How to address your workforce issues for holiday seasons and periods of peak demand

The shifting business landscape of today’s retail organizations is increasing the pressure on human resources professionals. As more customers flock to online shopping, in-store revenues are declining, forcing executives to re-evaluate and streamline store operations. The retail industry currently employs over 15 million individuals of whom approximately 53% are part-time store workers and 8% are first-line supervisors (Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Hidden costs of turnover: Employee turnover within retail stores can be detrimental to a company. According to a recent study by Hay Group, turnover for part-time store workers is increasing and reached 67% in 2012, a 33% increase over 2011. Not only are there substantial costs associated with the recruiting of candidates and training of new hires, but absent or inexperienced employees can have a major impact on customer service and employee morale. This in turn can affect store sales and the bottom line. A study from the Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council estimated that turnover for an $8/hour part-time worker costs $3,752 per worker.

Recruitment and retention within the retail industry is a costly and difficult problem and many organizations are striving to find new solutions. Several retailers are now relying on Recruitment Services to manage this process, specifically for their fluctuating or high-volume recruitment needs in stores.

There are several factors to consider when determining if this is the right solution for your company.

  • Fluctuations in hiring demand – Can your internal recruiting team achieve the hiring demands of your seasonal needs and store growth?
  • Lack of visibility & metrics – Do you have the capability to analyze metrics to make informed decisions and set your strategy?
  • High costs associated with hiring, training and turnover – Do you know all the costs associated with recruitment, training and turnover and what the impact is on your customer service and your bottom line?
  • Inconsistent process – Have you developed a process to create efficiencies in your hiring operations and lower your costs?
  • New hire quality – Is the level of quality within new hires affecting your customer service and employee morale?

If you answered “No” to any of these questions, Recruitment Services might be a good option for your organization. You can overcome hiring challenges and attract and retain the right employees for your organization.

IBM’s Recruitment Services help retailers address hiring and workforce challenges in the following ways:


Whether you are looking for an end-to-end recruitment solution or services to address specific needs, IBM’s scalable recruitment services help retailers drive business outcomes. Examples of our customer successes include:

    • Reduced employee turnover by 50%
    • Reduced time-to-fill by 35%
    • Improved hiring manager satisfaction by 93%
    • Increased interview to hire ratio by 40%
    • Reduced cost per hire by 52%

For more information on our Recruitment Services or other areas of HR to help you build a Smarter Workforce, meet Jennifer  Aglira Welsh at NRF 2015  and set-up an appointment. You can call Jennifer at 610-457-9049 or write to her at

Five ‘hotspots’ to transform telecom businesses and drive smarter operation

Hotspot 1: Cost Reduction

Challenging economic environment and single-digit revenue growth are forcing Telco  2clients to focus on cost containment and cost reduction efforts. Increasing operational expenses (OPEX) and capital expenditure (CAPEX) further aggravate margin pressure for existing and new businesses. Communication service providers (CSPs) need to consolidate business processes, reduce cost and commit to targeted outcomes aligned to business value. Clients need to undertake certain steps to transform OSS/BSS operations to best practice operating models, build expertise in revenue and billing assurance services to identify and resolve upfront challenge of revenue leakage and fraud issues; optimise supply chain to reduce costs and unlock the value on the balance sheet to optimise cash and investments. They need access to skilled global resources and analytics experts to improve forecasting accuracy to optimise debt and cash management.

Hotspot 2: Operational Agility

Competitive pressures from over-the-top (OTT) players force CSPs to respond and adapt quickly and cost effectively to changes in strategy, market demands, and new business models. To expand into new markets, CSPs need to improve operational flexibility and centralize back office functions to scale in and out of markets effectively and orchestrate winning service offerings effectively through standard approach. IBM is uniquely placed to collaborate with clients, reinvent business processes, offer consulting expertise aligned to eTOM framework to enrich customers’ experience, reduce cost and often reveal innovative streams of revenue.

Hotspot 3: Profitable Growth


Revenue, profit and ARPU pressures are exacerbated by constrained credit markets, accelerated commoditization of traditional voice services, rise in data services without commensurate revenue growth and competitive pressures.

CSPs must improve working capital efficiency and free cash flow to invest in new capabilities. They need to invest in cloud, social and mobile technologies and channels to meet customer expectations and; extensively collaborate with employees and business partners. Investment in big data and analytics can help CSPs gain a consolidated view of the business, enable new services and new revenue sources to optimize capital and increase customer profitability.

Hotspot 4: Increasing Consumer Influence

Consumers are seizing control in an environment where only 18% of people trust information from companies. Customers expect always-on service everywhere which result in high churn rates and downward pricing pressure.

With rise in power and influence of consumers, CSPs need to adopt different ways to engage digitally, improve trust and transparency. Ability to improve collaboration, personalize customer engagement, create compelling consumer experiences e.g. unbundled and on demand capabilities can help CSPs reduce customer churn and provide more relevant products and services.

Hotspot 5: Data Explosion

Explosive growth in data usage and bandwidth puts unprecedented demand on current network capacity. If unaddressed, mobile operators will face significantly higher cost and additional network capacity required, would almost double network OPEX. CSPs need to limit the expected rise in network cost and adopt efficient ways of handling data. Two key areas of application are the use operational data to generate analytic insights to model business scenarios and develop forecasting capabilities to optimize cash and investments; and consumer data to get a deeper understanding of the consumer, undertake effective segmentation and develop better service options customized to unique needs.

Today BPO services providers like IBM and process experts are working with global CSPs’ across multiple areas and helping them:

  • Deploy order to cash analytics across the revenue assurance and credit function to reduce suspense by 15%
  • Centralize payment system and enable seamless integration to front-end systems to improve payment experience
  • Drive finance and procurement transformation to reduce cost and standardize operation across the enterprise, increasing efficiency and consistency
  • Improve learning management processes, reduce cost, and improve customer satisfaction
  • Support business needs to grow and expand by improving the time to fill positions and reduce dependencies on third party search firms

For more information, visit IBM Global Process Services –Telecom and contact our industry expert Michael Kerlin, Associate Partner IBM Europe,

Five “hotspots” to transform Travel and Transportation businesses

Hotspot 1: Importance of online channel

  • Forget the crude upsell: airlines must do more with e-commerce – Eye for travel
  • The digital reinvention of travel: Following travelers into a radically different tomorrow –  IBM Institute of Business Value Report
  • E-Commerce drives UPS 2Q shipments up 7.2 percent, UPS 2Q EPS increases 7.1 percent – UPS

T&TTravel is the largest eCommerce category worldwide led by airline ticket sales. Social network, mobility, and search engine optimization (SEO) drive marketing and sales operations through loyalty programs, booking engines, and travel ancillaries’ services. To meet the growing demands for eCommerce services, airline and travel companies need systems and a delivery model that accelerates time-to-market, lowers cost, and improves efficiency. Cloud enabled payment check-out platform are one such solutions, travel companies should look-out for. It seamlessly integrate into web sites, mobile sites, smartphone apps, and call center tools and provides a fully localized and safe payment checkout experience with embedded fraud prevention capability.

Hotspot 2: Value from big data

  • DHL uses big data for risk mitigation in logistics – DHL
  • How big data is transforming the travel industry – Forbes

Data and insights have become a key driver for service excellence and competitive advantage for travel & transportation (T&T) companies. Companies need to exploit data to improve operational efficiency and increase customer satisfaction to grow. For instance, the ability to:

  • Embed analytics into processes such as cash management, collections and spend management to achieve cost savings, efficiency improvements and commit to targeted business outcome
  • Apply analytics and workforce insights to attract the best talent and drive workforce performance
  • Use analytics to generate a single view of the customer, personalize marketing offers and promotions for travelers, thereby increasing customer loyalty.

Hotspot 3: Global Integration

The operating model for travel and logistic companies is geographically distributed with strong local presence. Controlling operational costs across the network is now crucial to survive. Partnering with BPO service providers, clients are able to create a truly global service delivery model. By transforming functional operations such as finance and administration, workforce management, procurement and online commerce functions, outsourcing and shared services models help clients improve business agility and operational margins and support international business growth. BPO service providers such as IBM can commit to process transformation benefits, including:

  • Upto 10% contracted “net realized” sourcing savings
  • 25% working capital improvement
  • Upto 40% savings through consolidation, standardization and automation

Hotspot 4: Regulatory Compliance

  • New DOT rules: A boon to passengers or a bust for the airline industry? – The Washington Post
  • 90% of acquirer’s airline business to be PCI compliant end 2015 – IATA
  • Working Time Directive and its cost implications – TNT Express

T&T companies have to comply with regulatory requirements from different countries and regions. By combining strong consulting and process outsourcing capabilities, BPO services help clients develop rigorous and standardized compliance procedures at both the global and the local business levels. This involves compliance maturity assessments, improved governance models, and enhancing internal control through regular training, functional reviews and audits, and better regulatory reporting.

Hotspot 5: Cost Reduction

  • United Airlines aims for $2 billion in annual cost cutsThe Wall Street Journal
  • Airlines trim seat sizes, weights to boost capacity, reduce fuel costsNY Daily News
  • How can airlines reduce fuel costs? – Wired

Travel and logistics companies operate in a high-volume and low-margin business. The cyclical and seasonal nature of the business makes it crucial for companies to be more agile and sensitive to factors that impact cost of operation. Cloud delivery model, technology enabled process services, and ability to leverage global delivery centers provide T &T clients economies of scale, bring down operational costs, and optimize processes. Other benefits include improved working capital and enhanced expertise in planning and optimizing travel routes for different modes of transportation.

Start by looking closely at your current business issues:

  • Are you struggling to meet the growing demands for eCommerce services and address fraud?
  • Is your business expanding to new markets and require support to recruit top talent in local markets?
  • Is your back office functions cost effective and do they provide the core business the appropriate level of support?
  • Are your working capital levels competitive as your industry peers?
  • Is your commercial business looking to reduce cost of sales and improve margins?

Today T & T companies across airlines, shipping, online travel service providers, cruise lines, logistic service providers and hospitality companies are deriving the benefits of business process outsourcing.

For more information, visit IBM Global Process Services –Travel & Transportation and contact our industry expert Stuart Fowler, Associate Partner IBM Europe,

Top five ‘hotspots’ to transform financial service processes and improve business agility

Hotspot 1 – Revenue enhancement


  • U.K. Banks’ Profits Squeezed by Slow Lending RecoveryBloomberg
  • Aust bank fees down but revenue pressure for banks - ANZ Bank Blue Notes
  • Bank of America’s Data Mapping Adds $1 per Share - Forbes

Consumers have become more demanding. To grow revenue, banks need to gain better FSS-Blog-Infographics2insights about their consumers – their life style, their purchasing habits and their preference. Mining consumer data from social forums like Facebook and embedding analytics into banking processes delivers fact-based insights and help design personalized product offers. Banks are partnering with BPO services providers in areas such as managed marketing services to set-up integrated capabilities to improve marketing processes by using analytical tools, adopting campaign management platform and deploying proven process delivery capabilities. These steps help banks improve efficiency in marketing processes, drive digital and mobile channel adoption, identify opportunity to boost sales revenue by up to 25%, and gain faster return on investment (ROI).

Hotspot 2 – Technology shift


  • St George to allow fingerprint access to bank accounts with new iPhone – Financial Review
  • The way Bank now embraces a digital banking revolution – Lloyds Banking Group
  • Barclays announces mobile payments to India through market leading Pingit service – Barclays

The nexus of forces – social, mobile, cloud and analytics are influencing how consumers and businesses interact. As social and mobile tools become increasingly important to support business activities, organizations need to integrate their current systems and processes to mimic this change. IBM Financial Services Automation and Analytics Asset (FSAA) does just that and help clients reduce process cycle time by up to 80% and enable 20% – 50% reduction in process cost. For example, IBM’s Digital Loan Processing Solution built on the FSAA platform allows lenders to transform the loan application process. It seamlessly integrates with existing Loan Origination System, helps customers collect and process documents; offers digitization capabilities for paperless processing through underwriting; uses robust business process and rules management to execute logical workflows and provides real-time process monitoring.

Hotspot 3 – Cost Reduction


  • Citigroup still has a way to go in cost-cutting program – Reuters
  • JPM investment bank boss says ‘laser focus’ on costs cuts – Reuters
  • Deutsche Bank performance boost hinges on cost-cut plans – Reuters

Lowering operational expenses continues to be a critical imperative for banks. They are looking to streamline processes and adopt variable cost structures to adapt to the changing demands of their business. Financial services companies are partnering not just to reduce cost but industrialize operations across key functional areas – customer servicing, finance & accounting, procurement, and human resources to gain the advantages of standardization, innovation and improved cost and cash flow related benefits. Shared services model and cloud capabilities offer bank improved flexibility to adopt new business and operating models, and respond better by anticipating market shifts. These steps are helping banks achieve 30% to 60% run-rate savings from operational cost baseline; 15-25% improvement in working capital and up to 10x ROI with source-to-pay collaboration.

Hotspot 4 – Regulatory Pressures


  • Deutsche Bank sees pressure ahead on regulatory ratios – Reuters
  • Barclays Swings to Profit but Regulatory Issues Persist – The World Street Journal
  • Regulatory Pressure Will Prevent HSBC Holdings plc, Banco Santander SA And Lloyds Banking Group PLC From Pushing Higher – Yahoo Finance

Banking & financial services companies face an ever-changing and increasingly complex regulatory environment. New regulatory reforms continue to emerge, with no apparent reduction in frequency. Banks see localization of regulatory requirements as a serious threat to operating a sustainable global business model. It adds to the cost of operation and impact services to global clients. Services such as IBM Accelerated Financial Reporting (AFR) built on the cloud enabled reporting factory model are transforming reporting operation. Banks are able to reduce cost with 25% to 35% productivity improvement, reduce complexity and free up highly skilled resources to deliver improved business insights.

Hotspot 5 – Financial crimes


The explosion in global connectivity has provided malicious insiders and organized cyber criminals’ greater opportunity to commit more frequent and complex fraud schemes. Embedding analytics into banking processes and customer transactions help banks with advance detection of financial crimes and fraud cases. Banks are able to uncover fraud and suspicious activity and take proactive action before damages and loss occur and reduce operational cost.

In Summary


Today BPO services providers and process experts are working with leading banks and financial companies to not just reduce cost and industrialize their processes but help banks become more agile by taking steps to:

  • Mine consumer and business insights and develop targeted marketing campaigns
  • Integrate social and mobile tools into current systems and processes to mimic the technology shift
  • Adopt cloud and shared services model to improve flexibility in operating model
  • Embed intelligence into customer transactions to pro-actively detect fraud and reduce losses
  • Take advantage of technology and analytics to streamline regulatory filing and disclosure requirements

For more information, you can visit IBM GPS –Financial Services and contact our expert Heike Figge, GPS Financial Services Leader IBM Europe, and Jeffrey R Nuckols GPS Director Financial Services, IBM North America,

Insights for CFOs to accelerate growth in their organizations – Part 2

In my last posting, I highlighted an insight from IBM’s latest CFO study, “Pushing the Frontiers,” where we surveyed more than 576 CFOs worldwide. A number of important trends emerged, particularly as we compared their priorities today to those they cited in 2005.   In the same survey, we identified a group of CFOs, who we call the “Performance Accelerators”- these are the CFO’s who generate 70 percent more revenue and profit over the past three years than their peers. Also 60 percent are more likely to use data analytics to identify new product opportunity. They also shared how they achieved this – by implementing enterprise-wide information standards, driving the integration of information across the enterprise and generating deep business insight.

Performance Accelerators are also better at managing risk and spotting new revenue sources. We all know about risk – it’s in the CFO’s DNA…but generating revenue? This may not be something that we think as being in the CFO’s primary domain.

To generate deep business insights, there are three key components needed – a platform, talent and capability (which includes process, and policy). Many Performance Accelerator CFO’s have already put common planning platforms in place. They are far more likely to create a robust planning and forecasting process, and develop the analytical skills in their teams to truly partner with other areas of the business. Performance Accelerators combine internal data such as income, expense, balance sheet, data) and external data such as economic indicators, liquidity factors, FX, inflation data to produce these insights.

The result – Performance Accelerators are more effective at conducting various forms of analysis. They’re better at tracking and forecasting supply chain financial data, for example; ability to plan and predict resource capacity; and the ability to conduct industry and competitor analysis. Strong emphasis on analytics along with better analytical talent to partner with the business helps Performance Accelerators excel at scenario planning. They are good at working with colleagues to create timely, reliable forecasts to steer the business and are skilled at evaluating proposals from other parts of the organization. And, they are effective at assessing market trends and using predictive modeling to determine the best course of action for the enterprise.

I am sharing here 6 things for aspiring Performance Accelerator CFO’s to do:

  1. Data is a natural resource – use the financial and operational data you’ve integrated to unearth new sources of value. Evaluate the marketplace and incorporate information from social media sources to identify new revenue streams and opportunities for business model innovation.
  2. Hit the Speed Dial – it is all about speed – the faster you analyze the information you collect; the faster decisions you make.
  3. Merge to Surge – integrate financial and operational data to get a deeper understanding of complex questions such as how much does it costs to serve individual customers, who are the most profitable customers and what else can you offer them to generate sustainable increases in profit.
  4. Consolidate and conquer – model the strategic and financial implications of any opportunities, select the best options (bearing the risks in mind when you evaluate them) and develop a roadmap. Then align your capital and other resources accordingly, and find partners to help you, where necessary or appropriate.
  5. Read the Signs – use advanced analytical techniques to predict future trends and prescribe the best course of action. It’s impossible to be sure what tomorrow will bring, but analyzing all the variables provides a much clearer picture of the range of future possibilities – and your resulting options.
  6. Encourage analytical acumen – foster the skills required to analyze integrated cross-functional financial and non-financial data. Some of these skills may sit outside the finance department – or, indeed, your entire enterprise – so you may need to look further afield.

Performance Accelerators therefore spend significantly more time than their peers on a wide range of activities, particularly forging an infrastructure to capitalize on big data, handling acquisitions and divestitures and developing new business models. They are more willing to enter new arenas, and more competent when they do so. They are effective at demand planning and forecasting product/service development. And, also get actively involved in developing new products and services. Performance Accelerators use their skills with big data to help their enterprises expand into new product areas. And almost half of Performance Accelerators told us that they are using a risk management system that is driven by an automated or analytic tool, and use analytic to track revenue growth and opportunity.

As a CFO are you using analytical techniques to predict future trends? Are you thinking of the different models that can help you focus on mergers and acquisitions, new business growth and new product opportunity? I look forward to your comments and thoughts.

Check out the detailed findings and how you stack up to Performance Accelerators – and test how well you are tracking with the latest CFO imperatives.

Insights for CFOs to accelerate growth in their organizations – Part 1

CFO Blog1In IBM’s latest CFO study, “Pushing the Frontiers,” we surveyed more than 576 CFOs worldwide. A number of important trends emerged, particularly as we compared their priorities today to those they cited in 2005. One such priority that stood out was the value they placed on information integration across the enterprise. In this same survey, we also identified a group of CFOs, which we have called “Performance Accelerators” – as CFO’s who been able to generate 70 percent more revenue and profit over the past three years than their peers. What’s their secret ingredient? Yes – its insight – from all the information that flies around our companies. These highest performing CFO’s have been able to implement enterprise-wide information standards and are better at driving the integration of information across their enterprises from numerous sources.

And how have they done this? They have created a shared service delivery framework to guide the design, development and operation of key financial processes – not just transactional processes like accounts payable, accounts receivable, general accounting, but also complex finance processes like business performance reporting and analysis. This, together with the adoption of common information standards across the entirety of the business (including financial and operational data), has catapulted their enterprises into the next league of high performing companies. Over the last 18 months, this Globally Integrated Business Services model is the focus for many companies.

With a single point of responsibility and accountability for the consistent design and deployment of every financial process, regardless of business unit or territory, it’s much easier to automate manual procedures, detect variations in performance and disseminate best practices. And then combine internal data (i.e. income, expense, balance sheet data) with external data (i.e., economic indicators, liquidity factors, FX, inflation data) – and these CFO’s are able to gain real insights from all the information.

Some key actions:

  • Go global – create a single global operating model; establish centers of excellence to ensure a consistent approach and generate economies of scale, use a shared services center to become more efficient; and encourage a culture of continuous improvement,
  • Get clean and lean – simplify and standardize; develop common financial data definitions, processes and reporting procedures to deliver a single version of the truth; automate wherever possible; and
  • Connect the dots – forge seamless links between the different parts of the business, including customer-facing functions like marketing and sales as well as back-office functions like manufacturing and distribution. Data and analytics are essential for efficiency, and both depend on common technologies and processes.

So there should be no debate as to whether it is a worthwhile to drive standard or common processes, mandate standards in data, and drive integration of information across companies.

As a CFO are you using insights to create profitable growth and capitalize on Big Data? Are you addressing the need of driving integration of data across the enterprise?   What is the greatest obstacle you or your company faces as you work to drive integration and standardization of data across the enterprise? If you are already on this path, what recommendations would you have for others?

Check out the detailed findings and how you stack up to Performance Accelerators – and test how well you are tracking with the latest CFO imperatives.

Mortgage Servicing – Executing Smartly and Socially

Three reasons why you should consider social insights & analytics for loan servicing

My world has changed. I am no longer compelled to hold the physical paper while having my morning coffee; my trusted mobile device is among the first few things that I reach out for in the morning. I am user and creator of data on social media. It is not surprising that we find many reaching out to share their thoughts, success and frustrations on social media.

In the mortgage industry, borrowers may be abandoning traditional channels of customer engagement and resorting to social media to post their issues, frustrations and questions about their lender’s services. That data is immensely valuable to deepen the understanding of those customers with whom the lenders may have very little to no contact. Also, little information about their customers may be available within the enterprise to provide the help they are seeking in a timely manner. There are three reasons why you should consider social insights & analytics for loan servicing:

1)   Power of Customer Insight – Look for insights beyond agent logs or call transcripts

There is much to be explored and gained from social data analysis integrated with enterprise data mining for servicing. According to a recent survey by the Carlisle & Gallagher Consulting Group, one in three customers would use social media to complain. Social posts go beyond complaints about mods, escrow analysis, etc. to containing the customer’s own narration/voice of life events leading up to their current situation. This rich, detailed information of one’s life events is not always found in agent logs nor obtained from transcriptions of call recordings within the servicing enterprise. But this social data is free, and timely.

2)   Power of Systems of Engagement – Make efforts to integrate social data and enterprise data

Making sense of this external data and integrating it with enterprise data appropriately will take us one step further in the quest to deeply understand our customers as a ‘segment of one’

However, a caution: use of informal, highly dynamic, less reliable social media in business processes can increase risk – risk of harm to consumers, compliance, legal, operational and reputational risk. Technologies are emerging to integrate social media at appropriate risk levels with enterprise data for proper validation and use.   Lenders need to develop localized policies for appropriately addressing these concerns and build a robust governance model for mitigating risk, thus ensuring they are not missing out on the potential of social media analytics.

3)   Power of Social – Consider the benefits of social media analytics

IBM’s point of view is unique and differs from other companies. Our focus is on responsibly using the social content to provide better services to customers. At IBM, we are developing advanced analytics to know more about customers at an individual level, for example:

  • We use analytics to deepen our understanding of accounts with which the servicer had no contact for an extended period
  • Uncover reasons for the lack of engagement especially if the accounts are delinquent
  • Analyze characteristics of delinquent customers who take up loan modifications but have never talked to the servicer, so that we can develop actions that would help customers proactively prevent re-defaulting
  • Mine customer touch points including social media data to determine what events might have turned off customers who were engaged with the servicer before.

These three practices help customer-facing operations improve service delivery at the right time to the right customers by using deep analytics to drive intelligence into the service delivery operation and to understand your customers, better.

For more information on IBM mortgage services and social media analytics, please contact Chitra Dorai, Mortgage Chief Data Scientist, and visit IBM Global Process Services Financial Services page.