The 2021 GBS Agenda

March 1, 2021
Season 1, Episode 13

The Hackett Group North American GBS Program Leader Penny Weller talks with Managing Director, Advisory Practice Leader, Europe Martijn Geerling about the results from The Hackett Group’s 2021 Global Business Services Key Issues Study. The study in part charts how the global pandemic is impacting on strategic priorities and initiatives for GBS organizations as they continue to mature, from a largely labor arbitrage focus to a broader value proposition.

Show Notes

Today’s episode of the Business Excelleration Podcast is hosted by Penny Weller, The Hackett Group’s North American Project Leader. Her guest for the episode is Martijn Geerling, the Managing Director, Advisory Practice Leader Europe at the Hackett Group, and the conversation highlights key findings from the 2021 Key Issues Study. After explaining what the study is, Penny jumps right into a discussion with Martijn about key findings.

Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic has heavily impacted these findings, and Martijn first shares findings regarding expected company returns to (greater) normalcy after the pandemic seriously altered operations.  41% of study participants expect to see stabilized conditions by the second half of 2021, but 36% think that such stabilization will take longer for them.  GBS has shifted in large part to remote work, and the study indicates a major shift in this factor in 2021, as well.

Martijn goes on to share that, in light of the study, he expects to see a continuance and extension of the rapid digital transformation that marked 2020. This will involve a decisive shift toward customer experience focus, as well as new strategies concerning value propositions.  Performance improvement will also be high on the agenda. GBS organizations have, Martijn goes on to explain, navigated the pandemic well. Most clients have been able to cope effectively, and GBS companies’ standardization of processes and centralization of other companies have both been helpful throughout the pandemic.

Providing more detail on recent success in a shift toward the digital space, Martijn shares success stories about adoption of robotic process automation (RPA), creation of better business outcomes and a stronger customer experience, and the integration of various technologies.  As the conversation comes to an end, Martijn offers final thoughts on the ability for GBS to evolve to digital by following three pieces of advice.


1:05 – Penny introduces herself and her guest, Martijn Geerling.

2:17 – What are some of the key findings?

3:56 – Martijn moves on to explain how he expects digital transformation to continue.

5:17 – Performance improvement will be high on the agenda.

6:38 – How did we do with COVID-19 as a GBS organization?

9:01 – Shifting to a digital focus, what success stories can Martijn share?

14:26 – Does this experience in Europe resonate with experience in North America?

15:25 – What are Martijn’s three recommendations as he thinks of the ability of BGS to evolve to digital?