18 months ago, my first blog post at Forrester discussed industrialization trends in the IT services industry globally. I suggested then that IT services providers would have to focus their industrialization efforts on shared resources, self-service and automation capabilities.
On the automation front, most efforts till date have been incremental in nature – mostly focused on removing redundant and mundane tasks via process redesign and/or tools implementations. The recently announced Infosys partnership with IPsoft is taking these automation efforts to a whole new level. Infosys will leverage IPsoft’s autonomic based automation capabilities as part of its effort to improve the performance of its infrastructure services delivery capabilities.
Why is this partnership important?
From an operations perspective, this technology is expected to improve the competitiveness of Infosys’ infrastructure services offering. In a nutshell, the scripts used in traditional tools to automate a particular task are replaced by self-learning, self-optimizing software agents, which yield much faster time to resolve. According to IPsoft, such technology can automate at least 60% of level 0 and level 1 issues in a support environment by automating time-consuming labor such as diagnostics.
Earlier today I was fortunate enough to participate in a BrightTalk webinar on the future of IT service management (ITSM) with these fabulous gentlemen:
If you want to watch the webinar on demand it can be found here (you will need to register if you are new to BrightTalk). What you won’t get with the on demand webinar (I think) is the full set of audience poll results, so I've included them here.
As you’re all well aware by now, a perfect storm of technology innovations — including cloud, analytics, mobile, and social — is fundamentally disrupting the way your company engages with its customers (as well as employees and partners). For service providers in particular, the main challenge is understanding how to best leverage these technology innovations to remain relevant and ultimately generate more business value. So it’s exciting to see a service provider like Cisco Services come up with new offerings that respond to this challenge in innovative ways.
I met with Cisco Services Asia Pacific Japan and China (APJC) executives last week in Seoul to discuss their strategy in Asia. I wanted to highlight a few takeaways that I believe will be important for sourcing professionals in Asia and beyond:
Cisco Services is a key enabler of Cisco’s overall transformation. Cisco Services used to be a captive consulting organization providing support and technology services for a product company. In a recent analyst call, John Chambers identified Cisco Services as one of the main levers that will help Cisco transition from a transaction-oriented to an annuity-based business model and help the company become the largest IT company globally. The company’s aim is for Cisco Services to represent 24-26% of total revenues in the next 3-5 years. These goals are extremely audacious; achieving them will require huge efforts from Cisco, including some targeted acquisitions in the services space.
I hope that it makes you smile but, more importantly, I hope that it makes you act. I’ll leave it to Paul . . .
“IT’s not about the IT?” Really?
I’m always surprised — no, amazed — in fact staggered. That’s it, literally staggered, at how poor “we in IT” are at being customer and service focused. Ever since I passed my ITIL v1 exam I have been aware that ITIL (the ITSM best practice framework) has always, always, been about customers and service. David Wheeldon taught me this when I was a “technogeek” who thought that end users were something dangerous and contagious.
I used to think that we should outsource the business, as they got in the way of IT and were simply annoying. David taught me that end users were human after all, just like us, and it was our job to provide services and value to them. I wasn’t convinced initially, but I was willing to be open to the idea.
That was more than 20 years ago, and while we have had ITIL in all its variants for more than 25 years, we still score badly on the customer-focused side of things.
Why does IT struggle with the concept of customers?
I recently reviewed a portfolio of about 600 software artifacts from 16 large IT service providers. This daunting exercise complements a research stream I have been working on since the beginning of the year on the future of the IT services industry. While I believe the move to software asset (SA)-based IT services will drive maturation of the services industry and help IT service providers remain relevant to their clients, the analysis of this SA inventory raises a few significant challenges:
Most software assets face scalability issues. Traditional sales and marketing organizations within IT service providers fail to sufficiently scale up the number of clients for their SA-based offerings. Case in point: 68% of the software assets analyzed in this inventory have fewer than five clients. This low number raises concerns on the financial viability of these offerings for service providers.
Service providers will face a SA sprawl over the next couple of years. On average, service providers currently have about 20 SAs in their SA portfolio. The analysis shows that this number is growing exponentially (see below). The number of SAs created has increased by an average of 26% each year since 2009 and is accelerating. More assets were created in the first six months of 2012 than in any previous entire year; SA-related investments are following a similar trajectory.
Last Friday, we hosted our first roundtable in Singapore focusing on the IT services industry in Asia. The goal of these quarterly events is to create a community of services leaders who can network and exchange ideas on the growth opportunities and challenges in the region.
Senior leaders from 14 large services vendors gathered this morning to discuss how a perfect storm of technologies (including cloud, social, big data, and mobility) is transforming the way clients engage with service providers in Asia. Forrester analysts John McCarthy, Frederic Giron, and Dane Anderson brainstormed with business leaders from services vendors including Atos, BT, HCL, HP, and IBM around the four factors that are reshaping the IT services industry (see Figure 1):
The restructuring of the Asian economy. The economic uncertainty has now spread to emerging markets, and economic growth is expected to slow down significantly in India and China this year. Forrester has revised its IT services spending forecasts downward by two to four percentage points in these countries for 2012 and 2013. Participants corroborated this downgrade and mentioned they were seeing the process of making decisions on large transformation projects getting longer, especially in the manufacturing industry.
During a recent global analyst event in Paris, Capgemini presented its strategy to a panel of market and financial analysts. It hinges on two main objectives: improving the resilience of the organization in an uncertain economic environment — especially in Europe — and finding new levers for margin improvements.
From an operations point of view, Capgemini intends to continue leveraging the usual suspects: industrialization, cost cutting, and accelerating the development of its offshore talent pool. It also aiming to optimize its human resource pool via a pyramid management program aimed at, among other things, allocating the right experience level to the right type of work.
More interestingly, the company showcased some of the global offerings it has put together or refined over the past 12 months. Capgemini’s strategic intent is to develop offerings addressing three major client-relevant themes – customer experience, operational processes, and new business models. The offerings will be enabled by a combination of cloud, mobile, analytics, and social technologies. Among the set of offerings managed globally, I found the following of particular interest due to their emerging nature and Capgemini’s interesting approach to developing them:
I recently finalized a report* on software asset (SA) based IT services, this time looking at vendors’ best practices in terms of governance, organization, skills, tools, and processes. Needless to say, the move to software asset-based services will have a huge impact on the traditional operating models of IT services firms.
Obviously, IT services firms need to learn from their large software partners to understand and implement specific software asset management processes such as product sales incentive schemes, product management, product engineering, and release management.
This will induce a formidable cultural change within the IT services vendor’s organization, somewhat similar to the change Western IT service providers had to undergo 10 years ago when they finally embraced offshore delivery models.
I see a few critical steps that IT services firms need to take in order to facilitate this shift towards software asset-based business models:
Build a client-relevant SA strategy. Building an SA base offering is not (only) about doing an inventory of the existing intellectual property (IP) that you have on employee hard drives and team servers. More importantly, it’s about making sense of this IP and building strategic offerings that are relevant to your clients by centering them aounrd your clients’ most critical business challenges.