Automation to impact 750,000 low skilled Indian jobs, but create 300,000 mid-high skilled jobs by 2022

February 03, 2018 | Phil FershtJamie Snowdon

A lot has changed in the last year... especially when it comes to automation: it has now become the broadly-accepted efficiency tool for cost leverage with operations.

Every customer has RPA project managers and automation leads hungry for data, advice, and ideas. Every service provider has RPA embedded into their service delivery models, and every credible advisor has a practice that is working with multiple clients to make this happen. The Armageddon days of talking about robots taking our jobs are over - these are now the reality days where we can see exactly what's going on with automation and AI, and accurately estimate how it's going to impact the services industry in the next few years.

There will be impact, but it's manageable provided we focus on new skills and value.  

In short, the global IT and BPO services industry employs 16 million workers today.  By 2022, our industry will employ 14.8 million - a likely decrease of 7.5%* in total workers (see our research methodology below).  This isn't devastating news - we'll lose this many people through natural attrition, but what this data signifies is this industry is now delivering more for less because of advantages in automation and artificial intelligence.  The new data also shows how job roles are evolving from low skilled workers conducting simple entry level, process driven tasks that require little abstract thinking or autonomy, to medium and high skilled workers undertaking more complicated tasks that require experience, expertise, abstract thinking, ability to manage machine-learning tools and autonomy.

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The low skill routine jobs are getting increasingly impacted, and our new demand data shows an acceleration in RPA tools (a 60% increase over the next year) where service providers are the largest adopters into their own service delivery organizations.  We expect to see a more rapid impact on routine job roles which is most notable in 2022 as companies take time to build the impact of RPA into service contracts and figure out how to turn work elimination into hard savings than merely soft efficiency savings.  With barely a 50% satisfaction level, this will take 4-5 years to see the real cost benefits in terms of job elimination.  Most of the short-medium term benefits are being seen in increased efficiencies and more digital process workflows.  All major service delivery locations are expected to be impacted at the low-end, but the higher the wage costs, the higher the expected role elimination (750,000 roles in India and a similar number in the US):

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Medium skilled roles are picking up across the board, especially in roles that are customer/employee facing with the need for more customized support, the ability to handle

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Posted in: Cognitive ComputingRobotic Process Automation

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No longer that great? The USA’s stagnation is spurring genuine global innovation, with data and AI at the core

January 31, 2018 | Phil Fersht

Having spent the last 15 years of my life in the US before recently returning to my British homeland to focus on the global expansion of HfS, I think I have earned the right to offer a view on how global innovation will evolve in the coming years. So let's have a real State of the Union look into global battle for economic and digital supremacy.

For decades now, Silicon Valley has driven technology innovation, US corporates dominated business innovation, and US healthcare was the paragon of high-quality patient care. Everyone looked to the US for innovation, leadership and entrepreneurship.  Hell, there was nowhere else in the world I could have founded and made HfS a success eight years’ ago… people in the UK used to sneer at new brands, ideas and anything that cut against the legacy business establishment. But Americans liked shiny new things, they embraced entrepreneurship and new ideas, and welcomed foreign talent.  The US was the world’s innovator, the world’s entrepreneur… it was the place where ambitious people aspired to flourish.  All good things happened in America – it’s where dreams were hatched and made real.

Fast-forward to present day and all this is changing before our eyes

Tech innovation is no longer confined to a politically exhausted, entitled and overpriced Silicon Valley.  Israel is becoming a leading hub for security, blockchain and AI start-ups and talent.  India’s startup scene is especially vibrant as ambitious IT talent grows frustrated with the monolithic outsourcers and seeks to join emerging tech firms and get involved with AI development environments such as Python, R, Caffe, Google TensorFlow, the Azure ML Workbench, Amazon's Sagemaker etc. In China, real cooperation between the government and its tech giants is significantly positioning the country’s advancements as an AI leader.  Meanwhile, Estonia is already putting its entire population database on a blockchain platform as part of its plans to build a digital nation, and even Dubai is declaring it will be a Blockchain city run by smart contracts by 2020.

The abhorrent cost of talent in Silicon Valley, coupled with the extremely negative politics

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Posted in: Analytics and Big DataSourcing LocationsPolicy and Regulations

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No time to get TWITCHy... but which providers are ready to bounce back?

January 27, 2018 | Phil FershtJamie SnowdonOllie O’Donoghue

Knowing full and well that predictions can bite you on the arse isn’t going to stop us making them! Particularly when the financial reports pour in from some of the biggest movers and shakers in the services industry confirm what we are thinking.

What do we know now?

Unlike the Trump-esque games of ‘I told you so’, we’re not going to pass off something everyone knows already as a prediction (and then immediately congratulate ourselves on doing such a good job at getting a prediction bang on the money).

First up, we need to talk about what we already know; most of the big providers have already posted their results and they make for interesting - and upbeat - reading.

Let’s start by taking the TWITCH providers (Tech Mahindra, Wipro, Infosys, TCS, Cognizant, and HCL). By now, all of these providers, barring Cognizant and Tech Mahindra, have submitted their financial reports for Q4 2017. This gives us a decent picture of the state of the market in general—a topic tackled in greater detail in our latest 2018 market primer—but, suffice it to say, we are starting to look at the IT services market more optimistically - for the first time in years. Our expectations that all of the major providers would report reasonable growth figures have largely been met, a sure sign of the market finally reaching the tipping point. In short, we’re leaving behind much of the turmoil-ridden restructuring of the market from traditional and legacy services to the as-a-service and digital models enterprises now consume with increasingly insatiable appetites.

TWITCH is the winner?

Even so, there are winners and losers, and the pick up in market growth is not shared equally. Wipro, for example, is bucking the trend somewhat by reporting weaker growth than its contemporaries. Similarly, TCS is pushing a more consistent growth line, but the increase of a few percentage points doesn’t quite match the considerable spike other providers are seeing.

HCL’s continued growth has come as somewhat of a surprise to us. While the firm has a strong track-record as an IT services major, there were expectations that the emergence of increased digital uptake would leave the firm struggling to mirror its rivals. Central to this thinking is the fact that the firm has acquired digital capabilities less voraciously than some of its peers, and many of the larger acquisitions, such as Volvo IT, are now mature enough that we would not expect to see them contribute enormously to revenue growth. However, HCL’s continued growth

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Posted in: IT Outsourcing / IT Services

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Has the IT services biz reached its tipping point as the Digital OneOffice emerges?

January 19, 2018 | Phil Fersht

Surely not, folks... but did the flagging IT services business finally find rock bottom... and we're now working our way back to something resembling (gasp) growth

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According to our latest market size and forecast, Q3 2017 showed real signs of genuine improvement in the services business. It is consistent with the gradual upward trend we've been monitoring over the past 8 quarters (with the exception of Q4 2016), when the market dipped due to concerns around Brexit and Trump. We've been observing an increasingly significant number of Digital OneOffice type deals, and it seems we may have finally reached an inflection point where these “OneOffice style” engagements are driving more growth than the legacy is sucking out of the market.  

How we define OneOffice IT Services

The OneOffice framework is all about collapsing the barriers between front and back office to create OneOffice with unified outcomes, centered around customer impact.  OneOffice IT supports this framework. As such, OneOffice IT Services is split into two main components – operational services and professional services:

 

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i) Managed / Operational OneOffice IT Services

The difference between traditional operational services and OneOffice operational services is the business model of the services itself and the manner in which the service is delivered. Operational OneOffice services can include both application management and IT Infrastructure focused services. OneOffice services use an evolved service delivery model that shifts the business model towards outcome realization and consumption, so would include hybrid and

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Posted in: Cloud ComputingDigital TransformationIT Outsourcing / IT Services

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RPA often starts out like a teenage romance: a lot of enthusiastic fumbling around that ends quickly, frequently leading to disappointment

January 12, 2018 | Phil Fersht

Yes, folks, that was one of the key takeaways one of the delegates pointed out at the FORA Summit in London last month, where a very mature conversation took place about the real future of operations in this lovely robotic age (download your full copy here). 

This packed-out event was attended by 120 senior executives, the majority being senior buyside enterprise clients, joined by the CEOs of the leading automation solutions vendors, practice leaders across the leading service providers and global advisors. and the HfS analyst team.  This was a chance to get beyond that deluge of wooden marketing and sales hype that is murdering our sanity… and get to the real nub of the of the issues plaguing a confused – and fumbling – industry.

Ten Big Takeaways from the Discussions

1. RPA needs to move beyond the teenage romance stage. One delegate pointed out that RPA often started out like a teenage romance – a lot of fumbling around with enthusiasm that ends quickly, often leading to disappointment. Past events have focused on the importance of change management to the process, however, our recent study of 400 automation buyers shows that a lack of clarity around the business case is the major barrier to RPA adoption (change management rears its head after all the fun and games of implementing the software):

2. RPA hype is over and it's nearing time to retire the term in favor of Digital Operations and the emerging Digital Workforce. Hype needs to move from replacement to enablement. The benefit of automation and AI are not reducing the workforce, but enabling machine to human and human to machine interaction. Helping enterprises and governments make better decisions with data. Building a more virtuous cycle with automation, decision making and data.

3. The Pace of Change Cannot Be Slowed – If You Aren’t Disrupting You Aren’t Surviving. Companies that view disruption as an opportunity and are not complacent are the most successful. Paranoia about the world ahead is your friend – driving staff to innovate and

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Posted in: Robotic Process Automation

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How the Blockchain Six-Pack is changing how we think about business transactions, storing data and new revenue models

January 06, 2018 | Phil Fersht

Our Chief Strategy officer, Saurabh Gupta has been pioneering new research and vision across distributed ledgers, blockchain and smart contracts.  In his latest POV, entitled "The Blockchain Reality Check. Where are we, and what can we expect in 2018?" Saurabh dives into what we describe as "Blockchain Six-Pack", which describes six built-in features of blockchains that manifest into a disruptive potential over the long run for enterprises, when leveraged intelligently in relevant business use-cases. Net-net, the Blockchain Six-Pack is changing the way we think about business transactions, data storage, and even industry value chains and associated revenue models:

  1. Distributed shared data over Peer-to-Peer (P2P) network reduces single points of failiure. The most fundamental difference between DLT and the way we store data today, is that Distributed Ledgers do not have a central administrator. A distributed ledger is replicated, shared, and synchronized digital data geographically spread across multiple sites, countries, or institutions. This allows information to be available across the network in a fully transparent and autonomous way, reducing single points of failure and enabling far better collaboration.
  2. Consensus-driven trust cuts out the middle-man. In blockchains, there is no need to trust the middle-man as you don’t have one. Trust is driven by consensus algorithms such as proof-of-work (PoW) or Proof-of-Stake (PoS) or some variation of these. As a result, we don’t need to worry about unreliable, inaccurate, dishonest or overpriced intermediaries.
  3. Immutable transactions ensure trust. Each block in a blockchain contains a timestamp and a link to a previous block. By definition, blockchains are inherently resistant to modification of the data. Once recorded, the data in any given block cannot be altered retroactively without the alteration of all subsequent blocks and a collusion of the network majority creating a single source of truth.
  4. Hashing-based data ensures integrity and security. All records are individually encrypted. Blockchains use cryptographic hash codes to verify data that drives up integrity and creates strong resilience to cyber-security concerns
  5. Automated smart contracts promote touchless interactions across process chains. Several blockchains also offer ‘Smart Contract’ functionality. These are computer protocols that facilitate, verify, or enforce the negotiation or performance of a contract, or that obviate the need for a contractual clause. This allows contracts to auto-execute based on pre-set conditions or triggers and allows for much higher levels of straight-through It can even allow the millions of IoT devices to work autonomously
  6. Permissioned and permission-less flavors give enterprise users flexibility. Much like public and private clouds, blockchains can be private (permissioned), public (permission-less), or somewhere in between (hybrid). These flavors give enterprises the flexibility to choose their solution based on their needs and preferences. Permissioned blockchains enhance privacy and take less computational power (so have higher throughput) but lack the Utopian trust that permissionless blockchains, such as Bitcoin, can bring.

Blockchain’s inherent features give it the potential to drive new touchless business models and disrupt existing ones by removing the need for intermediaries in the long-run.  This results in significant increases in the speed, security and reliability of executive processes, transactions and interactions on both micro and macro scales.  The potential is enormous, provided blockchains are adopted, sensibly regulated and executed effectively. However, HfS expects a five to seven-year horizon for blockchain to delivery fully, given the nascency of the technology and associated challenges.  In addition, media hype and fake news, in addition to negative activity from threatened legacy stakeholders and other economic impacts, could impede adoption.

What can we expect from blockchain in 2018?

In the near term, we do expect blockchain initiatives to drive significant business impact and create a frenzy of excitement as ambitious businesses jump on the potential of new technology developments like never before. Use-cases around traceability through provenance and asset tracking, digitization of contracts leading to faster settlements, management of private data and digital identity will drive significant efficiency and effectiveness gains in existing business models. Blockchain can also become a source of competitive differentiation in the medium term by re-imagining IT infrastructure that is shared and decentralized, re-defining transaction management that is transparent and immutable and driving additional trust in multi-party collaboration. 

We might not see the true disruptive potential of blockchains over the next 12-18 months, but we will see it become much more than a conversation topic with several use-cases that are generating tremendous business value for its constituents. And let’s not discount the levels of hype that tend to drive our industry in new directions, especially when the tech works.  While digital, AI and automation have been the flavors of 2017, blockchain is gearing up to lead the hype in 2018, as enterprise leaders search for new levels of value that have genuine, proven business applications.  

So don’t sit back and assume that the world is not changing, because very soon this funnel is going to flip. Go ahead and investigate blockchain!  

HfS subscribers can click here to download our new POV: "The Blockchain Reality Check. Where are we, and what can we expect in 2018?"

Posted in: Security and Risk Mgmt.

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Ready to Learn to Change in New York this March?

January 04, 2018 | Phil Fersht

Dear Friends - it's time to push the biggest events button in 2018!

Oh yes... we're excited to trigger the first nuclear tranche of speakers for the Future of Operations in the Robotic Age (FORA) Summit in New York, March 7-8.  The summit will span the entire two days with the theme "Learning to Change" rocketing the conversation.

The tech is here and is being proven, but are we really, truly ready to disrupt our underlying corporate DNA to exploit it to its full potential? Can we really change how we operate, think, collaborate and focus to embrace the new wave of data-driven transformation that is engulfing us? In true ballistic HfS style, we are bringing together some of the finest minds from enterprise buyers, academia, technology and BPM services to share how change can be realized - and how to venture outside of our comfort zone to get there. As always, this is a non-salesy sharing of best practices and research between the key industry stakeholders.  No cardboard cutouts, plastic booths or dodgy salesmen... honest!  

Do apply here to save your seat ...space is limited and filling up fast.  Let's push some great big buttons, people...

Apply here to save your seat 

Posted in: Analytics and Big DataBusiness Process Outsourcing (BPO)Buyers' Sourcing Best Practices

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2018: Why the full-time job will never be so precious, as the gig economy crumbles and judgment work is digitized

January 01, 2018 | Phil Fersht

The new “rules” of the workplace are being defined as computers are frantically being programmed to take the lead in the workplace, when it comes to judgment and intuition. We humans need to be the idea generators, the motivators, the negotiators, and the trouble-shooters to fix computer errors, if we want to govern our emerging digital environments. In short, we need to get closer to our firms, be more tightly integrated and intimate with work performance than ever before… which means the role and tenure of the much-derided middle-manager in the Dilbert Cartoons could be taking on a whole new potential twist - and a whole new (potential) level of relevance.

I would go as far as declaring 2018 as a new beginning of the value of the full-time employee – where alignment with the mission, spirit, culture, energy and context of an organization has never been so important.  We are seeing the value of contract work diminish as so much “outsource-able” work is so much easier to automate and global labor drives down the cost of getting things done quickly and easily.  Business success is more about investing in the core than ever - and that core includes the people who are the true pieces of human middleware to hold everything together.

The onus is circling back to the value of being a full-time employee, who needs to value the fruits of having a predictable income and adapt to the changing balance of how humans need to work with computers.

Remember when the rise of the gig worker was supposed to revamp how so many of us worked, as we escaped the shackles of the “evil employer”?

Almost two decades ago, the internet was creating the independent worker, as exemplified in Dan Pink’s timeless bookFree Agent Nation: How America’s New Independent Workers are Transforming the Way We Live” became the seminal guide for what is now known as the “gig worker”.

Furthermore, unless recent research from McKinsey of 8000 workers can now be categorized as fake news, 162 million people in Europe and the United States—or 20 to 30 percent of the working-age population—engage in some form of independent work today. And a recent study from freelance site Upwork (which undoubtedly wants to hype the impact of gig world) cranks up the numbers even further, claiming that a staggering 50% of US millennials are already freelancing, before declaring the freelance sector will comprise the majority of the US workforce within a decade.  Wow.

So are the days of being gainfully employed really disintegrating before our very eyes?  Or is the gig hype beginning to atrophy for many people?

The gig economy is becoming a tough place to craft a living if many of the new reports are to be believed.  And it’s not just about driving Ubers, delivering food orders and contracting for logistics firms – i.e., working for businesses that exploit the gig economy to drive down labor costs and improve services.  It’s the freelance gig economy where people forge a living writing code, supporting content development, delivering consulting work on-demand etc.  Even that lovely Upwork research admits: “While finances are a challenge for all, freelancers experience a unique concern — income predictability. The study found that, with the ebbs and flows of freelancing, full-time freelancers dip into savings more often (63 percent at least once per month versus 20 percent of full-time non-freelancers)”.  So even if the most biased of sources admits most gig workers can’t cover their living costs, we can conclude that those “Free Agents”, which McKinsey describes as the gig worker sector using gig work as its primary income, are not in a sustainable earning situation.

Today, it’s a buyer’s market for gig work

You only need to spend a little time on LinkedIn to observe just how many people are now marketing their wares as solo free agents, or as part of a company bearing their name.  It’s abundantly clear that so many people have decided to set themselves up as independents, that the market for gig talent is saturated and it’s become a “buyers’ market” for gig work.  Whether I want to commission a crack consultant to validate some RPA software, hire an analyst to endorse my product, commission a writer to produce a white-label assessment of an emerging market, produce a go-to-market strategy for my business, redesign my website, my logo, or just have someone support my business on a part-time basis… today, I am spoiled for choice.  I barely need to hire fulltime employees these days, unless they are truly core to keeping my business ticking along – and I can create real competition to get the work done for much lower costs than a few short years ago.

On top of the risks of commoditizing gig work, we have to contend with the impact of automation and Machine Learning to stay relevant and worthy of earning a paycheck

We’re not in a world rejecting human work, but a world where work is rapidly changing – and the skills of the dynamic middle manager has never been so important. In short, the increasing availability of computing power to crunch massive amounts of data, coupled with advancing tools to tag and label data and workflow clusters with breakthrough programming in languages such as Python for syntax and R for data visualization, are the game-changers that will increasingly impact how we get work done, as we develop continually smarter algorithms to keep teaching computers to do the work of the human brain.

What's more, the rapid development of Machine Learning (ML) environments such as Google's TensorFlow, the Microsoft's Azure Machine Learning Workbench, Amazon's Sagemaker, Caffe and Alibaba’s Aliyun are becoming the new environments driving armies of coders and developers to align themselves with ML value - desperate to stay relevant (and well paid) against the headwinds of commoditization of legacy coding and app development.

As ML takes over judgment and (eventually) intuition, the human-value onus moves to interaction, agenda-setting, problem defining and idea generation

In short, the disruptive ML techniques are teaching computers to do what comes naturally to humans: to learn by example. Today’s emerging ML tools use massive amounts of data and computing power to simulate neural networks that imitate the human brain’s connectivity, classifying data sets and finding patterns and correlations between them.

Net-net, pattern-matching jobs are increasingly being affected by ML – vocations such as radiologists, pathologists, financial advisors, lawyers, procurement executives, accountants etc. are all being challenged as judgment work is (gradually) being replaced by smart algorithms.  However, as elements of these types of jobs are being affected, other job elements become even more important, namely interacting with other humans, creating, setting the agenda, defining and finding the problems to go after.  They motivate, they persuade, they negotiate, they coordinate. They are the dynamic conduits of driving information and ideas in an organization and will be increasingly in the driving seat as Machine Learning advancements increasingly take hold.  The digital middle manager who can bring a team together and lead people in the right direction does not exist and likely never will…. I’d be amazed if we saw one emerge soon.

Fulltime employment is now becoming a premium situation

Having predictability of income, healthcare costs covered, guaranteed paid vacation time - and a constant supply of work to do - is fast becoming the dream scenario for the disgruntled gig worker.  So here’s a thought – go get a JOB.  Or if you’re in a job and wanted to try the gig work thing… spare a thought for what your ideal situation looks like, because last time I looked, most firms are doing everything they can to avoid hiring well-paid staff… especially if they can get the work done much cheaper from desperate gig workers.

The Bottom-Line: Five steps to keeping your job:

i) Become the conduit of ideas and information that is irreplaceable right across your organization. So we’ve now come full circle, where the value of having people really close to the business is becoming more important than ever, as computers perform more and more of the routine and judgement based tasks. To the point, the value of the full-time employee goes both ways: companies need people who really understand their institutional processes, their quirks and ways of getting things done… who are onhand to troubleshoot mistakes, but also there to keep the ideas flowing to keep the business ahead of its competition and close to its customers.  “Human middleware” is becomimg the real OneOffice glue to break down those siloes and help govern a slick business operation from front to back office.

ii) Develop a positive attitude by finding aspects of your job you do like.  Your full time job is likely the best gig-work you will probably ever get, so even if you hate your boss and most of your colleagues, ask yourself if you’d prefer scrapping around for the boring work other companies prefer to outsource.  Focus on the interesting stuff you can do and keep reminding yourself that the grass is rarely greener elsewhere.  Unless you are a whizz at Python development, the chances are your job-hopping days are numbered and you need to figure out how to stay put and make it better for yourself.

iii) Motivate yourself and become a real motivator.  Being motivated - and helping to motivate others - is probably the least computerizable trait of all.  If you aren’t motivated, you are placing yourself at risk when your leadership assess which of their team then want to take them forward into the future.  If you really can’t get yourself excited about what you do, or your company just demotivates you in such a way you can’t dig yourself out of your rut, then you may need to take that Python course and brush up your resume…

iv) Let the computers take the lead and become the controller to fix mistakes double checking, intervening when the computers do something dumb.    Humans and computers make different kinds of mistakes, so we really need to bring humans and computers together intelligently to cancel out each other’s mistakes. Fighting automation and ML is a lost cause, especially when your firm is completely bought in to the concept and it rolling out bots and working on developing smart algorithms.  Just let these things take the lead and them figure out how to make them functional and monitor their errors, ad computers will always keep making them.  You can’t fight innovation, but you can nurture it, manage it and troubleshoot it.  

v) Find your pareto balance and stop whining. Nothing in life including your current or prospective employer will be perfect. Focus on the 80% that is right, versus making yourself (and others around you) miserable by the other 20%. There is rarely a perfect fit where workers only get to focus 100% on all the things they love to do… there has to be this 80/20 compromise, or you will be forever hopping around trying to find a workplace nirvana that doesn’t exist.  And it today’s social world your reputation follows you around like never before… and employers are steering clear of the whiners at all costs.

Posted in: Design ThinkingDigital TransformationHR Strategy

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Happy 2018 all! Remember never to give up trying folks...

December 31, 2017 | Phil Fersht

Posted in: Absolutely Meaningless Comedy

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Wishful dreams for 2018: fixing our societies, our politics and our taxes

December 23, 2017 | Phil Fersht

 

With our governments going broke and looking to go even broker, here is my simple wish-list to fix our endemic societal issues, and recoup some much needed tax income, so we can start dreaming about things like improving disastrous education and health services…

Trump is gone ...and a new political party emerges in the US that isn’t controlled by greedy corporations and corruptible misogynist dinosaurs. The American voters go back to voting on policies, not stereotypes and hatred.  Wouldn’t that just be so awesome? Is it illegal to dream these days?

Britain finally gives up on Brexit, realizing that changing the color of passports from red to blue doesn’t make up for trashing the country’s economic future and hurtling it back into the 1970s.  Please can we all just admit there is not one single good thing about Brexit for any living being, so we can just consign the whole thing to the time-capsule of bad ideas, along with communism, dodgeball and the George Foreman grill. Bad ideas are OK, as long as we admit later they were bad ideas…

Political leaders finally realize that smartphone addiction is the worst disease to affect society since cigarettes and booze. In fact, it’s worse – they could fund entire health, military and education programs taxing booze and ciggies, but with smartphones, all the money is now getting sucked offshore somewhere, and into Mark Zuckerberg’s and Jeff Bezo’s bank accounts.

Re-open pubs and bad discos. Back in the pre-smartphone era, our social world was centered on bad pubs and even worse dance floors. Yes, we had to get drunk and make idiots out of ourselves to meet people and get married… now it’s just swipe left or right, a few photos and you’re all done.  Where did all the “fun” go?  Can’t governments declare what’s left of our pubs as places of national heritage and conserve what we have left of life before Instagram?  Is the joy of youth consigned to sharing bad selfies and playing online video games alone in their bedrooms?

Tax gym memberships.  What was wrong with a few extra pounds and a beer gut?  Now, if you don’t have a perfect six-pack on your chest, rather than in your fridge, you’re not exacty making friends like you used to… where did all the fun go?  Not sure about you, but I don’t have much energy left for socializing after 45 mins on the treadmill and benchpressing 130lbs, so I might as well donate the $20 I should be spending on booze to the government to fund the reopening of classic pubs.

Tax anyone trying to buy Bitcoin.  Just because.

Tax vendors double for sponsoring every ropy conference under the sun. They’re wasting their money in any case, so why not make them do something useful with it?

Place income tax on robots. This will end the inane conversation about “digital” labor, as everyone goes out of their way to call it something else, like workflow efficiency… which is what it really always was, right?

Tax vendors for using the term “digital” in their marketing.  Why not make some use out of a meaningless overused term…

Tax #fakenews.  Forget the detritus of Obamacare, this will fund a whole new health system, right? 

Tax bloggers for writing opinionated blogs, because they think they can.  Make them realize there’s no such thing as free opinion these days…

The Bottom-line: As we near the end of a ridiculous year, we can all dream, can't we?  

Happy holidays all =)

Posted in: Absolutely Meaningless Comedy

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Save the Date: New York, March 7-8 for the flagship FORA Summit "Learning to Change"

December 22, 2017 | Phil Fersht

Dear Friends,

On behalf of the HfS analyst team and global community, I am delighted to announce our flagship FORA summit taking place this coming March 7th and 8th at Convene, Times Square, Manhattan, New York City. 

This will span the entire two days with the theme "Learning to Change" dominating the conversation.  The tech is here and is being proven, but are we really, truly ready to disrupt our underlying corporate DNA to exploit it to its full potential? Can we really change how we operate, think, collaborate and focus to embrace the new wave of data-driven transformation that is engulfing us?

Key Topics up for Debate:

Intelligent Automation in Practice (not theory); Blockchain demystified; Emerging Sourcing Models and the Digital OneOffice; The Emergence of the Chief Data Officer; Making Change Management actually work.

Key Speakers and Panelists:

  • Tim Leberecht (Author of the Business Romantic); Tony Saldanha (VP, IT and GBS P&G); Phil Fersht (CEO, HfS Research);  Mike Salvino (Pioneer behind Accenture Operations and a key investment partner for Carrick Capital); Larry Carin, Professor of Computer Engineering, Duke University (More to follow.... 
  • CEOs of the leading Intelligent Automation software firms and IT/BPM service providers
  • Key enterprise leaders managing data, automation, global business services and operations initiatives
  • HfS analysts spanning emerging technologies, industries and sourcing solutions.

Why FORA is Special:

The worlds of software providers, business operations leaders, and services providers have always been chasms apart – different mindsets, vernaculars, conversations, ideas of what constitutes value – and vastly different cultures. At FORA, we are bringing together these diverse groups of people to rethink completely how we run global operations in this robotically digital era, to debate the challenges and opportunities posed by automation, AI, analytics, blockchain, global talent on our business operations and our careers.

If you have further questions regarding FORA, how you can attend, sponsor, speak, or just make suggestions, please drop us a note at [email protected]

I hope to see many of you in NYC,

Cheers!

Posted in: Analytics and Big DataBusiness Process Outsourcing (BPO)IT Outsourcing / IT Services

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2018: The year enterprise robotics software and services will reach $1.5 Bn

December 16, 2017 | Phil Fersht

When the statement "It's just like BPR from twenty years ago, but with tech that actually works" rang out at the recent London FORA Summit, the nods around the room were palpable. 

2017 has undoubtedly been the break-out year for enterprise robotics software. We witnessed a whole new industry emerge around robotic technologies that can stitch together workflows, processes, applications and desktop interfaces to provide a genuine transformation of the digital underbelly for so many enterprises, many of whom have suffered for decades from inefficient manual workarounds and spaghetti code clogging up their ability to access data and run their businesses properly. Today, the emerging solutions available on the market do not load the enterprise transformation blunderbuss with silver bullets, but they do provide a starting point to improve fundamentally the data underbelly of an organization. And, for so many organizations, they are turning to robotics software RPA (Robotic Process Automation) and RDA (Robotic Desktop Automation) as the starting point.

Robotic Process Automation

The global market for RPA Software and Services will reach $898 million in 2018 and is expected to grow to $2.2 billion by 2021 at a compound annual growth rate of 54%. 

RPA Definition: 

Example use-case: automating invoice processing across multiple business applications handling rule-based exceptions. RPA is different from traditional automation software as it is inherently capable of recognizing and adapting to deviations in data or exceptions when confronted by large volumes of data. In effect, it can be intelligently trained to analyze large amounts of data from software processes and translate them to triggers for new actions, responses, and communication with other systems. RPA describes a software development toolkit that allows non-engineers to quickly create software robots (known commonly as "bots") to automate rules-driven business processes. At the core, an RPA system imitates human interventions that interact with internal IT systems. It is a non-invasive application that requires minimum integration with the existing IT setup; delivering productivity by replacing human effort to complete the task. Any company which has labor-intensive processes, where people are performing high-volume, highly transactional process functions, will boost their capabilities and save money and time with robotic process automation.  Much fr RPA is self-triggered (bots pass tasks to humans), but requires human intervention for judgment-intensive tasks and robust human governance and to make changes / improvements.

Similarly, RPA offers enough advantage to companies which operate with very few people or shortage of labor. Both situations offer a welcome opportunity to save on cost as well as streamline the resource allocation by deploying automation. The direct services market includes implementation and consulting services focused on building RPA capabilities within an organization. It does not include wider operational services like BPO, which may include RPA becoming increasingly embedded in its delivery.

Robotic Desktop Automation

In addition to RPA, the other software toolset which comprises the emergence of enterprise robotics software is termed RDA (Robotic Desktop Automation).  Together with RPA, RDA will help drive the market for enterprise robotic software towards $1.5bn in software and services expenditure in 2018 (with close to three-quarters tied to the services element of strategy, design, transformation and implementation of enterprise robotics).  HfS' new estimates are for the total enterprise robotics software and services market to surpass $3 billion by 2021 as a compound growth rate of 39%.

RDA Definition:

Example use-case: automating transfer of data from one system to another. RDA is essentially surface automation, where desktop screens (whether desktop-based, web-based, cloud-based) are "scraped", scripted and re-programmed to create the automation of data across systems.  A well-designed RDA solution can automate workflows on several levels, specifically: application layer; storage layer; OS layer and network layer. Workflow automation on these layers requires equally specific technologies but provides advantages of efficiency, reliability, performance and responsiveness. Much of this automation needs to be attended by humans as the automation is triggered by humans

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Posted in: Digital OneOfficeRobotic Process Automation

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The #Digital OneOffice Framework: Bringing it all together in OneOffice™ with Five Fundamentals

December 14, 2017 | Phil Fersht

What we love about the Digital OneOffice is the simple fact it not only defines "digital", but it also provides a meaningful framework, comprising of five fundamentals, that must come together to create a real-time flow of data across customers, partners and employees:

Click to Enlarge

Fundamental 1) - Fostering genuine Digital Customer, Partner and Employee Engagement

A genuine “digital” organization has the ability to take all the cool social, mobile and interactive tech we use in our personal lives and create that experience for all the people in its environment - its employees, customers, and partners – and empower them to interact with each other seamlessly, and in real-time.

The outcome is all about creating, supporting and sustaining an immersive customer experience, where all touchpoints across an organization are tied to serving the customer as effortlessly and seamlessly as possible (and often not necessitating any actual human to human interaction). These “immersive” customer experiences are about leveraging these omnichannels (typically mobile, social, interactive technologies) and creating meaningful analytics from these converged datasets that make this real-time digital experience happen for the organization and its customers, its employees and its partners, right up and down the supply chain. The OneOffice organization needs a support function to service those customers, get its products/services to market when they want them, manage the financial metrics, understand their needs and future demands and make sure it has the talent which truly understands how to meet the desired outcomes of their work.

Fundamental 2) - Embedding Design Thinking Techniques to achieve Continuous Digital Outcomes

Design Thinking offers an approach for a diverse group of people to work together to identify and articulate a common problem, brainstorm ideas for addressing it, quickly prototype/wireframe/storyboard and test it, and continue to iterate on the idea as it takes shape into a proposed solution. A Design Thinking led approach to designing a Digital OneOffice framework moves the focus of the operations executive and service provider partner away from the process itself, and the internal, “what’s wrong inside of what we do” to “what do we actually want to achieve” (the business outcome), and what do we want people to feel and do naturally that will lead to further engagement and new—and different—results. 

At HfS, we are finding that Design Thinking is actually changing the way many clients and service providers work, that there is a real complement between designers, consultants, engineers, and service delivery as organizations seek to bring the front, middle and back offices closer together to achieve common outcomes. Moreover, it’s vital that Design Thinking is firmly embedded as the method for ongoing engagement across all organizational stakeholders, as outcomes constantly evolve as markets evolve and business needs change.

Fundamental 3) - Building a Scaleable Digital Underbelly that Automates, Digitizes, Cloudifies and Secures

Every siloed dataset restricts the analytics insight that makes process owners strategic contributors to the business. You can’t create value or transform a business operation without converged, real-time data. Digitally-driven organizations must create a Digital Underbelly to support the front office by automating manual processes, digitizing manual documents to create converged datasets, and embraces the cloud in a way that enables genuine scalability and security for a digital organization. Organizations simply cannot be effective with a digital strategy without automating processes intelligently - forget all the hype around robotics and jobs going away, this is about making processes run digitally so smart organizations can grow their digital businesses and create new work and opportunities. This is akin to a “central nervous system” that incepts and processes all the elements necessary to make the organization function. 

Fundamental 4) - Achieving an Intelligent Digital Support Function without Hierarchies and Silos

Enterprises need their support functions such as IT, finance, HR and supply chain, aligned with supporting the customer experience, as opposed to operating in a “vacuum”. We are terming this ”Intelligent Digital Support,” where broader roles are created and human performance is aligned with the achievement of common business outcomes. With the Digital OneOffice, the focus needs to shift towards creating a work culture where individuals are encouraged to spend more time interpreting data, understanding the needs of the front end of the business and ensuring the support functions keep pace with the front office. This is especially the case in industries that are more dependent than ever on real-time data, using multiple channels to reach their customers and being able to think out-of-the-box to get ahead of disruptive business models.

Progressive OneOffice enterprises prefer flat structures, where staff naturally collaborate in autonomous, cross-functional teams motivated by shared outcomes. They look towards much more dynamic management, where managers and staff constantly interact to fine-tune performance against evolving outcomes and manage diverse workforces across global cultures.

Fundamental 5) - Establishing Intelligent, Cognitive Processes that Promote Predictive Decision Making

The Digital OneOffice is not about collecting and archiving historical data simply to discover what went wrong, it's about being able to predict when things will go wrong and devising smart strategies to get ahead of them. The Digital OneOffice is about embedding smart cognitive applications into process chains and workflows, it’s about learning from mistakes and new experiences along the way. This is the “organization neural system”. Cognitive technologies, advanced analytics and automation help create the capability necessary to operate in digital environments by automating and extracting the data needed real-time to respond to markets, support critical decisions and stay ahead of the game.

The Bottom Line: The secret sauce of the Digital OneOffice is the sum of the Five Fundamentals as one integrated experience, not merely the quality of individual fundamentals themselves

When we conducted the Digital OneOffice Premier League earlier this year, we focused on the ability of service providers to deliver each fundamental, and the winners were those who scored highest as an aggregate across the five. When we re-run this in the future, the Digital OneOffice framework should be mature enough to evaluate outcomes based on the ability of providers and their clients to create the most effective real-time digital experience, by managing the five fundamentals as one integrated organization unit, where teams function autonomously across front, middle and back office functions and processes to promote real-time data flows and rapid decision making, based on meeting defined outcomes.

And front, middle and back offices will cease to exist, as they will be, simply, OneOffice.

Posted in: Digital OneOffice

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The HfS London FORA Summit.... we could have packed this out three times over!

December 13, 2017 | Phil Fersht

Thanks to all of you for supporting the HfS London FORA summit last week... and a terrific day's debate =)

Posted in: Outsourcing Events

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What $1000 invested in these firms ten years ago would be worth today

December 10, 2017 | Phil Fersht

As a wise man once said: “It has been a mistake living my life in the past. One cannot ride a horse backwards and still hold its reins.”  Well, if you'd listened to this horse, you may have turned a pretty profit =)

Kudos to HfS analyst Martin Gabriel for a very interesting analysis of how rich (or poor) we just could have been: 

Click to Enlarge

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

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Images from HfS FORA... An Exponential view on AI from Azeem Azhar

December 07, 2017 | Phil Fersht

Have we already passed the singularity?

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Images from FORA... a power panel packing a power punch

December 07, 2017 | Phil Fersht

Terrific discussion from the FORA leadership panel featuring (from left to right) Mihir Shukla, Automation Anywhere; Dawn Tiura, SIG; Jesus Mantas, IBM; Cliff Justice, KPMG; Leslie Willcocks, London School of Economics; Mohit Joshi, Infosys and Ahmed Mazhari, Genpact.

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Infosys repeats history, but this time goes for a services man in Salil Parekh

December 03, 2017 | Phil Fersht

Over three years ago, the Infosys board made the brave decision to look outside of its organization to bring in an "outsider" to transform its business and ready itself for whatever wave of disruption was coming to challenge a services model that still makes ~20% profit margins and grows ~5% a year.   Yes, they appointed Vishal Sikka, and we all know about the ensuing soap opera that followed...

The decision to look outside was made in 2014, and that hasn't changed

Hindsight is a terrific practice to follow, if all you really like to do is chew on historical occurrences to learn for the future. However, in the case of Infosys, the only real lesson to be learned from the whole Vishal saga is the firm needs a leader who understands how to grow, divest, acquire and lead a technology services and consulting business.  Vishal provided the dreams, the style, technical prowess and the cultural impact... what he failed to deliver was being able to apply these skills effectively to a traditional services business. 

Vishal was a software guy and that is the world he lived in - building very expensive platforms and hiring very expensive Californian executives to run them. Having said all that, Vishal did drive a huge amount of change, and most of it was positive - the only major negative was the fact he departed the firm, and everything he contributed left the firm in a state of paralysis.  The only saving grace for Infy has been the confused state of the services industry in 2017, where most of Infy's competitors have been too busy chugging down the Digital Kool-Aid trying to come across as a facade of flashy vernacular, rather than staying true to the secret sauce that

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Posted in: Analytics and Big DataBusiness Process Outsourcing (BPO)

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Ten predictions for 2018 that will all come true!

November 30, 2017 | Phil Fersht

Here are ten big predictions for 2018.  And they will all come true (apparently):

1.…The Digital Operations Industry has Emerged

2.…There is only OneOffice that really matters

3.…Enterprise Automation and AI will reach $10 billion

4.…Enterprise Blockchain Services will surpass $1 billion

5.…We'll see many new “Big impact” deal announcements, but mechanics and metrics will be vague

6.…The power of AND to solve business problems

7.…The rise of change management for digital labor

8.…The war for creative talent

9.…Traditional outsourcing makes way for ‘True Partnerships’

10.…The realization that there is no time for digital complacency

 

View the recording and download the slides (HfS subscribers) here

Posted in: Analytics and Big Data

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For goodness' sake, it's Jim Eastlake!

November 30, 2017 | Phil Fersht

Ever wondered how you can get your coffee maker to turn on the airconditioning, while your robotic dog pressure-cleans your car... all with a couple of clicks on your iPhone?  Well, here is the man to give you the lowdown on all embedded intelligence across all connected devices, the man who practically invented the term "IoT" for Gartner during a distinguished career with the Borg, before joining the HfS rebel forces as VP, IoT Technology and Services Research.... Jim Eastlake:

Jim - 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? 

Hi Phil. I think that I can sum that up in one phrase….. 'The Big Picture'.  I began my career at Texas Instruments in 1981. It was a good place to learn the semiconductor business, but TI was very introverted in those days. So, after 6-7 years I decided to join Dataquest, THE preeminent chip research firm. It would only be for a couple of years, then I’d join another semis company. Little did I know that I would become hooked. I loved the opportunity to talk to senior management and strategists from across the industry (Gordon Moore, Charlie Sporck and Jerry Sanders amongst them), focus on the big issues…… and try to figure out what was going on. I’d then formulate my thoughts in research reports that I hoped would educate and inform, and, amazingly, I got good feedback.   

Why did you choose to join HfS... and why now?

The world has changed just a bit since then! We now stand on the cusp of the next industrial age, Industry 4.0 and all that. It is the Professional Services firms that are performing THE vital task of stitching hardware, software and services together. They enable a myriad of “digitalization” projects that deliver huge benefits to society. So, what better place to continue my lifelong exploration of the big picture than at HfS.   

Where is the industry right now, Jim? Are things really that different than five years ago when you started covering IoT?

We’re following a classic saturation curve Phil, and it’s very early days. Things change fast. The industry takes big strides forward all the time. In the past five years, much has changed: platform architectures, security, edge computing, contact T&C’s, formation of industry standards - just everything.

So what can we expect to see from you at HfS... can you give us a little snippet of what you're going to be working on?

Most certainly Phil…… 

After two weeks with the company, I’m deeply into my first IoT Blueprint, scheduled for February publication. We’ve had a wonderful response from participants, so it will be an insightful report. However, feedback from our clients is also focusing my research thoughts on some meaty topics for 2018:

  • What are the top obstacles to IoT adoption, and how can Service Providers help overcome them?
  • What IoT platforms are winning out, and why? And, is there a trend to using “standard” platforms as opposed to a Service Providers’ proprietary offering?
  • What reasoning lies behind the Edge vs Cloud computing decision in a project?
  • Why do customers choose different Providers for different projects?
  • What comprises a true end-to-end IoT solution?
  • What proven business benefits of IoT are emerging in each of the industry Verticals?

And finally, is the analyst industry as exciting as it was 10 years' ago?  

Immeasurably more so, I’d say. Simply because of Digitalization. Change has always represented an exciting time for the industry observers, there’s not been a time like this during my, nearly 40-year, career in the industry. Everything from semiconductors to Services is involved in enabling change that is Societal in scale. Also, on a practical matter, it is now so easy to communicate with clients and to get research to them. Social media, chat rooms, Webex, Skype and the likes provide us with a much more effective communications conduit.  

Jim - it's terrific to have you join us and can't wait to hear about the convergence of OT and IT!

Posted in: IT Outsourcing / IT ServicesThe Internet of Things

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