Silicon Bayou – Much More than Economic Incentives

By: Amrita Joshi

Why Louisiana is the Hottest Destination for Technology Companies Today

As part of RevAmerica 2015, I had the opportunity to learn about how Louisiana has become a popular destination for technology companies through conference panels, interactions with government representatives and agencies, and a site visit to companies and educational institutions in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Lafayette.

I can’t tell you how impressed I was with how much Louisiana has done to grow its technology industry in in such a short period of time. Before I visited Louisiana, I had heard a lot about the aggressive economic incentives that the state has put into place to attract technology companies. However, I was not aware of the extensive work being done to increase and sustain the technology talent pool….and how fast they are doing it.

As part of the main conference, we had a panel on “Building Scale: How Louisiana is Transforming its Talent Base” where we had three senior deans/program directors from major Louisiana Universities as well as two executives from companies that had recently established delivery centers in Louisiana, IBM and technology services startup, Enquero.

The level of cooperation between the companies and educational institutions was the highest I have seen during my years of working in onshore services development. For example, IBM has been working hand in hand with Louisiana State University for the past two years (project managers, weekly meetings and everything!) on developing the workforce they need for their new 800 seat Baton Rouge center. Through their work they have had significant input on all aspects of workforce development, from recruiting students to the college to shaping the computer sciences curriculum. IBM’s GM of Services – Americas even came up with the concept for the university’s computer science recruitment campaign around “changing the world, building the future”.  In addition, in just one year, IBM together with the university’s faculty have helped develop a new Computer Science curriculum. For those of you who have experience working with universities, this is no small feat. How did the Dean sell this internally? By convincing faculty that they were not doing this for IBM, they were doing it for the students.

Enquero, a technology services start-up, received a significant amount of attention from state and local governments when it announced its first center would be in Louisiana. More importantly, they are playing a key role in the community to develop the talent pool in Lafayette. They have established a partnership with the University of Louisiana at Lafayette to recruit students from the University’s School of Computing and Informatics as well as serve as advisors on such matters as curricula, tools and internships. In addition they are serving as an industry advisory board member on the NSF’s Center for Visual and Decision Informatics, to help advance next-generation Big Data and Decision Support technologies.

Most incredible is the pace at which these companies and universities are expanding. Over the five year period, Louisiana State University, University of New Orleans and University of Louisiana at Lafayette have committed to at least tripling the number of Computer Science graduates. In actuality they are doing this much faster.  This dedication to creating knowledge talent quickly is what is going to make Louisiana a great destination for technology services – long after the incentives have run out.

Watch video from RevAmerica 2015 session “Building Scale: How Louisiana is Transforming its Talent Base”.

For more information about Louisiana, please visit
or contact Josh Fleig at [email protected]

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Onshoring, Talent Development, Automation – My Top 10 Picks from RevAmerica 2015

By: Everest Group

The following is a guest post from our Research Partner, Everest Group. Sakshi Garg, Practice Director, Global Sourcing, recaps the RevAmerica 2015 conference and shares her Top 10 key takeaways from the event. Presentations from the conference can be found here.

Last month I had the opportunity to attend and co-present with Eric Simonson at a special event in the outsourcing sector, RevAmerica 2015, held in New Orleans, LA. You can download our keynote presentation here. For those who might not know, RevAmerica is a domestic outsourcing event in its second year. The event focused on a multitude of topics and was attended by a strong community of service providers, buyers, economic development agencies, analysts/consulting firms, and academic institutions. Here are my top 10 takeaways from the event:

  1. Buyers are looking at their IT and BP service delivery portfolio more holistically than ever and asking the shoring question more seriously. They are willing to evaluate onshoring as an alternate and in some cases willing to even bend their rules around cost savings to get the extra flexibility in delivery.
  2. Service providers have a major role to play in onshoring growth as they can not only harness the available talent pool, but also create a delivery model that makes economic sense.
  3. Domestic pure-play service providers are diligently making the business case for onshoring. The ones that do this without demeaning the offshoring benefits are likely to be more successful in not only winning pursuits, but also in sharpening their own value proposition for buyers. In this regard, I liked Genesis10, Nexient, and Rural Sourcing’s approach that are playing on the strengths of onshoring rather than making unnecessary comparisons with offshoring.
  4. Economic development agencies (EDAs) are evolving in their thinking and go-to-market approach. Those who are serious about this sector, such as North Dakota Dept. of Commerce and Louisiana Economic Development (LED), have a more collaborative approach towards working with providers/enterprises. However, there is a lack of collaboration among economic development agencies for the common goal.
  5. Talent development continues to be an area of immense interest. Partnership with universities, training/re-skilling programs to create talent in places where people have limited opportunities, and hiring veterans and their spouses are all examples of initiatives to strategically develop the available talent for domestic sourcing. A great example of this is the partnership between IBM, LED, and LSU College of Engineering where State of Louisiana will invest in the institution to expand higher education programs in order to increase the annual computer science graduate output to support IBM’s delivery center in Baton Rouge.
  6. Tier-3 cities are the epicenter of activity in the domestic sourcing space, with maximum centers and headcount located in this cities. They are also the ones that will see maximum growth in the future, but we should watch for saturation trends.
  7. The buzz around robotic process automation (RPA) is getting stronger, especially in the context of domestic sourcing as onshore providers can compete with the offshore labor arbitrage model by harnessing the potential of RPA (where applicable).
  8. The role of educational institutions has to increase to make onshoring a compelling alternative in the eyes of both providers and buyers. EDAs can only promise sustainable talent pool, but not deliver it unless educational institutions show the flexibility and support at a sustained, tactical level – implying changing curriculum, adding industry interaction programs, etc. while still serving the overall mission.
  9. Agile methodology and its implications for working models for IT teams are a great blessing for the onshore model. However, agile can only be one of the selling points. Domain expertise, ability to ramp up/ramp down, technology expertise, and cost of delivery are all factors for evaluating a provider’s capabilities in the onshore context.
  10. The notion of “domestic sourcing = impact sourcing” is flawed. Beyond generating jobs for the underprivileged, domestic sourcing’s larger mandate is to create jobs for the unemployed educated people of the country. There are some domestic sourcing plays such as Onshore Outsourcing and Liberty Source that are doing impact sourcing in an onshore model.

Overall the event touched upon some very relevant topics from the domestic outsourcing perspective and is paving the way for developing a stronger ecosystem to support this sector. Kudos to the Ahilia team for organizing a great event! Last but not the least, in case you are interested in learning more about the domestic outsourcing landscape, you can download Everest Group’s full report here. You may also want to read Eric’s blog on tier-3 cities: John Mellencamp Named Honorary Everest Group Analyst of the Month.

*Originally posted on Sherpas in Blue Shirts, the official blog for Everest Group. Click here to view the original post.

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