Archive for February, 2008

Is the end of off-shoring nigh?

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

Is anyone else getting the feeling that the mood is really changing against off-shoring?

Based on anecdotal evidence from my own range of contacts in enterprise sized companies, I am starting to notice a trend towards bringing business processes back in house.

In fact this is not just about off-shoring.  Even local outsourcing is being affected.  Companies are starting to realise that most business processes can be done more efficiently in house, especially with the aid of technology.

This is leading to a new wave of efficiencies, and just as importantly, local control of business priorities.  It is leading to a new ability to manage the ever changing business landscape.  This is leading towards the nirvana of increased business agility.  Powerful stuff and I am happy to say that Blue Prism is playing its part in delivering the vision.

Happy Birthday WorkForceInABox

Wednesday, February 20th, 2008

This weblog is one year old – hip hip – hoorah!

As this is also my 111th post, cricket fans will understand why I am writing it standing on one leg.

Rather than wallow in cringing self congratulation, I want to use this opportunity to congratulate WordPress, the platform of choice for the grown up blogger.  WordPress has supported both my blogs for 12 months without the merest hint of a problem, which is more than can be said for my ISP.

I only wish our corporate website was so flexible.

A tale of two banks…

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

Barclays results out today show that the credit crunch is hitting different banks in different ways.  Profits were a whopping £7.08bn, only 1% down on last year’s record.  That doesn’t sound like an industry in crisis.  You might be thinking “what credit crunch?”

However, the Northern Rock fiasco, coupled with Bradford & Bingley’s grisly profit figures clearly continues to dampen the sector.

When you consider that so called mortgage banks, Northern Rock and B&B, have little exposure to the US housing market (which caused Barclays to write down $1.6Bn), you have to wonder whether it is in fact the British housing market that is in crisis.

I mentioned after the last Barclays trading update, increased confidence in the credit card operation and this seems to have been well placed with profits up by one fifth.  Perhaps the diversified banking model is the only one that can survive these turbulent times.  Is the role of the little guy, focussed on one specific banking niche, dead?  Is it necessary to have a balanced portfolio of businesses within a bank to ride the swings and roundabouts of outrageous misfortune?

Perhaps it is time for Barclays to bid for Bradford & Bingley, before one of the American banks steps in to get it on the cheap.

Darling between Rock and hard place

Sunday, February 17th, 2008

In a most unsatisfactory end to another Government shambles, it has been announced that stricken mortgage bank, Northern Rock, will be nationalised until market conditions improve, and the value of the bank increases, whereupon Darling dreams that bidders will flock back to repay the British taxpayer a handsome dividend.

In the meantime, I expect this to be the worst decision for bank employees, shareholders, customers, and the banking industry in general, not to mention taxpayers in the long run.

It is widely acknowledged that a new brand is required for Northern Rock if it is to survive, never mind thrive.  Is the government going to rebrand it “Brown and Darling”  – a secure home for your money?

The Government is badly placed and very inexperienced at running a bank.  I expect that value in Northern Rock will actually be eroded and the taxpayer will lose out again.  In the meantime, no doubt Northern Rock’s competitors will be considering their legal positions regarding the special Government assurances and protections that Northern Rock savers enjoy.

What a mess.

However, you have to be somewhat sympathetic to Darling’s dilemma.  The mistakes were made very early in the affair with the Bank of England, the FSA and not least Northern Rock management all carrying some responsibility.  It is easy to blame the Government when there have been many parents of this problem child.