Announcing Forrester’s Global Commerce Service Providers Wave Report

After many months of analysis and hard work, we are very pleased to have published the Global Commerce Services Provider Wave report late last week. As I wrote about recently, selecting the right services firm can make or break your project, and therefore your business. As commerce programs that reach across customer touchpoints get more complex and risky, the process of selecting a services provider has become increasingly critical to businesses' success or failure. Yesterday's relatively simple eCommerce projects have become today's customer experience, business, and technology transformation programs. To help clients find a consulting and implementation partner my colleague Peter Sheldon and I looked at offerings from the top twelve services firms supporting clients in implementing commerce platforms, order management systems, and related commerce technologies.

What we evaluated in each firm:

  • Channel strategy. In the era of agile commerce, clients need support integrating the customer experience, evolving business processes, optimizing organizational design, and implementing technology across digitally enabled customer touchpoints
  • Technology strategy. Successful commerce projects require in-depth knowledge as well as extensive experience implementing and integrating commerce solutions into overall cross-channel technology ecosystems.
  • Customer experience design. An understanding of the changing consumer and the ability to design and develop highly usable customer experiences is becoming an increasingly important capability for GCSPs.
  • Technology implementation and integration. Today's commerce implementations are increasingly complex, involving many channels and touchpoints. Beyond the “front-end,” these initiatives typically involve integration to multiple back-end legacy systems to obtain or update inventory data, order data, customer data, content, and marketing data.
  • Managed technology services. It has become more and more difficult for companies to source the talent and expertise required to support complex and evolving systems that must be robust, secure, available, and high-performing. Companies are turning to their GCSP to provide ongoing application support, development, and optimization, including release testing and platform upgrades. This now includes the responsibility to manage the physical hosting environments, often with a third-party hosting facility providing the physical hosting facilities.
  • Global consulting services. Companies are now looking for their technology partners to provide online or cross-touchpoint capabilities not only in their current markets, but also to provide a platform on which to grow internationally. eBusiness professionals need a partner that has extensive knowledge of key global markets, including issues such as payment methods, banking relationships, taxation, fulfillment, hosting, and legal and regulatory issues are all challenges on top of developing a relevant and usable localized customer experience.

Our high-level findings:

As a group, global commerce service providers are poised to support their clients as they increasingly move into cross-channel commerce and support the next generation of customer touchpoints. However, we found important differentiators in our evaluation. Our evaluation uncovered a diverse market in which:

  • SapientNitro, Deloitte, and IBM GBS lead for overall breadth of service offerings. In many ways, these firms best embody our definition of a global commerce service provider. They have significant implementation experience around leading eCommerce platforms and related ecosystem technologies, but also possess a range of additional services that are important in delivering a comprehensive set of services to their commerce clients. These firms can extend well beyond the role of systems integrator. They play a critical role in defining the future state of commerce together with their clients.
  • Accenture, Acquity Group, Razorfish, and Rosetta have deep eCommerce expertise. These firms all have a robust vision for multichannel commerce and between them have a strong portfolio of commerce project implementations. However, each of these firms remains somewhat niche in either their global reach, breadth of platform technology expertise, or the depth of commerce services offered. Forrester expects continued growth from these firms and an increased focus on their commerce services offerings in the future.
  • HCL, Infosys, and arvato Systems represent capable integration-focused service providers. HCL, Infosys, and arvato Systems all represent classic systems integrators and outsourced IT services providers that are building out further services capabilities to address their clients' strategy, customer experience, and managed services needs. Each firm has typically focused its services on specific technology solutions, and our evaluation revealed that each firm is diversifying and broadening the solutions it provides services around.
  • Wipro Technologies and Valtech lag behind as global commerce service providers. While each of these firms provides needed and valuable services to their clients, they are more narrowly focused than others we evaluated.

The report is loaded with detail to help in your selection of a service provider to support your growing multi-touchpoint business, and as with all  Forrester Wave reports, is tunable to your specific needs, which can effect the recommendations significantly. And for those of you who are clients, Peter and I encourage you to contact us with questions.