Yep. Sexual Harrassment. Mother's Day special. Read the Globe for the scoop. Incidentally, there were some unsavory comments on the Yahoo Financial Bulletin Board reporting eye witness accounts of Brian Keane's behavior at a recent company event. Regardless, the Keane board elected to remove him after considering all the evidence and allegations. For women everywhere who have been victims of real sexual harrassment, I hope this is a victory.
For the record: I was sexually harassed as a young woman in my early career at EDS. As a young professional woman, not wanting to jeopardize my future, I only talked about it to my peers. Enough women had a problem with this particular manager, and to EDS' management's credit, the manager was fired within the year. And this was in the 80s before litigation was so crippling….
I've read that the problem with blogs is they're hard to maintain unless you're a hardcore blogger. I've been busy these past few weeks, researching a story I'm writing on the Interactive Agency/Web Integrator space. But the big news today is that Brian Keane suddenly resigned as CEO of Keane today amid allegations of "personal misconduct" that the board must have found somewhat serious. You can read the story at today's Boston Globe. I didn't have a lot of time to chase this one down, but the analysts and friends I have in New England mostly speculated it must be sexual harassment. I'm sure the story will come out in the next few days. Keane's a conservative company. C'est dommage. I don't know the Keane brothers. I remember John Keane, the founder, from ITAA. Nice guy. Sheesh– kids.
There's this old yarn about how a bratty kid goes to school one day and comes home to find his family has moved. That's how I felt when I roamed about at HRO World. Although it was an outsourcing conference, it could have been "Automotive World" or "Widget Expo." I understood the underlying business model was essentially the same, but the vendors, the leadership, and the customers were so different from what I've been accustomed to in the IT outsourcing space, I felt like a tourist. I did run into some of the old-timers including Bill Bierce, Mark Hodges, and Joe Vales who were warm and welcoming. Joe Vales was especially helpful and generous with filling me in on what was going on and how I might be involved in the HRO space.
The best fun I had was at a party held at the 21 club by vendor Convergys. I met three analysts there with whom I could commiserate and laugh. One, in particular, has an exceptional blog that I had stumbled upon. If you want to know about HRO, don't come here. Visit Jason Corsello's blog. Jason has a real blog. He promised to teach me how to blog like a pro, so that was definitely worth the trip into Manhattan.
To my regular readers– I'm experimenting with legitimizing the blog. I've been doing some research on blogging and I think I'm going to give it a go… I took down the private registration, so it is now open to the public. My intention is to start covering the sector fairly aggressively, but I'm still on a learning curve. Once I've got just-in-time news, I'll start an alert service that I'll let you know about ahead of time, just like the old days. For now, I'm writing in several venues: GITS which I still love, and a new column in a new magazine launched by my old friend and first publisher, Mike Perkowski. The magazine is called TechIQ. The online version launched today. So. There you have it. I'm mainstream once again. I hope to see some of you in NY at HRO World. I will be at the 21 club party hosted by Convergys and I just slid in under the wire at the Superstar HROA gala banquet. I'm wondering if my invite included serving the guests rather than being a guest…
I’ve been doing my tour of duty over the past month or so. I’ve had phone conversations, meetings, and various negotations with old friends and even some new contacts. For instance, I had an enjoyable meeting yesterday with Harry Feinberg, Andy Tang, and Mike Masters from the outsourcingtoday.com group. Feinberg is the publisher of a series of new titles in the BPO space (new to me anyway who has been AWOL for 5 years). He’s focused now on the F&A BPO market, but has made a nice niche for himself in the HRO market. It turns out Masters worked for years with Joe Levy who started CIO Magazine. We had a lot of stories to share about the people we knew in common, having had a lot of crossover experience with publishing friends and agency business. Sometimes people don’t remember (or don’t even know) I used to be a hotshot Madison Avenue rising star at O&M and LGF&E (a division of JWT). The publishers do, though. My accounts were IBM and AT&T.
I also caught up with Frank Casale who originally formed The Outsourcing Institute with Mike Corbitt (who now runs IAOP. Frank and I have tried to work together for years. I’ve always believed he’s a marketing genius. To even have had the foresight to reserve the outsourcing.com URL in the early 90s was way ahead of his time. Frank was also early to market with BPO. He was publishing on BPO and embracing BPO before any of the cognoscenti was giving any credence to its expanding market possibilities. Frank has some interesting things in the hopper for his business. Stay tuned.
Finally, I had a chat with John Halvey yesterday. Halvey, as you should know. was one of the founding members of the so-called cognoscenti. He’s at Milbank, a highly prestigious Wall Street law firm. He had left for a period, as I did, to pursue opportunities opening up on the Internet Economy frontier by going to work for his friends at Safeguard, but he came back and resumed his practice. He said he doesn’t do much in the way of promotion and speaking these days. I find a lot of my old sources and friends are in a completely different phase of their career these days (read: wildly successful).
Next week, I’ll be attending HRO World. Not sure what to expect. I’m coming at these BPO markets completely humble. I have a lot to learn. I’m like a cub reporter. I remember in college we learned about a management strategy popular in the 80s called “MBWA.” It stood for “Management by Walking Around.” The idea was that management should not be isolated to ivory towers, oak desks, and consultant’s reports– that a lot could be learned organizationally by just asking questions of your own employees. That’s the attitude I’m taking in this new era of post-ITO outsourcing. I’m just walking around, calling around, emailing around– asking questions.
So I went to my first outsourcing conference this week in New York after five years. If I hear one more reference to Mr. Friedman's book, I'm going to start to become disrespectful. Can we please move on to the next pop business fad? There was even an Indian offshore company raffling off the book as a giveaway at their exhibit table.
I have to admit the offshore phenomenon has thrown a wild curve into what used to be an apple pie, all-American business. When you got outsourced by EDS, CSC, or IBM, a Democrat might have lost their job to a Republican, but that was about the end of the political strife. It's a whole different ball game today. I'm exploring my conscience on this one. I haven't read Friedman's book, but I did break down and buy it this week. I hope I find some answers there; but my gut is telling me we're headed for a stormy season in rationalizing why this is a good development in our industry. Am I alone here? Am I missing the big picture?
I think I may be missing something because serendipitously, I sat at the conference (twice, in fact) next to this really well dressed, attractive guy. Now, please understand, really well dressed, attractive guys almost never go to outsourcing conferences (unless they work for a vendor like Oracle or IBM or something). The guy looked Ivy League or like he lived in Connecticut– you know the type. Glancing at his badge, I saw that he was from GAP (General Atlantic Partners), the venture capital firm. Of course, that made sense. When I saw him the second time, I had to ask him why he was at the conference. He told me he was there because one of his companies was presenting, Genpact. In fact, GAP has made investments in two large Indian offshore firms, the other being Patni. He told me he did work in Stamford and that he works with Jim Madden, who as you should remember, was CEO of Exult, another GAP company that was sold to Hewitt, which is a GAP company. Madden is now at GAP.
The bottom line is. I always take my clues from the smart money. If GAP is invested in India, then the offshore thing is not going away. I guess it's like I tell my 9-year old son when he doesn't like a particular outcome or development, "Deal." I feel like I'm reacting (albeit internally) the same way my 9-year old reacts.