HfS Network

Monthly Archives: Oct 2016

The Real World of Internet of Things Services

October 20, 2016 | Oliver Marks


Although it’s not immediately obvious with all the talk of pilot projects and proofs of concept as businesses experiment with 'the art of the possible’, there is a great deal of large scale and serious build out of modern digital stacks fed by modern sensor data transmission, also known as the Internet of Things (IoT). Like most competitive business differentiators, strategically important work is being planned and executed in great secrecy, which can skew perceptions of what the landscape looks like. 

An illustrative example of the importance and power of the various data streams created and consumed around the IoT is precision farming.

Smart farming equipment is relatively mature, with multiple data flows about all aspects of, as a specific example, planting seeds. Heavy equipment manufacturers are under pressure to not become ‘dumb iron’ and therefore a price pressured commodity.

To avoid losing out to seed manufacturers over control of data streams and aggregated intelligence ownership, equipment manufacturers must compete by not just supplying the relevant industrial internet hardware.  They must aim to control the farmer’s user interface and experience by providing the best data flows through continuous digital innovation.

Providing farmers with real time planting intelligence and best practice is the center of equipment manufacturers market leadership and survival, and data is the currency.

It’s a commercial battle: whoever is able to provide the most useful, intuitive and intelligent assistance to the farmer wins their trust, business…and their data, which can be aggregated and resold.

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Posted in: Digital TransformationMobility



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 digital and mobility capabilities in the retail and media spaces. Our concerns are whether Wipro can truly integrate the two firms effectively, with a poor track record of Indian-US acquisitions (Lodestone/Infosys and Genpact/Headstrong are example of mergers which struggled from both a business and cultural fit.)

Adding SaaS consultants to compensate for declining legacy ERP services revenues is the new enterprise services game

The traditional Western service providers have been hard at it picking up the niche "As-a-Service" providers, most notably Accenture's acquisition of DayNine last month, IBM picking up Meteorix and KPMG's acquisition of Towers Watson's Workday practice in the Workday services ecosphere, and Accenture/Cloud Sherpas, IBM/Bluewolf and Capgemini/Oinio in the Salesforce market.  While the Accentures, IBMs and Capgeminis et al have been in a hurry to replace declining ERP services revenues with the implementation and consulting dollars around the hot enterprise SaaS platforms, the Indian heritage majors have been notably absent in the SaaS services space.  Until now.  

The acquisition strengthens Wipro’s position in the Salesforce services market and gains it access to the fast-growing Workday services market. Appirio gains important global scale, particularly to boost delivery capability in Europe, and strengthened offshore capabilities (Appirio already has a delivery location in Jaipur).

Consulting + IT integration + BPO + Global Delivery Scale = Huge potential for Wippirio

Based on the data collected for the HfS Blueprint Report: Salesforce Services 2015, we estimate the combined Salesforce certified consultant pool to be 957, which places it just behind market leaders, Accenture, Cognizant and Deloitte. In Workday, Appirio has approximately 210 certified consultants and a wealth of experience with a total of approximately 419 projects and ongoing engagements, based on our HfS Blueprint Report: Workday Services 2016.  With Wipro's massive scale in IT services and its  $720m dollar BPO business, the combined entity has huge potential if its leadership can get the integration right. Moreover, the merged entity is one of a very small band of BPO providers which has a massive call center scale and client depth and a worldclass Salesforce implementation capability. There is also future opportunity to bring together the firm's strong F&A BPO presence with the nascent uptake of the Workday Financial Management suite, in addition to supporting HRO engagements based on the Workday HRMS and HCM platform.

Both providers are known for strong technical skills and have invested heavily in tools and technologies. Wipro has developed a wide range of Salesforce1 platform based solutions, including industry sector focused offerings, such as its Physician Relationship Management solution.  In addition, Appirio's web development services around Salesforce and Heroku have led to some very impressive work for clients such as Eli Lilly is a major plus for Wipro. Appirio, for its part, has the industry renowned Appirio Topcoder Platform, its proprietary crowdsourcing development platform, which now has nearly a million members. Moreover, Wipro’s focus on management services complements Appirio’s clear strengths in implementation services. Both providers offer consulting services, but this remains an area to strengthen and market to prospective clients.

Despite Wipro’s investment in Wipro Digital, it is still known predominantly as a technology services partner which enables the digital experience, as opposed to designing it from the customer end. Appirio's digital and mobility focus, especially with retail and media clients, should benefit the merged entity considerably. Wipro should also benefit significantly from Appirio’s Worker Experience approach, which helps organizations transform their employee experience, to gain additional credibility in the HCM and CRM markets. Aligned to this are also Appirio's expertise in servicing popular SaaS solutions Cornerstone-on-Demand (talent management) and Medallia (customer experience management), not to mention acumen in servicing corporate Google environments

Depending on the success of the merger, clients can potentially look forward to a full service suite offering around Workday, Salesforce and ServiceNow, with a focus on business outcomes. Wipro and Appirio clients we have spoken to in these markets are already pretty satisfied, highlighting Wipro’s ability to provide proactive advice, and Appirio’s focus on customer satisfaction. A smooth merger in the services industry is, however, seldom possible and a lot hinges on Wipro’s ability to hold on to the best talent at Appirio (there will be several hungry Workday partners ready to pounce) and integrate offerings. More importantly, the challenge of integrating cultures and business could be massive, especially since Wipro has to change mindsets, working attitudes and break down its internal business silos, to take full advantage of the potential here. If it pulls it off, Wipro will be joining the front-runners of the SaaS services market, and develop a strong differentiation from the other India-headquartered service providers.

Bottom Line:  Wipro muscles its way to the front the SaaS services market, with few left worth buying. Does this leave the other Indian majors out in the cold?

With this acquisition, Wipro is officially the leading Indian major in the SaaS services space, boasting significant Salesforce resources, a decent sized ServiceNow practice and, perhaps most excitingly, a Winners Circle caliber Workday practice:

Click to Enlarge

When you consider DayNine is now part of Accenture, you could argue that only OneSource Virtual and Collaborative Solutions are the last two "pureplay" As-a-Service providers left in the Workday ecosphere worth acquiring to come close to matching Wippirio's combined strengths.  So does this leave the likes of Infosys, TCS, HCL, Cognizant, Tech Mahindra et al out in the cold when it comes to being serious enterprise SaaS providers?  Surely one has to make a move soon to add expertise and depth to compete effectively.

Posted in: Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)IT Outsourcing / IT ServicesSaaS, PaaS, IaaS and BPaaS



How To Buy When You’re Not Sure What You’re Buying: HfS’ First Evaluation Of Blockchain Service Providers

October 19, 2016 | Christine Ferrusi Ross

The funny thing about innovative projects is that everyone likes to talk about buying them as if innovation is a product you just pick up off the shelf at the store. But real innovation – exploring ideas, opportunities, risk, and implications of change – means you likely don’t even know what you’re buying. You’re not buying a packaged piece of software or a defined solution. You’re really buying someone who can be a co-creator with you, helping you wade through the mass of tangled and often conflicting options available to discover and build something that adds a unique value to your business.

When you’re experimenting with business opportunities it’s complicated enough, but when you add a technology or solution area that’s just emerging, it gets doubly complicated because often the service providers don’t have tons of experience themselves in the new area. Blockchain is a perfect example – most service providers are themselves exploring what blockchain can do for their clients and vertical industries. My latest research into emerging blockchain services shows this, with most providers still in the early days of the blockchain efforts (see Exhibit 1)

Exhibit 1:

Click to enlarge.

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Posted in: Buyers' Sourcing Best PracticesHfS Blueprint ResultsBlockchain



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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Posted in: SaaS, PaaS, IaaS and BPaaS



  Life Fitness Finds “Smart” Translation on Demand with Lionbridge

October 19, 2016 | Melissa O'Brien

In order to stay competitive, speed and simplicity are of utmost importance to marketers today.   Lionbridge is providing “smart” translation services by really thinking about how to make the marketing person’s job easier – through a simple, fast, self-service, and automated capability. We recently spoke with Life Fitness, a fitness equipment manufacturer, about their use of translation services for marketing materials.  Life Fitness uses Lionbridge’s onDemand online service, a portal for uploading files to be translated in various formats, providing instant quotes for the timing and cost of completing the translation project. 

As an international company, Life Fitness uses this service for translation and localization of all kinds of content, both customer facing and internal in 11 languages (Lionbridge serves 120 languages total).  The content being translated includes MS Office documents, website content, email communications, YouTube videos and software on the cardiovascular products.  The translation is done by employees, but Lionbridge onDemand automates the workflow process including: file analysis, quoting, delivery estimates, routing to translators, application of glossary and terminology, quality reviews, delivery notification and file delivery.

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Posted in: Contact Center and Omni-ChannelCRM and MarketingDigital Transformation



HfS strikes HR tech gold with Steve

October 19, 2016 | Phil FershtSteve Goldberg

Steve Goldberg (click for bio) is Research Vice President, HR Technology and Workforce Strategies at HfS Research

Back when enterprise time began and God was handing out the technology dollars, why was the Chief HR Officer always seemingly at the back of the queue?  Why did so many of our beloved enterprises become plagued with the clunkiest, funkiest legacy systems we never could have dreamed up in our worst nightmares? Especially when you consider the data critically and sensitivity of one's employees - their profiles, their health records, their compensation, their performance etc...

So it's no surprise that the advent of the SaaS based HR suite has been embraced like manna from Infosys heaven. Suddenly, our HR-technology plagued enterprises can hatch a plan to rip out the cancerous legacy and slam in something that's standardized, has hire-to-retire process that are sort of adequate, and doesn't require that cobol transformation project each time you try to push through an exception payment. So what better timing than for HfS to bring aboard Steve Goldberg - a true veteran of the HR tech world - to lead our thinking in the space and is freshly returned to his desk from the HR Technology show (read his blogs here).

Welcome Steve!  Can you share a little about your background and why you have chosen research and strategy as your career path?  

Sure Phil.  I've basically operated on all sides of HR Technology, so a real diversity of experiences.  This includes HRIS and Talent Management practitioners in the U.S. and Europe,

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Posted in: HR OutsourcingHR StrategyOutsourcing Heros



HR Tech solutions get personal

October 18, 2016 | Steve Goldberg

Another takeaway from the HR Tech Conference

One of the age-old knocks on the HR profession is that it attracted those who prided themselves on “being good with people.” I was never really sure what this meant when I selected HR / HR Systems as a career path way back when, but it seemed better than being good with hazardous waste. This notion was eventually borne out by the fact that my shortest corporate HR stint was with a Waste Management industry leader.

So how does this relate to the recent HR Tech Conference? Well, beyond what was discussed in my last post about smaller players doing their share to drive product innovation, another realization hit me: Dozens of newer HR technologies are not just “good with people,” but “really smart about people.” This means knowing personal if not unique drivers, how to engage and motivate, and leveraging that context for the benefit of both the organization and its individuals. Employing different talent management and employee engagement approaches for different talent pools (e.g., early career vs. later career or more experienced employees, high potentials, high-value candidates, change-resistors, etc.) makes very good sense.

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Posted in: Human Resources As-a-Service



The tide is turning for talent acquisition

October 17, 2016 | Mike Cook

The market for talent has seen massive fluctuations over the last eight years. The 2008-9 global recession caused massive employment contractions across all major regions; however, the tide has now really started to turn. In recent years we have been witness to one of the longest sustained periods of economic growth in the last 100 years, and with this, the need for fresh talent is on the rise.

Coupled with the rise of the intelligent digital business, these two market dynamics have changed the way organizations have to approach recruiting new expertise and mindsets. With employees now augmented by this technological innovation, the potential for increased efficiency gains and quality of service delivery is greater than ever.

Here’s the talent challenge now: Employees now, more than ever, need to bring the ability to truly impact an organization’s bottom line, and recruiters need to find and attract them into their companies.

Candidates, particularly passive candidates, are in the driver’s seat and are becoming increasingly particular about which companies they will work for, doing their due diligence to find their right match, using the abundance of information at their fingertips. For today’s candidates, work-life balance and a fulfilling work environment are now at the forefront of candidate’s decision-making process. In addition, many candidates are now exploring contractual work; and this, coupled with increasing project specific assignments in the workplace, is leading to an increasingly active contingent labor market.

So what does this talent acquisition challenge mean for RPO?

Traditional Recruitment Process Outsourcers (RPO) that aim to purely fill permanent positions are no longer often an ideal, forward-looking fit for many companies.

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Posted in: Digital TransformationTalent in Sourcing



The Intelligent OneOffice - the endgame for the new generation enterprise

October 15, 2016 | Phil Fersht

We're rapidly evolving to an era where there is only "OneOffice" that matters 

The OneOffice paradigm is all about creating the digital customer experience and an intelligent, single office to enable and support it. In a few months, we won’t be talking nearly as much about automation and digital technology as the critical “value levers” for operations, as they become an embedded part of the fabric of the future operations platform for new generation enterprises. Instead, we will be talking a lot more about OneOffice, where an integrated support operation has the digital prowess to enable its enterprise to meet customer demand - as and when that demand happens.

OneOffice is when the needs and experiences of the customer are front and center to the entire business operations, where the old barriers between corporate operations functions (often referred to as “front” and “back office”) are eroded and the constraints of legacy ERP systems are minimized to allow the business to invest in digital technologies and capabilities that enable it to cater proactively for its customer needs at the forefront of its markets and be a very fast responder if these needs change expectantly.

In short, OneOffice is the endgame, where the digital enterprise can work in real time to cater for its clients. It’s where the intelligence, the processes and the infrastructure can come together as one integrated unit, with one set of unified business outcomes tied to delighting customers.

Click to Enlarge

 Why is digital the new language of business?

In a nutshell, people simply want to operate digitally these days, whether they are an employee, customer or partner. They want to use interactive technology, mobile apps, social media, text, online chat etc. to get things done. People are used to using sophisticated digital technologies in their personal lives, and now expect to use them in their professional lives. Whether they are buying products, groceries, renting accommodation, ordering Starbucks, takeout, applying for mortgages, insurances policies etc., digital technology is the new language of business.

The issue facing many traditional business today is the fact that while the consumer is increasingly digitally sophisticated, many enterprises are still beholden to legacy technologies

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Posted in: Digital TransformationOneOfficeThe As-a-Service Economy



Dinner with Watson, Coulter and Holmes...what’s on the menu?

October 12, 2016 | Phil FershtLee Coulter

If there's one character, on the client side, who's really take on the mantel of "Chief of the Robo-Buyers" it's Lee Coulter, the year's Chairman for the HfS Sourcing Executive Council.  

He probably won't appreciate the moniker, as his standards group has already dropped the term "Robo", but we'll call him that anyway...  So without further ado, let's hear more from Lee as he gathers his thoughts after the recent HfS Cognition Summit: 

Server: “Hi there, my name is HAL, and I will be your server. Can I get you started with something to drink? Sparkling water or something else perhaps?”

Watson: “I’d like a Hadoop martini, Drilled not Dremeled.”

Holmes: “That’ll be fine for me, too, but with some Flume and a touch of Pig”

HAL: “Sure. And have you had a chance to look at the menu? Do you know what you’d like?”

Watson: “I’d like the Presto with Storm please. Can I get a side of Sqoop as well?”

Holmes: “I’d love some Oozie with the Mongo preparation and Thrift as a starter.”

Server: “Very good. I am putting myself to the fullest possible use, which is all I think that any conscious entity can ever hope to do.”

A few weeks ago, at Phil’s event in White Plains, I got to hang out with some of industry's best and brightest. Of course, as we have been doing at HfS for years, we looked to the future for trends, disruption, and new capabilities that will influence what the SSO industry will be facing. I also had the privilege to hang out with Gerd Leonhard for a couple hours over a drink. That was a real treat.

Not surprisingly, there was a lot of talk about automation, machine learning, AI, cloud, aaS, and so forth. I remarked to Phil that gone are the days when we were wrestling with how to do transitions well, how to contract for BPO, location strategies, and even the years-long discussion about why we aren’t getting innovation from our service providers. In the last three years, the conversation has totally changed. Whether you are a Utopian or a dystopian, the

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Posted in: Cognitive ComputingIntelligent Automation



HR Tech Conference 2016: the little guys have arrived

October 12, 2016 | Steve Goldberg

Notwithstanding having my 13th HR Technology Conference participation cut short by needing to return home to Florida to deal with a hurricane, one major observation stood out for me. It was also a fairly pleasant surprise, something that doesn’t come easy after attending so many of these events—as enriching as they usually are.

In fact, the hurricane actually contributed to the observation. How? Well, in having to unfortunately cancel briefings with major HR Tech vendors to leave early on Thursday, I had to rely more on quick-hitting discovery sessions in the exhibit hall, generally with lesser known vendors. They are typically not as schedule-constrained at the conference.

So, here it is: I found it just as easy to see meaningful HR Tech innovations in the booths of “little guys” and emerging players as I did in their much larger and more established counterparts. I’ll define ”meaningful product innovations” as practical, obviously value-creating (vs. largely “wow factor”) advances where the system’s intelligence is leveraged without a lot of heavy lifting or major change adoption needed by the customer organization … dependencies often under-estimated by vendors and customers.

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Posted in: HR StrategyHuman Resources As-a-Service



So what should healthcare operations do when IT hinders rather than helps?

October 11, 2016 | Barbra McGann

Focus everyone on the shared outcome: The healthcare consumer experience

“We are, frankly, still at a stage in which healthcare technology often hinders, rather than helps, physicians trying to provide better care,” says Andy Slavitt, Acting Director of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. The examples he shared at HIMSS16 still resonate with me: feedback from physicians who have told him, “To order aspirin takes 8 clicks on the computer. To order full strength aspirin takes 18.” Another said, “I can’t track my patient’s referral; I sent them to the hospital and can’t track them.” 

Despite the increased, even prolific, use of IT in healthcare with member and patient portals, electronic records, and online billing and payments, the clinician or healthcare consumer experience has yet to change fundamentally for the better. To truly become digital, healthcare organizations have to rethink their use of IT. In many cases, where they have software vendors and service providers involved, they also need to revisit their engagement strategy, especially as the industry shifts to value-based care and payment based on results.

A single-minded focus on the customer—patient, member, employee, clinician, etc.—can break down the barriers in and across organizations to drive meaningful processes and use of IT

Digital healthcare, in its purest form, is all about transforming the healthcare business to create, support and sustain the healthcare customer experience – customers being, at times: plan members, patients, physicians, caregivers, etc. The “end user” can be the same person in different roles, or working with people in other roles, creating a complex network of constituents with varying wants, needs, and motivations. So, creating a healthcare experience is not a job for a solo artist, either – it takes the whole orchestra playing together to create a musical masterpiece and not just a cacophony of sound.

Simply stated, a pivotal factor for being truly effective in delivering the vision of better health and care at a more reasonable cost for the industry is a coordinated, interactive, and interoperable approach in operations, what we at HfS call the Intelligent OneOffice. OneOffice is all about how people use data and digital technology to bring together the front, middle and back office to enable a user experience that matters, thereby having an impact on health, care, and the viability of healthcare organizations and businesses.

Everyone in the industry has a role to play in supporting this person-centered approach. In some cases, the impact is more obvious and intuitive, such as the front line staff of doctors, nurses, and pharmacists directly discussing a patient’s care plan, therapy and medications. However, roles that are more removed from these direct touch points also have an impact on health, medical, and administrative outcomes. For example, operations support staff processing claims are analyzing data to identify care gaps and opportunities for new interventions, making sure patients are informed through the design and input into systems that automate outreach and reminders through phone, email, or text, for example. So much of how the touch points in healthcare can be more effective depends on the data, digital technology, and relationships that extend from “hidden” roles in “the back office.”

People who can identify and articulate problems and coordinate across internal and external organizations to focus on the end-consumer, are key to bringing together IT and operations

Generating the kind of synchronistic flow from less customer-facing processes to support the healthcare customer experience is no easy task. What will help drive change is finding and/ or cultivating “brokers of capability”—people who can articulate a business problem or opportunity, the desired outcomes, and then coordinate and facilitate across internal and external entities to reach those results. In healthcare, we see brokering going on to create networks such as for ACOs and hospital systems leading to data stores and insight-driven interactions to better manage a patient’s health and care, end to end, covering socio economic/financial and medical needs.

Who are your brokers of capability? People you identify in your organization with critical thinking and networking skills, people who put people first. Taking this approach also creates a more attractive workplace and can play on a naturally altruistic synergy as many people enter the healthcare profession to “help others.” No matter what role they play, as a nurse, doctor or physician, or a claim processor or medical coder, there is an opportunity for everyone to impact the customer experience and gain a greater level of satisfaction and engagement.


Note to readers: Our study on achieving Intelligent Operations, with input from Cognizant's Center for the Future of Work and Business Process Services practice, canvassed 371 major buy-side enterprises and had 45 healthcare executive participants. Link to The Journey to Intelligent Operations in Healthcare and download for free after registering on the site.

Posted in: Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)Digital TransformationHealthcare and Outsourcing



Accenture enriches its cloud capabilities and ecosphere with Google alliance

October 09, 2016 | Jamie Snowdon

Although we expect to see more and more core IT moving to the cloud in the coming months and years, largely this is preceded by successful use of public cloud for new application development and deployment. This continued uptake in the use of public cloud eases the pressure on large organizations, with the availability of on-demand flexible computational power that scales rapidly to cater for changing business and customer needs.

For example, the rapid deployment of more customer applications as part of a digital strategy, or trying to collect more data from IoT devices, or making better use of SaaS applications are typical drivers of the thirst for on-demand scalable computing power. The issues for enterprise enterprise functions and their IT departments with cloud remain: managing cloud alongside existing infrastructures, making sure the solution complies with security and other enterprise risk concerns, ensuring they have the skills and resources to manage it effectively, performs to the right standards, is genuinely scalable, and, of course, is cost effective.

One solution to this problem, for many enterprises, is moving to a more holistic software defined datacentre model - or a hybrid cloud platform – which gathers together cloud instances and, in some cases, legacy IT into a manageable framework. This is what Accenture, and many of the other infrastructure outsourcing service providers, are doing as a way to continue to be relevant and add value in the cloud world.

In this vein, Accenture has formed another cloud-centric alliance as part of the firm’s Cloud First strategy, by teaming with Google.   While this encompasses pure cloud computing from Google, it also includes other Google-specific technologies, namely Android, Google apps, analytics, augmented reality, big data, IoT and machine learning. Accenture has integrated the Google Cloud Platform into its own multi-cloud platform, the originally named Accenture Cloud Platform (ACP) – ACP existing partners include AWS, Microsoft Azure, and NTT. ACP helps manage enterprise IT and cloud resources across multiple public and private cloud instances – helping to manage and automate infrastructure requirements.

The likely success or failure of such a move depends on your position on cloud platforms and their long-term future in infrastructure management. As you can see in the diagram, HfS took a position on this last year posting our view of the three most likely scenarios for enterprise cloud adoption over the next five years.

HfS stands by this schema and is increasingly of the opinion that the eventual outcome will be two or even three – with the timeframes for two perhaps stretching beyond 2025 – largely because this is the nature of prediction. Everything takes longer than people think or you desire, when it comes to replacing legacy IT. However, the big deciding factor will be the success or failure of orchestration platform layers and cloud ecosystems. However, even if scenario 2 is the ultimate winner, it still provider us with a healthy runway for cloud platforms - and these platforms are likely to be retained for enterprise environments if only to make sure the client receives the best price and cloud operators continue to innovate and provide good value.

So it seems that, at least for the time being, these platforms will be part of the on-going story for infrastructure management, particularly in complex and risk-averse enterprise environments, for several years to come. Before AWS cries fowl and says our customers tell us that they’re going 100% cloud without a platform. Or that a hybrid platform creates a lowest common denominator of cloud services. I need to explain that this is a generalisation aimed largely at the enterprise space and there will be many organizations that will choose to use AWS, Azure or Google as the window into Cloud. But there are still significant numbers that don’t want to be locked into a single provider, the investment in legacy is too much to abandon and that have complicated requirements that one solution won’t work.

OK so now the question is who will win the battle of the cloud platforms? In the old legacy IT outsourcing world there were many “winners” with providers winning deals based on complex sets of criteria and there was scope for differentiation outside of pure technology skills or efficacy – largely because the engagements were all heavily customized and deciding which provider would deliver the best service was based very much on whether an enterprise was important enough to the provider to warrant its best resources and get the “A Team”. A provider’s ability to deliver value over and above the technology in IT infrastructure management engagements will persist somewhat but will be diluted by benefits that flow from the platform itself. The big changes we’ll see with selecting a hybrid cloud platform will be: The big change with selecting a cloud infrastructure platform will be:

  • A large part of the success of the platform will be the richness of the ecosystem – both regarding quality of partner and number of services/partners in the ecosystem.
  • The actual functionality of the platform will also be crucial to its success. So functions like plug and play analytics, brokerage, and automation.
  • Finally, the way the platform deals with commercial aspects of cloud management will also be key to its success. Platforms that allow flexible methods of payment and structuring of engagement will be key. We can envisage the most flexible platforms being able to offer a full range of pricing options at a fixed monthly price managed service approach to fully pay per use cloud model.

The Bottom Line: Accenture has a firm handle on the most diverse and complex cloud capabilities to support its long-term roadmap

A key aspect of the deal between Accenture and Google is it helps to make sure the Accenture’s cloud ecosystem is a rich and diverse as possible. One of the most important, if not the most important criteria for any hybrid platform will be its ecosystem. This is likely to mean there will be competition for the "best" ecosystem, and perhaps the most important gauge, for the time being, will be who has the richest set of partners. So it makes sense that Accenture adds Google to its list of partners, not just to give another compute option, but also to leverage Google's investments in other technology like AI, analytics, and automation. This a great opportunity for Google to tap more directly into the enterprise space with Accenture’s credentials – similar to the benefits AWS is hoping to enjoy from its arrangement with Accenture.

More widely we expect to see more partnerships looking to build out cloud ecosystems. We expect this to happen at the infrastructure layer and also the DevOps layer. So more partnerships between PaaS platform operators and service partners – as although PaaS environments success is around broad capabilities/functionality, access to ready pools of skilled developers who use the platform is essential.

Posted in: Cloud ComputingSaaS, PaaS, IaaS and BPaaSThe As-a-Service Economy



Bye bye bricklayers?

October 09, 2016 | Phil Fersht

When you see major advances in disruptive robotics, such as the soon-to-be-unveiled Hadrian X, which claims to build a house in two days, moving four times faster than human construction workers, you realize that making invoice process workflows more automated is small-time, when it comes to achieving real robotic efficiencies:

The robot, named Hadrian after the Roman emperor who built defence walls in England, is being primed to work day and night, lay 1,000 bricks per hour, and could potentially build 150 homes in a single year. That's a lot of construction workers who may just not be needed anymore... and where you get genuine hard cost savings because you're removing actual labor, not merely automating some annoying manual steps in a process chain.

Posted in: Robotic Process AutomationThe As-a-Service Economy



A glimpse into the contact center of the future: the digitally enabled contact center

October 06, 2016 | Melissa O'Brien

When I set out to do a spinoff Blueprint on the future of contact center services, I thought of this concept that only seemed logical to explain as “digitally-enabled contact center.” Initially, I think this inspired more confusion and uncertainty than it did to define the future of contact center services.  I confused the service providers, who were convinced they had already provided their best digital story, and the buyer references, who had way more examples of traditional call center work than true digital enablement.  I’m admitting this, hoping that we can learn from the lesson that sometimes it takes a lot of battling through confusion/hype/ attempted brainwashing to figure out what’s really going on in the markets we cover.

The most important question this exercise inspired is: how can the contact center break free from legacy butts in seats engagements that force customers into bad conversations they don’t want to be having-- and create a customer experience that serves the digital customer, and inspires greater satisfaction and loyalty?

What is a digitally enabled contact center? 

At the most basic level, embracing “digital” channels: social media, web self-service including mobile apps and visual IVR, video kiosks and chat is the start of digitally-enabled contact center.   Also important is seeking to use automation to create efficiencies; and the really smart contact center operators are trying to figure out how to involve increasingly intelligent automation into the mix. 

It’s more than just implementing these channels, though, it’s the design of how each channel fits into the overall customer journey, and the understanding of how talent fits into the equation-- talent that not only can handle communication on varied channels that demand different styles (yet consistency!) but can also take contextual information from multiple sources and use that in a way that benefits the customer.  From an analytics perspective, it’s all about using the data to better understand customers, enable personalization and be more predictive. 

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Posted in: Contact Center and Omni-Channel



Why should software engineering service providers utilize metrics-based software code reuse?

October 05, 2016 | Pareekh Jain

The manufacturing industry has reused components for a long time. A high level of reuse not only reduces waste but also lowers the cost of production and reduces time-to-market. Now this concept is being adopted by engineering service providers for part of the software product development process. Software code reuse helps clients save resources, which provides cost advantages and also enables engineering service providers to reduce redundancy and time. In many cases, engineering service providers claim to be using software code reuse components for client engagements, but often software product engineering buyers don’t have visibility into software code reuse by service providers and are not sure whether they are getting the benefit of it.

In our Software Product Engineering Blueprint, we asked software product engineering customers to rate service providers on different major capabilities. The capabilities were broadly divided into six categories and the response is depicted as below.

As the Exhibit shows, the code reuse capability of engineering service providers is rated as the lowest capability. Software product engineering buyers don’t know whether service providers are performing any software code reuse and also have no visibility in case the software code reuse is implemented.

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Posted in: Procurement, Engineering & Supply Chain Outsourcing



Cognizant splashes out $128 million to bolster Oil & Gas practice

October 03, 2016 | Derk Erbé


With the realization firmly sinking that the new normal in Oil & Gas is "lower for longer," it is hard to find service providers investing heavily to build out their Oil & Gas Practice. That is, until Cognizant announced plans to acquire Frontica’s IT outsourcing and BPO business for $128 million, a service provider born in the Oil & Gas industry.

Frontica hails from one of the largest hydrocarbon rich areas in Europe—Norway—and specializes in ITO and BPO services for Oil & Gas. Frontica has been on a transformative journey the last couple of years, reorienting itself from the internally focused shared services unit of oilfield service company Aker Solutions until 2014. At that time it started operating as a separate ITO and BPO service provider in Oil & Gas. It has a healthy portfolio of contracts such as the 5 year deal signed in February 2016 with former parent Aker Solutions, which is valued at between $ 116 million and $ 145 million annually. 

Frontica's ITO services are focused on SAP consulting, application maintenance and development, IT infrastructure, implementation services, IT support for mergers and demergers (good business in Oil & Gas). BPO services focus on HR and payroll, F&A, operational procurement, category management and sourcing. 

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Posted in: Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)EnergyFinance & Accounting BPO



Wipro Digital Uses A Broad Brush To Paint A Digital Picture, With Promising Examples In Banking

October 03, 2016 | Reetika Joshi

HfS analysts recently attended Wipro Digital’s first analyst and advisor day event in the U.S., and our collective first impressions could summed up into, “Ok, they get digital, and what it means for enterprises, but are they articulating exactly how they’re going to market on it – and will clients understand?”

The mantra that this group articulated is to think it - design it - build it – run it. Wipro has traditionally been associated with the last two of those battle cries, and is making investments and efforts to climb up the ladder on the first two. With its acquisition of design firm Designit, it has a new set of capabilities, organizational practices and culture that it has started to draw from. As importantly, it is hoping to leverage the agency’s design positioning and brand identity for Wipro Digital – and perhaps Wipro as a whole.

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Posted in: Digital Transformation



What came first the data chicken or the data egg? Calling time on #bloodyuselessdata

October 03, 2016 | Jamie Snowdon

The modern digital world is awesome in so many ways. But sometimes I get sent a piece of data, and I just wonder why? Not to be an advert, but I recently started to use a grammar / spelling plug-in called Grammarly (it just corrected the spelling of itself as I’d forgotten to capitalise). I find it helpful as it does things like contextual spelling – so it’s a bit better at spotting some of the common mistakes I make – for example, I am always typing deliverying instead of delivering which Word seems not to find.

Anyway, I get an email from them every week giving me a run-down on how I used it that week – I have displayed one of my latest stats in the picture.

When I first received this, I thought that this was great – look at me I’m 99% more active than everyone else. Then the following week my number of words went down 30%, and it worried me – thinking I’d been just as busy. As the weeks rolled on, I have made the same number of mistakes and my stats fluctuate – but they just don’t help me. It went from "That’s interesting", "Wow" to "So what?" in about two weeks. It may just be that I am not learning from my mistakes....

Coincidentally, I wrote about the importance of learning from mistakes in one of my last blogs (Why the slogan “Fail Fast” is bullsh*t if you want to succeed with OneOfficeTM) and I think this is where much of the data explosion is failing. We’re provided with all this useless data, but without much guidance on what to do about it, how to act on it – how to improve for the future. I think that is the issue with all the data – we just don’t know what to bloody do with it!

Bottom line:  To avoid #bloodyuselessdata you need a data chicken, not just a data egg

HfS Research is calling time on bloody useless data. Pure data collection and naïve analysis are table stakes in the digital world. The only way to create business value is to provide a feedback loop. The data needs to be used to inform the person in a positive way and iterate the process. Just hoarding data with no purpose is pointless (and potentially expensive) and next level of statistical reports which generate little action are almost as bad. For data to have any power it needs to inform the process and it needs to be actionable.
From now on HfS will be looking for examples of useless data and calling it out. If you have any examples, please contact me via twitter @thewizeone #bloodyuselessdata or [email protected]

Posted in: Analytics and Big DataKnowledge Process Outsourcing & Analytics



Let’s make Outsourcing Great Again!

October 02, 2016 | Phil Fersht

What a September that was the industry formerly known as “outsourcing”!

An "industry" still searching endlessly for an identity, a purpose and a value proposition, founded on more than dredging up cost savings through lower wages, tortuous conferences for bored sourcing advisors and pompous analysts who ask idiotic “questions” which end up confusing themselves… but finally we finding some salvation for our industry! Finally outsourcing doesn't have to fester on the scrap heap of legacy commoditized business models, akin to what happened to the telecom industry...

The State of Denial is over in the States. In White Plains for the HfS Cognition Buyers’ Summit, the mood was the most upbeat I have experienced in a long time – clients were peeping above the bed covers and saying “I want real examples, I want to touch and feel this automation stuff… tell me what I need to know and how this is done”. There as a stark admission that “our kids will be alright, they live and breathe what is needed in organizations today, its us mid-career folks who need to be worried – we’re the ones who need to reinvest ourselves if we are to stay relevant”.

Many of the Indian providers want to extend their stay in Denial a while longer. Then we took the HfS team over to Bangalore, India for NASSCOM’s 19th BPM (BPO) Strategy Summit, where most of the local service provider dignitaries were firmly hiding under their bed covers asking the same old question: “How can we sell higher value deals to the same clunky big enterprises without doing anything differently since we started doing this stuff 19 years ago?”.  Clearly most of these guys won't change course while they're still enjoying a (diminishing) 5% revenue

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Posted in: Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)Digital TransformationThe As-a-Service Economy