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One of tech’s largest acquisitions will place VMware as strategic and financial centerpiece of Broadcom Software

Broadcom will position VMware at forefront of its software strategy

On May 26, Broadcom (Nasdaq: AVGO) agreed to purchase VMware (NYSE: VMW) at an enterprise value of $69 billion, making it one of the largest tech acquisitions in history. While Broadcom is no stranger to software acquisitions, this transaction will be its most transformative as VMware becomes both the brand and growth driver behind Broadcom Software. If the transaction closes, the new Broadcom will find itself evenly balanced between its semiconductor and infrastructure software businesses. After market close on the day of the announcement, investors on each side of the transaction viewed the proposed deal favorably, signaling shareholders’ confidence in management’s ability to use past experiences to generate free cash flow through the integration of the two companies, bolstered by VMware’s cost structure and pervasive role in enterprise IT.

Should the deal close, VMware will be led by Broadcom Software Group’s current president, Tom Krause, who has a financial background and will report to Broadcom CEO Hock Tan. As with past acquisitions, Broadcom’s primary goal will be to improve profitability through cost synergies, mostly related to redundant headcount. While margins will certainly benefit, VMware’s innovative agenda, spearheaded by Pat Gelsinger and since adopted by current CEO Raghu Raghuram, hangs in the balance, with the outcome dependent upon Broadcom’s desire to drive synergies with VMware in both R&D and go to market. If Broadcom’s acquisitions of CA Technologies and Symantec are any indication, VMware’s future in the cloud and at the edge may be muted. But it is still early days, and commentary from Broadcom management suggests a different course of action relative to past acquisitions with a strong intent to invest in VMware’s core software-defined data center (SDDC) stack.

A deal could bring VMware back to its data center roots

Since the 2016 launch of VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF), VMware has insisted on making its trusted virtualization software relevant beyond data center walls by delivering native, turnkey solutions with all major cloud service providers (CSPs). The rise of cloud-native development through containers and Kubernetes has presented VMware customers with an alternate route to the public cloud, but the 2019 acquisition of Pivotal and resulting Tanzu portfolio — while still built and delivered via ESXi — allowed VMware to position as a complement to containers, rather than a competitive threat.

Often still defined as the company that pioneered enterprise virtualization, VMware has proven its ability to adapt over the past two decades alongside market trends, including cloud computing and containerization, both of which have accelerated VMware’s transition to a Subscription & SaaS company, with related revenue comprising 29% of total business in 1Q22. Broadcom plans to upsell Subscription & SaaS alternatives to legacy customers, including those demanding “as a Service” software inside the data center.

However, given the growth in Broadcom’s software business stems from mainframe customers, we cannot help but wonder if VMware’s push to the cloud will be stalled should the deal close. From a cost perspective, customers may be less incentivized to move their VMware workloads to the cloud, and instead could containerize applications to avoid incurring the cost of VMware or could simply keep their VMware applications on premises, which would erode some cross-selling opportunities for Broadcom. Further, given Broadcom’s focus on revenue-rich products, we can expect detracted focus from the Tanzu initiative, which could bring VMware further back to its data center roots and, in a worst-case scenario, put it back at war with the hyperscalers, as was similarly seen in the early days of EMC.

With VMware’s success hinging on partners, Broadcom cannot afford to decelerate partner investment

Historically, Broadcom’s corporate sales model has been largely direct, but considering the scale of VMware’s partner network, the pivot toward indirect sales motions is inevitable, especially as Broadcom looks to build out a $20 billion software enterprise. Management indicated it will sell directly into 1,500 core accounts while likely providing hands-on professional and support services to these customers, which Broadcom chalks up to a simplification of its overall business model. This suggests, however, that there will be over 300,000 vSphere adopters still left in the hands of partners — and given Broadcom’s lack of comparative experience navigating channel relationships, the company will be most successful if it lets VMware go to market independently while preserving its relationships with strategic resellers, especially Dell Technologies, which is responsible for roughly one-third of VMware’s revenue.

Further, despite a thin R&D budget, Broadcom will still deliver new product integrations with VMware, which could present opportunities for distributors, VARs and potentially ISVs looking to integrate and package their solutions with VMware and Broadcom. However, management has been unclear regarding acquisition synergies, suggesting opportunities could be minimal, and except for some OEMs potentially hoping Broadcom will help level the playing field, partners are likely concerned.

This is particularly true as prior to the announcement VMware was in the middle of overhauling its partner program, announcing promises to improve coselling motions between direct sales teams and VARs, in addition to investments in digital and automation technologies designed to lower implementation costs and improve partner profitability. With Broadcom’s cost structure in place, investments in VMware resources and training programs for partners could decrease, which, when combined with the already higher prices we can expect for VMware products, will present a challenge for partners across the spectrum.

For Broadcom, it is all about profitability

The proposed acquisition can be viewed as another one of Broadcom’s attempts to diversify its hardware portfolio through high-margin software, and with VMware, Broadcom will use redundant costs and license prices as levers for margin expansion. Profit growth will have to come in the form of cost consolidation as VMware’s top line will decelerate, especially as profitable software maintenance revenue streams erode as customers transition from licenses to subscriptions. For context, in 2021 VMware’s SG&A costs accounted for 40% of revenue, a high percentage relative to peers, leaving room for Broadcom to offload redundant resources, particularly in back-office positions.

Meanwhile, as Broadcom prioritizes margins at the expense of top-line growth, at least in the near term, we can expect the sales and marketing line to be impacted, with Broadcom making use of its existing sales teams and channel distribution partners to sell into existing strategic accounts. R&D is perhaps the biggest question mark weighing on the pro forma company, which we expect will require a minimum 15% reduction in spend to meet EBITDA targets, when applying the S&M and G&A estimates shown in Figure 1. The R&D budget will undoubtedly be cut, but the degree depends on the level of “central engineering” synergies Broadcom is willing to form with VMware to deliver new products, with at least basic CI/CD (continuous integration/continuous delivery) procedures in place.

Leveraging VMware’s relationships with the cloud providers, specifically Amazon Web Services (AWS) (Nasdaq: AMZN), it is possible new product synergies could be formed without driving significant R&D investment. However, it will still require a level of commitment from Broadcom to invest in the VMware portfolio beyond SDDC, which does not appear on the company’s radar. This structure could also impact existing offerings like SASE and Project Monterey, which happens to align with Broadcom’s gradual shift away from x86 architectures. This is especially true as Broadcom figures out where there is overlap between its existing software portfolio, which already has plays in security, infrastructure management and FC SAN (fiber channel storage area network) and VMware.
Broadcom Software acquires VMware
At the end of the day, cost actions will run through the income statement over the next three years in a way that gets Broadcom to $8.5 billion in pro forma adjusted EBITDA. Currently estimated at $4.7 billion for FY22, Broadcom would need to grow adjusted EBITDA by a 22% CAGR to achieve this goal, resulting in a drastic operational change for VMware and potentially a loss of momentum outside vSphere, vSAN, NSX and the vRealize suite, which may not have an impact on near-term results but certainly risks VMware’s long-term attractiveness.

Rival bid seems unlikely despite go-shop provision

While the premium pledged by Broadcom in its bid for VMware is likely to ward off most, if not all, potential rival bids, the current agreement contains a 40-day go-shop provision that allows VMware to explore other buyers. Ultimately, any potential bidder would need to have a significant amount of capital ready to be utilized and be willing to push VMware’s valuation further. Given their respective sizes, a hyperscaler is the most likely candidate, with AWS top of mind considering its strategic reseller and product alliance with VMware.

However, TBR believes this is still unlikely, and if any of the cloud providers were to buy VMware, it would be widely perceived as an attempt to buy IaaS revenue. Further, we believe that the cloud providers, while some are more prone to locking in customers than others, generally respect VMware’s neutral position in the market and are cognizant of the fact that owning VMware could create a host of challenges for customers. It is also plausible some of the hardware vendors would like to get in on the deal, but OEMs could be skeptical following last year’s spinoff by Dell Technologies.

TBR takeaway

Considering Broadcom’s aggressive profit targets and previous history running software businesses, customers, partners and employees appear to share mutual concern regarding what will become of Broadcom Software should the deal close. With cost reductions bound to occur across business functions, including R&D, lack of investment raises questions as to how VMware will remain competitive in markets beyond traditional virtualization.

However, Broadcom management has also indicated that VMware will not operate like Symantec and CA Technologies, given its unique market position — and if VMware can materialize R&D to drive new product synergies, the company could at a minimum maintain its trajectory of midsingle-digit growth. VMware’s well-established relationships with channel partners will also help Broadcom establish a large software empire, but this would be contingent on the company’s willingness to invest in less profitable, yet emerging business units, with the final decision coming down to whether management believes the initiative will be accretive to free cash flow.


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Top priorities for IT infrastructure investments: What’s more important than business transformation?

TBR’s recently launched Infrastructure Strategy Customer Research report surveys 300 IT decision makers responsible for IT infrastructure globally and by industry vertical, such as technology, public sector and healthcare & life sciences, and by organization size, including small, medium and enterprise.

 

Join Principal Analyst and Engagement Manager Angela Lambert for insights, data and analysis on exactly what IT buyers are concerned with in the post-COVID-19 transition, with billions of dollars of IT investment on the line. Angela will discuss the challenges and priorities guiding investment plans, key areas of infrastructure expansion, plans for data center consolidation, and expectations for edge computing and multicloud adoption.

 

In this FREE webinar you’ll learn:

  • The top priorities influencing IT infrastructure investments today, and the top challenges slowing business transformation
  • Key insights for OEM, ODEM, cloud, service provider, software and security professionals
  • Differences in needs across small, midsize and enterprise businesses
  • How data center consolidation will impact infrastructure investment, edge adoption and shifts to public cloud resources

 

Mark your calendars for Thursday, June 30, 2022, at 1 p.m. EDT,
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  1. Free Copy: Top Predictions for Data Center in 2022

 

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SAP use case reveals big things for PwC

Started with a simple SAP use case

In early 2022 PwC shared a few use cases on its website. One in particular, A mid-cycle SAP upgrade creates efficiency and unlocks strategy for a tech company, drew TBR’s attention, particularly its assertion that “PwC and SAP co-developed a process to allow clients to migrate to SAP’s Group Reporting module at any point in the year.”

 

While that may sound relatively vanilla and nondescript to some, the possibilities around co-development of software, ownership of the IP, and whether this new process was something PwC could package up with SAP and sell to more of their shared clients piqued TBR’s interest. TBR’s questions led to a discussion in April with PwC’s Chip Sherrill, a partner in the firm’s Consulting practice who worked on the specific engagement. The following reflects both the discussion with Sherrill and TBR’s ongoing analysis of PwC, SAP, and the broader consulting and digital transformation space.

Examining every ecosystem angle

Like any ecosystem play, it’s best to look at the use case through at least three lenses (with a bonus fourth based on TBR’s view of the world): PwC and the client; PwC, the client and SAP; PwC and SAP; and solely PwC.

 

A few things about PwC’s relationship with the client proved critical to understanding how and why this engagement succeeded. First, PwC had been working with the client on other issues, and the client understood the firm’s expertise around finance transformation, tax and governance. Second, and possibly due to that established relationship, PwC understood the client wanted a reporting solution integrated on top of its existing IT and ERP infrastructure, rather than a stand-alone piece of software or bespoke platform. Third, PwC was able to make the business case that it could help solve the client’s problem without breaking budgets or creating future problems.

 

Adding SAP into the mix, Chip noted that the client had a different vendor on-site assisting with the client’s migration to SAP S/4 HANA, which surprised TBR given the following details from the published use case: “a delay meant five more months of waiting, expenses, scheduling issues with key personnel and a potential loss of executive sponsorship. And, as both PwC and the tech company understood that SAP’s Group Reporting module would eventually become part of a larger move to the entire SAP S/4HANA suite, PwC helped the company look beyond its immediate needs to discover how the current project dovetailed with its long-term digital transformation goals.”

 

Critically, in TBR’s view, PwC was able to show the client and SAP that in solving the specific problem with an accelerated solution, PwC would be advancing the client’s move to S/4 HANA even though PwC was not responsible for that migration. How? On the specific issues of data integrity and risks, the client considered SAP’s default answers inadequate. Additionally, the client needed fewer months of parallel processing. As a result — and this goes back to knowing the client and being able to map out the business value — PwC proposed an alternative time frame to what SAP suggested and SAP’s standard practice. The client got a “40% reduction in expected implementation time” and a “75% decrease in time required for tax consolidation, compared to before the migration,” according to PwC.

 

Work with this client gave PwC a proven method for accelerating one aspect of SAP’s vast ERP universe, leading TBR to ask: Who owns the intellectual property, and will PwC go to market with SAP and this new solution?

 

Fully aware of PwC’s recent evolution of PwC Products & Technology and the firm’s willingness to sell software “as a Service,” TBR anticipated IP ownership would stay fully with PwC. As for co-marketing with SAP, PwC would be bringing the solution to SAP clients, with the potential to expand beyond existing PwC clients in the near term.

Technology as the firm’s fertilizer

At TBR, we’re always starting with the vendor itself, understanding how an individual firm’s or company’s strategies and performance reflect its place in the market and the challenges, opportunities and trends it can expect in the near term.

 

With this use case and with TBR’s long-running analysis of PwC, three points stood out. First, PwC securing SAP work with a client despite not being the lead vendor on the client’s migration to S/4 HANA underscores the firm’s sustained success in relationship building and expanding its footprint with key accounts. Second, PwC’s The New Equation strategy provided the framework to bring in tax expertise on consulting and technology engagement, allowing the firm to “bring all [of PwC’s] messages together … doing a better job now across the firm explaining what [PwC does] well.” And, third, PwC has better technology capabilities than many of its competitors realize, which will become even better known as this solution scales across the large market for this capability.

 

TBR does not expect PwC will become a software giant or a competitive threat to SAP and others, but the firm’s persistence in underpinning consulting, tax and even audit engagements with proprietary, tested and well-managed technology will help it grow ahead of peers in the next few years.

It’s a multicloud world: Dell Technologies embraces software innovation

Dell Technologies (NYSE: DELL) will undoubtedly face stiff competition on its journey to multicloud leadership. Building a simplified and unified multicloud environment remains an elusive concept for customers operating on a diverse set of platforms serving unique stakeholders. While by TBR’s own analysis, building a fully unified cloud experience for customers remains a distant goal for many vendors, Dell Technologies is taking steps in this direction by giving customers the tools to manage workloads running on Dell Technologies platforms more seamlessly and enabling customers to utilize Dell Technologies’ stack in tandem with public cloud. Success will hinge on Dell Technologies’ ability to scale partnerships, the speed at which Project Alpine initiatives ae rolled out to the market, and the company’s ability to win customers’ favor in leveraging Dell Technologies’ SaaS platforms for multicloud management.

Dell Technologies unveiled a series of multicloud initiatives, with software taking center stage

Jeff Clarke, vice chairman and co-chief operating officer for Dell Technologies, opened Tuesday’s keynote by pointing out that software innovation across the industry is consistently outpacing hardware innovation. This theme resonated throughout the event, which focused on Dell Technologies and partner capabilities that can marry on-premises and public cloud data, automate IT management tasks and enhance security. Dell Technologies is building an ecosystem around its ISG portfolio that can increase the value of its own software and tools, particularly in the storage space.

ISG has performed competitively versus market peers over the past year, growing 4% year-to-year in 2021 to $34 billion in annual revenue. Although much of the product emphasis during Dell Technologies World focused on storage innovations, recent ISG growth has predominantly been driven by the server and networking business, which was up 4% in 2021, while storage has remained flat, partially due to marketwide challenges around securing components. Dell Technologies’ leadership position in the storage market is a key advantage for the company and is important to protect, particularly as competitors such as Pure Storage (NYSE: PSTG) and NetApp (Nasdaq: NTAP) have intensified their focus on hybrid cloud storage solutions via partnerships with major hyperscalers.

APEX and Project Alpine announcements focus on data protection and multicloud capabilities

The primary service expansion announced for Dell Technologies APEX, Dell Technologies’ portfolio of cloud and IaaS offerings, was Dell Technologies APEX Cyber Recovery Services. This managed service provides day-to-day management of cyber recovery vault operations and assistance with data recovery should a cyberattack occur — valuable capabilities that help customers not only deal with ever-increasing ransomware threats but also fill in gaps for customers whose IT teams lack the capacity and expertise to address security issues.

Dell Technologies also expanded its partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS)(Nasdaq: AMZN), announcing CyberSense for Dell Technologies PowerProtect Cyber Recovery for AWS, which adds AI and machine learning-based monitoring of files to determine if a cyberattack has occurred as well as applies post-attack forensics to identify the customer’s last good backup copy.

While Product Group VP Caitlin Gordon noted that Dell Technologies is not new to hyperscale partnerships, with 1,500 companies already using Dell Technologies Data Protection on AWS, expanding the breadth of the company’s partnerships to include more services and a larger number of cloud providers is essential to address a more robust number of customer use cases. Gordon stated that the Dell Technologies PowerProtect Cyber Recovery Service, which was launched with AWS in 4Q21, will be available on Microsoft Azure in the second half of 2022.

Dell Technologies’ Project Alpine, introduced in January, encapsulates the company’s efforts to make more of its software available on public clouds. Project Alpine will make Dell Technologies’ block and file storage software available on public clouds to give customers a unified experience managing and moving workloads between their on-premises Dell Technologies infrastructure and public clouds. Gordon provided an update on the progress of Project Alpine, noting that customers will be able to access the same Dell Technologies management tools they are already familiar with via a SaaS interface to move data between environments. Project Alpine is a key step in not only increasing the appeal of Dell Technologies’ storage portfolio but also remaining competitive against storage peers that are taking a similar approach to cloud alliances, such as Pure Storage Cloud Block Store, Azure NetApp Files and Amazon FSx for NetApp ONTAP.

Dell Technologies lands the first on-premises partnership with Snowflake

Dell Technologies is the first hardware vendor to announce a partnership with Snowflake (NYSE: SNOW), a data warehouse company popular among public cloud users for analyzing and managing their company data. With this new partnership, Dell Technologies customers will be able to bring their on-premises data sets into the Snowflake cloud alongside public cloud data sets, a capability that is currently not available for other vendors’ on-premises systems. This type of partnership is an example of how Dell Technologies is expanding customer choice and the capabilities of its platforms, a trend that is likely to continue as Dell Technologies grows its partner roster and perhaps begins to ramp up acquisitions following the spinoff of VMware (NYSE: VMW) in late 2021.

Storage updates focus on software innovation
Dell Technologies focused on the software innovation theme as it highlighted improvements to its storage portfolio, which includes PowerMax, PowerStore and PowerFlex. For the enterprise PowerMax storage product line, Dell Technologies emphasized the zero-trust architecture and increased intelligence and automation, which reduces NVMe-over-TCP setup time by 44% and guarantees a 4:1 data reduction ratio. Dell Technologies highlighted a more SaaS-based approach for its midrange PowerStore operating system software, rolling out version 3.0 to customers free of charge with 120 new features.

Dell Technologies commits to making its products developer-friendly

Perhaps one of the most critical aspects of gaining share in multicloud environments for Dell Technologies will be winning over developers, an audience that has been more of a tangential focus for Dell Technologies in the past as its historical customer base has been rooted in infrastructure managers. In his keynote address, CEO Michael Dell noted the company is focused on making its solutions API-driven, increasing levels of automation and supporting Kubernetes platforms like VMware’s Tanzu and Red Hat’s OpenShift in addition to AWS EKS, which is available on Dell EMC VxRail and PowerStore.

Dell Technologies CIO and chief digital officer Jen Felch went on to discuss how the company has applied these principles to its own IT department. Dell Technologies focused on its own developer experience by creating self-service infrastructure through automation of virtual machine provisioning, networking and container deployment, in addition to providing developers with increased cost transparency to help them make more informed decisions. This was orchestrated through the Dell Technologies Developer Cloud, a user interface utilized by Dell Technologies’ developer and infrastructure teams. Per Dell Technologies’ own internal audit, enabling a self-service infrastructure helped the company’s developers increase their time spent on software development (versus administrative tasks) from 20% to 75%, a success point that Dell Technologies believes it can help its customer base achieve. Dell and Felch did not comment on what the company is doing to cultivate a Dell developer community, which will be another critical element to driving participation in the Dell ecosystem.

While multicloud took center stage, PC innovations highlighted collaboration and security

Dell Technologies’ PC business has been fueling the company’s revenue growth, with the Client Solutions Group (CSG) growing 27% year-to-year in 2021 to $61 billion in revenue, while also supporting strong margins. Highlighted PC innovations focused on the top end of Dell Technologies’ portfolio, for both business laptops and the Alienware gaming line, with a theme of collaboration, connectivity and security. Dell Technologies showcased a prototype of its Latitude 9330 laptop featuring buttons built into the trackpad to manage virtual conferencing functions such as turning the camera and microphone on and off, chatting, and sharing content. The PC also leverages AI-based features such as fixing videoconferencing performance issues by connecting to multiple networks simultaneously to increase bandwidth. From a privacy and security standpoint, the PC can detect whether onlookers are viewing the user’s screen and obscures the content from view.

Aside from innovations centered on user experience, Dell Technologies showcased the company’s focus on sustainability in PC design via Concept Luna, a three-pronged approach to reducing the carbon footprint of PCs by decreasing the size of components such as motherboards, intentionally choosing eco-friendly materials, and designing PCs to be more serviceable, which facilitates repairs and refurbishment.

Conclusion

Dell Technologies World 2022 illustrated Dell Technologies’ intentions to enable a multicloud ecosystem for its customers. The company is taking a broader approach, rather than relying solely on its APEX “as a Service” portfolio to drive growth, by embracing partnership opportunities with public cloud vendors and turning its attention toward meeting the needs of developers who are consuming vast amounts of infrastructure services. Partnerships are also a focal point for building a broader ecosystem. While Dell Technologies’ relationship with VMware remains close, the company’s first major event since the VMware spinoff gave Dell Technologies greater opportunity to highlight a broader range of partnerships, including its new alliance with Snowflake and in support of customers using OpenShift. The multicloud messaging throughout the event demonstrated that Dell Technologies understands its customers’ most essential market needs, and now the company must focus on executing to meet those demands, particularly through Project Alpine and by expanding its strategies to better cater to developers.

Rebounding demand for licensed software and pay-as-you-go models supported vendors’ revenue growth in 3Q21

In 3Q21 average revenue growth for benchmarked vendors increased 12.6% year-to-year, partly due to a favorable year-ago compare considering the economic impacts of COVID-19 in mid-2020. Further, with many vendors operating transactional-heavy business models, rebounding demand for license products supported revenue growth during the quarter, especially for software-centric vendors like Microsoft and VMware. COVID-19 is causing customers to reevaluate their digital transformation plans; this may include migrating completely to a cloud environment, which will erode opportunities for some vendors while others will expand their existing data center investments through solutions like hyperconverged infrastructure.

Access the full Cloud Components Benchmark, as well as our entire Cloud research portfolio, with a 60-day free trial of TBR Insight Center™.

Conversion, integration and ecosystems drive SaaS growth

Applications serve as the vessel for cloud’s business value 

Value, in the form of agility, innovation and efficiency, is now the driving force behind customers’ cloud investments. Applications, in the form of SaaS, are the purest vessel for customers to implement and achieve the value they so desperately want in order to improve their businesses. It is for that reason that TBR published our first Cloud and Software Applications Benchmark, tracking the nuances of the applications space from a workload and subworkload perspective.

Customers’ growing reliance on SaaS solutions is shown in the market growth of the 10 vendors covered in the inaugural report — their aggregate revenue increased by 26.4% year-to-year in 3Q21, a rate that has accelerated over the past year. Business Applications workloads, which include ERP solutions, was the fastest-growing segment, with aggregate revenue for the 10 vendors covered increasing by 28.5% year-to-year during 3Q21. The drivers of this expansion are threefold: conversion of existing customers to cloud; the integration of solutions through hybrid deployments; and revenue driven by the ecosystems that are critical to the innovation and go-to-market strategy for SaaS solutions.  

Providers from all backgrounds now look to existing customers as their first growth option 

For both traditional software providers and companies that were born on the cloud, customers with existing traditional software installations have become one of the main drivers of SaaS growth. Traditional software providers did not always see the market this way. In fact, SaaS was a threat to their existing license and maintenance businesses for quite some time. After years of customers voting with their dollars and selecting SaaS-delivered solutions over the traditional license and maintenance delivery model, nearly all applications vendors currently see their existing bases as the first opportunity for growth.

In some ways, this transition has played out on a workload-by-workload basis. Sales and marketing applications, led by CRM, are on the periphery of most enterprise applications suites and were the earliest to see a shift to SaaS over traditional software purchasing. Salesforce (NYSE: CRM) led this trend, converting many existing customers from traditional leading providers like SAP (NYSE: SAP) and Oracle (NYSE: ORCL). The dynamics in CRM served as a warning shot for many traditional providers. Even the most reluctant SaaS providers, like Oracle, are now focused on offering cloud solutions to their existing customers before their competitors can.

The shift in strategy is well timed for traditional providers, as cloud demand in the Business Applications segment is beginning to accelerate. As shown in Figure 1, Business Applications has the lowest cloud revenue mix for the vendors included in TBR’s Cloud and Software Applications Benchmark, making it the largest opportunity for traditional customer conversion.  

Figure 1

CompuCom and the 4 dimensions of employee experience

The future of hybrid when your home printer runs out of ink

We recently met with CompuCom, an 8,000-person technology vendor providing hardware, software and services across the digital workplace, and discussed the company’s evolving role as the nature of how and where people work changes, especially for professionals inextricably linked to and dependent upon IT. To frame the discussion — and CompuCom’s place in the IT services ecosystem, which TBR’s Professional Services team tracks closely — one of the CompuCom executives asked, “What does hybrid work really mean going forward?” The question was particularly applied to professionals using home and personal technology for enterprise-level work. While everyone seems to be asking these questions and refining their answers based on pandemic-forced experiences, CompuCom has taken a broader view, suggesting employee experience (EX) is at the heart of the issue, rather than technology.

As described by CompuCom, employee experience fits within four dimensions: technology choice, self-sufficiency, well supported, and workplace flexibility. The first dimension is centered on technology that meets employees’ needs and “securely integrates personal technology” into the workplace ecosystem. Self-sufficiency is employees’ desire to be able to get their work done with minimal friction. And well supported and workplace flexibility most clearly align with hybrid work environments, with employees needing trusted technologies they can securely use anywhere, anytime. TBR has reported on other IT services vendors and consultancies shifting focus to the employee experience, particularly during the early months of the pandemic. This framework may not be new, but CompuCom has smartly articulated what many other vendors have been trying to provide, often with more offerings and less focus.

As small and midsize enterprises look to migrate to the cloud, the desire to take advantage of emerging technologies without investing heavily in IT staff may provide an opening for CompuCom to deliver its full end-to-end solutions, including hardware from trusted brands like Dell Technologies, without the higher-end services and support price tag. Delivering multivendor device support and addressing technology choice as a component of the employee experience will further resonate with SMB clients. Managing CompuCom’s ecosystem relationships while delivering value may depend on the second revelation from the company: experience-level agreements (XLAs).  

The future of IT services when XLAs replace SLAs

Building on this framework, CompuCom has begun measuring its value to clients by the employee experience delivered, rather than standard service-level agreements (SLAs). The company has even developed persona-based, experience-level indicators (XLIs), recognizing that at any one client, CompuCom will be serving multiple persons. TBR will continue tracking CompuCom’s efforts to transition XLIs into XLAs as a widely accepted standard for replacing SLAs among its clients and the larger IT services ecosystem. 

A second point about CompuCom’s approach struck TBR as noteworthy, especially as post-pandemic trends have pointed toward IT services vendors and consultancies rapidly expanding their offerings into areas such as engineering and legal services: CompuCom intends to stay in its own lane, deliver what it delivers well and grow through bringing technology to the workplace. That sounds unradical and almost boring. As one CompuCom executive said, “We’re focused on the workplace experience.” Having a clear focus and doing what you do well, in TBR’s experience analyzing IT services vendors and consultancies, have been key characteristics of solidly performing and growing companies.

According to TBR’s Digital Transformation: Voice of the Customer Research, in the early days of the pandemic enterprise buyers shifted priorities and budget spends from improving the customer experience (CX) to improving the employee experience by ensuring staff safety and productivity measures were in place. While the pendulum swung back a bit toward CX spend in early 2021, the shift toward everything hybrid will compel all parties, including employees, to seek and offer innovative ways to collaborate within the ecosystem, thus creating channels for robust EX and driving opportunities for companies such as CompuCom. 

In the coming months, TBR intends to revisit CompuCom’s portfolio and performance in the context of the larger IT services and technology vendor landscape, particularly in relation to the U.S. market and digital transformation. 

ServiceNow takes a platform approach amid plans to emerge as the standard for enterprise workflows

TBR perspective

Defining reputation as a platform company

While many customers are poised to increasingly adopt best-of-breed solutions for diverse use cases, ServiceNow’s roots as a platform company allow the vendor to sidestep many traditional SaaS competitors and lead with a best-of-suite approach. The Now Platform — dubbed by CEO Bill McDermott as the “platform of all platforms” — is the driving force behind ServiceNow’s workflow narrative, as it is where all products are built and serves as a foundation for ServiceNow to stitch together its IT, employee, customer and creator workflows for lines of business and C-Suite clients.

The way companies operate is hybrid in nature, with multiple departments running different systems, and rather than directly competing with ERP or CRM systems, ServiceNow is helping enable these applications through an integrated, vendor-neutral approach, which TBR views as increasingly imperative in today’s technology landscape. ServiceNow’s revenue profile is also receptive to this approach, as roughly 80% of new business for the company stems from existing customers, paving the way for ServiceNow to scale to $10 billion and beyond in annual revenues.

AI moves to forefront of ServiceNow’s platform strategy

Following the intelligent automation capabilities unveiled as part of the Orlando release in 1Q20 and the subsequent appointment of Vijay Narayanan to the newly created role of chief AI officer, ServiceNow’s plans to lead with AI are not unexpected. However, as the Now Platform continues to be positioned as the core product that enables workflow delivery, ServiceNow’s AI vision is evolving to deliver greater time-to-value and ROI for AI customers. To achieve this, ServiceNow has been leading with M&A to build on the existing capabilities of the Now Platform, including incidents, agents, documents and cases, among others. For example, in January ServiceNow expanded its foray into AIOps with the acquisition of Israel-based Loom Systems, which was a strategic callout in many event presentations, due to Loom Systems’ IT Service Management (ITSM) solution that relies on AIOps to predict and monitor IT incidents.

TBR believes ServiceNow will utilize Loom Systems’ expertise in AIOps technology as an interim step in helping customers transition to DevOps and agile methods and help bridge gaps between development and operations teams across departments. Additionally, in the AIOps market, ServiceNow is working with IBM (NYSE: IBM) to help customers preemptively identify incidents and initiate a faster response. While Loom Systems’ tool is already integrated as a previous partner into ITSM and IT Operations Management (ITOM), ServiceNow announced plans to re-platform this technology into the Now Platform with the Quebec release in March 2021, underscoring ServiceNow’s strategy of bringing all major innovations back into its foundational platform and increasing customer adoption.

TBR believes the next step beyond empowering AIOps will be broad-based automation and optimization, as ServiceNow unveiled new process automation offerings in the Paris release, including Process Automation Designer, which will be generally available in the Quebec release, and various playbooks that are now available across the Now Platform. As a feature of the Now Platform, Process Automation Designer automates cross-functional processes and provides managers with a customizable user interface. Meanwhile, administrators now have the option of selecting from no-code playbooks with Playbook Experience to provide agents with insight into their workflows, powered through Process Automation Designer. Future tuck-in acquisitions in the area of process automation cannot be ruled out as ServiceNow looks to continues to strengthen its foundational play.

ServiceNow Digital Analyst Summit: In between reporting another strong earnings quarter in 3Q20 and releasing the Now Platform Paris, ServiceNow (NYSE: NOW) hosted a virtual industry analyst event, which included two days of breakout sessions, one-on-one discussions with company leadership, and product demonstrations. Key highlights included the company’s product strategy, which continues to underscore the importance of the Now Platform; how ServiceNow is redefining its go-to-market engine through partnerships and industry solutions; and the refinement of the company’s cloud strategy.

Quick Quantum Quips: Vendors roll out software applications to increase customer connections through partnerships and internal innovation

Welcome to TBR’s monthly newsletter on the quantum computing market: Quick Quantum Quips (Q3). This market changes rapidly, and the hype can often distract from the realities of the actual technological developments. This newsletter will keep the community up to date on recent announcements while stripping away the hype around developments.

For more details, reach out to Stephanie Long or Geoff Woollacott to set up a time to chat.

July 2020 Developments

Tying systems and software together has been a general focus of July quantum computing activity. These ties increase quantum computing vendors’ ability to more adequately address and meet the emerging needs of their customers. The finance and banking industry remains a key customer base for quantum as more financial customers partner to develop industry-specific applications for the technology.

  1. Cambridge Quantum Computing (CQC) and IBM partnered to make CQC the first startup-based hub in IBM’s Q Network. This move grants CQC cloud-based access to IBM’s army of 20 commercially available quantum computers. Leveraging this cloud-based access and Qiskit, CQC along with members of its hub will work on advancing quantum capabilities for specialized use in areas such as chemistry, finance and machine learning.
  2. D-Wave has expanded its Leap quantum cloud service into India and Australia, increasing the global footprint of its quantum technology. D-Wave’s quantum cloud service is now available in 37 countries. In addition to the Leap Quantum Cloud Service, customers in India and Australia will now also have access to D-Wave’s Hybrid Solver Service, Integrated Developer Environment and Problem Inspector solutions as well as access to flexible increments of computing time in a hybrid computing model. D-Wave offers this flexible access in free and paid plans.
  3. Atos unveiled its Quantum Annealing Simulator, which is compatible with Atos’ Quantum Learning Machine and enables the company to provide customers with access to quantum capabilities via a simulator as well as gate quantum computing through its existing portfolio. TBR believes this approach is strategically advantageous for Atos, as quantum annealing gives customers access to a quantum-like solution that achieves a lower error rate faster than a traditional system, enabling Atos customers to become familiar with the technology while the system developments continue to reduce error rates and expand capabilities.
  4. Atos also unveiled an open innovation accelerator program — called Scaler, the Atos Accelerator — which is geared toward vertical-centric experts and startups. As part of this program, 15 startups and vertical-specific experts will be selected annually to participate in developing quantum-specific projects fueled by customer interest. The research will further support the development and enrichment of Atos’ existing quantum computing offerings and also reinforce, in TBR’s view, Atos’ ability to provide quantum services. TBR notes that this approach to innovation is similar to that of other services firms involved in quantum computing, where innovation is largely customer driven to address specific demands.
  5. Standard Chartered Ventures unveiled its commitment to researching potential uses for quantum computing in the finance and banking industry through its academic partnership with Universities Space Research Association (USRA). USRA is a U.S.-based nonprofit with 49 university members. Standard Chartered Ventures noted that some use cases being explored through quantum computing include simulating portfolios and significantly increasing the speed of market data generation.

If you would like more detailed information around the quantum computing market, please inquire about TBR’s Quantum Computing Market Landscape, a semiannual deep dive into the quantum computing market. Our most recent version was released in June.

COVID-19 creates pain, change and even pockets of opportunity for the IT industry

There is still a fog of uncertainty around COVID-19’s impact. What is clear, however, is this outbreak is unlike any event in living history. The long-term health crisis, economic disruption and social disruption are occurring at levels that were unfathomable just months ago. These changes are taking place in a world that is much different from when the last widespread pandemic, the Spanish flu, hit more than 100 years ago. Technology has become such an integral part of our lives since that time and, as such, will be deeply ingrained in many of the short-term and long-term effects of the COVID-19 virus. In this report, TBR will provide a high-level overview of the impact these recent events will have across the hardware, software, cloud, telecom and services markets we cover. While most of the market effects will be painful due to the economic disruption occurring, many will lead to changes in long-held business strategies and create opportunities as technology needs shift for both individuals and organizations.

Social distancing challenges core of IT services industry

Pain: At the core, IT services and professional services are human-centric businesses, delivered by humans and intended to improve employees’ efficiency or accelerate their ability to connect with clients and enable growth. Changes in travel and personal interaction as well as business disruption all challenge the existing IT services business model. Additionally, many of the largest IT services providers will have new leadership tasked with managing these disruptions. In 2019 TBR noted a large number of C-level changes at the largest IT services vendors and consulting firms, as well as their technology partners. Those leaders will be tested in the coming months, and TBR anticipated more positive than negative reviews. More significantly for the long-term business impacts will be the performance of those leaders at the team and business group level, the equivalent of squad leaders and company commanders in a military organization. Adjusting to COVID-19 safety measures; managing people remotely; delivering to clients and managing their expectations, particularly in a tough economy; and continuing to lead — those will be massive challenges for team leaders. How well prepared they are, how well their companies have trained them, and how agile and flexible they can be in an ever-changing business climate are the factors that will distinguish high-performing IT services vendors and consultancies from struggling ones in 2020. The CEOs and top leadership will set the tone, but execution at the lower levels will become exponentially more difficult with this pandemic. 

Change: TBR has already spoken with consultancies and IT services vendors grappling with changes to their business models, particularly around collaborative design sessions in the early stages of digital transformation engagements. Vendors with pilot projects to enhance global coordination and project management have accelerated those efforts and expect to invest heavily in the infrastructure needed to perform at speed and at scale. Vendors have also begun evaluating their technology alliances and resetting expectations around large-scale systems integrations. Also being mentioned are new engagements based on COVID-19, including technology consulting around delivering healthcare — and, critically, testing — through “drive-up” systems.

Opportunity: TBR expects that recent trends around automation, AI and platform-delivered services will be catalyzed by the spread of COVID-19 and imperatives to work remotely and with minimal in-person contact, resulting in a few knock-on effects across the broad IT services and consulting space. Most significantly, those companies that have invested most heavily in automation and remote delivery will see the least impact on their engagements, even if clients begin to freeze or reduce spend in line with a broader economic slowdown. Second, consultancies and IT services vendors with experience in online, remote training and upskilling will be able to both continue their own digital transformations and provide offerings around human capital training and management based on their own lessons learned and best practices. Third, vendors that anticipated a global economic slowdown and prepared to take advantage of lower costs for acquisitions and new opportunities to assist clients in distressed markets — while they likely did not anticipate this virus — are best positioned to provide consulting and IT services throughout the pandemic.