I got briefings from Infosys and Accenture R&D bosses in the last couple of days that show how much they're thinking alike. (Because of scheduling glitches, I won't be able to meet with IBM researchers.) What’s underway is a radical change in the way tech services are conceived and delivered.
At Infosys, Deependra Moitra, associate vp of the company's Software Engineering and Technology lab, has 320 people focusing on assessing emerging technologies to see how they can be harnessed for services customers and looking for ways to squeeze more productivity out of services. Ten months ago he set up a business transformation lab that helps the company create blueprints for clients showing how Infosys' assets and offerings can be used for business transformations, and how outsourcing can be used for transformation projects. The company uses a tool it created, called InFlux, which captures a client's business requirements and transforms them into an IT plan. The company last May started holding day-long customer innovation workshops, one-on-one with a customer, where it listens to what the customer wants to do with its IT and business processes and then tries to come up with projects where the two sides can co-create solutions for the customer.
It was amazing to me how similar the thinking was at Accenture. It has been conducting those customer innovation sessions for years, and it's just now establishing a research outfit in Bangalore, its fourth research lab worldwide. Lin Chase, who heads up the lab, arrived in Bangalore in March, has hired 25 scientists, and plans on hiring more. She showed me a bunch of tools Accenture has created to make IT services more productive and efficient. One of them, with the ungainly name of Application Ecosystem Instrumentation, was created by her crew in Bangalore. It’s being used when Accenture takes over a client’s IT and starts the process of transforming it to make it more efficient. The tool draws pictures for clients of how their business processes and underlying technologies work now, so they can spot efficiencies. They can do what-if exercises, for example sizing up the impact and investment required in adopting a particular software application. .
Classic services don’t scale. As you get more work, you have to put more people on the job. But with these new technologies, these companies are changing the services business model. Once they do, anybody who tries to play by the old rules of the game will get wiped out.