Category: IT Services

Unpacking the Low Code/No Code Opportunity in BFSI | Blog

Low code/no code development holds promise for banking, financial services, and insurance (BFSI) firms to gain agility and cost-effectively build innovative technology solutions – without needing professional developers who are in short supply. Learn about the market potential and provider landscape in this blog.

Digital consumption demand in the (BFSI) industry has seen a heavy uptick in the past year, driven by customer expectations for enhanced experience and the adoption of flexible work options to run businesses.

BFSI firms are under pressure to achieve profitability in an already volatile market and need to be more agile, collaborative, and responsive. These firms have to build stronger ecosystems and overcome the obstacles created by legacy systems.

This has increased demand for professional developers to manage complex technology stacks. But the fast digitization pace has caused enterprises to focus their limited development talent on workflow customization and business-as-usual activities instead of innovation and core product engineering.

Low code/no code technology answers these issues.

Tapping into low code/no code technology

Low code/no code technology has paved its way through these circumstances, easing operations and optimizing costs. This approach provides a visual modeling development tool that business teams can easily use in collaboration with the IT department, reducing the need to hire professional developers who are in short supply.

The exhibit below illustrates the drivers for low code/no code adoption.

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BFSI firms are successfully using this method. Let’s look at some examples:

  • Marex, a tech-enabled liquidity hub for participants in global commodities and financial markets, selected Genesis to fully digitize middle office workflows for its new equities market-making business
  • Unqork, an enterprise software company with a transformational no-code platform for financial services and insurance organizations, secured $73 million in two investment rounds from Goldman Sachs, demonstrating the shifting industry views on building enterprise technology

Low code/no code benefits

Benefits of low code/no code technology for BFSI firms include:

  • Reduced internal workflow processing time due to easier integrations, leading to increased efficiency
  • Decreased product time-to-market brought about by the simplicity of development
  • Increased ease to upgrade or introduce technology without affecting normal business operations because of the microservice architecture offering
  • Reduced cost by having internal teams for development and maintenance
  • Improved solutions resulting from the business-oriented development focus that combines business knowledge and IT skills

BFSI enterprises also have enhanced customer satisfaction by using low code/no code to quickly and effectively establish digital omnichannel experiences. This has satisfied customers’ appetites for remote consumption and also enabled the ability to personalize services by easily integrating other technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), and Internet of Things (IoT.) Self-service applications for 24/7 support can be set up with less time and cost using low code/no code.

See common use cases across the BFSI in the image below.

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Evolving the low code/no code ecosystem

The low code/no code technology provider landscape is made up of many players as, illustrated below. These include:

  • Generalist low code/no code vendors who provide solutions that can be offered to any industry
  • BFSI specialist low code/no code providers who offer technology products for BFSI workloads and out-of-the-box accelerators for reusability and quick access
  • Big tech companies and core BFSI technology providers who are investing in low code/no code through partnerships, acquisitions, or developing the technology to provide standalone and bundled solutions to their customers

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Grabbing the opportunity

Many BFSI firms who have adopted low code/no code technology are reaping the benefits, while others have experienced roadblocks such as limited options to scale the technology across the organization. To achieve success, the right procedures must be set up to avoid any pitfalls. Understanding the internal and external capabilities and challenges while moving along the path is critical.

BFSI enterprises should follow our CASE framework and have a clear vision, assess internal resources, select technology, and execute their roadmap as illustrated below:

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For a detailed view, read our report, BFSI Enterprise Adoption Guide for Low-Code/No-Code Technology – Market Trends and Provider Landscape, which covers the market challenges, drivers, and way forward in the low code/no code ecosystem from a BFSI perspective. To discuss this topic, please reach out to [email protected], and [email protected].

Read more about low-code adoption in our blog, Selecting the Right Low-code Platform: An Enterprise Guide to Investment Decision Making.

Adobe Acquires Figma – Showcasing Its Intent to Be at the Forefront of the Design and Prototyping Economy

In what can be termed as the biggest deal in the emerging design and prototyping market, Adobe announced on September 15 that it will buy Figma for $20 billion. Adobe, which has a market capitalization of $144.67 billion as of that date, will complete the deal in half cash and half stock. Read on for our analysis of what this means for these players and the segment.  

Did we see this coming?

With the adoption of design and prototyping tools in software development picking up immensely post-pandemic, we anticipated mergers and acquisitions in this space. But seeing a design pioneer acquire the game changer in the design space was unexpected.

Adobe was one of the first movers to identify the design space demand and build products such as Photoshop, Illustrator, and XD for designers, helping them gain significant market share. The pandemic changed the needs, demand patterns, and design stakeholders’ ways of work. Adobe could not keep up with this change which led to a slowdown in its growth. Figma – a relatively late entrant in the design space – came in as a game changer and emerged as a major competitor for Adobe.

This acquisition reminds us of Meta’s acquisition of WhatsApp in 2014, which enabled Meta to cement its unshakable dominant presence in the instant messaging space by acquiring its biggest competitor.

Figma’s growth story

Figma’s rise to the top has been nothing short of marvelous. This rocket ship launched in 2012 and had its public release in September 2016. Fast forward six years, Figma will now join forces with another major player in this space – Adobe.

Analyzing the details reveals the following three strengths that led to Figma’s rise:

  • Leadership – Figma’s leadership understood design and designers’ associated pain points. They had a vision for making design accessible to all.
  • Addressing evolving customer needs – To make design collaborative, Figma created all the functionalities needed to build an interface design and packed it into a browser-based user interface. Designers now could be based anywhere and work on the same project.
  • Freemium model – Figma’s core functionalities remained free to use, attracting thousands of early adopters to the platform. Good feedback coupled with Figma’s user-centricity ensured a sharp rise in users.

Why we think Figma is the missing piece of the puzzle for Adobe

This acquisition offers several areas for synergy that can propel the combined entity’s growth in the design space.

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What’s in this for Adobe

The deal will provide the following benefits for Adobe:

  • Access to Figma’s customer base: Figma has seen immense growth in its user base in the last two years with roughly 4 million users at present, including tech majors such as Github, Dropbox, and Twitter. Adobe can leverage these connections to augment the growth of its other offerings
  • Expansion of designer and developer community: Adobe has built a very strong designer community over the years to strengthen the design knowledge base to facilitate peer learning. The addition of Figma’s designer and developer community will further boost the collaborative mindset for design advancements
  • Access to innovative pool of talent: Figma as a brand has revolutionized the ways of working for all stakeholders in the design process. Adobe can collaborate with the innovative minds behind this revolution to take its design portfolio to the next level
  • Coverage of end-to-end functionality in design lifecycle: Figma’s special focus on the brainstorming and whiteboarding phase of the design lifecycle with the launch of FigJam will add to Adobe’s capabilities to address product ideation activities. Figma’s offerings will augment Adobe’s design capabilities as well

Implications for the design and prototyping market

Competing design tool vendors – This acquisition puts Adobe and Figma at the front of the pack. They can now boast functionalities spanning across the entire value chain along with a significant user base and customer list. What this means for competitors is that they will have to rely on strong differentiation propositions to create a niche for themselves. We anticipate that the competitors will focus on small and medium enterprises to drive differentiation.

Enterprises – In their quest to standardize and scale design processes across all product teams, enterprises tend to opt for tools that offer end-to-end design lifecycle functionality. This acquisition seems to be in the right direction as enterprises will now have a one-stop design solution.

Service providers – This move will unquestionably facilitate creating the largest base of designers operating in the Adobe plus Figma ecosystem. Demand for these skill sets will only go up from here. We anticipate service providers will ramp up their designer arsenal inorganically and step up on their partnership with Adobe plus Figma to offer design services for enterprises.

Things to look out for

While Dylan Field, CEO and co-founder of Figma, has stressed that Adobe is deeply committed to keeping Figma operating autonomously, seeing how the integration shapes up will be interesting. Adobe can take lessons from Microsoft’s acquisition of GitHub which shows that large technology companies can successfully acquire smaller players but still retain the core value proposition.

In line with this, we will also watch for potential changes in the following areas:

  • Product strategies: Adobe has similar offerings such as Adobe XD that overlap with Figma in many aspects. They will need to make alterations and updates in their value proposition and go-to-market approach to avoid cannibalization.
  • Commercial model: The freemium model is one of the prime contributors to Figma’s large user base but the Adobe suite has limited freemium models. We will look for any commercial model changes that may result from having the two under the same umbrella.

As the market evolves, competitors will need to make strong moves to create spaces for themselves. Adobe’s acquisition of Figma may set the stage for additional mergers and acquisitions to pay attention to.

Stay tuned for our updates on this fast-growing space of design and prototyping tools. To share your thoughts, please contact Swati Ganesh, [email protected], and Ankit Nath, [email protected].

Change Involved in Moving to Software-defined Platform Operations | Blog

Companies in every industry are moving down the path of software-defined platform operations. It’s happening across the board, especially at the functional level. And for good reason: companies realize they can achieve their objectives much quicker and more effectively than with the previous model of process-driven operations. This inevitably creates enormous change throughout an organization.

Read more in my blog on Forbes

The Mess of DevOps and SRE: The Rise of Platform Engineering and Product Managers | Blog

Platform engineering and product managers appear to offer a solution to some DevOps and Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) woes. But technology service providers need to morph to meet the changing requirements in this new environment. Learn five actions service providers can take to succeed with the platform engineering and product management model in this blog.

Since we made an argument that DevOps would eventually face problems in a blog half a decade ago, the issue persists. While enterprises assumed they had found a panacea with engineering teams (developers) and operations increasingly collaborating as they learned more about DevOps, this has not been the case. Let’s explore what has happened.

As the infrastructure and development landscape has become more complex, enterprises are demanding more value from software. With developers in short supply, engineering and operations both believe they are working more and end up taking on the other teams’ workloads.

This lack of work demarcation is causing meaningful friction. Enterprises erroneously assume that by having developers at least partially run operations, they can make everyone do everything. This does not work. Rising tech talent attrition, cloud engineering complexity, and the perception of SRE being a euphemism for next-gen ops have only worsened the situation.

In addition to engineering headaches, operations teams’ workloads have gone through the roof. Not only are they continuing their regular tasks, but they also are building and maintaining system pipelines and common platform capabilities and cross-training and upskilling talent in a budget-tightening environment. This cannot be sustained.

Enter product managers or owners

Some enterprises are attempting to build platform engineering teams that make common services within organization guardrails available to developers. Platform teams run and manage the platform, and the work between devs and ops seems to be demarked.

Product owners or managers own these teams and are responsible for setting their platform agenda and providing needed application programming interfaces (APIs), microservices, and other out-of-the-box services such as knowledge management to developers.

Impact on technology service providers

This approach seems to have worked for some enterprises, but the jury is still out. Technology service providers need to take the following actions to succeed under this model:

  • Better understand the new world: Technology service leaders lack the expertise to engage this new world of product managers. Although DevOps pushed them to view technology as a stack rather than silos of application, infrastructure, and data, they continue to contract and serve in siloes. Service providers need to rehaul their go-to-market (GTM), partnership, talent, and solution-building approach to serve this reality. We already see many service providers restructuring, but that may not be enough. Not only do they need to continue to deliver end-to-end (E2E) capabilities, but they also must be more proactive, cohesive, and prioritize strategic clients
  • Augment talent retraining: As business teams leverage product management leaders, the ask from service partners will be very different. Technology service leaders have often relied on retraining and stretching their teams to serve newer business realities. This will no longer work. Building the “pi or comb” skill set has increasingly become a mirage, especially in engineering organizations. They need to build deep technical depth in select cloud platforms to communicate their value to product managers. This cannot be done just by in-house retraining. Service providers need to hire from the industry and pay top dollars. In addition to getting technical resources certified, they need to give them project experience and somehow convince these product managers of their capabilities. They also need to continue to retain their talent and holistically address this challenge across the various dimensions described here
  • Engage newer client stakeholders: Technology service leaders need to have access to product managers who are often hired from outside and may not value long-term service relationships. Service leaders also should have a ready pool of talent and assets to demonstrate how they can enhance reliability, security, and time-to-market for these product managers. They should realize these product managers are more focused on building the foundation for applications than on engineering applications themselves. Depending on the organization structure, these functions may roll into other product owners who take care of the entire application stack. Therefore, demonstrating end-to-end capabilities will take a different notion in this new reality
  • Uplift the brand perception: Many service providers are scrambling to build platform engineering teams in their operations practices. They realize they don’t know how to do it and can’t afford this type of talent because their clients have bucketed service providers in a specific price range. The investment in building such talent is not commensurate to the pricing service providers receive from clients. Successful service providers will have to break through this shackle and change their brand perception to be seen as innovative engineering and operations partners
  • Change the operating model: Many large service providers do not get invited to such discussions because they are considered more suitable for commodity work than strategic initiatives. In addition, most enterprises plan to engage in a time and material (T&M) model for such initiatives. This is not aligned with most large service providers’ strategic visions. Therefore, enterprises are increasingly working with cutting-edge service providers on platform and engineering initiatives. Large service providers need to reexamine their obsession with managed service engagement to serve this new reality. They will also have to relook their expectations of margin from infrastructure services, talent compensation, and various similar aspects that hinder their capabilities to serve clients

Eventually, technology service providers will understand this newer market and learn how to effectively serve it. However, much like any competitive industry, there will be winners and losers. We have already seen some infrastructure heritage service providers struggling due to cloud adoption.

Service providers who embrace these changes, invest proactively, better understand clients, and enhance their brand positioning will most likely succeed. With the platform engineering and product management model gaining traction in enterprises, now is the time for other service providers to proactively prepare.

What has your experience been like with platform engineering and the product management model? Please write to us at [email protected] or [email protected].

The Era of “Industrialization of Experience” Is Heralding the Metaverse and Web 3.0 Revolution: Are You Embracing It? | Blog

The advent of Web 3.0 is creating exciting new opportunities for Banking, Financial Services, and Insurance (BFSI) firms who invest in digital technologies to deliver next-generation customer engagement and enter the metaverse. To learn more about enterprises taking the lead in piloting metaverse and Web 3.0, read on.   

With Web 2.0 laying the foundation for unique customer interactions, BFSI firms are increasingly adopting an omnichannel approach as industry trends indicate consumer mindshare often translates into wallet share. Driven by consumer demand for newer experiences as well as the limited potential for further innovation in Web 2.0, industry leaders are looking at Web 3.0 as the future.

Let’s explore how Web 3.0 is enabling firms to evolve from customer interactions to engaging customer experiences in a connected ecosystem.

Defining Web 3.0 and metaverse

Web 3.0 is the next phase of web hyperscale systems built on decentralized, autonomous, and distributed technologies. It enables decentralized protocols and technology stacks that can be used to build new communities and economies such as metaverse.

Movement over the past seven years toward Web 3.0 stalled because of the lack of superior computing power availability and supporting systems to drive sustained momentum. Now, with changing consumer behavior following the pandemic, the rush toward digitalization has taken off.

The need to build differentiated experiences backed by the rapid maturity of cloud-based processes and overall sophistication of systems supporting the digital agenda are healthy signs for the next wave of innovation based on Web 3.0 – metaverse.

Metaverse is a persistent immersive mega virtual smart space, akin to a universe, where people have seamless digital experiences that can extend to the real world.

Metaverse creates a virtual community that can provide immersive client experiences, collaborations, and employee trainings. To meet this demand, technology and services providers need to invest in next-generation technologies such as cloud, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and blockchain to extract the best out of Web 3.0.

Today’s metaverse is focused on allowing users to build a digital imitation of the physical world, leverage mixed reality devices to engage in various activities, conduct commercial transactions using digital assets, and drive collaboration and engagement through virtual events.

Web 3.0 and metaverse will enable next-generation experiences and alter economic and business models. Excitement about the potential significantly outweighs concerns.

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Exhibit 1: Everest Group

Pioneers piloting Web 3.0

Leading financial services players have started piloting Web 3.0 concepts and experimenting with metaverse to test the market response. We believe this marks the start of an evolutionary change that will undergo multiple refinements rather than be revolutionary.

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Exhibit 2: Everest Group

Most use cases we see are capitalizing on the following modular demand themes:

Banking:

  • Financial products and asset classes in the metaverse
  • Customer management through immersive technologies
  • Virtual branch inception
  • Affiliates and partnerships in the digital world

Financial services:

  • Portfolio management and client enablement
  • Front, middle, and back-office efficiency
  • Trade lifecycle management in the metaverse
  • Digital asset custody services
  • Decentralized brokerage systems

Insurance:

  • Decentralized insurance services
  • Risk profiling
  • Claim processing
  • Restructured underwriting services

Where is the market moving with regulations?

Despite the recent efforts, policymakers still need to be convinced to embrace the new possibilities of Web 3.0 to make it real for banking consumers and investors. Web 3.0 and allied technologies, such as metaverse, require a novel approach to regulatory thinking. Many governing bodies grapple with the nuances around Web 3.0 and the challenges it manifests. Governance and interoperability are critical elements to successfully scale Web 3.0 and metaverse.

Addressing these three regulatory areas can kickstart the formal growth of Web 3.0:

  • Investor protection – With blockchain-based transactions picking up pace, preventing fraudulent actions and safeguarding investors’ interests has become a priority for organizations such as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC)
  • Privacy and disclosures – The intricacies around the nature and type of disclosures and the effect these may have on individual privacy could have serious implications as this technology gains momentum
  • Jurisdictional concerns – The key concerns around decentralized internet are around control, individual laws applied, and interpretations across different markets

The new computing possibilities of Web 3.0 has the potential to dynamically impact the BFSI industry structure. Data decentralization and democratization can bring investment opportunities to enterprises as well as IT providers. To seize this potential, technology and services providers must invest in cloud, AI, and blockchain to realize the many benefits Web 3.0 can deliver.

At Everest Group, we are closely tracking the developments in BFSI based on metaverse – both from the demand and supply side. For more insights, see our report, Future of Financial Services – Web 3.0, Metaverse, and Decentralized Finance, which sheds light on the future of financial services in the Web 3.0 and metaverse era.

We would like to hear your thoughts on Web 3.0 and metaverse and its growing adoption in the BFSI industry. Please reach out to us with your inputs at [email protected], or [email protected].

Listen to our experts as they deliver their perspectives on Web 3.0 and Metaverse and provide actionable insights to enterprises, service providers, and technology vendors in our webinar, Web 3.0 and Metaverse: Implications for Sourcing and Technology Leaders.

Contact Center Security Best Practices for Leaders to Consider | Blog

The expanded remote work environment post-pandemic and increasingly sophisticated security threats have compelled organizations to increase their focus on protecting contact center data. Learn how to build a holistic framework of best practices for technology, the business, and agents to shape contact center security in this blog.

Securing the landmine of customer data – from credit card numbers to health records – that reside in contact centers is a top concern for all businesses, particularly outsourced customer support. Data breaches can have serious financial, reputational, and legal consequences.

As new security threats constantly emerge and regulations change, strengthening contact center security is like aiming at a moving target. Now with the increase in remote work and more intricate ways to compromise data, this challenge has become more critical than ever. Let’s explore how it can be tackled.

Contact center security focus areas

Organizations should implement many different types of contact center security best practices related to the following three areas:

  • Technology – Ensuring the organization’s devices, including bring-your-own-devices (BYODs), are up to date with the latest security systems, software patches, and firewalls. Companies also should have technology contingency plans for legacy systems that can’t be replaced
  • Business – Establishing the organization has clear control and governance over its security standards and effective policies, especially in the face of ever-changing security requirements and newly emerging malware attacks and cybersecurity threats
  • Agents – Providing training and monitoring of both full-time human agents and gig workers who work in the office as well as remotely

Delivery models

Contact center security protocols can vary based on the delivery model. The complexity has increased as contact centers have evolved from entirely brick-and- mortar-driven service delivery to remote service delivery with Work at Home Agents (WAHA) and BYODs, which allow agents to choose their work location and use their own devices to conduct work.

As organizations move from working at offices to remote locations, contact center leaders need to be more vigilant to keep customer data safe. While the WAHA and BYOD models bring more operational agility to the workforce, they add heightened security concerns around endpoint safety management and agent monitoring.

The below graphic illustrates how the complexity increases with the newer work models:

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Illustration 1: Everest Group

BYOD security

Defining a BYOD security policy is critical to maintaining company security. Stakeholders from different departments are key to the policy planning process and bring important input. Leadership, human resources, finance, IT operations, and the security team should be part of a BYOD project management team and be asked to contribute to policy development.

Security patches

Failing to routinely update machines with the most updated security patches is one of the biggest cybersecurity risks. Often this failure is simply due to not having enough IT resources. Even with in-center deployments, manually patching each device is a huge drain on time and resources. This challenge is further complicated in a remote/hybrid working environment where the device is off-site.

The patching process is a key part of vulnerability management. By employing best practices that expose any conflicts with existing systems configurations on which the patch is being installed, potential downtime can be avoided. For organizations with tens of thousands of network endpoints, remote patch management offers greater control over potential vulnerabilities caused by outdated patch versions, wherever they may be located on the network. This help ensures the threat is resolved as quickly as possible.

An automated patch deployment feature gives system administrators the ability to deploy patches missing in their network computers automatically without requiring manual intervention. While automated patch rollouts seem like a no-brainer for WFH and BYOD models, they also must be considered for in-center models to reduce the resource strain on the organization’s IT department.

Identifying the most critical security issues and software updates requires strong asset and software inventory management, which can be achieved using an automated patch management tool.

After that, creating a dedicated remote patch testing environment identical to the production system (using virtualization) can help run “smoke tests” to ensure behaviors/programs do not fail before moving to production. Alternatively, an initial test can be applied to less critical systems and expanded if they perform as expected. Even with a thorough patch testing program, organizations should have a contingency and rollback plan in case something goes wrong so systems can be restored to their pre-patched state.

While most security practices are agnostic of the model in which operations are run, WFH and BYOD models require an additional layer of security considerations to stay clear of any potential cybersecurity threats.

Holistic framework

Contact center leaders must look at a holistic framework of technology, business, and agent best practices to shape their security organization. The below table encapsulates some of the strategies leaders should consider:

  In-center model WFH Model BYOD model
Technology related
  • Encrypt data including voice transactions using encryption layers such as Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TSL)
  • Build a secure network infrastructure by implementing firewalls that monitor network traffic, using VPNs, anti-virus softwares, and password management software
  • Update technology by installing software patches and eliminating legacy systems
  • Regularly test and monitor networks using penetration testing tools, vulnerability scanning softwares and alert systems that can notify suspicious activity in real time
  • Consider role-based access that allows for gradually increasing employee access based on trust and their position within the company
  • Encourage use of secure cloud services (such as office 365) to store data
  • Conduct mandatory backups using mobile device management (MDM)/enterprise mobility management systems (EMM) to manage devices while also separating corporate from personal data
  • Consider PII redaction that uses speech analytics technology to prevent sensitive cardholder data from being recorded; automatically mute call recording when account numbers, security codes, and other sensitive information is spoken
  • Offer containerization in conjunction with or paired with MDM solutions. This method can segregate part of a device into its own protected bubble, protected by a separate password and regulated by a separate set of policies
  • Use endpoint validation and centralized endpoint management to ensure that applications, antivirus, and operating systems of endpoint devices are up-to-date. Endpoint management should be coupled with location awareness to dynamically adapt to a remote end user’s permission, based on centrally defined policies as well as the local network’s established security level
Business related
  • Develop an information security policy by working with the IT department to identify which technologies and procedures need to be implemented for the IS policy to work as intended and ensuring every employee is aware of their responsibilities
  • Adhere to common security frameworks such as IST 27001, NIST 800-53, and COBIT. Identify which framework is most relevant to your contact center and then map out the strict security controls required by the framework and implement them
  • Develop WFH cybersecurity standards including multi-factor authentication and firewalls
  • Manage devices that remote agents use to ensure that password and screen lockout policies are followed; security and other updates occur in a timely manner; and companies can perform forensics and place data under legal hold if needed
  • Define a clear service policy for devices under BYOD that covers the support IT representatives will provide for broken devices as well as  support for applications installed on personal devices
  • Determine what apps will be allowed and banned (whitelisting and blacklisting)
  • Set up an employee exit strategy that addresses how the company will enforce the removal of access tokens, e-mail access, data and other proprietary applications and information
Agent related
  • Train agents to be “human firewalls” when it comes to security. More frequent training sessions will keep security and privacy top of mind and also create more opportunities for companies to check in with remote agents and keep them engaged
  • Monitor agent activity regularly and have policies that restrict access to certain data recognizing that agents may pose a risk to the center if they have access to sensitive information and become disgruntled
  • Safeguard against employees mistakenly clicking on links or opening files that they shouldn’t, leading to the installation of malware or data theft. Have strong password protection and use security software that restricts the unintentional or intentional downloading of malware, copying or deleting data, or accessing programs or websites that have not been vetted by the IT department
  • Ensure temporary/gig workers that are hired to handle peak volumes or cover for sick employees are trained on the center’s policies and procedures

Illustration 2: Everest Group

As infrastructure and networks grow in size and complexity, manually managing security and compliance checklists has become increasingly difficult.

Manual operations can result in slower issue detection and remediation, resource configuration errors, and inconsistent policy application, leaving systems vulnerable to compliance issues and attacks. Automating security update rollouts can help prevent unplanned and expensive downtime and improve functionality.

This approach needs to be complemented with good governance of the security landscape, ensuring the contact center is following the latest security frameworks based on their industry. Finally, organizations need to train agents on these standards and track and monitor their devices in real-time to ensure no security gaps exist that potential cybercriminals can leverage.

To discuss contact center security solutions in more detail, please reach out to [email protected] or [email protected].

Learn more about cybersecurity, incident detection, investigation, and response in our blog, “Is Managed Detection and Response (MDR) the Holy Grail for Cybersecurity Services?

Tackling Technology Talent Management to Ensure Continued Enterprise Satisfaction | Blog

Post-pandemic, enterprises have given IT service and technology providers high marks for improving commercial models and customer-centricity, but talent management is emerging as a major concern. Customers want their providers to ensure resource availability, improve employee quality, and manage attrition – all during the Great Resignation and current labor shortage. Discover a framework for effective talent management in this blog.

Emerging from the pandemic, IT service and technology providers’ enterprise satisfaction ratings increased for the second consecutive year, moving up from 70% to 75% last year, according to our IT Services Enterprise Pulse Report 2022.

After enduring the turmoil and uncertainty of the pandemic, enterprises surveyed said they valued IT service and technology providers’ efforts to adapt to sudden enterprise demand shifts, take a more customer-centric approach, and offer flexible and transparent commercial relationships.

However, talent management – or attracting, selecting, and retaining employees – has emerged as a key pain point for enterprises, along with the lack of value-add and innovation from providers.

Providers need to resolve their technology talent management issues to ensure continued growth in enterprise satisfaction levels going forward and prevent workforce issues from negatively impacting their customers’ project timelines, costs, and quality.

What do enterprises want from their IT service and technology providers?

Most importantly, talent management and attrition have become key focus areas for enterprises, and they want their IT service and technology partners to ensure talent availability, invest in learning and development, and manage attrition. Enterprises surveyed said they expect their partners to ensure that the right talent with the right skills is available to them at the right time and place.

They also desire:

  • Partnerships – Enterprises are looking for IT service and technology providers to transcend from being services and technologies providers to strategic partners they can have balanced and forward-looking relationships with
  • Innovation and collaboration – They want partners to collaborate with them more often and bring new and innovative ideas to the table. Customers are looking for openness from providers about what they can and cannot do so they can jointly decide the best way forward
  • Transparency – Customers seek transparency and flexibility in project management, delivery, and commercials. They expect their IT service and technology providers to showcase high levels of customer-centricity and be responsive and proactive
  • Technology skills – As enterprises around the world pump up their technology modernization efforts, they want providers to combine their technical and domain expertise in delivering services powered by new-age digital themes like cloud modernization, automation, Artificial Intelligence (AI)/Machine Learning (ML), etc. contextualized to enterprises’ business landscape and challenges

Enterprise satisfaction state

These might sound like big desires, but providers have been doing a good job delivering on most of them. Let’s take a look at the current state of enterprise satisfaction.

IT service and technology providers have fared well in helping enterprises navigate through the post-pandemic world and meet their business objectives like cost reduction. Enterprises are satisfied with client management, commercials, and technical expertise and are increasingly viewing providers as strategic partners.

Here’s how the scores have improved:

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Technology talent management – a key enterprise concern

Despite the many positives, IT service and technology providers are struggling to manage attrition and ensure talent availability and quality, making their partners unhappy. While enterprises recognize that IT service and technology providers are trying to improve their talent management, a lot more needs to be done.

Even before the pandemic and Great Resignation, enterprises were worried about their IT service and technology providers’ talent management initiatives, and the recent turn of events has made this lack of focus more glaring and detrimental to enterprises’ business objectives.

In our survey, companies said they expect their partners to ensure that the right talent with the right skills is available to them at the right time and place – and that’s no small feat.

While the talent management issue is impacting enterprises across industries and geographies, it is more prominent in Banking, Financial Services, and Insurance (BFSI), and manufacturing as resource availability and retention are major problems.

Enterprises in the Middle East and Latin America have been the most vocal about their dissatisfaction with providers over technology talent management. In a separate Everest Group study, Technology Skills and Talent: Reimagining Talent Acquisition and Management with Technology Platforms, we found that the project readiness quotient of the talent pool in skills such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), SAP HANA, Oracle Cloud, and security is considerably low with a significant spike in demand for critical roles in data and AI, security, and cloud.

Enterprises want their partners to ensure talent availability, invest in learning and development to improve quality, and manage attrition by ensuring employee retention and faster replacement of exiting talent, as shown below:

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How to move forward   

As IT service and technology providers struggle with managing attrition, ensuring resource availability, and improving the overall quality of talent, enterprises suffer because it affects project timelines, cost, and quality.

IT service and technology providers need to adopt a continuous workforce planning model keeping in mind the factors that impact talent demand and supply. They also must take a holistic approach to manage attrition by being employee-centric and investing in learning and development to improve employees’ effectiveness.

Talent management framework

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With the framework illustrated above, IT service and technology providers can solve the talent availability, attrition, and reskilling conundrum and ensure the high levels of enterprise satisfaction seen post-pandemic last going forward.

To explore more on your talent management strategy, read our IT Services Enterprise Pulse Report 2022, or reach out to us at [email protected], [email protected], and [email protected].

You can also discover key strategies best-in-class companies are deploying to position themselves for success in our webinar, Planning for a Recession: Is the War for Tech Talent Finally Over?

Value Stream Management: A Progression to Agile and DevOps | Blog

During the digital transformation journey, a Global 2000 enterprise uses more than 150 software solutions and tools on average to support its product or services delivery. Despite the huge investment, the value realized from this technology is still unclear to most enterprises. Read on to understand the importance of measuring the value delivered by software applications or products with value stream management (VSM) and our 4D framework to implement it.

More than 90% of enterprises have adopted agile development methods in some shape or form, and DevOps adoption is on the rise. But surprisingly, less than 20% consider themselves highly mature agile enterprises. These few have adopted a Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) to implement agile and DevOps practices across the enterprise with some having DevSecOps and BizDevOps processes for product development. Even then, enterprises are unable to track and measure the organizational-wide technology value. Most of the remaining 80% have agile and DevOps adoption in pockets, making it tougher to align outcomes and realize meaningful benefits.

With the increasing investment overload and absence of tangible outcomes, the critical importance of delivering and realizing value is gaining enterprise attention. Concerted efforts for defining, measuring, and enabling value are needed.

Agile and DevOps adoption is considered by many as the ultimate step toward digital transformation. However, enterprises must realize it is just a starting stage for continuously tracking, measuring, realigning, and improving digital solutions’ outcomes and value. This is where the concept of value stream management (VSM) becomes pertinent.

Before we delve deeper into what VSM is, let’s understand what VSM is NOT.

People often use value stream management and Value Stream Mapping interchangeability, which is thoroughly misleading. The two are related but not the same.

Exhibit 1: Differences between value stream management and value stream mapping

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As the graphic above illustrates, Value Stream Mapping is an activity or a subset of VSM. The value streams and processes are defined during Value Stream Mapping and act as an initial step for effective outcomes from value stream management. VSM focuses on a data-centric approach to decision making and promotes a culture of innovation and improvement through a continuous feedback loop and collaboration.

Now that we are clear on what VSM is not, let’s delve deeper into what VSM is, why enterprises need it, and how to adopt it.

Value stream management – the next step in the enterprise agile journey

In an enterprise setup, there are broadly two sets of value streams – operational and development.

Operational value streams or business value streams comprise the processes and people who deliver the value to the end user by leveraging systems or solutions created by the development value streams. Operational value streams are defined by the nature of the business and its business unit. Some examples of operational value streams are product manufacturing, software product sales and support, order fulfillment, and support functions.

Development value streams or IT value streams consist of the systems and software developers, product managers, and other IT practitioners who design, build, deploy, and maintain systems/solutions. These systems/solutions are used by either internal customers (members of the operational value stream) or external customers who are direct buyers and users. The definition of processes or steps in the development value stream is standardized and runs in parallel with the phases of the Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC) – plan, build, release, and operate.

For example, order fulfillment in a software product company is one operational value stream involving different teams and processes – from sales enablement, licensing, and provisioning to customer support and renewals. These teams require software systems like a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) portal, service management platform, license management systems, etc., to support their processes. The development value streams will be aligned to build and support each of these software systems, enabling the operational teams to deliver the product effectively.

The SAFe principles apply to the development value streams. However, enterprises currently focus SAFe implementation efforts on delivering good products or solutions with agility versus delivering customer value. To deliver value along with agility, adopting VSM in the development value streams should be the next step. This will act as a management layer enabling more data-driven decision making at the SDLC level. VSM also can be extended to operational value streams.

Today the focus for VSM has expanded to the enterprise level bringing the delivery and operational value streams closer.

Making the business case for value stream management adoption

Aligning development value streams to the objectives of operational value streams is key to delivering optimum value to the end customer. VSM platforms connect people, processes, and technology across the SDLC and can be extended to integrate heterogeneous value streams across the enterprise.

Some of the key benefits enterprises stand to achieve with a successful VSM approach are:

  • Identify value streams, organize people, and perform cost-benefit analysis during product discovery
  • Make data-driven investment decisions and prioritize product delivery based on end-to-end visibility
  • Improve the value delivery strategy based on real-time metrics

While we understand the need for VSM in enterprises, implementing it in a structured manner to gain maximum value delivery is equally important.

Implementing VSM effectively using the 4D framework

Below is a recommended starting approach:

Determine the current state of value flow and define value streams at an enterprise level, starting with identifying the operational value streams and the respective development value streams. Align the operational and development value streams to the final value to be delivered by the value stream. Identify current system behaviors and interdependencies.

Design value stream maps to achieve the future state of value flow right from ideation to the value delivery stage. Organize teams to value streams by bringing together the right stakeholders accountable for each value stream step for a mapping exercise to decide steps, handoffs, and metrics.

Deploy VSM tools to connect all value stream parts to measure the flow of value in real time using metrics that track the time, velocity, load, and workflow efficiency. Expand to integrate with other value streams as necessary. Providers like Digital.ai, ConnectALL, Micro Focus, Plutora, and Tasktop offer VSM tools to consider.

Demonstrate continuous improvement in value delivery by using real-time insights from flow metrics as feedback to realign the strategy to increase throughput, efficiency, and value stream productively. Continuously measuring flow metrics gives all stakeholders end-to-end visibility to make informed decisions on investments and prioritization.

This 4D framework is a starting point to implement VSM. Additional factors like talent, governance, organizational culture, etc., can further optimize the value delivery through VSM. Adopting a performance-oriented, highly cooperative, and risk-sharing-based environment will enable smooth VSM implementation.

With growing enterprise investments in agile and DevOps adoption for software development, it will be interesting to see how adding a VSM layer will change the value measurement and value delivery game in upcoming years. Stay tuned for our upcoming blog further exploring the enterprise VSM adoption roadmap.

To discuss value stream management, contact [email protected] and [email protected].

Read more of our blogs for more fact-based insights and transformative business process.

Defining Software Value: Precursor to Successful Investments and Budgeting Decisions

Measuring software value in a standardized way is not easy, but it’s critical to making good investment and budgeting decisions. While defining “value” might be a nebulous concept, our value benchmarking framework can help provide clarity. Learn how to value a software product in this blog.  

How to value a software product 

It has been said a software product’s real value is not defined by the needed functions or required user stories but rather by the performance improvement customers can get from using the product. Stated more simply, value is what the customer really wants and what they are happy to pay for. However, like beauty, value will always be “in the eye of the beholder,” and it tends to be subjective.

Still, finding a tangible way for all business and IT stakeholders to visualize software value to make meaningful investment decisions is imperative. To measure the value delivered by a software product in a standard way, enterprises need to gauge the incremental improvement in efficiency (effort reduction, quality improvement), stakeholder experience (customer, partner, employees), and trust (security, compliance, ethics).

Measuring software value in a standardized manner is an onerous task

Software development is only successful when the value delivered by the product goes beyond the overall investments and helps solve business needs. However, both revenue and investment effort/cost occur over time. While effort or cost is easier to track and forecast, enterprises are still not clear on how to effectively track and measure a software product’s value.

Enterprises face multiple challenges in defining and measuring the tangible value delivered by software products in a standardized manner. This is because of the disparity in multiple aspects like software type, the number of users, type of users (internal versus external), automation extent, the talent required, etc. It becomes increasingly difficult to formulate a framework that can be applied to all these software types while accounting for the different metrics/KPIs used to track value.

Software value and portfolio-level strategy

Though difficult, regularly tracking value is necessary to determine investments. The two most common metrics adopted are revenue impact (for direct value delivered) and incremental brand equity (for indirect value delivered). While revenue forecasting is somewhat difficult, brand equity calculations are even more complex, and enterprises typically use external marketing agencies to measure brand-equity impact.

Every software product also has a north star metric that defines its success and future investments. For example, the north star metric for Netflix is watch time. However, product budgeting decisions are not so simple.

Everest Group has developed a value benchmarking framework based on its work helping a leading enterprise client solve the software product value equation by assessing and building best practices for defining, measuring, and fine-tuning software value, resulting in more efficient investment decisions.

Let’s first understand how product portfolio decisions are made with the help of our value benchmarking framework.

At a portfolio level, products are categorized into core capability, aimed at bringing incremental revenue, and purpose-led products focused on building sustainable relationships. Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) are defined top-down and then product teams define the feature pipeline to meet those OKRs. Product differentiation, value chain (market) presence, and portfolio synergies are evaluated next to understand product value. Some advanced enterprises have started practicing value stream mapping to optimize the effort spent, eliminating non-value-added activities.

But how is the ideation done? Product ideas are derived from four key distinct sources:

  • Coming up with ideas internally and scaling team-level initiatives
  • Capturing trends through partners and market shifts
  • Aligning with the market and capturing CXO inputs
  • Resolving customer pain points

Product value framework

The below graphic can be used to visualize an approach to defining product value. Product viability is a direct measure of whether to invest or not and answers the basic question of Return on Investment (RoI.) If the incremental revenue and positive brand equity impact are tangibly greater than the effort needed, then going ahead with the investment makes sense.

The other dimension, product impact, is the outcome the product delivers in efficiency upliftment, experience improvement, and trust. However, it is worth noticing that impact parameters like efficiency, experience, and trust are used reversibly to make product viability calculations and vice-versa, as indicated in the below graphic by the green bidirectional arrow.

Value Framework Infographic 08 09 2022 Exhibit1 scaled

New-age operational KPIs such as agility index and Digital Maturity Index (DMI) are gaining traction among enterprises to help track efficiency. Experience is increasingly becoming more important in making product decisions, and enterprises leverage user surveys as leading indicators to understand future adoption levels. Tools like Adobe Experience Manager, Sitecore XM, etc., also are gaining popularity to capture experience across product lifecycles. Trust is seen more from a cost-avoidance angle and becomes the foundational design principle for technology companies like Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Salesforce, etc.

Sustainability is again more prominent than ever, and directly relates to positive brand-equity impact. Although these investments don’t bear any short-term direct revenue impact, they help create societal impact that opens up huge long-term revenue opportunities. Examples include Google’s Project Loon, aimed at increasing internet penetration in under-developed countries, and Salesforce’s Philanthropy Cloud, built to address employee engagement in a distributed agile set-up.

Investment strategy and budgeting approaches

The next thing to discuss is how to use forecasted value to identify and make investment decisions. Enterprises are increasingly adopting agile budgeting practices to drive the trifecta of value, collaboration, and risk management. Value streams are used as foundational units to allocate and prioritize funding, helping enterprises to make best-performing and strategic investments.

When making investment decisions, products are categorized based on horizons, as illustrated by the below graphic:

Value Framework Infographic 08 09 2022 Exhibit2 scaled

Participatory budgeting processes maintain a collaborative ecosystem and ensure the following:

  • Alignment across concerned stakeholders before formal budget sign off
  • Right-sized investments with a value-first ideology

Overall, enterprises need to adopt a venture capitalist mindset when funding agile projects. Investments should be staggered with the provision to reallocate funds to the best-performing areas, keeping aside around 10% of the budget for funding mid-year ideas.

The below graphic illustrates the typical annual budgeting cycle:

Value Framework Infographic 08 09 2022 Exhibit3 1 scaled

Following these best practices can help enterprises significantly improve RoI from their software product investments and help them better understand value.

To share your thoughts and discuss our research related to value benchmarking of global software products, please reach out to [email protected], [email protected], or [email protected].

Learn more about defining value in software in our webinar, Is Agile Working? Where Enterprises Are Going Wrong.

 

Composable Commerce: For Composing the Best-of-Breed Customer Experience

From monolithic to MACH architecture, the next evolution in digital experience is here – composable commerce. Similar to building with Lego Blocks, this modular approach allows enterprises to create unique models by selecting “best-of-breed” digital commerce components. Learn how composable commerce is optimizing all aspects of the online shopping experience and what tech providers are pioneering solutions in this rapidly rising area.

Digital commerce growth leads to composable commerce

Just as the COVID-19 pandemic has been a catalyst in accelerating digital platform adoption among enterprises, modern consumers’ purchasing habits have dramatically changed due to frequent lockdowns and increasing online purchasing convenience.

According to a United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) report, the average share of internet users who made purchases online increased from 53% before the pandemic to 60% across 66 countries following its onset in 2020/21.

The shopping experience has evolved from brick and mortar stores to online and moved to unified commerce – an amalgamation of offline and online channels with an ever-evolving myriad of customer touch points such as social commerce, video commerce, and now metaverse, etc.

Emerging business models such as Digital to Commerce (D2C), new and interactive channels, and advancements in technology, especially Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality (AR/VR), have fueled digital commerce’s growth. In response, the underlying digital commerce architecture principles have also morphed to meet the pace of change in digital-native customer expectations.

What is composable commerce, and how will it unlock business value?

Up until a few years ago, monolithic architecture-based platforms were the de facto choice for any digital commerce storefront. These big and chunky solutions providing standard out-of-the-box features for all customers offered a “one-size-fits-all” approach. Enterprises had to be content with these standard features and were required to spend huge budget and time on customizations to meet their business requirements.

However, major issues with scalability, complexity, longer time to market, and budget made this implementation approach less useful for modern commerce businesses where staying abreast of technological advancements, customer centricity, and nimbleness are of utmost priority.

The next major evolution in digital commerce architecture is MACH (microservices-based, API-first, cloud-native, and headless) architecture enabled enterprises. This approach will overcome the shortcomings of monolithic architecture and responsively and dynamically adapt to customer expectations.

Exhibit 1 Characteristics of MACH Architecture

Taking a step forward from MACH architecture, the era of composable commerce has dawned. Composable commerce – a modular approach to implementing digital commerce – uses interchangeable building blocks, leveraging the MACH Architecture framework. It offers enterprises the choice to select “best-of-breed” digital commerce components such as Product Information Management (PIM), Customer Relationship Management (CRM), pricing, etc., and is similar to Lego Blocks where users can create unique models. These composable components are the specific solutions provided by third-party vendors.

While the microservice approach breaks down the digital commerce modules into individual building blocks, composable commerce enables the linkage of these microservices to realize a specific business value. Composable commerce utilizes Packaged Business Capabilities (PBCs), a fully functional, independent component serving a defined business capability. These are used as building blocks for “composing” the unique platform. Each PBC can consist of several microservices. These PBCs can be individually replaced or modified without impacting the entire platform.

Exhibit 2 Central Tenets of Composable Commerce

Thus, composable commerce has shifted the focus toward business-centricity. Composable commerce is built for an organization’s unique operating models, strategic priorities, and customer focuses. Businesses can select essential functionalities for their requirements and “compose” them into a custom application built for their digital commerce platform. This allows enterprises to focus on the relevant PBCs for their business that are sometimes unavailable in the traditional and bulky monolithic platform’s “out-of-the-box” features.

Below are some benefits of composable commerce that enterprises can realize.

Exhibit 3 Benefits of Composable Commerce

The number of PBC vendors providing functionalities such as loyalty, promotions, search, reviews and ratings, analytics, etc., is rapidly growing. Enterprises have the flexibility to choose the best vendor for their platform, considering their individual business and technical requirements. They can manage multiple brands and varying business models, leveraging the same composable commerce stack to stay nimble in response to market changes. Complex business can be launched and managed more efficiently using composable commerce.

Technology providers are already pioneering composable commerce solutions

Technology providers have extensively started working on solutions to enable enterprises to get on board the composable commerce bandwagon. Below are some examples:

  • Spryker has launched the cloud-native “App Composition Platform,” which gives enterprises seamless access to third-party services and best-of-breed digital commerce vendors
  • Virto’s Atomic Architecture™ allows customers to get a composable, flexible, manageable, customized, and easily-updated digital commerce architecture that is fully adaptable to market challenges
  • Elastic Path’s Composable Commerce Hub is an open exchange of composable commerce solutions for digitally-driven brands that want to seamlessly create complete digital commerce experiences for their business
  • Fabric provides a configurable and composable commerce solution to rapidly deploy and scale unique brand experiences, product offerings, and services
  • Infosys Equinox is powering Nu Skin to compose unique and delightful digital journeys across ever-evolving channels
  • Avensia’s composable commerce solution Avensia Excite is built on commercetools. Avensia Excite uses Contentful for CMS, Inriver for PIM, and Apptus eSales for search engine

Composable commerce outlook

While MACH architecture had set a strong foundation for modern digital commerce architecture, composable commerce is the next logical iteration in the digital commerce business model to meet rapidly changing customer expectations and the growing number of touch points. Composable commerce adoption will continue to witness a rise as enterprises plan to move away from the traditional approach of implementing digital commerce solutions. More and more niche third-party vendors are emerging faster than before, providing ample choice for enterprises to craft and “compose” their digital commerce stack.

If you have questions about digital commerce, please reach out to Nisha Krishan ([email protected]) and Aakash Verma ([email protected]).

Stay tuned for insights on the digital commerce platform market from our recently launched inaugural Digital Commerce Platform PEAK Matrix® Assessment.

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