SolarWinds hack

SolarWinds hack: CISOs need to revisit cyber resilience?

by | Dec 23, 2020 | IT Security

The SolarWinds hack has highlighted the threats caused by third-party vendors and challenges the cyber resilience position of enterprises.
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What many organizations feared came true! The year 2020 brought another shock to the business community last week with discovering a new cyber-attack, SolarWinds hack’ in the United States. The attack is an opportunity for enterprises and CISOs to reflect on their cyber resilience strategies. (See: Top enterprise cybersecurity trends of 2020)

For the unversed, California-based cybersecurity company FireEye uncovered the SolarWinds hack last week and estimated that the cyberattack campaign might have started as early as Spring 2020 and remained undetected for months.

The cyberattack emerged as one of the largest ever targeted against the U.S. Government and several other global companies, threatening organizations’ cyber resilience levels. To date, dozens of emails from the U.S. Treasury Department have been confirmed as compromised.

The attack was hurled by cybercriminals who hacked the infrastructure of an American I.T. Software company, SolarWinds, and then used illegitimate access to insert malicious code in the software updates that the company sends out to its 30,000 plus clients that also includes several departments of the U.S. Government. SolarWinds stated that the updates issued between March and June 2020 were contaminated.

Several industry onlookers have also slammed SolarWind’s lackluster approach to conquer its shortcomings. For instance, the Chief Information Security Officer’s (CISO) longstanding vacant position from its board and notifications issued to customers around deactivating antivirus tools before installing SolarWinds software.

Far-reaching effects

While the timelines of the SolarWinds hack are still unfolding, the SolarWinds breach is disturbing to the whole of the I.T. industry as it can have a far-reaching effect on many big organizations’ networks, questioning their cyber resilience levels.

The SolarWinds breach reflects that most organizations are appallingly unqualified to detect and prevent such kinds of software supply chain attacks. SolarWinds boast that it has been working with 425 of the U.S. Fortune 500 companies and hundreds of universities and colleges globally. This means that the severity of the attack can be severe in the coming days.

Top tech companies, Intel, Microsoft, Cisco, and NVIDIA, have all confirmed their exposure to the malicious software and undertaking necessary investigations to gauge the impact.

In a column published in the New York Times, Thomas P. Bossert, a former domestic security adviser to President Trump, notes that supply chain attacks of such magnitude require significant resources and sometimes years of execution.

Bossart also opined that a foreign state might have launched SolarWinds hack in a well-orchestrated way. These evaluations, if proved correct, can be more hazardous. For instance, in war-like situations, confidential data of governments can be modified or erased by hackers instantly to cause financial loss or take undue strategic advantage.

Stresses lack of preparation of organizations

As we move into 2021, the Solar Winds hack event has once again reiterated nothing is completely secure in this ever-evolving threat landscape. Indeed, no vendor or solution can fully guarantee to protect the networks of an enterprise. Perfect information security is a myth, but the key is resilience. (See: How COVID-19 has changed cybersecurity focus for 2021)

The last few weeks must have been more strenuous for CIOs and CISOs who would need to spend long-hours evaluating the impact on their networks, systems, and data from the SolarWinds cyber-attack. It’s time for enterprises to seek responses to some of the key questions more vehemently:

  • Do you have a contingency plan to combat accidental breaches and unknown threats?
  • Do you depend upon a single security vendor (say, for VPN, network monitoring, and network slicing) or want to onboard different security vendors to safeguard our networks?
  • Can you change our defense approach to strengthen our cyber resilience levels?
  • Are you regularly testing our multiple endpoints and operating systems and keeping them secure?
  • Have you evaluated the risks of third-party software vendors and analyzed their ability to combat sophisticated threats?
  • Is your service-level-agreement updated?

The SolarWinds hack event could be a catalyst for technology leaders to rethink and analyze all their security solutions and potential gates of network vulnerabilities in the context of modern-day technologies. There might be many undisclosed portions, and more details around the impairment from the breach is likely to continue to come out in the next few weeks.

 

 

 

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The Jio ecosystem has begun to unfold

The Jio ecosystem has begun to unfold

 

Name of app

Area of service

AJio

Online shopping

JioBrowser

Web-browser

JioCloud

Cloud storage services

JioCinema

Video-on-demand

JioChat

Messaging service

JioGameslite

Online gaming

JioGate

Apartment security

JioHome

Mobile remote control for Jio Set-top box

JioHealthHub

Health and fitness

JioMart

Online grocery delivery

JioMeet

Video conferencing

JioMoney

Digital currency and payment services

JioNews

News and information

JioPOSLite

Jio recharge commission

JioSaavn

Music streaming

JioSecurity

Security

JioSwitch

File sharing

JioTV

Live streaming

With close to 400 million telecom subscribers and several partnerships with multiple global technology giants, Jio Platforms is sitting on a hotbed of opportunities to build a Jio ecosystem. From telecom to e-commerce and future 5G solutions, the company is ticking every box in its bid to become India’s digital behemoth.

Today, Jio Platforms operates more than a dozen mobile apps spanning different e-service categories. Launched barely three months ago, its Jio Mart has already shaken the retail solutions market, becoming the largest e-grocery in the country with close to 400,000 daily orders.

The secret to Jio’s success is undeniably the customer-centric model it has followed, along with the robust financial support from its parent company, Reliance Industries Limited (RIL).

Back to mobile telephony

When Jio launched its 4G telecom services in 2016, many industry observers were doubtful if Jio would be able to create a niche for itself in the hyper-competitive telecom market. For the first few months of the launch, Jio offered voice and mobile data services for free.

In the months leading up to the launch of Jio’s aggressively priced 4G services, Jio faced severe criticism for adversely impacting the rest of the telecom services industry. However, it is equally valid that without Jio’s incredible efforts, the dream of digital India wouldn’t have appeared as possible as it looks now.

Amidst all this hullaballoo, Jio’s deluge of freebies and ultra-affordable data plans enabled it to increase the mobile broadband subscriber base to several million. For the first time, many Indian consumers used the mobile internet and realized its potential benefits at a cost that was unthinkable before. The company’s mobile-first approach helped it gain a substantial footing in the market, and improved data adoption in India enormously.

Back then, no other operator was willing to drive data growth through aggressive price plans. The operators had continued to keep the mobile data prices at a level that was not attractive enough for mass adoption. One needs to remember that before the arrival of Jio, the 1GB data used to cost around Rs 200 for the user, which was way too expensive for the masses. Today, the same data costs an average of Rs 25 per GB, considering various mobile plans.

The price cuts resulted in enormous growth in the average consumption of mobile data, something India had been waiting for so long.

Once Jio built the much-needed user base, it went on to develop several Jio exclusive as well as open-market apps and platforms to drive the digital transformation around a developing Jio ecosystem. (See: Jio driving digital shifts in the economy).

That Jio’s growing dominance made it difficult for its competitors to survive and spurred a wave of consolidation in the telecom sector is another story.

Value of lessons learned

The telecom and allied businesses have always been close to the heart of RIL’s Chairman and MD, Mukesh Ambani. Time and again, he has proved that there is no match to his sharp acumen, ability to envisage, spot the future trends early on, and design an impeccable business strategy that is driven by Indian needs. By focussing on building new partnerships, Ambani is helping Jio take the next significant steps in the digital terrain.

One can’t forget the Monsoon Hungama offer in the year 2003, which created a mass frenzy and drove an unprecedented price war in the Indian telecom market. That, in turn, helped India to expand its local telecom service base.

To run a quick refresh, the Monsoon Hungama offer entitled a customer to get a mobile phone along with a 100-minute call time per month for an upfront payment of Rs 501 and a monthly payment of Rs 200 for three years. The offer lowered the entry bar and encouraged many first-time users to use mobile services. Later, however, due to reasons known to all, Mukesh exited the telecom business in 2005, and his Reliance Infocomm business went to Anil Ambani, his younger brother.

 With Jio, he is pursuing his futuristic vision again and swiftly turning Jio into the country’s super telecom and digital service provider, something which he could not do in his previous telecom outing.

By bringing various small and medium-term businesses to a Jio ecosystem, the company is tactically moving up the value chain by demonstrating profits for all those who are getting associated with Jio’s dream plan.

A Jio timeline

June 2010 Entered the telecom space by purchasing a 95% stake in Infotel Broadband Services Limited (IBSL), which had a 4G broadband spectrum in all 22 circles in India.
January 2013 Renamed Infotel Broadband Services to Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited (RJIL)
May 2016 Launched several multimedia apps on Google Play to offer along with its 4G services
September 2016 Initiated a price war by launching ultra-affordable 4G services throughout India
December 2016 Acquired 50 million telecom subscribers
February 2017 Crossed 100 million subscribers
August 2017

Launched a host of feature phones, marketed under the Jio brand

September 2019

Introduced a fiber to the home service, providing home broadband, television, and telephone services

November 2019 Formed a new digital services company, Jio Platforms. Made RJIL a wholly-owned subsidiary of Jio Platforms
March-June 2020 Raised Rs 1,52,056 crore from top tech investors including Facebook, Google, Intel, Qualcomm, and Silver Lake, among others
July 2020 Jio Platforms’ enterprise value estimated to be around US $70 billion; crossed 400-million subscribers mark

Jio Platform’s recent partnership with Facebook has been seen as an excellent idea for generating immense opportunities for the company and the Jio ecosystem. (See: Will FB–Jio deal create magic?).

Already, 13 other global technology behemoths and strategic investment firms, including Google, Intel Capital, Qualcomm, Silver Lake, Vista Equity Partners, General Atlantic, KKR, Mubadala, ADIA, TPG, L Catterton, and PIF have participated in the fund-raising exercise for Jio Platforms.

Jio is enabling many small and medium businesses to leverage its technology platforms to create a unique digital ecosystem in India. And its sizeable local footprint and business goodwill are helping it to create a fund-raising frenzy even during a pandemic-driven economic slowdown.

AI in banking now geared for a takeoff

AI in banking now geared for a takeoff

Digital disruption is impacting every industry and transforming the ways of working. The traditional models are slowly waning, and trailblazing technologies are emerging. In the age of cloud computing and internet applications, services like telegram and postcards are things of the past. Banking too has endured many changes over time while implementing several new technologies to facilitate faster transactions and on-the-move banking with just a few clicks. AI in banking is taking transformation to a new level.

The unprecedented Covid-19 scenario, which has compelled many to stay at home, has further pushed the banks to explore innovative banking solutions and create a differentiation strategy for the convenience of their customers. Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the most powerful technologies that has been helping the banking sector to drive several of these new-age innovations.

Driven by the benefits of predictive analytics, voice recognition, and advance human learning capabilities, AI technology enables banks to provide a customized experience to their customers, strengthens compliance, and delivers a secure digital payment ecosystem across a plethora of channels. It helps manage an enormous amount of data at a rapid speed, and empowers them to comprehend detailed insights from it, providing a better understanding of their customers and behaviors.

Globally, tools such as conversational chatbots, virtual security assistants, fraud detection, and face recognition are being widely used to drive meaningful customer engagement. If we look at the Indian market scenario, banks are waking up to the benefits of AI tools for both back-office and customer interfacing functions.

Let’s look at the AI journeys of some of the leading banks.

HDFC Bank

In 2017, India’s leading private-sector bank deployed an AI-based conversational chatbot called Electronic Virtual Assistant (EVA). In less than three years of its deployment, EVA, designed by Bengaluru-based Senseforth AI Research has claimed to have helped HDFC respond to over 5 million customer queries with more than 85% accuracy. The tool uses natural language processing and is now also available on the Google Assistant platform. It provides the relevant answers to users by scanning thousands of HDFC website sources in just a few seconds.

Chatbots like EVA help fetch relevant information very easily without letting users navigate the entire website or getting into a painstaking effort of waiting on a call. In addition to EVA, the bank has also deployed several AI-enabled tools in risk management, credit scoring, employee engagement, and onboarding in the last few years. It uses OnChat, which works on Facebook, to help with all kind of bill-payments. HDFC is also testing various in-store robotic applications.

State Bank of India

Despite being a public-sector bank, SBI is known to be aggressive in terms of leveraging the latest technologies. The company’s banking dashboards are considered to be one of the best in the industry. In terms of AI-enabled solutions, the bank’s facial recognition solution, developed by Chapdex, the winning team from its first hackathon Code for Bank, helps it analyze and understand the feedback of its customers through their facial expressions. The solution is installed in the branch cameras and collects impressions of customers to identify if they are delighted from their bank visits or not.

The Fortune Global 500 bank has been also leveraging the benefits of SBI Intelligent Assistant (SIA), an AI-powered chat and voice assistant, to answer the customer queries promptly. Developed by Payjo, a startup based in Silicon Valley and Bengaluru, the solution has helped SBI reduce a considerable amount of operational costs since its launch in 2017. The solution interacts with customers to address queries and tasks related to everyday banking just like a bank representative.

The company has also recently entered into a pact with Microsoft to develop an AI-powered marketplace aimed at helping the banking, financial services, and insurance (BFSI) industry to connect people living with disabilities for upskilling and employment.

Axis Bank

Mumbai-based country’s third-largest bank, Axis Bank, has built two AI solutions that have made life easier for its customers. Its bot, ‘Simply Ask Axis Aha’ aims to bridge the gap between customers and the bank. Users can access the tool through Axis bank mobile app and use a conversational approach to transfer funds, pay bills, recharge, generate banking statements, or enquire about the latest Axis products and services. The bot acts as a conversational assistant to resolve queries of all kinds.

Very recently, Axis has deployed a voice-based conversational bot or automated voice assistant AXAA. The solution operates like a humanoid and claims to deliver far better results than a conventional interactive voice response (IVR) system. According to the company, the solution will assist customers to traverse through the IVR and address their queries and requests, without the need for any human intervention in most cases. Interestingly, the solution can converse in English, Hindi, and Hinglish, and has the potential to address about one lakh customer queries per day.

ICICI Bank

ICICI has been heavily focusing on AI-enabled robotic process automation (RPA) technology for process improvement. The RPA technology enables businesses to automate high-volume, tedious, and time-taking tasks that doesn’t require much human intervention. It has already deployed RPA technology on over 1,200 business processes such as customer onboarding, loan processing, and reconciliation, among others.

The bank also has and AI-powered Chatbot, iPal, that has recently been integrated with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. The solution provides an array of retail banking information such as account details, account balance, transaction queries, and credit card details among others through a simple voice command.

Though still at a nascent stage, and mostly restricted to chatbots, Indian banks are now experimenting with several new AI ideas to transform the traditional banking experience. In the next few years, the role of AI is expected to be evolved significantly. A special focus will be on developing customized solutions for customers and designing software based on cognitive fraud analytics. Punjab National Bank (PNB), for instance, has already deployed AI for reconciliation of accounts and to strengthen its internal audit control mechanisms. A number of banks are likely to use AI to detect suspicious activity. Through real-time behavior profiling, distrustful activities of banking users will be immediately reported and blocked for fraud prevention.

AI is a must now to speed up digital transformation

AI is a must now to speed up digital transformation

The history of humankind has also been the history of human intelligence and its continuous evolution. Ironically, this has enabled us to amass so much knowledge and information that it has become humanly difficult for us to process it in real time. Artificial intelligence aka AI is a must now.

Moreover, as we acquire new knowledge, we also tend to lose what we had gained in the past. This is a weakness inherent to us humans, but the digital information systems that we developed help us overcome that shortcoming amazingly well.

Today, we can store and retrieve knowledge at will. More importantly, we can store it in one form and retrieve it in another form. Speech recognition AI technologies have matured to remarkable levels today. One would simply record a conversation and transcribe it within minutes in a perfectly legible text form. Similarly, chatbot technologies are rapidly redefining the customer interfaces for many an organization.

AI is the new game changer

Artificial intelligence driven solutions are now playing a critical role in processing knowledge and utilizing the learnings to augment human activities.

These AI solutions help us shorten our response times to a situation, so that we are able to make the most of an opportunity and deal with a threat in the best possible manner.

However, the AI deployments are still in early stages, though it is hoped that the Covid-19 pandemic will accelerate these deployments. Specifically, technologies like speech recognition, chatbots, and robotic process automation (RPA) have rapidly matured in the recent years and are now ready for large-scale adoption.

Imagine what would have happened if all cities and governments were armed with sophisticated AI tools when the Covid-19 cases surfaced or were in their early stages of spread. It is quite likely that authorities would have been able to contain the spread before it spiraled out of control.

That brings us to the theme of digital transformation, which could accelerate widescale deployment and usage of AI solutions by governments, businesses, and citizens alike.

Transformation and agility – two sides of the same coin

Transformation could be accelerated by being agile. If you are agile, then you can transform quickly. And if you’re committed to transformation then you will be eager to embrace agility.

Organizations that had already advanced on the path of digital transformation, are today better prepared to adapt and respond to the challenges. Expectedly, they will also be the ones to recover faster than others.

Other businesses too must undertake rapid transformation routes to emerge truly nimble and agile if they were to survive a long and slow macroeconomic recovery cycle. Such an approach would enable them to respond to market situations in dynamic and resilient ways, create value for themselves and their customers, and muster growth and profitability in a sustainable manner.

Moreover, businesses could also leverage IT to change the shape of recovery curve to an extent and create greater value for their stakeholders as well as customers.

AI is the soul of future digital transformation initiatives

AI could significantly accelerate innovation and transformation. It is time to open up new streams of AI conversations that will help realign the digital transformation agenda of businesses to the changed needs of a post-pandemic era.

AI case studies and use cases already exist that could be adapted and used by organizations and governments. Leading organizations in areas such as banking, financial services, retail, logistics, healthcare, automobiles, e-marketplaces, and cybersecurity are already at the forefront of AI adoption. In the near future, while they work to further perfect and mature their AI applications, other organizations will be keen to catch up.

One good way to accelerate AI adoption would be to watch the early movers and learn from their successes and failures.

For instance, Mastercard has been an early mover. It introduced Decision Intelligence, a comprehensive decision and fraud detection service, in November 2016. According to Mastercard, the solution uses artificial intelligence technology to help financial institutions increase the accuracy of real-time approvals of genuine transactions and reduce false declines.

Similarly, AT&T, the world’s largest telecommunications company, has also been an early deployer. In December 2016, AT&T rolled out its entertainment chatbot Atticus.

In April 2017, Vodafone UK launched its AI chatbot, TOBi, powered by IBM Watson and LivePerson. The telco described it as a virtual customer services’ agent that could handle a range of customer queries including device troubleshooting, usage, and order tracking, among others.

The Covid-19 scenario has made a profound impact on the way people collaborate and work. In this situation, AI and ML will be the key navigational technologies to deliver results, and hence, are expected to be embraced widely by organizations of all scales.

[If you would like to share a use case and recommend it in the larger interest of other organizations, please drop me a word at deepakk@bmnxt.com.]

Tech M ties up with Hinduja CyQureX to up cybersecurity play

Tech M ties up with Hinduja CyQureX to up cybersecurity play

Tech Mahindra, a leading provider of digital transformation, consulting, and business reengineering services and solutions, has announced a global strategic partnership with a leading cybersecurity specialist. The aim is to offer superior cybersecurity solutions to support global clients as Tech M ties up with Hinduja CyQureX, which is a leading provider of advanced cybersecurity solutions worldwide.

The strategic partnership will enable the organizations to become leaders in the emerging ‘zero trust’ environment, leveraging CyQureX’s core Software Defined Perimeter (SDP) technology and solutions, alongside Tech Mahindra’s strategic focus on cybersecurity and other next-generation technologies. The partnership will enable their global customers to have access to state-of-the-art cyber security protection for data assets across the entire life cycle, i.e., “data in motion”, “data in use” and “data at rest.”

Leveraging its consulting and digital transformation expertise, Tech Mahindra will provide consulting, planning, designing, integration, orchestration, and automation of services. CyQureX, which represents a new and critical business vertical the Hinduja Group, with research and development centers in India and the USA and offices spread across the USA, the UK, Middle East and India, will prioritize capabilities in the ‘cyber security domain – the new middleware of the future.’

CP Gurnani, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Tech Mahindra, said, “Organisations have accelerated their digital transformation journey to emerge stronger and smarter from the current crisis. As a global leading provider of digital services, Tech Mahindra is committed towards leveraging new-age technologies to unleash new business opportunities and experiences for our customers and partner ecosystem through strategic partnerships and world class solutions. We see cybersecurity not only as an essential service but as a key business differentiator for our clients. The partnership with Hinduja Group’s CyQureX aligns with our core business proposition, and will further strengthen our position as the cybersecurity partner of choice for our customers globally

GP Hinduja, Co-Chairman, Hinduja Group noted, “This partnership is a game changer in the cyber security domain. It brings the leading security services company Tech Mahindra, and our newest technology company, CyQureX, together to create a highly secure, agile and resilient digital world. I am extremely delighted to see this strategic partnership formed, as it is in line with one of the core principles of our founder, Partnership for Growth. With rapid transformation of business to digital, we believe cybersecurity will be the cornerstone to protect all digital assets, particularly for digital transformation of India and other geographies. We are committed to develop many more indigenous state-of-the-art cyber security products and technologies in the coming years, with a vision to be a major global player in the emerging cyber security solutions market”.

“I am very excited about the alliance with Tech Mahindra,” added MK Narayanan, Executive Chairman of CyQureX, a Former National Security Advisor and Special Advisor on Intelligence and Security to the Prime Minister of India. “This is a critical alliance and I am hopeful that it will be the catalyst to leverage next generation technologies like Cyber Security, Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain and create Cyber Security platforms to protect businesses, critical infrastructure and government. It promises to take digitalisation to the next level, providing clients across the globe with fully integrated cyber security solutions.”

The strategic partnership between Tech Mahindra and Hinduja Group’s CyQureX will not only provide affordable protection to critical data, and defend nations against ‘stealth offences,’ but also provide cyber security solutions for agile deployment that are critically important for business continuity, competitiveness and flexibility. Together, given TechMNxt charter, which focuses on leveraging next-generation technologies, and Hinduja Group’s CyQureX as a leading provider of cyber security solutions, exciting new opportunities have become available in the world of cyber security. Simultaneously, Tech Mahindra and Hinduja Group’s CyQureX will work towards product development, consulting services and delivery in the cyber security space.

Wipro’s 4C buy to firm up its Europe presence

Wipro’s 4C buy to firm up its Europe presence

Global information technology, consulting and business process services major, Wipro has signed a pact to acquire 4C, a leading Salesforce partner in Europe and Middle East. The deal size is estimated to be around 68 million euros. The acquisition is likely to be completed by 30 September 2020. Wipro’s 4C buy is considered as a significant move for Wipro as it plans to strengthen its position as a digital transformation player across Europe and Latin America (LATAM).

Belgium-based 4C is EMEA’s largest independent Salesforce Platinum Partner, and specializes in configuring, implementing, and executing even very specific tasks to help enterprises in their digital transformation journey. 4C has over 350 employees spread across its offices in London, Paris, Brussels, Copenhagen, and Dubai. With this acquisition, Wipro will also leverage 4C’s 1000+ certifications and almost 20 years of Salesforce development experience. Wipro would be hoping to get more IT services opportunities as a Salesforce solutions provider in the market.

A good amount of focus will likely be on providing customized solutions to Salesforce clients in the areas of cloud, digital, cyber security and artificial intelligence (AI).

Earlier this month, Wipro had also announced to acquire Brazil-based IVIA Serviços de Informática Ltd., a company that provides IT solutions including system development, maintenance, consulting, and project management services to clients in different sectors such as financial services, transportation, retail, healthcare, consumer goods and manufacturing in Brazil. The IVIA acquisition also enables Wipro to bring the best of its global experience to the LATAM market, and set up delivery centers in the northeast of Brazil in particular.

How this matters

The Indian IT multinational already has a robust Salesforce business in the Americas, Japan, and Australia. It is now eyeing to expand into fresh markets with several new acquisitions. 4C makes an important addition to Wipro’s Salesforce portfolio that it had set up with the acquisition of US-based Appirio in 2016.

In the last couple of years, Wipro has been trying to go aggressive in its ambition to expand its horizons in the European market. Amidst the pandemic, most of the enterprises are driving themselves toward digital transformation to meet new operational challenges, and Wipro doesn’t want to stay behind in terms of cloud opportunities. The company has been making significant investments to grow its cloud applications and platforms business across geographies.

“Wipro shares the same values as we do. Their global presence, robust digital transformation consulting and delivery capabilities and significant investment in the European market, provides an excellent platform for the growth of our employees. We will now leverage this opportunity to take the next leap in building companies for the future for our customers, not just locally but across EMEA,” said Johan Van Genechten, Chief Executive Officer, 4C in a joint statement.

Under its Appirio brand, which Wipro acquired in 2006 for $500 million, the company expects to continue expanding its Salesforce business. To sharpen its focus on the Salesforce business, Wipro divested Appirio’s cloud-based HR solutions—Workday and Cornerstone OnDemand—to US-based Alight Solutions for about $110 million.

“Our partners are at the center of our growth.  4C’s strong regional focus and strength in multi-cloud implementations and Quote-to-Cash (CPQ/CLM), coupled with Wipro’s strong consulting strength provide an unassailable advantage to Salesforce customers in EMEA. Wipro had previously acquired Appirio and now with 4C, it has even further enhanced its depth and experience in Salesforce capabilities and resources,” said Angelique de Vries-Schipperijn, EVP and GM of Northern Europe, Salesforce in a statement.

Reaping dividends

As enterprises look to introduce new and innovative products and solutions in a record time, like many of its counterparts, scaling digital capabilities has become one of the major focus areas for Wipro.

Wipro’s focus in the European market has helped it gain some significant deals in the last one year. The company was recently been awarded a strategic multiyear infrastructure modernization and digital transformation services engagement by Germany-based energy company E.ON. It also won another managed services contract from a multinational European automobile manufacturer to modernize and automate its engineering operations.

Wipro’s digital product compliance lab in Hyderabad, established in 2019, enables it to provide integrated digital product testing services to ensure that all its solutions are compliant with international standards for reliability, safety, and security. It has been getting positive reviews from its customers, which could encourage it to extend similar testing capabilities to other geographies. In June this year, Wipro also announced to expand its global strategic relationship with Amazon Web Services (AWS) in the area of DevOps, fortifying its capability to drive agile development for enterprises.

Wipro, now led by Rishad Premji, is expected to make more strategic announcements in the year ahead to speed up its value proposition to meet digitization needs of enterprises in Europe and other geographies.

EY, IBM join hands to tap into DX opportunities

EY, IBM join hands to tap into DX opportunities

Professional Services firm Ernst and Young and technology major IBM have entered into a multi-year deal to help enterprises accelerate their digital transformation goals. As EY and IBM join hands, the duo will leverage each other’s distinctive capabilities to create new business models by solving complex business challenges instigated by the Covid-19 scenario.

The joint offerings, according to the statement released to analysts, will be developed by leveraging the hybrid cloud capabilities of Red Hat OpenShift and the AI prowess of IBM Watson, apart from IBM’s solutions in areas such as Blockchain and 5G and edge networks.

For EY, it will be an opportunity to further diversify its consulting portfolio and aggressively drive large-scale and complex transformation projects for clients by utilizing IBM’s advanced technology. IBM will be hoping to fortify its hybrid-cloud market share and AI powered solutions in the enterprise market and make further headway in a highly competitive IT market. By marrying EY’s developer ecosystem with IBM’s enterprise technologies, both companies will look to drive compelling results for their clients.

Why does this matter?

The widespread impact of the prevalent pandemic has created the urgency for organizations to speed up their digital transformation efforts to support wide-ranging requirements of their own employees as well as clients. Due to the sudden work-from-home transition, which is likely to continue for an unspecified time, organizations are navigating a range of issues around employee and client safety, business continuity, maintaining cash flows, fluctuating business models, and collaborating virtually, among others. As such, they are in a pressing need to innovate and equip themselves with solutions that can help them thrive in the ‘new normal.’

It is interesting to observe that while companies recognize the need for switching to the cloud native applications at large, they still own a major chunk of legacy software running on their data centers due to several security- and compliance-related reasons. Now, with the remote work environment in place, enterprises are setting out on the path to modernize their apps, automate their processes, and move a significant proportion of their data to the cloud. This is where IBM and EY wants to differentiate and be seen as market leaders.

To achieve the above, technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), robotic process automation (RPA), blockchain, data intelligence, and machine learning (ML) are going to play a pivotal role in analyzing transformed behaviors and create future-forward cloud solutions. Through this collaboration, both EY and IBM will work together to tap into the new opportunities driven by the rapid shift in mindsets, and address the evolving market needs.

The hybrid-cloud pie

“The EY-IBM Alliance is built on providing differentiating and transformational business value for clients. As organizations learn how to adapt to today’s new normal, leveraging the cloud, AI, analytics and other technologies have become increasingly important. IBM is a proven leader in hybrid cloud and AI, and together we’re developing innovative solutions to help provide the sustainability and resiliency that assist clients to operate and lead today, and in the years to come, as they reframe their future amidst an unpredictable and rapidly evolving environment,” Carmine Di Sibio, EY Global Chairman and CEO, said in a joint statement.

IBM has a big focus on hybrid-cloud and since its acquisition of Red Hat, has entered into several strategic partnerships to extend its foothold in the enterprise market. The technology major has also recently formed a strategic partnership with Adobe to help accelerate digital transformation and strengthen real-time data security for regulated industries such as banking and healthcare using hybrid cloud solutions.

“Expanding this global alliance bolsters our ability to bring our hybrid cloud and AI capabilities to clients. The EY organization is a leader in driving large and complex client transformations. Combining EY teams’ breadth of industry and regulatory knowledge, technology capabilities and longstanding strategy and business consulting leadership, with IBM’s powerful technology and Red Hat OpenShift’s open hybrid cloud portfolio, will play a key role in accelerating our clients’ journeys to the cloud,” Arvind Krishna, Chief Executive Officer, IBM, said in the joint statement.

IBM’s Watson technology, for instance, can define large set of unstructured data and provide micro business perspective. EY experts, in turn, can analyze the changed behavior patterns of consumers and employees and recommend best transformation approach to organizations.

The expanded alliance also enables EY professionals get access to the IBM public cloud ecosystem. “The new initiative supports global system integrators and independent software vendors to help their clients modernize and transform mission-critical workloads with RedHat OpenShift for any cloud environment, including IBM public cloud,” the joint statement adds.

Apart from IBM, players like H-P, Microsoft, Cisco, Amazon, Oracle, and Vmware have also been vying to increase their respective shares in a growing hybrid-cloud market.

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