AOP/ISG State of the Industry Survey – Does Digital Require Outsourcing?

Ashish Chaturvedi, Jan Erik Aase Research Alerts

What is Happening?

Digital adoption is accelerating, clients are still heavily dependent upon outsourcing providers, and the use of new business models is impacting the success of digital-centric initiatives. These are three key initial findings from the current State of the Industry survey being conducted by the IAOP in partnership with ISG (and part of the keynote at the IAOP European Outsourcing Summit week in Amsterdam). The survey was distributed to over 12,000 European IAOP members and affiliates as well as over 20,000 global enterprises. An additional section of the survey will be released worldwide to over 100,000 enterprises, advisors, and service providers next week. These findings were focused on the European markets but ISG has observed that they apply globally.

One data point really stands out above the others: Almost two-thirds of enterprises are relying on external providers to implement their Digital projects. Moreover, enterprises tend to completely rely on external service provider whenever Digital projects involve augmented reality, IoT, or robotics. Thus, it appears that the more complex and somewhat uncharted initiatives have the highest probability of being outsourced.

Technology models are playing a more prominent role in the delivery of digitally-focused initiatives. The survey identified Agile as the preferred development model. Agile fulfills critical business requirements such as improved speed-to-market and continuous software delivery, which is core necessities of all digital projects. SOA was rated as the most popular development architecture. SOA is also among the most stable operating models.  It is known to enable operational efficiency, provide agility, and enable more accurate project scheduling.  And test automation tools are the most widely used automation tools in the development process followed by build orchestration and containerization.

The combination of these three circumstances forms the perfect storm – enterprise clients have the will and they are acquiring the skill in order to use the methodologies and tools that enable digital projects to succeed.

Why is it Happening?

Our ongoing work with enterprise and provider clients indicates that enterprise Digital business strategy and execution are heavily dependent upon service providers. The survey data confirms this, indicating that an average of 65% of enterprises rely on service providers to make Digital happen.

This is because effectively and efficiently “going Digital” is hard work and beyond the capabilities of practically any single entity. Properly planned and managed sourcing is critical to making Digital work. This is because all existing and upcoming enterprise business technologies, along with the frameworks and methodologies being used to work on these technologies, must be evaluated from the lens of the overall business impact.

The ability to leverage the technical and technological expertise in the market to improve innovation, flexibility and time to market have all increased in importance. And with the business side typically driving the funding, oversight, and schedule of most Digital projects, reliance on external providers is only going to increase.

This high reliance on external providers also increases the complexity for internal IT and Vendor management organizations, who must manage the project costs, scope and schedule. Proper management does enable the advantages of improved flexibility, increased access to skilled resources and custom solutions. But this is only possible if enterprise (internal) IT is tasking ownership of these projects and driving the digital agenda on behalf of the business.

Net Impact

Collaboration between business and IT leaders through the digitization of business models is making IT as an enterprise function more important and impactful than ever before. Restructuring of the business process landscape and development of technology roadmaps are some of the biggest impacts that digitization will create for Enterprise IT. Through Digital projects, we see enterprise IT forming strategic partnerships with service providers to support growth and internal process transformation rather than just cost reduction. Additionally, digital labor (and not cost arbitrage) has become the primary driver to achieve productivity, speed and quality improvements.

Service providers will require new skills to cater to the demand of the digital economy. They must improve their abilities to provide solutions to enterprise IT, that are business-centric and not just technology based. Additionally, incumbents will be challenged to move from T&M to outcome based models and put more skin in the game. This is what enterprise IT will be expected to do and therefore their “partners” will have to follow suit. It is becoming more apparent that no enterprise IT team can do everything by itself. Hence, the success of a these new digital initiatives will be a direct function of the strength of the ecosystem it works in including start-ups, technology partners, software vendors, system integrators, and the various internal teams.

Within 2 years, we expect a high level of productization of Digital services. This will primarily be driven by start-ups and niche providers. As a result, these players will experience high growth. ISG anticipates that many of them will be acquired by large legacy providers that are already in the process of re-structuring their teams and service offerings to meet the demand of the digital customer. Join me at the ISG Digital Business Summit (DBS2016) in Chicago IL to hear my presentation on these topics and the preliminary results of our survey.

This Research Alert was originally published by ISG Insights, our ongoing globally-focused premium subscription research service. To learn more about ISG Insights, go to where you can register for a Research ID that will provide access to some of our complementary content.

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