Category: IT Services

“IT in a Box” Edge Model: The Next Frontier of Edge Computing | Blog

Edge computing has great potential beyond local data centers. By integrating the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning (AI/ML), and neuromorphic chips with edge computing, a revolutionary shift toward a comprehensive distributed cloud model, “IT in a Box,” could be on the horizon. Learn about the 3E design principles of this advanced edge model and its many benefits in this blog, and feel free to reach out to us to explore this topic further.

Edge locations are often associated with local data centers and primarily involve deploying idle servers closer to end users, facilitating data localization, and minimizing latency. However, a critical question arises: Does the existing edge solution offer differentiation from a conventional data center? The answer, unfortunately, is a resounding no.

Conventional edge model = data center

Today, edge locations are commonly perceived as sheer extensions of availability zones, employed to reduce latency through data localization. Despite major players’ efforts to integrate edge with advanced technologies, questions persist about the processing capabilities and scalability of these edge locations and more.

  • Hyperscalers integrate IoT, AI/ML, and next-generation security and network capabilities with edge, yet questions linger about the potential of these edge locations
  • Telecom providers leverage 5G to enhance edge networks and deploy radios and computing capabilities but again face deployment and scalability challenges
  • Technology vendors also struggle with enhancing processing, managing complex edge devices, storing data at edge locations, and developing industry-specific use cases. Still, the question remains, is that all an edge location could do?

Deficiencies in the conventional edge model

While efforts have consistently been made to enhance the intelligent edge, the current edge model falls short in establishing distinct features that could elevate it beyond its current limitations. The prevailing challenges associated with the edge include:

  1. The proliferation of edge locations around the globe has inadvertently led to increased real estate demands, hardware costs, energy consumption, and carbon emissions
  2. Due to limited edge storage and processing capabilities, there is a constant need to shuttle data back and forth between the edge and centralized cloud data centers. This poses a significant hurdle in use cases requiring real-time decision-making
  3. The distributed nature of the edge environment also adds complexity to management and orchestration

Reimagining the edge model beyond a local data center

Edge computing’s promise extends far beyond a “mere data center in your neighborhood.” The current issues require an AI and IoT integrated edge with substantial data processing, large storage capacity, efficient network connectivity, and tight security. This type of solution should replicate at scale and thwart modern cybersecurity threats, all while delivering superior speed information to the end user.

Enter the game-changer in next-generation computation: neuromorphic chips. These chips process information in a human brain-like manner, offering a revolutionary leap in edge computing capabilities. Imagine compressing edge real estate without compromising processing power – that’s where the neuromorphic chip can be the key element for the intelligent edge.

In the not-so-distant future, the fusion of IoT, AI/ML, and neuromorphic chips with edge could signal a paradigm shift, consequently forming a comprehensive distributed cloud model or “IT in a Box.”

The 3E Design Principle of “IT in a Box”

The 3E design principle underpinning “IT in a Box” is based on three core principles that form the foundation for its design and implementation: balancing efficiency, economy, and empowerment. This creates a powerful and adaptive edge computing model that effortlessly weaves together the threads of sustainability, scalability, accuracy, and security.

Let’s look at each of these principles in more detail.

  • Efficiency – This principle of “IT in a Box” takes center stage, redefining processing, storage, and information delivery at the edge. Imagine a symphony of sensors, intricately integrated in the edge environment, tirelessly collecting and sending data. These sensors gather information that is sophisticatedly analyzed right at the edge location. The result? Swift, precise, and accurate insights without the need for a laborious journey to centralized cloud hubs
  • Economy – This principle emphasizes the importance of cost-effectiveness and sustainability working together. At the heart of this lies the strategic integration of advanced technologies with neuromorphic chips and efficient platforms. “IT in a Box” aims to create a world where the edge requires less physical footprint, reducing real estate requirements. This cost-efficient proposition also aligns with the broader goal of sustainable expansion. It’s about making high-performance computing accessible not just to giants, but to a broader spectrum of industries and applications
  • Empowerment – This principle promises intelligent autonomy and tailor-made solutions. It is not only about processing, storing, and delivering data but also about empowering edge locations with accelerated decision-making abilities that reflect the unique needs of diverse businesses. Hence, this principle uncovers a vast landscape of industry-specific and micro-vertical use cases from healthcare and manufacturing to retail and finance. Picture a smart factory where edge devices autonomously optimize production processes based on real-time data analysis, or consider a healthcare system where patient monitoring happens seamlessly at the edge. “IT in a Box” becomes a strategic partner, enabling businesses to swiftly respond to changing scenarios

Benefits of the “IT in a Box” Edge Model

The benefits of “IT in a Box” are wide-ranging, contributing significantly to the operational efficiency, strategic value, and overall success of enterprises. Among the advantages are:

  • It not only ushers in a new era of accessibility but also facilitates the rapid and cost-effective deployment of smaller edge locations, transcending the boundaries of metropolises and extending to tier X cities
  • The power of “IT in a Box” lies in its ability to process and store vast volumes of data at the edge. This equates to unprecedented speeds in delivering crucial information and, more importantly, provides a welcome relief for central cloud data centers burdened by heavy loads
  • The deployment of highly autonomous edge devices is a reality for “IT in a Box.” Devices are equipped with the capability for large-scale analysis, intelligent decision-making, and real-time reporting – all taking place immediately at the edge
  • With “IT in a Box,” most of the data no longer needs to travel to centralized infrastructure, boosting privacy and security as it stays close to the source
  • “IT in a Box” isn’t just about efficacy but also sustainability. It paves the way for a greener tech future with mindful energy use and low carbon emissions

The future of “IT in a Box” revolutionizing industries

In the not-so-distant future, “IT in a Box” holds immense potential for micro-vertical applications that can revolutionize various industries, such as:

  • Autonomous vehicles – Imagine a driverless car enabled by the above elements. It would process data in proximity, resulting in improved sensor fusion, adaptability, and learning, making driverless cars more efficient, safe, and responsive
  • Virtual healthcare – These benefits facilitate effective remote monitoring of vital signs and health parameters with immediate analysis of data, resulting in quick health anomaly diagnosis
  • Smart cities – Video feeds from surveillance cameras can be processed locally, identifying potential security threats in real time and promptly alerting concerned local authorities

These micro-vertical use cases cut across the 3E design principles of “IT in a Box.” As the convergence of various technologies matures, the potential for innovation and micro-vertical use cases across industries becomes vast. Indeed, the future holds the potential for sensors with embedded neuromorphic chips that can process and analyze information on-the-spot, rather than near the source.

Please feel free to reach out to [email protected] or [email protected] to share any questions and your thoughts about the potential of this evolution in edge computing.

Sailing Through Tech Talent Market Turbulence: Optimize and Fortify the Talent Supply Chain for Superior Talent Readiness | Blog

Navigating the volatile tech talent market is crucial, but service providers are discovering that finding talent with the needed skillsets is challenging. Read on to discover how leading IT service providers are managing the tech talent turbulence to build a future-ready workforce.

In recent years, the tech talent market has experienced heightened volatility, reflecting the rapidly changing dynamics of the technology landscape. A notable trend during this period has been the record-high attrition rates, especially in niche and specialized roles, indicating a significant turnover of skilled professionals within the industry. Simultaneously, there has been a marked increase in wage inflation, reflecting growing competition for top talent and a scarcity of skilled individuals.

The rapid advancement of technology has created a surge in demand for skilled professionals with expertise in emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), cybersecurity, cloud computing, and data analytics. However, the supply of qualified talent is struggling to keep pace with this demand, leading to a widening talent demand-supply gap. This gap is further exacerbated by the mismatch between the skills required by employers and the skills possessed by potential employees, demand for industry-specific expertise, geographical imbalances, and the untapped potential of underrepresented groups.

To learn insights into the technology talent market, key trends and emerging skills, and the current landscape, explore this session: Thriving in the Competitive IT Talent Market: Best-in-Class Approaches.

As per Everest Group’s Enterprise Pulse for Technology Services 2023 Report, the percentage of enterprises satisfied with their service partner dropped from 75% to 69%. Twenty-five percent of enterprises remain dissatisfied with the technology and domain expertise of the resource, and 30% express dissatisfaction with their service provider’s talent management capabilities. The key challenges for service providers in building a next-generation ready IT workforce include (listed in order of severity):

  1. Shortage of talent skilled with next-generation IT skills
  2. Long cycles required for upskilling/reskilling
  3. Low project readiness quotient for next-generation IT skills
  4. Difficult to integrate alternate talent (gig workers and non-STEM talent) pools in the workforce

In the face of these challenges, the call for talent readiness emerges as a strategic imperative for service providers aiming not just to survive but to thrive in the competitive tech talent market. Talent readiness encompasses more than the ability to recruit; it involves proactive measures to upskill existing employees, anticipate emerging skill requirements, and foster a culture of continuous learning and adaptability.

To assess the talent readiness of IT service providers, we recently launched the Talent Readiness for Next-generation IT Services PEAK Matrix® Assessment 2023. In this PEAK report, we have assessed 26 IT service providers’ workforce management and development practices and their ability to consistently provide quality and hyperproductive talent for next-generation IT services to the client.

In this blog, we’ll delve into the findings of the Talent Readiness for Next-generation IT Services PEAK Matrix® report and highlight best-in-class talent management and development practices adopted by service providers to stay ahead.

In response to the evolving demands of the tech talent market, service providers have demonstrated a proactive approach by making substantial investments to optimize and future-proof their talent supply chain.

  • Service providers are adopting non-conventional channels and geography-specific strategies and strengthening ties with institutions to acquire talent

Service providers are increasingly adopting innovative approaches to attract and acquire candidates with next-generation skill sets. Embracing non-conventional channels, such as hackathons and case competitions, has become important to identify and engage top talent in a competitive market. Strengthening ties with educational institutions, advocating for close collaboration with academia to align curriculum with market trends, and ensuring that graduates possess the skills in demand will be paramount to shaping the next generation of the tech talent market. Additionally, there is a growing focus on apprenticeship-based hiring, helping service providers with project-ready candidates. For example, one of the leading IT service providers has reported that apprenticeship hires constitute 20% of its entry-level hiring in North America. Furthermore, service providers are tailoring their strategies to specific geographical regions, recognizing the diverse skill landscapes across the globe.

  • Service providers are adopting a data and AI-driven approach to drive precision in skilling, building personalized career programs and learning pathways, and focusing on experiential learning

As per the Talent Readiness for Next-generation IT Services PEAK Matrix® report, more than 50% of the service providers mentioned that strengthening the learning and development ecosystem remains their top strategic priority.

Leaders are weighing high on experiential learning, embedding Hackathon, Codeathon, and capstone projects in the learning journey, which will involve the implementation of real business use cases within deadlines, provide the experience to work as a team, and enhance project readiness of the employee. Organizations are leveraging data and AI-based solutions to assess skill gaps and build personalized career and learning pathways to align individual aspirations with broader organizational goals.

To make the learning experience more engaging, gamification and social learning are being embedded into training programs. This not only adds an element of fun but also stimulates healthy competition, motivating employees to actively participate and excel in their learning journeys.

  • Leading IT service providers are tracking a robust set of key performance indicators (KPIs) to gauge the effectiveness and impact of learning initiatives,

These metrics include tracking learning hours per employee, the number of employees advancing to higher roles post-upskilling, and cross-skilling efforts. Internal mobility is closely monitored to evaluate workforce adaptability, while an employee quotient measures overall competency and deployment. Organizations also assess success by tracking the number of niche skills acquired annually, ensuring they stay abreast of industry trends. Financial considerations, such as spending per employee per year on learning, provide insights into the alignment of investments with skill enhancement and organizational growth. These comprehensive KPIs collectively offer a 360-degree perspective, guiding organizations in refining and innovating their talent development strategies.

  • Service providers are taking a holistic approach and leveraging technology to build a more engaged and motivated workforce

According to the Talent Readiness for Next-generation IT Services 2023 report, 22% of the service providers mentioned enhancing employee engagement as their top strategic priority.

In the contemporary workplace landscape, there is an increasingly pressing need for robust employee engagement strategies that prioritize various dimensions of employee well-being. This holistic approach encompasses the physical, mental, financial, and social aspects of an employee’s life.

Leaders have either built or are leveraging third-party AI-based tools to capture employee sentiments, employing advanced sentiment analysis techniques to interpret emotions expressed in various communication channels, including emails, chat logs, and surveys. This continuous tracking and analysis provide organizations with real-time insights into employee morale, satisfaction, and engagement levels. By identifying potential issues such as stress, burnout, or disengagement early on, providers are able to make informed decisions and implement targeted interventions to enhance overall employee well-being and cultivate a positive work environment.

One leading IT service provider utilized AI-based employee engagement solutions, employing a personalized chatbot to conduct pulse and ad hoc surveys and address grievances, thereby performing real-time sentiment analysis and calculating a happiness score in real time.

Beyond internal initiatives, providers are increasingly partnering with technology providers, offering platforms and solutions that can support their talent management efforts. These platforms typically leverage next-generation technologies such as AI and data analytics to enable internal talent mobility, career-pathing, and learning management.

As the pace of technology continues to accelerate, talent is going to be a critical differentiator for providers. To further discuss how you can better prepare your organization, contact [email protected], [email protected], and [email protected]

To learn more about the current IT talent market landscape, check out our session on: Thriving in the Competitive IT Talent Market: Best-in-Class Approaches.

Declining Headcount at Major IT Service Providers: Are Macroeconomic Factors the Sole Reason for the Tech Hiring Slowdown? | Blog

From increased hiring growth after the pandemic to recent layoffs, the tech talent market has experienced great volatility. Recognizing the need for a more sustainable approach, top employers have increasingly focused on building and developing talent internally. In this blog, we examine the major factors contributing to declining tech hiring and the outlook for IT services talent.

Reach out to us to discuss further.

The demand for IT tech talent has fluctuated widely in recent years, moving from a post-COVID hiring surge as enterprises accelerated digital transformation to the challenging Great Resignation, marked by record-high attrition rates and wage inflation.

IT service providers grappled with the dual challenge of retaining skilled professionals and attracting new talent. Now, the pendulum has swung the other way, with organizations implementing rounds of layoffs, imposing hiring freezes, and reducing overall headcount.

This rapid shift underscores the dynamic nature of the tech talent market and the evolving challenges both employers and professionals in this field face. The exhibit below shows the cumulative downward trend in headcount for major IT service providers.

MicrosoftTeams image 64

Over the past five quarters, from the second quarter of FY23 to FY24, 56,000 positions were eliminated, translating to an overall 3.26% headcount reduction for this period. This decline contrasts with the significant headcount growth in FY22 and the first half of FY23.

Let’s examine the following major trends contributing to this downward trend and take a look at the talent outlook in the IT services industry:

  • A tectonic shift from hiring to building and developing talent internally

According to Talent Readiness for Next-generation IT Services PEAK Matrix® Assessment 2023, the strategic priority for the majority of service providers for the next 12 to 18 months from a talent perspective is learning and development. Employers are focusing more on providing best-in-class opportunities for internal talent to upskill/reskill. This effort is backed by implementing structured frameworks to accelerate career progression through internal movement within the firm, aligned with the associates’ aspirations and business requirements.

Consequently, service providers have made significant investments to drive these efforts, including Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based internal talent marketplaces, AI-enabled skill profile matching platforms, personalized skilling recommendations based on an associate’s skill profile, roles, and projects, among others.

The combined result of quality upskilling initiatives and robust internal movement frameworks is that service providers can fulfill a substantial portion of niche talent requirements with specialized skills from their internal talent pool.

One leading service provider reported it has filled 60,000 open positions through upskilled and cross-skilled employees. Additionally, internal mobility also offers multiple other professional benefits, including higher retention rates, lower employee costs, and enhanced succession planning, to name a few

  • Strategic pivot from external hiring to optimal resource utilization

Service providers are focusing on increased internal workforce utilization and optimizing resource allocation to projects. This is evident from the increased utilization rate most service providers have reported in the last few quarters.

Some notable examples include Infosys, where the bench utilization rate increased from 76.6% in the second quarter of FY23 to 80.4% in the same period this year, and Wipro’s bench utilization rate increased from 79.8% to 84.5% during the same period. Additionally, TCS, HCLTech, LTIMindtree, Tech Mahindra, and Persistent Systems also indicated higher bench utilization rates

  • Hiring recalibration amid shifting dynamics in enterprise client demands

Due to the ramped-up digital transformation initiatives of enterprise clients during FY22 and the first half of FY23, most service providers ramped up hiring, resulting in significant net new additions to meet the surge in demand.

With the current demand slowing, service providers are focusing on upskilling and rotating already-hired resources. They are cautiously approaching hiring, delaying onboarding, and planning to forego hiring recent college graduates for the current year

  • Service providers navigate margin compression, opt for prudent cost management

Even with the headcount reductions, employee costs are at an all-time high for most of the top service providers. As illustrated in the exhibit below, employee costs have grown faster than revenues in the last few quarters, adversely affecting margins

Apart from this, multiple other factors are affecting margins, including service providers’ back-to-office initiatives. To counter these effects, service providers are focusing on the current internal workforce and significantly ramping down net new additions to lower overall recruitment and onboarding costs.

MicrosoftTeams image 65

  • Macroeconomic headwinds impact demand drivers in the IT services industry

Current global macroeconomic conditions are significantly contributing to the downward trend. The IT and business process services industry is expected to grow at a slower 2.7-3.2% in year-over-year organic constant currency terms (base case), a deceleration from the 4-6% growth in the last 12 months.

The global economic slowdown, supply chain disruptions, elevated inflation, geopolitical instabilities, wars, and oil conflicts, among other factors, are driving this decline and contributing to a negative outlook.

Hence, enterprises feel obligated to decelerate the pace of transformation initiatives and focus on cost optimization. This leaves the services industry dealing with challenges such as project cancellations, delayed ramp-ups, tougher negotiations, pricing wars, settling for new deals with lower margin profiles, a lack of long-term client commitments, and so on

Tech talent outlook

Over the past few years, service providers have come to a crucial realization that merely relying on external talent acquisition to match enterprise demand is not enough.

Recognizing the need for a more sustainable approach, they have increasingly focused on building and developing talent internally. This shift has given rise to the need to strengthen internal talent development processes.

Consequently, service providers have now started reaping the rewards, efficiently managing a substantial demand volume by leveraging their internal workforce. The benefits extend beyond the organizations themselves, positively impacting employees through enhanced career growth opportunities, skill development, and a sense of loyalty fostered by internal mobility programs.

To gain further insights into how leading IT service providers are tailoring internal talent development and management strategies to drive optimal workforce utilization, manage associate aspirations, and efficiently meet client needs, reach out to Arpita Dwivedi [email protected], Amit Anand [email protected], and Abhigyan Kumar [email protected].

Why Choice of Tech Service Providers Becomes More Strategic with Operations Platforms | Blog

Digital technologies brought the promise of an operational platform that enables companies to run their business differently and compete better in the marketplace. It is more automated, more self-service, more efficient, and more effective. And it is designed to continually evolve as business needs change. Looking at companies with mature operational platforms shows us what becomes essential to continually creating value through operational platforms. This essential understanding is explained in this blog.

Read more in my blog on Forbes

AWS re:Invent: The Story Beyond Generative AI | Blog

While Generative Artificial Intelligence was a major focus at the recent Amazon Web Services (AWS) annual user conference in Las Vegas, other important themes stood out to our analyst team. These include an increased focus on partnerships, cost optimization, and new growth channels. Read on for our analysis of the trends to pay attention to from AWS re:Invent 2023.

Since attending AWS re:Invent from Nov. 27 to Dec. 1, we have been digesting the newer offerings, alliances, and strategic focus areas for AWS. This blog explores the top three themes we believe make their mark in the sea of announcements, initiatives, and even unspoken priorities.

Increased focus on the partner ecosystem

Much like prior years, a significant focus was put on the partner network, including service providers (global system integrators, niche system integrators, etc.), technology partners (large and small vendors), and others (e.g., resellers).

The AWS Marketplace witnessed significant changes to help partners that are already well supported. Many service providers demonstrated high-value client transformation case studies during keynote sessions, round tables, and in expo booths.

With the massive spectrum of service partners and their diverse wish lists, we firmly believe a key focus area for AWS should be improving the profitability of its AWS business. AWS needs to make it simple to use its many offerings, scale personnel training, and help build tools and intellectual property (IP).

AWS continuously assesses its partner program and the results shared were encouraging. However, with the market transitioning to Generative AI, the earlier approach of building partnerships based on core infrastructure will need to evolve.

We observed that clients want service partners to proactively have strong views on specific cloud vendors they should work with rather than be indecisive. To remain the preferred choice, AWS needs to continue engaging its service partners, especially with the newer demand for cloud services.

Nonetheless, AWS will need to work with service partners to strike a balance between being the primary cloud partner, which AWS wants, while maintaining the partner’s professed cloud agnosticism to ensure they both deliver client value.

Service providers’ industry expertise is another critical engagement area. This can explain why the event did not heavily emphasize the “industry cloud” because a large part of industry-centric development will be done in collaboration with service partners.

We believe the earlier witnessed “client ownership” friction between service partners and AWS is now resolved. However, as some service partners still raise this concern with us, AWS should address this issue through partner communication and stronger action.

Cost optimization at the center of all conversations

One notable feature of AWS re:Invent 2023 was the presence of a large number of financial operations (FinOps)-focused providers in the booths. While FinOps is not new and cost optimization has always been a CIO agenda, the sudden surge in their relevance can be attributed to the current macroeconomic situation and the frantic, unplanned post-COVID cloud adoption. As a result, most enterprises ended up having complex, hybrid cloud estates and a lack of visibility, leading to spiraling costs.

According to an Everest Group survey of 450 enterprises, 63% dedicate more than 7% of their cloud spend to FinOps as they are becoming more aware of the potential cost-saving available through investments in FinOps.

The FinOps space has become quite crowded with several specialists, global and regional system integrators, and technology providers, including AWS, offering these solutions. Enterprises currently have too many choices and identifying the right partner is difficult.

The provider type also varies by their offering within FinOps and typically can be categorized by: reseller, Reserved Instances (RI)/Savings plan (SP) management provider, consulting and managed services provider, visibility and recommendations provider, and end-to-end FinOps capability and offering provider.

Some of the specialist providers that caught our attention at the event include Alteryx, Archera, Aviatrix, CAST, Chronosphere, Cloudability, CloudFix, Cloudflare, CloudKeeper, CloudZero, Coralogix, DoiT, Finout, Flexera, Harness, Kubecost, LogicMonitor, Ollion, ProsperOps, Splunk, Stacklet, Ternary, Vantage, Vega, Virtasant, Xosphere, and Zesty.

Each enterprise should identify the right solution to meet its requirements. A few considerations to keep in mind when choosing a FinOps solution or service include the ability to manage environment complexity, the metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) used to track progress, cross-team collaboration features, availability of skilled FinOps personnel, and the visibility and dashboarding quality.

Newer channels for growth acceleration

In the third quarter of 2023, AWS reported US$23.1 billion in revenue, up 12% year-on-year, but the growth rate was below the company’s typical historical increases in the mid-20 to low-30% range. The same trend is visible across its partner ecosystem, except for a few specialist players.

The growth rate of most global cloud system integrators has diminished by more than half compared to 2021 and 2022. Amid this slowdown, we sense an emphasis on identifying channels for growth acceleration within AWS and across its entire ecosystem partners.

Generative AI was the biggest growth bet and talking point for all attendees at the event. Almost every major announcement by AWS was around Generative AI. However, it’s worth noting that Generative AI has had little influence on the top line of hyperscalers, technology vendors, or system integrators.

Most Generative AI implementations are still in the proof of concept stage, with more than 90% of deal sizes being under US$1 million. AWS expects that many Large Language Models (LLMs) will require public cloud computing capacity and is pushing all its partners to drive enterprise adoption.

However, the founder of a leading Generative AI company at the event mentioned that while the potential is enormous, the shape and form of future adoption are completely uncertain. Interestingly, he suggested with the rapid rate AI models are evolving, LLMs might get replaced by something completely new in two years. While AWS and the entire ecosystem need to continue investing and exploring Generative AI use cases, placing big bets on it could be a risky short-term proposition.

Other Focus Areas at AWS re:Invent

If not for the emergence of Generative AI, industry cloud and complex workload migration to AWS would have dominated the event. These AWS industry cloud solutions had dedicated booths right at the center of the expo hall.

However, its impact was muted by limited announcements by AWS and the lack of a serious investment intent displayed. As suggested earlier, this could be due to AWS focusing the industry cloud narrative with service provider partners who have a better understanding of industries. The impression created by AWS at re:Invent in this area was low, making it appear the hyperscaler is taking a wait-and-see approach.

Another growth area AWS is expected to pursue is the migration of complex workloads, like mainframes, to its platform. It announced partnerships with a few system integrator partners and showcased its intent to help enterprises migrate.

With a significant portion of simple workloads already migrated to the cloud, complex workload migration could be the most stable growth potential for AWS in the next few years. AWS and its partners should double down on investments in this area.

Undeniably, AWS re:Invent 2023 turned out to be a delicate balancing act of strengthening the partnership network, investing in emerging innovation areas, maximizing client value, and ensuring cost optimization in the current macroeconomic environment. We would love to hear your observations from AWS re:Invent. To share your views or to discuss other details, please reach out to [email protected] or [email protected].

Learn more about the AWS services market, including trends, demand drivers, and key considerations for enterprises.

Key Issues Affecting the Effectiveness of Generative AI | Blog

Generative AI seems so compelling. However, it carries significant issues that will likely cause initiatives to fail or substantially underperform against their potential. This blog presents information about several issues. We will look first at a key issue causing a lot of resistance to generative AI adoption: the technology presents a probabilistic answer as though it is a deterministic answer. This blog will help your company better understand where and how to apply generative AI.

Read more in my blog on Forbes

The Battle Unfolds: MGAs as the Next Frontier for InsurTechs, Services, and Technology Providers | Blog

The Managing General Agent (MGA) sector is a bright spot in a turbulent insurance market. Technology investments and strategic partnerships will be key to redefining risk and driving innovation for these specialized insurance agents/brokers. Read on to learn more about the opportunities that await MGAs, or contact us to discuss further.

Despite the economic turmoil, global instability, prevalent inflation, and a volatile year shaking the insurance industry, faith in the MGA sector has not wavered. In this challenging environment, MGAs need to demonstrate steadfast strategic underwriting prowess, build a solid business case heavily focused on cost optimization, and exhibit excellent data and engineering capabilities.

Increasing demand for specialized products, the need to underwrite newer business lines, and a push for efficiency are driving insurers to build relationships with MGAs – all suggesting the upcoming years could be a golden era for MGAs.

The data provides a compelling sense that MGAs have a bright future ahead. Conning’s analysis of statutory filings found that premiums generated by MGAs for US insurance companies grew at a startling rate of 27% in 2022. Interest in the MGA market also has significantly rekindled in Europe and the US, gradually garnering prominence and capturing interest among carriers. Everest Group’s research shows just about half of the major US-based property and casualty (P&C) insurers utilize MGAs to cover specialized risk.

Unleashing the potential of technology

In this era of expanding MGA channels and relations, forward-looking enterprises have already made significant strides toward capitalizing on technology solutions. By strategically investing, they are enhancing the overall experience for agents, brokers, and policyholders. Simultaneously, they are seeking to enhance operational efficiencies and carve out a larger market share. Nevertheless, this merely marks the inception of a far-reaching goal, as there remains a multitude of tasks to be undertaken to fulfill the above-stated aims.

To support their vision, MGAs need modern, flexible technology that enhances customer experience and increases new business and retention. Additionally, these agents require a well-integrated and comprehensive partner ecosystem that can provide support while augmenting technical capabilities.

The prevailing economic sentiment has accelerated the trend toward investing in technology and data in more impactful ways. Regardless of MGA type, technology serves as a driving force to propel growth and enable innovation.

Clyde & Co research highlights that MGAs’ willingness to invest in technology far surpasses their insurer counterparts, with 80% of MGAs investing in technology or InsurTech in the past year, compared to only 55% of carriers. Automation, digital platforms, and data and analytics are the most prominent areas that have garnered considerable investment attention during this transformation era.

Notably, a growing number of MGAs have harnessed the potential of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) to optimize operational performance. Specifically, they are using these technologies to streamline and advance capabilities and underwriting processes, assess risk, and handle claims.

Digital platforms have assumed a ubiquitous presence within the MGA community, facilitating seamless engagement with customers, brokers, and carriers. They also empower MGAs to extend online quoting capabilities, expedite policy issuance, and streamline claims handling digitally.

Data and analytics play a pivotal role in delivering insights that can potentially unlock boundless possibilities in MGA’s operations. This intelligence can help them track specialized and upcoming risks that need attention, identify business opportunities for carrier partners, and develop more responsive and accurate pricing models. Additionally, these solutions can allow carriers to underwrite risks at higher margins, as well as offer more personalized coverage for policyholders.

Some examples include:

  • ZestyAI, an AI-powered specialist provider of climate and risk analytics solutions, partnered with Coterie Insurance, a focused MGA, to provide instant quotes and issue small business insurance policies leveraging data and AI
  • Gallagher recently partnered with Novidea to transform its services for a specialty client base and execute and tailor its broking cloud-based data platform to automate processes. The platform will save time, create efficiency, and turn data into actionable insights

MGAs: a low-hanging opportunity for the ecosystem partners

Platform and technology partners, as well as various InsurTechs and low-code/no-code providers, are making strides toward building dedicated playbooks and products to assist MGAs. Service provider partners have heavily invested in developing broader capabilities and solutions to tap into the growing technology adoption demands from MGAs.

Various platform providers such as Socotra, Majesco, Novidea, Cogitate, Insurity, and Instanda are launching cloud and Application Programming Interface (API)-based dedicated core platforms for MGAs. These platforms will help MGAs strengthen relationships with insurers, expand distribution, leverage a vast collection of third-party data and microservices for underwriting and customer experience, as well as achieve scalability. The solutions also will quickly offer products for complex insurance lines such as general liability, physical damage, auto liability, cargo insurance, and insurance for complex terrain or hard-to-underwrite commercial property.

Let’s take a look at the key strategic priorities for MGAs and an illustrative provider landscape in the exhibit below:

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Emerging risks fuel further tech investments and partnerships to drive innovation and redefine risk management

The evolving risk landscape and uncertainty are major drivers for MGAs to invest in data-driven technology tools because the current models may be inadequate for the growing number, types, and complexity of risks.

While MGAs have the expertise and models to evaluate risk, the industry is failing to capture the full spectrum of potential losses, and simultaneously capture and analyze newer data sources. The historical loss data that these traditional models rely on is less useful for projecting future losses, giving rise to the need for fostering strategic collaborations with third-party data intelligence and analytics partners, as well as other technology players.

We are seeing increased traction from the MGA sector in the following product and risk segments:

  • Cyber risk: The lack of historical data and inability to accurately price cyber risks remain a key challenge for traditional MGAs, leading to increasing loss ratios and declining profitability
    • Many InsurTechs dedicatedly track this space such as Coinnect, helping loss adjusters, brokers, MGAs, insurers, and reinsurers handle cyber risk
    • They offer a cloud platform and APIs and leverage proprietary cyber intelligence data to assess, mitigate, and respond to cyber risks of prospects and insured clients
  • Excess & Surplus (E&S): The inherent uncertainty of a changing environment, which leads to extreme climate events, is a major driver of premium growth in excess & surplus (E&S) lines. According to an AM Best Market Segment Report, the direct premium for E&S lines grew by 25% to a record US$82 billion in 2021
  • Parametric insurance: Parametric insurance demand also is on the upswing, requiring MGAs to pay attention and substantially invest in cutting-edge technology to develop relevant and targeted solutions

Forward-looking MGAs are progressively seeking to embrace cloud-based solutions and develop niche and sophisticated underwriting expertise as they shift their focus toward streamlining operations, driving cost efficiencies, and improving their ability for advanced risk modeling and resilience.

The MGA market is undergoing substantial transformations fueled by the desire to invest in tech, data, and AI to build robust risk selection and underwriting capabilities and foster good carrier relationships. Elevating the emphasis on bolstering the partnership ecosystem will be important, fueled by prevailing market dynamics, including faster speed-to-market, higher profitability, and maximizing value.

At the same time, focusing on emerging risk categories, growth in E&S lines, and high parametric insurance demand has created an urgency for MGAs to build close relationships with InsurTechs, carriers, service providers, platform and technology providers. This strategy will help MGAs drive value creation, capitalize on new opportunities, innovate and launch newer products to the market, and, ultimately, deliver exceptional value.

To discuss this topic further, please reach out to [email protected] and [email protected].

Don’t miss our annual webinar, Key Issues 2024: Creating Accelerated Value in a Dynamic World, to learn the major concerns, expectations, and trends for 2024.

Tech Services Forecast For 2024 | Blog

In every quarter in 2023, the tech services environment became increasingly more difficult due to a growing more-for-less mindset instead of a build-for-the-future orientation. The discretionary spend component of the market largely evaporated. Here is an analysis of whether that will continue to affect the tech services market in 2024 and what it means for companies’ spending decisions.

Read more in my blog on Forbes

Exploring the Paradigm Shift of Experience Level Agreement-based Contracting and its Impact on Enterprises | Blog

Experience level agreements (XLAs) can foster service provider innovation and collaboration if structured with rewards for risks. While once a potent force, the XLA has lost its power as enterprises have transitioned to a penalty-only model, essentially reducing it to a standard service level agreement (SLA). Delve into the ramifications of this change and the potential dangers it poses to enterprises in this blog.

Employee experience is critical to the success of any organization. Companies that prioritize employee experience see higher employee engagement, lower turnover rates, and improved business outcomes.” — CIO of a Fortune 500 company

41 % Enterprises have identified improving EX as the top objective of workplace transformation1

Undeniably, experience holds immense power and significantly influences business operations. The introduction of the Experience Level Agreement (XLA) (refer to exhibit 1) offers a method to quantify and subsequently enhance intangible aspects such as Employee Experience (EX), capturing the interest of businesses and senior stakeholders worldwide.

Slide1 scaled
Nonetheless, recent trends suggest that the way enterprises approach XLAs has notably shifted, moving from a risk-reward model to a penalty-only one. The full implications of this change seem to be lost on enterprises. In this blog, we will delve into this shifting approach to XLAs, discuss the associated risks, and clarify why, before making this decision, enterprises should err on the side of caution.
Slide2 scaled

Deciphering the Significance of an Experience Level Agreement: Navigating the distinction between SLAs and XLAs

Recently, there has been some uncertainty about the role of XLAs, with suggestions that they might replace SLAs or represent its next evolutionary phase. It is important to clarify that XLAs are not intended to replace SLAs but rather to complement them. Understanding the differences between the two, as presented below, is critical.
Slide3 scaled

Demonstrating the intended version of XLA-based contracting

Before the introduction of XLAs, experience was pursued on a best-effort basis, with no means of measurement. However, now with enterprises contractually committing to XLAs, it placed the onus on SPs to take ownership of the user experience and actively seek avenues for improvement.

By formally incorporating XLAs into contracts, both enterprises and SPs established well-defined roles and responsibilities, fostering a collaborative partnership with mutual advantages.

Initially, XLAs operated under a risk-reward framework (refer to Exhibit 2), providing SPs with strong incentives to exceed predetermined performance standards. Penalties for non-compliance motivated SPs to improve service quality, ultimately benefiting enterprises. Furthermore, enterprises had the authority to impose penalties.

Slide4 scaled

The current landscape of the Experience Level Agreement risk-reward model approach

This risk-reward model seemed to be the ideal path for both enterprises and SPs to follow. However, macroeconomic factors and a heightened cost-saving focus led enterprises to push for a penalty-only XLA model to save costs.

While SPs were hesitant, they ultimately agreed to this model. This has created the scenario where SPs are offering penalty-only XLA contracting by default for all digital workplace deals.

However, SPs diluted the XLA-based contracting construct by accepting lenient performance benchmarks and minimal penalties, eliminating their motivation to work beyond the agreed-upon baseline benchmarks. Additionally, SPs began templatizing XLAs, inadvertently diluting their fundamental intent and purpose.

The change in XLA contracts has ultimately led to a pyrrhic victory for enterprises. Although they might have succeeded in eliminating rewards in the short term, overall employee experience and innovation may suffer in the long term.

In essence, this has now become dangerous for enterprises, as illustrated below:

Slide5 scaled 

The way forward

This shift in approach diminished a once powerful tool in the hands of the enterprises, reducing XLAs into just another SLA, transforming a mutually beneficial partnership for growth into an environment fostering mediocrity.

Hence, enterprises must exercise caution in their approach towards XLAs. Instead of viewing XLAs as a means to cut costs or penalize providers, they should view them as a collaborative avenue for fostering innovation and driving growth.

Everest Group will continue to follow the evolution of the experience level agreement. To discuss your XLA journey or for help within an XLA co-creation workshop, please reach out to [email protected] and [email protected].

See our webinar, Forward-looking Sourcing for 2024: Outsourcing, Location, and Pricing Strategies in APAC, for 2024 outsourcing portfolio strategies.

1. Based on CXO responses from 442 enterprises with revenue greater than US$1 billion

2. Everest group research with 50 digital workplace providers

Source:  Everest Group (2023)

Everest Group’s AI Top 50™ List: Who’s Leading a Decade of Disruption? | Blog

With its first-ever AI Top 50™ list, Everest Group recognizes the exceptional business performance of AI technology providers globally. This valuable ranking serves as a useful tool for enterprise decision-making and provider comparisons. Continue reading to learn more about the leading AI-first providers featured, as determined by Everest Group’s comprehensive research.

Everest Group has launched its inaugural AI Top 50 list of the most prominent technology providers worldwide that prioritize artificial intelligence (AI) at their core. The list was determined by evaluating rigorous, objective criteria, which include AI revenues, total funding secured, share of funding received in the past two years, and company valuation. This vital report will be released annually.

See Everest Group’s Top AI 50 list.

Why is the Everest Group AI Top 50 important today?

In the past decade alone, over 5,000 AI technology providers have emerged with different specializations across various domains and geographic regions. The remarkable growth underscores AI’s critical role in shaping the future of technology and its enduring impact on daily lives. Recently, the introduction of large language models (LLMs) has further sparked an innovation wave across various industries, shaping interactions and decision-making and revolutionizing everything from chatbots to content creation.

With this rapid progression in the past few years, and even months, businesses across all industries are rushing to gain insight into the technology to stay competitive as it reshapes industries, streamlines processes, and redefines interactions between humans and machines.

The list will assist enterprises in identifying AI technology providers that have achieved notable scale. Businesses, investors, and industry professionals can gauge the providers’ competitive positioning and potential in the ever-evolving AI industry. Additionally, the ranking is a resource for AI-first technology providers to benchmark themselves against industry peers.

How does Everest Group define AI?

To define the terms in the report, we used a multi-faceted approach, drawing on a combination of exclusive proprietary data, including insights gathered directly from AI technology providers. Along with that, the methodology incorporates publicly accessible information such as reported revenue, total funding, and valuation data obtained from publicly accessible sources. This thorough methodology ensures the accuracy and breadth of the data.

How is the Everest Group AI Top 50 list determined?

From a database of 2500-plus AI providers, we narrowed the pool to 250 firms after initial preliminary screening. The selected AI technology providers were then evaluated and positioned based on a set of qualification criteria. The research findings provide a comprehensive snapshot of their standing in the dynamic AI landscape.

The AI Top 50 list represents AI technology providers that meet the following criteria:

AI-first

All the companies listed develop and integrate AI as a central and indispensable component of their products and solutions. In other words, their offerings would be fundamentally incomplete without AI.

Software-first

The featured providers develop and offer software-based AI solutions as their primary offering, meaning their core focus revolves around delivering AI through software applications.

Business-to-business (B2B) focus/offerings

The providers on the list tailor their software products and solutions to meet the technology needs of other businesses.

With AI becoming a more essential component of business and individuals’ daily lives, the Everest Group AI Top 50 list empowers organizations to navigate this dynamic field. See the Everest Group AI Top 50 list.

To learn more about the 2023 Everest Group AI Top 50, reach out to Priya Bhalla, [email protected], Vishal Gupta, [email protected], and Niraj Agarwal, [email protected].

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