Eric Anderson Practice Group Leader, Atlanta
Business Services includes a broad and diverse group of companies that serve other companies with activities that are deemed non-core and are therefore being increasingly outsourced.
The most well-known category in this area is facility services, which covers many different support activities such as cleaning, catering, security, etc. These activities are important for any business to function, but they are often considered non-core for companies in other industry sectors and receive less attention in their daily management as a result. This creates a unique potential for value creation through outsourcing.
However, business services is broader than facility services. It includes all types of support services that can be considered non-core and as such may be relevant for outsourcing. Today, this category also includes safety and technical services like technical building maintenance activities, equipment provision, firefighting, etc. A third category is sales and administrative services, which include call center support activities, staffing, accounting, archiving services, etc. The list is long and growing, anticipating a general industry trend toward companies outsourcing non-core functionalities to specialized service providers.
Business Services companies create value when they take over non-core business processes and run them professionally and effectively. The value creation lies in the refocusing of management attention and in the reduction of business complexity. It also lies in enhanced quality delivery through focus, dedicated resources and effective processes. And – in some situations – it lies in lower cost structures.
Which skills are needed now?
Business Services is a people business with a strong operational focus. Typically, business performance is measured every day and activities are well-defined, process-driven and carried out by people who are trained on the job. Employee training and people management are therefore essential in any successful Business Services organization.
The leadership challenge in Business Services is unique: It is about leading and managing large and decentralized organizations with people who need to be trained and motivated to perform specific tasks and services. It is also about striking the right balance between a focus on the operational delivery on a day-to-day basis, while also defining and working towards a long term strategic agenda. Finally, it is about exploring new commercial opportunities in a world where outsourcing and globalization offer new opportunities that need to be commercialized. Successful leadership in a Business Services organization is therefore about people leadership, but also about operational leadership, strategic leadership and commercial leadership.
How can Egon Zehnder support the Business Services Industry?
Egon Zehnder has a long tradition for serving Business Services companies, which are growing on a global scale. Outsourcing is still a relatively new concept, which is well established in some services areas, but new in others. The industry potential is therefore enormous.
Our firm has a global practice of consultants with a passion for this segment and we have worked with a wide range of successful companies. Our clients include staffing agencies, security providers, call center operations and global facility providers. We help our clients in further developing what should be their competitive advantage; namely the identification, assessment, recruitment and development of talented professionals and executives. We help to develop or attract the right talent to a specific challenge, be it from within the Business Services industry or deliberately from another sector, to build a specific expertise.
How we operate
We have in-depth experience across the full value chain in this industry and leverage our global reach and practice structure. This allows us to partner with global companies who demand a strong partnership that can operate across geographies with consistency, execution power and analytical depth.
Over the past five years, we have completed some 600 searches and supported our clients in many different leadership activities covering assessments, leadership development, succession planning, integration of new executives, etc. Our assignments cover board level, C-suite and executive management layers and specialist positions.