More technical minds can argue about simplicity for simplicity’s sake; TBR Principal Analyst Patrick M. Heffernan is interested in the various approaches IT services vendors have been deploying to meet that growing client demand, and he is constantly contrasting what he hears and sees to a firm he spoke to late in 2022, KnowledgeRiver.
Approaching IT Services Differently, with Simplicity In Mind
Simplicity. Over the last nine months or so, we’ve heard repeatedly from IT services professionals, IT directors and technology-services alliances managers that every client seeks simplicity in their IT space — simpler architecture, easier data orchestration, streamlined commercial arrangements, and, especially for companies in the throes of a digital transformation, a “clean core” (see my colleague Boz Hristov’s explanation of this last concept in a recent Accenture-SAP special report).
KnowledgeRiver Applies ‘True Analytics’ to Clients’ IT
In a quick rundown, two former IBMers founded Mainz, Germany-based KnowledgeRiver seven years ago, looking to apply what they describe as “true analytics” to enhance clients’ IT environments. When clients lack sufficient IT monitoring tools, KnowledgeRiver can deploy a software product, which draws data from the client’s entire IT stack, detecting weak points and potential looming challenges. KnowledgeRiver’s consultants can then provide recommendations and assist with implementing necessary changes, including software and additional services from partners.
At under 20 employees, KnowledgeRiver relies on alliance partners to reach outside its core market of Germany, Austria and Switzerland. For example, KnowledgeRiver partners with Qatar-based Gulf Business Machines and Saudi Business Machines to serve clients in that region.
In speaking with TBR, KnowledgeRiver’s founders, Sven Bittlingmayer, and head of sales, Juergen Loeb, said the firm had evolved from a basic IT services vendor to a trusted adviser bringing its own software tool — sold under a subscription and acting as “the glue between [KnowledgeRiver] and the client” — as needed. In short, an IT services boutique, armed with a powerful analytics tool and staffed by experts with deep technical and business experience.
KnowledgeRiver Serves as Trusted Adviser
So what makes KnowledgeRiver so interesting as the market moves toward more simplification? First, its approach. KnowledgeRiver knows it is looking for CIOs “who are orchestrators” within their enterprise, not simply “IT managers,” and who understand their enterprise IT architecture is “in trouble and needs helps.” Loeb and Bittlingmayer added that their clients have typically already decided to migrate to cloud — who didn’t during the pandemic? — but “don’t know how to get there.” And, critically, KnowledgeRiver’s clients have been meeting their IT needs with “too many vendors.”
With certain clients, KnowledgeRiver then takes a deeper relationship approach, eschewing the usual transactional nature of IT services at the small and midmarket level. Loeb and Bittlingmayer explained that they wanted to be their client’s “trusted adviser, like an advisory board to the IT department; on call when needed, but not embedded into the IT team.” KnowledgeRiver could serve as “the glue between different IT providers” as well as a “coach across different business organizations” internally at their clients.
This is an ambitious portfolio for any consultancy, let alone a technology-centric firm that focuses on detailed assessments of clients’ IT architecture, processes, software usage and data management. KnowledgeRiver essentially sells itself as a little bit of McKinsey with a lot of IBM at manageable — and affordable — scale.
Using that smart, in TBR’s view, approach, KnowledgeRiver then delivers a solution that can help clients “within hours.” Because the solution remains with the client — with KnowledgeRiver providing updates and recommendations — KnowledgeRiver offers some reassurance that changes within a client’s IT won’t compromise their security or operations.
Further, KnowledgeRiver’s recommendations help clients more quickly realize the benefits of the technology decisions. And here we get to a critical part of what underlies calls for simplicity — very simply, speed. CIO, IT directors, and increasingly business line leaders who leverage IT and data daily know that simplified processes and systems can bring faster decision making, accelerated time to value and decreased costs. KnowledgeRiver has been tapping into that need for speed for the last seven years.
In the coming months, TBR will be speaking with a number of IT services boutiques globally to continue examining how trends we’re seeing at the largest enterprises and from the megascale IT services vendors have been started, echoed or ignored at the midmarket level. Gain access to this IT services research and more with a 60-day free trial!