Monthly Archives: Sep 2017

Azeem Azhar will deliver an exponential keynote at the London FORA Council this December!

September 29, 2017 | Phil Fersht

After the unprecedented success of our inaugural Future of Operations in the Robotic Age (FORA) Council in Chicago last week, we're thrilled to announce esteemed strategist, product entrepreneur and analyst Azeem Azhar will keynote our next FORA council session in London 7th December at the Andaz Hotel. 

Azeem has spoken for TV and radio on BBC, CNN, Sky, among others, lectured at Harvard and London Business School, and writes a column for the Financial Times. Azeem has taken the stage at major tech conferences, including TechCrunch, The Europas, DLD Conference, WHU Founders Conference, At the HfS FORA Council, he'll deliver his Exponential View on the impact of artificial intelligence on global business and how our near future is shaping up as we ride this disruptive wave.  He'll also stick around to engage with the council members and co-lead our AI breakout session,

I cannot wait to unveil the full FORA agenda that spans the leading minds and stakeholders across the worlds of RPA, AI, operations services very soon... stay tuned folks, but this will be our most explosive summit yet.

Don't forget to apply for your seat, as this will fill up very fast... be there or be eliminated!


Posted in: Robotic Process AutomationCognitive



IBM, Accenture, KPMG, TCS, Deloitte, Wipro and Atos lead the 2017 Digital Tech Consulting blueprint

September 25, 2017 | Phil Fersht

We interviewed 300 digital technology decision makers across the Global 2000 to get up close and realistic about their experiences working with all the main IT consultants and services providers, when it comes to their consulting and strategy abilities (report can be accessed here).  

What's unique about the HfS approach is we don't allow any of these firms to opt-out of our report, and we also do not need to rely on the wined-and-dined reference clients for their rose-tinted views. So how did this all shake out?

Click here to Enlarge

For us, the standout performers are TCS, KPMG and Wipro, after the obvious "big two".  And this is so much more about pragmatism and focus, than big marketing and glitz.  

Let's take a closer look out the digital tech services firms which make up the 2017 HfS Winner's Circle:

IBM: IBM is all about technical skills and the ability to bring a wealth of enterprise IT experience to fix a problem - the company has thrived on huge transformations, which has proven both a bane and a boon for the firm, as the whole IT industry shifts to smaller-scale deals, more one-off projects and the demise of the multi-year billion dollar managed services contract.  Big Blue has invested in strong business consulting skills across offerings including customer experience/design thinking to help clients understand digital and drive value out of tech projects.  In addition, the arrival of former Accenture consulting head Mark Foster is having a significant impact on IBM's approach to services as the firm seeks to embrace the value of Watson and break out of legacy FTE engagements which are weighing down so many service providers. While it's been a tough couple of years dealing with these winds of change in the traditional global services sector, the firm's focus on designing and operating complex solutions is starting to bear fruit and it's recent top spot in the Digital OneOffice Premier League emphasizes its broad capabilities across the front, middle and back offices. It's big challenge now is to become the ultimate "whole is greater than the sum of the parts" partner for clients.

Accenture: Accenture scored highest in the ability to execute criteria, supported by a plethora of recent acquisitions that shore up its digital business. With digital talent and resources in abundance - the challenge now is to integrate of the likes of Karmarama, Chaotic Moon and Kuntsmaan and align these front office design areas with the firm's digital technology execution.  The landmark acquisition of Fjord has paved the way for the firm to allow its digital assets to maintain their own creative cultures and leverage the Accenture execution and consulting machine.  However, the massive new abundance of digital acquisitions (19 so far this year) could prove challenging, simply because of the sheer size and scale of the new investments.  Whichever way we look at it, Accenture is now firmly competing with advertising agencies for digital accounts, and is redefining the whole digital market place with its aggressive approach. Accenture's challenge now is to capitalize on its terrific momentum in the digital space and really bridge its newly-acquired design capabilities with its execution machine.  With projects increasing in business focus and the need for data-driven consulting, this should be Accenture's market for the taking, but ultimately the firm will need to venture beyond its comfort zone inside the Global 2000.

KPMG: KPMG’s capabilities in the traditional consulting space haven’t held it back from pushing a compelling digital narrative. The firm's digital clients are benefiting from the cross-pollination of design talent and operational prowess to address business challenges. The firm's operational prowess to integrate the back office with the customer experience has been noticeable with several major clients, and its ability to partner effectively with the likes of Microsoft and IBM are putting the firm in a surprisingly strong position as one of the most nimble of the "Big 4" to work on spot projects and larger more complex transformations - a critical component of making these digital initiatives successful. KMPG does need to work on its brand positioning in the digital market as it continues its impressive trajectory - both in terms of thought leadership and perception from CIOs.

Wipro: Investments in Designit and Appirio have created a defining set of digital capabilities for the firm - giving the firm the necessary structure and focal point to repackage the firm’s strong operational IT skills to match a client's digital transformation agenda.  While its current digital footprint is still emerging, its ability to partner with digital native pureplays and fintechs is impressive, and its digital design labs in the US and UK great hubs for driving new client work.  We view Wipro as a well-resourced, disciplined outfit which could emerge as a genuine contender in the digital race, as clients needs become more demanding and providers have to be more flexible and aggressive to take advantage. Its challenges moving forward are scaling its consultative talent and finding smart ways to bring its Holmes AI platform into meaningful client conversation.  Wipro is frequently viewed as a "safe pair of hands" for IT projects and it need to work hard to evolve this perception.

TCS: TCS has the scale and capacity to handle heavy IT and digital engagements, which makes the firm perfect for organisations with a lot on their digital to-do list. They’ve also got a great reputation for packaging their deep domain experience into usable solutions for clients. TCS simply has that ability to win any deal in the world if it really wants - its industrial and relentless approach to execution always stands the firm in good stead, and its aggressive more to analytics and automation will be crucial for digital exercises with clients mired in obsolete processes and creaking infrastructures.  Its challenges are managing its next phase of growth, with the firm famous for avoiding acquisitions in favor of organic development.  With this convergence of digital business design capabilities with IT execution, organic growth may no longer be an option as the market consolidates at unprecendeted speed and the emergence of digital pureplays threaten the traditional IT service model.

Deloitte: Deloitte has solidified its position in the digital space, driving innovative thought leadership and research into the market and using it to develop offerings. Similarly to KPMG, the firm can also bring that same “outside-in” broader market perspective to help firms contextualize new technologies and solutions within the broader market and industry trends.  It's no surprise Accenture has recruited Deloitte's head brand honcho, Amy Fuller, to take on the Accenture CMO role next year (see link) - clearly the brilliance of Deloitte's branding and thinking has impacted the industry at the highest levels. However, while Deloitte is clearly an early leader in the space, we are seeing several key competitors closing the gap, both from the traditional consulting space, as well as the outsourcing industry.  We need to see the "what's next" from the firm as competition intensifies.

Atos: Atos’ broad digital offerings include structured transformation projects – such as the Atos Digital Transformation Factory – which offers clients an accelerated journey to embracing digital.  The firm offers significant experience in some industries (mainly public sector, manufacturing and retail) and especially in Europe with a long list of successful engagements.  On the IT enablement side of digital, Atos is clearly doing well, however, adding capabilities at the design front-end would add significant capabilities if the firms wants to compete more aggressively with the market leaders.  However, outperforming the likes of Capgemini and DXC is a significant achievement for the French-led firm. Atos really need a flagship digital acquisition to take its strategy to the next level and keep it ahead of its traditional competitors.

Premium HfS Subscribers can download their copy of the  Blueprint Report,  "Digital Technology Strategy and Consultancy Services 2017" authored by Phil Fersht, OIlie O'Donohue and Jamie Snowdon, by clicking here.

Posted in: Digital Transformation



Images from FORA: Ever seen all the automation CEOs in a line up like this?

September 22, 2017 | Phil Fersht

Click here to Enlarge

Posted in: Robotic Process Automation



Images from FORA: Kate O'Neill humanizes technology

September 22, 2017 | Phil Fersht

Posted in: None



Images from FORA: A leadership panel spanning some serious brain power

September 21, 2017 | Phil Fersht

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



Who's ready to change the industry this week in Chicago?

September 18, 2017 | Phil Fersht

Posted in: IT Outsourcing / IT Services



HfS data products get a Suvradeep-dive

September 11, 2017 | Phil Fersht

As you may have seen last week, we officially unveiled our data products at HfS, where we bring together the full gamet of demand and supply side data to share everything you ever needed to know about the big change agents impacting business operations.  So who better to help support our new range of offerings that a veteran analyst with a broad knowledge across all services markets, who's developed a solid reputation with the likes of Ovum and NelsonHall: Suvradeep Bhattacharjee.  

In addition to being a true gent and an eloquent observer of the market, what also appeals is the fact he moved himself to our new HfS headquarters in Cambridge England (where his wife teaches HR practice at one of the local colleges), but he also comes from the great city of Calcutta, where you can actually visit man-eating tigers.  My 8-year-old boy is begging me to take him, so I will need some local expertise to give me the lowdown.... 

Welcome, Suvradeep - it's just terrific to be working with you at HfS!  Can you share a little about your background and why you have chosen research and strategy as your career path? 

I think, I am curious by nature. I am usually stimulated by new knowledge which is mostly

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



It's Design Thinking heaven with TandemSeven as Genpact makes its OneOffice move

September 08, 2017 | Phil FershtBarbra McGann

"You guys really should evolve your lean capabilities into Design Thinking with your clients" was my conversation with Genpact's innovation lead, Gianni Giacomelli (pictured), a year ago.  "You should also do that with your research clients" was Gianni's response.  Exactly a year later, we open our  Research ThinkTank in Cambridge England to perform said exercises with our clients, and Genpact announces the acquisition of Design Thinking specialist TandemSeven in Cambridge Massachussets. 

Why is Design Thinking becoming so relevant to the middle-back office operations?

We see the emergence of Design Thinking as critical to help enterprises collapse these barriers between their front, middle and back offices - one of the core fundaments of achieving a true OneOffice framework.  You really can't be a digital organization if your operations are not supporting the front office in realtime, being able to respond to customer needs as and when they happen:

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Design Thinking offers an approach for a diverse group of people to work together to identify

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Posted in: Design Thinking



HfS Data Products are here!

September 07, 2017 | Phil FershtJamie Snowdon

We just love data at HfS - we built this company by surveying our terrific community over the last 10 years to keep on top of all the curious things enterprises do to stay competitive and profitable.  And this year, we are literally surveying 3,000 billion dollar plus enterprises on their intentions and dynamics across the 5 critical change agents of our industry: automation, AI, analytics, blockchain, emerging digital business models, and global sourcing strategies.  

While everything we do is based on data, we've not really packaged it all up in a way for our clients to digest it and use it most effectively for themselves.  Until today.

We’ve set out our research agenda to bring reality to the research analyst world, dynamic engagement with our clients and our vision for the industry: our Analyst 2.0 model. Over the next 6 months, we will be adding more data products and enriching the existing ones, based on the wealth of information we have collected over the years:

1: Contracts Database

Launching in September 2017. As part of its ongoing research HfS has always collected and collated contract data across the different service lines it tracked. HfS Contracts Database gives subscribers access to this data, which provides up-to-date analysis of IT Services and Business Process Outsourcing contracts. This interactive tool allows users to search for specific contracts, view contract progression annually and by quarter, and view heat maps of specific deal categories by region.

2: HfS PriceIndicator™

HfS PriceIndicator™ has been part of HfS Research data tools for over 4 years now. The next 6 months we will start to include RPA and automation pricing.

HfS PriceIndicator™ is a real-time, research based price benchmarking service that provides clients an insight into current ITO and BPO pricing. Currently, PriceIndicator™ provides a biannual set of hourly FTE rate cards for ADM, F&A BPO, Insurance BPO and Healthcare Payor BPO.

3: Buyers’ Guides

HfS buyers' guides provide an independent view of individual service providers across different service capabilities. Giving a summary of the organization's strengths and weaknesses in addition to details in specific service categories.

The long-term plan will be to integrate these guides into the HfS Data website updating them whenever new financial data is available and when we publish new blueprints/vendor analysis – so they always deliver the most up-to-date content on each provider.

4: Quarterly Market Indices

HfS provides market size and forecast for the IT and business services market updated on a quarterly basis. This view of the industry provides a top-level view of service provider performance and uses this to predict market growth and performance within the main IT and business services markets.

5: Supplier Revenue Data

For the past 5 years, HfS has been tracking the IT and Business service supplier landscape collecting key financial data from the industry – creating models which are used to create our Top 25 IT services and our Top 50 BPO provider list. HfS is expanding these models to create revenue maps across key service lines, industry, and geography.

6: Direct Buyer Viewpoints

HfS regularly interviews buyers throughout the Global 2000 organizations, conducting 3,500 interviews over the course of the year. The Buyer Viewpoints opens up this data for additional analysis by industry, and across regions. So our subscribers can create their own views of the information for presentations and infographics, in addition to HfS own drive to make our data more accessible.

The bottom-line

The Analyst 2.0 model means making data more accessible, easier to digest and self-service – the analyst should not be a barrier to insight. HfS wants to enable our community with the right data to drive their own insights and their decision making – revolutionizing the way market data is used and consumed. At the same time letting our analysts do what they do best - drive thought leadership within the operations and IT services community.


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Posted in: Analytics and Big DataHfS Research Company News



Socially-paranoid media: where did it all go wrong? (Weekend rant)

September 02, 2017 | Phil Fersht

What’s really happened to social media these days? What used to be a fun place to share untethered banter, humor, intellectual conversation and debate, perhaps be a little risqué, has degenerated into a stuffy medium for puffing up corporate brand mush, and regurgitating the same old bland insight we’re having pushed at us daily. Every corporate suit is now on there, lauding how amazing their company is… praising their clients and uttering meaningless, hollow words of adulation. In fact, many of the "senior" people on there have their marketing people even do their social for them... it's not even them.

All of you know I do like to dabble a bit with Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to engage with people - both with people I like socially (Facebook) and industry contacts with whom I consider valuable to stay in regular touch (LinkedIn). I also have the luxury of being the boss, so no one can fire me ;)

Over the years, social has been terrific for communicating with people, sharing insights, opinions, research, news… it’s been fun, and it’s been personal. It keeps you connected with so many people that when you bump into folks at conferences etc., it feels like you spoke just the other day, rather than five years' ago.

But, in recent months, it’s just become so polarized and stuffy. There are people using social only to promote themselves and their companies… the personality has drained from it. I find myself spending more time removing connections than adding new ones.

Case-in-point, I dared to post some (slightly dubious) research on LinkedIn the other day with a joke about how much analysts need to be wined and dined to get the best scatterplot grid placements. I didn’t even criticize the research, I just popped up the grid with a joke on the axes about boondoggles and posh dinners. Within about three hours of posting, I received some really snotty comments from the analyst firm in question berating me for daring to poke a little fun at one of its lovely magic grids. They were pretty nasty about it too. And then I got an aggressive note from a marketing guy in one of the suppliers (which was nicely positioned in said grid), complaining about my "unprofessionalism" for poking fun at a competitor. 

So I took the offending post down – my intent was to generate some banter about the techniques suppliers use to get positioned well in these grids, not a bunch of nastiness from people who just seem so bloody paranoid these days.

To cap this all off, I then get a phone call from the boss of the marketing guy (who complained about my post) requesting me to put it back up as they were getting so much free publicity from it (20K+ eyeballs).  You just can’t win at this, can you?

So where do we go with this?

  • Hone your network to people you get value from. If you find people offensive or not adding value to you, then just remove them, rather than create a nasty discussion thread
  • Get a sense of humor: arguments can be fun. If you disagree with someone, but the conversation is useful, then voice your disagreement about the topic and have a proper discussion… don’t just criticise and disappear. Use the forum to exchange views and ideas – you never know, some good may come of it.  If we all just agreed with each other all the time, we’d never learn anything…
  • Drop the ego. These are networks where you agreed to exchange information with people, so be prepared to see things you have an opinion about. And be prepared to be criticized – that’s the whole purpose of this stuff. If you can’t handle a little professional debate, then stick to Facebook and the pictures of dogs and babies…
  • Be open to the fact that the opinions or research you put out may be flawed. We should be willing to learn from each other and accept some input, flattering or not. If you think I am smoking something, just tell me… and I’ll do the same with you. Challenging each other is the only way we learn and get better at what we do.

Posted in: Confusing Outsourcing InformationSocial Networking