HFS adds more beans to fuel healthcare research - meet Rohan Kulkarni

May 09, 2021 | Phil FershtRohan Kulkarni

Rohan Kulkarni is Research Vice President, Healthcare, at HFS

We're firmly on our path to view the world through industry lenses at HFS research, as we see value chains across sectors merge, and the needs to be hyper-connected changing before our eyes - with suppliers, customers, partners, governments, etc grouping into new value ecosystems as the world finds its feet post-pandemic.

Who could have predicted the reinvention and emergence of food services as a whole new industry, such as the complete digitization of banking and retail, the shift in insurance to becoming a sales/marketing-driven industry, and the reemergence of the travel industry in this pandemic and post-pandemic eta?  But perhaps there have been no more fundamental changes to an industry value chain than what has transpired - and continues to evolve - in healthcare.  The need for rapid, quality patient data, economic data, cloud migration, and supply-chain reinvention has never been so critical to driving government, enterprise, and individual decision-making in the world of health, life sciences, and pharmaceutical production.  

Without further ado, let's delve into the views, ideas, and plans being driven by our latest analyst addition, Rohan Kulkarni, fresh from his accolades as a master of perfect pints...

Phil Fersht, Founder, CEO and Chief Analyst, HFS.  Before we get to all the work stuff, Rohan, can you share a little bit about yourself….your background, what gets you up in the morning?

Rohan Kulkarni, Research VP Healthcare, HFS.  The opportunity to participate in the healthcare ecosystem is personal to me. Recognizing that US healthcare is sub-optimal across the key dimensions of cost, health outcomes, and experiences will impact me and most of us in the most personal ways as we grow older requires us to lean in and help make it better. I want to influence drivers that could make the care construct better in some meaningful manner.

I have been in the industry, getting on a decade and a half, leading strategy at multiple fortune 500 companies, being a product management executive & CIO at 2 different health plans while having consulted across the ecosystem. These opportunities have highlighted that the health & healthcare industry is unique in its ability to only get better in a participatory fashion. It's not just a doctor and patient equation, but rather needs all of us to do our part to stay healthy, be good patients when sick and when we get better, to stay that way. Its ongoing work for all of us all the time.

Phil - You've had a diverse career spanning several roles aligned to the healthcare industry... can you share some of your experiences over the years... what would you do all over again, and what would you definitely avoid?

Rohan - Yes, Phil, I have been lucky to traverse this path through the healthcare ecosystem as a journeyman. I am amazed at the paradoxes in the industry; on one end, the amount of money that is in the system is mind-boggling and sufficient to solve all our healthcare challenges with plenty leftover, yet on the other hand, it represents the only industrialized nation without universal health insurance. This pandemic has exposed the level of empathy the industry has, particularly the nurses and doctors whose altruism knows no bounds, yet our society today is challenged with misinformation and trust impacting care & its delivery. My point is that the healthcare industry is meant to solve a polymathic problem and we are still scratching the surface in so many ways despite all the advances.

As I indicated earlier, I have been privileged to journey through the ecosystem, meeting some wonderful people, accomplishing things that made me proud, contributing to helping reduce costs & optimize resources, and most importantly finding platforms to drive awareness to draw in more people to participate in the improvement of the ecosystem.

Phil - How critical is the role of services and technology in the healthcare industry during this time - has it changed significantly?

Rohan - I think technology and its enablement through services as we know it has been a cornerstone of healthcare’s evolution for the better part of 2 decades. As the population grows, particularly the seniors, and the prevalence of chronic conditions worsens without any evidence to suggest a radical change in behaviors, I would say that the role of technology and services in healthcare is critical, perhaps only next to what clinicians can do.

Yes, I think it has changed significantly from how data is captured and analyzed and used in diagnosis and care protocols, how it can keep patients connected to clinicians for real-time interventions, how fast we can develop vaccines, and much more. The speed from identification to solution to post solution maintenance, in my view, has been the hallmark of the last decades' extreme technology focus on healthcare.

Phil - What role do you see analysts playing as we emerge from this pandemic? Same old game, or is something new brewing? How do you intend to cover the healthcare sector?

Rohan - Health & healthcare’s success, in my view, is defined by the quality of life attributes, which will require democratization of the ecosystem and the broad participation of everyone. A key focus of that is driving awareness and engagement to help people, communities, enterprises, and governments appreciate different perspectives. To be able to bring various stakeholders together, drive robust debates and influence good sustainable solutions. I think this next chapter for analysts will differentiate between the good ones who will challenge the status quo and raise the bar, collaborate and influence industry solutions and those that will be critics.

My approach is going to include a few dimensions;

  • coverage expansion to include the entire ecosystem beyond the health plans and life science that we currently cover to healthcare providers;
  • a focus on digital health through the intersection of Healthcare & Triple-A Trifecta change agents – AI, automation, and smart analytics as well as mobility and virtualization
  • Healthcare is a polymathic problem and will require a polymathic solution; as such, I will cover healthcare’s intersections with climate change, societal changes, the food we eat, the impact of the way we work (e.g., OneOffice), and more that impact the social determinants of health.

While I do have faith in my fellow humans, I do suspect that at some point here shortly, the pandemic will be history, albeit a painful one for many. It will likely get people to go back to their old habits with perhaps a few non-material changes to their lives. As such, it is critical to driving awareness in more meaningful, personal, and even in your face ways so that together we can chart a better path forward.

Phil - What do you think we'll be talking about in healthcare when we gradually revert to a world beyond our screens?  Will we get a resurgence of energy and excitement, or will we crawl out of our caves blinded by the sunlight?

Rohan - I think that depends on where in the world you are. In the US, we were already down the path of being virtual in healthcare, and the pandemic certainly accelerated it. I suspect that momentum will continue where physical interventions are not necessary, such as primary care, nonsurgical specialist visits, etc. I believe after the initial surge of visits to the dentist, ophthalmologist, gynecologist, etc., human behavior will likely reverse to the mean, to return to most pre-pandemic behaviors. Now given the fact that we are unlikely to be at herd immunity any time soon and will likely need a booster vaccine come fall, I think a true post-pandemic scenario is still evolving.

Phil - Thanks for sharing your plans with us, Rohan. Excited to learn more from you as you get bedded in with us!

Posted in: Digital OneOfficeGovernance Practices and ToolsHealthcare

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There is no vaccine for climate change

May 05, 2021 | Phil FershtJosh MatthewsNischala Murthy Kaushik

 

How many of you even knew Earth Day was on 22nd April? And even if you did, did you care?

If there is one lesson we will eventually take from Covid, it’s the paranoia that government and business leaders' now live with: a constant fear of being caught cold by a crisis like this, ever again.  This paranoia must spur them to preventative action rather than a reliance on their ability to deliver rapid treatments. Those treatments of the symptoms simply paper over the deepest cracks of the causes - problems that remain unsolved despite all the debt we've incurred.

Barring future pandemics and world wars, which seemingly can be treated by throwing extraordinary amounts of money into science and military coffers, the next looming crisis is that of a climate meltdown. This offers the opposite problem - where the only cure is through smart and painful prevention, not quick-fire, after-the-crisis inoculation. 

Sustainability must become a native part of businesses, policy, and our day-to-day lives

This means people need to be educated, they actually have to listen and then change their behaviors. No-one really took the threat of nuclear war seriously until the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were experienced. The world was able to recover from the horrors of 'limited' nuclear war, the experiences, hopefully, proving to be preventative for many more decades to come. But there is no second chance if we continue to destroy our planet.  There can be no "lessons-learned" when the world runs out of water.... Sadly, our recent study of 150 C-suite executives across the global 2000 shows us that sustainability only ranks fifteenth as a "fit-for-purpose" measure - no change at all from pre-Covid times:

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In this vein, we had our roaming story-teller Nischala Murthy Kaushik spend time with analyst Josh Matthews, who spends a lot of time thinking through how we tackle sustainability and climate change, in addition to spending his spare time as a counsellor on Cambridge City Council in the UK...

Nischala Murthy Kaushik (CMO, HFS):  Let’s start with the basics, Josh... What is the definition of ‘sustainability,’ and why is it important in 2021?

Josh Matthews (Assoc Research Director, HFS):  The best place to start by checking out the UN Sustainable Goals. These 17 Goals cover all the ambitions we should have as a planet, whether its tackling climate change, lifting people out of poverty, restoring and protecting biodiversity, or eliminating inequality. These challenges don’t stand alone—they’re heavily

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Posted in: IT Outsourcing / IT ServicesSustainability

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Campbell soup adds flavor as Syniti acquires DMR to create biggest data software and services pureplay

May 03, 2021 | David CushmanDon RyanPhil Fersht

Enterprise data businesses Syniti and Data Migration Resources have joined forces in a move they believe makes them the biggest data software platform and services pureplay in this, or any other, town.  And we see no reason to doubt their claim. With the thirst for quality data at a pandemic-driven all-time-high to base critical enterprise decisions, this merger is perfectly timed.

Under the Syniti banner – and with Syniti CEO Kevin Campbell remaining at the helm – the new company has the resources and global footprint to answer the ‘Are these guys big enough?’ question when it comes to tackling the most complex data requirements of the top echelons of the global 2000. The Newco claims it offers the largest collection of data specialists and an AI-driven platform converging capabilities across data management, analytics, and governance.  With Campbell energized and back in his element, who drove one of the first BPO pureplays Exult, before he inspired the multi-billion dollar BPO and technology growth trajectories in Accenture (see blog), you have to believe the newly re-invented king of data services is taking his new company somewhere very interesting...

Tie up comes after record growth for SAP-certified Syniti

Both parties share a common focus on people and intend that the new scale of the organization will give their prized data specialists the opportunity and desire to stick around to build long careers and the culture to attract more.

Syniti enjoyed record growth in 2020 (with some regions reporting more than 275% growth YoY). It reported the best Q1 results in its 23-year history at the end of April 2021. It’s riding a wave of rapidly increasing investment in smart analytics (Exhibit 1). Almost three-quarters see investments rising either significantly, or moderately.

Exhibit 1: Do you see investments increasing, decreasing, or staying the same for smart analytics in the next 12 to 18 months?

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Syniti has been expanding from its SAP heartland (where it now holds SAP Certified Gold Enterprise Support Integration) to introduce real-time data replication with Amazon Web Services (AWS).

It is also an SAP platinum partner when it comes to helping businesses move to SAP S/4HANA, SAP SuccessFactors, and SAP Ariba. SAP resells data migration software from Syniti as SAP Advanced Data Migration by Syniti. Deloitte, IBM and DXC have been Syniti’s leading SI partners to date.

Joining together offers a global footprint and platform for acceleration

Syniti and DMR have been competitors in the North American market – each with facilities in India. Syniti has expanded to Europe and Asia-Pacific and DMR has gone into Latin America. The plan is to scale up globally, making use of the combined power of their India operations and sharing sales teams and the best of the products, tools, ideas, methods and techniques applied by each business. The aim is to accelerate their individual growth through combination – staking a bigger claim to the rapidly expanding demand for enterprise data management than either could alone.

The combined solution portfolio - comprised of the Syniti Knowledge Platform, DMR CONCENTO, Rapid Data Governance (RDG), and other software solutions, offers customers and partners aggregated, integrated capabilities to address a wide range of data-led business and IT requirements.

DMR products will remain supported into the foreseeable future and the combined might of the organizations will be applied to accelerate the ongoing development of DMR’s CONCENTO RDG – a potentially powerful differentiator if it delivers on its promise of cutting implementation costs by up to 50%.

Bridge Growth Partners are the majority owner of the new enterprise with DMR CEO Ryan Rodenburg joining the executive board with a ‘CEO of the Americas’ remit.

Bottom Line: Effective combination of assets holds the key to long term success

Thousands of hours of teaming ahead of the official merger proved the two parties can work together well. But the long-term success of the deal is likely to reside in how effective the new organization can be in making 1 + 1 = 3 when linking up its assets in a range of client-value-creating combinations. The new organization makes for a more balanced products/services company going forward, something the market is starting to reward.  What is critical now is to encourage Syniti's energized service provider partners, especially Deloitte, IBM, Accenture and DXC to increase their focus and staff training on the bigger, badder Syniti.

In short, we need to understand that data is the strategy to get us ahead of our markets. Here are five steps we must take:

  1. Get The Data to Win In your Market. This is where you must align your data needs to deliver on business strategy.  This is where you clarify your vision and purpose.
  2. Re-think processes to get the data, Then you must re-think what should be added, eliminated, simplified across your workflows to source this critical data.
  3. Design your new operational workflows in the cloud. There is simply no option but to have a plan to design processes in the cloud over three-tier web-architected applications.  In the Work-from-Anywhere Economy, our global talent has to come together to create our borderless, completely digital business.  This is the true environment for real digital transformation in action.
  4. Automate processes and data.  Automation is not your strategy.  It is the necessary discipline to ensure your processes provide the data - at speed - to achieve your business outcomes. Hence you have to approach all future automation in the cloud if you want your processes to run effectively end-to-end.
  5. Apply AI to data flows to anticipate at speed. Once you have successfully automated processes in the cloud, it is easy to administer AI solutions to deliver at speed in self-improving feedback loops.  This is where you apply digital assistants, computer vision, machine learning, and other techniques to refine the efficacy of your data.  AI is how we engage with our data to refine ourselves as digital organizations where we only want a single office to operate with agility to do things faster, cheaper, and more streamlined than we ever thought possible.  AI helps us predict and anticipate how to beat our competitors and delight our customers, reaching both outside and inside of our organizations to pull the data we need to make critical decisions at speed.

Posted in: Analytics and Big DataIT Outsourcing / IT ServicesDigital OneOffice

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Why outsourcing has become hot again... and it's all about automating to get to the cloud

April 26, 2021 | Phil Fersht

The impact of the pandemic has completely changed the mindset and change imperative of the majority of organizations.  Our recent study of 400 operations and IT leaders across the Global 2000 shows how crucial automation has become as the catalyst to modernize business operations.  And this means the old-thinking around RPA is rapidly leaving the building, as enterprises are faced with a dual challenge: ring-fencing legacy data centers and processes, while making fresh investments to re-jig critical processes to function effectively in the cloud:

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Simply put, if you try to take your existing messy processes and simply move them "as-is" into a cloud environment, it's going to be one very costly exercise that could be so cumbersome, you may go out of business before you even get them there.  We used to talk a lot, in pre-Covid days, about moving your "mess for less" offshore, and even if you did very limited transformation, you would reduce costs simply because you were tasking lower-cost people to run them for you.  Essentially, anything you couldn't shoe-horn into your standard ERP model would be a prime candidate to outsource as it was not likely to be core business activity, but you still needed them processed, and you might as well run your mess for cheaper via a service partner, than do it yourself.

Two thirds of major enterprises have no choice but to head for the Cloud in the new economy

Fast-forward to 2021, and most large enterprises have managed to move their messy stuff to an outsourcer or their offshore captive.  That was what legacy outsourcing was all about and over 90% of the Global 2000 did it.  Now they are faced with a whole set of nagging new challenges, as they simply have to function in the cloud, if they want to be effective in this work-from-anywhere environment, which we know is going to be the norm for at least two-thirds of enterprises, even after we finally get Covid under control:

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So what does this new wave of outsourcing look like, and why is it poised to increase at close to 10% this year - and likely even more next year?

The desire to centralize large clusters of people is dissipating with enterprise leaders focused on outcomes.  After 14 months of operating with armies of shared service staff operating remotely, most have learned how to manage by focusing on the outcomes of getting processes delivered, as opposed to obsessing with governance structures based on effort and control.  Many enterprise leaders have told us how they are focused on driving greater internal coordination with increased daily video meetings, where accountability and ownership are determinedly applied, and 51% (see above) do not see the need to add additional headcount to make this happen.

The need to scale-up and scale-down at speed has never been more pronounced.  The number one watch-word today is about moving at speed.  Enterprise leaders accepting the current status quo simply want to make fast decisions to make their operations and supply chains as nimble as possible.  This means freeing themselves from multiple sign-off points to enact policies and strategies is becoming an imperative; lugging around bloated back office functions that strangle the ability to get things done is becoming a tainted memory.  Having deeper partnerships with lesser numbers of partners not only cuts out operational costs, but also creates far more flexibility to operate at speed in unpredictable market conditions. This explains why a quarter of enterprises have already increased their outsourcing scope across business and IT processes in this environment, and a further third are planning to accelerate in the near term.  Pipelines for new deals are strong - especially in Europe, and early indications from our soon-to-be-finalized Pulse study for H1 2021 indicate expenditure increase in the high single-digits:

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The need to add “digitally-fluent capability” is forcing the issue on the interplay between business context and technology capability.  With all today's technology solutions CIOs are evaluating being cloud-based, their roles are shifting away from the provision of custom-app development, support and maintenance etc., and towards understanding the business context of their non-IT executive counterparts.  This is more about housing data, ensuring security, scalability, speed and business continuity.  They need to make their departmental leaders' data ubiquitously available, accessible, and mineable - working with them to embed a mindset that inspires business and IT staff to work together to create an organization that can flip its business model to exploit these seismic market changes.  

There is a lot more trust to work with partners.  The rapid uptick in deeper, broader outsourcing relationships is being driven by enterprise buyers becoming more decisive and experienced, and their service partners becoming much more adept and confidant to strike rapid, cost-friendly deals, knowing they have the expertise and resources to make these deals profitable in the short term and (potentially) lucrative in the medium-longer term, as they get closer to their customers' customers.

It’s much easier to have a third-party drive automation than forcing it on resistant/inexperienced staff.  Today's service providers are becoming highly adept at automating transactional work - simply because they have had no choice but to get proficient at it if they are to deliver value for their clients profitably.  On the flip-side, enterprises have proven particularly useless at scaling automation projects and doing anything more than piecemeal projects within silos. We can delve into all the reasons why this has been a failure for over 80% of them, such as politics, employee resistance and inability to redesign processes (and let's not forget a year-plus of pandemic), but the benefits of having an external party tasked with driving your automation efficiencies are now crystal clear.

Bottom-line:  With the cyclical nature of global recessions, the historical reaction is to outsource without much transformation. However, the response this time is different... 

Today's service providers are much more confidant at delivering the outcomes because they know how to infuse technology to support these new commercial models.  Moreover, you can't get the data you need if your critical data is not in the cloud and you don't have the people, partners, processes, technology - and desire to change - to make this possible.  Service providers now have the experience, desire and risk-appetite to roll their sleeves up and help many enterprises make it through the most unpredictable economic era we have ever lived through.

Posted in: Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)Cloud ComputingIT Outsourcing / IT Services

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Getting chatbot fatigue? Then upgrade to digital associates...

April 17, 2021 | Melissa O'BrienPhil Fersht

Let's cut to the chase folks... chatbots have struggled to gain much of a foothold in the corporate tech innovation stack.  However, our analyst Melissa O'Brien has spent the last few years studying how these engagement technologies are evolving deeper into the enterprise where they can truly augment staff and reduce a significant amount of their time, while driving a whole new digital way of engaging for both employees and customers... from the back office right through to the front. So let's take a look at which services firms are getting good at creating these digital associate workers for enterprises...

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Melissa, we've been observing the evolution of "conversation AI" for a good decade-plus now, so what's new?  has the pandemic driven more uptake?

The demand for conversational AI has exploded over the last year.  The automation tools we call digital associates were one of the digital superheroes of the pandemic, as conversational tools picked up the slack in handling volumes of interactions when human associates were not available due to a lack of work-from-home preparedness. Reduction in staff coupled with spike in volumes of interactions in many industries such as ecommerce created a burning platform. For many companies, this rapid and massive disruption resulted in accelerating digital

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Posted in: Digital TransformationDigital OneOfficeCustomer Experience Management

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Time for the Foster posture as Mark puts his own stamp on IBM services

April 16, 2021 | Phil FershtSarah Little

 

When it comes to big stonking change and the new meshing of business and IT disciplines, let's talk to the ultimate wave-spotter: Mark Foster.  I met Mark a few decades ago when I was wearing button-downs and he was one of the key Group Chief Executives at Accenture. I've been very curious to catch up and see for myself what enticed Mark out of (what he dubs) "blissful semi-retirement" to lead the 250,000-strong services business at IBM. So let's dive in...

Phil Fersht, CEO and Chief Analyst, HFS Research: It’s great to get some time with you, Mark. You’ve been a well-known figure in strategy consulting for many, many years. I met you during your Accenture days, but not so much recently. I’d love to know a bit more about you, where you came from, and were you always intending on going into the services industry? Was this your goal when you were at university? 

Mark Foster, Senior Vice President, IBM Services: Well, probably not. My background is rather strange, insofar as I have a degree in Ancient Greek, Latin, and Ancient History. So, I spent the best part of all my school and university career studying languages that are now largely dead, and only readable in ancient texts. (Laughs)

Very early on, though, I had a sense that there was something happening around technology; it was going to be a really important thing to get involved with. My first job was joining Accenture back in 1983, what was then Arthur Andersen management consulting, where the first thing that happened was to be sent off to St. Charles to learn to code in COBOL. That was really the start of an involvement with technology that’s carried me through for a very long period of time.

 

“I had a grounding in technology, a grounding in what it can do to transform industries and business, and then also a career that evolved away from core technology…”

 

When I came here to IBM, I remembered that I learned to code in RPG III on the AS/400 back in a dim, distant day as well. I had a grounding in technology, a grounding in what it can do to transform industries and business, and then also a career that evolved away from core

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Posted in: Cloud ComputingDigital TransformationGlobal Business Services

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Are you Cloud Native? Of course you're not... so join us on 21st April

April 11, 2021 | Phil FershtTom Reuner

Still grappling with moving your operations into the Cloud?  Click here to grab your spot at the HFS Cloud Native digital roundtable on 21st April 10.00am-1.00pm ET

Posted in: Cloud ComputingDigital OneOfficeIT Infrastructure

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One word defines today’s business environment: Speed

April 09, 2021 | Phil Fersht

Posted in: Digital OneOffice

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It needn't be hell... with Nigel

April 03, 2021 | Phil Fersht

Nigel Edwards is Chief Client Officer, HFS.  Click for LinkedIn and Bio

While we can speculate all day long about what businesses can do when they are given the huge amounts of someone else's money to burn, how about those that are employee-owned and make their own investments using the hard-earned money they actually earned themselves? 

When you look at the growth and success of HFS over the past 11 years to tackle competitors hundreds of times our size, there is one constant throughout the whole experience - the collective array of people who've made it all possible.  While you can buy successful brands, IP, methodologies, APIs, and algorithms, the most important asset you can accumulate is your people.

One such individual, whom I have known since the days just prior to founding HFS, is Nigel Edwards - an enthusiastic and affable character who's weathered the best of the Indian-heritage service providers namely Cognizant. Wipro and EXL, after earning his business and IT services stripes at Accenture in his earlier career.  It was time for "Nige" to take nearly three decades of blood, sweat, BPO and captives and lend it to HFS' long-suffering clients, crying out for a sense of reality and to exploit the current market turbulence.  Now there isn't too much to say about Nigel beyond the fact he's a lifelong Foxes fan (Leicester City), has played cricket with David Gower and gets beaten up in a boxing ring by his son almost daily... so let's hear a bit more from HFS' Chief Client Officer, Nigel Edwards:

Phil Fersht (CEO, HFS):  Before we get to all the work stuff, Nigel, can you share a little bit about yourself… your background, what gets you up in the morning?

The honest answer is that it’s a combination of my 6-year-old (the youngest of my 3 boys), the dog, or the sound of the refuse collection folk reminding me that I did not put out the recycling…

Seriously though, it’s the opportunity to do something creative.  My dad was in the construction industry for many years and he doubled up as a highly accomplished artist, sculptor, and writer. Even at 78 he is still pushing out new ideas each day in his quiet, unassuming but engaging

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Posted in: Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)Global Business ServicesIT Outsourcing / IT Services

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HfS Research receives $223 million in Series C Funding to become the world's favorite tech analyst firm

April 01, 2021 | Phil Fersht

This injection of money is intended to expand HFS' cutting-edge research coverage across all core geographic locations, plugging the gaps the firm missed in recent years.  "Thank God we got the extra cash", exclaimed the firm's President for Research and Business Operations, Saurabh Gupta.  "With the recent pandemic, not being able to cover dynamics in emerging countries like Turkmenistan and Laos was holding us back.  Now we can really hit Gartner where it hurts most...".

HFS is most famous for inventing the industry known as RPA in 2012, before famously killing it off in 2019, only to see its memory kept alive by Gartner and Forrester, which persisted in believing the revenue numbers of firms that were eking out the last of their PR cash.  "I am so excited to fully restart the RPA myth now we have enough cash to throw at it," stated the HFS Founder and CEO Phil Fersht in a recent press conference that was barely audible over Webex. "Without RPA, we had to pretend technologies like Cloud were making a comeback, and even our sustainability analyst has been trying to muscle in on the action."  Later on, Fersht managed to resume the discussion over Zoom, where he added, "All we had to do was promise Hoden we'd bring RPA back to life and we'd get a sizeable check to invest pretty much anywhere we wanted.  I've convinced my head of research the next wave can be found in Turkmenistan and am funding a trip to escort him out there to view it first-hand.  Apparently, they scraped the government's mainframe green screen and managed to get a script to reproduce the content in a Windows app.  Now they're just waiting for Microsoft to give them a free bot to share it over their cloud network".

Details of the investment plans will be available soon when the firm applies for its long-awaited IPO, where it's rumored to claim it is worth at least $10 billion.  There is no reason why HFS will ever be worth anything close to that amount, but at least it gets PE firms excited enough to throw them more money and put out more meaningless press releases.

To learn more about HfS Research, please email [email protected].

# # #

Note to editors: Trademarks and registered trademarks referenced herein remain the property of their respective owners. 

MEDIA CONTACT:

Trevor McTrevor

HFS Research

[email protected]

And of course... this was an:

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Posted in: Digital TransformationDigital OneOffice

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10 things to think about, if you want to be a more successful and genuine person in this emerging economy

March 23, 2021 | Phil Fersht

It’s been quite the year hasn’t it, folks!  I don’t know about you, but this has proven to be a voyage of self-discovery for me personally as we build businesses that can thrive in a world where it doesn’t matter where you are anymore, where the rules of the game are being re-written in a way we could never have imagined a year ago. 

If you’d told me we’d be doing multi-million dollar deals over Zoom and holding the attention of a global industry captive for an entire day online while we shared experiences of vaccine brands, I would seriously try and shake myself out of this bizarre dream.  Not to mention the spate of billion-dollar-plus deals being constructed on the back of an envelope…

In fact, I may still be having the same bizarre dream while I sleep-write this, and will wake up shortly to check my seat and meal-selection on my next trans-Atlantic flight, so I hope my ten learnings from the past imaginary year of bizarreness are worth a read:

  1. Take control of your career. Whomever you are in today’s corporate world,  the playing field has been leveled – however, almost everyone you know relies on the same vehicles to get things done. You have more time than you’ve ever had to focus on covering all the bases of your professional and personal lives, so make this time count and prepare for the future with a new attitude of self-assurance and confidence.
  2. Be a great communicator. During his career heyday, my father was a world-famous scientist in protein science and biochemistry.  His one (career) piece of advice to me was “always assume stupidity in your audience”.  People love to hear you talk about the basics of what we do and build from there.  I have never veered from this advice and it always serves me well… and those who engage in my narrative have proven to be anything but stupid!
  3. Make a concerted effort to develop your relationships. While nothing beats a great dinner or a few glasses of good wine, beer, or whisky, the people you knew before the big change are still as important as ever, and you need to do what you can to keep them close and keep the camaraderie moving along.  Relationships got you where you are, and during these new times, it’s even more important to keep the dialog going.  Make time for the people who matter, and develop deeper relationships where you can.  Also, focus on more one-to-one dialogs with people than sitting through hours of turgid discussions with too many people… nothing beats the intimacy of a direct conversation where you can see each other and share your genuine thoughts, ideas and feelings. 
  4. Keep learning new things. No one has any excuse to keep doing the same old things the same way, and in today’s environment, you really don't want to become a dinosaur… post-covid world is definitely not dinosaur-friendly! If you are in sales, learn to sell over Zoom;  if you’re in marketing… learn cool new apps to run promos, get familiar with analytics that help you understand your market, and make publications look awesome;  if you’re in finance, put yourself on some data science courses;  if you’re in IT learn how to cloudify business functions and understand the context.  And if you’re ready to break free of the corporate treadmill, there is no better time to start your own business and reel in some clients.
  5. Show your emotions more freely. Don’t you prefer to know how people really feel about things?  Or if you’re pissing someone off?  And doesn’t it feel good to get things off your chest, instead of letting them simmer for a long time until you blow up like a pressure-cooker?  We have no choice but to preserve/build digital relationships with people, so be more expressive, and people will know you better, and maybe they’ll be more expressive in return. 
  6. Demonstrate your true values. We can peek into each others’ homes, hear our kids screaming and dogs barking… so why not peer a bit deeper into what makes us think the way we do?  There are just too many issues conflicting our world these days, and it helps to share some of our views and beliefs – when it is appropriate.  While it’s wise to avoid politics (unless it’s plainly apparent you’re with like-minded people), it’s healthy to discuss how to manage people better, the culture in which we like to work, how to cope better with stress, how to get a better balance between work life, health and family life.  It’s also healthy to discuss how to balance diversity issues in the workplace, ensure equal opportunities for candidates when we are hiring for roles, respect our planet more, and what we can do collectively as an organization to address sustainability issues.  Because if we never share our values, we can never learn from each other, and we can never evolve with how we think and act. This also means we need to avoid public shaming of people for behaviors that some people may construe as racist or sexist. That only creates deeper divisions between people and does nothing to promote better attitudes.
  7. Make peace with people you value. It’s so easy to fall out with people these days when tensions and stress levels are running high… but it’s also just as easy to smooth things over and get relationships in a better place.  It’s also easy to reconnect with folks you’d fallen out with years ago and find new areas of common value – bury that hatchet!  The modern business culture is so relationship-driven these days, so drop the ego and cultivate relationships with people who matter. 
  8. Move on from people who don’t appreciate you. And on the flip side, those people who just use you when they need something… aren’t you just sick and tired of the take, take, take, and never getting anything back?  These people are already getting left behind, and you need to move on from them.  It’s all about valuing each other, listening to each other, sharing ideas, and mutually helping each other out.
  9. Take the higher ground. How many times do you get pulled into petty squabbles, and you suddenly realize “why am I bothering? This really isn’t important to me”.  Always take a deep breath and think about your higher goals and consider whether you need to fight every battle and distract yourself from the war you need to win?  This isn’t being “political”, it’s simply smart about how you handle yourself.
  10. Don’t forget those who got you here. One of my most important rules is never to forget the helping hands you’ve had during your quest for greatness.  People who supported you know what they did and really appreciate it when you recognize them for it. I have lost count of all the favors I have done for people over the years, but I do remember when someone mentions they appreciated it – even if it’s years later.  However, those who just “take, take, take” get struck off my list pretty fast these days – who has time for the entitled liberty-takers who want whatever they can get when they ask for it?

 Peace Out... ;) 

Posted in: Digital TransformationDigital OneOffice

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Can we get back to a world where we engage with each other again?

March 21, 2021 | Phil Fersht

Posted in: Digital TransformationSocial NetworkingSocial Media

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'I look forward to a day when a company lost business because of how they handle diversity'

March 07, 2021 | Nischala Murthy KaushikPhil Fersht

I spoke with HFS Research CEO Phil Fersht for his thoughts on gender diversity and building inclusive organizations, why we need women at the workplace, how the industry has evolved over the past decade, and ideas for the future to make significant progress for the case and cause of #womenatwork.  A one of its kind and exclusive interview in which Phil shares unfiltered reflections and intriguing insights.

Nischala: So Phil, firstly, thanks for your time to do this interview with me. As you know, the topic of #WomenAtWork is very close to my heart.

I’d like to start with a basic question - Why do you think we should have more women in the workplace?

Phil: Thanks for doing this, Nischala. Appreciate all your initiatives around women at the workplace.

Coming to your question - Firstly, I think that there’s a shortage of talent in the workplace, particularly creative talent. I work in a knowledge industry, where we need creative people - good writers, thinkers, and communicators. In many cases, women are outstanding in these areas, especially writing and communicating.

If women aren’t an active part of the workforce, I do feel that we’re missing out on a lot of talent, which is critical for business growth. I do recognize that many women disappear from the workplace when they have kids or caring for the needs of the family - and they don’t come back.  Some women come back, and a minimal number are tremendously successful, but not

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Posted in: Policy and Regulations

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OneOffice: Where data is the strategy, automation the discipline, AI the refinement

March 07, 2021 | Phil Fersht

While the last year has blown our minds with the sheer amount of change it has invoked on our professional and family lives, what is has achieved - more than anything - are these two factors:

  • No more flashy bullshit. There is no room for solutions that are confusing, designed to make people look special, but ultimately pathetic in real value and execution.  
  • Data and processes are inextricably linked. The focus on value has shifted firmly to the strategic value of data and how designing processes can help you achieve the data outcomes that create the value.

Bottom-line: We need to understand that data is the strategy and how the data cycle works to get us ahead of our markets. Here are five steps we must take:

  1. Get The Data to Win In your Market. This is where you must align your data needs to deliver on business strategy.  This is where you clarify your vision and purpose.
  2. Re-think processes to get the data, Then you must re-think what should be added, eliminated, simplified across your workflows to source this critical data.
  3. Design your new operational workflows in the cloud. There is simply no option but to have a plan to design processes in the cloud over three-tier web-architected applications.  In the Work-from-Anywhere Economy, our global talent has to come together to create our borderless, completely digital business.  This is the true environment for real digital transformation in action.
  4. Automate processes and data.  Automation is not your strategy.  It is the necessary discipline to ensure your processes provide the data - at speed - to achieve your business outcomes. Hence you have to approach all future automation in the cloud if you want your processes to run effectively end-to-end.
  5. Apply AI to data flows to anticipate at speed. Once you have successfully automated processes in the cloud, it is easy to administer AI solutions to deliver at speed in self-improving feedback loops.  This is where you apply digital assistants, computer vision, machine learning, and other techniques to refine the efficacy of your data.  AI is how we engage with our data to refine ourselves as digital organizations where we only want a single office to operate with agility to do things faster, cheaper, and more streamlined than we ever thought possible.  AI helps us predict and anticipate how to beat our competitors and delight our customers, reaching both outside and inside of our organizations to pull the data we need to make critical decisions at speed.

Posted in: Digital OneOfficeAnalytics, Big Data and BIIntelligent Automation

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RPA is alive...With Super Marios to the rescue

March 02, 2021 | Elena ChristopherPhil Fersht

We've been pushing our concept of Native Automation hard these past few weeks, where it's imperative for organizations to embed an attitude to automation workflows deep into their operations. So what better to promote this native adoption, than to get it for free from the world's juggernaut desktop software institution, Microsoft?  And does this spell trouble for the likes of UiPath and AutomationAnywhere's desire to IPO... now RPA is practically free for all?  They now have little choice but to prove their value beyond RPA.

RPA is not dead, as previously stated. Thanks to Microsoft, it’s going mainstream.

In line with day one of its annual Ignite events, Microsoft announced that it would immediately offer a free version of its Power Automate Desktop robotic process automation (RPA) application. This is available for complimentary download starting today. Additionally, it will

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Posted in: Robotic Process AutomationIntelligent AutomationArtificial Intelligence

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Welcome to Nischala-land!

February 24, 2021 | Phil Fersht

 

Many of you saw we recently hired the analyst industry's first "storyteller"... and do we have some stories to tell!  Nischala Murthy Kaushik has joined us to drive a crisp and enticing narrative for our industry during these turbulent times of change, which she will attempt to fit between her yoga and meditation sessions, and her amazing dinners with hubby Saurabh and young ladies Naisha and Tanishka. 

Nischala will curate the HFS 2025 vision and values to the industry using her substantial social media presence - she was recently named among the Top 20 LinkedIn Voices for India. In addition to working closely with our research team, she is a blogger, thinker, and provocateur in her own right including bylines in Huffington Post and The Economic Times, with a strong focus on inclusion and diversity.  So let's find out a bit more about HFS' latest acquisition...

Phil Fersht: Hi Nischala - we are extremely happy you have chosen to focus the next phase of your career with us.  But taking a step back, can you talk about your early years and why you chose a career in the IT services industry?  Was this the career you always wanted?  

Nischala Murthy Kaushik - Phil – Firstly, Thank you for being instrumental in my career shift. I look forward to working with you and the HFS team for the next phase of my career.

Time travel into the past is always a nostalgic experience. As a kid, I aspired to walk down a new career path in line with the seasons – from a genetic researcher to a doctor, to starting my own business venture (my extended family has lots of doctors, entrepreneurs, and some both!),

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Posted in: IT Outsourcing / IT ServicesOutsourcing Heros

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The 9-to-5 job is officially dead... Work-from-Anywhere becomes our new reality

February 18, 2021 | Melissa O'BrienPhil Fersht

With companies the size and stature of Aetna, Amazon, Nationwide Insurance, Microsoft, and Unilever committing to the hybrid work model well beyond Covid-19, where home working is encouraged, you know a seismic shift to the corporate work culture is firmly underway.  Simply put, most firms are enjoying the lesser reliance on expensive corporate real estate, combined with the novel environment to design and automate processes in a cloud model – because there is simply no choice but to embrace digital head-on if they are to survive.

The true benefits of digital are all about scaling your business at a speed and cost-efficiency that keeps you ahead of your customers’ needs.  It’s all been about breaking the cycle where you had to keep adding people to ensure growth – for today and tomorrow, it's about doing more business from the same (or less) resources. 

OneOffice is the mindset to put real digital transformation into action, and there has never been a burning platform like the Work-From-Anywhere (WFA) revolution to force this change

Some of the world’s largest enterprises still have up to 100% staff working from home and have managed as a remote workforce for a year now.  A recent HFS study of 400 Global 2000 enterprises reveals that barely more than a third of enterprises intend to return to an office-based corporate model:

Office-based environments will never return to pre-COVID levels: We will have a significant Work-from-Anywhere workforce

 

Click to Enlarge

It is very unlikely that most enterprises will return to full-time office work, and the ramifications are plentiful and we evolve into Work-from-Anywhere

This is a complicated puzzle to solve, especially for large enterprises with a wide breadth of business functions and roles.  This essentially leaves us with four pivotal questions to answer:

  • The 9-5 workday is dead, but what does the new workday (and workforce) actually look like?
  • How can businesses prevent burnout while ensuring productivity at the same time?
  • How can workers adapt their skillsets that will stand them in good stead in this emerging environment?
  • And how do they ensure employee satisfaction while making the right decisions for security and business stability?

The new mentality is all about measuring outcomes from getting work done, as opposed to the inputs of resourcing for work

The nature of work is fundamentally changing, and if companies manage this shift effectively, it will change the work environment for the better for ambitious enterprises.  What’s needed is a solid grasp on what the long-term pivot to a ‘work from anywhere’ means to businesses, and a plan to make the remote workforce a part of the Digital OneOffice mindset.   Ideally, these changes switch the mentality to an outcomes-focused model where all that really matters is that work gets done and customers and employees are satisfied, regardless of where either is physically located.

The why, the what, and the how of Work From Anywhere in 2021... and beyond

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Posted in: Contact Center and Omni-ChannelDigital OneOfficeGlobal Workforce and Talent

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Ready to walk the Sanjay way?

February 07, 2021 | Phil FershtSarah Little

 

It's time to make Sanjay Jalona a services household name in the IT services industry. He made the jump from leadership positions at Infy to CEO and Managing Director of LTI in 2015. When I pulled up their stock chart I had to rub my eyes - thought for a moment that I was looking at the acceleration of COVID across the globe. But no, that's the 5-year snap of LTI's stock growth. Sanjay has lead LTI through an IPO in 2016 to continued momentum in growth across capabilities today.  

The COVID landscape has created massive pivots across the industry, so I was deeply curious where he was taking risks and deep dives for the future – as he will say, the capabilities where he's "throwing the kitchen sink." And speaking of the kitchen sink, we touch on everything from leading and learning with Shoshin (a beginner’s mind) to the positive changes sweeping India. Let’s begin:

Phil Fersht, CEO and Chief Analyst, HFS Research: It’s great to see you again, Sanjay, and have you join us for an HFS conversation. This is the first time we’ve had a “live” discussion, so it’d be great to have you introduce yourself a bit to our network – a little bit about Sanjay Jalona, how you ended up running a business like LTI, and a bit about how you started out. Did you always want to do this, and was this what you dreamed of? And then we’ll talk a bit more about the industry and where things are going there.

Sanjay Jalona, CEO and Managing Director of Larsen & Toubro Infotech (LTI): It’s always a pleasure to talk to you, Phil. I grew up in a small town, up north in India – six hours’ drive from Delhi in the foothills of the Himalayas. My father worked for a pharma company all his life. I studied there in a Hindi Medium school, and then went to study computer science at BITS Pilani. After that, for the last three decades, I have been involved in nothing else but the technology business.

So, I guess I’d reckon that I would completely be useless outside this industry [laughs]

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Posted in: Cloud ComputingDigital TransformationIT Outsourcing / IT Services

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SAP acquiring Signavio is a cheap play to migrate enterprises onto S4/HANA. Instead it just handed the market to Celonis

February 01, 2021 | Phil FershtReetika Fleming

Why we think SAP acquiring Signavio is a non-event and actually frees Celonis from its SAP shackles to inspire its loyal following

The initial buzz from SAP leaders with its Signavio acquisition all points to helping its clients migrate from legacy systems onto cloud-based S4/HANA applications. While that is a worthy goal, SAP needs to embrace how to support both non-IT and IT clients with rapid process redesign, if it is to stand any chance of reclaiming former glories that are long-distant memories in today's high-octane environment. The German software giant has an IT-centric view of the world, where instead we need technology and business to come together to become fluent in understanding the data they need to be effective in their markets.  To create this data, processes need to be designed to deliver data at speed, and these need to be automated in the cloud to keep their enterprises functioning.  Once processes are flowing beautifully in the cloud, you can deploy all sorts of ML and AI tools to gather increasing amounts of intelligence to anticipate your own needs - and your customers - ahead of time.

Until a decade ago, SAP was, perhaps, the most significant brand and voice in enterprise technology.  The German software supremo was the enterprise backbone, the system of record, the “way of doing things” for the majority of the FORTUNE 1000.  Back then, Microsoft was already entering rigormortis as a decrepit office suite, SFDC wasn't much more than a fancy way of managing your contacts, while Workday was confusing everyone with “thin memory”, and Oracle was just a weird collection of tired con-fused software firms run by a guy who resembled a tech billionaire version of Donald Trump.

Since then, the SaaSy likes of Salesforce, Workday, and Coupa have long-driven a narrative that you had to run your processes in the cloud, while SAP labored to catch-up as a “Cloud player”.  Then came the digital juggernauts of Microsoft, Amazon, and Google to ratchet the world of enterprise technology into a very different place, where data is king and it doesn't matter how unstructured it is.

SAP has long-lost its enterprise appeal as the process connoisseur’s tech suite of choice

SAP is a symbol of a long-forgotten time when people’s careers were tied to it, when enterprises thought being locked-into an on-premise software suite was considered a strategically smart thing to do.  Hell, any IT bigwig worth their salt needed SAP plastered all over their resume. But those days faded away after 2010 as the cloud took over the core processes in smart enterprises.  

SAP made its long-rumored acquisition of workflow and process intelligence vendor Signavio official last week. The move has implications not only for the two merging tech companies, but also the market leader in process intelligence, Celonis, that until now, enjoyed a close and successful partnership with SAP. In addition, Celonis has cultivated many strong partnerships with the likes of Accenture, Cognizant, Genpact and IBM.  Will they gravitate towards as SAP-owned Signavio?  And will SAP’s army of customers really take this seriously enough to fight their CFOs for yet more cash to pump-prime the Waldorf machine?  The depressing answer for both SAP and Singavio is simply:  no one really cares.

Why SAP needs all the help it can get to earn credibility as a process orchestration and intelligence player

Every enterprise leader has taken a hard look at their business processes over the last year, seeking ways to streamline and automate tasks and get data on what is working and what broke in the move to remote working. What started as an exercise in somehow keeping the lights on in the pandemic economy, has started to turn into wider initiatives that will have a long-lasting impact. Many enterprises in our research have expressed that ‘there is no going back’, and post-pandemic, they will need a far smarter operating model, technology stack, and data-driven business processes. At the heart of this stack, for most companies, is a hodgepodge of various versions of aging business systems, fragmented over regions and markets, that are responsible for the majority of transactions that keep the business running.

Business leaders seeking their own glory on “digital transformation” and process efficiencies have implemented a plethora of bolt-on tools around core applications over the years, including business process modeling, workflow management, document and content management engines, and of course, robotic process automation. Process intelligence tools have been the latest addition to this mix. In particular, process mining technologies that use transactional system-log data (such as from SAP) to power their analytics and machine learning models.

Why Celonis was so good for SAP customers – and will still be for some time to come

The two principal uses of process mining tools that significantly help enterprises with their SAP estates include:

1) Helping operations leaders make the most of their current ERP  and other source systems, find process bottlenecks and inefficiencies, and redesign processes such as order-to-cash and procurement

2) Helping IT teams with systems migration, such as a move to S4/HANA, where the mining technology can be used to map and monitor as-is and to-be processes, and user adoption over time.

Just with those two points, we can see why SAP’s partnerships in this space have gotten deeper in the last few years and got to a point where SAP felt the need to directly invest in a solution of its own. Hence its acquisition of Signavio.

SAP needed to partner with the likes of process intelligence leader Celonis and UiPath (which acquired ProcessGold) to keep its technology ticking, and provide its customers more process visibility and automation. Now it has the ability to define how a fully integrated BPM, workflow, process mining, and automation capability can augment its core technology, beyond what third-party platforms and a host of SAP-specific products have been able to achieve.

Weaning any client with years of experience off of their beloved Celonis to switch to an inferior product owned by SAP is not going to happen… so good luck with that folks!

When it comes to process augmentation, SAP is lightyears behind the market.  In 2018, It made a low-budget attempt to enter the Robotic Process Automation (RPA)  market with Contextor, a small little-known France-based RPA product to augment SAP Leonardo’s intelligent technologies portfolio.  Nothing has been heard of them since, with no examples of SAP playing in the process automation space.  It’s been a bust.  So if SAP can’t make head nor tail of the most base form of process automation (RPA), why does it think it can take the market by storm acquiring a product which is ranked 13th in process intelligence software:

 

Simply-put, all the hard years the Celonis founders spent driving around Germany selling the software to SAP customers in a VW Camper (yes, I actually know this!), ensured that Celonis has firmly established itself as the process mining solution of choice, necessitating several years of investment, training and change management from its loyal clients. So why on earth would these process-obsessed customers flock to use the industry's thirteenth best solution?

Why Signavio? Its collaboration hub and process simulation capabilities couldn’t be more timely for operating in the pandemic economy

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Posted in: Robotic Process AutomationIntelligent AutomationArtificial Intelligence

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UiPath will finally find its true path as IPO beckons. Now can its leadership develop some humility to embrace this incredible opportunity?

January 24, 2021 | Phil FershtElena Christopher

Having introduced RPA to the world in 2012 I have (sometimes grimly) clung to the belief that RPA will eventually find its path to be a vital cog in the enterprise technology potpourri.  Blue Prism opted for the comfort of floating on the London stock exchange less than four years later in 2016, where its founders and key stakeholders opted for a modest payday, rather than make the really bold play of floating in the Big Apple and making themselves known as the pioneer of automation software.  The other two major robotic software candidates, Automation Anywhere and UiPath then proceeded to demonstrate their beauty to the big iron software giants, which all opted to seek out cheap acquisitions to scratch their RPA itch, with SAPAppian, Microsoft, and IBM all settling for small-scale tech additions, rather than making the multi-billion dollar investments AA (Automation Anywhere) and UiPath were demanding. 

So with only $450m actually being invested in RPA acquisitions from the tech sector, the $1 billion+ UiPath has been burning through (and a not-dissimilar amount with AA) clearly indicates IPO is the only realistic path forward 

It's easy to blame Covid on many things, such as the negative impact it has had on my performance in cleaning the kitchen, but one thing has been clear:  Covid amplified situations where enterprises were struggling or doing well.  In UiPath's case,  pre-Covid they tried to force a market situation before their market was ready... all they needed was the patience to wait for their market to open up for them and keep the robotic love story emerging among its starry-eyed clients. However, during 2020 UiPath far outstripped all its competitors because it has an employee base to upsell, and it made its solutions the easiest for services firms and consultants to implement. The efforts made to push their platform into as many clients as possible pre-Covid has paid real dividends with sales cycles severely restricted to those clients who already use your software.

Step up UiPath, your time is now

UiPath’s potential IPO has been whispered about for a couple of years now, but pre-Covid, AA was widely expected to be the first to IPO. With UIPath's stellar sales performance in 2020, the race to IPO has clearly swung towards UiPath as it has considerably outpaced both AA and Blue Prism in terms of license sales, and you just can't IPO when your sales performance is flagging.

To this end, in mid-December Bloomberg reported and UiPath eventually confirmed that it filed a draft registration statement on a confidential basis with the SEC for a proposed public offering of its Class A common stock.  While the filing may be confidential, UiPath is making sure the buzz about it is anything but.  If the likes of Microsoft, Oracle, and Salesforce are failing to see the value of acquiring the firm with a very, very effective services partnership strategy and rampant installed base, then it"s time to open up to the public where there is well over $1 trillion of funds just primed for a tasty investment in a tech firm that has captured the excitement of the Global 2000.

Ultimately, IPO is the only path forward for UiPath. It has received more than a $1B in funding and its investors would like some return. And when valuation makes you a "deca-corn" it's tough to find a buyer. Public markets to the rescue. While we’ve been VERY vocal about our view that RPA is in no way transformative, there is a ton of “now” value to be reaped from helping enterprises prop up legacy for another couple of years.  Their investors have always been very clear that the “now” value of RPA is what makes it investment-worthy. And in a pandemic, clearly more so.

All the ingredients are there for UIPath to IPO and change its mindset 

Meanwhile, UiPath continues to invest in its product functionality both organically and via M&A, driving capabilities beyond core rules-only RPA to help it better grapple with unstructured data and support process intelligence. However, HFS sees zero chance of UiPath ever realizing its vision of a robot for every human (which we affectionately refer to as a thinly veiled plan for a license for every client employee) or at least not in its current incarnation which is still predominantly unattended. Microsoft, which just completed the native integration of Winautomation from its acquisition of Softomotive is tracking much more in this direction (Clippy2 anyone?) and has a massive base of desktop users to convert.  Nor is UiPath poised to become the “new ERP” as suggested in their recent 2021 predictions – largely because RPA alone, despite the upgrades, does not possess enough functionality to be the epicenter of process and workflow orchestration that sits atop existing enterprise apps.    

As for the IPO path, UiPath has been adding customers hand-over-fist, generating massive growth figures. UiPath would be successful by every measure if they could crack the customer scale code. But that’s the challenge – they won’t. RPA has an expiration date that kicks in with legacy modernization. It doesn’t scale not because it can’t but because enterprises don’t need it to. Enterprises can keep using the same 50 bot license and get what they need year on year. 

Bottom-line: @UiPath holds the attention of the RPA industry vying to become the first public multi-billion-dollar robotics platform to float on the #NASDAQ.  Now its leadership must show maturity and embrace reality. Their time is now .

While it's easy to criticize anyone in a market that is still flying by the seat of its pants, we have to give UiPath credit for outpacing all its competitors over 2020 and finding itself in pole position to IPO as early as next month.  When you consider the only other recent tech IPO was the long-established Cloud firm Rackspace, the market will welcome the market leader in robotics software and make its investors very happy after a  frustrating three years of confusing marketing, fantastical narratives, and an incredibly poor ability to win the hearts of many influential analysts.  But you know HFS, we can dish it out, and we can also take a punch or two.  But we always err on the side of reality, and the reality here is that UiPath will succeed in being the first robotics platform to IPO.  It has become the automation platform for many of the leading service providers, and while scaling has been a real challenge, UiPath is winning that battle.  The company actually refuses to talk to me or my brilliant colleague Elena Christopher these days because its leadership couldn't stomach some hard truths we dished out to them pre-Covid (and refused to spend a few minutes digesting data on 372 enterprises).  But that's OK - if you want to control all the narrative and cannot find the humility to take a few punches when you need to take them, you only need to look at other leadership disasters to see where that attitude takes you.  Huge egos and inability to listen will see anyone fail.  Creating a narrative everyone can believe in, embracing your critics and designing a strategy we call all learn to love are the keys to success beyond IPO.

So this is a time to embrace the hard-won success of Daniel Dines and his team to see RPA finally establish itself in the "work from anywhere" enterprise tech stack.  Now let's hope they can control their egos a bit better to embrace the much more lucrative industry that awaits them.

Posted in: Robotic Process AutomationIntelligent AutomationRobotic Transformation Software

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