Hybrid engagements will become necessary and valuable in 2021

Here comes hybrid

Hybrid engagements, in which IT services vendors and consultancies deliver both virtually and face-to-face, did not first arrive in 2020, but there has been one dramatic change from pre-pandemic days: universal acceptance that hybrid engagements will be necessary and can be a valuable way to conduct business. In 2021 vendors and consultancies with the perfect hybrid engagement model will outperform peers and accelerate consolidation across the IT ecosystem.

We always come back to the idea that services is fundamentally about people delivering value to other people. And for years, we have heard IT services vendors and consultancies extol the values of connecting humans and machines, expanding human experiences with artificial intelligence, and improving human work with robotic process automation. The human + machine future is here now, and it is hybrid. For many IT services vendors and consultancies, accelerating that digital transformation journey to hybrid engagements will require retraining talent, reconvincing clients of value and partnering differently across the ecosystem.

Maybe the best example of the hybrid engagement model for IT services vendors and consultancies is the application of hybrid in American schools as a reaction to COVID-19. U.S. elementary school teachers — whose average age is over 40 — have become more technologically adept and better at delivering lessons to both a camera and a classroom. Teachers have learned to manage virtual breakout pods and gauge virtual interactions. Students know the social benefits of being in the classroom but now understand that remote learning can include more depth and detail and a more concentrated learning process. (Of course, this is not true for all students and teachers, just as hybrid IT services and consulting engagements have not been perfect for all IT services vendors and consultants.) IT services professionals and consultants can now become far more adept at delivering both in person and remotely and have made collaborative technologies a natural extension of the job. Clients now receive services and adapt to different ways of working, recognizing the value, cadence and duration of services relationships can be sustained without face-to-face encounters. And just as everyone wants students back in the classroom full time, everyone also realizes on some level that some things have changed forever. No more snow days, ever. Business travel will never be the same. Digital transformations will accelerate and emerging technologies will increasingly permeate every aspect of IT services and consulting, bringing newfound speed and adoption both virtually and in person.

The following predictions examine how hybrid engagements might develop further in 2021, the potential impact of hybrid engagements on IT services vendors’ and consultancies’ technology partner ecosystems, and the revival of industry clouds across the entire IT market.

2021 Predictions

  • Hybrid selling and delivery replaces face-to-face as the standard and preferred engagement model
  • Emerging technologies necessitate more complex ecosystems, pressuring all players in IT services to partner differently
  • Industry clouds return, with competitive consequences for it services vendors and consultancies 

Register for TBR’s 2021 Services & Digital Predictions webinar, Hybrid engagements will become necessary and valuable in 2021, Jan. 20, 2022.

Technology Business Research 2021 Predictions is a special series examining market trends and business changes in key markets. Covered segments include cloud, telecom, devices & commercial IoT, data center, and services & digital.

Human-based service delivery vendors’ talent management strategies and revenue growth will be tested amid COVID-19

Headcount growth surpassed revenue growth, a trend we expect to continue, albeit at a lower pace as vendors stall hiring due to COVID-19

The 14 vendors in TBR’s Global Delivery Benchmark continued to hire and acquire resources ahead of revenue growth in 4Q19 as they geared up to address buyer demand for scaling digital transformation (DT) initiatives. Developing certified talent supporting Agile-based service delivery helps vendors build and solidify trust with enterprises seeking to optimize and/or modernize IT operations through next-generation technologies. While vendors will continue to act as price-competitive solutions brokers by developing teams at on-site and nearshore locations that can split the work and either execute on delivery or collaborate with offshore teams for support, the global pandemic will likely dampen buyer sentiment around DT spend, impacting vendors’ hiring initiatives in 1H20. Workplace management and security are two bright spots in in-demand skills during the pandemic.

TBR’s Global Delivery Benchmark documents vendor performance; attrition and utilization rates; and market, growth and profit drivers of 14 of the largest systems integrators globally.