AI-driven analytics

AI-driven analytics is CIOs’ mantra in the new normal

by | Oct 20, 2020 | Analytics, Artificial Intelligence

CIOs are increasingly making AI-driven analytics a cornerstone of digital transformation strategies for their organizations.
Share to lead the transformation

Early this year, many enterprises witnessed an unprecedented disruption to their business operations because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Suresh A Shan

“By leveraging insights from business intelligence tools, we are able to forecast business demand, investment opportunities, client requirements, and even keep a tab on the stress levels of the distributed workforce.”

Dr. Suresh A Shan, Head, Innovation, and Future Technologies BITS, MMFSL

Sunit Vakharia, U GRO Capital

“Through AI-driven models, we assess our customers’ business requirements and offer the best product for their long-term growth. We have incorporated machine learning and analytics capabilities in our assessment solutions to drive exceptional customer experience.”

Sunit Vakharia, Chief Technology Officer, U GRO Capital

Greesh Jairath, ITC Infotech

“Organizations have witnessed the tremendous value of data and analytics during the ongoing crisis and leveraged them to generate more profound business and operational insights for better and faster decision-making.”

Greesh Jairath, Global IT Head, ITC Infotech

It was soon evident that embracing digital technologies and using AI-driven analytics was the only way to remain buoyant and navigate the disruptions. Several companies worldwide have already transitioned to the work-from-home concept and have adapted to the modern distributed work ecosystem (See: How is digital transformation shaping the new future?).

For CIOs, realigning priorities and accelerating enterprise innovations continue to be a roller-coaster experience amidst these unprecedented times. More and more enterprises are now leaning on data science and analytics to optimize business performance and drive growth.

With virtual communication taking the center stage, there is a growing emphasis on implementing AI-based workforce analytics and business intelligence solutions to fast-track digital transformation and generate deeper operational insights to respond faster and steer the volatile economic landscape.

Need for enterprises to deploy data-driven culture

In a chaos like like, businesses continuously need to embed intelligence in their culture and rethink their business models to compete well while keeping their stakeholders happy and shine.

“Data and business analytics experience a transformational value not merely during the pandemic, but also post the crisis. The analysis it provides can help businesses induce a culture of innovation and developing service offerings quickly. For systems that are affected by the COVID-19 crisis, analytics led insights are becoming a phenomenal game-changer. By leveraging insights from intelligence tools, we can forecast business demand, investment opportunities, and even monitor the stress levels of our distributed workforce,” says Dr. Suresh A Shan, Head, Innovation, and Future Technologies Business Information Technology Solutions (BITS), Mahindra & Mahindra Financial Services Limited (MMFSL).

Across all sectors, retail, banking, e-commerce, and IT/ICT companies are the most aggressive to deploy AI-driven analytics solutions for real-time problem-solving. Retailers get concrete insights to produce their specific supply chain pipelines to fill the consumer need.  For e-commerce companies, armed with powerful data and insights, business analytics solutions can help examine the product pricing of different competitions and target segments that need to be focused on specific products.

“At U GRO Capital, we’ve utilized the current situation as an opportunity to scale our business digitally. U GRO Capital provides loans to small and medium-sized companies. We extensively focus on technology and analytics as enablers to onboard our customers and disburse money as and when required by them. Through AI-driven models, we assess our customers’ business requirements and offer the best product for their long-term growth. We have incorporated machine learning and analytics capabilities in our assessment solutions to drive exceptional customer experience,” says Sunit Vakharia, Chief Technology Officer, U GRO Capital (See: Sunit Vakharia, Chief Technology Officer, U GRO Capital).

Such a massive shift will also intensify the demand for data science and analytics specialists, who can comprehend complex values’ quality insights and drive resiliency and transformation-led investments.

“Analytics led solutions have been a critical enabler of redefining and realigning business processes.  Organizations have witnessed the tremendous value of data and analytics during the ongoing crisis and leveraged them to generate more profound business and operational insights for better and faster decision-making. In the future, successful deployment of analytics led solutions will also pave the way for futuristic technologies such as robotic process automation (RPA) and drone delivery systems,” says Greesh Jairath, Global IT Head, ITC Infotech.

Tech-majors gearing up for the analytics market

During the pandemic, analytics has been one of the few areas which recorded a higher growth rate. AI-driven analytics and insights have been used consistently by organizations to provide deep visibility around existing resource capacity, monitor any insufficiency, and help businesses regularly conduct impact and risk analysis. (See: CIOs to focus on network transformation for business continuity)

From effectively implementing processes such as employee onboarding and offboarding remotely, building market-relevant solutions, and fitting network efficiency in diverse locations, analytics-based solutions can provide greater visibility to the decision-makers.

Technology biggies are looking to leverage the rising enterprise interest in analytics and business intelligence solutions by launching new products or expanding their capabilities to identify fresh opportunities. Some of the top players dominating the analytics market include SAP, Oracle, Accenture, Google, Microsoft, IBM, Infosys, and TCS (See: Accenture fortifies AI know-how with Byte Prophecy buy).

Recently, Tata Consultancy Services launched the TCS Workforce Analytics, an AI-focused engagement intelligence solution for companies looking at enhancing their employees’ productivity and workforce experience.  Another Indian IT Services giant, Infosys, has acquired US-based data analytics company Blue Acorn for $125 million to beef up its analytics portfolio.

IBM as well introduced a new risk-based service designed to help enterprises identify new risk-based exposure from areas such as cloud, M&A, and remote work. Other players are also strengthening their capabilities to meet the growing demand for analytics led services.

MORE FROM BETTER WORLD

Top technology trends to look for in 2021

Top technology trends to look for in 2021

Not only has 2020 been one of the most challenging years in the history of humanity, but it has also completely transformed our way of thinking and working. Many of the top technology trends help us navigate the crisis.

Throughout the year, COVID-19 has hurt all areas of life, causing businesses to close, economies collapse, and people to be anxious. Amid panic and uncertainty, technology and connectivity have become vital elements that have given people and companies hope, courage, optimism, and the competence to continue. (See: Technology trends for businesses in 2020)

The year was marked by many technological trends surrounding the cloud, robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT), and augmented reality (AR), leading companies through the crisis. As the year concludes, organizations in all sectors have realized the importance of a scalable and secure network, superior connectivity, and advanced analytical tools to enable their people to meet new challenges while working from anywhere.

For technology leaders, this new approach has led to the accelerated execution of digital transformation efforts, the review of their IT budgets, and the redesign of their future business continuity frameworks.

At Better World, we expect businesses to continue focusing on cutting-edge technologies in 2021 and upgrade their networks to equip themselves to deal with any future barriers fully.

top technology trends

Let’s look at some of the top technology trends that will be key to delivering business transformation in 2021.

5G adoption to take off in 2021

One of the most anticipated wireless technologies of the modern era, the fifth-generation technology standard for broadband cellular networks, is likely to pick up pace in 2021. The technology would match or even exceed the speeds of physical, optical fiber connections under most conditions, strengthening many it-based deployments soon.

5G has already been introduced in many countries by select telecommunications companies in limited locations. It is likely to be available for approximately 15% of the world’s population by the end of 2020. By 2021, there will be more dynamic deployments and expansions worldwide, making them available for at least 70% of the global population.

For successful 5G rollouts, telecom operators will focus on robust network planning and monitoring tools to offer new monetization opportunities and control operating costs.

In India, Reliance Jio has been working closely with numerous national equipment makers to lead the 5G race. The telecom operator has put aside the ambitious 5G rollout schedule for the second half of 2021, depending on spectrum availability. Once available, the technology will bring more incredible automation benefits to the manufacturing and logistics process. It will enable enterprises to control mission-critical devices remotely in real-time and drive innovative customer experience.

The explosion of customer-data-platforms (CDP)

The COP ranks second among the major technology trends for 2021. While the pandemic put most businesses under enormous pressure in 2020, there has been high interest and investments around CDP. The CDP is a collection of software that retrieves dispersed data, let’s say, from a single client, from multiple sources in a single organized and central location.

Compared to conventional customer relationship management (CRM) systems, CDP allows companies to give their customers a consolidated view from broader contact points. It helps strengthen customer engagement by enabling organizations to track customer profiles through their lifecycle and interactions.

Technology majors such as Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, Salesforce, Treasure Data, and Adobe are investing heavily in CDP deployment. By 2021, businesses will see a more significant amount of data from data lakes and other sources. This will speed up the demand for automated tools and technologies that allow companies to intelligently analyze data, benefit customers, and generate new opportunities.

Hybrid cloud to occupy center stage

Although there are no crystal balls to precisely forecast enterprise cloud strategy, it is clear that hybrid cloud technologies will substantially grow in popularity among CIOs. In the post-pandemic era, organizations realized the importance of a modern hybrid multi-cloud architecture. They had to amplify their collaboration activities across their business functions in a work-from-home setup.

A greater realization came around managing IT resources through a combination of on-premise cloud computing services and third-party services to reduce the chances of network downtime, eliminate data silos, and help scale business with agility.

From 2021 and throughout the next few years, hybrid cloud is expected to be one of the top technology trends. Most young enterprises and organizations who plan to migrate to the cloud in 2021 will be looking to take the hybrid cloud route to exploit business opportunities and provide an exceptional consumer experience.

Acceleration in AI deployments

In 2021, organizations will rely heavily on artificial intelligence (AI) to improve resilience, rapid computer operations management, decision-making, maximizing resources, and improving supply chain efficiency. According to Better World, at least 70 percent of enterprises across all sectors have adopted some form of AI-based technologies this year. A majority of them will pledge aggressive AI-based production deployments during the next twelve months to establish a competitive edge.

Some of the leading examples in the AI-space are Chatbots, intelligent analytics, Robotic Process Automation (RPA), driverless vehicles, contactless technologies, digital assistants, and location finder apps (such as Google maps).

The next year will see several AI-based use case studies, which will also be driven by 5G rollouts. In a fast-growing virtual environment, technology leaders would require intelligent models to manage and use enormous data wisely. AI-led solutions will enable organizations to derive concrete insights and break down the data smartly with a tremendous speed. (See: Enterprises in India leading AI adoption globally)

Greater emphasis on cybersecurity and cyber resilience

While in 2020, enterprises were largely focused on adjusting to the crisis, 2021 will see the aggressive implementation of robust digital transformation initiatives that can expand businesses’ remote workforce capabilities and strengthen corporate resilience. This unparalleled workplace transition also requires businesses to build newer strategies to protect employees’ networks by augmenting their cybersecurity architectures.

In 2021, a significant focus on cybersecurity will be looking at IT security areas that are too expensive to implement. With the upcoming expansion of IoT connected devices, networks will be more vulnerable to large-scale multivector cyberattacks.

In the second half of 2021, organizations are expected to focus on cybersecurity and accelerate their deployment efforts around advanced solutions to protect their networks and clouds and improve security controls.

Technologies that could drive the adoption of secure cloud solutions will be much in demand. (See: How COVID-19 has changed cybersecurity focus for 2021).

Additionally, there will be a continued emphasis on remote monitoring capabilities, automation, and zero-trust models for robust user access patterns. (See: Top enterprise cybersecurity trends of 2020)

Inroads into quantum computing

Another top trend of 2021 will be a stronger focus on quantum computing. A lot of industry viewers believe that next year might be the year of quantum computing planning. Several algorithms will drive the quantum computing performance, and those will be seriously looking at making inroads into IT use case workflows.

Several vendors such as IBM, Google, Honeywell, and DWave have showcased their quantum solutions scale. While quantum computing still has a long way to go, in 2021, several use cases are expected to be deployed.

 

Enterprises in India leading AI adoption globally

Enterprises in India leading AI adoption globally

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated AI-focused transformations in Indian companies, according to the latest report from PwC India.

The report, AI: An Opportunity amid a Crisis, found that AI in India had greater adoption and usage than other major economies, the USA, the UK, and Japan.

It is interesting to mention that over 70% of Indian businesses, according to the PwC report, have implemented AI in one shape or another, in one or more functional regions, compared to about 62% in 2019.

The result is fairly consistent with Better World’s projections that at least 70% of companies across all sectors will likely adopt some form of AI-based technology and adopt aggressive AI- Production deployments based within the next 12 months to build a competitive edge.

AI India

PwC India survey results, which include responses from more than 950 corporate decision-makers, also show a massive increase in AI optimism since last year. Amongst Indian companies surveyed, the positivity around AI rose from 72% to 92%. Forty-five percent of Indian organizations made greater use of artificial intelligence after COVID-19, and 94% of those interviewed stated that they have implemented or plan to implement AI within their organization.

Why is AI on the rise?

Artificial intelligence is the science behind intelligent machinery. It allows computer systems to sense their surroundings, analyze, learn, and make the necessary, evidence-based decisions, just as a human brain does, at times, much faster.

The technology has been deployed rapidly in the enterprise ecosystems as it enables organizations to make informed, data-driven decisions and forecast the potential outcome of those decisions. The recent pandemic has proven to be the worst order crisis in recent times and has had a spiraling impact on consumer and corporate sentiment. (See: How artificial intelligence is transforming Indian retail sector and AI in banking now geared for a takeoff)

During the pandemic-induced nationwide lockdowns, organizations were quick to realize that they had to move away from traditional ways of working faster to stay relevant in the market. Since virtual has become the new mainstream, much data is generated and can be harnessed by technologies like artificial intelligence to improve the user experience.

From new customer acquisition to retention and enabling them to resolve grievances in an automated and quick way, AI-led solutions can automate the processes to a greater extent. Leveraging AI, enterprises can derive concrete insights and break down the data intelligently with a tremendous speed to improve their customers’ life-cycle value.

Some of the prominent examples in AI-space are Chatbots, Robotic Process Automation (RPA), driverless vehicles, digital assistants, and location finder apps (such as Google maps).

Trends 2021

In 2021, Indian businesses are expected to witness a significant transition. There will be continuous traction around remote working environments. Consumers will also remain committed to spending a large proportion of their purchases through online channels or apps.

This will compel businesses to step-forward their AI-based strategies to retain and provide an exceptional consumer experience.

Nevertheless, companies considering deploying AI applications will face challenges such as data quality, limited success models, and staff inexperience to get the most from their AI investments. (See: How will AI impact enterprise ecosystems in 2021?)

 

 

Key recent C-suite movements to watch

Key recent C-suite movements to watch

Here is a quick update on some key recent C-suite movements in the information technology and information security technology areas in India.

11 December 2020 Update

Jagdip Kumar roped in by Lohia Group as CIO

Jagdip Kumar, General Manager, IT, left Cosmo Films to join Lohia Group as CIO. In this new position, Kumar will lead the digital transformation efforts of the Lohia Group.

Lohia Group is a diversified manufacturing company that produces various products such as flexible packaging, threads, plastic components for automobiles and machines.

Kumar has over 19 years of experience and has earlier worked with AMW, VE Commercial Vehicles, and Welspun.

Puneesh Lamba joins Shahi Exports as Group CIO

Puneesh Lamba, Group CIO of CK Birla Group, has moved to Shahi Exports as their Group Chief Technology Officer (CTO). Lamba will directly report to the Board of Directors of Shahi Exports.

Shahi Export is India’s biggest apparel manufacturer and exporter and has several manufacturing units across nine Indian states and over 100,000 workforce. In the new role at Shahi Exports, Lamba will spearhead its digital transformation and cloud-based tech-innovation initiatives.

Lamba is a seasoned IT professional with a strong experience of over 27 years. He has previously associated with firms such as BILT, Punj Loyd, GE Capital in leadership roles.

Kapil Madan is Spark Minda Group’s new CISO

Spark Minda Group has appointed Kapil Madaan as its new Chief Information Security Officer (CISO). The company has a strong presence in the global automotive sector, catering to a passenger vehicle, commercial vehicle, two-wheelers, and off-road vehicle manufacturing.

Madan has previously worked with Max Healthcare as a cybersecurity leader.

Rohit Kilam moves to CMS Info Systems as CTO

Rohit Kilam has joined CMS Info Systems Ltd as Chief Technology Officer (CTO). CMS Info Systems is India’s top Cash Management and Payment Solutions company. In his new role, Rohit will lead to several process transformations and tech-innovations at CMS Info-Systems.

Rohit has earlier worked in a gamut of challenging assignments in Digital Transformations, IT Strategy, IT Performance Management, Building Digital products, Operating Models, M&A IT Integration, Outsourcing Governance, Tech Product development, and ERP implementations.

He has earlier worked with companies such as Adani Enterprises, Masan Group, and IBM in leadership roles

20 September 2020 Update

Shuvankar Pramanick, CIO, Columbia Asia Hospitals

Shuvankar Pramanick has been appointed as the new CIO of Columbia Asia Hospitals Pvt. Ltd, a group of multi-specialty hospitals that operates in cities like Bangalore, Ghaziabad, Gurgaon, Mysore, Kolkata, Patiala, and Pune.

Bringing 20+ years of experience, Pramanick will focus on building new tech innovations in the healthcare sector while leading the IT team of the group. Pramanick has previously held senior IT leadership positions Paras Healthcare, Fortis Healthcare, and Asian Institute of Medical Sciences.

Marc Concannon, CTO, Cubic Telecom 

Marc Concannon has joined as CTO of Software IoT (Internet of Things) and connectivity management company, Cubic Telecom. In this new role, he will focus on Cubic’s software product roadmap and growth strategy. With over 20 years of experience, Concannon has previously served as the CTO at ClavisInsight, LogEntries, and Edge by Ascential.

Kamal Hathi, CTO, DocuSign

DocuSign has roped in former Microsoft veteran Kamal Hathi as their new CTO. With over 25 years of experience leading technology and product teams at startups and global multinationals alike, Hathi will oversee the development and execution of DocuSign’s technology roadmap, and support product expansion.

San Francisco based DocuSign help organizations manage and automate electronic agreements.

 

24 July 2020 Update

Munish Mittal, Group HeadIT & CIO leaves HDFC Bank

Munish Mittal, Group Head-Information Technology & Chief Information Officer at HDFC Bank has exited HDFC Bank. He had joined the private lender in 1996 as IT Manager. During his 24 years tenure at HDFC, he spearheaded various roles, including managing the IT strategy of the bank and its associated companies, HDFC Securities, and HDB Financial Services. Mittal has not disclosed his future plans yet.

A Shiju Rawther roped in by Poonawalla Finance for CIO role

A Shiju Rawther has been appointed as the CIO of Poonawalla Finance. In his new role, Rawther will lead IT functions and strategies, and be responsible for designing the digital roadmap of the organization. He will also spearhead the company’s analytics function. Rawther has moved from IIFL Finance where he was the Executive Vice President–Technology. He has over two decades of experience in driving digital transformation, innovation, and analytics in various multinationals.

Dr. Jai Menon joins the Advisory board of IndiQus Technologies

Dr. Jai Menon, the former Group CTO of HT Media, has joined the advisory board of IndiQus Technologies, a leading telecom cloud monetization platform provider. Dr. Menon is a global technology leader with over three decades of global experience across the US, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia. He is largely known for his various technology leadership roles at Bharti Airtel. In his new role at IndiQus, Dr. Menon will play an active strategic role in IndiQus’s product evolution and the company’s expansion plans.

Gaurav Kataria joins Sai Life Science as Chief Digital and Information Officer (CDIO)

Gaurav Kataria has joined Sai Life Sciences as Chief Digital and Information Officer (CDIO). He was previously working as Vice President of Digital Strategy and Solutions (Aerospace & Defense) at Cyient. In his new role, Kataria will be driving the digital and IT strategy for Sai Life Sciences, a full-service Contract Development and Manufacturing Organization (CDMO). Sai Life Science works with innovator pharma and biotech companies globally to accelerate the discovery, development, and manufacture of complex small molecules.

Amit Waghmare takes up CIO role at DB Corp

Amit Waghmare has joined DB Corp as the Chief Information Officer (CIO). Amit has moved on from Page Industries where he was heading IT for more than two years. DB Corp, formerly known as Dainik Bhaskar, is a leading media organization headquartered in Bhopal. Waghmare has over 17 years of work experience in the IT sector with a demonstrated history of working in the Media, Power, Textile, Pharma, Real Estate, Luggage, Apparel, and fashion industry.

09 June 2020 Update

Unique Kumar joins CK Birla Group as Group CISO
Unique Kumar has been appointed as Group CISO of CK Birla Group, a diversified $2.4 billion conglomerate with over 25,000 employees and 41 manufacturing facilities.

Kumar joins the CK Birla group from Max Healthcare, where he was heading Digital Innovation and Cybersecurity. He has also held leadership positions with Aviva Life Insurance, Aptara, and Idea Cellular.

Manish Shetty moves to Diageo India as CIO
Manish Shetty is Diageo India’s new CIO. Shetty was earlier working as Director–IT at Tata Consumer Products. Prior to that, he was CIO at Sanofi and before that Director–IT at Tata Global Beverages. Shetty has also held leadership and managerial positions at companies like Birlasoft, Radian, KPMG US, American Express, and Larsen & Toubro Information Technology.

Diageo plc is a British multinational alcoholic beverages company, with its headquarters in London, England and offices in six continents.

Sun Life names Laura Money as new global EVP and CIO
Sun Life Financial Inc has announced the appointment of Laura Money as Executive Vice-President and Chief Information Officer effective 29 June 2020. Laura will report to Kevin Strain, Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice-President, Sun Life. She succeeds Mark Saunders, EVP, and Chief Information Officer, who announced his plans to retire at the end of April next year.

Sun Life is a leading international financial services organization providing insurance, wealth, and asset management solutions to individual and corporate clients. Sun Life has operations in a number of markets worldwide, including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan, Indonesia, India, China, Australia, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Bermuda.

31 May 2020 Update

Jayanta Bhowmik joins Kesoram Industries as group CIO
Kesoram Industries is a part of the BK Birla Group Of Companies. The company is engaged in the manufacturing of cement, tyres, tubes, rayon, paper, heavy chemicals, and spun pipes. Bhowmik has moved from Usha Martin, where he served as a Senior Vice President of IT and Group CIO. In his earlier stints, he had held senior leadership positions at Appejay Surrendra Group, Tega Industries, HCL Technologies, and ABP.

Ranjit Satyanath, Head of Technology Operations at Croma, quits
Satyanath had joined Chroma in August 2014, and successfully led the IT strategy and digital initiatives at Croma, one of India’s largest consumer electronics and appliances retailer.

Manish Mimani quits Aviva Life Insurance to become an entrepreneur 
Manish Mimani, CIO for Aviva Life Insurance, has moved on to pursue an entrepreneurship path. Mimani has launched a new cybersecurity firm, Protectt.ai Labs, with an aim to build next-generation mobile security and real-time fraud management solutions.

14 May 2020 Update

Anis Pankhania joins Capgemini as Senior Director – Security Operations and Compliance.
Pankhania is based in Pune and joins Capgemini from Vodafone Idea, where he was heading Security Compliance and Data Privacy. In his new role, Pankhania will lead a team of specialized IT security and risk professionals. Pankhania has earlier worked in senior IT security roles in companies such as Aircel, IBM, and Airtel.

Mihir Joshi joins HDFC Pension Management and HDFC International Life and Re as CISO
In his new role, Joshi will be managing the operations and administration of various IT security devices, solutions, technologies, and processes deployed to enhance the security posture for HDFC Life, HDFC Pension, and HDFC LifeRe. Immediately prior to this, he was with Ares Management Corporation where he set up the Cybersecurity practice from scratch.

BNP Paribas appoints Mannan Godil as Director & India Head, Information Security & Business Continuity Management
Mannan Godil has joined BNP Paribas as Director & India Head, Information Security & Business Continuity Management. He has been roped in from Edelweiss Financial Services where he was working as Senior Vice President, Head – Information Security / CISO. Previously, he had also served in companies, such as eClerx Services, Zener Electronics, Stream Tracmail, and S.S. Nirban Enterprises.

Rajesh Hemrajani is the new CISO at Paytm Payments Bank
Rajesh Hemrajani has been appointed as CISO at Paytm Payments Bank. Prior to this, he was CISO at IDFC First Bank. Previously, he has held several leadership and roles at companies like RBS, Nomura Securities, Emirates Airlines, and Dubal.

Manish Bhatia joins Lendingkart as President – Technology, Analytics & Capabilities
Manish Bhatia has been roped in by Lendingkart as President – Technology, Analytics & Capabilities. In his previous role, he was the CTO at Amazon Pay India. He was also the Co-founder and CTO at Buymaxo, and previously served in organizations like Education Finance Partners, FedEx Office, and JP Morgan Chase.

If you think we’ve missed out featuring any other key recent C-suite movements/appointments in the above list, please feel free to drop a line to us at betterworld@bmnxt.com

Cisco buys IMImobile to reinforce CXaaS capabilities

Cisco buys IMImobile to reinforce CXaaS capabilities

Networking giant Cisco is eyeing the growing pie of customer experience as a service (CXaaS) business as it buys IMImobile, a London-based cloud communications software company, for $730 million, including debt. IMImobile provides software and services that enable businesses to connect to their clients via interactive channels, including social media, messaging, and voice.

According to Cisco, the acquisition will offer an end-to-end customer interaction management solution for customer-facing businesses. IMImobile extensively focuses on customer interaction management (CIM) through several capabilities such as automation, orchestration, and monitoring.

The purchase process will likely complete in the first quarter of 2021, subject to shareholder mandates and approval requirements. After the acquisition, the IMI Mobile team will get integrated into Cisco’s Webex Contact Center business unit, currently headed by Omar Tawakol.

Cisco’s IMI acquisition demonstrates the growing interest of technology specialists in scaling up their collaboration and communications services capabilities to meet the ever-increasing demand for real-time customer interactions. (See: Salesforce buys Slack to expand its cloud footprint, and Facebook entices creators as it eyes the online events market)

In the middle of the black swan of 2020, organizations are fast turning to cloud services like AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud. It has forced tech majors like Cisco to transform their business models to meet evolving business demands.Cisco buys IMImobile

Effectively shifting gears

Cisco’s business started as a router company and emerged as a significant internet connectivity supplier for enterprise business in the early 2000s. About three years back, in the wake of changing IT spend forecast, the networking giant announced to restrategize its revenue focus from hardware purchases to a subscription-based model.

At that time, Cisco had set a goal of 30% of its revenue to come from software services a few years back. Cisco achieved 29% of the target in fiscal year ’20 and 31% in Q4 alone. In the fourth quarter of FY2020, Cisco reported a 9% decline in annual revenue to $12.2 billion from $13.43 billion in the year-previous quarter. For Cisco, the positive aspect is to see tremendous demand and pipeline in its biggest customers’ orders in the digital transformation space.

Since the start of the pandemic, the priority of Cisco’s customers has changed rapidly. Enterprises are looking at technologies that can give them agility, security, and more excellent resiliency. Applications have become a lifeline for business continuity, and remote-collaboration tools an essential.

Many of the businesses are keen to adopt a full-scale everything-as-a-service model, and that’s been reflected in Cisco’s software revenues as well. Today, Cisco has about 80 percent of its total software revenue from subscriptions.

Acquiring new capabilities

The focus toward working from anywhere will continue to generate a significant uptake. As a result, businesses are less likely to invest significantly in their on-premise enterprise networks. Instead, they will continue to deploy technologies that could allow them to meet the new demands of digital clients and help their distributed remote staff stay connected and productive.

Given this, the San Jose based tech-giant has recently stepped up its software and subscription offerings by investing heavily in research and development. There has been increased traction in Cisco’s Webex platform, its flagship offering in the space of remote collaboration. The company says it has over 600 million meeting participants on its Webex platform, almost doubling the pre-pandemic days, while online work was still in its infancy.

Cisco is putting substantial efforts into strengthening its Webex’s capabilities to support the growing demand for large online web conferences and virtual events. Several of this year’s acquisitions, such as Slido, IMImobile, and BabbleLabs technology, have been completed to optimize the user experience and improve the delivery of information to Webex customers in multi-cloud environments.

Another area of increasing interest in Cisco’s business remains cloud security as it has become an absolute priority for her customers in the distributed digital world. The company has achieved double-digit sales growth quarter-on-quarter from its security solutions portfolio.

In 2021, the company is expected to continue its acquisition spree, albeit of smaller companies, to strengthen its software capabilities and improve revenues. Cisco is also likely to make substantial investments in the software-defined WAN technology space as organizations rush into the 5G and Internet of Things (IoT) era and plan for a significant increase in data traffic (See: How SD-WAN and IoT can help enterprises unlock ‘smart’ ).

How SD-WAN and IoT can help enterprises unlock ‘smart’

How SD-WAN and IoT can help enterprises unlock ‘smart’

Software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) and internet of things (IoT) technologies have been a hot subject for businesses worldwide for some time. Companies of all sizes have rapidly embraced IoT technology in all areas of the industry. Whether we are talking about manufacturing, logistics, oil and gas, transportation, aviation, energy, mining, or metals, technology has proven its capability to everyone.  (See: RPA-led tools helping enterprises sail safely through a storm)

As companies expand their cloud platforms and implement social distancing measures for an unforeseeable future, interests in IoT and SD-WAN rollouts will be more intense. The forthcoming launch of 5G technology will also be a crucial factor determining the success of IoT as it will give businesses and consumers much needed boost to create a smart digitally connected economy.

The SD-WAN is often considered as an unsung hero that allows new technologies like IoT to operate and work to its best potential in a corporate network.

SD-WAN is a progressive wide area network approach that helps organizations support multiple office branches with robust connectivity in a secured and seamless way, through any service provider connection. Compared to the traditional Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS), SD-WAN is lower-priced, risk-free, and delivers improved application performance at all levels. It connects business networks across vast geographical locations in a transparent and agile manner.

Let’s understand the four most critical advantages that SD-WAN brings to the table for efficient IoT deployments.

Greater operational agility

The IoT deployments will create a smart workforce of the future, helping businesses predict consumer behaviors, maintain production and supply chain capacities and delivery methodology through robotics, analytics, and intelligent automation tools.

In a traditional network, for instance, an intricate setting comprising a collection of routers, switches, and other hardware equipment is needed to be managed independently. It demands enormous effort and plenty of resources for day to day administration. In an SD-WAN configuration, the hardware mechanism is changed to a software-based function. This makes it very easy to manage network operations. Companies can implement faster changes, set up orchestrations, control their networks easily, and enforce real-time monitoring.

Deployment of SD-WAN allows network administrators to see how different IoT devices in different geographical areas (offices) get bandwidth, security, and other resources to function to their optimum levels.

Enhanced security

The most significant concern IoT deployments have today is security, particularly when it comes to multi-site operations. SD-WAN has the advantage of responding to many IoT security concerns. With SD-WAN, businesses can integrate their broadband access through advanced firewall capabilities.

Network administrators are able to monitor the whole network, as well as the cloud apps and data center. The encrypted SD-WAN channels empower organizations to control branch access and restrict user access to specific network resources or data. Robust user authentication policies prevent network attacks from IoT devices from other network sites.

Vendor agnostic

Another challenge that many businesses face in deploying IoT architectures is the interoperability of devices. As many devices do not necessarily speak the same programming language, they have difficulty connecting with each other. SD-WAN can solve this challenge, as well.

The vendor-agnostic nature of the technology and its ability to run on any existing communication network such as cellular, broadband, and WiFi helps organizations connect IoT devices even in faraway locations.

Cost-efficient, reliable, and better performing

Efficient bandwidth management is often an unpleasant process for companies. SD-WAN technology enables organizations to leverage all network connections to reach their full potential without worrying about managing standby backup links.

In the traditional premises of the network, the addition of any new device, say, in 50 branches may require a manual connection to, 50 routers or switches for necessary modifications to drive the new traffic. This involves not just considerable costs, but also massive human efforts. With an SD-WAN, such changes can be carried out through a central regional center, making networks more agile and resized.

While call-drops can still be pardoned, and many may not make much fuss about it, poor connectivity or lag in IoT enabled environments can create massive trouble for commercial endeavors. SD-WAN ensures that IT leaders are well-equipped with the necessary information to determine which traffic is required and what branch office for superior efficiency.

SD-WAN also enables automation and, reliable and inexpensive links across geographical sites for IoT projects.

Measure your options

By 2021, cutting-edge technologies such as 5G and IoT will further transform business operations. And technologies such as SD-WAN hold the potential to help organizations respond to changing customer patterns more effectively.

However, it is extremely important that enterprises think about their specific needs and requirements before considering SD-WAN deployments. Tech leaders should assess if they want to build their deployments on their own or if they need a managed service provider to deploy SD-WAN network architectures.

Some of the top vendors in this segment include Microsoft, Cisco, VMware, Fortinet, Huawei, Nokia, IBM, and Fujitsu. (See: AT&T and Microsoft join forces to develop secure IoT solution)

 

CIOs’ digital transformation focus accelerates recovery for IT firms

CIOs’ digital transformation focus accelerates recovery for IT firms

With the rise of telework and new ways of working for businesses, enterprise CIOs are rapidly accelerating their digital transformation investments, enabling faster recovery for global IT service companies.

More than 70% of the CIOs today, significantly focusing on accelerating their digital spending and drifting away from capital expenditure to operating expenditure, according to a recent report titled, Future of Technology Services — Navigating the New Normal, by the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM).

While most companies are adapting to the new normal, CIOs are under relentless pressure to make their organizations competitive and improve speed to market. (See: How is digital transformation shaping the new future? and CIOs to focus on network transformation for business continuity)

The rapid transformation route toward digital transformation has heightened the adoption of cloud, artificial intelligence, automation, and analytics. The increased adoption of cloud workloads by enterprises has unfurled the need to modernize architectures with a sharp focus on even the most trivial user requirement. All this has provided an enormous opportunity for IT Services companies to address these challenges by delivering high-set engineering solutions to make the organizations productive and agile. (See: AI-driven analytics is CIOs’ mantra in the new normal)

Since most organizations have already issued a remote work order for an unpredictable future and the COVID-19 vaccine is not yet available, CIOs will continue to anchor digital transformation initiatives. (See: Tech majors extend work-from-home to keep pandemic at bay)

A huge growth opportunity

According to Nasscom, digital transformation deals have seen a 30 percent jump since the pandemic begins, cloud spending an astonishing 80 percent, and customer experience 15 percent. “With enterprises and CIOs rebalancing technology spend to prioritize digitization, major technology services players have reported better results than analyst expectations in the first and second quarter of FY2021. This is an indication that the global technology services industry may also be well on its way to early recovery,” the Nasscom study expounds.

What Nasscom observes is not surprising. Many industry observers have recently expressed optimism about the expected growth of the IT services market due to improved market sentiment in the US and Europe. In October of this year, the global rating agency Fitch forecasted upward revenue trends in the IT services industry in 2021-2022. (See: Growth of Indian IT sector set for revival in 2021)

Earlier this year, panic resulted in chaos at the onset of the pandemic. There was no way to predict how long it would take to recover. However, our discussions with CIOs and IT leaders have shown that digital technologies’ adoption is the only way companies can remain resilient and overcome disruptions. (See: Technology trends for businesses in 2020)

CIOs’ digital transformation efforts are aligned with the understanding that every aspect – from service delivery models to talent acquisition and risk management strategies – must be revisited and integrated with the new priorities of their clients.

IT Services firms are also aggressively enhancing their focus on providing smarter, practical solutions to construct agile, integrated, simplified, and more intelligent IT environments for their customers. This has also paved the way for rapid consolidation and acquisition in the digital transformation space, which is expected to continue in the near future. (See: Tech Cos take M&A route for digital transformation supremacy)

The challenge, however, for CIOs of small and medium businesses will largely remain around IT budgets. They will need to rationalize return on investment (ROI) and determine what technology is best suited to their needs.

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