2e2’s move to offshore support could set a trend among UK integrators after rivals signalled they may follow suit.
2e2 last week finalised a support partnership with Indian IT services firm Patni following a lengthy employee consultation process.
The deal covers generic helpdesk and first- and second-line support and about a third of 2e2’s 700 UK managed services customers will be impacted immediately.
Under the terms of the partnership, some 25 of 2e2’s 180 managed services staff have moved to Patni’s UK office, while another 75 Patni staff will deliver support from India.
Separately, some SAP helpdesk and development work has also been outsourced to another Indian provider, MindTree.
2e2 business development director Nick Grossman said the agreement would give customers the choice of operating an onshore, offshore, or blended model and argued 2e2 had struck the right balance.
“Very few mid-market service providers have done this,” he said. “We are breaking new ground, so finding the right company to partner with was critical.”
Grossman claimed the move had received “excellent” feedback from customers and that there had been no degradation in service levels since Patni came on board three weeks ago.
“To a man, our customers have understood why we are doing it and the vast majority are already offshoring in some way in their organisation,” he said.
Mark Quartermaine, chief executive of rival Azzurri, confirmed that offshoring was something the comms provider may look at. “That part of our business isn’t materially large enough at the moment but it is something we will have to look at at some point. The Indian outsourcers such as Wipro and TCS are becoming more competitive in the UK."
Paul Renucci, group executive director at rival Kcom, said that the integrator may look to systematically offshore “repetitive” lower-level work to India.
“Offshoring definitely has a role to play but it should be tactical rather than something you build your entire strategy around,” he said.
Renucci stressed that Kcom would continue to carry out all customer-facing services on the customer’s site or at one of its UK-based services desks and questioned 2e2’s strategy.
“You offshore as a business decision to enhance your competitiveness,” he said. “Although customers want you to be competitive, no customer has ever come up to me and asked us to think about offshoring.”
Paul Brewer, technology solutions director at pan-European integrator Datapoint, said: "We use some resource in India to do back-office work around software and application development. But anything customer facing we run out of the UK, Spain and France and we will maintain that local service."
Peter Titmus, chairman of channel services provider Networks First, said rising manufacturer fees and savage competition had put UK support providers under enormous margin pressure. “But I have reservations about whether outsourcing is the right option long-term,” he added.
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