HfS Network
Khalda De Souza
Research Director, SaaS Services 
Learn more about Khalda De Souza
Watson and Einstein Sitting In A Tree: IBM-Salesforce join forces to give you more ways to buy AI
March 10, 2017 | Phil FershtReetika JoshiTom ReunerKhalda De Souza

The time for smart partnerships to drive real innovation and new thinking in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and cognitive computing is now. This means we need to see the industry’s deep-pocketed innovators become increasingly open – and eager - to working together to help the services industry make the shift to true digital, intelligent, cognitive capabilities.

Recent HfS research shows adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and cognitive computing to enhance operational analytics and Machine Learning is strongly accelerating, with 72% of senior operations executives citing cognitive as becoming a critical component of the future operations strategy:

Digital and Cognitive are Driving Enterprise Operations

Click to enlarge

Source: “Intelligent Operations" Study, HfS Research 2016; Sample: Buyers = 371

While the market perception around these topics remains refreshingly blurred, AI is a critical building block as organizations increasingly look to progress from legacy labor-driven service delivery to progress toward notions the As-a-Service Economy and the Digital OneOffice (see link). While AI is capturing the imagination of many PE investors and VCs and is being used to hype up media reporting and conference circuits, the market dynamics are far from clear.

Against this background, the fundamental question being posed is “Who will be in the driving

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Persistent Systems: Fast Growth Salesforce Practice with Healthcare Focus
February 24, 2017 | Khalda De Souza

Salesforce remains one of the most important and established enterprise SaaS products in the market, with a vast ecosystem of service partners from the smallest consulting firms to large global integrators. This makes the choice of service partners increasingly complicated and ever more vital as the competitive landscape for these services grows. This is especially important for enterprise organizations that are looking to SaaS projects as more than just IT initiatives, but as catalysts of wider business innovation and to drive business value throughout their lines of business.

HfS concentrated its recently published HfS Blueprint Report: Salesforce Services 2017, on the large enterprise service providers, the winners being those that are able to add the most value to a large scale adoption of Salesforce. This report outlines trends in service delivery and profiles twelve of the leading service providers in this increasingly dynamic market segment. It identified key selection criteria which included the ability to understand enterprise clients’ business imperatives and provide timely and flexible services. In addition, buyers need to look at providers who invest in Salesforce tools, on achieving specific Salesforce certifications, have relevant experience and the requisite geographical scale. These were the main considerations to ascertain service providers’ capabilities and commitment in the Salesforce services market.

In the Blueprint report, we positioned Persistent Systems in the High Potential category. Compared with the other service providers in the Blueprint, Persistent Systems has a relatively small Salesforce services practice, focused on US enterprise clients. However, its Salesforce services business is in high growth, and the service provider is investing in all the right areas to achieve success. Although Persistent Systems serves clients in several industry sectors, it is primarily focused on Healthcare. This is reflected in its investment in tools, including a healthcare accelerator tool, and the Physician and Patient Relationship Management, which has Fullforce Industry Solution certification. Moreover, healthcare clients commend Persistent Systems for its understanding of their business specifics – one commented that their chief architect’s understanding of their business was “outstanding”. In addition, Persistent Systems achieved high customer satisfaction scores from its client references, who were mostly impressed by the strength of its resources, and their ability to provide both business and technical advice. This is also backed by a flexible and cost-effective offshore delivery model. Moreover, Persistent Systems helps drive innovation within the Salesforce development community, where it helps software vendors, App Innovation Partners, to develop SaaS products using the Salesforce App Cloud.  

HfS believes that Persistent Systems (www.persistent.com) is a great fit for enterprises needing strong resources, with offshore delivery capability, particularly in the US healthcare market.

Persistent Systems was rated highly in the Blueprint for the following criteria:

  • Quality of account management
  • Strong resources
  • Incorporate client feedback
  • Vision for Salesforce effectiveness
(HfS Soundbite snapshot of service provider capability on Horsesforsources.com is part of the HfS Blueprint™ Digital License agreement)

Salesforce Services Blueprint 2017: Leaders demonstrate commitment, dedication, and investment
January 31, 2017 | Khalda De Souza

HfS has published its second analysis of the Salesforce services market. In the HfS Blueprint Report: Salesforce Services 2017, we analysed and positioned twelve Salesforce services providers according to their execution and innovation capabilities.

So, what’s changed since last year?

There has been some consolidation in the Salesforce services market since we published the HfS Blueprint Report: Salesforce Services 2015. For example:

Acquisitions continue to be an important way to gain consultants and certifications. They can also bring valuable approaches and mind-sets that understand the cultural aspects of enterprises adopting cloud applications, which is essential to succeed in this market.

Service providers in general have continued to invest in developing service capabilities and investing in tools to support clients’ Salesforce deployments. Salesforce’s recent products, including Marketing Cloud, Community Cloud, and Commerce Cloud, change the value proposition from being simply a set of CRM tools to a complete customer engagement platform. As we highlighted in the 2015 note, Salesforce.Com Service Provision Must Have Real Investment To Succeed, Salesforce service providers need to adopt a holistic, business-led approach, and bring all relevant skills to the table, including mobile, security and social capabilities to differentiate in this market. While most of the current market is for Sales Cloud implementations, enterprises often expect the delivery of a complete solution, for example including mobile access to applications.

Growth areas identified in the report include:

  • Consulting services: including cloud readiness services and organizational change management services.
  • Ongoing management services: including advice on new releases and functionalities.
  • Analytics services: whether it is the Salesforce Analytics Cloud or an alternative solution
  • International deployments: more than 60% of current Salesforce deployments are in NA.

Leading service providers are investing in developing these capabilities, ahead of the market demand.

So, which service providers stood out?

In general, service providers in the Winner’s Circle have made impressive investments to achieve certifications for technical architects, Fullforce Master, and Fullforce Industry solutions. Salesforce itself views these as differentiating strengths in the Salesforce services market.  These service providers also typically adopt a business outcome approach, supported by a strong vision for Salesforce effectiveness for clients. They have developed differentiating tools and services, and received among the highest client reference scores in the research. Accenture, in particular stands out as Salesforce’s biggest partner. As well as having impressive scale and bench strength, it continues to invest in services to further differentiate in the market. All the service providers in the Blueprint Report demonstrated a good understanding of the Salesforce service market and a desire to invest in innovation. Deloitte remains a strong contender for the leadership position, while Appirio, Bluewolf, PwC, Capgemini, Cognizant and NTT Data all impressed with their execution capabilities. All of the Blueprint participants had an impressive investment in innovation, including the relatively smaller practices. For example, Infosys, Tech Mahindra, Persistent Systems and VirtusaPolaris have developed proprietary solutions to support specific industry sectors. Moreover, Infosys and Tech Mahindra demonstrate good use of partners to develop solutions. Persistent Systems positions as a Healthcare specialist, and VirtusaPolaris is developing its analytics services.

What are we expecting next year?

The number of certified technical architect, Fullforce Master and Fullforce Industry solutions remains low in the market as a whole. Although they require a lot of time and effort, they represent an opportunity for all Salesforce services providers to differentiate in this crowded market. So, we expect all the players to drive certification programmes in these areas over the next year.

All of the service providers in the Blueprint Report have enhanced their service capability and proprietary solution development in the past year. Those who have made acquisitions, will solidify acquired entities and work on integrating offerings, and marketing new value propositions to clients. Others will continue to make prospective clients aware of their developing capabilities.

Bottom Line – Providers need to build market awareness to make a success of the Salesforce services market

Buyers need to prioritise technical skills as a selection criteria if they don’t already. As this combined with clear business outcomes are the main ingredients for a successful relationship. The path to success in Salesforce services market is clear: strong technical credentials, outcome based services and market awareness.

Indeed, lack of market awareness of capabilities was the most noted challenge in the service providers we profiled. Salesforce has thousands of service partners. In order to stand out, the service providers must make a considerable effort to increase awareness of their skills with prospective clients and with Salesforce, which often called upon to recommend partners to clients. Choice for buyers is increasing so building awareness and capabilities through certification is the best way not to be left behind. For more detailed recommendations for Salesforce buyers and service providers, see the HfS Research site.


SaaS Acquisitions: Why it’s more Top Hat than Tails
November 17, 2016 | Khalda De Souza

The latest acquisition targets for large system integrators are SaaS services providers. And why not? It’s one of the hottest, fastest growth areas in the IT services market today, and a natural evolution for the traditional IT services providers, whose revenues from supporting legacy  on-premise ERP engagements are in gradual decline.

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Wippirio could leave its Indian heritage competitors in the cold... if it gets this one right
October 20, 2016 | Phil FershtKhalda De Souza

Consolidation in the SaaS services market continues apace with the boldest move yet by an India-headquartered service provider into the SaaS services market to date. Wipro has announced its intention to acquire Appirio, one of the strongest and most respected independent cloud services brands in the world for $500m. 

This is a significant deal in a services industry struggling to find fresh paths for future growth, with revenues slowing and the traditional model of outsourcing around SAP and Oracle environments commoditizing.  This has especially been the case with the Indian majors, whose leaderships are starting to panic with their hyper-growth days now a thing of the past. In our view, Wipro is stepping up to the plate right where the future growth lies, by adding significant capabilities around Salesforce, Workday and ServiceNow platforms, in addition to bolstering its

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Market Momentum Challenges Buyers and Providers of Workday Services
October 19, 2016 | Khalda De Souza

The Workday services market is growing rapidly, but remains relatively immature. With many of the service providers still finalizing their specific  areas of market focus and are trying to find a clear identity and position in the service ecosystem. At the same time enterprise buyers  are learning the intricacies of SaaS deployment and service provider relationship lessons in real time.

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Workday Services Blueprint 2016: Lots of Changes in this still Immature Market
September 20, 2016 | Khalda De Souza

Just one year after the industry’s first ever in-depth competitive intelligence report on the Workday Services market, HfS has just published the updated HFS Blueprint Report: Workday Services 2016. We analysed and positioned sixteen Workday service providers according to their execution and innovation capabilities.  

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SaaS Deployments: It’s Good to Talk
August 03, 2016 | Khalda De Souza

Enterprises adopting SaaS applications to run their business processes are often entering the unknown. They don’t know what moving to the cloud actually entails, both technically and organizationally. They don’t understand the migration and integration needs relating to existing systems and data. And they certainly underestimate the support requirements to ensure effective management of the solution that continues to align to dynamic business needs. 

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More than just a job
July 26, 2016 | Khalda De Souza

Paris headquartered Workday specialist service provider, everBe, recently announced the opening of a new ‘Global Excellence Service Centre’ in Bordeaux, France. everBe selected Bordeaux from a list of 10 locations, because, to quote the CEO, Jean Manaud:

“Finding a location where our staff could raise families and enjoy a quality life was a major criteria for us.”

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Innovation: Did you get any?
July 24, 2016 | Khalda De Souza

Innovation: Did you get any?

Buyer: “This service provider delivered no innovation, thought leadership, or long-term best practice management advice for my business process.”

Me: “Did you ask them for any of this?”

Buyer: “Erm….no.”

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