Superior Applications Services Help Manage Print-to-Digital Transformation | Article

Dex One and HCL accepting 2013 Outsourcing Excellence Award2013 Outsourcing Excellence Awards Winner BEST IT APPLICATIONS: Dex One and HCL

“I’ve been in outsourcing engagements before, and our relationship with HCL America has definitely exceeded my expectations.”

Eugene Kovnatsky, Vice President of Consumer Platforms Engineering, Dex One

Dex One, a leading marketing services company in the United States, has approximately 1,500 dedicated marketing consultants who work with about 435,000 local businesses to create customized marketing programs that help them connect with their customers. The company provides end-to-end marketing solutions for local businesses, offering a wide range of products and services that help these businesses grow.

Some of Dex One’s more popular offerings include online and mobile search solutions, Dex print yellow pages directories and voice-based search platforms, as well as an Internet yellow pages directory site called DexKnows.com and a mobile application named Dex Mobile. The company’s digital affiliate marketing solutions are bolstered by its search engine marketing product, DexNet, which extends its clients’ reach to leading Internet and mobile partners and enables them to attract consumers searching for local products and services.

As the company grappled with the numerous obstacles and challenges presented by the sluggish global economic environment of the past several years, it began to ponder the merits of teaming up with an outsourcing partner. A number of factors—including cost considerations—eventually converged to force this decision.

The challenges the company faced were not unique to Dex One. They were also simultaneously being deeply felt by its entire industry. The company saw that its highest priority was the expansion of its digital product portfolio. This would cement Dex One’s position to capture the shift in spend as its customers migrated in droves from print to digital media.

Additionally, Dex One felt pummeled by the frustratingly slow economic recovery. The local businesses that comprised Dex One’s primary customer base were struggling to survive in a “zero job creation” environment that was exacerbated by an absence of new capital. These customers exercised extreme caution and restraint in the area of print media spending, driving the industry to an inflexion point where only digital growth could help overcome decline.

Finally, Dex One was also challenged to significantly reduce its own IT cost structure while concurrently revitalizing and growing a digital product portfolio that would reflect the rapidly changing nature of its business. The company needed a skilled, astute partner armed with superior IT services capabilities, as well as the resources and willingness to invest in the right people, processes and industry-leading technologies.

The Cream Rises to the Top

Ultimately, Dex One went to the negotiation table with only one provider: HCL. The company’s level of commitment, as well as its proven track record of success with previous clients and ability to scale services very quickly made HCL instantly attractive. Declares Eugene Kovnatsky, Vice President of Consumer Platforms Engineering, “Selecting HCL as our partner was the right choice. They not only brought expertise in digital product development but also conducted creative brainstorms in which they captured some great new ideas and presented them to us.”

HCL has been very successful in enabling Dex One to reduce operational costs. Kovnatsky cites HCL’s offshoring and nearshoring capabilities, along with its process standardization and aggressive pricing negotiation tactics, as major factors that have helped accomplish the desired reduction in headcount. “Plus, their overall technology implementation expertise has definitely helped us improve processes and methodologies,” he adds. “They’ve helped us—both directly and indirectly—improve our time to market with new products, as well as become better positioned to take advantage of new market opportunities, in addition to helping us substantially trim costs.”

Kovnatsky adds that HCL’s agility in providing scalability up or down as business needs fluctuate has been a key factor in the success of the partners’ relationship. “Specifically with staff augmentation, HCL can ramp up quickly if necessary,” he says. “For example, if we suddenly need a team of 10 developers, which can be a very scarce resource with an average 60-day hiring cycle in the U.S., HCL can do that for us much, much faster.” Kovnatsky notes that the company has provided equal flexibility in the ramp-down phase.

Also noteworthy is the fact that Dex One and HCL placed a strategic focus on setting forth clear expectations at the outset of their relationship. Goals were clearly articulated from the start, and checkpoints were established so adjustments can be made as necessary, helping to avoid reactivity and ensure that results are achieved as expected.

“HCL is also very transparent in its dealings, and that has certainly has appealed to us,” says Kovnatsky. “They’ve provided us with visible metrics throughout our engagement, and their level of transparency, collaboration and cooperation has been extraordinary,” he declares. “HCL has helped us reduce costs and launch new products, but they’ve also been an excellent resource for creative ideas.”

Going the Extra Mile to Overcome Obstacles

In any outsourcing relationship, conflicts and challenges are inevitable. For example, both HCL, which is located in India, and Dex One, which is U.S.-based, became frustrated with time zone challenges, and the situation reached a critical point. Teams at each company were separated by several hours, which often resulted in inefficient, lengthy e-mail exchanges and days of lost productivity. The issue was resolved by creating a schedule in which neither team solely bears the inconvenience of off-hours meetings; instead, that burden is amiably shared with an alternating schedule for calls and relaying tasks. This enables almost sixteen hours of continuous testing activities. Problem solved!

“We’ve both made sure our relationship is not impersonal,” explains Kovnatsky. “We go to India; they come here—no combat; all cooperation. Our mindset is that it’s all one team, and information is freely shared back and forth.” Noting that HCL has demonstrated a willingness to go above and beyond the terms stipulated in the outsourcing contract, Kovnatsky freely acknowledges that HCL regularly surpasses Dex One’s expectations. Declares Kovnatsky. “There’s absolutely no question: HCL has been a great partner for us. That’s why we nominated them for the Outsourcing Excellence Award.”

How has an IT services outsourcing engagement enabled your company to adapt to a sluggish economic environment or find creative ways to launch new products or services?

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