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ITO Spending Growth Dips Slightly & Bookings Flat in 2014, but Expect Improvement in 2015

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This week NelsonHall held its quarterly IT outsourcing (ITO) Index webcast. We have conducted these calls for the last six years to monitor developments in ITO from a quantitative perspective. When we introduced the Index, ITO had largely moved from full outsourcing to a selective outsourcing approach, and Indian vendors were deploying their land and expand strategy with the occasional one-off mega-deal (TCS comes to mind). The Index has been reporting market developments closely ever since, though we have been collecting and analyzing ITO contract data for many years.


The data shows a steady (but non-linear) decline in Total Contract Value (TCV) from 2002 onwards. The level of new-scope contracts declined from ~80% towards ~40%, signaling fewer new deals. Then came the subprime-driven recession of 2008-9, which triggered a vast level of ITO renegotiations: in 2009, bookings were up to a very high level, but that of new-scope contracts were low (~20%). Unlike 2001 when the internet bubble burst, the 2008-9 crisis was about existing contract renegotiations, not about new deals.

Contract signings were high during 2009 and 2010. But then, booking levels declined to their lowest level since 2008, to ~$32bn. Meanwhile, the level of new-scope contracts continued to be low. In short, the market is quiet with few transactions, mostly renewals and recompetes. This signals a maturing market, also marked by the impact of offshoring (which is reducing prices and TCVs very significantly) and also - and increasingly - by cloud computing (and in particular public clouds).

About three years ago, NelsonHall complemented its ITO Index approach based on contract data with a quarterly spending analysis of IT services, professional services (i.e. consulting and systems integration) and ITO. Our quarterly spending analysis has several benefits: it provides a quarterly view on how ITO spending is going to evolve, while our contract signings analysis provides more of a 12 to 18 month view of how ITO spending will change.

What does our short-term spending analysis tell us?

Spending in IT services has continued to grow, albeit at low levels (~2% in Q4 and about the same during full-year 2014). Growth is driven by professional services (+3% in Q4 2014 and ~4% in full-year).

Meanwhile, for the first time since Q4 2012, ITO spending growth was in positive territory in Q4 2014 (up by almost 1%) and down 1% for full-year 2014. This final quarter improvement in spending growth results from better economic conditions in mature countries.

What does our 12- to 18- month bookings quarterly analysis tell us?

During 2014, ITO bookings were flat across geographies as well as in North America and Europe. Activity in fast-growth countries (India, Brazil, China) was anecdotal.

An important KPI is the level of new-scope contracts (as opposed to existing scope contracts): an estimated 40% of contracts (with a TCV over $100m) in full-year 2014. This is better than 2013, when new scope contracts accounted for ~35% of bookings (and 30% in 2012). This level is at the higher end of the traditional range and is good news.

What does NelsonHall forecast for 2015?

The outlook for IT services in 2015 remains mixed, with the improving economic conditions driving some spending. For ITO specifically, the higher level of new-scope contracts will also have an impact on spending.

However, the economic environment in mature economies is only somewhat better. It is positive for India, unclear for China and Brazil, and clearly negative for Russia. In addition, offshoring will continue to further drive prices down, resulting into lower spending.

We are therefore predicting limited higher growth in spending in IT services overall (2.5-3.5%), professional services (4-5%), and ITO (1-2%).

You can listen to a recording of this week’s ITO Index webcast here. NelsonHall regularly blogs about the ITO industry here.


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