Q&A: The ‘Nexus’ of Building a Long-Lasting, Cross-Border Software Outsourcing Partnership

Andy Hilliard

Andy Hilliard

May 17, 2017 | Accelerance Blog

What’s the connection between a successful and long-lasting partnership with a nearshore or offshore provider? “Have a clear grasp of what your enterprise is trying to achieve, and know what your company's real priorities are,” shares expert Kirk Laughlin, managing director of Nearshore Americas, which is also the organizer of Nexus 2017, the preeminent gathering of executives seeking to share insights on core nearshore business practices, opportunities and challenges.

Nexus is the only United States-based conference to take a singular look at the opportunities, risks and benefits of creating software and technology services’ alliances across the Americas. This year’s event takes place May 23 - 24 at the Google Campus in Mountain View, Calif. I’ll be a part of the Nexus conference program this year, moderating a panel, “Lessons from the Frontline.” It’s a roundup of lessons learned on the frontlines of cross-border partnerships.

The Nexus conference presents a great deal of knowledge and insights, to help companies make informed decisions when it comes to outsourcing initiatives like software development. And the event places a particular focus on partnerships and engagement with Latin America and the Caribbean. 

‘My Journey into Nearshoring Started as a Customer’

To learn more about nearshoring to Latin America and the Caribbean, successful cross-border partnerships, trends and the Nexus 2017 conference in late May, I spoke with Laughlin to get his viewpoint. (Of course, Accelerance is the leader in successful nearshore and offshore software outsourcing – see our 2017 Guide to Global Software Outsourcing Rates and gain insights on the value of outsourcing software engineering).


Question: How did you get interested in Latin America as a destination for outsourcing?

Answer: My journey into nearshoring started as a customer. I was working for Ziff-Davis, a media company in New York City, and had become responsible for driving audiences to several hundred CIO events we were running across the country at that time. We needed to fill seats and the best way to do that – turned out – was to hire a contact center group in the Caribbean. From there, I left Ziff and launched Nearshore Americas, seeing that there was virtually no business media reporting on the Latin America / Caribbean outsourcing sector.


Save 15 percent on Nexus 2017 Registration

Register for Nexus 2017 here and receive 15 percent off, courtesy of Accelerance. Use Access Code: CGV21 (the code is available to the first 20 registrants).


Q: What advice do you have for companies that are considering cross-border partnerships?

A: Figuring out how to properly build long-lasting cross-border partnerships takes time. At the outset, investors and customers need to really have a clear grasp of what they're trying to achieve, and what their real priorities are. Is it a cost-saving exercise? Are they eliminating geographies without real due diligence? The other big mistake we see is that investors simply aren't talking enough to a wide range of contacts and sources in order to get the complete picture.


Q: What’s happening with Cuba? Will it become an outsourcing destination?

A: Cuba is a moving at a glacial pace in terms of becoming a viable outsourcing destination. Don't forget, parts of the embargo are still in place, making it very difficult to take significant risks if practical matters like resolving legal disputes are not ironed out. The talent is certainly there, and the costs are easily the lowest for IT talent in the hemisphere. However, the telecom network is not on par with any of the other established nearshore countries. Finally, there is virtually no sign the government is interested in supporting the sector.


Q: What other countries should American companies watch, in terms of outsourcing opportunities?

A: Beyond Brazil and Mexico – each of which is in their own class in a sense – we generally classify the leaders' pack to include Costa Rica, Colombia, Chile, Argentina, Peru and Uruguay. Of course, Canada is making a real bid for U.S. business, and the combination of a strengthened U.S. dollar along with restrictive visa policies are likely to drive more business northward.

Q: Let’s talk about trends and nearshore outsourcing. Adoption of machine-learning algorithms and sophisticated robotics are predicted to cause disruptions in the job market in around 10 years. What impact will this have on business between Latin America and the United States?

A: Most of the impacts, at least in the next two years, are going to continue to be in back office and BPO work. Software testing is certainly being impacted, but largely the ITO market is not feeling the impacts as much as BPO.

Q: Any trends you’d like to highlight?

A: Cultural compatibility is becoming a very significant issue for U.S. customers who want sharp, quick-minded partners who can get on the same page and drive digital projects effectively. We continue to meet with U.S. customers who are just beginning to realize how valuable that cultural issue is, which is also made more potent when partner and client are in the same time zone.

Q: Your event, the Nexus 2017 conference at the Google Campus, is coming up, May 23 – 24 in Mountain View, Calif. What are your goals for Nexus?

A: This will be our seventh year for the Nexus conference, and each year we strive to bring in fresh ideas along with speakers who can explain why these new ideas and trends matter. There are some very big things happening in our world – politically, culturally and in technology – that will really enhance the desire for our attendees to connect, share and learn. We're also very proud to be hosting Nexus at Google – and as many as 25 or more Googlers will be on hand as well!

Q: Kirk, thank you for your time. One last question: What are some of the hot topics that will be covered at Nexus this May?

A: The big three are: 1) Automation/A.I. and impacts on nearshore and global services; 2) startups within the United States and in Latin America, and how they are fueling growth with internal teams as well external partners; and finally, 3) getting a very fresh understanding of how little or how much the political tone of our current environment will impact Silicon Valley's core ethos – now and into the future.

See You at the Google Campus? Join Steve Mezak and Kirk Laughlin in California at the Google Campus for Nexus 2017, May 23 – 24, to explore and gain valuable wisdom on nearshore outsourcing, and to make contacts with a diverse mix of business, sourcing, software engineering, startup and cross-border investment experts. You’ll walk away with a great deal of knowledge and some well-informed contacts.


Save 15 Percent on Nexus 2017 Registration

Register for Nexus 2017 here and receive 15 percent off, courtesy of Accelerance. Use Access Code: CGV21 (the code is available to the first 20 registrants).


Steve Mezak is the founder and CEO of Accelerance. He’s also the co-author of Outsource or Else: How a VP of Software Saved His Company and the author of Software Without Borders. Visit Accelerance’s Resources page to get a free copy of these books.

Andy Hilliard

Andy Hilliard

As CEO, Andy leads and advocates for the globalization and collaboration of great software teams with companies in search of talent, innovation and a globally-distributed extension of their engineering function and culture. Andy founded the ground-breaking nearshore software development services company, Isthmus Costa Rica. He began his global software services career as a division manager at Cognizant during their early formative years.

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