Aiven’s managed services capabilities bring the best of open-source data technologies to multicloud enterprises

With a core portfolio of platform services, Aiven meets the needs of developers, partners and the cloud-native enterprise  

Aiven was founded in 2016 by a team of open-source and cloud experts based in Helsinki who sought to develop a data management platform that capitalizes on the needs of more mature customers who are increasingly leveraging open-source software. As such, many of Aiven’s clients come already knowing what they want in terms of stream processing frameworks, databases, search engines, visualization and analytics. The core driver of value is Aiven’s ability to orchestrate data on a single management platform, which entails getting customers up and running with minimal deployment lag and enabling the integration with existing tool sets on any cloud. The dedication to a robust support model and transparent pricing with lower costs than many competitors are additional underlying factors that position Aiven to continue growing on pace with the expanding Database as a Service market (DBaaS); for reference, in just the last eight months the company has doubled in size to about 150 employees and is backed by a strong venture capital engine, including the company’s latest round of Series C funding worth $100 million, as well as solid new and recurring revenue streams.

Despite coopetive dynamics, Aiven benefits from allying with leading hyperscalers to support clients’ need for multicloud

As multicloud is a core component of its value proposition, Aiven provides customers availability by partnering with all three major cloud service providers (CSPs), including Amazon Web Services (AWS) (Nasdaq: AMZN), Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) and Google Cloud (Nasdaq: GOOGL). In addition to Aiven’s services being made publicly available on the marketplaces of both Google Cloud and AWS, these relationships allow Aiven to provide enterprises with a way to build the services and applications that are enabled by databases on leading public cloud infrastructures, as well as offer a simple migration path for legacy customers. TBR notes that over 10% of Aiven’s customers are provisioning different services to multiple clouds and that many of Aiven’s adopters come knowing specifically which databases or monitoring tools they want to use and where they want to deploy them. While many customers often start with a preferred cloud partner, they ultimately seek to expand to other platforms for greater development autonomy and to avoid vendor lock-in. As a result, TBR believes Aiven’s role as an orchestrator for multiple database services across clouds positions the company uniquely in the market, as Aiven provides customers the degree of neutrality and third-party support required to navigate and manage various dispersed open-source projects.

However, as Aiven offers nine core services — including the widely deployed open-source platform tools Apache Kafka, PostgreSQL, MySQL, Cassandra, Redis, Elasticsearch, InfluxDB, M3 and Grafana — there is a large degree of coopetition as Aiven’s partners offer related services on their clouds and, in some cases, the clouds of other CSPs. The increasingly open, hybrid multicloud approaches of vendors like Google Cloud and even IBM (NYSE: IBM) will prove competitive, yet TBR believes Aiven still challenges its partners when it comes to enabling open-source innovation and helping enterprises deliver this innovation at scale. Meanwhile, as customers increasingly look for a partner to avoid vendor lock-in, Aiven is well positioned to challenge many vendors that trail the market in providing a degree of vendor-agnosticism.  

Open-source technology has become less of a value differentiator and more of a foundational attribute that customers in the cloud database market have come to expect. Vendors in the space must now embed other feature sets and functionality to stand out and navigate the common challenges faced when it comes to modern app development and operational management in the cloud. However, customer expectations go beyond avoiding vendor lock-in, one of the known benefits of open-source technology, to include reducing TCO while improving time to market, security and reliability. Aiven is a managed cloud database services vendor that delivers a unified data platform for both traditional and cloud-native customers looking to deploy data architectures seamlessly and across multiple clouds. By capitalizing on managed cloud services, Aiven has created a way for customers to build, deploy and manage various open-source database management and analytics tools in a self-service manner. With a variety of deployment methods available to customers in conjunction with the benefits of automated security, scalability and resilience, Aiven has demonstrated this value proposition by building a customer base that crosses multiple industries and highlights both customer-facing and back-office analytics use cases.

A Roaring ’20s for the Middle East?

PwC on post-pandemic digital transformation in the Middle East

On their March 23 webcast, “Transitioning to the New Normal,” PwC’s Middle East leaders discussed the results of their 24th annual CEO survey, focusing on findings specific to their region. Guided by Middle East Clients and Market Leader Stephen Anderson, the conversation highlighted four themes: growth, lessons learned, transformation, and threats, particularly around cybersecurity and talent. In addition to the respondents’ overall confidence that 2021 and 2022 will be growth years for the region, one highly notable findings was that 59% of Middle East CEOs surveyed are planning double-digit increases in their investments in digital transformation this year. Not only does that percentage track closely with TBR’s Digital Transformation: Voice of the Customer Research, but it also far outpaces any other area for investment, at least among Middle East-based CEOs.

The PwC leaders noted that while 2020 put considerable revenue pressure on most regional businesses, companies also used the pandemic as a catalyst to cut costs. But for 2021, cost-efficiency trails digital transformation as a priority. Again, this tracks closely with our own research, which found that companies are prioritizing investment in cloud and managed services over digital transformation for this year. Cloud demand stems directly from the pandemic and the move to remote working, while the increase in demand for managed services has been building for years.

In TBR’s recent survey, over two-thirds of respondents are planning to increase their budget for managed services over the next year, which will create opportunities for vendors that can tie cost savings to managed services solutions. Also echoing TBR’s research around global delivery and automation, PwC’s survey found that “productivity through automation and technology” ranked as the top “workforce strategy” in 2021, jumping from 6% of respondents in 2016 to 46% in 2021.

The twin threats of cybersecurity and talent

In discussing threats to growth in 2021, the PwC team described the Middle East as being ahead of the rest of the world in terms of both reducing headcount early in the pandemic and now rehiring to meet returning demands. The challenge, shared globally based on TBR’s discussions with IT services vendors and consultancies over the last year, remains finding skilled talent, upskilling current talent and managing the overall talent base, especially in a highly competitive market for digitally versed professionals. PwC’s Middle East team suggested closer cooperation between commercial entities, local governments and higher education providers would be key to regional companies being able to recruit enough skilled talent in the near term. (Quick side note: PwC has a product that may be instrumental in tackling that talent shortage.)

As for cybersecurity, the PwC team acknowledged the reality that the 2020 rush to the cloud, sparked by the move to remote working, opened the doors to new cybersecurity vulnerabilities, leading over 40% of Middle East CEOs in PwC’s survey to rank security as a threat to growth this year. According to TBR’s Digital Transformation: Voice of the Customer Research, 26% of the surveyed respondents in Europe see regulatory compliance risk as an impediment to successful digital transformations. In the same study, 50% of the respondents overall said the most critical attribute for vendor selection remained working knowledge of digital-related security, risk and privacy issues.

But we made it through together

Thankfully, the webcast didn’t end on the pessimistic note of threats and talent shortages. Instead, the PwC team observed that the region’s people — across all businesses and professions — had been “stress tested,” had become more adept at new ways of working, had found a new appreciation for “others’ well-being,” and were poised to build on the lessons learned and change atmosphere and, perhaps, welcome in a new Roaring ’20s.

Throwing a bit of a black cloud on that optimism, in the PwC CEO survey, the widest gap between Middle East CEOs and the global respondents occurred on the subject of “geopolitical uncertainty,” which CEOs from the Middle East saw as a far larger threat to growth. In contrast, Middle East CEOs were markedly less concerned than their global counterparts about overregulation as a hindrance to growth, perhaps pointing the way toward what TBR believes could be a path to success in the region in 2021: follow the Dubai, United Arab Emirates, promise of no new government fees until 2023 and the Omani shift toward more access for investors. Using competitive pressures within the region to continue to make the Middle East as a whole more attractive to global investment and trade will likely remain a key strategy for local CEOs and government leaders.

TBR has tracked developments in the region through special reports on Egypt and other nearby countries and IT services vendors’ investments as well as the financial and performance metrics of management consultancies published semiannually in TBR’s Management Consulting Benchmark.

Women in STEM: You can be anything and do everything

The STEM field is growing, creating tremendous opportunity for well-trained applicants. While STEM has traditionally been a male-dominated field, cultivating interest at the undergraduate level can help draw in more women who may have the necessary skills but have never considered STEM as a career path. In TBR’s monthly series Women in STEM, we discuss how female leaders have successfully pursued careers in STEM and are encouraging more female representation by passing on the lessons they’ve learned to other women who are pursuing this path.

Hi. I am Stephanie Long, a senior analyst at TBR and the author of this blog series. I, like many other women in traditionally male-dominated fields, took a nontraditional path to my current job. I earned a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s in secondary education from the University of New Hampshire, and I am a certified public school teacher for social studies in grades 5 through 12.

Though I am not currently working in a traditional school system, my passion for educating the future workforce has not slowed — but how I do that has changed. Through my job as a senior analyst, I collaborate with many brilliant men and women, in both mature and emerging markets within the data center space. As I track and notice trends in the strategies and performance of these businesses, I also notice a trend among the people I talk to: They are mostly male.

Girls can do anything boys can do despite societal pressures

I have been asked why I am championing women in STEM through my 2021 blog series — and why now, in 2021. There have been many recent societal changes that have sparked my interest in this endeavor, from the #MeToo movement to the election of the first female vice president of the United States. The reality is that our culture still promotes the falsehood that men are smarter — and as the mother of two toddlers, a daughter and a son, it irks me.

But the final push I needed to actually do something about it came in 2020 at Christmastime. My kids received playful T-shirts as a gift from a relative: My daughter’s read, “Fabulous Like Mommy,” while my son’s read, “Genius Like Dad.” Now, my husband is a biochemist, so yes, he is very smart — but why is clothing for toddlers promoting the idea that a mother’s most important quality is being fabulous? I may not be as intelligent as my biochemist husband, but there is certainly a lot more to me than being fabulous — I have many more important and impactful qualities. And while I wouldn’t call myself a genius, my mind is certainly a more appealing attribute than my fabulousness.

Words have power

The purchaser of these T-shirts simply did what most shoppers do: She saw the two versions, one for boys and one for girls, and inadvertently sent my daughter a message that she is “less than” simply because of her biologically assigned gender. How are these two traits even on the same spectrum, and why are they what society has deemed stereotypically feminine and stereotypically masculine? This is a fundamental issue that we as parents must address. We must teach our daughters that they are smart, too, and that their worth is more than skin deep. Their mind is a valuable asset that will last far longer than their looks.

As a child, I was hammered with these same gender stereotypes. I had big dreams as a little girl. I wanted to be a lawyer and later a scientist. My well-intentioned parents kept sending me the message throughout my youth that I could be anything I wanted to be but that being a lawyer or a scientist wasn’t conducive to being a good mother. (I now know that your job does not determine whether or not you are a good parent — your actions do). By the time I hit middle school, that message was cemented in my mind and I spent more time shopping with my friends at the mall to impress boys than I did on my homework.

I could be anything I wanted to be, but I couldn’t be everything I wanted to be, and therefore something had to give. For me, there was great pressure to forgo a high-brain-power career and settle for something where the hours allowed me to be home more with my future kids, and so I chose the path of a public school teacher. I pursued that path for many years, until a series of very fortunate events and a few very influential men who believed in me showed me that I could do it all and that, no, my kids wouldn’t suffer. I can work in a field that requires a lot of brain power AND be a good parent. The two are not mutually exclusive.

Practice what you preach

This all connects if you have followed me this far to TBR’s Women in STEM blog. The advice I am collecting from these female champions in STEM careers is extremely important and applicable — and it needs to be embraced before the current generation of children are old enough to know the difference. And we as their parents need to fight against the messages society continues to hammer our daughters and sons with.

But it goes even further than this. We as parents need to practice what we preach or our children will not believe us. Actions speak louder than words. But we know through research that in middle school peer influence begins to matter more than parent influence, and this influence disparity only grows with our kids through high school. So, I alone as their mother can only do so much. Society needs to support the change from within, through messaging, advice and mentorship, to uplift all women and remind us, regardless of age, that we are as capable as our male counterparts — in our careers, in our homes and in life.



mimik pioneers a unique hybrid edge cloud solution that empowers the localized autonomy of devices

The journey to capitalize on the edge is rooted in deep telco experience, coupled with a passion for breaking boundaries

A brief history lesson is important to understand how mimik came to be. It was during her tenure as CEO of Vodafone xone that mimik CEO and founder Fay Arjomandi realized the growing importance of decentralizing data analytics and processing to the edge. Through the testing of capacity improvement and utilization of network traffic, Arjomandi noted the inherent delay that occurs when traffic hits a data center, causing extensive issues such as bottlenecks as data struggles to reach the back end of the application. This was all occurring in the context of the rapid evolution of devices themselves, increasing not only in sheer volume but also in sophistication.

Arjomandi came to the realization that the existing architecture of the time was not equipped to support the ongoing shift to a hyperconnected digital world where almost every object can be smart. The future is not about vertically integrated devices that communicate in a linear fashion to the cloud or on-premises data center environments, but rather will be rooted in horizontal platforms where data can be processed and exchanged across diverse networks, platforms and systems. Created in the context of IoT but viewed with new eyes as the Internet of Systems versus “things,” mimik pioneered a new architecture in the form of a hybrid cloud edge solution that enables any computing device to act as a cloud server with the ability to communicate autonomously and locally and to make decisions across and within networks. 

Empowering local systems to make autonomous decisions is mimik’s core value 

By virtue of placing enterprise applications closer to where data is created and where insights are actionable, edge devices have always maintained some degree of autonomy. That said, there has also been an underlying perception that the cloud has an umbilical-cord-like function in that it ultimately serves as the main governing force and point at which most of the data is processed, analyzed and housed. mimik has cut the cord, recognizing that as IT becomes increasingly decentralized, localized servers and sensors are evolving beyond mere endpoints and becoming part of powerful systems that can function independently of the cloud. mimik’s Hybrid edgeCloud application development platform was born out of the realization that applications can interact locally with the power to function as clusters of communities that communicate, inform and analyze data at the source.

The edge has traditionally been viewed as a localized extension of the cloud, providing a 1+1=3 opportunity to capitalize on the inherent benefits of the cloud with localized data processing and reduced latency. In the context of an increasingly hyperconnected world, the devices and sensors that interact at the edge are taking a central role, driving more and more use cases, rather than acting just as add-ons to amplify the value of the cloud. By focusing on what devices can accomplish as part of interconnected systems at the edge, mimik, a Canada-based technology firm, has emerged with an advanced out-of-the-box solution, Hybrid edgeCloud, which enables any computing device to act as a cloud server. The multiple positive implications include lowered latency, reduced constraints on network bandwidth, heightened security and decreased cost of cloud hosting — all due to the reduction of traffic traveling to and from the cloud and the enhanced connectivity within and between systems of devices.

Women in STEM: Atos’ Isabelle Warnier on overcoming the biggest roadblock

STEM fields are growing, creating tremendous opportunity for well-trained applicants. While these areas of study have traditionally been male-dominated, cultivating interest at the undergraduate level can help draw in more women who may have the necessary skills but have never considered STEM as a career path. In TBR’s monthly series Women in STEM, we discuss how female leaders have successfully pursued careers in STEM and are encouraging more female representation by passing on the lessons they have learned to other women who are pursuing this path.

Meet Isabelle Warnier, head of Scaler, the Accelerator, and head of Industry Analyst Relations at Atos

Isabelle Warnier, head of Scaler, the Accelerator, and head of Industry Analyst Relations at Atos

Isabelle Warnier currently serves as vice president and head of startup and SME program Scaler, The Atos Accelerator, which focuses on industries, security and decarbonization. The program combines Atos’ expertise with the knowledge of industry-focused startups to coinnovate industry-specific digital solutions.

Warnier holds a master’s degree in marketing communications and brand management from CELSA Paris-Sorbonne.

Trust and empowerment from leaders can break down barriers

Many young women find excitement in STEM fields when in school but convince themselves that they should not or could not make a career out of it. “I was so embarrassed not to be an engineer working with scientists and experts, as a woman in a man’s world and not from a prestigious engineering school,” said Warnier. In January’s Women in STEM, IBM’s Jennifer Glick spoke to imposter syndrome — when one doubts one’s abilities and knowledge — among women in STEM, and Warnier echoes this, even going as far as to call it “classic among women” in the field. However, Warnier is quick to suggest ways to overcome this: “Start early convincing girls that STEM jobs are super exciting and that if you want to make something big for the world we live in, this is a wonderful place to be.”

Along Warnier’s successful and ongoing STEM journey, a common thread of leaders who trusted her abilities and empowered her to believe in herself enabled her to overcome imposter syndrome and to enact the changes she felt were needed to make positive moves in her roles in the field. Warnier emphasizes the value of mentors, either male or female, along the journey to challenge you and guide you toward success.

Men see the benefits of a diverse workforce too

Warnier, a 20-plus-year veteran of various jobs in STEM, notes, “An increasing number of men also work to create more opportunities for women, because as they work with more diverse teams, they see the benefits.” We, as women, have a lot of insights to bring to the table in STEM fields if we challenge ourselves to step outside of our comfort zones and share them.

Just go for it

STEM fields are a segment of the larger working world where there are many unknowns waiting to be discovered. Whether it’s Thomas Edison’s accidental discovery of electricity or Newton’s sudden insight about gravity while sitting under an apple tree, great thinkers in history have made breakthrough discoveries because they were willing to go for it.  When asked what advice Warnier would give a young woman considering starting a career in STEM, she said, “I would definitely say, go for it! Jump into this limitless ocean. It is refreshing, nurturing, and you will find out that you can either swim, dive or sail on mainstream or unknown routes.”

Be yourself

Perhaps the most important piece of advice that women often forget is, “Do not mimic what you think is expected from you but develop what is singular and unique in yourself,” says Warnier. Every person has unique talents and strengths they can bring to their career. Do no lose sight of what makes you you. Warnier adds, “Evidence is overwhelming from corporate boardrooms to startups: Where women have more power, organizations are more successful, [and] economies where women participate more are more successful.” We as women need to embrace our strengths when pursuing goals both in and outside of our comfort zones so we can effect positive change using our special gifts and skills, especially in STEM fields.

PwC unleashed: A professional services firm adopts Netflix-like business models

From Products to Digital on Demand and ProEdge

We reported this time last year that PwC Products completely shifted from being an old-school, white-shoe, tax- and audit-focused professional services firm from the previous age of the Big Eight to being a business solutions provider, with those “solutions” including SaaS, managed services and platforms. Now the firm has taken another large leap forward, adopting elements of business models most notably deployed by Netflix to bring its software and solutions into clients’ environments in a completely new way, while simultaneously reorienting the firm’s professionals around the skills and capabilities needed to serve their clients in a new world. We understand that assessment sounds over the top in a market already swamped by exaggerated claims around digital transformation.  

Sustained investment and committed leadership — it is that simple

PwC launched PwC Products in early 2020, as covered in our special report, in which we noted: “PwC is a business solution provider, and some of those solutions include products — tangible, defined assets that allow the firm to be, as the PwC leaders noted, ‘better, faster, and cheaper for clients.’ Some of those assets will remain within the firm, scalable but deployed only to increase speed or efficiency in certain engagements. Some assets will remain with the client, paid for in full, through licensing or by subscription. For all of the solutions, PwC’s approach will start with a business problem in mind, rather than employing a systems integrator mindset of plugging technology into a business.”

Building on PwC Products, perhaps on a timeline accelerated by the remote-working realities of the pandemic, PwC rolled out Digital on Demand and ProEdge in late 2020, bringing to clients two distinct offerings made possible by years of sustained investment in digital capabilities, including software and the firm’s own IP, as well as a leadership commitment to adjusting the firm’s business model to fully accommodate subscription-based pricing and software-centric engagement models. In TBR’s view, the first element — investing in technology — does not differentiate PwC from peers, except perhaps in the firm’s early start in some areas and sustained commitment to an organizing framework. The second element — leadership and adjusting the business model — marks a critical difference for PwC. Even though peers have made some similar changes, PwC has aggressively gone all-in and adopted multiple changes to its business models.

Digital on Demand: All the apps you want for one low monthly price (Netflix model 1)

In essence, Digital on Demand is PwC’s version of Apple’s (Nasdaq: AAPL) App Store, but with a client experience more akin to Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX), where every option is available immediately without separate pricing or technical concerns. Similar to how everyone can watch their Netflix shows on their own device, PwC’s Digital on Demand solutions can be downloaded into the client environment, where they can be configured.

Led by PwC Labs Partner Michelle Wilkes, from the firm’s Consulting practice, and US Automation Leader Jeff Lower, from Tax, Digital on Demand belongs within the larger PwC Labs practice and carries through a relatively basic premise: Take the automation PwC incorporated internally, curate the solutions and refine the automations, and then make them available for PwC’s clients to deploy into their own environments. According to Wilkes, PwC built the foundational 6,500 automations across its own back office and for client engagement and saved 8.6 million hours of staff time across the firm.

Starting with finance functions, where PwC has legacy strengths and strong brand permission, the firm has partnered with Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT), UiPath, Alteryx (NYSE: AYX) and others to provide clients a menu of downloadable automations (access to cloud-based AI models via information extraction using natural language processing and machine learning), deemed by PwC’s Wilkes as “proven and relevant” because the automations had been designed by people who are deeply familiar with the finance functions and have experience in the finance environment. In short, Digital on Demand is readily deployable software built by finance process people for finance process people. Wilkes said the firm has 393 downloadable automations today, with plans to reach 500 by May 1.

On Feb. 18 and 19, 2021, TBR spoke with several PwC leaders: Michelle Wilkes, partner, PwC Labs; Jeff Lower, US Automation leader; Suneet Dua, chief product officer, PwC US; Darren Lee, partner, PwC Consulting; Mike Mendola, senior associate, PwC Labs; and Maria D’Alessandro, strategy director, PwC Products. This special report includes information and analysis drawn from these discussions and looks at how much the firm has changed and where the future of consulting lies for PwC and its peers. 

5G brings massive disruption to U.S. wireless market

The competitive landscape within the U.S. wireless market is transforming rapidly as a result of the T-Mobile and Sprint merger and disruption from new players including Dish Network, Xfinity Mobile, Spectrum Mobile and Altice Mobile. Heightened competitive pressures are spurring U.S. operators to revamp their go-to-market strategies to maintain market share as the 5G era progresses.

Join Principal Analyst Chris Antlitz and Analyst Steve Vachon for an in-depth, exclusive review of TBR’s most recent U.S. Mobile Operator Benchmark, during which they will discuss the financial and go-to-market performance of leading U.S. wireless operators as well as recent key developments impacting the U.S. market.

The U.S. Mobile Operator Benchmark details and compares the initiatives of the largest U.S. operators, including financial performance, go-to-market initiatives and resource management strategies. Covered operators in the benchmark include AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Altice Mobile, Dish Network, Spectrum Mobile and Xfinity Mobile.

Don’t miss:

  • How Tier 1 U.S. operators compare in 5G development
  • How the T-Mobile and Sprint merger is impacting the U.S. wireless market
  • How emerging players will disrupt the U.S. wireless landscape

Mark your calendars for Wednesday, June 30, 2021, at 1 p.m. EDT,
and REGISTER to reserve your space.

How leading vendors performed in the private cellular networks market in 2020

Private cellular networks, particularly LTE and 5G, have become a key growth area within the ICT ecosystem. Enterprises are investing in private cellular networks as part of their broader digital transformations and a broad array of vendors are capitalizing on opportunities in this space.

Join Principal Analyst Chris Antlitz for an in-depth, exclusive review of TBR’s first edition of its Private Cellular Networks Vendor Benchmark, during which will discuss the revenue performance of leading vendors that sell private cellular network solutions. Chris will also provide commentary on smaller but faster-growing vendors.

TBR’s Private Cellular Networks Vendor Benchmark tracks the revenue key vendors obtain from the sale of LTE- and 5G-related infrastructure (including RAN, core, transport and services provided for that infrastructure) to governments and enterprises, including large, medium and small non-CSP (telco, cableco, webscale) businesses. The benchmark ranks key vendors in the private cellular networks space by overall revenue and by segment. Global market share and regional data and analysis are also provided.

Don’t miss:

  • Which vendors are leading the private cellular networks market from a revenue perspective
  • Which vendors are growing the fastest and why
  • Which regions and verticals drove the bulk of private cellular networks investment in 2020

Mark your calendars for Wednesday, May 26, 2021, at 1 p.m. EDT,
and REGISTER to reserve your space.

Capgemini’s CornerShop: Redefining physical retail shopping in the post-pandemic environment

Evolving the customer experience

In February Capgemini, in partnership with connected experience platform SharpEnd and global media platform The Drum announced the CornerShop. Physically located in London, the CornerShop is a retail innovation store designed to transform shopping and customer engagement post-pandemic. CornerShop works as a live testing environment for brands, retailers and shoppers to reimagine the shopping experience through new technologies.

Utilizing the management consulting and digital design capabilities of Capgemini Invent and insights from research and data analysis, Capgemini will enable retailers and brands to evolve the customer experience, improve in-store operations and help customers rediscover in-person shopping with new engagement options in physical stores. TBR sees CornerShop as closely aligned with Capgemini’s Inventive Shopping offering, which addresses customer-related challenges such as new ways to engage, shop and build loyalty.

Partnering for post-pandemic retail

Overall, Capgemini utilizes advisory and digital design capabilities — some of which came through acquisitions, such as that of Idean and Lyons Consulting Group in 2017 and LiquidHub in 2018 — and Salesforce Commerce Cloud capabilities to win deals.

Last November Capgemini announced the completion of a personalized and data-driven e-commerce initiative for the U.S. website of Italy-based sportswear manufacturer Fila. Capgemini provided digital marketing, e-commerce, experience design, application integration and support services, improving the client’s ability to support online sales after the onset of the pandemic and closure of physical stores. The website, built on Salesforce Commerce Cloud, also uses Salesforce Service Cloud and MuleSoft to integrate the digital ecosystem. In July 2020 Capgemini completed the implementation of a new business-to-business face mask program for Gap Inc. Capgemini created a website in less than five weeks and a solution enabled by Salesforce Commerce Cloud to help Gap quickly add nonmedical cloth face masks to its online store offerings.

Expanding its industry-specific solutions by selecting priority industries for its portfolio development, such as consumer goods and retail, improves Capgemini’s ability to address pandemic-driven challenges specific to each business and industry segment. Consumer goods and retail, which accounted for 12% of revenue in 2020 and declined 0.1% year-to-year in constant currency, is on a path to recovery from the negative effects of the pandemic. Revenue in the segment declined 5.5% year-to-year in 2Q20 and 2.4% year-to-year in constant currency in 3Q20 but increased 4.3% year-to-year in 4Q20, indicating the challenges tied to store closures, supply chain interruptions and social distancing are easing up. Transforming the shopping experience through the CornerShop will help Capgemini increase activities with retail clients as they gradually ramp up sales and open physical locations as the pandemic abates.

TBR’s coverage of Capgemini includes quarterly detailed reports on the company’s financial performance and strategies related to go-to-market, resources, alliances and acquisitions. Capgemini is also covered in TBR’s quarterly IT Services Vendor Benchmark and semiannual Management Consulting Benchmark, and the company is featured frequently in our monthly Digital Transformation reports. 

The state of crowdsourcing

In February TBR virtually attended the Global Technology & Business Services Council’s Global Series: Open Talent conference and heard from leaders across the technology and crowdsourcing industries about emerging themes and trends. While it is not a new phenomenon, crowdsourcing is becoming a compelling delivery model in the IT services space as enterprises increasingly embrace remote services during the pandemic and seek out new ways to fill skills gaps, drive cost savings and accelerate engagement turnaround time. Platform-based crowdsourcing companies such as Topcoder and, which TBR heard from during the conference, are rapidly expanding their communities of technology-oriented freelancers and driving new use cases with large enterprises that would have traditionally gone to IT service vendors. In TBR’s view, vendors that are not embracing this shift stand to lose the most. At the same time, we question whether those that bring this model to market are really positioned to gain much.

Existential threat or just a piece of the puzzle?

Now more than ever, crowdsourcing and open talent models are proving to be significant disruptors in how services are delivered, and technology appears to be an area that can benefit the most from this trend. Prior to the Global Technology & Business Services Council (GT&BSC) event, our understanding was that organizations engaged with the aforementioned crowdsourcing platforms mostly around the ability to tap large pools of talent much faster and cheaper, but largely for low-value, task-oriented services. To our surprise, during the event TBR learned about use cases in which Fortune 500 companies and renowned research institutions turned to “the crowd” for sophisticated software and data services, which led to significant improvements in speed, cost and even quality. For instance, a coalition between several enterprises and academic institutions such as Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) opened up a project to the Topcoder community around the optimization of a DNA sequencing algorithm, with the goal of surpassing what had been regarded as an “impossible” threshold. Dozens of submissions crossed the threshold within 24 hours. At first glance, the use of these platforms for high-value services poses a threat to IT services vendors, but TBR notes some caveats.

White-labeling labor

It is necessary to point out that the majority of IT services vendors’ activities in the crowdsourcing space happened pre-pandemic. For example, Wipro (NYSE: WIT) made a splash in the industry when it acquired Topcoder in 2016. And in the years following this, other vendors such as DXC Technology (NYSE: DXC) and Deloitte pursued partnerships that enabled the vendors to launch crowdsourcing services by tapping into Topcoder’s labor ecosystem. First, this distorts the image of crowdsourcing platforms as competition and instead reflects a more symbiotic relationship. Second, while Wipro might be able to take a small commission on engagements done through Topcoder, it lacks a significant competitive advantage over peers that partner with it or other similar platforms.

Security and trust

Soliciting bids from unknown global technologists presents obvious risks. This model is not suited for workloads involving sensitive data and therefore is not gaining the same traction in industries such as financial services or healthcare, where data security and privacy are top concerns. IT services vendors that cater to this clientele will be much more capable of steering clients away from crowdsourcing services and commanding profitable revenues. Similarly, many firms’ value propositions revolve around the reputation of the company and its quality of services, helping them garner more trust-based relationships. Clients seeking this level of service will largely be uninterested in crowdsourcing. This concern will also put pressure on services providers that partner with crowdsourcing platforms, as well as the platforms themselves, to establish guardrails against potential leaks or security breaches, but it remains no easy task to vet millions of global freelancers.   

Bottom line

These platforms are intended to optimize costs and speed. While IT services vendors likely do not want to miss out on any opportunities to engage with potential clients, partnering with a crowdsourcing provider and delivering the cheapest possible services will limit margin growth. Instead, we see opportunities for vendors to embed this open talent model into their organizations to improve utilization and more efficiently deploy staff. We learned during the GT&BSC event, for example, that Deloitte partnered with in 2019 to develop an internal marketplace for Deloitte’s employees to join open projects within the firm and integrated the solution into the ecosystem so Deloitte could extend its pool of external resources if needed.

What the future holds

If anything has stood out during the pandemic, it is that incumbents in every industry must be prepared to quickly pivot and adjust to new and nontraditional ways of doing business. In the IT services space, TBR believes disruptions such as the gig economy and crowdsourcing pose the biggest threat to management consulting firms, where generational and technology shifts are creating instances in which enterprises may opt to collect third-party opinions and advice through these types of platforms instead of via expensive consultancies, which can be as enigmatic as unidentified, crowdsourced respondents. In general, IT services vendors that have established pathways into this type of model will benefit from bringing new logos into account ecosystems, which will provide opportunities downstream to upsell higher-value services. We anticipate crowdsourcing will continue to play a supplementary, but necessary, role in IT services as a way for companies to easily scale services at the expense of security and margins. But much like organizations’ hesitation to fully embrace the cloud for their IT ecosystems, taking a hybrid approach to “the crowd” will likely remain the preferred method for most enterprises to minimize risk while still reaping the benefits of scalability and speed that the crowdsourcing model offers.

TBR’s Professional Services practice will continue to monitor the trends outlined above and provide analysis across our syndicated vendor reports and benchmarks, notably the IT Services Vendor Benchmark and Global Delivery Benchmark. The next iterations of these two products, which synthesize TBR’s in-depth analysis and data across covered vendors, are set to publish in April.