Benchmarking alliance performance through objective data metrics

 

Benchmarking alliance performance in the technology sector requires disruption. Legacy partner program metrics are misaligned to the way end customers seek to procure technology solutions. The disruption stems from multiparty alliances where current benchmark metrics lean toward the sponsoring alliance partner rather than toward the ecosystem or the end customer.

 

Discussion Points

  • Objective data each type of ecosystem participant — platform vendor, hyperscaler, systems integrator, large enterprise software vendor and small independent software vendor — should benchmark
  • Objective data metrics emerging to monitor ecosystem performance
  • How these measurements, in the form of contractual commitments, need to be simplified to suit the ecosystem rather than the participant’s operating model

 

 

 

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Digital twins and 5G abundance: The continuation of the Atos smart cities story


Earlier this month, TBR reconnected with Albert Seubers, Atos’ global strategy director for Smart Society, to discuss developments in the smart city space broadly and Atos’ efforts specifically. TBR has examined smart cities from a variety of perspectives in recent years, including how smaller versions of cities, such as ports and arenas, could serve as test beds for the technologies and services needed to overcome the regulatory, change management and political challenges foundational to most smart city opportunities. The following reflects TBR’s discussion with Seubers as well as ongoing research around smart cities, digital transformation and Atos.

Connectivity among emerging technologies boosts hope for more smart cities

In TBR’s view, as the ecosystems around emerging technologies foster increased adoption by enterprises and create scalable use cases, municipalities can more easily understand the potential for smart city projects. The technology gets faster, cheaper, more reliable and more connected, all of which opens possibilities for more technologies.

Understanding that the exponential acceleration of connections between IoT, edge, analytics and AI, made possible through wider cloud and 5G adoption, has expanded the technological possibilities of smart city projects, Atos and other IT services can now position smart city engagements as relatively safe investments. The technology will work as expected, with the necessary connectivity sustained and the analytics providing useful information for decision making.

As TBR has previously noted, technology limitations do not hold back smart city use cases; political will and budgets do. Atos’ approach to tackling the technology challenges while managing the people — politicians, regulators, citizens — reflects this understanding and leans on Atos’ long-standing reputation for consistently delivering against the needs of clients, including municipalities, first responders and other actors within a smart city environment.


Digital twins will be the next 5G as 5G becomes ubiquitous

According to Seubers, digital twins have emerged as the latest hot topic within the smart cities ecosystem, particularly in the U.S. Seubers described digital twin-enabled solutions designed to forecast traffic models and emissions, using a digital representation of the city to include elements such as air quality and sound-related stress. Turning to 5G, Seubers commented on the disparities in adoption across the globe.

Many cities in Asia and some in the Middle East, Seubers said, have already rolled out 5G, although reliability has varied considerably. Europe broadly remains in a transitory state, with very few examples of citywide 5G coverage and usage. “It’s the promise,” Seubers said, but to date no cities have successfully deployed at scale, with data and privacy still very much country-to-country issues, further complicating any broad adoption across the region. The U.S. lags.

As for the benefits of 5G to smart city opportunities, Seubers lamented that too many municipal leaders invest in 5G rollouts and “expect change will happen,” without fully understanding the potential use cases, challenges and changes that will arise once 5G is in place and in use. That uncertainty around potential failures and fears of misspent public funds, of course, provides an opportunity for Atos.

Critically, data remains the linchpin for every smart city application. Atos’ experience with collecting, cleansing, orchestrating, analyzing and protecting data provides the vendor with the trusted expertise municipalities demand for any smart cities project. City leaders, who are confident that a smart city deployment will provide citizens with added value and not compromise citizens’ data — better government without Big Brother — will advocate for, budget for and defend their initiatives while looking to their smart city vendors to provide those assurances. The technology, all parties will agree, is not the challenge — it is the data and the people.

Tackling bite-sized projects to avoid having too many cooks

Addressing the second half of the smart cities challenge — the people — Seubers said Atos has learned through experience that having too many decision makers unnecessarily complicates priorities, timelines and adoption. Change management becomes unruly and even the technology ecosystem can become overburdened with niche players supported, politically, by a variety of municipal stakeholders.

Atos’ proven approach centers on specific departments within a city, delivering results on a small scale and demonstrating value to the wider municipality. One key to success, according to Seubers and common to nearly every digital transformation effort: executive-level commitment. Helping gain leadership buy-in, Seubers explained Atos has been using its global network of Business Technology & Innovation Centers (BTICs) for “inspiration sessions” to help municipal leaders think beyond a single problem and beyond a single technology solution. Due to travel restrictions in recent years, the BTIC Studio network has proven to be a great asset for driving online inspiration sessions, working with different BTICs in parallel during customer meetings.

As an example, he cited a session in Atos’ Vienna BTIC in which five major Polish municipalities will discuss a range of smart city projects, examining both proven use cases around Europe and solutions particularly well suited to Poland, including data privacy laws, technology infrastructure, and federal and municipal funding structures.

In TBR’s view, Atos’ strategy depends on determining where small-scale projects can be launched, delivering quick success and then expanding methodically throughout a municipality’s broader smart city landscape. This creates minimal initial budgetary commitments, provides leaders time to gain citizen buy-in and allows Atos the flexibility in proposing specific solutions, in contrast to a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all-cities, technology-first approach. Atos also recognizes that smart cities can only succeed when the human components — leaders, technology professionals and citizens — benefit in meaningful and measurable ways.

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Next for Atos: Expanding where the opportunities are, delivering technology

If abundant 5G and advances around digital twin technology spark a resurgence in smart cities, TBR anticipates Atos will continue to turn inspiration sessions into small-scale implementations across Europe and in some select cities outside the vendor’s home region. [Tweet this!]

Asian and Middle Eastern municipalities may become an increasingly lucrative market as well, as the combination of rapid 5G deployment, typically fewer decision makers, and newer technology infrastructure in those regions matches well with Atos’ capabilities and approach. Expanding in APAC through smart cities could be a faster route to growth for Atos than options elsewhere outside Europe. In addition, TBR anticipates Atos will increasingly conflate sustainability and smart cities offerings, building on the core value proposition that smart cities can be part of a municipality’s and country’s decarbonization strategy.

One final note: Atos is unabashedly a science-driven company among IT services peers that often emphasize consulting, outsourcing or both. As much as smart city projects depend on advising leaders and managing stakeholders, citizens will always want to know one thing for certain: Does the technology work? On this point, Atos’ track record of getting the science, technology and data right gives the vendor a quietly strong market position should a spike in smart cities demand emerge in the near term.

Not just rocket science: Hypersonic missiles and the U.S.


Hiccups in hitting hypersonic speeds

U.S. interest in hypersonic missiles, projectiles capable of maneuvering midflight while maintaining a minimum speed of Mach 5, has surged over the last few years. The Department of Defense’s (DOD) budget for hypersonic research grew 18.8% year-to-year from $3.2 billion in FY21 to $3.8 billion in FY22. Now, the proposed FY23 budget for this research is set to expand by 23.7% year-to-year and reach $4.7 billion.

 

TBR analysts anticipate the final budget will ultimately be even larger after the Senate Armed Services Committee requested in June that over $44 billion be added to the initially proposed $773 billion defense budget for FY23. [Tweet this!] Yet despite further funds being rapidly reallocated to support its hypersonic programs, the U.S. has been hampered by multiple troubling and public setbacks. In October 2021 the booster stack on the Conventional Prompt Strike prototype failed during a launch, and as a result, the hypersonic glide vehicle test was called off.

 

In November 2021 the U.S. Space Force’s vice chief of space operations, Gen. David D. Thompson, raised concerns that the U.S. was falling behind Russia and China in developing hypersonic technologies. In February 2022 a meeting was called between U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and representatives from prominent defense contractors including Northrop Grumman (NYSE: NOC), Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) and Raytheon Technologies (NYSE: RTX) over the need to enhance and expedite the development of hypersonic technologies going forward. The group also discussed what has been disrupting the progress of their respective hypersonics projects. Limited usage of test sites, supply chain pressures and unsatisfactory funds were cited as persistent, underlying issues.

Grab your free copy of TBR’s Top 3 Predictions for Federal IT Services in 2022

 

On June 29, the U.S. hypersonics program incurred another setback with its Conventional Prompt Strike prototype. The Common Hypersonic Glide Body (C-HGB) trial was deemed a failure by the DOD after an “an anomaly occurred following ignition of the test asset,” according to Lt. Cmdr. Tim Gorman of the U.S. Navy.

 

While recent reports indicate that the U.S. Navy still expects the C-HGB will be ready to be fit onto a Zumwalt-class destroyer in 2025 before being integrated with a Virginia-class submarine in 2028, there is uncertainty about whether speeding up hypersonic weapons development could result in even more issues when working with these complex designs. This is especially true if access to testing facilities remains constrained, limiting the “test often, fail fast and learn” methodology associated with the nation’s hypersonic programs.

 

On top of trying to run tests more often and with fewer disruptions, the Pentagon has struggled to find cost-effective ways to develop hypersonic weapons. As Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Heidi Shyu stated in October 2021, “We need to figure out how to drive towards more affordable hypersonics.” Yet the budget requests to study hypersonics have only trended upward. The Pentagon’s own estimates suggest the U.S. Air Force’s hypersonic missiles will cost up to $106 million apiece, causing concern about the feasibility of amassing an arsenal of these weapons over the next decade.

Recent progress in next-generation weapons development

While frustrations have been increasingly mounting about the state of the nation’s hypersonic weapons programs, some prolific U.S. initiatives have been making notable progress.

 

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC) initiative led to Raytheon Missiles & Defense allying with Northrop Grumman to compete against a team composed of Lockheed Martin and Aerojet Rocketdyne (NYSE: AJRD).

 

In late September 2021 the Raytheon Missiles & Defense and Northrop Grumman team successfully trial-launched their scramjet HAWC from an aircraft, ensuring the missile maintained a speed of over Mach 5, approximately six months before Lockheed Martin and Aerojet Rocketdyne were able to conduct their own free-flight test. Now with the HAWC program’s flight-test goals achieved, DARPA is taking the next step by launching MoHAWC. This new initiative will see the two teams further mature their respective designs, including advancing their scramjet propulsion systems.

 

Beyond HAWC and MoHAWC, the U.S. government has been investing in several other offensive hypersonic weapons programs. The Operational Fires (OpFires) and Tactical Boost Glide (TBG) initiatives are a couple, but recently the Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) program made notable progress. After a series of setbacks, Lockheed Martin’s AGM-183A ARRW completed its booster experiments following another successful trial on July 12, meaning that all-up-round testing will take place during 2H22.

Responding to threats faster than the speed of sound

In its FY23 budget request, the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) asked for $225 million to support its hypersonic defense programs, including its Glide Phase Interceptor (GPI), a solution meant to strike a hostile hypersonic missile during its glide phase.

 

Raytheon Missiles & Defense, Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin were awarded contracts in November 2021 to develop a GPI prototype concept design. In June the MDA moved on from Lockheed Martin for this project, compounding the contractor’s troubles after the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) blocked its acquisition of Aerojet Rocketdyne. The MDA has since awarded approximately $41.4 million to Northrop Grumman and $41.5 million to Raytheon Missiles & Defense to develop their own prototypes.

 

Northrop Grumman’s GPI design is meant to leverage the capabilities of the Hypersonic and Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor (HBTSS). This constellation of low-Earth orbit satellites would detect when a hypersonic or ballistic missile was fired, then relay relevant data to the GPI to assist with destroying the incoming threat. The contractor is competing to develop the HBTSS as well as the GPI, hoping to secure both contracts. Northrop Grumman and L3Harris Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LHX) are set to launch their respective HBTSS prototypes around 2Q23, which will be monitored for a period of at least six months before any final decision is made.

GAO concerns

Both the GPI and HBTSS programs came under scrutiny by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) in June, with the agency recommending the DOD play a bigger role in their development. The GAO highlighted that the MDA is not actively working on the HBTSS initiative in conjunction with the DOD’s Space Force and Space Development Agency, limiting its potential positives. The GAO also indicated that the MDA was not seeking an independent technological risk assessment or independent cost estimate for the GPI.

Superpowers showcasing their recent successes

China and Russia have been increasingly flexing their newfound hypersonic capabilities on the world stage over the last year, leading to fears that the U.S. hypersonics program is underperforming.

Intelligence reports stipulate that the “routine spacecraft experiment” China claimed it conducted during August 2021 was a nuclear-capable long-range hypersonic missile that had been fired into space, rounded the globe and struck a deliberate target.

 

With China aiming to have a stockpile of 1,000 nuclear warheads by 2030, the nation has gained a new invaluable asset. On July 4, China showcased its Feitian-1 hypersonic missile. Reports indicate this projectile does not require as strong of an initial booster as previous hypersonic weapons. It features a lightweight waverider design with an adaptable kerosene combined-cycle rocket/ramjet engine, enabling it to either deliver a heavier payload or hold additional fuel.

 

Russia revealed in October 2021 that the nation successfully completed its first Tsirkon hypersonic cruise missile launch from a submarine, giving Russian submarines the capacity to strike targets 660 miles away at Mach 9 while remaining underwater. The nation has also been actively demonstrating the capabilities of its hypersonic arsenal in the Ukraine, utilizing Kinzhal hypersonic air-launched ballistic missiles to wreak havoc on targets.

 

Dubbed the Satan-2, Russia’s RS-28 Sarmat nuclear hypersonic missile entered production in June following a successful test in April. The 220-ton, 116-foot-long intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) has a range calculated to be between 6,200 and 11,180 miles while being able to carry 15 light or 10 heavy Multiple Independently Targetable Re-Entry Vehicles (MIRVs) containing warheads to decimate multiple targets in a single launch. The RS-28 Sarmat ICBM is expected to undergo further tests in July before serial production begins.

What is next?

As the U.S. looks to remain competitive with China and Russia and expand its capabilities, more resources will be set aside to mature the U.S.’ hypersonic weapon as well as defense efforts at an expedited rate. Human-operated directed energy (DE) weapons, which could be used to defend against incoming threats, including hypersonic missiles and hypersonic glide vehicles, are an option the DOD has expressed interest in.

 

To function at their desired level, these devices will need AI system support to assist with targeting incoming threats, minimizing collateral damage and helping warfighters get comfortable with weaponry faster. TBR anticipates that Booz Allen Hamilton (NYSE: BAH) will be one of the leaders in getting this emerging battlefield technology to seamlessly function with AI programs that will receive data from a network of sensors. [Tweet this!] Inevitably these programs will become integral assets within the DOD’s Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) vision, giving U.S. armed forces an edge on the ever-evolving battlefield.

 

While income from hypersonic programs will not comprise the bulk of contractors’ profits, they will propel meaningful revenue growth. As a result, Alliances with peers capable of expanding a contractor’s reach will be crucial. For example, in January 2022 Booz Allen Hamilton formed a partnership with Stratolaunch to study hypersonic aerospace systems to bring more consistent and less expensive hypersonic flight environments to the DOD and others looking to conduct experiments.

 

Developing technology that can support the hypersonic programs will also be a way to generate new revenue streams, with Leidos’ (NYSE: LDOS) Dynetics winning a $478.6 million contract in November 2021 to design thermal protection solutions for long-range, surface-to-surface hypersonic weapons (LRHW).

 

Contractors will continue to position themselves to support the DOD’s vision that it will have a hypersonic missile battery by FY23, DDG 1000 ships fitted with hypersonic weapons by FY25 and a hypersonic cruise missile by FY27, yet they will also keep an eye on international interest. Analysts believe the global hypersonic technology market in 2020 was worth $4.98 billion. By 2030, they forecast it will have reached $12.2 billion and expanded at a CAGR of between 9.5% and 10%. Contractors will undoubtedly pitch their solutions to clients beyond U.S. shores in the future as global defense spending continues to ramp up.

Automatic for the people: PwC’s surprising tool in the battle to attain and retain talent

Robotic process automation and citizen-led strategies may upend talent management for the better

Every consultancy and IT services vendor — along with many of their clients — faces challenges recruiting and retaining people. PwC may have found a surprising tool in the war for talent and battle against attrition: automation. Seriously. Combined with analytics and deployed with intensive change management, intelligent automation may be one of PwC’s key methods for helping the firm and its clients attract and keep talent. [Tweet this!]

 

In late June, TBR met with Kevin Kroen and Kevin Schwartz, both PwC partners and leaders in the firm’s Intelligent Automation practice. The following reflects that discussion as well as TBR’s previous reporting on and ongoing analysis of PwC, particularly PwC Products.


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Rethinking automation: Citizen-led, advanced and ubiquitous

Kroen began the discussion by explaining that in the early and mid-2010s, PwC tried to build a full automation practice as a premium brand in a nonpremium business. The firm’s consulting around automation gained some traction, but clients were frequently reluctant to pay for substantial automation consulting engagements. In addition, PwC consistently came in as an expensive choice for implementation, particularly against India-centric IT services vendors.

 

When PwC assessed the market, a diverse set of competitors appeared to be delivering subpar value to clients. In many cases, automation software vendors and systems integrators (SIs) crammed technology solutions into business processes without a good fit. Clients failed to engage in the strategic thinking about their automation needs and goals prior to buying an automation solution.

 

Rather than being part of a larger technology or digital transformation strategy, automation was “single-threaded” and had minimal adoption. Most damaging to overall client value, the SIs and automation software vendors ignored the necessary change management.

 

So, in 2019 PwC did a rethink and came up with three key components to a new intelligent automation offering: citizen-led, advanced and fully wrapped into all of PwC’s existing practices. As described by Kroen, citizen-led imagines enterprise professionals outside of IT being trained for and prepared to use automation, embracing the tools, and becoming users and even innovators. For PwC, launching the Digital Fitness app in November 2017 started the firm on its journey to citizen-led digital upskilling and, nearly five years later, the firm’s own success has become a use case it brings to the market: It worked for us; it can work for you too. (For a detailed description of PwC’s citizen-led approach, click here.)

 

The second component, broader and more advanced automation, emerged from the realization that the right automation tool kit — developed with PwC Alliances — had become table stakes across the market and PwC needed to build peripheral capabilities that allowed clients to apply automation solutions to their most challenging problems, not just simple processes.

 

According to PwC, the firm’s technology investments and alliances allowed it to deliver on the promise of seamless, intelligent, advanced automation. And lastly, PwC pivoted from selling automation as a stand-alone service to wrapping automation into the firm’s practices and offerings, including tax, audit, risk and consulting.

 

While this was not an overnight change — business model and cultural shifts never are — Schwartz said some practices embraced automation more quickly than others and, overall, PwC had substantially transitioned to bringing automation to clients through all practices. For example, PwC partners leading the Digital Value Creation offering within Fit for Growth now include automation in their proposals, fully baking the tools and value propositions into the offering’s go-to-market approach.

Embracing the employee experience of working with, not being replaced by, automation

Kroen stepped back from discussing the specifics of PwC’s automation practice today to describe automation’s likely evolution, saying that relatively soon the low-hanging fruit would be consumed and automation would become part of innovation, helping enterprises disrupt themselves and change faster.

 

According to Kroen, the “end state will be digitally native” employees who use automation to grow the business, not simply to reduce costs by streamlining processes. From cost-cutting to growth through — and this is where PwC may be unlocking a tool in talent management — an improved employee experience. PwC’s use of automation, for itself and its clients, revolves around people, not tools.

 

If enterprises embrace change management as critical to automation adoption, upskilled employees will not have to worry about losing their jobs to automation but instead will use intelligent tools to work faster and spend less time on repetitive tasks and can graduate from finding ways to cut costs to helping the enterprise grow. In the war for talent and the battle against attrition, automation becomes part of the solution. [Tweet this!]

 

For example, in TBR’s Spring 2022 Global Delivery Benchmark, we noted the impact automation could have in overcoming the talent obstacles emerging from the war in Ukraine: “In addition to employee attrition, which remains the most immediate threat to vendors’ performance and business models, the ongoing war in Ukraine is further disrupting vendors’ resource management strategies.

 

While so far there has been a minimal impact on vendors’ delivery models, the potential for the conflict to expand outside Ukraine’s borders keeps vendors on edge and going back to the drawing board when it comes to their business continuity plans.

 

TBR sees two immediate solutions to the challenge: diversify global footprints beyond traditional delivery hubs such as India, and ramp up automation in service delivery … we believe ramping up automation will allow vendors to decrease their reliance on India as a global delivery hub and possibly provide them with the necessary solution to combat the potential development of new clusters of state economies.”

 

As a firm-related example, Schwartz said newly hired tax and audit professionals at PwC were being trained on automation tools using the support of the firm’s Digital Labs professionals and the ProEdge learning platform. With clients, PwC partners have been able to demonstrate that the firm helped its own professionals build new skills and become better at and more engaged in their jobs, which makes work more enjoyable and challenging in a positive way.

 

Schwartz indicated that PwC understands, through its own internal experience and working with clients on automation, that upskilling an entire workforce is not the goal for any client. Instead, Schwartz said, the firm focuses on promoting the idea of “acumen and awareness for all” and training 20% to 30% of its employees to become power users. ProEdge, which TBR reported on previously, has become an important piece of PwC’s value proposition around automation and a citizen-led approach.

 

Kroen noted that PwC initially expected ProEdge would be a “transformative solution” impacting the professional development of the firm’s employees as well as a business model change as PwC embraced being a software vendor. ProEdge was initially going to be sold as a premier software offering, but in reality, consulting engagements around ProEdge have grown faster and more substantially than expected.

 

Clients understand the value of citizen-led innovation and expect PwC to provide the guidance and assistance needed to deploy ProEdge to its full extent. Kroen acknowledged the citizen-led approach remains a relatively new concept in the market and is not fully embraced by every industry or enterprise, which makes the prebuilt ProEdge solution, with proven outcomes based on PwC’s internal use, an excellent tool for selling the citizen-led concept, both internally and externally.

Who knew RPA could be HR’s best friend?

TBR did not anticipate coming away from a PwC automation briefing wondering if robotic process automation (RPA) — the dreaded job-killing RPA — held a secret to success in combating talent challenges, one of the most frequently discussed topics across IT services and management consulting.

 

While the discussion occasionally veered into technology details and PwC’s insights into pricing, the competitive landscape and internal challenges, TBR kept returning to the effect a strategic, citizen-led and change management-embracing approach to automation could have on talent across an enterprise. Upskilled and empowered employees will contribute to cost-cutting by being more effective, revenue growth by engaging in innovation, and overall operational efficiency by staying longer.

 

If PwC can combine this approach to automation with the firm’s overall approach to employee experience (see the upcoming special report on PwC My+), it may begin to separate itself from peers with respect to recruiting and retaining while simultaneously bringing added value to automation initiatives — and talent initiatives — at clients.

 

In the last few years, TBR has written extensively about both PwC and automation, including in the following special reports:

 

 

 

Choose your own adventure: PwC aims to remake the employee experience with My+ strategy


PwC’s My+ may revolutionize professional services talent management

If PwC’s plans pay off, in a few years every professional at the U.S. firm will have choice in how they work, determining for themselves what they do, where they do it, how much time they do it, whether they travel for work, and what benefits meet their needs. This choose-your-own-adventure approach to talent management, which PwC calls My+, could completely alter the way Big Four firms and other professional services vendors recruit, retain and manage their talent.

 

In the current market, with a war for talent and organizations competing for the same people, PwC could be at the leading edge of infusing analytics into pandemic-driven employee experience lessons and building a leading talent development program.


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How The New Equation helped bring PwC to My+

In mid-June, TBR spoke with J.C. Lapierre, PwC’s U.S. chief strategy and communications officer, to better understand PwC’s My+, including how the initiative fits within the firm’s The New Equation strategy and framework and what the firm’s near-term expectations for the initiative are. The following reflects that discussion, separate TBR discussions with PwC professionals, and TBR’s ongoing research around PwC, management consulting, and the broader IT services space.

 

Lapierre started with an update on PwC’s The New Equation, roughly a year after launch, and outlined the five basic “chapters”: (1) trust and sustained outcomes, (2) investments in capabilities, (3) simplification and making PwC easier to work with, (4) the people experience, and (5) purpose and community.

 

TBR noted that multiple discussions with PwC professionals and the firm’s clients — inside and outside the U.S. — revealed that the firm’s emphasis on trust, as part of both the business strategy (Chapter 1) and the Trust Leadership Institute (integral to Chapter 5), resonated positively and provided professionals, stakeholders, and clients with a sense of the firm’s mission and direction. Regarding Chapter 3, Lapierre said clients had told her, “We are seeing a different PwC show up,” indicating internal efforts around removing friction and bringing a new way of teaming to every client had begun to show results.

 

To explain PwC’s My+ approach, Lapierre described an imaginary PwC professional (the heart of Chapter 4), making the following choices: What type of work do I want to do, and with what kinds of clients and engagements? Where do I want to work, and how much of my time will be in the office or remote? How much do I want to travel for work? How many hours per week do I want to work? And what benefits matter most to me, aside from compensation?

 

Once the employee makes his or her choices, the firm responds with an offer: “Here is the compensation, and this is the career path.” Lapierre believes this approach allows employees to feel they have a choice in what their PwC experience will be — an employee can “cultivate and curate the career” they want while being part of a community.

 

A core component of My+ is development and how PwC will be a “leading developer of talent,” enabling employees to succeed elsewhere if they choose to leave the firm. Lapierre recognized this kind of radical change requires cultural shifts within PwC, technology enablement, and a commitment by leadership to evolve the program and the firm over the next three years. In TBR’s view, should this vision become a reality, PwC will have radically transformed itself and the professional services space.

Shifting the traditional work culture by supporting well-being

Underpinning PwC’s My+ strategy, according to Lapierre, are four pillars: Well-being, Total Rewards, Development, and Always a PwCer. After noting that the U.S. firm had already announced it would be shutting down its operations for a second week each year to allow employees to recharge, Lapierre said the efforts around well-being would include “protected time,” in which an employee’s bosses and peers would be notified that the employee would not be available.

 

The technology aspect of this initiative would include prompts before taking protected time and analytics around employees’ actual behavior. Further, by introducing “upward feedback” and emphasizing across the entire firm the importance of protected time for promoting well-being, Lapierre believes individuals will be both empowered and held accountable.

 

In TBR’s view, professional services firms — and most notably the Big Four firms — struggle with balancing client demands and partners’ expectations with employees’ need for time away from work. Some firms’ partners develop professionals with 70-plus-hour workweeks and expect the same from new hires. Shifting this culture and enabling employees’ protected time stays the employee’s own would be a significant change and, in TBR’s view, may be necessary to retain talent coming into the workforce post-pandemic.

 

With Total Rewards, the firm intends to enhance benefits, including providing additional resources around mental health, and continue offering competitive compensation. Always a PwCer reflects the firm’s understanding that cultivating its alumni network can benefit current employees by demonstrating possibilities beyond PwC. In a circular approach to fostering sustained relationships, PwC will offer alumni continued access to professional and career development tools. For both these pillars, TBR believes PwC has incorporated lessons learned from managing professionals through the pandemic, including the need to expand the firm’s understanding of employees’ needs beyond standard expectations.

The carrots of professional development and the need for accountability

To cultivate “top talent,” as Lapierre described PwC’s professionals, the firm’s approach to the Development pillar will include master classes demonstrating “leadership in action.” Lapierre said the entire firm would participate, making a comparison to a TED talk-like, at scale, but also customized to PwC. In addition, the firm’s training and professional development initiatives will focus on “topical skills — what’s needed today” and will include recommended training curricula depending on the professional’s career path.

 

All four My+ pillars, Lapierre noted, will be “very personalized, tech-enabled,” and fully integrated across the entire firm. Understanding that the firm currently stands at the start of an expected three-year journey to the choices scenario described above, Lapierre said PwC will enlist around 1,000 current employees starting this fall to be “My+ Activators,” essentially evangelists for adoption and change.

 

When TBR questioned whether experienced PwC partners and longtime employees would welcome a new way of working, Lapierre said the firm believed in “leading with carrots” and giving all employees the necessary support to make changes. And the firm’s leadership believes that after a certain amount of time — and carrots — it is then about accountability.

When you make an empowered choice, you own it

Accountability might be the key to unlocking a successful choose-your-own-adventure career path. If this initiative works, in three years PwC employees will be empowered to choose not only what they work on but also how, where, when and how long they work while also being held accountable — to themselves and to the firm — for their choices. If this works, PwC will also have rewritten what work culture can look like at a Big Four firm and will, by example and by taking away top talent, force peers and competitors to change as well.

 

In TBR’s view, PwC should be able to pull this off. PwC Products marked a radical departure from traditional consulting and professional services while also evolving almost naturally from leadership, technology and business model decisions the firm had been making for years. The New Equation set a well-defined course for change with the North Star — trust — deeply rooted in the firm’s traditional culture and value proposition. The technology underpinnings for My+, including firmwide administrative tools and analytics, have been in place, tested and refined, for at least five years. And the talent — the professionals staffing services firms — are ready for change while expecting more from their employers: more flexibility, more benefits and more choices.

 

In all, PwC may have picked the right time to choose its own HR adventure.

 

Atos’ sustainability play relies on ecosystems, science and leading by example


In mid-May, TBR met with senior leaders from Atos to discuss sustainability and Atos’ role as an ecosystem orchestrator, a services vendor and a role model for decarbonization. Jason Warren, VP head of Atos’ NetZero Transformation portfolio, and Miriam Hanckmann, head of Atos’ Digital Net Zero Portfolio, walked through a detailed presentation, including alliance partnerships, case studies and Atos’ overall strategy around sustainability. The following reflects both that discussion and TBR’s ongoing analysis of Atos.

3 characteristics of Atos’ approach may not be unique, but the combination is

Atos’ Warren and Hanckmann highlighted characteristics of their company’s approach to sustainability, which collectively may separate Atos from peers, even if other IT services vendors can claim one or two similar characteristics.


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First, Atos knows it must work within an ecosystem and cannot provide services or advance sustainability goals alone, an approach that reflects the company’s overall ethos of addressing climate change. Second, even with that understanding, Atos has become practiced at being customer zero, demonstrating the value of the company’s sustainability efforts as blueprints for others. Lastly, and perhaps truly unique among peers, Atos relies on and boasts of a science-based approach that resonates with CIOs and other enterprise decision makers responsible for technology and sustainability. Atos leads with science, not just good ideas.

 

While these characteristics potentially separate Atos, some of the company’s offerings could be replicated by firms better positioned to deliver value around government, risk and compliance, particularly the Big Four. In addition, Atos’ sustainability engagements to date have been heavily weighted toward Europe, which may limit the company’s global appeal and ability to deliver to clients worldwide. Even with these cautions, TBR’s overall assessment remains that Atos has built substantial credibility, experience and expertise around sustainability that should keep it among the leaders in the space, even in the event of a company split.

Building an ecosystem sometimes requires establishing a star for the system to revolve around

Within the consulting and IT services space, many vendors claim to possess end-to-end capabilities, a description only applicable when the vendor defines the ends of the spectrum. In reality, every client engagement includes ecosystem partners as every consulting or IT services business problem cuts across more technologies and business challenges than any single vendor can handle.

 

Sustainability takes that reality and stretches it beyond imagination. Among an enterprise’s strategies, the operations and responsibilities potentially implicated in meeting sustainability goals include — at the bare minimum — fleet and real estate management, procurement, supply chain, on-premises and cloud computing, emissions, and employee business travel. If no single IT services vendor or consultancy can address an enterprise’s full range of sustainability needs, partnering across a well-curated and constantly tended ecosystem becomes essential. On this, Atos may stand apart from peers.

 

During the discussion with Atos’ leaders, Hanckmann described the 330+-person EcoAct consultancy, acquired by Atos in 2020, as being staffed primarily with “climate PhDs.” She added that Atos’ technology capabilities, combined with EcoAct’s consultants, would help the combined companies’ clients use “digital to accelerate advisory … measuring emissions, gathering data, accelerating consultancy solutions.” Hanckmann also noted that the Atos-EcoAct combination creates a “green network for cultural alignment, learning from each other what digital and climate mean and how they interact, so clients get the full spectrum and maturity of conversations.”

 

In TBR’s view, Atos could potentially leverage its independence from traditional governance, risk and compliance work as added value to enterprises looking to ensure financial performance metrics are not unduly influencing sustainability metrics.

 

The last 24 months have been marked by an uptick in large consultancies and IT services vendors acquiring sustainability or decarbonization boutiques, so what makes EcoAct special is the ecosystem Atos folded it into, one that includes Atos’ long-standing relationships with Siemens, which is also one of Atos’ key accounts, and Johnson Controls, as well as EcoAct’s role in the Atos Climate Innovation and Knowledge Center (CLICK).

 

The special client relationships give Atos deep insight into sustainability challenges facing manufacturing companies, including, as described by Warren, “how to integrate products and provide real-time data.” Warren added, “Tech partners like Johnson Controls develop and deploy building management systems,” which Atos then aligns with hyperscalers and industry consortia to create a full package of data, analytics and decision making around decarbonization. Atos orchestrates others’ efforts to bring clearly defined value to shared clients. Within the CLICK, EcoAct consultants works with “academic, institutional, public, and private partners” to “develop methodologies, analytics tools, tap key areas of expertise, and support customers … driving standardization and normalization in reports and publications,” according to Warren.

 

While Atos’ ecosystem strategy may not be unique among IT services vendors, the company’s emphasis on partnering across a wide spectrum of sustainability stakeholders and actors, rather than touting stand-alone capabilities and offerings, demonstrates a maturity in thinking about decarbonization, reflecting Atos’ relatively long-standing commitment to climate change efforts.


‘Show me what you did, don’t tell me what you know’

The customer-zero approach — selling to clients based on strategies, initiatives and technology-based solutions deployed by the vendor within its own operations — has been widely adopted in recent years, becoming a resonant use case, when applicable. In TBR’s experience, Atos has rarely presented itself as customer zero, but with sustainability the vendor has been showing its own standards to clients and the internal lessons learned on adoption, measurement and change management. Clients, according to Warren, have been interested in not only the solutions but also what Atos did with its e-car fleet, remanufactured laptops and even its branding around carbon reduction.

 

Additionally, Atos built a carbon data platform internally, which the vendor now offers to clients as a tool, branded as MyCO2Compass, within a sustainability engagement or as a single offering within a subscription base. Perhaps the best summation of Atos’ approach to selling its own record as a means of selling its services comes from the vendor’s list of company credentials, which begins with: “Net zero is key to Atos’ raison d’être.”

 

According to TBR’s March 2022 Digital Transformation: Cross-Vendor Analysis:

 

“As most enterprises consider sustainability to be part of broader DT programs rather than stand-alone initiatives, it is not surprising that buyers rank working knowledge of sustainability services-related compliance risk and privacy issues as the most critical attribute for vendor selection as they want to minimize business disruption.

 

“Vendors’ market awareness backed by ongoing industry knowledge and investments in their own sustainability programs also rank among the most critical attributes, as vendors that can demonstrate business outcomes through industry-aligned use cases typically alleviate buyer concerns around new investments.

 

“Becoming customer zero is a well-known approach, particularly around sustainability, as it can accelerate vendors’ opportunities in the space and supports them in two ways: first, as a PR vehicle and second, in building the necessary use case for conducting workshops. Price was among the important, but least critical, attributes for vendor selection, suggesting buyers are mostly in the exploratory stages and competition on the vendors’ side has yet to intensify.”




One last point on customer zero: As noted above, Atos’ sustainability engagements have mostly been in Europe, which could potentially be played as a strength in two ways. First, Atos’ efforts to meet European standards and regulations should resonate well with a predominantly European client base. Second, if Europe turns out to be a test bed for environmental regulation, as countries in other regions begin adopting similar legislation and monitoring and reporting structures, Atos will be able to demonstrate its own successful adaption to clients in those non-European jurisdictions.

Appealing to technologists through science

Finally, Atos leads with science, in a manner perhaps unique in the IT services space. Of course, all IT services vendors lead with and lean on technology, but Atos’ approach comes across as more foundationally rooted in a scientific approach to solving business, technology, operational and — in this case — global problems.

 

The Atos Scientific and Expert communities provide research and promote Atos’ approach to solving technology-related problems. And throughout the sustainability discussion and in countless briefings over the last dozen years, Atos has consistently placed the scienced-based core of its offerings at the forefront. Warren and Hanckmann mentioned science-based net-zero target setting, cooperation with universities around climate research, and 160 patents relating to decarbonization and energy efficiency.

 

Warren noted, “Decarbonization is embedded in everything Atos does, and we’re working with R&D teams to devise reliable and tangible actions to deliver on carbon commitments in deals,” further cementing the scientific emphasis. In TBR’s view, Atos would benefit from leaning even more heavily into a science-based brand. Atos’ capabilities are rooted in science, not just ideas. While every IT services buyer prioritizes differently — and perhaps European buyers, especially around sustainability, are bit more technology-oriented in contrast to U.S. buyers looking for consulting — most CIOs and CTOs, Atos’ core buyer personas, appreciate the emphasis on science and data.

 

According to the same TBR digital transformation research as cited above, “Regional differences in vendor selection criteria underscore the importance of employing a localized go-to-market approach. For example, the top vendor attribute in North America was price, while in Europe respondents ranked vendors’ sustainability services scope as No. 1. In APAC, working knowledge of sustainability services-related compliance risk and privacy issues was the top factor. We see European buyers as the most mature in both road mapping and executing around their sustainability initiatives as regional legislation requires compliance in certain areas, thus creating broader opportunities for vendors with comprehensive portfolio offerings that can also rely on and manage partner ecosystems.”

Can Atos’ approach maintain sustainability?

In TBR’s view, Atos’ current leadership around sustainability stems in part from the combination in full of these three characteristics: willingness to play across a wide ecosystem, dedication to implementing internally first and then rolling out solutions to clients, and leading with a science-based approach.

 

Atos’ continuing leadership role in the sustainability space may also depend on these characteristics, as a potential global recession, continued high inflation, and an overall weariness of climate change challenges diminish buyers’ willingness to spend on decarbonization efforts. By being able to tap into a wide range of solutions through partners and the continued ability to demonstrate decarbonization and financial success, all underpinned by relentless science, Atos may be part of the overall effort to keep up the necessary pressure to maintain corporate interest around sustainability. A tall order, but no doubt a welcome challenge for a company that has made net zero integral to its overall mission.

 

Atos’ sustainability capabilities extend beyond what we have described above, and in the coming months, TBR will examine Atos’ and other IT services vendors’ and consultancies’ decarbonization efforts and offerings in greater detail, in both the individual vendor reports and the upcoming Decarbonization Market Landscape.

Post-quantum cryptography: Commercial and go-to-market strategies of leading players

 

Join Analyst Jacob Fong and Senior Strategy Consultant & Principal Analyst Geoff Woollacott Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022, for a deep dive into recent activities in the quantum computing industry. They will review key players in the market, including IBM and Quantinuum, and look at the latest advancements in post-quantum cryptography in commercial and strategic alliances.

 

In this FREE webinar you’ll learn:

  • Position of the major quantum computing hardware vendors in the quantum system development race
  • Drivers of geographic differentiation in quantum computing prominence
  • Overarching trends developing within the quantum computing community

 

Can’t attend Aug. 11? Register now and we’ll send you the entire slide deck and the event recording the day after the live airing to view at your convenience.

 

 

TBR webinars are held typically on Thursdays at 1 p.m. ET and include a 15-minute Q&A session following the main presentation. Previous webinars can be viewed anytime on TBR’s Webinar Portal. For additional information or to arrange a briefing with our analysts, please contact TBR at [email protected].

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