Webscale capex growth will decelerate, though dollar volume will continue to climb, as data center builds slow

According to Technology Business Research, Inc.’s (TBR) 1Q19 Webscale ICT Market Landscape, webscale ICT capex for the Super 7 will grow at an 8.1% CAGR to nearly $58 billion in 2023. Most U.S.- and China-based webscales began pulling forward significant investment in data center and network capacity in 2018, which will lead to moderating — or even declining — capex levels for some U.S.-based players beginning in 2020. China-based webscales will continue to ramp ICT capex through the forecast period, however, to catch up to Western rivals in key areas, particularly public cloud.

The entrance of Rakuten, a Japan-based e-commerce company, to the mobile industry could be a game changer and provides a glimpse into what a digital service provider will look like. Rakuten’s mobile network will blanket Japan with LTE coverage by year-end. Not only will Rakuten’s network be agile, flexible and dynamic to provide digital services, it will also enable a dramatic reduction in the cost of connectivity. Rakuten’s ultimate intention is to be more than just another mobile network operator in the highly competitive Japan market; it aims to provide a foundational connectivity platform from which to sell a host of digital services. Rakuten’s acknowledgment that it needs its own network could lead to other webscales trying to take a more active ownership and control stance toward having a connectivity platform from which they can leverage their digital businesses. Alphabet, Facebook and Amazon, among other webscales, have all experimented with how to address last-mile connectivity, not only to bridge the digital divide but also to serve as a conduit to give them more control over their destinies without relying on communication service providers (CSPs) to provide the connectivity layer.

The OEM landscape continues to see disruption due in part to the power webscales hold over their suppliers. The vast number of suppliers taking part in Rakuten’s network build demonstrates that webscales hold the power when soliciting vendors for connectivity initiatives. When engaging with webscales, which have few legacy encumbrances, incumbent OEMs are being relegated to commoditized hardware and services. Should the 5G era bring about this trend in the CSP customer segment, incumbents will see more widespread disruption. Vendors must be wary of the webscale procurement model taking hold with their traditional customers.

Competition from MVNOs and smaller rivals limits subscriber growth for Tier 1 U.S. and Canadian operators

Wireless revenue rose 2.2% year-to-year to $64 billion among U.S. operators covered in Technology Business Research Inc.’s (TBR) 4Q18 U.S. & Canada Mobile Operator Benchmark, driven by continued subscriber growth and adoption of premium smartphones. All benchmarked U.S. operators except Sprint were able to gain postpaid phone net additions in 4Q18 as opportunity remains to target first-time wireless customers in the country. Postpaid subscriber growth is also fueled by prepaid migrations as many subscribers are moving to postpaid plans for benefits such as bundled streaming services and increased LTE data limits for mobile hot spots.

Subscriber growth for U.S. Tier 1 operators is, however, threatened by the growing momentum of new mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) entering the market. Comcast’s Xfinity Mobile and Charter’s Spectrum Mobile are attracting wireless customers via low price points and the convenience of being able to enroll in multiple services through a single provider. Altice also plans on providing wireless services in 1H19, giving the company the opportunity to cross-sell mobility services to its current residential base of over 4.5 million customers. TBR also anticipates Google Fi, which was rebranded from Project Fi in November, will gain further traction in 2019 as the brand is launching new incentives to attract customers including bring-your-own-device options for most Android and iPhone smartphone models.

Combined wireless revenue among Tier 1 Canadian operators rose 6% year-to-year to $6.9 billion due to continued subscriber growth spurred by shared data programs and expanding LTE-Advanced coverage. However, subscriber growth for Tier 1 Canadian operators is limited by mounting competition from smaller competitors. Tier 2 Canadian operators, most notably Shaw Communications’ Freedom Mobile and Quebecor’s Videotron, which now have a total of about 1.5 million and 1.1 million customers, respectively, are accelerating subscriber growth via their pricing promotions and network investments. TBR anticipates Freedom Mobile will further disrupt the Canadian wireless market in 2019 as the company will expand LTE coverage to an additional 1.3 million Canadians throughout the year in markets in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario.

For additional information about this research or to arrange a one-on-one analyst briefing, please contact Dan Demers at +1 603.929.1166 or [email protected].

Genpact adapts its service delivery model to help customers succeed with their digital transformations

Internal shift positions Genpact to capture digital demand

Genpact hosted approximately 50 analysts on March 13 in Boston’s Seaport district to provide an update on its business and transition to the digital age. Additionally, the company highlighted its service design capabilities and how it’s differentiating from peers. Genpact continually invests in its business and delivery model to align with changing client demand for emerging technologies, such as IoT, digital and cloud, and has initiated its fourth major companywide evolution in the last 20-plus years, this time to embrace digital. Building out AI and automation-enabled services strengthens Genpact’s core capabilities around business process services with an outcome-based approach, to provide clients with the tools and technology necessary to streamline and automate lower-value tasks. Genpact’s approach to digital transforms clients’ traditional workflows to address their challenges. This approach includes identifying digital tools and technologies that allow clients to improve operations and customer satisfaction by eliminating pain points and bottlenecks associated with manual tasks.

During its presentation, Genpact noted that less than 50% of its approximately 98,000 employees are based in India. Building talent throughout the U.S., Australia, LATAM and Europe increases Genpact’s client touchpoints and enables it to work more closely with clients around transformation and drive business value and insights for clients. Also, the expanded global client base improves Genpact’s position as a global professional services vendor and helps the company move beyond the perception of being a low-cost BPO provider.

Three years later: PwC’s Miami Experience Center led the way

Three years ago, almost to the day, we went to Miami and saw something truly new, an “Experience Center” that PwC built to physically embody its emerging idea of coalescing consulting engagements around business, experience and technology. Saying we were impressed would be an understatement. Here’s what we said in our March 2016 special report on PwC Digital Analyst Day: “In addition to obtaining the right people and managing them well … the firm built an innovative office for the Experience Center team. PwC leadership explained the office design fosters collaboration, sparks creativity, celebrates success yet encourages failures along the way and upholds the firm’s values all in a comfortable environment — so comfortable that leadership hopes employees are more comfortable at work than they are at their own homes.”

Since that March 2016 visit, we’ve been to PwC Experience Centers in Frankfurt, Singapore, Shanghai, Tokyo and Toronto. And with every visit, we have chronicled the way PwC’s BXT framework has evolved, leading to our assessment that PwC has stopped playing “consulting roulette” as “BXT evolves from grand idea to engaged approach.”

We haven’t just visited PwC’s digital transformation immersion innovation centers over the last few years; we’ve visited centers with SAP, Accenture, EY, Capgemini, Atos, NTT and IBM. We’ve noted similarities and huge differences, as well as shared unknowns, like how to best determine the value these centers bring the consultancies and their clients. We continue working to understand the three pillars of these centers — clients, talent and partners — plus all the small-but-critical elements that make the differences between success and average vanilla “blah.” We’ve spent a tremendous amount of time discussing leadership, for example, and the impact on talent, culture and clients.

One more quote from three years ago, because this one jumped off the page, knowing what we know now: “By operating on a more global level, evidenced by its employees being encouraged to connect with their colleagues to bring alternative perspectives to address clients’ specific business needs, the firm works smarter. PwC shares success stories across its Experience Centers, slightly varies the talent mix at each center, and encourages mobility between the centers to further diversify the teams.” 

We’ve met PwC folks who’ve migrated from Miami to other Experience Centers, bringing that special sauce with them, and suspect this approach will be replicated by PwC’s peers as they continue building out their own cadre of experience-innovation-immersion-digital transformation center professionals.

IBM helps customers extend IP ‘inside out’ to anyone, anywhere

TBR perspective

After shifting the format from multiple events in years past to one major customer event in 2018 at a single venue, this year IBM (NYSE: IBM) moved its massive customer event, IBM Think 2019, from Las Vegas to San Francisco with far fewer logistical glitches than last year. Analysts were guided by a reinvigorated analyst relations team due in large part to IBM’s decision to shift Harriet Fryman from overseeing internal marketing functions to serving as VP of analyst relations.

In many ways shifting an IBM executive from internal marketing to this external-facing role aligned with the overarching theme of the event that coursed through CEO Ginni Rometty’s keynote speech. The theme last year focused on how the “axis has flipped” on business best practices, while this year the theme cascading throughout the sessions was “inside out.” IBM noted that until recently, much of the transformative power of technology had been dictated from an outside-in perspective in an effort to redesign customer-facing engagement. This, IBM asserts, is why only 20% of the data under management has been transformed to better inform enterprises and why the heavy work ahead will be from the inside-out perspective as enterprises choose which assets to transform beyond just sales and marketing elements. This theme plays well with IBM’s best-in-class reputation for building trust and for understanding the complexities large enterprise IT instances cause in terms of technical debt in need of refinancing and redesigning as enterprises strive to become true digital businesses, beyond the influence of outside-in feedback.

The theme last year focused on how the “axis has flipped” on business best practices, while this year the theme cascading throughout the sessions was “inside out.” IBM noted that until recently, much of the transformative power of technology had been dictated from an outside-in perspective in an effort to redesign customer-facing engagement. This, IBM asserts, is why only 20% of the data under management has been transformed to better inform enterprises and why the heavy work ahead will be from the inside-out perspective as enterprises choose which assets to transform beyond just sales and marketing elements. This theme plays well with IBM’s best-in-class reputation for building trust and for understanding the complexities large enterprise IT instances cause in terms of technical debt in need of refinancing and redesigning as enterprises strive to become true digital businesses, beyond the influence of outside-in feedback.

To address inside-out innovation, IBM’s marketing message tagline of “Anywhere” flows throughout its management control planes, analytics enablement technologies, and the emerging blockchain technology. Many businesses are now capable of transforming from the inside out, or from (oftentimes) Z-based on-premises instances out to the multicloud world. IBM’s “Anywhere” mantra is a big bet that resonates with existing accounts, and the challenge will be to simplify the access and interaction potential new accounts will have with IBM IP assets to prove that IBM understands all elements of the customer experience on a persona-by-persona basis, beyond trust, security and market making for emerging technologies.

IBM Think 2019 brought together tens of thousands of IBM partners, customers and employees to showcase recent portfolio expansions and updates that underscore the company’s continued innovation in cloud-based emerging technologies.

Key to Internet of Things market growth? Here’s a look at crucial players, customers

Commercial Internet of Things has received substantial press over the last three years. It started in 2015 with hyped claims of IoT’s ability to deliver total transformation, but expectations around the technology have matured and IoT is now viewed as a reasonable technique for solving business problems.

However, one thing has not changed: When it comes to IoT market participants, the focus of the discussion remains on larger IT vendors, SIs [systems integrators] and customers. The missing story is the involvement of the distributors, VARs [valued added resellers]  and smaller SIs, and the current needs of the small to midsize customers.

— Daniel Callahan, Analyst

TBR Weekly Preview: March 11-15

We’re going all over the technology space this week, with reports spanning U.S. federal government IT services to long-established hardware and data center providers, plus a couple of European-centric companies.


  • Talent continues to be the constraining factor on ManTech’s bright revenue growth outlook. Focus in defense and intelligence segments of the U.S. federal market on innovation creates healthy demand for ManTech’s labor-based technical services offerings, such as R&D, testing and evaluation of emerging technology. As a smaller competitor compared to many of its large prime peers in the federal sector, ManTech acutely feels the resource impacts of the security clearance backlog and overall tight labor market. TBR’s 4Q18 ManTech report, written by Senior Analyst Joey Cresta, will explore how ManTech uses adaptive learning, continuous monitoring software and new leadership hires to address the human capital challenges associated with scaling up its labor base to meet robust client demand.


  • As detailed in our initial response, Lenovo achieved its sixth consecutive quarter of year-to-year revenue gains, reporting $14 billion in revenue in 4Q18, up 8.5% from the year-ago compare, even as consolidation opportunities cool in the PC market. Despite these high notes for Lenovo exiting 2018, the company will still face hurdles over the next two years. Its PC and Smart Devices businesses will have to deal with challenging and shifting PC environments. Data Center Group continues to deliver on its promises, but it remains in the red despite improvements to its bottom line. Lenovo’s Mobile business is still teetering in profitability. Read our full report by Analyst Dan Callahan to find how Lenovo will navigate these challenges and tee up for a seventh consecutive quarter of revenue growth in 1Q19. 
  • Our detailed assessment of Atos will note that the company’s Digital Transformation Factory portfolio accounted for 30% of revenue in 2018, up from 23% of revenue in 2017, positively affected by increased activities with clients in areas such as orchestrated hybrid cloud, Digital Workplace and cybersecurity. As Senior Analyst Elitsa Bakalova will report, Atos’ efforts to position as a trusted partner for clients’ digital journeys are starting to pay off, and the new digital services strategy will shape the company’s activities over the next three years.
  • As reported in our initial response, Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s (HPE) revenue fell 1.6% year-to-year to $7.6 billion. While revenue growth is always a goal, TBR believes HPE is more focused on improving profitability in the near term before it shifts to boosting revenue growth. In our full report Analyst Stephanie Long will dive into the long-term strategy of CEO Antonio Neri and how it will impact 2019. Key cost-cutting initiatives and strategic investments, such as in high-performance computing and the edge, will be likely highlights in 2019.
  • Analyst Kelly Lesiczka will be reporting that T-Systems’ portfolio and organizational investments continue to improve its ability to gain wallet share in newer areas and stabilize revenue growth in 2018. Building out its emerging technology portfolio offerings, such as for IoT using DT’s product offerings, enables T-Systems to provide more comprehensive and personalized solutions to clients and generate larger-scale engagements to accelerate growth.

As promised, we published a new report last week by Senior Analyst Boz Hristov on Accenture Technology, and today published a report on TELUS International from Boz as well as a report on Mobile World Congress Barcelona 2019 by Principal Analyst Chris Antlitz.

While we do not have a webinar scheduled for this Wednesday, the next one will be on March 20 featuring Senior Analyst John Caucis talking about healthcare IT services.

In an emerging world managed by bots, TELUS International’s culture tells us why humans still matter

TBR perspective

Since the dawn of outsourcing, BPO has allowed enterprise buyers to trust third-party providers with the support of many internal and external processes. While in the past, the risk associated with managing IT and business assets was heavily weighted toward the buyer, in today’s age, where social media is leveraged as a sounding board for both positive and negative customer experiences, there is a heightened expectation for services vendors to deliver brand promises. During its 14-year tenure as an active participant in the CX support services market, TELUS International has successfully navigated the ever-changing dynamics of the BPO space by investing heavily in its employees. The company has an average annual attrition rate of approximately 25%, which is about 50% below the BPO industry average, as its employees and executives trade on trust and share a common goal of servicing customers. Deploying and managing learning and collaboration platforms globally as well as adopting many of the same technologies used to support clients, TELUS International’s approach to people, processes and technology shapes the company’s culture in the era of the machines. While the CX support space has been augmented by the increased use of AI-based technologies and one might consider the BPO industry to be highly commoditized from a labor arbitrage perspective, TELUS International continues to build a human-centric culture that empowers staff (most of whom are millennials) to take charge of their careers while also being brand ambassadors in their local communities. Touring TELUS International’s Las Vegas delivery site, which is one of the company’s 27 global hubs, during the event helped bring TELUS International’s strategy and vision around its employees and investments in innovation to life, further supporting the “from slides to code” trend TBR has observed in the industry over the past 18 to 24 months.

Moving forward, we expect TELUS International to continue executing on its standardized approach to customers’ digital enablement and to carefully select and manage its client base, including pursuing opportunities with enterprises that are also involved with approving TELUS International employee recruitment and training. As the BPO market evolves, the emergence of new pricing models, including outcome-, subscription- and license-based pricing, will compel the company to take on additional risk and retune stakeholders’ expectations around its P&L profile. As a result, TELUS International will need to continue its transformation into an increasingly automation-enabled organization with agent capabilities. 

At its inaugural Analyst Summit, TELUS International brought together industry analysts, company executives and clients. The company used the two-day event to prove why, according to President and CEO Jeff Puritt, TELUS International is the “best kept secret” when it comes to company culture, employee engagement and customer satisfaction in the highly competitive customer experience (CX)-enabled BPO market, especially in the area of talent.  

CSPs accelerate 5G deployments to realize the significant cost efficiencies that are inherent in the technology

According to TBR’s 1Q19 5G Telecom Market Landscape, though a viable business case for operators to grow revenue from 5G has yet to materialize (with the exception of fixed wireless broadband), the main driver for operators to deploy 5G is realizing the efficiency gains the technology provides over LTE.

Operators in developed markets worldwide have accelerated their 5G deployment timetables over the past year, primarily because 5G is a significantly more cost-effective solution to handle rising data traffic in their traditional connectivity businesses but also to remain competitive in their respective markets.

TBR estimates over 80% of 5G capex spend through 2020 will be driven by operators in four countries: the U.S., China, Japan and South Korea, with the remaining 20% of spend through 2020 predominantly stemming from Europe and developed countries in the Middle East and APAC that have relatively small populations. Most Tier 1 operators in these countries have aggressive 5G rollout timetables and intend to leverage the technology for fixed wireless broadband and/or to support their mobile broadband densification initiatives. The seamless software upgradability of new RAN platforms to 5G will facilitate deployment at incremental cost, keeping overall spend scaling quickly but at a relatively low level compared to prior RAN generation upgrades.

TBR’s 5G Telecom Market Landscape tracks the 5G-related initiatives of leading operators and vendors worldwide. The report provides a comprehensive overview of the global 5G ecosystem and includes insights pertaining to market development, market sizing, use cases, adoption, regional trends, and operator and vendor positioning and strategies.

Cost of ‘intelligent connectivity’ must decline significantly for intelligent world to unfold

TBR perspective

Realizing the intelligent world presented by the mobile industry at Mobile World Congress Barcelona 2019 (MWC19) will require a fundamental change in how networks are architected, including a radical reduction in the cost of providing connectivity. It will also require business transformation for companies tied to the old world, namely communications service providers (CSPs) and their incumbent vendors.

It was readily apparent at the event that technology is advancing at a much faster pace than the establishment of business cases that economically justify deployment of the technology. The reality for the mobile industry is that the cost of building, owning and operating networks is too high and networks are too inflexible to support the business realities of the digital era, whereby connectivity is relegated to a commodity service and the value lies in the platforms and applications that run over the network. The industry has known this for years, but changes have been minimal, until maybe now.

The entrance of Rakuten to the mobile industry could be a game changer and provides a glimpse into what a digital service provider will look like. In what could arguably be the most important takeaway from the entire event, Rakuten’s approach to building and operating a network could signify a paradigm shift in the industry. Not only will Rakuten’s network be agile, flexible and dynamic to provide digital services, it will also enable a dramatic reduction in the cost of connectivity.

The theme of MWC19 was “intelligent connectivity” and centered on how 5G, IoT, AI and big data are coming together to enable the intelligent world. Against this backdrop, Rakuten stole the show with the evangelization of its end-to-end virtualized and cloud-native network, which is being deployed across Japan this year. Rakuten’s network provides a glimpse into what the intelligent network of the future will look like.