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Digital transformation approaches favor speed in down market

Digital transformation strategies are undergoing transformation in response to U.S. economic turmoil, several researchers found; other news from the week.

Industry research suggests digital transformation approaches must emphasize speed and smaller, tactical projects in a struggling economy.

Few technology decision-makers are satisfied with the current state of their transformation and modernization efforts, and most want to accelerate their ability to support business objectives. Researchers and consultants, meanwhile, suggested techniques such as "rapid-innovation cycles" and "survival sprints" as the way forward.

Only 22% of the 445 executives responding to a Harvard Business Review Analytics survey deemed their current digital transformation approaches "very effective." The survey, sponsored by low-code vendor Quick Base and published this week, pointed to rapid-innovation cycles as a means to boost success.

The Harvard study views rapid-innovation cycles as a second project track, operating in parallel to enterprise-wide, grand-scale digital transformation initiatives. The rapid-innovation track, which focuses on workflows within and across business units, provides the advantage of speed and the ability to compete for resources with larger projects, according to the report.

Rapid-cycle innovation should reset expectations regarding time scales, said Quick Base CEO Ed Jennings. He cited "minimum viable products in a day or under a week, product deployments in as little as a month -- certainly inside of a quarter" as examples.

"There's a compelling case that rapid-cycle innovation tools deliver greater value in a recession," Jennings added, noting such tools can help business units prioritize important changes. "Today, people need solutions quickly."

Issues in app modernization

Unease with current methods also surfaced in a survey published this week by Ahead, a cloud solutions provider based in Chicago. The company's application modernization survey, conducted by Hanover Research, found 37% of the 308 IT decision-makers polled were "very satisfied" with how fast they are delivering new software or features. And 82% of the respondents cited the goal of meeting business needs faster as a top priority.

There's a compelling case that rapid-cycle innovation tools deliver greater value in a recession.
Ed JenningsCEO, Quick Base

Respondents to the Ahead study also cited inefficient and time-consuming IT processes -- which could create a consulting opening for IT service providers.

"There's always a role for qualified service providers, especially in domains like cloud-native development and DevOps, where talent shortages are very real," said Tom Pohlmann, executive vice president of customer success at Ahead.

However, he noted that 39% of survey respondents listed the failure of systems integrators and other service providers to meet their expectations as a barrier to application modernization success. "So, service partners better bring their A game," Pohlmann said.

Survival amid GDP decline

The calls for greater speed in transformation and modernization come against a backdrop of economic turmoil. The Commerce Department on Thursday said the gross domestic product decreased at an estimated annualized rate of 32.9% in the second quarter. The department's advance estimate is subject to revision; more complete data is scheduled for release on August 27.

Thus far, some digital transformation projects have continued to proceed and some, especially those around remote workforce technology, have been accelerated. PwC's CFO Pulse survey suggests digital transformation initiatives are generally among the investment areas least likely to be cancelled or deferred. Seventeen percent of the 330 CFOs surveyed in the U.S. said they expected to cut digital transformation, compared with 78% who planned to target facilities and capital expenditures.

"Digital reigns supreme, and is a key component of a company's resilience," said David Clarke, PwC's global chief experience officer. "Even if businesses are shrinking budgets due to the pandemic, only a few are making cuts in their digital transformation spend."

Clarke said organizations can make shorter time spans a hallmark of their digital transformation approaches -- breaking projects into survival sprints of perhaps two to three weeks, for instance.

"Sprints are vital because they enable you to execute on big ideas, work hard and fast to bring them to market, then refine them," Clarke said. "And now, more than ever, you need the right business strategists, tech experts and user experience designers aligned from the start."

While some digital transformation projects will focus on immediate cost reduction and efficiency gains, others will look to break new ground or exploit new technologies. A survey of Fortune 1,000 IT executives conducted by RedMonocle and Windward Consulting discovered that 64% of the respondents were moving to new services in light of COVID-19.

"After interviewing several of the survey respondents, I found that IT leaders are pivoting the way they deliver work as an IT organization," said Sean McDermott, CEO of RedMonocle and Windward Consulting. "This may include new IT workflows due to remote working, real-time collaboration techniques and increased investments in technology to support security and privacy."

"We're seeing tremendous demand for emerging tech products and services that help employees get back to work," added PwC's Clarke. "VR [virtual reality] connects people for collaborative sessions and virtual training when travel isn't possible. IoT also offers a better understanding about the flow of people around the office and can even help spot issues early."

Cognizant to acquire New Signature

Cognizant, a $14.8 billion professional services firm based in Teaneck, N.J., has agreed to acquire New Signature, continuing the trend of cloud services-related acquisitions.

New Signature is a Microsoft public cloud consultancy and managed services firm. The deal, expected to close in the third quarter, would transfer more than 500 New Signature cloud staffers to Cognizant's Microsoft Business Group. The pending acquisition is the fifth cloud deal Cognizant has pursued over the last year.

Cognizant CEO Brian Humphries told analysts during the company's July 29 quarterly earnings call that he will "continue to use M&A as a means" to support the company's strategy of "accelerating digital." Humphries also cited investing in organic growth. "So, while we've done a series of cloud acquisitions in the last year, we have also set aside tens of millions of dollars to invest in hyperscale partners and SaaS vendors with a view to accelerating our cloud practices,” he said.

Reveille launches partner program

Reveille Software, based in Atlanta, has launched the first phase of a partnering initiative that will initially address resellers and systems integrators, but will expand to include other partner types such as MSPs.

The company, which provides enterprise content management (ECM) and monitoring offerings, decided earlier this year to focus on partners as its only go-to-market route. The company unveiled its Global Channel Partner Program as the first step toward creating a Reveille partner network, noted Rick Butgereit, executive vice president and chief marketing officer at Reveille.

The program includes tiered and region-based partner incentives for generating incremental revenue, a partner portal, deal registration and training, according to the company.

Butgereit said the company is looking for channel partners with vertical expertise, professional services capability and certified personnel with badges in adjacent technologies. Reveille will establish an MSP partner program for companies that generate the bulk of their revenue through managed services as opposed to on-premises sales, he added.

Reveille's ECM management and monitoring platform provides integrations with ECM or content services platforms from vendors such as Microsoft, OpenText, IBM, Box and Kofax.

Sonrai Security focuses on channel partners

Sonrai Security, based in New York, is pursuing relationships with channel partners as it expands its public cloud security platform.

The company has added its Governance Automation Engine to its Sonrai Dig platform, which covers AWS, Azure, Google Cloud Platform and Kubernetes. The automation engine "dispatches prevention and remediation bots," according to Sonrai.

Sonrai CEO Brendan Hannigan said the company expects "the majority of our engagements to be with partners." Sonrai provides channel discounts across its product lines and offers packages that let partners use Sonrai Dig as part of an initial assessment engagement, he noted.

Larry Bianculli, managing director at CCSI, a managed security services provider (MSSP) based in Bohemia, N.Y., said the Sonrai platform suits customers who are moving workloads to the cloud but have the "expanding needs of identity management and data governance with their data … in the cloud."

CCSI, which operates a 24x7 security operations center as a SOC 2 MSSP, has incorporated Sonrai as one of the tools in its Threatprotect security platform.

Other news

  • InterVision, an IT service provider based in Santa Clara, Calif., and St. Louis, unveiled its Cloud Migration Lifecycle Assurance program, which the company said provides a "comprehensive approach to AWS migration, ongoing operations and cost optimization." InterVision is a Premier Consulting Partner in the AWS Partner Network.
  • Pax8, a cloud distributor headquartered in Denver, joined RingCentral's channel partner program. The arrangement lets Pax8 provide the RingCentral Office offering and RingCentral Cloud PBX for Microsoft Teams to its North American partners.
  • ai, a value stream management platform company based in Plano, Texas, rolled out a new partner program. The program encompasses partners such as global and regional systems integrators, consulting firms and technology providers.
  • Ping Identity, based in Denver, revamped its Global Partner Program, which includes programs for technology and channel partners. Changes to the Channel Program component include Delivery Approved, which rewards partners for investing time and resources in building Ping consulting practices. Ping's strategic Alliance Program, meanwhile, has been expanded to support "further collaboration with top-tier technology companies," according to Ping.
  • Cybersecurity vendor Bitdefender introduced managed detection and response (MDR) services for its IT service provider partners. The MDR services use Bitdefender's 24x7 security operation center in San Antonio, Texas.
  • Security On-Demand (SOD), a managed security and MDR services provider, expanded its channel program. The company launched the SOD Partner Success Program for referring, reselling or private-labelling its services. The company said the program launch includes restructured SOD partner benefits and a new partner portal with sales training, branded collateral, sales playbooks and other resources.
  • Onix, a cloud solutions provider based in Lakewood, Ohio, and Toronto, said it achieved Managed Service Provider status in the Google Cloud Partner Advantage Program.
  • Savantis, an IT staffing and SAP Gold Partner based in Exton, Pa., appointed Keith Hontz as CEO and president. Hontz was previously CEO at SocketLabs.

Market Share is a news roundup published every Friday.

Additional reporting by Spencer Smith.

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