Looking At The Nokia Microsoft Deal From The Mobile Apps Perspective

Today’s deal between Microsoft and Nokia acts as a temporary lifeline for both companies. It gives Microsoft access to the largest handset provider, and it allows Nokia to defray some of its operating system development costs. I have just finished a report, “Mobile App Internet Recasts The Software And Services Landscape,” that will hit the Forrester site on Monday, February 28.

In the report, Forrester states, “The explosion of app innovation that started on the iPhone and then spread to Android devices and tablets will continue to drive tech industry innovation and have far-reaching pricing and go-to-market implications for the industry. Three different vectors of innovation that have been percolating under the surface will combine over the next 3-5 years. Mobile, cloud, and smart computing together will foster a new set of 'intelligence everywhere' apps.”

And based on that research, I believe that deal does not address the biggest issue for both companies – attracting apps and app developers. For Nokia, it now sends the message that Symbian and MeeGo platforms are no longer the long-term app focus. For Microsoft, it creates an eight-to-twelve month void/pause as developers wait to see what the new Nokia hardware looks like.

At the current rate that Apple and Android are recruiting third-party and enterprise app developers, this could mean a gap of 100,000-200,000 applications by the time the first Nokia Windows Phone device ships. This is likely a lead that even the combined resources of Microsoft and Nokia could not bridge.

Forrester’s Forrsights For Business Technology: We’ve Launched Our 2010 Services Survey

Without a doubt, the tech industry’s new economics are creating major tumult in the marketplace. “Services,” not products, and “in the cloud,” not on the computer, are just two of the major trends forcing IT services providers to continually predict future market demand and adjust strategy accordingly. More than ever, it’s imperative to understand where firms will rely on third-party providers in the coming year . . . and also where they’ll increase spend.

As you may know, Forrester fields a 20-minute Web survey each year to commercial buyers of enterprise IT services as part of Forrester’s Forrsights for Business Technology (formerly named “Business Data Services”). This year, we’ll continue to collect responses from IT decision-makers at companies with 1,000 or more employees across the US, Canada, France, the UK, and Germany. As we’re designing the survey now, our commitment to strategists is that we’ll write the questions with your underlying need in mind: to predict and quantify tech industry growth and disruption. 

Here are a few new questions you’ll be able to answer with our 2010 data insights:

Which areas of innovation are turned into business- or IT-funded projects? . . . How mature is vendor governance/oversight compared with three years ago? . . . How are firms dealing with the rising influence of Digital Natives? . . . What are the plans, strategies, and barriers for moving from a staff augmentation to a fully managed services model? . . . How will an uptick in selective sourcing strategies translate to you as the service provider tailoring your go-to-market plans according to current customer challenges?

And, of course, we’ll continue to ask traditional questions around services plans, budgets, and preferred vendors. 

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Senator Charles E. Schumer Calls Indians “Chop Shop” In Latest Offshoring War Of Words

Last week, as part of the debate on the 600B border security bill, Senator Charles E. Schumer from New York reportedly called the Indian offshore IT firms in general and Infosys in particular “chop shops” — a reference to the locations where criminals dismantle stolen cars for spare parts. As always, the Indian press has immediately reacted. But let’s not take the comment out of context; US Senator Charles Schumer calls Infosys 'chop shop' - India Business - Business - The Times of India. Senator Schumer is showing that in an election year, he is “standing up” for American jobs.

But that said, as we head into the midterm elections with 9.5% unemployment and very little job growth, there will be more comments like this unfortunately, and the Indian firms and NASSCOM need to be prepared with their own PR counterattack and story. Offshore customers would also be advised to take the same advice and have a clear PR plan ready to go at a moment’s notice in case they get raked over the coals as part of the rhetoric.

Success In Leveraging Brazil As Part Of A Global Delivery Model

Two weeks ago, Forrester went to Brazil for Brasscom’s (the local IT and country promotion group) Global IT Forum in Sao Paulo and Rio. One of the most interesting and insightful presentations was by Jairo Avritchir, Brazil IT site director of Dell. Jairo talked about Dell’s experiences and how the firm’s utilization of the country and its rich IT talent pool had evolved. Initially, it was largely in support of the company’s local sales and manufacturing operations. Today, the center has emerged as a BI and analytics hub for the global organization. Given the 40% appreciation against the dollar over the past eight years, the COE strategy around higher-end BI skills was the only way the center could compete with India. The Dell example clearly points out how both clients and vendors need to think about and fully utilize their alternative geography investments. A blog post at Computer Weekly touches on this topic as well.

India Attrition Is Once Again On The Rise, Forcing Adoption Of Non-Linear Models

The recovery of IT spending late in 2009 and early in 2010 has sent the local players in India and multinationals scrambling for find talent. The fact that firms cut back hiring and reduced their bench to maintain margins has degraded suppliers’ ability to respond. As a result, vendors have turned to poaching talent from competitors. At its analyst day, Cognizant was honest that it had increased to 16% up from 12% for the trailing 12 months. One small vendor that Forrester spoke with said that it had peaked at almost 30% over the last quarter. Another said it was in the mid-20s for certain practices; yet another two multinationals said that it had seen a similar overall rise to Cognizant, but in some of the packaged application areas it was in the mid-20s.

The impact of this sudden increase attrition? Forrester believes that this spike coupled with the clients need to deploy more quickly and cost effectively will drive the much broader adoption of solution accelerators and other non-linear IP models. Today best practice is to get 5% to 7% of revenue. We expect that that percentage could easily double over the next 18 months as vendors deal with attrition and clients clamor for faster deployment of solutions.

What Is The Future Of A Global Delivery Model

On my current trip to India multiple Indian and multinational companies asked where we saw the future of a global delivery model headed. This caused me to reflect, and here is my formal answer: There are a number of areas where we expect to see changes that not only reflect the maturing of the market but also changes in buyer demand. Forrester expects that developments and investments will take place along four vectors.

  • A continued focus on building out domain and technology centers of excellence.To date, these activities have been fairly isolated to one or two technologies like SAP or the mainframe and one or two top verticals. That will continue to expand especially on the domain or industry side. The COEs will be required to support the greater focus on specific business process for application work and the need to build out a portfolio of solution accelerators with a high level of domain input.
  • Building out a network of centers with a new wrinkle.With every day, it is becoming clearer that no single country is going to match the scale and breadth of India. In many cases, expansion had been driven by one or more clients looking to expand in a particular market like Latin America or China. Forrester believes that there will be a greater focus over the next two to three years around turning each alternative geography center into a particular center of excellence to clearly differentiate its capabilities and cost structure from the India mother ship.
  • An extension of process investments into the multicenter world. The current process investments have been largely at a center-by-center level to improve an individual location’s consistency and predictability. The emphasis will now shift to the knowledge management, collaboration, and social networking tools to allow firms to tap into the COEs in the alternative geographies.
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The Move To Platform BPO Continues

Late last week, ExlServices acquired PDMA, Inc., maker of the LifePRO Insurance Policy Administration System. In his discussions with Forrester, Yogendra Goyal, VP & Global Head - Insurance Practice, was very clear on how the deal will help theBPO provider. He said the LifePRO platform will enable the company to move to a more sophisticated outcome pricing model as well as enable it to to cut costs and drive higher value and up the process stack. It's another clear example of how the BPO market is moving to have a standard software platform underpin its process work (see my report Platform BPO: Process Outsourcers Take A New Approach To Traditional BPO for more information).

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Accenture Sets Up Software Division

Yesterday at its annual analyst meeting, Accenture unveiled its new software group.  Yes, the company has formally set up a software organization to sell packages and SaaS offerings. The group was internally established back in September 2009, but publically launched this week.  The group has 48 products, 36 of which are vertical packages that Accenture has done on its own; the remainder are enhancements to existing packages from vendors like Oracle and SAP. The vertical packages include freight and logistics, hotel property management, and a claims components solution. Sample “enhancements” cover P&C billing with SAP, banking with both SAP and Oracle, and a human capital management offering with SAP. The numbers on the group: the offerings cover 8 industry segments and it has 2,000 people and claims that it has signed 600 deals where there is an explicit software license. There are 12-15 software factories in support of 48 products. This is an extreme example of the standardized offerings that services vendors will bring out as the market evolves.