HCLT builds its IoT practice on experience, expertise and IP

TBR perspective

While HCL Technologies (HCLT) initially used its intellectual property (IP) to create complete solutions for its customers, it is now making available other third-party solution packages, white-labelled components and solutions for end customers, other systems integrators, and value-added resellers. The company’s partnerships with PTC and edge hardware vendors Dell Technologies and Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) facilitate the delivery of integrated software and hardware solutions for engineering- and manufacturing-centric OEMs. These edge-to-cloud solutions integrate IT and operational technology (OT) data sources and are highly scalable; HCLT’s representatives estimated that they are now approximately 50% to 60% preconfigured and can be rolled out to multiple plants and locations in a pre-built factory model. Irrespective of HCLT’s decisions regarding routes to market, the company continues to create reusable IoT building blocks.

Reuse is at the heart of IoT maturity

The continual development of reusable solutions and components has always been the key to growth of information technology. In the wave of interest in IoT, starting about five years ago, the relative lack of reusable solutions and components demonstrated the immaturity of this segment. While growth has been substantial, it has not been explosive, similarly reflecting this immaturity. Technology Business Research, Inc. (TBR) estimates the current size of the IT portion of IoT at $565 billion, growing at a slightly accelerating 24.6% annual rate, and we do not anticipate growth to slow for at least five years. One driver of this acceleration is the accumulation of experience, expertise and intellectual property by vendors and customers.

Leveraging common technology and business processes across vertical divisions

Some of HCLT’s solutions, outlined here, require integration typically performed by HCLT:

  • Manufacturing: Remote Services Management, Inventory Management, Predictive Operations Monitoring, and Real-time Manufacturing Insights
  • Healthcare: Remote Patient Monitoring, Smart Clinical Trial, Medical Devices – Remote Monitoring and Servicing
  • Travel, Transportation, Logistics: Remote Asset Monitoring, Warehouse Automation, Building Automation
  • Energy and Utilities: Remote Asset Monitoring and Predictive Operations, Intelligent Linear Asset Monitoring, Active Grid Management, ADMS and AMI Testing, Distributed Grid Operations – Resilience at the Edge
  • Retail: Real-time In-store Insights, Warehouse Optimization, Cold-Chain Logistics, Supply Chain Insights

There is overlap of solutions across verticals, which reflects overlap in both business processes and relevant technologies. In keeping with IoTWorks’ orientation toward reuse, common pieces of solutions are joined to additional components to create new solutions. In the case of Real-time In-store Insights, HCLT added radar-based customer tracking hardware to keep track of customers with lower data-related costs, while improving customer privacy. HCLT Engineering designed the radar modules. An RFID-based asset tracker for end-user devices was adapted to help make sure airplanes have the full tool kit accounted for before takeoff. A similar solution applies to surgical kit tracking and compliance monitoring in hospitals.

Iowa caucuses: Digital transformation run amok

Iowa’s first-in-the-nation, high-value, high-visibility caucus misfired last night, potentially costing the state its special status in coming years, which could trigger a massive economic impact due to the loss of revenue associated with early campaign activities (e.g., hotel stays, dining, gas, ads). The strategic value of rapid visibility bouncing into New Hampshire, first capitalized on by Jimmy Carter in 1976, is a reminder of how long Iowa has held this status and what a disastrous operational failure could mean. 

This poorly executed digital transformation (DT) will most likely cost Iowa its high-value job in the nation’s presidential primary process. Nevada purchased the same software as Iowa for its upcoming caucus and will now face pressure to quickly learn from Iowa’s mistakes and lay out a proper DT plan. DT can only proceed at the rate and pace of the slowest learners. Volunteers of all ages and technological savvy are, by definition, going to include some slow technology learners.

We’re seeking to elect people to navigate the new economic realities technology brings to bear on our way of life. There is great good that comes from technology adoption, but there are also negative impacts. Leaders, often from older demographics, don’t know what they don’t know when it comes to technology. Conversely, younger staffers versed in technology and tasked with the rollout may not understand the need for training of those from older generations. If they cannot execute simple tasks from a phone, how are they to craft legislation to mitigate against the moral hazards technology can inflict on our way of life?

So what went wrong? The Iowa democratic party didn’t know what they didn’t know

The Iowa Democratic Party apparatus sought to modernize the method by which they aggregate votes. Rather than phone the results into a central aggregation point, they decided, “There’s an app for that.” Additionally, the process of tallying votes was, likewise, shifted to accommodate the large number of primary candidates through the use of the second-choice ranking systems to release supporters of candidates who did not reach the 15% support threshold within each of the 1,700 caucus sites. So, a new process on the ground and a new process for communicating the results back to a central aggregation point ignited the dumpster fire that was the 2020 Iowa Caucus.   

Bad idea compounded by poor planning

TBR has a signature article around the concept of “Wallet versus Will” in which we articulate how the axis has flipped on public sector technology adoption. Government used to lead when cost was the driving inhibitor to technology adoption, as “protection of the commons” could justify heavy capital outlays for leading-edge technology. Today, the consumerization of IT has citizen IT as the public sector parallel to provide for convenience.

But the public sector and the ancillary offshoots of the major parties’ apparatus are not as attuned to how to go about DT, and this is why the process on full display to the nation’s political junkies last night looked more like a cigar blowing up in Moe Howard’s face.

Here are the basics of the implementation plan rolled out by the Iowa Democratic Party to its caucus site captains:

  1. The caucus captains were told to download the app on to their phone.
  2. The download had a caution that the app could alter the phone, asking the volunteer captains if they wanted to proceed. Some opted not to proceed given, well, they are volunteers and did not want to run the risk of harming their personal property in the process of giving their time.
  3. Some captains who opted for the app could not figure out the app because there was no formal training provided on its use.
  4. The backup system — or the old way of phoning results back to a centralized location — was not adequately staffed, resulting in volunteer captains sitting on hold for as long as several hours to provide the results. Part of the challenge in that process was also that the rules on the ground had changed, so the captains were also phoning to ensure they had made the correct calculations for the new training.

To recap: No formal user training for a body of 1,700 volunteers of varying ages and technology comfort. No tutorials that could have been done on the volunteer’s own time ahead of the caucus. No live testing of the process to ensure there was adequate capacity, and inadequate fail-over infrastructure in the event of go-live difficulties.

This disaster could have been avoided with some investments in change management and technology consulting. Iowa party leaders didn’t know what they didn’t know, and now Iowans will likely pay a steep price for this technology hubris.

Big changes for Big Blue

Lots of news coming from IBM these past few weeks, and we have plenty of analysis on it from Geoff Woollacott, Stephanie Long, Elitsa Bakalova, Catie Merrill and Nicole Catchpole. IBM unveiled a new Power System and announced Ginni Rometty will be stepping down, making way for cloud champion Arvind Krishna to emerge as the new CEO, effective April 6. TBR’s 4Q19 IBM report will comment on these changes as well as touch on the overall health and performance of IBM corporate and its Systems Hardware business.

Additional assessments publishing this week from our analyst teams

“TBR estimates Wipro IT Services’ (ITS) revenue growth will accelerate in 2020, as the company leverages a broad network of centers opened throughout 2019, including centers dedicated to industry solutions and emerging technologies as well as centers that enhance core capabilities. An emphasis on centers will lead to cross-selling and upselling opportunities and improved client retention within Wipro’s addressable market. Additionally, increasing training and reskilling efforts will allow Wipro ITS to more effectively communicate its portfolio and manage client relationships to drive opportunities around its digital offerings. Wipro ITS’ ability to accelerate revenue growth will be contingent on securing deals around emerging digital assets — particularly through its now-robust cloud platform partner ecosystem — to expand its wallet share and mitigate its lack of digital scale compared to peers.” — Kelly Lesiczka, Analyst

“Recent acquisitions, such as that of Luxoft and Syscom, reinforce DXC’s focus on integrating acquired industry expertise into its distinct industry segments to create higher-value engagements and build longer-term relationships with clients. DXC will aim to capture technology demand in industries such as automotive, which aligns with industry strengths gained through strategic acquisitions such as Luxoft.” — Kevin Collupy, Analyst 

“Moving through 2020, Cognizant’s ability to create scale for its newly acquired digital solutions and services will be critical to driving growth, though its emphasis on digital will have an adverse impact on its traditional outsourcing business. We expect Cognizant will operate within its revenue guidance in 4Q19 as it emphasizes its digital portfolio to drive adoption of emerging technologies as well as looks to key verticals to generate use cases and drive growth opportunities.” — Kelly Lesiczka

“T-Mobile will end 2019 on a high note as the company’s annual postpaid net additions and adjusted EBITDA will surpass initial guidance expectations. T-Mobile’s momentum will continue in 2020 regardless of the outcome of the proposed Sprint merger, as the company’s widespread 5G coverage and expanding portfolio and service options will attract new customers.” — Steve Vachon, Analyst

In 4Q19 Google Cloud saw rapid revenue growth that paralleled and validated its continued and planned investments in infrastructure, R&D, talent, partnerships and expansion of its global footprint. TBR predicts this accelerated pace of growth, fueled by Google Cloud Platform and Anthos, will help the company close the gap with market share leaders Amazon Web Services and Microsoft. In addition, 4Q19 marks the first time that Alphabet disclosed Google Cloud revenue, a move that isolates and highlights the significant growth rate of this sector of the overall business. — Nicole Catchpole, Senior Analyst

On Wednesday Principal Analyst Ezra Gottheil and Analyst Eric Costa will host a live webinar and Q&A on TBR’s predictions for IoT in 2020 and beyond, including the more purposeful role of AI in IoT and how the conversational interface will demonstrate its relevance. Register today for “IoT settles in for the long haul,” and check out our Webinar Portal to view all of TBR’s previously aired webinars.

Get ready for a major culture shift at IBM

“In a blog post, Merrill claimed that while CEOs typically come from a finance or sales and marketing background, the current market climate is one where expertise can help business leaders thrive. In IBM’s case, Krishna was previously the senior vice president of cloud and cognitive software at IBM and Whitehurst was senior vice president of IBM and CEO of Red Hat. ‘Krishna’s presence should assure customers, particularly those with primary concerns around IBM’s product road map and the ways in which IBM will build out the safe, secure and innovative ecosystems components for the new multi-enterprise business networks and company federations,’ Merrill said.” — ARN

IBM’s executive shakeup gets analysts’ stamp of approval

“Analysts have also chimed in with cautious optimism, including Geoff Woollacott, principal analyst and senior strategy consultant with TBR Cloud and Software. ‘The current climate is a different kind of IT landscape. The requirements and demands from enterprises are vastly different, which necessitates a different kind of leader. Arvind Krishna is, therefore, well suited to articulate and assure customers going forward,’ he told WRAL TechWire by email. Elitsa Bakalova, professional services senior analyst at TBR, added that it will bring a ‘fresh perspective.’ ‘Promoting the CEO from within is something that typically inspires employees and will prevent potential challenges related to future strategic direction of the company. The new CEO has a long history with IBM, he is a technologists and an operations expert,’ he said. Catie Merrill, research analyst at TBR, however, maintained a ‘wait-and-see’ approach. ‘IBM, with the help of Red Hat’s platform, is looking to take customers’ mission-critical back-office workloads to the cloud, in what it deems to be ‘Chapter 2 of the cloud’. This is a competency that has yet to be proven but may hold true under new leadership.'” — WRALTechWire

AI, Accenture and Amazon: HITS acquisitions update 2020

Accenture’s steady appetite, Amazon’s potential new offering and Google’s uncertain moves

Accenture’s acquisition of Clarity Insights follows the company’s INTIENT purchase and rounds out a typically active acquisition year for one of the leaders in TBR’s HITS benchmark. Clarity Insights brings Accenture AI and machine learning capabilities, 350 healthcare data scientists, and healthcare industry clients. As noted in our most recent full report on Accenture’s HITS business, “Accenture targeted the AI opportunity in life sciences in mid-2019, launching its INTIENT platform for collecting, storing, monitoring and analyzing data from life sciences clients’ business environments. The platform leverages Accenture Applied Intelligence to provide AI and analytics services, improving efficiency and data management.” Beyond extending Accenture’s capabilities, the Clarity Insights acquisition reinforces Accenture’s strategy around AI and life sciences that the INTIENT purchase supported. The report adds, “TBR believes Accenture must foster industry-specific partnerships to extend the capabilities of INTIENT and drive traction for the platform in the industry.” TBR will closely track how Accenture’s partnerships evolve and how the company drives new revenue based on these acquisitions.

Echoing Accenture’s focus on AI, Amazon acquired Health Navigator, a platform designed to foster more expeditious collaboration between healthcare providers and patients, in part through natural language processing and enhanced analytics. Amazon reportedly purchased the company amid efforts to build out Amazon Care, its in-house healthcare services, which it launched in September 2019. On the surface, Amazon’s healthcare-related acquisitions and moves denote neither an immediate threat to traditional HITS vendors nor a clear signal Amazon intends to become a different kind of player in the HITS space. Analyzing Amazon only on the surface would be foolishly shortsighted. Once the company irons out the challenges within Amazon Care, including fully integrating Health Navigator, TBR expects the company will craft a new offering for Amazon clients, potentially starting first with healthcare joint venture partners JPMorgan (NYSE: JPM) and Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK.A; NYSE: BRK.B). At 1.2 million employees for those three companies combined, Amazon would have a sizable test bed for enhancing current capabilities and developing new offerings. If Amazon can demonstrate an ability to provide top-notch healthcare services for its own employees and a few select partners, every household will wonder if the first step in getting healthcare should start with, “Alexa …”     

In acquiring Fitbit, Alphabet (Google) alarmed some data privacy and industry analysts concerned that the search engine and advertising giant bought the wearables company to gain access to massive amounts of personal, and specifically healthcare-related, data. Both companies’ executives declared data protections would be unchanged and the underlying reasons for the acquisition centered on Fitbit’s expertise and intellectual property around wearable devices and health-tracking applications, platforms and user experience. In TBR’s view, acquiring Fitbit conforms with Google’s overall expansion strategy and specifically boosts the company’s potential role in the overall HITS space. Enhancing Fitbit’s platform with Google’s AI capabilities could further minimize perennial HITS challenges, such as around data privacy and population health, but only if Google can manage the delicate tasks of leveraging user data without violating privacy, crafting and enhancing algorithms that improve the user experience, and maintaining the streamlined seamless flexibility of Fitbit even as the data flows into the highly regulated healthcare ecosystem.