Pandemic lessons: Accelerating the ‘Value’ stage in global business services

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Kim Chin Kuang, Chief Financial Officer, Electronics Manufacturing Services Division, Jabil Malaysia.

The usage of the shared service centre (SSC) model can be traced back to the 80s, where it was introduced to reduce costs and standardise processes for better efficiency. Little did we know the model would emerge as the centre stage in the optimisation and digitalisation of many business efforts today.

The adoption of the SSC grew strongly as they are seen as a value-creator in many areas, such as customer service, performance management and future optimisation. Companies that were looking to build new capabilities and enter new markets deepened their reliance on SSC, which eventually led to the birth of a new type of service – Global Business Service (GBS).

Powered by forward-looking analytics, business intelligence and investment in digital solutions during the pandemic, GBS has demonstrated high performing ability to strengthen business agility, scalability and resiliency now and beyond.

Value Creation through Digitalisation in Global Business Centre (GBC)

The 2021 Deloitte shared services and outsourcing survey revealed that digital enablers that improve and optimise businesses’ services are essential in shaping the organisation’s direction when it comes to innovation.

Echoing this sentiment, the Jabil GBC in Penang, Malaysia has transitioned from transactional roles to more strategic consulting and advisory roles, to better manage stakeholders’ needs. To elevate its value chain, the Jabil GBC is leveraging its digital capabilities, which encompass the areas of Financial Global Business Services, Centralised Procurement, and Risk Governance.

The decision to transition was a right one, for Jabil’s expanded operational model survived the rigours of the global pandemic while continuing its growth to effectively support over 180,000 Jabil employees worldwide. Housing impressive setups of Centers of Excellence for Robotic Process Automation, API Management, B2B Services, and Cloud Management, the GBC operations are spearheading digital transformations.

For instance, Jabil teamed up with Serrala, a global financial automation company, to implement an SAP Certified FS2 Accounts Payable solution, to make its Robotic Process Automation more seamless. As a result, it garnered a stellar performance of averagely 40% straight-through processing across all Jabil SSCs, and freed up more time and room for the AP team to engage in value-adding initiatives.

While the term ‘future is now’ may pose a challenge to manufacturers, Jabil remains at the forefront of innovation and is fully immersed in potential opportunities of digitalisation, as exemplified by its robust investment in the emerging technologies sphere. This includes  data analytics, hybrid cloud computing, predictive analysis and AI, to name a few, which will be leveraged to deliver more value across the supply chain.

Aligning with the vision of Industrial Revolution 4.0 (IR4.0), Jabil is also conceptualising and pioneering its ‘future of manufacturing’ initiatives in the Batu Kawan plant to make sure the company is future-proof while staying agile.

New Expectations and the Necessary Approaches Post-Pandemic

If there is one thing the pandemic has taught us, it is embrace changes. GBC is the evolution of shared services and business process outstanding (BPO) combined and borne from the need for innovation. Today, GBC is one of the most crucial tools to have when an organisation’s resilience is challenged.

With the support of emerging technologies, GBC can easily deliver exceptional performance across the organisation while remaining lean, cost-competitive and efficient. But hefty investments in the emerging technologies is not the only thing the GBCs should look at if they want to deliver more value for their stakeholders.

To create ‘value’, there needs to be the kind of understanding and skill set that are not generally fostered within the functional ranks of traditional shared services. Savvy GBC leaders in the manufacturing space are positioning their organisations to add significant value to strategic decision-making processes in an effort to increase responsiveness to changing business needs and achieve supply chain resiliency, especially during the post-recovery phase.

Here are several key skills and approaches that are necessary to advance those ambitions, and something GBCs leaders and talents should consider to create more value for internal and external stakeholders:

  • Process expertise: shared service talents need to take a holistic view of the processes and identify the root source of errors or inefficiencies emanating from upstream as well as potential gaps that may occur downstream.
  • Collaboration and Negotiation: shared services are all about integration and streamlined processes between departments. It is important to foster and create strategic internal relationships that can help the cause of shared services. One proof point from Jabil is that we are building the ecosystem for ‘connected factories’ to ensure all the sites remain connected and sensitive to digital transformation.
  • Analytics: as the role of shared service companies transition to creating more value, data analytics have come under the spotlight. While one strategy is for shared services to leverage independent data Centres of Excellent, more and more are setting up their teams of number crunchers who will bring extraordinary analytics capabilities to the table. For Jabil, we are empowering our employees to be citizen data scientists, with the support of Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM).

Process Innovations with Next-Gen Digital Talents

Operating in a world where digital disruption is rife and convergence of technologies are shaking up the business environment, the quest to scout and leverage next-generation digital talents should be one of the top priorities of every organisation.

At Jabil, we are constantly looking to broaden our next-generation talent pool to complement our complex business scenarios and often provide them with opportunities to excel. Talents at Jabil Malaysia are now serving leadership roles in their GBC, and are in the functional, business partner, and development managerial roles within the IT division.

In fact, Jabil puts a lot of care and attention into creating a strong company culture to bring innovative changes to the shop floor.

Ultimately, to create greater value in the face of the ever-changing business landscape, it is essential to accelerate in the digital transformation agenda while advancing digital talents with the necessary skillsets to drive growth.


About the author

As divisional Chief Financial Officer (CFO) at Jabil, Kim Chin Kuang is responsible for the financial well-being of Electronics Manufacturing Services (EMS) in Jabil. Based in Penang, Malaysia, Kim provides financial projections, prepares growth plans, and enforces policies and procedures that contribute to the long-term sustainability and business expansion objectives of the division

A keen advocate of issues related to the shared services industry, Kim is currently the chairman of the Malaysia GBS Focus Group, an industry-driven community dedicated to strengthening the position of Malaysia as a location of choice for the Global Business Services (GBS) industry. He is also a member of the OM Committee (formerly known as Outsourcing Malaysia), a chapter of PIKOM – The National Tech Association of Malaysia.