe even skills as well. There are associations who focus specifically on the skills of relationship management within an outsourcing context. And then there’s organisations who focus on specific niches like specifically robotic process automation or artificial intelligence.
MG: There’s a wide variety available.
TQ: Yeah, indeed.
MG: Okay. What do they actually do? I mean, like what goals do they have? What areas of specialisation do they cover? On daily basis, what do they do?
TQ: Again, it’s very different. Predominantly, all of them are focused on trying to create market-level engagement for vendors and buyers to get together, share knowledge, and hopefully do business together as well. Whether that’s an investment promotion agency, or whether it’s a member association focusing on job skills, or whether it’s an IT cluster, principally they’re all trying to achieve the same thing.
MG: However, their goals towards the client looking to outsource versus their goals towards company’s providers, such as say an IT outsourcing company from Bulgaria or Romania or Poland are different, aren’t they?
TQ: I think it’s, again, it depends on the individual enterprise. It depends on what they’re looking for. I think location these days has become much less of an issue. It’s more around where they can access to skills and innovation as well. Innovation’s just as important because businesses these days are looking for longer term partner relationships rather than just a squad of 10 people to do coding for four months or something like that. They’re looking for organisations who are vested in the relationship and who are bringing the skills and knowledge and expertise around what’s coming over the horizon.
MG: On the one hand, it’s looking for companies who would like to outsource, and on the other it’s matchmaking that with particular set of skills that they are looking for at the moment.
TQ: Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely.
MG: You’ve worked for the Global Sourcing Association. Now you are leading the Emerging Europe Alliance. Please tell us something more in detail about what these companies actually do.
TQ: The Global Sourcing Association is the oldest outsourcing association in the UK. It’s been going for something like 30 years.
MG: Okay. That’s an impressive history.
TQ: They have a 50% split between enterprises and vendors, and they try to keep that ratio, so that there’s never too many vendors or too many enterprises at any events. Principally, they’re focused on knowledge-sharing and skills-sharing, and trying to create standards, particularly around relationship management for outsourcing. Historically, outsourcing has had a poor relationship, a poor reputation rather, around managing those relationships. They’ve actually created a bespoke standard, which can be used either in the private sector or the public sector for buyers or suppliers, and to upscale themselves on that.
TQ: The Emerging Europe Alliance is a little bit different. Its two main goals is to promote collaboration and integration of skills and services and knowledge across the region. So, that’s businesses in Ukraine wanting to do partnership agreements with businesses in Poland, and that kind of thing. The second principal objective is to try to create … raise the profile of central and eastern Europe to other markets, like the Nordics and the US and places like that.
MG: At the end of the day, it comes down to events, to portals, to some papers?
TQ: Well, I think it’s … At market level, I consider myself to be a market-level operator, and I don’t think there’s any better way of doing market … doing business than speaking face to face, but to do that you need to create a funnel, and you need to engage with businesses at scale, and engage them with these associations who have that larger share of voice than perhaps you as a single entity or a single business. It helps you punch above your weight, effectively, and go along to those events where you know there’s going to be 70, 80, 100 enterprises there who are looking for the types of skills that you’re looking to offer.
MG: Mm-hmm (affirmative). I couldn’t agree with you more. I also personally believe that behind every business to business relation there’s actually a human to human relation.
MG: You always do business with the ones that you know and like. With experience so vast as yours, I’m sure you have a number of success success stories that you’ve come across. I mean, like examples of client companies from the UK or from other markets that were looking to outsource, and maybe examples of fruitful and very successful relations that will emerge out of activities such as …
TQ: Yeah, of course it does happen. During my time with the Global Sourcing Association, there was an organisation who provided virtual contact center agents who were home-based. During one of the events, the annual symposium, they got talking to a large energy provider in the UK who weren’t even thinking about that, but the technology was so interesting, and the operating model was so interesting, and the cost to arbitrage from it was so compelling that they actually done some business off the back of that. Closer to home with the Global Sourcing Association, we’ve just come back from delivering an event and partnership with the Nordic IT Association. I heard, literally yesterday, that one of the businesses who came along and spoke at that event on a panel session sharing the knowledge and expertise, has actually done business with that large-
MG: Whoa, that’s quick.
TQ: Yeah. Yeah. And it does happen. Away from that, we were also approached by a French company who was looking for a niche set of coding skills, and it just so happened that one of our newest members had those types of skills as well. We put them in touch with each other, and now they’re doing business as well.
MG: Despite it’s hard to put an ROI on this kind of activities, it is truly possible to bring some leads or generate business?
TQ: Yeah. I think for a relatively low cost of entry to these types of associations, and then as I say really understanding what market you’re going after, and also the job people, the job-titles that you’re going after, whether it’s a CTO or a CIO or whatever, making sure those associations have access to those types of people. I think it’s a very worthy ROI, actually.
MG: Okay. Thank you. Thank you for this conversation. It was truly inspiring and very, very insightful, and very interesting.
TQ: Thank you.
MG: Thank you, our viewers, for watching this episode of IT Leadership Insights by Future Processing. If you have found it useful, please do not hesitate to like it, share it. Share it on LinkedIn. Share it on Twitter or any other social media. Please also do drop us a line if you would like to have a topic covered in one of the future episodes.
MG: This was IT Leadership Insights by Future Processing. Thank you.