HfS’ BPO Resource Center — Sometimes You Get More Than What You Pay For

HfS Research, a young but rapidly growing analyst organization that covers the procurement BPO market among other areas, recently launched its BPO Resource Center. While the content hasn't deviated from the standard HfS fare, the business model sure has -- Accenture has essentially bought the content for readers without influencing it, in the same model as Spend Matters. In other words, different reports and analyses that HfS Research used to charge for are now available for free on the site. As Phil notes in announcing the new service, "... You won't have to pay anything. This is intended to be the site where buyers, providers, investors, advisors, analysts, academics and politicians can swing by to peruse content, download reports, get engaged in dialog or even contribute their own research."

I firmly believe that models like this center are the future of the industry analyst model. There's a finite model for paid research subscriptions (maybe not paid advisory services, but that's another question entirely). Yet the potential market for sites like this is nearly infinite, factoring in how hungry practitioners and providers are for good information. In explaining this model, Phil suggests that, "While we would love to be a non-profit charity for the outsourcing business (we'll do that when we get rich and retire), we do occasionally need a little help from industry, and we're delighted to announce that Accenture has become the first executive sponsor of the Center. And before you ask, they do not control or influence our content, they are simply great supporters of HfS as an industry voice and want to help support such a great resource to further the learnings of the industry."

I've already invoiced Phil and his colleagues for taking our business model -- we have twenty-three process patents on it -- and noted the invoice can be paid in hand-delivered bottles of single malt scotch. But seriously, what Phil and the broader HfS team are up to with the model is telling. I believe we'll eventually see a broader shift in the analyst markets to models like this. However, here at Spend Matters, I think we take the model a bit further. I describe our business to everyone who cares to listen (or asks) as new media publishing, with analyst-insight backing our superficial musings and deeper research. HfS, in contrast, is more of an analyst/advisory model that is succeeding -- wildly, I might add -- in successfully leveraging a social and media driven distribution model.

The question, of course, is where the two such models might meet someday. As for the founders of both businesses getting together to discuss it, chances are it will be at some type of dodgy pub rather than the swanky tastes of the analyst firm CEOs of yesteryear. After all, we're both procurement folks at heart -- and good warm ale will always the same thing, despite (or in spite of) the environs where it's served.

Jason Busch

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