Just because more outsourcing contracts are being signed, it doesn't mean businesses are spending more again on outside providers.
Last year firms struck more outsourcing deals than ever before but for smaller amounts, as their focus shifts from cost-cutting to strategic partnerships.
Some 587 contracts were signed in 2013 in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region – an 18 percent year-on-year rise, according to the ISG Outsourcing Index.
However, the €8.2bn ($11.21bn) total annual value of contracts for EMEA was down six percent on 2012’s €8.7bn ($11.89bn).
The peak was 2011, when total outsourcing deals reached €9.5bn ($12.99bn).
The ISG figures show that of 2013’s 587 contracts, 456 fell in the annual value range of €4m ($5.5m) to €16m ($21.9m).
“The conventional model of outsourcing has shifted,” ISG North Europe partner and president John Keppel.
During the recession buyers became comfortable with using specialist or niche providers to help them cut costs, he said. Now that businesses are emerging from the downturn they are using that same approach for strategic plans.
“That’s not to say mega-relationships will disappear altogether,” Keppel said. “Larger contracts will continue to play a part in the market, but the use of multi-sourcing is set to become more widespread.”
In the final quarter of 2013, only two contracts fell into what ISG terms the mega-relationship category, with annual contract values of more than €80m ($109m). These were signed by financial services firms Dexia in Belgium and DNB in Norway.
The amount of contract restructuring activity rose in 2013, up 30 percent year-on-year and at €3.6bn ($4.92bn) accounted for 40 percent of the annual contract values.
A total for new contracts of €4.6bn ($6.29bn) in 2013 was the lowest since 2006 and a fifth down on 2012.
Business process outsourcing and IT outsourcing are heading in opposite directions, with a sharp decline in the value of business process outsourcing even though the 178 contracts awarded in 2013 is a record for the EMEA region.
However, the IT outsourcing market in EMEA is now bigger by value and contracts awarded than that of the Americas and Asia Pacific markets combined.
A record 409 IT outsourcing contracts were signed in 2013 in EMEA for a total annual value of €1.7bn ($2.32bn).
The ISG Outsourcing Index measures commercial outsourcing contracts with annual contract values of more than €4m ($5.5m).