European BPOs seen having lot more gravy

Offshoring of BPO services isn’t happening from the United States alone, but I guess you knew that already. The European Union, too, offshores a substantial portion of its work, to India and other countries, and this only set to grow in the next five years, according to a new "Trends" report by Forrester Research, Inc. Who would have thought this possible in "old" Europe?

The report by Somoko Takahashi says Forrester expects a CAGR of 11.5 per cent in BPO offshoring from the 25-member EU, plus Norway and Switzerland in the next five years. The forecast by Forrester Research, an independent market and technology research firm, tracks six service categories: human resources BPO, financial services back-offices BPO, procurement BPO, finance and accounting BPO, customer care BPO, and "other" BPO.

"Total spending will rise from euro 11 billion in 2006 to euro 18.9 billion in 2011. Relative to their size, firms in the United Kingdom and The Netherlands will spend the most," Ms. Takahashi says.

A third of the total European BPO spending in 2006 will go to BPO. "This service type has the biggest spending share both now and up to 2011. U.K. firms lead, spending euro 1.4 billion in 2006, followed by

German and French firms at euro 587 million, respectively. Demand for HR BPO has a visible impact on service providers. Arinso, for example, reported seeing a doubling of the number of client employees that it serves in one year—much earlier than expected," she says.

The Forrester report says spending on finance and accounting BPO has the highest CAGR of all BPO services, at 16.4 per cent.

"From 2006 to 2007, nearly all countries will raise their expenditures on F&A BPO—with growth rates ranging from eight per cent to 10 per cent. In the most outsourcing-experienced countries like The Netherlands and the United Kingdom, F&A BPO spending will seize about 13 per cent of the

total BPO spending in 2011. But other European countries will not match this growth in share of spending," the report says.

Similarly, spending on financial services back-office BPO will increase at a CAGR of 10.4 per cent from 2006-2011.

"Ongoing automation and standardisation within the financial services industry means firms here are likely to outsource the processing and administration that underpins financial services and insurance products.

Although use of external services is quite common across Europe, uptake is biased towards Western Europe - with the most IT-advanced countries like The Netherlands, the Nordics, and the U.K. all expected to have a steeper increase in spending than the others," Ms Takahashi says.

Now, a potato sans calories

Scientists in Britain have developed potatoes with less carbohydrate and fewer calories but with all the other nutritional values of the regular spud.British company Naturally Best that developed Vivaldi after nine years of research say their potato could a fulfil a dieters’ dream, reports the online edition of BBC News.

According to tests by the Grimsby-based Allied Laboratory Services, the new potato has 26 per cent less carbohydrate and 33 per cent fewer calories. The potato, which has normal levels of vitamin C and other nutrients, was originally developed from seed for a creamy taste.The popularity of the low GI (glycaemic index) diet has recently prompted a shift in the way spuds are perceived. Low GI diets involve replacing high GI foods, such as potatoes and white bread, with low GI options such as apples, pasta and beans. The potato will be available in Sainsbury’s stores.

"This great-tasting, versatile potato is the perfect solution for those of us who like to watch what we eat — and they taste just as good for those who don’t," reported the online edition of the London Daily Mail quoting John Maylam of Sainsbury’s grocery store chain.

Now, Wi-Fi comes to gaming

Outside the PC and network equipment markets, the gaming space has really been the first market segment to embrace Wi-Fi. More than 26 million handheld game devices with embedded Wi-Fi shipped out in 2005, with 28 million of these Nintendo DS and PlayStation Portable (PSP) devices expected to ship in 2006, according to In-Stat, a market research firm.

It says five million game consoles with embedded Wi-Fi are expected to ship out in 2006, representing only the late-year releases of Sony’s PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii gaming consoles.

In-Stat says one of the main issues plaguing Wi-Fi integration into portable CE devices has revolved around the demonstration of Wi-Fi’s value-add to a device. Certainly, Nintendo’s Wi-Fi Connection service is one example of a vendor leveraging Wi-Fi to provide for an enhanced user experience.

On August 28, 2006, Nintendo’s Wi-Fi Connection (its online gaming portal for its DS/DS Lite users) logged over 70 million connections from over 2 million unique users, after the portal had been live for only nine months. The service centers around DS online play at certified partner hot-spots, where the user launches a game in Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection mode with no configuration or registration required.

Sony PSP

While the DS is a more traditional game console, the PSP aims to be a portable multimedia convergence device that primarily plays games. The device includes audio and video playback and web browsing capability. As of October 2006 in the US, the PSP was available for a street price of $200, while the Nintendo DS was available for $130. Sony's online gaming push has not been as strong as Nintendo’s, owing to Sony’s focus on the PSP being more than a handheld gaming device.

PlayStation 3

According to In-Stat, in late 2005, Microsoft began the newest cycle of gaming consoles with its launch of the XBox360. Microsoft’s 802.11a/g USB gaming adapters are sold as an accessory to the XBox360 for $99 and feature the same styling as found in the XBox360 console.

In November, both the Sony PlayStation 3 and Nintendo’s Wii will roll out. "The Wii, along with the premium model of the PlayStation 3, will include embedded 802.11g. Sony will offer two versions of the PlayStation 3, a 60GB premium model and a 20GB core model, with embedded Wi-Fi offered only in the 60GB model," it says.

The Wii will not feature a hard disk drive, but will include 512MB of flash memory and a bay for an SD memory card that will allow players to expand the internal flash memory. The most talked-about feature of this console is its motion-sensitive controllers

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