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How to Reduce the Complexities of Change In Digital Transformation | Blog

By | Blog, Digital Transformation

Why do digital transformations experience more failure and face more peril than companies anticipate? Why do they take far longer than anticipated? With apologies to Einstein, I believe we can understand the answers to these questions by viewing them through the lens of “GUT” – (General Unified Theory) of digital transformation – and how many related factors intertwine to increase complexity and complicate change. I’ll explain those factors in this blog and discuss how to navigate them so your company can minimize the perils of change and end up with a beneficial economic model.

Read my blog on Forbes

Dassault Systèmes Acquires Medidata to Ride the Platform Wave in Life Sciences | Blog

By | Blog, Healthcare & Life Sciences, Uncategorized

When news first hit in late April 2019 of speculation around Medidata Solutions being acquired by Dassault Systèmes – a France-based software company that develops 3D design, 3D digital mock-up, and product lifecycle management software – Medidata’s stock value went soaring. The deal immediately made sense. The fact that Dassault Systèmes was looking to ramp up its offerings for life sciences companies made Medidata, which we recently recognized as a Leader and Star Performer in our PEAK Matrix™ for Clinical Trials Products 2019, an attractive acquisition prospect.

 

Everest Group Life Sciences Clinical Trials Products PEAK Matrix Assessment 2019

 

Fast forward to June 2019 and the deal is done. The all-cash transaction is valued at US$5.8 billion and represents Dassault Systèmes’ largest acquisition to date. It will finance the deal with a €1 billion loan, a €3 billion bridge-to-loan facility, and available cash. It’s the first time the French company has resorted to external funding, which only accentuates how much it prizes Medidata as an asset.

The strategic intent behind the deal

Dassault Systèmes began focusing on the life sciences market a few years ago with the vision to improve the penetration of digital technologies in the industry. Its last life sciences-focused acquisition was that of Accelrys in 2014, which helped Dassault Systèmes establish BIOVIA, its brand for biological, chemical, and materials modeling and simulation, research, and open collaborative discovery.

With the acquisition of Medidata Solutions, Dassault Systèmes makes a statement that it is serious about achieving this vision. The acquisition will make life sciences Dassault Systèmes’ second largest industry focus, after transportation and mobility. Medidata grew at a CAGR of 17 percent during 2015-2018, driven by its dominance in electronic data capture through its flagship product, Rave.

Dassault Systèmes prides itself on its 3DEXPERIENCE platform, which is meant to enhance digital collaboration in complex sectors like aerospace, infrastructure, and mobility. Dassault Systèmes now looks to extend these benefits to life sciences. By adding Medidata’s clinical and commercial offerings to its own 3D experience expertise, Dassault Systèmes aims to create a platform that offers complete digital continuity to the life sciences industry, addressing complex challenges such as personalized medicine and patient-centric experiences.

Unpacking the companies’ synergies

Synergy area

Dassault Systèmes

Medidata Solutions

Value proposition

 

Design, modeling, and visualization software, with leading capabilities for the aerospace, defense, and consumer goods industries. Dassault Systèmes now aims to bolster its life sciences division

 

Life sciences clinical and commercial software pure-play, with deep domain expertise and strong consulting pedigree

Coverage of the life sciences value chain

 

Drug discovery, manufacturing, and supply chain Clinical and commercial operations

Key technology offerings

Design, modeling, simulation, and virtualization software Data capture, real world evidence, advanced analytics, AI-driven insights, and operations management

Customers

Customers are mostly in the aerospace, defense, and consumer goods industries

Sizable number of European life sciences clients, including medical devices firms such as Medtronic, FEops, Novo Nordisk, and Kavo Dental

1,300 life sciences companies, three quarters of which are in America. This includes most of the Big Pharma and CRO firms

Product coverage across the value chain

Product coverage across the value chain

Key opportunities

Dassault Systèmes is sitting on a lot of cash. This will give Medidata the financial muscle it needs to make the right investments in talent and technology to compete with the big players like Oracle Health Sciences and Accenture.

The integration of capabilities could lead to the creation of a unique end-to-end platform for life sciences across the entire value chain. Medidata has clinical and commercial capabilities, and Dassault Systèmes has offerings for drug discovery, manufacturing, and supply chain.

Potential risks

It’s not clear how the integration of Medidata’s products with the broader 3DEXPERIENCE platform will take place. It could be a challenge linking Medidata’s clinical trials and commercial operations solutions with Dassault Systèmes’ design and visualization offerings.

Dassault Systèmes’ has diversified offerings across several industries. In the long run, this may dilute Medidata’s brand image as a leader and focused player for clinical trials technology.

Closing thoughts

The life sciences industry needs aggressive digitalization to realize efficiency gains and reduce the lengthy timelines between drug conceptualization and drugs reaching the market. We’ve seen technology vendors coming up with integrated solutions for clinical trials to help enhance trial efficiency. While the need for a platform is evident, technical debt and change management issues hinder this platform-centric vision. This is a high growth market, which is likely to attract more interest in the coming 18-24 months. More SaaS companies will need to pivot to the platform conversation to scale and remain relevant. We will be tracking this space closely.

Spotlight on Salesforce’s Acquisition of Tableau | Blog

By | Blog, Mergers & Acquisitions

On June 10, 2019, Salesforce announced an agreement to acquire Tableau, a leading interactive data visualization company, for US$15.7 billion in an all-stock deal. Here’s our take on it.

Strategic Intent behind the Deal

The announcement is a masterful move to aid Salesforce’s hyper growth agenda to become a US$28 billion company in three years’ time. In the past 15 months, Salesforce has accelerated the data pivot through its acquisitions of Mulesoft in March 2018 and now Tableau, for a combined value of $22.2 billion.

Given its ambitious topline growth goals, Salesforce has hedged its bet against a pure cloud play. Tableau, which is not a cloud company, runs most of its products on-premise, with over one-third deployments in the cloud. However, last year, Tableau announced that its products will also be available on hyperscalers’ cloud platforms (AWS, Microsoft Azure, and GCP.) Addressing the ubiquity of data in a modern enterprise and recognizing the transition in software consumption pattern, Salesforce is taking an “anytime, anywhere” analytics approach to cater to enterprise’s hybrid cloud-first mandate.

In addition, Tableau’s strong performance against rivals including IBM Cognos, MicroStrategy, Oracle BI, and QlikView makes a strong case for the acquisition, given Salesforce’s big bet on its Customer 360 initiative and its broader foray into empowering clients with data analytics and visualization capabilities.

Enhancing the Data Analytics and Experience Pivot

Salesforce, a veteran in the CRM space, is repositioning itself as a digital experience (DX) platform, wherein it intends to become a one-stop, end-to-end solution for enterprises’ DX needs. It has been making strategic acquisitions over the years to plug in the gaps in its DX platform portfolio to achieve this goal.

SFDC Acquisition blog DX image

Because Tableau and Salesforce’s in-house analytics tool, Einstein Analytics, can easily interoperate, the company will be able to sell a well-packaged data analytics offering. Tableau’s niche capabilities in data analytics will not only deliver an improved data management solution but will also help enterprises form data-intensive strategies and optimize the overall stakeholder experience. And, the acquisition gives Salesforce new up- and cross-sell opportunities, as enterprises will be able to purchase CRM and business intelligence (BI) capabilities from a single vendor.

Gaining a Full View of Enterprise Data

Looking at the timeline of Salesforce’s acquisitions, we see a strategic shift from targeting digital marketing and commerce space toward enhancing enterprise data lifecycle management. Since 2018, Salesforce’s top deals have been to expand its coverage in the data and analytics space. Undoubtedly, the move has given Salesforce a shot in the arm when it comes to showcasing its capabilities across the data management value chain. Tableau sits atop of its acquisitions, plugging in multiple outside data sources and offering an easy to use UI for data visualization.

SFDC Acquisition blog CRM image

Indeed, Salesforce’s acquisition of Tableau is a strategic next step after its 2018 acquisition of MuleSoft. While Salesforce leveraged Mulesoft to create a “Salesforce Integration Cloud” that allows different cloud applications to connect via APIs, Tableau can help it gain deeper insights in this data, in turn driving enterprises toward data-driven decision making.

Data Orchestration Meets Cognitive

We give a thumbs up to this deal, particularly for what it means to the market going forward. Why?

The move fits well with Salesforce’s agenda to move into machine learning-driven analytics. Essentially, it will now have a strong BI tool, underpinned by AI, that will democratize enterprise access to next-generation data modeling and analytics capabilities.  A Tableau-integrated Salesforce Einstein Analytics offering should be able to deliver an intelligent, intuitive analytics and data visualization platform that leverages enterprise-wide data to help enterprise customers, employees, and partners with well-curated insights.

Technology Decisions to Avoid Digital Transformation Exhaustion | Blog

By | Blog, Digital Transformation

Organizational exhaustion is the deadliest enemy of companies undertaking digital transformation. It may be hard to believe, but one reason this happens is that companies do a lot of work to prepare for an unknown objective. Therefore, they effectively dissipate their commitment, resources, money and energy in areas that don’t bring value. This exhaustion prevents companies from completing their digital transformation journey. Let’s look at why and how this happens, and I’ll share how to avoid it. The remedy likely will seem counter-intuitive, and it goes against all that technicians believe. But it works.

Read my blog on Forbes

Is Latin America the Emerging Region for Technology Services Delivery? | Blog

By | Blog, IT Security

For years, India has been the epicenter of offshore technology services delivery for U.S.-headquartered enterprises. But our Market Vista Annual Report 2019 and Predictions for Global Services Delivery Locations 2019 reports show that a host of factors are driving a much closer look at Latin American countries as a destination for the delivery of IT services.

So, what’s making Latin America click with companies of all sizes, including some of the world’s biggest brands, like Amazon, Facebook, Google, HP, Intel, and Microsoft?

Proximity with the U.S.

The time zone differences between India and the U.S. are impeding demand for agile development. But because Latin America and the U.S. share similar time zones, the delivery and client teams can collaborate in real time.

Availability of skilled IT professionals

Due to strong government and educational support, Latin American countries are producing an ever-growing number of talented professionals with relevant, and often advanced technology skill sets, like blockchain, artificial intelligence, and machine learning.

Rise in technology start-ups

The abundance of low-cost technical talent is driving a surge in Latin American country-based technology start-ups through accelerator programs such as 500 Startups, Techstars, and Y Combinator. Investors are also betting high on tapping the potential of technology start-ups in the region. For example, SoftBank Group in March 2019 announced a US$5 billion Innovation Fund, touted to be the largest-ever technology fund in Latin America.

Less competitive intensity

Although India is far more cost competitive than Latin American countries, competition in India is increasingly intense given that it is home to more than 1,100 shared services centers and thousands of service provider delivery centers. Because there are fewer service delivery centers in Latin America, competition for talent is comparatively lower, making it easier for companies to hire the best talent.

Language proficiency

Most Latin American countries have significantly improved in English language proficiency over the years. And their Spanish language skills are valuable to the U.S. market given the large Spanish population residing in the country.

Most leveraged countries for technology services in Latin America

What are the top five Latin American countries doing to advance their attractiveness to technology services clients?

Mexico — #1

  • Passed new regulation for its FinTech sector, which is the largest FinTech ecosystem in Latin America
  • Established INADEM to support establishment of start-ups
  • Launched 500 Startups Latin America, Startup Mexico, and Startup Weekend Mexico to develop tech start-ups
  • Launched the world’s largest free economic zone along the US-Mexico border to attract tech investments.

Argentina — #2

  • Passed the Entrepreneur’s Law, which accelerates businesses’ registrations
  • Launched programs such as Startup Buenos Aires and IncuBAte to support entrepreneurship
  • Provides free university education to everyone.

Brazil — #3

  • Established Start-Up Brasil, a federal program to support start-ups
  • Launched TechD, a public-private partnership, to fund emerging technology companies
  • Initiated a national plan on digital transformation, IoT, and information, communications, and cyber security strategy
  • Launched STEAM courses to develop a large pool of engineers and technical talent
  • Passed a law to hire temporary workers on a longer contract term.

Colombia — #4

  • Rebranded Colombia as a technology center, and offers tax incentives and a professional training program
  • Established a Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation, and a High Council for Innovation and Digital Transformation to support tech initiatives.

Chile — #5

  • Launched a centralized web system that allows one-day business registrations
  • Established Start-Up Chile to support development of start-ups and boost the local tech ecosystem
  • Launched a tech visa facility to help technology talent and investors acquire a visa in 15 days
  • Introduced a blockchain-based platform for public payments.

With their strong trade links, nearshore advantage, and growing technology talent pools, several of the Latin American countries offer a multi-pronged value proposition to enterprises seeking an IT services delivery destination.

To learn more about the region, please read our Market Vista Annual Report 2019 and Predictions for Global Services Delivery Locations 2019 reports.

Do We Really Need a Robot Per Employee? | Blog

By | Automation/RPA/AI, Blog

When I started researching the RPA space five years ago, vendors were working hard to position themselves in the unattended automation space, where robots ran on servers in the data center, according to schedules, typically delivering back-office functions.

This was a departure from attended automation that for some years had boosted (and still does) agent efficiency in the contact center.

Today, the market has come full circle, with a focus on helping other office workers, not just contact center agents, increase their productivity. A robot per employee is a marketing message we are hearing increasingly frequently, boosted by the concepts of lo-code software and citizen developers who can build their own robots with little help from tech developers.

Examples of automation vendor activity in this space include:

  • NICE’s NEVA, an avatar for NICE’s attended automation, to help all office workers automate their repetitive tasks
  • Softomotive’s People First approach, which intends to democratize automation in the enterprise. This applies to both attended and unattended automations, but puts the power in the hands of employees
  • UiPath, which is putting out a robot per employee messages in addition to its Automation First campaign. It has even showcased robot-based consumer apps at its event.

One could argue that going full circle back to attended is because unattended automation is proving tough to scale. That does not diminish the potential opportunities that the concept brings to the enterprise and its employees. But it is not immediately obvious what attended robots could do for the average office worker.

Here are a couple of examples.

At the recent Pegaworld event in Las Vegas, a healthcare payer company showcased several examples of how it is using attended automation, including logging employees in to half a dozen systems, a task they need to perform every morning, through what the company calls “start my day,” and changing passwords on those systems on behalf of the employees, at the frequency dictated by the corporate IT policy. Another is helping with repetitive sales administration tasks, e.g., the robots update daily sales information for reporting purposes.

The big question is, do these kinds of examples, good as they are, justify the investment in desktop/attended automation robots by the thousands? True that attended robot licenses typically cost much less than unattended ones, and vendors are likely to offer good rates for bulk orders. But overhead costs, such as training employees to code their own robots and for the enterprise to support them, also come into play, as do robot performance: how fast can they run on those desktops, and can employees get on with other work while the robots are running?

It is early days for a robot per employee model, but it is high time that we boosted office worker productivity again. It has been decades since the advent of personal office software led to the last productivity revolution.

Personally, I am looking forward to seeing attended automation evolve and become really useful. I cannot wait to “robot-source” some of my daily routine work. First though, we (office workers) have to try attended automation for ourselves and see what works and what doesn’t. Lessons learned in the contact center can help us with this, but hands-on and trial and error is the best way forward.

You are on AWS, Azure, or Google’s Cloud. But are you Transforming on the Cloud? | Blog

By | Blog, Cloud & Infrastructure

There is no questioning the ubiquity of cloud delivery models, independent of whether they’re private, public, or hybrid. It has become a crucial technology delivery model across enterprises, and you would be hard pressed to find an enterprise that has not adopted at least some sort of cloud service.

However, adopting the cloud and leveraging it to transform the business are very different. In the Cloud 1.0 and Cloud 2.0 waves, most enterprises started their adoption journey through workload lift and shifts. They reduced their Capex and Opex spend by 30-40 percent over the years. Enamored with these savings and believing their job was done, many stopped there. True that the complexity of the lifted and shifted workload increased when they moved from Cloud 1.0 to Cloud 2.0, e.g., from web portal to collaboration platforms to even ERP systems. But, it was still lift and shift, with minor refactoring.

This fact demonstrates that most enterprises are, unfortunately, treating the cloud as just another hosting model, rather than a transformative platform.

Yet, a few forward-thinking enterprises are now challenging this status quo for the Cloud 3.0 wave. They plan to leverage the cloud as a transformative model where native services can be built in to not only modernize the existing technology landscape but also for cloud-based analytics, IoT-centric solutions, advanced architecture, and very heavy workloads. The main difference with these workloads is that they won’t just “reside” on cloud; they will use the fundamental capabilities of the cloud model for perpetual transformation.

So, what does your enterprise need to do to follow their lead?

Of course, you need to start by building the business case for transformation. Once that is done, and you’ve taken care of the change management aspects, here are the three key technology-centric steps you need to follow:

Redo workloads on the cloud

Many monolith applications, like data warehouses and sales applications, have already been ported to a cloud model. You need to break the ones you use down based on their importance and the extent of debt in terms of the transformation needed. Many components may be taken out of the existing cloud and ported in-house or to other cloud platforms based on the value they can deliver and their architectural complexity. Some components can leverage cloud-based functionalities (e.g., for data analytics) and drive further customer value. You need to think about extending the functionality of these existing workloads to leverage newer cloud platform features such as IoT-based data gathering and advanced authentication.

Revisit new builds on the cloud

Our research suggests that only 27 percent of today’s enterprises are meaningfully building and deploying cloud-native workloads. This includes workloads with self-scaling, tuning, replication, back-up, high availability, and cloud-based API integration. You must proactively assess whether your enterprise needs cloud-native architectures to build out newer solutions. Of course, cloud native does not mean every module should leverage the cloud platform. But a healthy dose of the workload should have some elements of cloud adoption.

Relook development and IT operations on the cloud

Many enterprises overlook this part, as they believe the cloud’s inherent efficiency is enough to transform their operating model. Unfortunately, it does not work that way. For cloud-hosted or cloud-based development, you need to relook at your enterprise’s code pipelines, integrations, security, and various other aspects around IT operations. The best practices of the on-premise era continue to be relevant, albeit in a different model, such as tweaks to the established ITSM model). Your developers need to get comfortable with leveraging abstract APIs, rather than worrying about what is under the hood.

The Cloud 3.0 wave needs to leverage the cloud as a transformation platform instead of just another hosting model. Many enterprises limit their cloud journey to migration and transition. This needs to change going forward. Enterprises will also have to decide whether they will ever be able to build so many native services in their private cloud. The answer is probably not. Therefore, the strategic decision of leveraging hybrid models will become even more important. The service partners will also need to enhance their offerings beyond migration, transformation during migration, and management. They need to drive continuous evolution of workloads once ported or built on the cloud.

Remember, the cloud itself is not magic. What makes it magical is the additional transformation you can derive beyond the cloud platform’s core capabilities.

What has been your experience in adopting cloud services? Please write to me at [email protected].

How To Identify What Technologies To Invest In For Digital Transformation | Blog

By | Blog, Digital Transformation

Unfortunately, two common situations in digital transformation cause CIOs (or others leading the transformation) to deliver little or no business value. An Everest Group study last year found that 73% of the digital transformations that we studied failed to provide any value whatsoever, and 78% failed to achieve their business objective. Put another way, only 22% achieved their business objective. In both common situations that lead to delivering little or no value, the executives leading the transformation took a technology-first approach. In this blog, I’ll explain how this leads to digital transformation failures and explain an alternative approach that succeeds in delivering value.

Read more in my blog on Forbes

Four Key Trends in Social Media Content Moderation | Blog

By | Blog

While the numbers vary depending on the source, there are give or take three billion social media users around the world in 2019. With the associated dramatic increase in manipulative and malicious content, there’s been an explosion in the market for content moderation services.

Based on our interactions with leading global enterprises and service providers, here are the four key trends impacting the content moderation services industry.

Key trends impacting content moderation services

1. Demand for content moderation is growing

Given the exponential rise of inappropriate online content like political propaganda, spam, violence, disturbing videos, dangerous hoaxes, and other extreme content, most governments have instituted or begun creating policies to regulate social networking, video, and e-commerce sites. As a result, social media companies are facing mounting legislative pressures to curate all content generated on their platforms.

The following image shows how seriously these companies are taking the issue. And note that these numbers only account for outsourced content moderation services, not internally managed content moderation.

Content generation services BPO Market

Orange boxes indicate CAGR / Y-o-Y growth over the years

2. Both technology and humans are vital

Technological capabilities – ranging from robotic process automation (RPA) to automate repetitive manual process steps, to AI-assisted decision support tools, to AI-enabled task automation of review steps – have certainly emerged as key levers to help social media companies protect their communities and scale their content management operations. For example, established tech giants including Microsoft and Google, as well as fast-growing start-ups, have been investing in developing scalable AI content solutions that deliver faster business value and safer conditions.

While technology will continue to play a big role, it certainly isn’t the be-all, end-all. The judgement-intensive nature of content moderation work requires the human touch. Indeed, with the increasing complexity of the work and the rising regulatory oversight requirements, the need for human employees as part of the content moderation equation will continue to grow significantly.

3. Content moderators need a multitude of skills

Content moderation is an extremely difficult job, at times monotonous and at others disturbing. As not everyone is cut out for the role, companies need to assess candidates against multiple criteria, including:

  • Language proficiency, including region-specific slang
  • Local context
  • Acceptance of ideas that may be contrary to self-held beliefs and personal opinions (e.g., on gender, religion, societal norms, political issues, etc.)
  • Ability to adhere to global policies
  • Ability/maturity to review content that is explicit in nature
  • Exposure to a multi-cultural, diverse society
  • Exposure to freedom of expression, both online and offline, and a drive to protect it
  • Ability to understand and accept increasingly stringent regulatory policies.

4. Content moderation services demand a different location strategy

Because all countries have unique cultural, regional, and socio-political nuances, the traditional offshore/nearshore-centric location selection strategies that work for standard IT and business process services won’t work for content moderation work. Companies seeking outsourced content moderation services need to look at regional hubs alongside multiple local centers to succeed. In the short-term, this means working with leading providers with hyper-localized delivery centers and rising local providers in the target countries.

Outlook

Here’s what we see coming down the pike in the increasingly complex content moderation space.

  • Short-term investments/quick fixes might take precedence over long-term investments
  • Until the regulatory landscape stabilizes, companies might need to allocate a disproportionate amount of resources/spend towards compliance initiatives
  • Regulatory uncertainty and ambiguity will increase demand for specialist/niche forms of talent, including legal professionals and consultants. Today’s content adjudicators will be displaced by forensic investigators with specialized skills in product, market, legal, and regulatory domains
  • Companies must make talent development activities a priority through a specialized focus on structured talent sourcing and training, and strong emphasis on employee well-being through various wellness initiatives
  • As AI continues to grow in sophistication, a more defined synergistic relationship between humans and the technology will emerge. AI will be responsible for evaluating massive amounts of multi-dimensional content, and humans will focus on intent and deeper context analysis
  • The need for a hyper-local delivery model will prompt enterprises to increasingly explore outsourcing as a potential solution to benefit from service providers’ diversified location portfolios.

To learn more about the content moderation space, please contact Hrishi Raj Agarwalla / Rohan Kapoor / Anurag Srivastava.

The Amazon Web Services Juggernaut: Observations from the AWS Summit India 2019 | Blog

By | Blog, Cloud & Infrastructure

Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) Summit in Mumbai last week made it clear that its trifecta juggernaut in customer centricity, long-term thinking, and innovation is giving other public cloud vendors a run for their money.

Here are our key takeaways for AWS clients, partners, and the ecosystem.

Solid growth momentum

Sustaining a growth rate in the mid-teens is a herculean task for most multi billion-dollar businesses. But AWS has an annual run rate of US$31 billion, and clocked-in a 41 percent Y/Y growth rate, underpinned by millions of monthly active customers and tens of thousands of AWS Partner Network (APN) partners around the globe.

Deep focus on the ecosystem

Much of this momentum is due to AWS’ heavy focus on developing a global footprint of partners to help enterprises migrate and transform their workloads. Taking a cautious and guided approach to partner segmentation, it not only broke out its Consulting and Technology partners, but also segmented its Consulting Partners into five principal categories: Global SIs and Influencers, National SIs, Born-in-the-Cloud, Distributors, and Hosters. This is helping AWS establish specific innovation and support agendas for its partners to grow.

AWS growth momentum – underpinned by expansive global partner network

This partner ecosystem focus is increasingly enabling enterprises to achieve real business value through the cloud, including top-line/bottom-line growth, additional RoI, lower cost of operations, and higher application developer productivity. And AWS’ dedicated focus on articulating business benefits such as operational agility, operational resilience, and talent productivity, along with the underlying tenets of the cloud economy, has helped it onboard more enterprises.

Cloud convenience will need an accelerated Outposts push

Enterprises are looking for cloud convenience, which often manifests in location-agnostic (on-premise or on cloud) access to AWS cloud services. To bring native AWS services, infrastructure, and operating models to virtually any datacenter, co-location space, or on-premises facility, the company launched AWS Outposts at its 2018 re:Invent conference. Outposts is expected to go live by H2 2019 for Indian customers. Despite this, AWS is trailing in this front, playing catch-up to Microsoft Azure, which launched Azure Stack almost a year ago (and previewed a version in 2015.) At the same time, AWS will have to educate its enterprise clients and ease their apprehensions about vendor lock-in challenges while leveraging integrated hardware and software packages.

Helping clients avoid consumption fatigue

Shifting the focus toward AWS’ innovation agenda, the public cloud vendor launched over 1,800 services and features in 2018. As enterprises grapple with the rising number of tools and technologies at their disposal – which can lead to consumption fatigue – this can manifest in different ways:

  • Large enterprises will often depend on system integrators to help them unlock value out of latest technologies – AWS’ success in furthering the partner ecosystem will be crucial here
  • For SMBs, AWS will build on its touchpoints with the segment, something that Microsoft and Google already enjoy because of their respective enterprise productivity suites.

What’s next on AWS’ innovation front

There seemed to be a lack of development on the quantum or high-performance computing front. Client conversations suggested that they are struggling to figure out the right use cases depending on whether they need more compute and/or data – something AWS can help educate them on.

Gazing into the enterprise cloud future

We do not believe enterprises will move their entire estates to the public cloud. Indeed, as they transition to the cloud, we expect the future to be decidedly hybrid, i.e., a mix of on-premise and public, as this approach will allow every organization to choose where each application should reside based on its unique needs.

To deliver on this hybrid need, product vendors are inking partnerships with virtualization software companies. And the services and product line-ups are piquing enterprises’ curiosity. To help stake its claim in this hybrid space, AWS Outposts does have a VMware Cloud option, which is AWS’ hardware with the same configurations but using VMware’s Software Defined Data Center (SDDC) stack running on EC2 bare-metal. But it will need to educate the marketplace to accelerate adoption.

The bottom line is that although AWS is facing some challenges on the competitor front – with Azure and a reinvigorated Google Cloud under Thomas Kurian – it is well positioned on account of a solid growth platform and ecosystem leverage, which it demonstrated at the 2019 India Summit.