Abhishek Singh, Author at Everest Group

Everest Group’s 3rd Annual Service Provider of the Year™ Awards: Did Your IT Services Provider Win? | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

By | Blog, Outsourcing

2017 was a seminal year for IT services. Digital adoption finally broke free from the shackles of marketing’s lip service and moved from “pilot” to “program.” The of role CIOs resurged as business stakeholders relied on them to deal with an ever-growing supply landscape and procurement conundrum to deal with new-age technology. And growth challenges appeared to have bottomed out for the two key industry verticals: BFSI (the largest) and Healthcare & Life Sciences (the fastest).

Hence, our 2018 Service Provider of the Year™ awards for IT services providers – our third edition – recognize companies that not only weathered a challenging year but reinvented themselves to chart out a new phase of growth for 2018 and beyond.

Our methodology

We select the IT Service Provider of the Year award winners based on the consolidated scores they achieve in the Star Performer, Leader, Major Contender, and Aspirant positions on our PEAK Matrix™ evaluations. In 2017, 67 service providers participated in 24 PEAK Matrix evaluations.

Awards categories

This year’s awards categories:

  • Leader boards
    • ITS Top 20: A list that recognizes the top 20 service providers
    • Top 10 Challengers: New this year, this list recognizes the top 10 service providers with annual revenue less than US$2 billion that increasingly position in the PEAK Matrix evaluation segments as challengers to the established leaders.
  • Individual awards
    • Leader of the year: Recognizes the service provider(s) with the maximum number of Leader positions
    • Star Performer of the year (overall): Recognizes service provider(s) with the maximum number of Star Performer positions.

We awarded these recognitions in the following areas:

  • Overall IT Services
  • Application Services
  • Digital Services
  • Cloud and Infrastructure Services
  • Banking, Financial Services, and Insurance
  • Healthcare and Life Sciences

Highlights of 2018 Service Provider of Year Awards

Here’s a look at the top five on the ITS Top 20 leader board:

PEAK SP of the Year

  • Accenture and TCS took the top two positions in the ITS Top 20
    • Accenture retained its top slot from 2017
    • TCS moved into second place, leapfrogging Cognizant and IBM
  • Accenture won Leader of the Year (overall)
  • TCS won Star Performer of the Year (overall)
  • And in the new Top 10 Challengers category, LTI and Virtusa snagged the top two positions.

Wondering if your IT services provider – or the firm you work for – received one of these coveted awards? See the complete list of winners.

Innovation Tax for Service Providers: Pay Up or Go Belly Up! | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

By | Blog

“The Times They Are a-Changin” is an appropriate idiom to borrow from the great (and now Nobel Laureate) musician Bob Dylan to describe a conversation I had just a few days ago with a senior executive who leads sourcing for one of the largest pharmaceutical firms in the U.S.

Context: As you see in my most recent blog, I have been very cynical of the innovation strategies adopted by both service providers and enterprises. I have accused service providers of digital and cognitive “washing” that just pays lip service to innovation, and enterprises of resting in comfort zones where commodity and arbitrage still rule the roost.

I had no reason to tweak my view, until the discussion with this senior executive.

He was picking my brain on how to infuse innovation into his company’s existing application services engagements. He has been struggling to do so with some of the best-known names in the service provider world. When he asked, “Is there something I can do to make the service providers change?,” I responded:

  • Change is difficult in a business environment in which service providers must play both the arbitrage and digital games
  • The “arbitrage-first” service providers will push for traditional models if you blink
  • And “digital-first” providers will proactively offer innovative solutions even though they keep their arbitrage strengths handy

IT Innovation Maturity in Applications Services

IT Innovation Strategies in Application Services

The challenge is, there are more of the former than the latter, and the incentives for falling for arbitrage-driven models are still high for both procurement and service providers, irrespective of which of the above categories they belong to.

Hence, unless sourcing executives do the following, innovation will be difficult to come by.

  • Anchor: Define an innovation roadmap
  • Organize: Contract with service providers on a formal innovation program
  • Seek co-investments: Ask service providers to co-invest (put a financial stake) in your innovation roadmap

At this point, the senior pharma executive had an epiphany, and stated, “Aha. I don’t want to put it this way, but if I have to make my vendors change, I must institute an “Innovation Tax.”

There, my friends, is the sign of things to come. Enterprise sourcing executives are increasingly feeling compelled to show business value. If service providers refuse to bring value to the table, they will have to be ready for an “Innovation Tax.”

By the way, these recommendations are not a bunch of my opinions. The above was validated through a survey of 100 senior enterprise executives Everest Group conducted in late 2016.

See our reports, “How to innovate – A Comprehensive Guide to Innovation in Application Services,” and “Cracking the IT Innovation Code” for more details on how to infuse innovation into your existing and future sourcing contracts.

Reality Check on the Top 5 IT Innovation Myths | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

By | Blog

How do Amazon, Apple, and Tesla keep innovating? What do they do differently than many others do not, or cannot, do? And how many industry leaders can say their organization is truly innovative?

To get answers to these and other pressing questions, we conducted a focused research study with more than 100 application service executives – approximately 50 percent of whom were CXOs – in North America-based enterprises engaged in IT outsourcing programs. The research revealed startling insights. For example, only 30 percent of study participants felt their companies were somewhat innovative, even though all of them realized the importance of innovation and had made strategic investments in it.

And from defining it and its objectives, to funding it, to defining and institutionalizing the process to drive it, innovation has remained an elusive concept both for enterprises and service providers.

The study also busted innumerable myths associated with IT innovation. Let’s look at the top five.

IT Innovation Myth 1: Innovation is abstract and cannot be measured

But, over 75 percent of the study participants already have a highly effective mechanism to measure the impact of innovation. Linking the investment made to measurable results and desired benefits has enabled them to devise a formal approach for impact assessment.

IT Innovation Myth 2: Innovation should result in a disruptive idea

In reality, this is the last priority for executives of best in class enterprises! A siloed disruptive idea that does not impact the business model or enhance customer experience is the least appreciated outcome, and does little to serve the purpose of innovation. Instead, transformation is the primary lever deployed by enterprises to identify disruptive innovation. Moreover, the overall approach to it and the returns derived from it are considered more significant for driving innovation than the idea itself.

IT Innovation Myth 3: Episodic initiatives such as “idea of the month” and “innovation events” can deliver innovative results

Unfortunately, such sporadic investments have a probability of less than 10 percent to deliver innovative outcomes. Though used by most service providers, these are the least preferred approach to innovation from the enterprise executive’s perspective. Continuous innovation with prototyping and demonstrations/MVPs are far more likely to deliver on customers’ expectations.

IT Innovation Myth 4: Large scale investment is required from the enterprise or service provider to fund innovation

Though investment is required, 65 percent of the study participants with high satisfaction with their innovation program believe in shared responsibility and co-funding. Their belief is that shared responsibility spreads the risk involved, and reduces the investment required, thereby attracting the best-in-class capabilities from both sides.

IT Innovation Myth 5: A dedicated centralized team/CoE should be set up to drive innovation

Rather, best-in-class innovative businesses embed a culture of innovation across their enterprises to encourage the concept of continuous and crowdsourced innovation.

To enable enterprises to adopt a systematized innovation approach and achieve their desired outcome, Everest Group designed a unique framework on which to base their innovation strategy. We also used the framework to identify the 14 most innovative service providers in the industry.

Application Services IT Innovation Maturity

IT-Innovation-Myths-Application-Services-Maturity

For more information and insights on this research, please refer to our reports, “How to innovate – A Comprehensive Guide to Innovation in Application Services,” and “Cracking the IT Innovation Code.”

Service Provider of the Year Awards 2017 | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

By | Blog

Everest Group is proud to release the second edition of its annual PEAK Matrix Service Provider of the Year™ awards for IT Services 2017.

2016 was an interesting year for the IT services industry. Political upheavals (think Brexit and the U.S. presidential election), growing consumerization, the Internet of Things (IoT), and artificial intelligence were the key topics that defined the discourse of this highly watchful industry.

Everest Group took all of the above, and more, into account with its 2016 research. Under the aegis of four key IT Services (ITS) practices – Banking, Financial Services & Insurance (BFSI), Healthcare & Life Sciences (HLS), Application & Digital Services (ADS), and Cloud & Infrastructure Services (CIS) – we published a whopping 21 PEAK Matrix evaluations, assessing service providers on their capabilities and market success across multiple practice sub-segments.

Despite intense competition, politico-legal challenges, and the changing shape of technology adoption, the ITS market continues to grow, albeit at a slower pace. There are some service providers that, through their consistency and innovation, continued to lead the discourse on change and adaption. Hence, while there indeed are Leaders and Star Performers for each of the segments we evaluated, the composite picture clearly shows that some deliver consistent leadership and top performance across many different categories.

As today’s enterprises navigate the complex landscape of next-generation and legacy technology, a global business footprint, and a complex vendor portfolio, Everest Group’s PEAK Matrix Service Provider of the Year awards will help them to identify the best of the best – service providers with strong broad-based capabilities and successful service strategies that align well with the evolving enterprise IT demand.

The 2017 award categories are:

  • ITS Top 20: We arrived at this list using a consolidated score reflecting points received on individual evaluations based on tiered scores for Star Performer, Leader, Major Contender, and Aspirant positions.
  • Individual awards categories: These awards are based on the count of Leader or Star Performer positions across the category evaluated:
    • Leader Of The Year
      • ITS (overall)
      • HLS
      • BFSI
      • ADS
      • CIS
    • Star Performer Of The Year
      • ITS (overall)
      • HLS
      • BFSI

Here’s a PEAK peek at the top five on the ITS Top 20 leader board.

Service Provider of the Year Awards 2017

For the complete list of awardees, please click here.

Have you had experience with one or more of these providers? Our readers would love to hear your views about them!

Trump’s Visa Reforms: The Bitter Pill IT Needed | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

By | Blog

The Trump administration’s move to table H1-B visa bill in the house has led to a bloodbath for IT services stocks. While there appears to be near unanimity on the “absurdness” of the move, there is a silver lining most experts seem to have missed. I’ll explain this through two acts that have played out.

Act #1: Old Wine in New Bottle
In a November 2015 blog (“My Digital is Bigger Than Yours” and The Technology Pulp Fiction), I explained the rationale behind my cynicism for buzzwords that were driving the discourse on IT services. The story being told was that IT services was undergoing a paradigm shift in innovation. However, instead of witnessing a real shift in strategy, talent model, and offerings, what we have seen is a largely marketing driven illusion of change. Digital, cloud, automation, and cognitive are terms that are being thrown around without caution, giving an impression of disruption in services delivery. In reality, it’s just the natural course of progression in IT services getting embellished by these buzzwords. Analysts know it, service providers know it and – no prizes for guessing – buyers know it too.

As our January 2017 enterprise pulse report on buyer (Dis)satisfaction highlighted:

  1. Buyers are unhappy
  2. They aren’t enamored by these buzzwords
  3. While they consider their existing IT services mediocre, they are still hanging on to it.

Point 3 above is the reason why, as much as I would like to take service providers to task on this pretense of transformation, I believe that enterprise IT must take its fair share of the blame. They have been running mediocre, unimaginative, and long past use-by-date procurement practices. There are two primary reasons behind this inertia:

  • There aren’t any better services options at comparable current prices. Sure, they would love to get something like IBM Watson for infrastructure automation, but their annual IT budgets won’t allow for it. Pretty much a thought process like, “Why buy a Ferrari to run a NYC yellow cab?”
  • The opportunity cost of letting go of something that has been working fine for a decade and a half is huge. Enormous bureaucracies have been created around services procurement, and they are almost impossible to dismantle.

Net-net, labor arbitrage, offshoring, and time & materials still continue to drive the lion’s share of IT services. In the current scenario, despite all the “digital” and “cognitive” washing, there is no way this reality can be swept under the rug. Does this mean that services transformation is a lost cause?

Act #2: And then Trump happened….
All this is getting Trumped now. Visa regulations mean less access to the same cheap labor. Now, instead of paying lip service to service delivery automation, enterprise IT and providers will actually have to think about hyper-automation to keep the lights on and manage margin improvement expectations. Things will have to move faster towards autonomics and/or cognitive for service providers to stay afloat and enterprise IT to stay relevant for CFOs.

My message to the ecosystem to which I belong? – It’s time to put your money where your mouth is!

MACRA Nails it as the Next Big Bang of Reforms in Healthcare | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

By | Blog

On Friday, October 14, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in the United States released a humongous, 2398-page rule to implement new value-based payment programs under the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA).

This release is a significant step forward in streamlining Medicare payments, and establishing what “value” will mean in the much debated Value-Based Reimbursement (VBR) programs.

Here’s our initial take on this release, in order of what I liked most about the rules.

CMS is making the right noises: As the CMS acting administrator, Andy Slavitt, put it, “…..changes to the rule were to help physicians focus on delivering care and seeing patients instead of performing administrative tasks.” The term in bold represented the point of conflict between a right thinking, efficiency-focused regulator and unnecessarily overburdened physicians.

How is some of this getting addressed?

Reduces confusion over quality improvement: The new set of rules consolidates three existing quality reporting programs — Physician Quality Reporting System, Value-based Payment Modifier, and Meaningful Use (MU))– and a new performance category into a single system through Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS.) The definition of “merit” or value was never clearer. Here is a snapshot of the scoring model that defines the four performance categories and their weights:

MACRA Healthcare

Pick Your Pace (PYP): In order to make the above operational, CMS is allowing providers to pick their own pace, (see Andy Slavitt’s blog for more details), and choose from three data submission options or join an advanced Alternative Payment Model (APM):

  • Test the program
  • Submit 90 days of data
  • Submit a full year of data

Enabling consortiums: CMS now allows MIPS reporting as a group, enabling smaller providers to get a better deal. What this means is that a group of clinicians sharing a common Tax Identification Number (irrespective of specialty or practice site) can group together to receive payments based on the group’s performance. This will foster necessary consolidation in the ambulatory space.

Relaxes exclusion norms through APMs: Providers not eligible for MIPS can still receive a bonus payment for meeting performance criteria through qualifying APMs. The inclusion criteria are clearer than before, and the nervousness caused by stringent exclusion norms is largely addressed.

Last, but not least, provides a further fillip to IT: While use of certified EHR technology will continue to give providers brownie points for performance, the following five required measures that CMS has mandated for providers will further boost technology adoption:

  • Security risk analysis
  • E-prescribing
  • Provide patient access
  • Sending summary of care
  • Request/accept summary of care

Net-net, this new rules release is a great move forward toward settling the debate on “value,” and will energize the healthcare industry to spend more on technology. As you wade through the 2398 pages, watch this space for more of our explanations and perspectives on this topic.

#AHIPInstitute 2016: The Hype, The Reality, and The Hope in the #Healthcare IT market | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

By | Blog

With just one day to go before the America’s Health Insurance Plan’s (AHIP’s) flagship #AHIP Institute 2016 conference in Las Vegas, and energy building among participants, I thought it appropriate to share some market reflections based on Everest Group’s research over the past five  years.

The Hype

Here is a snapshot of what you’ve heard from the analyst community:

  • As a data and process intensive sector, healthcare has the potential to mature into an all-digital, technology native industry
  • Political debate and regulations will drive healthcare technology spend, to the same extent that they drove banking technology spend in late 1990s-2000s
  • Data and insurance exchanges will transform how insurance products are created and sold
  • Payer provider convergence will drive accountability and efficiency of care financing and delivery
  • Growing payer consolidation will create efficient behemoths, driving technology spend and bringing down healthcare costs

The Reality

“The best laid plans of mice and men oft go astray.” Such has been the sobering reality of the healthcare industry initiatives in the past five years.

  • Growing consolidation has created more concerns than solutions:
    • The Blues are currently fighting an antitrust multi-district litigation in which the plaintiffs have alleged that customers were cheated of low costs due to growing cartelization and reduced competition between The Blues
    • The Anthem-Cigna and Aetna-Humana initiatives haven’t done anything to address the cost issues and the technology investments that will drive operational efficiencies
  • Analytics initiatives are stuck in a limbo:
    • Data security issues have made the case for interoperability even weaker. Per, a PwC survey, more than half of consumers trust neither payers nor providers with their data
    • Privacy issues have stifled access to data and build decision support systems
    • Net-net, what we see being touted as next-gen analytics is just an incremental version of business intelligence
  • There is a lot of “digital washing” going around:
    • Every technology initiative (mobile app, cloud migration, social media initiative) is being anointed as “digital,” not because of the tenets themselves but because of the seeming association with the word itself
    • What is passing as “digital” are just IT initiatives with a smattering of SMAC (social media, mobility, analytics, and cloud)
    • A good number of service providers and enterprises consider it enough to be associated with the term “digital,” whatever that means.
  • Care delivery in a capitalist construct is a living contradiction:
    • The healthcare industry is a mix of government, non-profits, and for-profit entities. For various ethical and political reasons, cost is the only metric the industry feels comfortable talking about openly
    • Meaningful use and quality improvement have become complex/esoteric goals, often conflicting with organizational financial goals
    • To assimilate learnings from banking, the industry needs to have transparent financial metrics
    • The Republican-Democrat divide on Obamacare has brought this contradiction to the fore. The biggest worry is that there does not seem to be a right way forward, except that most of us will agree with the tenets of low cost, universal coverage, and doing away with exclusion of pre-existing conditions.

The Hope

However, there are aspects that serve as silver linings to the increasingly depressing discourse on the conflicts impeding healthcare technology spending.

  • Per the PwC survey, mobile health adoption has jumped 100 percent, giving a solid boost to the technology evangelists within healthcare organizations
  • Consumers have become more costs conscious, relying less on the government to take care of them. There is growing evidence that most consumers will engage healthcare spend advisors the same way they do retirement or investment advisors
  • Telehealth adoption is growing by leaps and bounds. Today, most of the top 20 hospital systems offer a variety of remote or community care options for diagnostics and therapy, driven by technology. The incentive for keeping in-person visits and hospital readmissions down is real in financial and social terms
  • Last, but not least, despite the beating the healthcare exchanges have taken in terms of underwhelming enrollment numbers, the exchanges as a marketplace for insurance products are here to stay. This has worked in the traditional insurance setting, and there is no reason it will not succeed now, given the shift to defined contribution likely to create a US$350 billion premium market by 2020 (Everest Group estimate.)

This year’s #AHIP Institute has a robust agenda. Topics range from the usual (cost and efficiency of care) to the more adventurous (new products, analytics, and technology collaboration). The imminent presidential elections also provide an interesting backdrop. The debate on reforms is back with full force, even though people seem reticent to take a clear stand.

With a tip of the hat to the recently passed Muhammad Ali, I hope the speakers at the event will pull no punches when expressing themselves on the following topics:

  • The digital agenda and IT investment roadmap for payers
  • The bubble surrounding payer consolidation
  • The future of exchanges
  • The future of reforms

I’ll be at the conference from June 15-17. If you’d like to chat with me on any of the above topics, or any others, feel free to reach out to me at [email protected] and follow me on Twitter: @abhishekxsingh.

A Fully Government-owned Standard EHR: Killing Oligopoly for Interoperability | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

By | Blog

Epic Systems, Cerner, AllScripts, McKesson, and AthenaHealth…if you have heard these names, you likely know what EHR stands for. I don’t mean the non-acronym form, Electronic Health Records, but what it actually stands for – oligopoly, sunk billion dollar investments, platforms that don’t speak to each other, and that look on physicians’ faces when their shift “ends” and coding starts.

When President Obama famously daydreamed the US$80 billion a year savings from the EHR nudge, many were cynical that it would ever come to fruition. Six years later, while EHR in the U.S. is an over US$5 billion-a-year industry, the savings are nowhere in sight, and the cynics are sniggering, “we told you so.” Sadly, while the doomsday predictors are having a field day gloating over the sorry state of affairs, the folks on the technology and policy sides are ruing a great opportunity lost.

The issue was never with the business case for EHR – a standard system of record aiding providers and physicians in medical decision support. What could possibly be wrong with that vision? Billions of dollars of sunken investments and a multiplicity of protected standards later, sitting on the books of large providers are bloated monsters who scare away any attempt at efficiency, data intuitiveness, and interoperability.

Frankly, the current debate on interoperability is as farcical as it can get – the same bunch of folks who created the virus are now trying to invent a vaccine for it. Who paid for the virus? Subsidy did. Who will pay for the vaccine? Irrelevant. If the debate continues the way it is going, what you think will be a vaccine will actually be an upgraded, non-resistant version of the virus. With the federal committee on interoperability largely staffed by big EHR vendors, we have a situation akin to employing a cat to guard the milk.

My suggestion? Let’s not fight the cats here. The cacophony will be way too unbearable. Instead, here is a solution (and warning… radical suggestion alert!)

  • Interoperability
    • Government should create its own EHR system
    • It should create a separate fund and an agency (akin to CMS)
    • The new-EHR should be cloud-based
    • An EHR subsidy should be given only for those providers that move to this government EHR
    • Eliminate Health Information Exchanges (HIEs) and Healthcare.gov. Hoping HIEs would solve for data portability and interoperability was always a futile attempt at putting lipstick on pigs.
  • Technology and build
    • Have an open bid managed by a consortium comprised of practitioners, providers, and top tech innovators from Silicon Valley and the healthcare industry
    • Selection of the technology platform should rest only with tech representatives
    • Design thinking should be led by practitioners and physician representatives
    • Development and implementation can be outsourced to EHR vendors.
  • Solving for costs sunk by providers in EHRs: With billions already invested, what is the incentive for providers to even consider a new EHR, unless they are forced to do so?
    • Government should subsidize (yes, another subsidy) all migration costs to the new EHR
    • Since the new EHR will be cloud-based, storage costs will be significantly reduced. However, providers will have to pay a fixed fee each year to stay licensed
    • Personnel training costs will be hugely reduced over the years as this new government EHR can simply be part of curricula at all medical and nursing schools.

Reality check here…what I have just suggested will kill an industry and open the government to multiple litigations by the large EHR vendors. I never suggested this would be easy. But, could it be done by force of political will and legislation? The answer is a resounding, “Yes.”

Everest Group’s New IT Service Provider of the Year Awards 2016 | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

By | Blog

Everest Group is proud to release the first edition of its annual PEAK Matrix Service Provider of the Year™ awards for IT Services 2016.

Before you turn a blind eye to another set of service provider awards in a market already flooded with matrices, quadrants, and other such convoluted shapes…these are special recognitions of a small handful of providers that are unique stand-outs.

2015 was a seminal year for our IT services PEAK Matrix™ evaluation program. Under the aegis of four key ITS practices – Banking, Financial Services & Insurance (BFSI), Healthcare & Life Sciences (HLS), Application & Digital Services (ADS), and Cloud & Infrastructure Services (CIS) – we published a whopping 26 PEAK Matrix evaluations, featuring double click views on capabilities and market success across practice sub-segments.

While we appropriately recognized performance in individual segments, what started to unravel was a picture of consistency by a few service providers that was hard for us to ignore. Hence, while there indeed are Leaders and Star Performers for each of the segments we evaluated, the composite picture clearly shows that some deliver consistent leadership and top performance across many different categories.

As today’s enterprises navigate the complex landscape of next-generation and legacy technology, a global business footprint, and a complex vendor portfolio, the PEAK Matrix Service Provider of the Year awards will help them to identify the best of the best – service providers with strong broad-based capabilities and successful service strategies that align well with the evolving enterprise IT demand.

The award categories are:

  • ITS Top 20: We arrived at this list using a consolidated score reflecting points received on individual evaluations based on tiered scores for Star Performer, Leader, Major Contender, and Aspirant positions.
  • Individual awards categories: These awards are based on the count of Leader or Star Performer positions across the category evaluated
    • Leader Of The Year
      • IT Services (Overall)
      • HLS
      • BFSI
      • ADS
      • CIS
    • Star Performer Of The Year
      • IT Services (Overall)
      • HLS
      • BFSI

Here’s a PEAK peek at the top five on the ITS Top 20 leader board.

Top_5_PM_SP_oftheyear_award_2016

 

See the complete list of winners.

Have you had experience with one or more of these providers? Our readers would love to hear your views about them!

“My Digital is Bigger Than Yours” and the Technology Pulp Fiction | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

By | Blog

It’s the middle of the week and despite all the caffeine-induced stimulation I am in a cynically contemplative mood.

Reason? The past 6 weeks have been spent attending analyst events and conferences, listening and debating with business leaders and thought leaders on what will make the global services industry click. There has been a flood of “paradigm-changing” buzzwords, new solutions on the horizon, and yes, the predictions that claim to change the world in the next 24-36 months. I’ll not go into the details but if you have managed to find your way to this blog, you probably have already heard these terms – Innovation, Robotics, Automation, Digital, and Internet of Things! (And are probably thinking – “here goes another blog on digital transformation. Yawn!”)

That “yawn” is a symptom of the problems facing the technology industry. Gone are the days when you would look at a new product or an interface and say – “Wow!” I think the last time I exclaimed wow was more than a decade ago when I first saw a GPS map and the smooth voiceover guiding me to my destination. Since then there indeed have been some “Aha” moments but nothing that made me fall off my chair. The reason probably is this – most of our attention has been on innovation rather than invention.

  • Innovation is putting together working concepts and turning them into industrialized mass adoption successes
  • Invention is creating a new concept altogether and make it work

Frankly, all the innovation that we talk about today is a mishmash of just three inventions – computing, internet, and devices. Robotics – check. Automation – check. Digital – check. Internet of things – check! True, we are working on miniaturizing, increasing processing speed, writing hugely complex analytics code, and building beautiful interfaces. Reality check – we are still just exploring the “art of the possible” with the Legos.

What is wrong with that? Absolutely nothing. Incremental invention (or innovation) is a great thing. My issue is with paradigms that are dime a dozen these days. Here is the problem – We are in the age of the “moolah.” Theoretical or conceptual innovation has lesser weight since anything that is not investor-funded and cannot be in hands 18 months down the line, is meh. And that is why the less than smart pursuit to reset and invent terminologies instead of true touch and feel invention. Due to lack of true innovation, buzzwords and bubbles are what keep investors excited and money mobile. And these buzzwords are finally leading to madness.

Each industry event I went to saw analysts and leaders beating each other up with their own definitions of what “Digital” meant – for some it was “business transformation using digital,” for some it was “SMAC,” for some it was “driving growth and efficiency using digital,” while some lazy ones were resigned to “anything that is not analog”! Frankly, this debate made me cringe. It is only when industries lack true innovation that they resort to chest thumping using buzzwords. Global automotive industry is a case in point. Till Elon Musk came along, it was all about lines and curves, three-year warranties, and miles per gallon.

Hence, while I take another sip of my café Americano, I hope a maverick comes along and says, it’s time for telepathic computing, time travel, and an invisibility cloak. Gulp!