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Digital transformation, cybersecurity and cryptocurrency: How the war in Ukraine will change technology forever

The war in Ukraine and ICT vendors: 3 coming challenges in a changed world

Less than two weeks into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, TBR’s assessment of the effects on the ICT market remains necessarily constrained. The majority of the largest ICT vendors TBR covers do not have tremendous local market and/or client exposure to Russia or Ukraine, so the impact of the war on ICT companies, if the conflict remains limited to those two countries, will be marginal — not insignificant, but marginal — with some exceptions, such as Ericsson (Nasdaq: ERIC), Nokia (NYSE: NOK) and SAP (NYSE: SAP). Longer term, absent either a miraculously positive or an existentially negative development (peace blooms or mushroom clouds), TBR expects the pressures detailed below will force IT services, cloud and software, data center and infrastructure, and telecom vendors to adjust their strategies and their business models.

 

Digital transformations slow, opening new opportunities

Already stressed supply chains will experience additional sand in the gears, slowing down deliveries of essential hardware and delaying build-outs of data centers, enterprises’ IT infrastructures, and even the physical towers needed for telecommunications. While IT services vendors and consultancies have sold digital transformation (DT) as a method of addressing business problems through agile application of emerging technologies, enterprises and their technology suppliers need the actual physical components to make the “digital” part of digital transformation work. A slowdown in hardware availability will convert into a slowdown in enabled applications and soon everything around DT will become slower and more expensive.

 

In this DT winter, consultancies advising on supply chain issues and global systems integrators (GSIs) and their technology partners enabling hybrid cloud while bolstering on-premises enhancements will flourish. Chip manufacturing investors will receive government backing and may find technology vendors across the entire ecosystem willing to make long-term commitments to mitigate the risks they are facing now. In a reversal of fortune from the last few years in IT, third-party maintenance specialists — the very boring techies who are keeping the old systems running while the young geeks play with AI and the metaverse — may see a boom as a constrained chip supply and slowed digital transformations make keeping the current technology operational increasingly important.

 

Cybersecurity commands center stage (hopefully, for real this time)

In every survey TBR has conducted around IT services and digital transformation, buyers have prioritized cybersecurity as a top three — and frequently No. 1 — concern. And yet, enterprises underinvest and remain vulnerable, humans fail to take precautions and fall prey to ransomware attacks and worse, and cybersecurity remains more talked about than acted upon. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will change that. While pre-invasion predictions anticipated an aggressive Russian cyber campaign, the first week of fighting featured exclusively kinetic military action, with limited, negligible cyber strikes. Analysis conducted in the middle of combat rarely survives intact once the smoke clears, but TBR believes a couple of scenarios could account for Russia’s relative cyber silence. The most encouraging one is that Ukraine’s defenses worked. While NATO, particularly the U.S., shared near-real-time intelligence in the lead-up to the invasion as a means of applying diplomatic pressure and denying Putin a war narrative suited to Russia’s needs, the West and Ukraine would be less likely to share cybersecurity victories in the same way military successes have been touted and with the same divulgence of critical intelligence. A less-encouraging scenario would be that Russia is saving its cyber strikes for an anticipated second stage of the war, when the shooting slows and economic and political wills are tested. Cyberattacks that take critical energy infrastructure offline in Western Europe would be damaging now but would have a greater effect on NATO countries’ populations during a prolonged economic slowdown tied to a standoff in Ukraine. In either scenario, consultancies, GSIs and technology vendors providing cybersecurity services and infrastructure will benefit from renewed concentration in the C-suite on cyber risks, provided those vendors have invested in country-specific, locally sourced, certified talent.

 

 

Logicalis: The partner for helping with today’s problems and providing solutions for the future  

In February 2022 TBR spoke with Logicalis Group Chief Operating Officer Michael Chanter and Chief Technology Officer Toby Alock for an update on the company’s strategy as well as an overview of the company’s new Global Services Organization (GSO), including its solutions portfolio and road map. The conversation, which contained specific details on strategy, was a continuation of the journey Logicalis embarked on nearly two years ago when it appointed Bob Bailkoski as CEO.  

In TBR’s special report Know-your-tech strategy could be invaluable as Logicalis aims to disrupt peers in cloud managed services, we wrote, “Logicalis’ efforts to optimize its legacy operations while doubling down on key growth areas such as cloud will largely depend on the company’s ability to develop integrated scale to ensure standardized service delivery.” The launch of Logicalis’ GSO highlighted these efforts and marked a new stage in the company’s ability to deploy practical solutions that build a foundation of trust with partners, employees and clients.  

Transforming into a modern managed services provider  

Logicalis Group’s executives understand the need to develop an ever-evolving strategy that allows the company to stay abreast of market trends. Pivoting from historically employing a regional focus to now building outcome-based solutions that are global in nature paves the way for Logicalis to build scale. Ensuring internal organizational silos are removed will be key, as clients expect vendors to deliver services locally through globally integrated operations.  

At the same time, Logicalis realizes the importance of nurturing local relationships, ensuring its consultants and professional services organization continue to operate as close to the customer as possible. Developing a “modern managed services organization,” as Chanter describes the company’s transformation, is not an easy task, especially when executed at scale.  

Accounting for the permeation of automation to drive efficiency and fine-tuning operations and business models to facilitate cloud-enabled sales, service delivery and support are among the key pillars of GSO. Continuing to provide existing clients with support also enables GSO to secure foundational revenues and maintain relevance, as often clients take time to move to the next phase of their digital transformation (DT) programs.  

When TBR asked about the change management that typically comes with such evolution, especially due to the increased use of automation in service delivery, Chanter provided a strong use case for how the company is handling it. Starting with the appointment of an executive dedicated to overseeing transformation, the main focus then has been teaching staff how to be agile while also considering new compensation models in connection with cloud-enabled service delivery.  

Providing support to external clients has been enabled by a three-part framework: Align, Transform, Scale. Logicalis first assesses where clients are in their DT journey compared to their desired outcome. The company then maps out the kind of support it can provide at different points in the journey, relying on its professional services organization to feed regional market nuances. With sales teams trained and certified before going to market, Logicalis also tries to align and close the feedback loop with staff at the Centers of Excellence (CoEs), which are typically responsible for the development and management of global solutions.  

As Logicalis Group aims to increase its share of the managed services market, we believe the company will continue to work toward striking the right balance between developing automation-enabled services P&L and achieving integrated scale. Previously, TBR wrote, “Logicalis has begun to identify areas across geos, industry verticals and horizontal areas that can support its goal of expanding share of highly profitable ‘as a Service’ managed service sales, which currently garner about 25% of its global revenues. … As Logicalis works out the details around managing its partner ecosystem, Bailkoski and [Chief Customer Experience and Service Transformation Officer Vincent] DeLuca are also increasing the company’s investments in internal portfolio offerings that will not simply standardize global service delivery but also pave the way for an innovative approach to engaging with clients. Launched in June, we believe Logicalis’ AI-enabled Digital Service Platform (DSP) will be the center node of Logicalis’ solutions and services ecosystem, similar to how iTunes has helped Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) build a community of die-hard brand followers.”  

Logicalis is on the right path to achieving its managed services goals, but like many of its peers, it needs to partner better and differently than it has in the past, especially as buyer expectations around managing partner ecosystems also evolve. Meanwhile, expanding its global footprint, similar to opening an engineering center in Portugal to house about 200 employees in support of the Agile, Transform, Scale framework, will continue to bolster Logicalis’ resource bench for building and delivering solutions at scale as clients seek support around migrating and transforming operations. Chanter noted that the new Portugal facility will “help transform clients quickly and help Logicalis transform.” TBR notes this dual-track approach has proved successful for other IT services vendors undergoing their own digital transformations.  

Know-your-tech strategy could be invaluable as Logicalis aims to disrupt peers in cloud managed services market

TBR perspective

Logicalis’ efforts to optimize its legacy operations while doubling down on key growth areas such as cloud will largely depend on the company’s ability to develop integrated scale to ensure standardized service delivery. Evolving portfolio offerings, including the launch of its Digital Service Platform (DSP), paired with strengthening partner ecosystem relationships, will allow Logicalis to appeal to a broader buyer base and potentially disrupt the engagement model services companies are typically known for by offering digital routes to its services catalog. TBR believes this approach will be particularly applicable as COVID-19 pressures high-touch consulting services. Logicalis’ global scale is just the right size to test such a strategy as the company maintains a diverse mix of midmarket and enterprise clients. While the former group is the prime target for selling and supporting services through a click-to-buy model, many cost-conscious buyers from the latter group are also seeking ways to minimize external spend, providing Logicalis with a strong test bed for its customer experience model. Logicalis is not looking to change its DNA but rather to blend the best of both worlds with minimal disruption — adopting a software company-like sales strategy while maintaining human-delivered, automation-enabled services support to drive recurring (e.g., “as a Service”) revenue at scale. We recognize that this is easier said than done, but at least the company’s leadership appears to have their priorities aligned, which is a good place to start.

Logicalis will rely on strong customer service and repeatable IP to reshuffle the composition of its P&L toward more profitable recurring revenue opportunities

After only two weeks on the job as CEO, Robert Bailkoski, like many of his peers, had to address the global threat COVID-19 posed to the company’s operations, employees and clients. Bailkoski’s tenure with the company as CFO and later as COO had prepared him (as much as anyone could be prepared for a pandemic) not only to handle the situation with minimal disruption but also to ensure he stayed the course on many of the priorities he had set prior to becoming CEO. With Logicalis’ performance deeply rooted in selling both hardware and software products, which combined currently generate about 60% of company’s global revenue, Bailkoski knew he had an uphill battle as these areas are becoming largely commoditized and thus pressuring the company’s top and bottom lines.

In a recent conversation with Robert Bailkoski, Logicalis Group’s newly appointed CEO, as well as Vince DeLuca, Logicalis Group’s customer experience & service transformation officer, TBR had a chance to hear firsthand about the company’s goals and investments as it continues its journey to become a globally integrated solutions provider. TBR appreciated Bailkoski’s and DeLuca’s grounded approach to the company’s transformation, which is not something many newly appointed executives pursue as they often seek to create a name for themselves by making fundamental changes. We believe both Bailkoski’s and DeLuca’s tenure and understanding of the company have provided them with good visibility into Logicalis’ strengths and weakness and a sense of accountability needed to reach the company’s goals.