UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School: Global IT services a new industrial revolution

A new course at UCD aims to introduce students to best practice within the shared services industry

Prof Mary Lambkin of University College Dublin: “Global business services is the new industrial revolution.” photograph: jason clarke

Prof Mary Lambkin of University College Dublin: “Global business services is the new industrial revolution.” photograph: jason clarke

Mon, Apr 28, 2014, 01:00

A new MSc programme from the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School aims to prepare Ireland to take a leading position in what professor of marketing Mary Lambkin describes as “the new industrial revolution”.

“Global business services is the new industrial revolution,” she claims. “The first was driven by steam and coal and this one is being fuelled by the internet and IT. This time around Ireland is at the forefront of the revolution and it is up to all of us to grasp the opportunities it presents with both hands and secure first mover advantage to make sure that we are seen to be the best country in the world to locate shared services hubs and to be the place where most value can be added to those services.”

This is the motivation behind the launch of Ireland’s first MSc in Global Services Management, a part-time course which will begin in September 2014 and is aimed at managers of shared service centres and other types of business services in Ireland who wish to upgrade their skills and knowledge in this rapidly growing business area.

The scale of the opportunity is vast with the IT and business process outsourcing market expected to reach more than €717 billion in global spend in 2014, and to continue to grow at more than 5 percent annually. Ireland is already a European hub for companies such as Google, Facebook and LinkedIn, as well as for leading financial services companies such as Citigroup, State St, BNY Mellon and many others, who use shared and outsourcing service processes.

“Shared service centres and outsourcing have developed on a large scale for most companies doing business today,” says UCD business dean Prof Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh.

“This service delivery requires leadership, insight and collaboration between stakeholders. Employers are finding it difficult to recruit people who have these critical skills. This innovative new course will introduce students to best practice within the world’s leading companies and identify emerging trends that will be critical for the future of this vital sector.”

According to Prof Lambkin, the emergence of global business services is changing the way large companies operate and behave. “Big companies have lots of business processes supporting them. These include accounts, human resources, procurement, marketing and distribution and every one of them can be automated. These companies are now achieving economies of scale by automating the processes and bringing them together in shared services centres. A company can run all of its accounts functions from one location in the world and have hubs for other services in different locations.

“You can have hubs for innovation, for marketing, and you can manage some of them yourself while others can be outsourced. Cost savings were once the main objective of shared service centres in the early days. Today the objectives are far more strategic, focused on adding value to the whole business value chain, to driving innovation and improving analytics. Business process outsourcing has now become an industry in itself.”

And this trend is by no means confined to large multinationals. “It has spread to the public sector as well,” Lambkin points out. “The establishment of Irish Water is an example of the government centralising a particular service in one body. Also, there was a recent advertisement for a civil service post of head of shared services.”