Category: Cloud Infrastructure

IMC 2022 Highlights: India Mobile Conference Focuses on 5G Business Opportunities | Blog

With the launch of 5G in India last month, the 2022 Indian Mobile Congress (IMC) demonstrated many exciting possibilities for the high-speed network to deliver innovative use cases in India. Beyond the technology benefits, 5G can be leveraged to solve efficiency and optimization challenges and enable future growth for enterprises. To learn more about 5G business opportunities, read on.  

India embarked on its “new digital universe” with the official unveiling of 5G technology by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the sixth edition of the Indian Mobile Congress (IMC), Oct. 1-4 in Pragati Maidan in New Delhi. In this blog, we share some of our key takeaways from the event organized by the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) and India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT).

The evolution of connectivity technologies with 5G as a platform for boosting productivity and innovation was among the key themes that emerged from this India mobile conference that drew an enthusiastic response from technology service and infrastructure providers, manufacturers, industry and government officials, academia, and the public.

Shifting narrative: from explaining technology to showcasing possibilities

While the 5G benefits of increased connectivity speed, low latency, and improved reliability are now well known, the India mobile conference highlighted several 5G-enabling technologies. These include carrier integrated 5G network (low- and mid-band); open-source technologies and architectures (O-RAN); network cloudification through Software-Defined Networking (SDN), Network Functions Virtualization (NFV), and Multi-Access Edge Computing (MEC); small cell 5G architecture, private 5G, network slicing, and Fixed Wireless Access (FWA).

An interesting highlight of the event was the increased emphasis on showcasing the applications of 5G. Among the possible use cases spotlighted were massive and critical Internet of Things (IoT), machine-to-machine communication, collaborative robotics, autonomous driving, vehicle edge computing, metaverse and Augmented Reality (AR) powered collaboration, predictive maintenance, remote surgery, real-time analytics and decision making, cloud-based gaming, smart cities solutions, intelligent supply chain and logistics, and smart retail.

With 5G resolving connectivity problems and other building blocks like cloud, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML), and IoT now mainstream, enterprises have all the needed elements to optimize and modernize their technology landscape and capture the next wave of growth opportunities.

5G for sustainability: an emerging conversation

While 5G network equipment and components are generally expected to consume more power than the previous generation, recent equipment and software innovations aim to make products as energy efficient as possible.

Some examples of the energy-efficient technology presented at IMC included lightweight massive Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO) radios and software solutions such as traffic-aware dynamic network management solutions for energy monitoring and management that provide 5G levels of expected network performance while consuming the same amount of energy as the traditional 4G network.

5G also is expected to power the next generation of sustainability applications around Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions monitoring and management, optimal resource management, smart transport, and other uses. Its higher bandwidth will make it possible to connect large numbers of IoT devices over the Internet and enable faster decisions through increased connectivity speeds and low latency.

Turning possibilities into practicalities: the need for building a contextualized business case

While 5G offers numerous benefits, from optimization and efficiency to unlocking new growth avenues, the strategic business value needs to be clearly communicated to enterprises.

Currently, the 5G ecosystem is a bit fragmented, with different types of players offering their own strengths. For example, OEMs are focusing on improving the equipment and hardware; communication service providers are focused on increased speed and low latency; and system integrators (SIs) bring data, AI/ML, IoT, and cloud expertise.

To move to the next level, industry players need to combine 5G’s benefits of connectivity, reliability, and low latency with AI/ML, IoT, and cloud to build business use cases that add value to enterprises beyond just showcasing the possibilities.

Ecosystem players need to help enterprises realize that 5G is not only an improved wireless network technology but also a solution to their long-standing efficiency and optimization challenges that can enable their next wave of growth.

To further discuss the India mobile conference and how to capture the most value from 5G business opportunities, please reach out to us at [email protected] and [email protected].

Watch our webinar, What’s Ahead After a Decade of Digital Transformation?, to hear our analysts share perspectives on what’s in store for the digital transformation industry in the next ten years.

Metaverse Adoption: How Cloud Can Add Reality in Virtuality | Blog

As the foundational technology for metaverse, a cloud infrastructure can unleash metaverse’s true promise and help it grow. To learn about the five critical elements cloud offers metaverse and how it is impacting enterprise strategies and the future, read on.

Metaverse holds the promise to transform the way we create, consume, and communicate information by integrating virtual, augmented, and physical realities in a world where users can engage and gather immersive experiences.

Technology pioneers are betting on this multi-billion-dollar industry that can offer experiential engagement to digital customers. With a potential growth rate of more than 50% by 2030, it is considered the technology of the future.

From redefining the hybrid work model to modernizing product payment systems and innovating experiences at speed and scale, metaverse has found applications most everywhere across all enterprises. It has evolved from only being accessible through Virtual Reality (VR) headsets to becoming directly available through smartphones.

“The metaverse is here, and it’s not only transforming how we see the world but how we participate in it – from the factory floor to the meeting room.”

– Satya Nadella, Chairman and CEO, Microsoft

The metaverse’s foundation

But what enables metaverse to create synced avatars that can interact in real-time with such ease? Which underlying technologies integrate to create the virtual existence of our physical realm?

Beneath this world of enhanced user experience and engagement lies the core of all the new-age order – the cloud. Metaverse seems to be a natural use case of cloud adoption. Its ever-expanding universe of existence demands resources that can support its growth.

Moreover, cloud can exhibit its true potential to be purpose-led with the expansion of metaverse. Thus, with the underlying requirements of accessibility and connectedness, a cloud-native infrastructure can unleash metaverse’s true promise.

Five critical elements that cloud offers metaverse

Cloud caters to the metaverse in the following ways:

  • Scalability: Metaverse requires a similar experience for several concurrent users. Distributed cloud computing allows easy interactivity and accessibility through on-demand computing power, storage, and networking capabilities. Underlying flexible architectures allow constant scaling and user expansion. Hyperscalers have already recognized their role and are creating technology stacks to enable metaverse
  • Efficiency: Creating an open metaverse system requires a powerful underlying infrastructure that can combine complicated virtual environments into a single ecosystem. Being complex and compute-intensive, more innovative ways to leverage infrastructure are needed. Hosting environments must not only store and immediately process huge data streams but also maintain similar operational levels at all times. With a hybrid and distributed cloud environment, metaverse applications can seamlessly access enormously powerful processing resources. Cloud services providers are continuously providing optimized cloud environments based on adopting metaverse applications
  • Interoperability: Metaverse provides an interconnected virtual environment where users can find new means to engage and access content. This opens new opportunities for monetization with virtual and physical synergy. Interoperability in metaverse requires standard protocols, homogenizing multiple data structures, and output streams to converge for a seamless experience. Cloud-enabled open metaverse architecture has embedded interoperability principles empowering users to port their identities into a shared digital ecosystem
  • Real-time experience: Providing real-time experiences to millions of concurrent users requires low latency levels. Latency is directly related to decision-making in the virtual environment. Also, latency reduction helps remove cyber-sickness (similar to motion sickness), which is prominent in VR usage. Cloud delivers believable experiences through dispersed points of presence, and with edge cloud, service providers can boost computing powers and improve response time. Edge computing thus plays a vital role in providing high-quality rendering in real-time
  • Cost-effectiveness: Consumers need Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality (AR/VR) glasses to have a truly immersive experience in metaverse. Even entry-level versions of these equipment pieces are relatively expensive because of inbuilt hardware. Offloading compute to edge cloud infrastructure can potentially lower the costs and increase the feasibility of the systems

Metaverse’s impact on cloud strategies

Industry players have recognized the cloud’s pivotal role in the metaverse space. Social media companies, game developers, and technology vendors have begun to meaningfully invest in strengthening their cloud infrastructure.

The race to embrace metaverse is changing future cloud adoption strategies in such ways as:

  • Increased hybrid cloud adoption – Adopting a hybrid cloud to host enterprises’ metaverse entities will improve the speed, availability, reliability, and scalability of metaverse environments
  • More secure cloud investments – Financing is essential for the operations and to build native applications to leverage the power and capacity that cloud offers
  • New edge computing appreciation – This architecture can help alleviate performance and connectivity challenges
  • Increased custom-built cloud solutions – Enterprises are favoring this approach, which can accelerate their metaverse adoption, such as AR cloud

Metaverse adoption outlook

We expect enterprise leadership to increasingly push for metaverse adoption to meet evolving internal objectives or changing environmental dynamics. Transforming the underlying infrastructure to be metaverse-ready is the first – and most critical step – for enterprises embarking on this journey.

For more details on metaverse adoption, see our Metaverse Primer: What Is It and Where Can It Be Used? To discuss leveraging the cloud to have a metaverse-ready infrastructure, contact [email protected] and [email protected].

You can also watch our LinkedIn Live session, Trust and Safety (T&S) in the Metaverse, to learn risk mitigation strategies for challenges that could arise when taking on metaverse initiatives, and implications for the third-party T&S services market.

How Enterprises Can Achieve Full Value from ServiceNow Investments | Blog

In response to changing market demands, ServiceNow has expanded its platform over the past two years, from primarily managing IT workflows to providing full enterprise solutions. Read on to learn the best practices from industry leaders to ensure your greatest return from ServiceNow investments.   

Since our inaugural ServiceNow Services PEAK Matrix Assessment in 2020, the software company has significantly expanded its portfolio to go beyond IT Service Management (ITSM) to new offerings that help clients drive business growth, increase resilience, and enhance employee productivity.

Our recently published second edition of the assessment found about 65% of enterprises are exploring scaling up ServiceNow investments for end-to-end process modernization. CIOs who have upgraded their IT workflow on ServiceNow are now looking to transform business processes and integrate the platform with existing systems of record, engagement, and intelligence.

Based on our interactions with industry leaders, we recommend enterprises consider the following factors when seeking to modernize their business processes with ServiceNow:

  1. Shift away from IT to business Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

The watermelon effect of KPIs in ITSM is not new. Over the past two years, we have addressed several situations where ServiceNow clients struggled with having all the metrics look green on the outside but are red on the inside.

The reason often is two-fold – tracking irrelevant metrics and overreliance on IT metrics. Enterprises need to track relevant metrics closely tied to business outcomes while being aware of the pitfalls in measuring these metrics.

ServiceNow customers are tracking business KPIs such as customer experience, reduction in touchpoints, percentage of issues resolved by self-healing, and cost efficiency. Leading service partners are proactively collaborating with customers to course correct and update KPIs and tracking methods during quarterly and mid-year reviews.

  1. Minimize customization

Early adopters leveraged ServiceNow to make custom applications and create a final product that mimicked organizational processes. These solutions were developed on the go to meet demand. As ServiceNow continues to push new and improved versions, it has become very difficult and costly for these customers to make updates due to the huge technical debt.

Clients that adopted ServiceNow largely out-of-box are more agile and tend to benefit from improved processes. Enterprises should modernize their processes to fit the standard offerings and minimize customization or wait for the offerings to sufficiently mature before investing.

  1. Select the right transformation partner

We think Albert Einstein’s famous statement, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results,” unfortunately, applies here. Most enterprises need qualified staff to help guide and manage the project over multiple years. They also need to deal with unplanned turnover, the ServiceNow talent gap, inflexible contracts that don’t allow for strategy changes, ever-shrinking budgets, and, last but not least, the desire to have measurable outcomes. But often, enterprises end up using the same vendor selection and RFP processes without taking these factors into account.

Leading enterprises have not only updated their vendor selection methods but also have started planning for attrition, contractual flexibility, and outcome accountability right at the beginning of the engagement.

Large enterprises now are more open to engaging with specialist ServiceNow partners for module-specific requirements, especially for non-ITSM products such as Human Resources Service Delivery (HRSD), Customer Service Management (CSM), and Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC). This is mainly owing to the specialized focus and right mix of flexibility and agility that large Global System Integrators (GSIs) often fail to offer.

We are closely tracking demand and supply-side developments in ServiceNow. For more insights, see our report, ServiceNow Services PEAK Matrix Assessment 2022, which sheds light on the ServiceNow partner ecosystem.

We would like to hear your thoughts on your ServiceNow investments and the growing adoption of innovative operating models to achieve business outcomes. Please reach out to us at [email protected] and [email protected].

You ca also find out What’s Ahead After a Decade of Digital Transformation in this webinar as we share perspectives on what’s in store for the digital transformation industry.

3 Tips for Managing Perpetual Change from Software-defined Operating Platforms

Over the past seven years, almost all large companies made substantial progress in implementing digital transformation across a wide variety of functions. At the core of those enormous investments and efforts was building software-defined operating platforms, which put companies on a trajectory to fundamentally change how they operate their business. However, studies show many companies (70%) failed or underperformed against their digital transformation objectives. In this blog, I’ll discuss three tips for how to avoid that outcome and, instead, reap the significant benefits of software-defined operating platforms.

Read on in Forbes

Metaverse and ScienceTech: Will These Virtual and Real-world Markets Compete?

Metaverse is the buzz these days. While Metaverse provides an embodied virtual-reality experience, ScienceTech fuses technology and science to solve real problems of humanity. Who will win in the battle for relevance, investments, and talent? To learn more about these virtual and real-world market opportunities and what actions technology and service providers should take, read on.

While they once seemed far out, the Metaverse and ScienceTech are here now. As part of our continued Metaverse research, let’s explore these emerging technologies and whether they will collide or coexist.

ScienceTech brings together technology and science to improve the real world by enhancing living standards and improving equality. It combines technology with physical sciences, life sciences, earth sciences, anthropology, geography, history, mathematics, systems, logic, etc.

Meanwhile, the Metaverse is an emerging concept that uses next-generation advanced technologies such as Augmented Reality (AR)/Virtual Reality (VR), digital assets, spatial computing, and commerce to build an immersive, seamless experience.

Over the past few months, Metaverse has become a hot topic not only in technology circles but also among enterprises. As providers pump billions of dollars to create the landscape and value realization becomes clearer, Metaverse will grab increasing attention from enterprises, providers, and market influencers.

Its serious market potential can be seen by the collaboration of industry participants to define standards to interoperate Metaverse platforms and ecosystems. Everest Group is witnessing great interest in our Metaverse research and our recent webinar Web 3.0 and the Metaverse: Implications for Sourcing and Technology Leaders generated unprecedented client inquiries.

ScienceTech has been around for many years but has been mostly experimental with limited revenue and growth. Technology and service providers have been reluctant to meaningfully scale this business because of its complexity, significant investment requirements, and high risk of failure.

However, the pandemic has changed priorities for enterprises and individuals, making ScienceTech more critical to solving real-life problems. The cloud, an abundance of data, better manufacturing processes, and a plethora of affordable technologies have lowered the cost of enabling and building these offerings.

Competition between Metaverse and ScienceTech

Below are some of the areas where these two emerging fields could conflict:

  • Relevance

Many cynics have decried Metaverse as one more fantasy of BigTech trying to take people further away from reality. This cynicism has gained pace in light of the disruptive global pandemic. The make-believe happy world driven by a heavy dose of virtual reality takes the focus of humanity away from the pressing needs of our time.

While not well defined, ScienceTech is generally perceived as being different from pure play. Some of its ideas have been around for many years such as device miniaturization, autonomous systems, regenerative medicine, and biosimulation. The core defining principle of ScienceTech is that science researched, validated, and hypothesized themes are built through technology. The relevance of ScienceTech may appear far more pressing to many than the make-believe virtual world of Metaverse.

  • Investment

The interesting competition will be for investments. Last year, venture capitalists invested over US$30 billion in crypto-related start-ups. As the Web 3.0 and Metaverse tech landscape becomes more fragmented and crowded, investors may not want to put their money into sub-scaled businesses. This can help the ScienceTech space, which is not well understood by investors, but offers a compelling value proposition.

  • Talent

Technology talent is scarce and ScienceTech talent is even scarcer. Although Metaverse vendors will continue to attract talent because they can pay top dollar, ScienceTech vendors can offer more purpose and exciting technologies to niche talent. In the internet heydays, people bemoaned that bright minds were busy clicking links instead of solving world problems. Metaverse may have that challenge and ScienceTech can benefit from this perception. GenZ job seekers want to work in areas where they can impact and change the world, and ScienceTech can provide that forum.

What should technology and service providers do?

Both Metaverse providers and ScienceTech companies will thrive and share quite a few building blocks for technologies, namely, edge, cloud, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and data. Multiple technology and trends will not battle. Moreover, these two markets serve different purposes and Metaverse and ScienceTech will coexist. Technology and service providers will need to invest in both segments, and capture and shape the market demand.

Providers need to prioritize where to focus efforts, investments, partnerships, and leadership commitment. A different people strategy will be needed because skilling technology resources on science and vice-versa will not work. They will need to select specific focus areas and hire people from multiple science domains. The R&D group will have to change its constituents and focus on science-aligned technology rather than just Information and Communications Technology.

To be successful, providers also will have to find anchor clients to underwrite some offerings, collaborate to gain real-life industry knowledge, and engage with broader ecosystems such as academia, government, and industry bodies to build market-enabling forums.

To learn more about our Metaverse research and discuss your experiences in these emerging areas, contact [email protected] or contact us.

Visit our upcoming webinars and blogs to learn more about upcoming technologies and trends.

Cloud ERP Market War: Oracle Continues to Win Over SAP and Microsoft

Oracle still ranks number one in the cloud ERP market with high enterprise satisfaction for its licensing, functionality, integration and customization, talent and community, and user adoption. But SAP and Microsoft have made notable improvements over the past two years and are moving closer to the leader in the ERP cloud war. Read on to learn the latest insights and five things that companies today demand from large enterprise resource planning (ERP) platforms.

In our blog in 2019, Oracle Wins Over Microsoft and SAP in the Cloud ERP BigTech Battle, we discussed how Oracle ERP Cloud is winning against SAP S/4HANA and Microsoft Dynamics 365.

Since then, we have interviewed more than 200 enterprise clients to collect feedback on major platforms as part of various PEAK Matrix® assessments, including Microsoft Dynamics 365 Services PEAK Matrix® Assessment 2021, SAP S/4HANA Services PEAK Matrix® Assessment 2021, and Oracle Cloud Applications (OCA) Services PEAK Matrix® Assessment 2022.

In our latest research, we share an updated analysis on the cloud ERP market and how this space has evolved. Key insights from these interviews are also summarized in our enterprise pulse study.

The below figure summarizes current enterprise satisfaction for ERP platforms across various dimensions.

exhibit 1

Cloud ERP market updates

Oracle continues to win the cloud ERP market competition, but SAP and Microsoft are inching closer. Let’s look at what has changed since 2019:

  • Oracle has improved its commercial flexibility, which was a major contention among enterprises. Its licensing model is now flexible enough to accommodate both cloud and on-premise workloads. This has eased Oracle customers to transition their core workloads to the cloud
  • For Microsoft Dynamics 365, multiple enterprises have vouched that talent availability and overall customer experience have improved, especially among SMB clientele. Adoption has increased due to mature sales and service capabilities along with affordable commercials. In general, Microsoft Dynamics has struggled with large enterprises in the past and is now making inroads into large clientele
  • For SAP S/4HANA, enterprises have observed that innovation from SAP into Business Technology Platform, together with mature partner solutions, have contributed to improved functionality and cloud capabilities. But SAP is not able to deliver a consistent experience across its on-premise, and cloud versions and its clients continue to suffer from integration challenges

What do enterprises expect from large ERP platforms?

  • Improve cloud functionality: Oracle cloud applications are a more mature offering than S/4 HANA and Dynamics. However, for all the vendors, the cloud versions will still take at least five years to reach the maturity of the on-premise version. For example, in Microsoft Dynamics, the maturity of products beyond sales and service is a concern, especially for marketing and commerce. Meanwhile, in Oracle, enterprises have expressed worries over the maturity of CX cloud; for SAP, HR, sales, and service modules continue to be concern areas
  • Enhance integration capabilities: Enterprises we interviewed said cloud ERP integration challenges continue to persist in the SAP landscape. End users often complain about broken experiences across cloud and on-premise systems. SAP needs to knit together all its business applications that are either developed in-house or acquired to work cohesively to deliver a superior end-user experience and enhance adoption
  • Strengthen partner ecosystem: Enterprises believe ERP platforms should further strengthen the partner program and solve challenges in the network ecosystem. They opine that System Integrators (SIs) fail to understand clients’ non-standard approaches and business-specific use cases. Present industry-specific applications across all three vendor ecosystems require high customization. Technology vendors should build scalable industry solutions in close collaboration with the enterprises and the SI ecosystem
  • Buttress talent availability: Another challenge enterprises continue to face is talent availability, especially for complex cloud modernization initiatives. The demand-supply gap is relatively higher for SAP skills compared to Microsoft and Oracle. Technology vendors should ramp up their investments in collaboration with service partners to scale up the talent base, especially for newer product areas
  • Offer hyperscalers flexibility: Enterprises believe that switching costs increase exponentially by tightly coupling applications with infrastructure. Customers want multiple vendors in their landscape to maintain price competitiveness. They expect Oracle and Microsoft to provide the flexibility to run cloud applications in an equally efficient manner on hyperscalers of their choice

Although current analysis shows Oracle continues to lead the cloud ERP market, it needs to continuously evaluate changing enterprise expectations and make targeted investments to consistently drive higher value for its clients.

How has your experience been with SAP, Oracle, and Microsoft? Please share your thoughts about the cloud ERP market with us at [email protected] and [email protected]. Or contact us.

Strategic Role of Technical Support in Driving SaaS Adoption

To meet the complexities of the software as a service (SaaS) world, leading providers are revamping their outdated support models to help enterprises achieve success in Industry 4.0. Technical support teams now have expanded roles in customer success, relationship management, and delivering other value-added services for clients. Read on to learn how the next evolution in technical support is turbocharging SaaS adoption.

For more on our continuing coverage of how digitalization is changing technical support functions, also read The Evolution of the Technical Support Engineer Job Role.

Customer support has been the “issue to resolution” function for many decades. When a customer calls with a problem, the support team works to resolve it as quickly as possible. In traditional perpetual licensing models, technical support is focused on operational metrics such as “the time to close a ticket” instead of offering an enhanced customer experience to improve customer retention and lifetime value. Legacy customers are accustomed to opening tickets when they notice an incident and expect companies to react quickly.

However, with the emergence of Industry 4.0 – characterized by technology-intensive transformation and the convergence of cyber and physical systems – enterprises have significantly shifted how they leverage technology-based solutions. In the experience-driven outcome economy, customers expect companies to monitor their solutions proactively to ensure outcomes are delivered as promised. This means companies should automate their monitoring, alerting, and self-healing capabilities to resolve most issues before customers notice them.

SaaS adoption is one of the key driving forces behind the emergence and success of Industry 4.0. Leading technology/SaaS vendors realize that traditional “break-fix” technical support models are outdated in the new environment and failing to evolve their existing technical support models is a major cause of dissatisfaction among SaaS customers. Hence, they are investing in revamping their technical support models. Let’s learn more about this interplay between SaaS adoption and technical support.

SaaS adoption and its impact on enterprise buying behavior

SaaS adoption is increasing exponentially across the globe. The global SaaS market is expected to grow at more than 100% CAGR through 2026, reaching a market size of US$300-400 billion. This increased adoption is driven by factors such as zero upfront/CapEx cost, reduced IT-related operating and maintenance costs, the ability to easily ramp up/down operations, adherence to best practices, and built-in functionalities providing users with ease of operations.

However, the increasing adoption of SaaS-based operating models has significantly influenced enterprises’ buying behavior, ultimately propelling SaaS providers to rethink their technical support strategies. Below are two key changes in buyer behavior and how they are impacting providers:

  • Shift from product to service mindset – No longer can you sell a technical solution with a perpetual license and consider your job finished. In a SaaS-based solution, revenue depends on the customer’s subscription and consumption of services. This is a dramatic shift in the treatment of SaaS-based solutions from a product to a service-based model with the quality of technical support determining the working relationship with the customer, affecting retention and lifetime value
  • Low client stickiness – With increased adoption of interoperability standards and heightened competition, the cost of changing from one SaaS provider to another has been drastically reduced versus on-premises solutions where switching costs previously locked clients into continuing with a specific service provider. This negligible switching cost has reduced client stickiness, making it essential for providers to help customers quickly realize value and deliver a differentiated experience to drive renewals and sales growth in a SaaS model

Evolving expectations from technical support

With negligible switching costs and a plethora of options available, technical support is becoming paramount to the SaaS solution’s success. A well-designed and well-implemented technical support model can help customers achieve desired objectives and increase revenue through differentiated technical support or even indirect lead generation by uncovering opportunities to cross-sell or upsell. Accordingly, the scope of technical support services has broadened beyond the break-fix solutions to involve the following dimensions:

  1. Value-added services

Additional value-add opportunities include:

  • Proactive and omnichannel support – Proactive customer service and omnichannel customer experiences are the new standards for supporting customers and can differentiate your product from the competition. Customers today demand self-service for addressing low-complexity queries, which reduces the number of inbound issues and support tickets. Addressing customers’ needs, challenges, and concerns before they occur shows customers you are invested in their success, promoting customer loyalty and retention. With the growth of digital channels, omnichannel support is necessary to offer customers a consistent, seamless, and integrated experience regardless of the channel to create a unified brand experience
  • Product usage and feedback analysis: While the support function has always had access to detailed customer data, the ability to correctly capture, read, and apply the insights learned from this data — both directly and from support automation tools — can transform a support organization into a marketplace pacesetter. Customers expect technical support providers to continuously analyze their usage patterns and then use that knowledge to augment products and services to fit their needs
  1. Act as customer success ambassadors

Technical support’s role has broadened beyond addressing customers’ queries and concerns to building customer loyalty and fostering long-term customer relationships. Now, technical support specialists also act as customer success ambassadors (also called Customer Success Managers (CSMs)), ensuring customers receive the needed tools and support to achieve their goals. CSMs strive to have an in-depth understanding of the customer’s needs and are responsible for communicating customer behavior/feedback to sales, marketing, and product teams. They help the organizations by:

  • Ramping up utilization: The technical support team acts as the SaaS provider’s brand face, ensuring customers quickly realize value and have a differentiated experience, which is vital to driving renewals and sales growth in a SaaS model. Keeping clients engaged is difficult if they don’t see the value in your products. They guide clients on product capabilities and use cases in which those capabilities can be leveraged
  • Cross-sell and upsell products/services: CSMs understand their customer requirements and can identify the best fit opportunities to upsell or cross-sell to their customers, as well as decide which features, functionality, or additional products would best suit each customer. When customers are ideal for an upgrade, CSMs can meet with them to explain why the additional purchase will be helpful

The shift in operating model for technical support

While the enhanced role of technical support is integral to the overall product experience and many factors are driving it, not all enterprises can deliver superlative technical support on their own. This can be due to multiple factors such as cost and geographic constraints, shortage of relevant in-house skills, inability to scale with product growth, failure to implement a true omnichannel experience, lack of accelerators to drive efficiency, etc.

Thus, enterprises are increasingly relying on both in-house and outsourced teams to offer technical support. A strategic third-party partner can bring technical domain skills, innovation, and customer success expertise to deliver an outstanding end-user experience and improved value realization for clients to supplement the capabilities of in-house employees.

As SaaS vendors explore the best fit from among the potential third-party technical support service providers, assessing providers’ potential strengths and shortcomings is important. For example, it may make sense for a SaaS vendor to partner with traditional contact center providers for high-volume low-complexity scenarios such as in a B2C environment. On the other hand, if the technical support required is characterized as low volume and high complexity such as in a B2B environment, then SaaS vendors may prefer to go for specialist technical support providers with strong domain experience and a highly-skilled talent pool.

Conclusion

As SaaS offerings become more ubiquitous, it will be critical for SaaS vendors to ensure  technical support teams progressively evolve. In a SaaS set-up, enterprise technical support includes a range of activities, such as complex platform support activities and analytics support for product enhancement, proactively addressing customer needs through self-service, as well as understanding customer needs and behavior for enhanced value realization of products.

Enterprises need to continuously invest in skill development of their in-house teams, which includes domain-specific learning, and experience with specific tools, as well as seek partnerships with third-party technical support providers to address customers’ heightened expectations for technical support. The technical support team – in-house or outsourced – should act as the brand face when engaging with the end client and reflect the technology solution providers’ values and brand promise.

If you have questions or would like to discuss the strategic role of technical support in driving SaaS adoption and how it is evolving, please reach out to David Rickard, [email protected], Rananjay Kumar, [email protected], or Divya Baweja, [email protected].

Watch our LinkedIn Live event, How Can Your Data Analytics Improve Your Customer Experience? for insights into how data and analytics can help businesses understand their customers at higher levels than ever before.

Building a Resilient Supplier Cyber Risk Management Strategy | Blog

Sharing sensitive data with outsourcing providers in today’s interconnected digital world has increased organizations’ vulnerability to cyberattacks, making it more important than ever to have an effective supplier cyber risk management strategy. To protect against threats, read on to learn the best practices for supplier cyber risk management.  

In today’s risky and interconnected environment, it has become essential for organizations to have a supplier cyber risk management strategy to identify, protect, detect, respond, and recover from supply chain cyberattacks.

The critical importance of relationships with outsourcing service providers has been amplified by the pandemic and recent geopolitical turmoil due to the Ukraine-Russia crisis. Outsourcing suppliers now play a vital role in running business operations, and these partnerships have grown more sophisticated.

With data sharing between the two parties increasing multifold, organizations have greater exposure to ransomware attacks, phishing, denial-of-service, and other cyberattacks.

Depending on the sensitivity of data shared with suppliers, the potential risk of data loss can impact an organization’s business operations – making it essential to develop a supply chain cyber risk management plan to protect from significant financial and operational impacts.

Not having a formal supplier cyber risk management strategy can cause compliance issues. With scrutiny on global supply chains intensifying, a lack of supplier insights can lead to government regulation violations, resulting in financial losses and tarnishing an organization’s brand.

As suppliers have access to sensitive and business-critical information, managing permissions and protecting data from unauthorized access, misuse, and data loss become crucial.

Further, many other risks exist from a supplier’s operational perspective, including issues related to geopolitics, bankruptcy, and macro risks. Organizations should have complete supply chain visibility to rapidly respond to susceptibilities and disruptions at the supplier’s end.

All of these factors can have a long-lasting impact on an organization’s image and reputation, potentially deteriorating customer loyalty and trust. Hence, having a resilient supplier cyber risk management strategy that includes visibility, transparency, clear communication, and collaboration has become non-negotiable for organizations.

The Everest Group risk management matrix

Let’s take a look at the different risk scenarios and their remedial measures below:

Picture2 1

Exhibit 1: Everest Group Supplier Management Toolkit: Risk Management in Outsourcing

Best practices for developing a supplier cyber risk management strategy

Developing a Supply Chain Risk Management (SCRM) program is indispensable for organizations as they become increasingly vulnerable to supply chain attacks.

Currently, the risk management focus in outsourcing is limited to compliance requirements such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), Service Organization Control (SOC) certifications, industry-specific compliances such as Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Health Information Trust Alliance (HITRUST), and criminal background verifications.

Other vital factors such as geopolitical and offshoring risks have not yet become key executive priorities. Further, as more companies lean on service providers to drive digitalization and corresponding transformation in their outsourced processes, organizations rarely try to identify potential risks and establish associated mitigation/contingency plans.

Some industry best practices such as ISO/IEC 27036:2013 and the NIST Cybersecurity Framework have been updated to include information security for supplier relationships, highlighting the importance of SCRM in corporate security. In terms of cyber security, this involves:

  • Defining cyber security requirements and measures that apply to suppliers based on their risk category
  • Enforcing these requirements via formal agreements (e.g., contracts) to ensure suppliers enter a binding commitment
  • Verifying and validating communication and access from and to suppliers
  • Ensuring effective implementation of cyber security requirements
  • Managing and supervising the above activities periodically

To optimally engage with and manage suppliers, the entire supplier life cycle should be organized into these three phases:

  1. Before and during the contracting phase – Screening suppliers before onboarding is essential for organizations to assess financial, operational, and reputational aspects. Procurement heads need to carry out background checks to ensure suppliers’ compliance status and performance viability. An exhaustive contract with legally binding responsibilities related to cyber security for both the organization and its suppliers should be created. This contract should define fundamental and high-level security requirements and privacy-based controls for supplier relationships at every point in the life cycle
  2. During the ongoing relationship – Once suppliers are onboarded, organizations must track all assets suppliers can gain entry to in a central repository. Customers should categorize suppliers into different risk classes based on how critical the information is to further define appropriate cybersecurity controls. These controls should be continuously evaluated to ensure adherence
  3. After the termination of the relationship – Offboarding a supplier requires disabling its logical and physical access, removing access to any data, and destructing it to ensure the supplier doesn’t hold any sensitive data. This phase also requires ensuring no severity incidents are pending and facilitating proper handoff between suppliers

Prevalence of risk management processes in the supplier life cycle

How common is it for organizations to have established risk management processes in each of the third-party life cycle steps? Our polling results show while most organizations have these safeguards in the first stage, fewer use them in later phases, as illustrated below:

Picture1 2

Exhibit 2: Everest Group’s Webinar Quick Poll (Could Your Business Partners Be Offering More Risk than Support?)

The supply chain for almost any organizational procurement activity can be the target of cyberattacks, either by going after the supply chain or the supplier’s/organization’s systems, once they are integrated.

More complex and sophisticated attacks are often left undiagnosed or unreported, making them potentially more disastrous for enterprises. At different points in the supplier management life cycle, stakeholders across organizations will have the primary responsibility for establishing and maintaining effective supplier cyber security controls.

Vigorous governance is required to ensure relevant stakeholders are responsible at the right time to guarantee optimal and best efforts are made to combat any cyber threats. To complement this governance, a strong collaborative culture across different departments is needed to drive continuous improvement.

Learn how to create an effective program for your organization in our executive brief on Cybersecurity Risk Management in the Supplier Life Cycle, part of our supplier management toolkit.

Please reach out to [email protected] to gain further insights on supplier cyber risk management or Contact Us.

Discover even more about cybersecurity in our current environment in our webinar, Cybersecurity: What You Need to Know to Find the Right Partner and Price.

Technology Service Providers’ Conundrum: Cloud Good for Growth, Not for Their Leadership | Blog

Leaders of cloud development at technology service providers are often seen as stars, leaving executives in charge of traditional segments feeling left out and unnoticed. The C-Suite needs to recognize the important contributions business units and their leaders play to the company’s overall growth and future success. Read on to learn the actions “non-cloud” business leaders should take to be sure they get the company investment, attention, and rewards they deserve. 

What describes the current cloud landscape for business at technology service providers

In our market observations, one aspect has become very common. Leaders at technology service providers who are driving cloud business development for their firms are witnessing much stronger professional growth in the organization than others.

Businesses always value and reward people who are part of fast-growing markets. Given that cloud business for technology service providers is growing two to five times more than overall company growth, it is the cynosure of discussions, investments, and leadership promotions. However, it is also creating challenges for C-level executives in terms of managing the morale of other “non-cloud” leaders.

As a result, we see some segments are now led by “lesser title” executives than in the past. Even if senior leaders run these businesses, they do not get the needed attention and investments from the C-suite. These units quickly become the cash cows that need to drive other high-growth business, such as cloud, which are subtle indications from top management around companies’ priorities.

What are non-cloud leaders doing?

Leaders driving traditional segments are partnering with cloud leaders to drive business. However, they also realize they need to play “second fiddle” in this partnership. Though the cloud business probably needs these segments more than vice versa, the cloud business becomes the fulcrum around which the partnership revolves.

This is forcing technology service providers to rethink the organizational structure of these segments. Some of them are or will embed these segments into different units instead of running them as standalone practices. Many leaders who were part of transformational offerings (e.g., modernization, platforms) have changed their roles now to align with cloud business units.

However, this is not enough, and the non-cloud leaders know it.

What should C-level leaders do?

Top management focuses on the overall growth of the firm. Cloud will continue to receive significant focus and investments from the C-suite because of the benefits of cloud technology to the business. However, the C-suite is failing to realize that the cloud business cannot be seen as an antagonist and other leaders should not feel excluded.

Although C-level executives have aligned non-cloud leaders’ incentives, growth, and influence areas based on capabilities, focus, and aspirations, they must design better models to engage them. They need to understand that cloud business development relies on the success of these other units that bring 50-80% of their top line.

While the cloud business at technology service providers acts as a “nodal agency,” it is unable to influence capability building across the organization. The key reason is because non-cloud leaders are unwilling to collaborate beyond the bare minimum because they see their personal growth being stifled even if they make the cloud business succeed.

We believe technology service providers who can solve this complex organizational structure problem will accelerate their overall business and cloud growth faster than their peers. As newer concepts of Metaverse, Digital Twins, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and composable businesses accelerate and large spend areas such as supply chain, networks, employee engagement, sustainability, and customer experience get disrupted by cloud, it will become even more important.

However, cloud will not be front and center before the strategy but an enabler for overall business outcome. Therefore, C-level leaders need to nurture their leadership outside of the immediate cloud business to prepare their organization for future success. Failing to do so may result in near-term growth for cloud business development but bring long-term challenges for the overall organization.

What should non-cloud leaders do?

  • Stake claim to the high table: Have the courage to speak up about the importance of your service line. Educate top management about how underinvestment in your business impacts the overall firm. Continue to collaborate with cloud leaders but build deep relationships where you are an equal partner instead of being in the back seat
  • Make your portfolio exciting: Leaders should make their management style and offering portfolio enticing. Unfortunately, most confuse their run the business innovation as exciting, which it is not. They should focus on revamping their offering portfolio, drive positive messages across team members about the impact they are creating, and create internal events for people to feel connected and motivated
  • Invest beyond run the business: Many leaders have almost given up on the hope of growth investing in their business. Some of it is a result of top management’s lack of interest, but in large part is due to the internalization the non-cloud leaders have of this apathy. These leaders need to build a stronger case for investments in their segments, link it to overall firm performance, and provide detailed insights into how their business is adding to cloud momentum
  • Quit: If the leaders continue to get short shrift in their organization, they should proactively look at opportunities outside their company. Smaller and niche companies are always seeking a growth-centric C-suite and will be happy to engage with them. In these companies, executives can create their charters and show the value add they can bring

What is your take on cloud business development at technology service providers? Please reach out to us at [email protected], [email protected], or contact us.

With the rapid pace of change and push toward digital adoption, enterprises need to identify the right vendors, determine the right price, and keep up with evolving operating models. Learn more in our webinar, Cybersecurity: What You Need to Know to Find the Right Partner and Price.

Metaverse eCommerce: The Next Logical Step in the Evolution of Immersive eCommerce

Metaverse is here to stay, and it’s going to play a significant future role in how we experience brands virtually. Industry giants are investing big in this space, and it is creating new opportunities for service providers to build feature-packed solutions for their customers entering the Meta world. Read on to learn about the potential and pitfalls of Metaverse eCommerce and why gaining a first-mover advantage is critical.

Digital commerce owes its maturity to the ever-evolving technology ecosystem – starting with the first online dial-up transaction on a modified television to a plethora of innovations over the past decade like mobile commerce, voice search, and social commerce. Emerging concepts such as gaming commerce and recommerce or reverse commerce are further defining the ecosystem.

Digital commerce is also witnessing an era of hyper-personalization powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI). According to Everest Group research on the Top 15 Start-ups Redefining Shoppable Experiences, 70% of the start-ups in the ecosystem are leveraging AI to offer enhanced solutions.

Enterprises are offering immersive buying experiences through Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality (AR/VR). To continue progressing on this trajectory, technological alignment is inevitable for a futuristic eCommerce strategy, and the next logical step for attaining this is Metaverse.

Defining metaverse and its significance in eCommerce

metaverse

Exhibit 1: Definition of Metaverse

In simple terms, Metaverse is an extension of technologies such as AR, VR, blockchain, cryptocurrency, and social commerce coming together to form a virtual world, where customers can shop, play games, and socialize with friends.

Popularized by video games and fiction novels, the idea of Meta has been around since the early 90s, but recently, the industry has become extremely bullish on Metaverse primarily due to two major contributors. Firstly, technologies backing the concept of Meta (blockchain, crypto, and affordable VR) have attained significant headway in the past decade. Secondly, the idea has gained mainstream momentum because industry giants such as Facebook (Meta), Google, and Microsoft are pouring huge investments into Meta-platforms. Experience management leader, Adobe, has also put its best foot forward towards the Meta world by offering tools specific to 3D content creation, experience delivery, asset management, and commerce.

The Meta wave began in the early 2000s with games like Second Life and World of Warcraft, which were based on centralized economies where the value of owned assets was limited to those games. Aiming to overcome this deficiency, Decentraland came into existence in 2020. This platform offered a decentralized economy, where along with building virtual worlds, trading assets, and hosting events, users could transfer purchases to other Meta platforms like The Sandbox. Although the latest version of Meta provides numerous opportunities for users, we are still far away from creating an Omniverse like the movie “Ready Player One.”

Despite the technology being in its infancy, Metaverse holds significant potential in the digital commerce space. In the current 2D eCommerce model, information is consumed rather than experienced, restricting brands from creating physical connections with users.

Metaverse can solve this problem to a very large extent. In Meta-commerce, shoppers can truly experience a company’s culture, design, and branding elements. This will create huge brand differentiation beyond what is currently limited to logos and banners.

Although the technology backing Metaverse is still at a nascent stage, it holds immense potential to build an immersive commerce platform where products will come alive and personalized customer engagement will create brand loyalists.

Brands advocating metaverse are already pioneering virtual commerce

Envisioning the macro future implications of a single worldwide Metaverse, forward-looking brands have already started creating virtual commerce experiences at the company level. Here are some examples:

  • DRESSX – Designers and fashion enthusiasts can enter their Metaverse and create clothes from scratch. Users can try clothes on through their avatars and convert their fashion non-fungible tokens (NFTs) into actual garments
  • Gucci Garden Metaverse and Louis The Game – Gucci and Louis Vuitton have each launched their own NFTs where everyone has the freedom to create and modify their apparel
  • Charlotte Tilbury Virtual Beauty Gifting Wonderland Users can connect with make-up artists in virtual rooms to discuss their skincare concerns and also invite friends to help them find the right product through an integrated video feature in the same session

Potential challenges in realizing metaverse

Metaversechart

Exhibit 2: Challenges pertaining to Metaverse implementation

To make Metaverse a reality, several challenges need to be overcome. These include:

  • Consistent user experience and interoperability – A singular global decentralized Metaverse with shared data, computation, and bandwidth can only be achieved with collaboration between several global parties. Unless features are aligned and intellectual property is shared, we’ll never get a true Metaverse
  • Dearth of skilled talent – Talent for developing design tools and headless systems for businesses to prepare their stores for different media and virtual formats is in high demand and short supply
  • Cybersecurity and privacy – Metaverse users could experience incidents related to fake NFTs and malicious smart contracts that access personal data and crypto-wallets. Since personalized virtual experiences will create an endless need for countless customer data points, industry giants will likely prioritize competitive advantage over user data privacy

 Along with these obstacles, challenges related to hardware, use-case identification, slow adoption, lack of capital, a fragmented tech landscape, unpredictable Return on Investment (ROI), and legal implications will surely make it difficult to turn the virtual world into a reality.

But on the brighter side, the foundational infrastructure is already in place in the form of a sophisticated global blockchain network, ergonomic VR design, scalable AI, and last-mile internet connectivity in most parts of the world. Therefore, Meta is no longer a far-fetched dream. And with most industry giants strategically investing in the concept, the challenges associated with it will get mitigated very soon.

Opportunities for eCommerce service providers in this meta wave

This new world is pushing IT service providers, consulting firms, and design agencies towards attaining Metaverse eCommerce capabilities. These industry players will be able to add several new digital service offerings through Metaverse. A few of these services include:

  • Metaverse consulting – With Pwc buying land in The Sandbox, it is evident that consulting firms will play a pivotal role in the world of Meta. Enterprises entering Metaverse will need significant hand-holding and a relevant knowledge base about the concept to formulate their Meta-business strategy. Consulting firms can leverage their expertise to advise and direct clients who wish to embrace Meta with its full range of challenges
  • Metaverse applications – Exclusive applications will be required for users to interact with the Meta world for virtual shopping. IT providers will need to build development expertise in the AR/VR technology stack to deliver these capabilities
  • Design and NFT – Design agencies will be essential for creating 3D models of virtual artifacts in the Meta world. Along with that, designers also create NFTs that play an extremely vital role in the Meta economy. Therefore, Metaverse will bring a plethora of lucrative business opportunities for design agencies around the world
  • NFT marketplaces – With the increasing popularity of cryptocurrencies, from digital paintings to Twitter hashtags, NFTs are being bought and sold everywhere. Since sellers will have the power to tokenize everything in Metaverse, a marketplace that supports NFT transactions through blockchain will be needed. Because of this, demand for IT service providers specializing in the NFT marketplace and blockchain development technology will rapidly increase

An exciting future

Brands are already implementing core technologies essential for Meta in silos. Soon, we will witness their integration to create an alternate world full of endless possibilities.

Metaverse is here to stay, and it will bring a multitude of opportunities for service providers to build feature-packed solutions for their customers entering the Meta world. Enterprises need to seize the first-mover advantage now by swiftly evaluating the future impact of Metaverse on their businesses.

Discover more about how organizations are increasingly finding ways to incorporate elements of the metaverse in our blogs: Enterprise Metaverse: Myriad Possibilities or Problems for the Hybrid Workplace? and Metaverse: Opportunities and Key Success Factors for Technology Services Providers.

To further discuss Metaverse eCommerce opportunities, contact us.

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