NRF 2017 – Four Critical Digital Developments for Retail Success

What is Happening?

Several ISG advisors participated in the annual NRF Retail’s Big Show, January 15 to 17, 2017 in New York City. The conference showcased how retail technologies and innovations are core to the industry. The show also highlighted disruptions – not only technological but also political – and how they form a challenging environment for retailers. But it’s clear that customers are the source of the most disruption – they expect a connected, fun, consistent brand experience.

ISG came away from the NRF show with four main themes that retailers and their technology partners should consider, as follows:

  1. Retailers need customer-centric and integrated digital platforms;
  2. The store still matters (as long as it’s connected);
  3. Analytics must drive actionable insights; and
  4. Blockchain is significant beyond payments.

Why is it Happening?

Today’s customers need new ways of engaging with buying and digital technologies have raised the stakes for the customer experience. These pressures are driving change within retail business models, forcing retailers to create new customer-centric operating models, and make dramatic shifts to technology investment strategies. These strategies connect and cross customers, the supply chain, and retailer departments, forming a “Digital Fabric” (Figure 1).

ISG Digital Fabric

Figure 1: ISG Digital Fabric. Source: ISG

1. Retailers need customer-centric and integrated digital platforms. While front-end digital user interfaces garnered much attention from their “cool” factor, there was less buzz around such “bright shiny objects” at this year’s show than in the past. Retailers and vendors all recognize what goes into the effort to implement an omni-channel digital platform: it requires implementing a customer-centric technology platform.

Intel’s introduction of its new Responsive Retail Platform (RRP) reflects the need for integrated digital platforms. At the show, Intel announced plans to invest more than $100 million over the next five years in RRP. The platform connects disparate islands of in-store technology and makes it easier to develop and deploy Internet of Things (IoT) software and services by bringing together retail hardware, software, APIs, and sensors.

2. The store still matters (as long as it’s connected). The continued growth of online purchasing at the expense of physical stores seems irreversible. But retailers are once again recognizing stores for what they can be – a valuable asset for differentiating their brands. The emphasis at the show was not about transforming the brand to become an online retailer, but rather about the convergence of the brick-and-mortar and the digital worlds and the breaking down of barriers between channels. To address that need, Samsung and SapientRazorfish introduced IoT tools to bridge online and in-store shopping activities.

We talked with many vendors showcasing facial recognition technology, interactive store applications, Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and wearables. ISG’s research shows that these solutions are gaining faster adoption in enterprise applications. But while these emerging technologies all fit into the category of capabilities that improve the consumer experience and employee productivity, retailers need to focus their investments on consumer engagement technologies that blend the physical and digital touch points along the customer journey.

3. Analytics must drive actionable insights. Session presentations and our other interactions at the show indicate that retailers are getting smarter about Big Data. Top priorities include better data management, improved and actionable analytics, and leveraging sensors to better engage consumers and improve productivity of employees and assets. But the deluge of data makes actionable insights difficult to obtain. We heard from many at the show that integrating artificial intelligence (AI) in systems is the next logical action for retailers looking to deliverable actionable insights and improve performance across customer engagement, omni-channel commerce, and supply chain. Some of the providers with predictive analytics and AI-based offerings for the Retail sector include BlueYonder, Jetlore, CognitiveScale, and r4 Technologies.

IBM via its Watson cognitive computing / AI suite continues to deepen its capabilities and extend them across its commerce, marketing, and supply-chain applications. Other companies also offer credible AI systems to market – and not just traditional software providers. For example, Cognizant’s Intelligent Process Automation Framework applied to its RetailMate, HCL DRYiCE, Infosys Mana, TCS Ignio, and Wipro HOLMES AI platforms are from the outsourcing community. AI also has a clear role in customer engagement (e.g. chatbots) and insight as well as in support of knowledge worker productivity and efficacy.

4. Blockchain is significant beyond payments. Blockchain has the potential of having a significant impact on the retail industry well beyond secure transactions. Today’s “always on” consumer brand loyalty is directly impacted by their appetite for information and a demand for transparency. Blockchain can enable this transparency, allowing all parties—supplier, manufacturer, retailer, and end consumer—to trace a product’s journey. In addition to traceability, connecting all members of a supply chain to the decentralized blockchain allows for a direct exchange of bill of lading documentation between parties, potentially solving one of the shipping industry’s largest problems. There are also applications in warranty claims and counterfeiting.

As an example of a potential use of Blockchain in retail, Microsoft hosted a solution from partner Mojix at its NRF booth. The Mojix RFID and IoT platform solution, based on Microsoft’s Azure Blockchain-as-a-service, automates a retailer’s supply chain enabled by blockchain-based smart contracts between the retailer, its suppliers, and logistics providers.

Net Impact

An integrated digital platform – for retailers can and must provide an integrated infrastructure, and a set of core digital business processes in which common tools, capabilities, and data are transparent and shared, not duplicated. Such a digital fabric for back-end services allows a retailer to create a digital consumer engagement seamlessly across all channels. But putting the pieces in place requires making sense of the many choices of platforms, tools, and services.

Blockchain’s chain-of-custody record will aid in tracking product journeys as well as reducing counterfeiting for luxury items. Goods can be certified with a Blockchain’s digital ledger record, to more easily identify stolen merchandise. But Blockchain is still poorly understood and not widely trusted. So we think broad market adoption is beyond 2017, but Blockchain’s future applications will sweep across many aspects of Retail. Clients of ISG’s subscription research services will see further analysis of business uses of Blockchain and examinations of leaders and disruptors in future research publications.

To varying degrees, the analytics vendors at the show demonstrated capabilities to understand varied content and then reason through disparate data to draw conclusions and recommendations, learn as they go, and interact with knowledge workers and customers. In upcoming research we will cover more about the importance of advanced customer analytics and the role of AI.

Lastly, retailers should make sure emerging technologies under consideration have staying power, and determine whether they fit within the strategy for an end-to-end customer-centric operating model. Instead of being about disconnected or loosely connected, as we discussed about the innovations showcased at the CES 2017 show, retail technologies are bellwethers of where user experience technology innovation is going, using the convergence of data, devices, immersive connectivity, and artificial intelligence to improve customer engagement. Look for additional ISG research about the digital fabric of retail business.

Save the Date: Expertonale 2017

Jürgen Brettel

Jürgen BrettelUnsere diesjährige Jahreskonferenz, die Expertonale 2017, am 24. Oktober im Hilton Frankfurt Airport, The Squaire, Frankfurt/Main, richtet sich an ICT-Anwender, -Hersteller und -Dienstleister.

Im Laufe der Expertonale werden wir über die aktuellen Trends und Best Practices berichten, einen Ausblick auf die Kernthemen für 2018 geben und themenübergreifend neutrale und unabhängige Handlungsempfehlungen aussprechen.

Die Veranstaltung soll Ihnen als Informationsplattform dienen und zusätzlich den Kontakt und Austausch mit anderen ICT-Verantwortlichen ermöglichen.

Im Rahmen der Konferenz haben Sie zudem die Möglichkeit, mit unseren anwesenden Advisorn Einzelgespräche zu Ihren Themen und Fragestellungen zu führen. Nutzen Sie die Gelegenheit für kurze, intensive Beratungssessions.

Hilton Frankfurt Airport


Am Flughafen
60549 Frankfurt

t: +49 (0)69 2601 200 2253  f: +49 (0)69 2601 200 6020

Klicken Sie hier, um den Termin direkt in Ihren Kalender einzutragen:

24.10.2017, 09:00 bis 18:00 Uhr

IT Providers and the Enterprise Digital Leadership Challenge

Bruce Guptill, Charlie Burns Research Alerts

What is Happening?

Conversations at the January ISG Executive Provider Summit with CEOs, CTOs and global product/service leaders of leading IT providers Cognizant, HCL, Hexaware, NTT DATA, Inc., and Softtek have helped us to crystallize core trends and market developments that we’re seeing in our work with enterprise and provider clients alike.

The net takeaway is this: Providers “get” Digital Transformation. They understand what enterprises are trying to accomplish, and the resulting need to change what they themselves do and how they do it.

But while providers are taking important steps in the right direction, each also faces substantial challenges in balancing their own and enterprise clients’ current interests and capabilities, versus what is in the best interests of both parties over the long term.  It is a complex, costly, and potentially dangerous cycle wherein providers are re-inventing themselves and clients, while clients re-invent themselves and providers.

Why is it Happening?

Let’s start with an important position statement: IT providers demonstrate more digital transformational knowledge and technology leadership than the vast majority of enterprise business and IT leaders. They know how to “do digital” better than most of their clients. They understand the strategic point of view and the required planning and management. They are bringing to market a wealth of digital business consulting and planning capabilities, and improving on these through strategic acquisitions and partnerships.

Meanwhile, most enterprises want, and are trying to, develop and pursue key aspects of digital transformation on their own. Most also report initial success. However, we know from our research that these successes are mostly minor and fleeting, because of two factors. First, the vast majority of digital initiatives to date are tightly-focused, small in scale, developed without an integrative strategy, and not measured effectively. Second, digital is still so new that enterprises leaders lack the experience and knowledge required to develop effective, unifying strategies. And it is still rare to find the CEO and CIO who recognize that they cannot do it all themselves – that they need to be led. So, while we see more IT providers like Cognizant, HCL, Hexaware, NTT DATA, and Softtek developing and bringing to market a range of what can best be called “digital leadership” services, we don’t yet see a critical mass of enterprise leaders able or willing to take advantage of these.

Forward-looking IT providers understand this, and so continue to develop IP-led capabilities to address the more focused, tactical digital improvements that most enterprises are aware of and capable of benefiting from. This includes putting together IP based on existing technologies and weaving in more emerging technologies, really moving far beyond traditional IT services in more ways. So we see more providers investing in IP, especially for industry-specific digital business process improvement. And because enterprise clients today tend to focus on tightly-focused digital improvements, there is more interest in “outcome-based” contracting aligned with specific business or IT operations and processes. And we see increased and accelerating provider investment in market-specific knowledge and capabilities through partnering with and acquiring market-, operation-, and process-specific technology, software, and services providers.

Net Impact

The range of what enterprises want and require for digital transformation is increasingly complex. This is forcing re-invention of provider-side portfolios and business models well beyond the changes already being forced by evolving IT sourcing practices and patterns.

This is much more than weaving automation, analytics and autonomics into specific, digital-supportive solutions. It is an increasingly complex and shifting mix of provider- and client-side technologies, business models, and relationships. Things can quickly get more costly than anticipated. It is a real danger for providers, even those who “get” what digital means strategically while understanding and addressing typically tactical enterprise digital requests. We see a significant likelihood of providers’ stumbling on the digital journey, despite the current  clarity of vision and intent.

That being said, the spreading scope of digital-driven business and IT complexity will give rise to one of the greatest long-term opportunities for both providers and enterprise clients: re-invented integration. To make digital business work in the long term, enterprises will need an integrative business+IT strategy and rapidly-improving and expanding integration capabilities across potentially thousands of digital project instances. Such strategic and integrative capabilities will be the purview of the re-invented IT providers as they shift toward:

  1. A broader systems integration role that focuses on more complex and comprehensive projects such as infrastructure transformation; and
  2. A business integration role that focuses on measurable enterprise business transformation and improvement over time.

Such a shift, or series of shifts more likely, raises further questions that we will continue to address for our subscription research and advisory clients, including the following:

  • If, as part of their emerging digital transformation roles, IT providers take over more business IT planning, delivery, and leadership, what becomes of the CIO’s job?
  • And if outsourced IT development, delivery, and execution are increasingly correlated to specific business outcomes, what becomes the primary value of the enterprise IT organization?
  • What are the next critical changes that IT and services procurement leaders and organizations need to consider – and how quickly?

We’re not putting the cart before the horse. Anyone who spends any reasonable amount of time within or around enterprise IT understands the inherent, massive complexities that effectively limit the pace and amount of change that is possible in a given amount of time. We cannot forget or discount the traditional business of IT providers and the reasons for enterprise outsourcing. As one CIO now working in the sourcing industry recently told us, there is “still a ton of blocking and tackling and drudge work” going on, and that will remain the “meat and potatoes” of IT provider business for the near future. There is still a long, long way to go for most enterprises in transformation, and therefore also for IT providers. So providers will be tested as they remain in multiple cycles of re-invention that are developing at differing speeds. They face multiple, competing and overlapping business models, resource requirements, and timeframes. Success will come from balancing a focus on “point solution” enterprise transformation and modernization, typically of specific IT functions, operations, and outputs, while investing more over time in strategic, bespoke business and IT consulting capabilities. The greatest challenges will come in determining how much, and when, to shift investment from traditional business or tactical digital initiatives to tactical initiatives or strategic services.

Drivers of SaaS Adoption in HR Differ by Growth Profile

Alex Bakker

What is Happening?

In our 2016 HCM Adoption Survey we examined whether companies are moving their HCM solutions to SaaS / Cloud (they are), and we also looked into what was driving that shift. As we have seen over the last several years, vendors are increasingly shifting focus to their cloud systems, leaving the fate of many on-premises software applications on an inevitable upgrade path. However, many customers aren’t waiting until the last minute – the HCM suite has been a leading category for enterprise SaaS adoption for several years.

Why is it Happening?

Figure 1 shows what companies indicated were their top three drivers for selecting to move their HR systems to SaaS over the next few years.

Reducing TCO easily tops this – which is somewhat intuitive, because HR software tends to have high total costs. Many systems rely on manual workarounds, have high customization costs, and require 3rd party add-on functionality. Downtime, errors, and maintenance also have costs across the organization and tend to be reduced with SaaS applications. Finally, HR apps and data have high compliance and privacy risks. PII laws often protect the data, and legislation on benefits such as the ACA can also impose significant costs on HR processes.

SaaS Adoption

Figure 1: Top 3 Drivers of SaaS Adoption. Source: ISG Inc., 2016 HCM Adoption Survey, Global n = 206.

After that, reduced demand on IT is seen as a major driver for SaaS deployments – both to avoid configuration and deployment delays, but also to reduce reliance on in-house support. This driver is one that we see often in our consulting engagements in addition to HCM systems typically being lower on IT’s priority list after client facing services and other business systems.  It is also closely related to the TCO question as well, since by sourcing HR functions to SaaS providers it also reduces the helpdesk, hosting and applications development and maintenance burden. Finally, while infrastructure costs are rarely the driver of high total cost of HCM systems, the reduction in human costs associated with the shift of on-premises applications to SaaS has follow-on importance to cost reduction.

However, cost management is far from being the complete story here. Figure 2 looks into the drivers across various company growth profiles. In the fastest-growing companies, the shift to SaaS is driven mostly by the need to increase employee engagement, likely focused on retention and fast onboarding needed by companies that are rapidly adding headcount. For those same companies, user experience is also of high importance.

Companies whose business is shrinking/contracting are looking for benefits that immediately enable them to leverage best practices – often a critical area of liability coverage when reducing headcount. After that, they also seem the most critically focused on reducing their need for IT. We see a strong trend that the faster-growing companies are not as worried about the performance of their IT departments. This reflects a dichotomy in IT that shrinking businesses recognize that their IT departments are holding them back, while fast growing companies often are able to grow quickly because their IT delivers above-average capabilities to the business. IT can be the cause of the fast or slow growth, as well as a symptom of either.

SaaS Adoption 

Figure 2: Top 3 Drivers of SaaS Adoption – By Company Growth Profile Source: ISG Inc., 2016 HCM Adoption Survey, Global n = 206.

Market Impact

While cost management remains overall top-of-mind for the majority of companies selecting HR SaaS, these goals are not uniform across all growth profiles. In our experience, the primary benefit that companies receive from SaaS is seldom true reduction of total cost, at least in the short term. While the lack of costly upgrades can have real impact on the long term total cost, we find that in the shorter term, the primary benefits to the organization are softer, e.g., improved agility, faster time to value, easier data integration, and improved employee experience.  These issues still ranked lower in the survey overall than costs, despite showing up often.

We believe that this indicates a mismatch between what customers really need, vs. what SaaS helps them achieve. For example, they want a reduction in cost, but they are more likely to get improved agility. To truly achieve lower total costs, the organization typically needs to look beyond their basic software implementation toward specific processes and operations that can be streamlined to actually reduce overhead and costs. SaaS sets companies up well to have the flexibility to reduce or avoid costs, but it doesn’t necessarily reduce costs by costing less.

ISDN: Der All-IP-Countdown läuft, rechtzeitig die Weichen stellen – aber wie?

Frank Heuer, Wolfgang Heinhaus

Frank HeuerWolfgang HeinhausKommunikationslösungen waren früher in vielen Unternehmen ein Randthema, das häufig nur alle paar Jahre aufkam, wenn der Mietvertrag der Telefonanlage auslief. Mit der Ankündigung, dass 2018 die Umstellung von ISDN auf das All-IP-Netz abgeschlossen sein soll, stellen sich viele Unternehmen die Frage, wie man sich generell hinsichtlich der Kommunikationslösungen in Zukunft optimalerweise aufstellen soll.

Denn während die Möglichkeiten der Unternehmenskommunikation bis vor einigen Jahren noch sehr übersichtlich waren, gibt es heute eine Vielzahl von Optionen, z.B. Unified Communications, und unterschiedliche Bereitstellungsmodelle – sei es der gewohnte Eigenbetrieb, Private oder Public Cloud. Auch die Anbieterlandschaft hat sich erheblich gewandelt, manch ein etablierter Provider ist verschwunden, viele neue Anbieter sind auf den Markt gekommen, IT-Anbieter haben das Kommunikationsthema in ihr Portfolio integriert und weiterentwickelt.

Zwar werden ISDN-Emulationen angeboten, die den ISDN-Betrieb auch über das Jahr 2018 hinaus möglich machen sollen, aber bei Einsatz der ISDN-Emulationen fallen die aus ISDN-Zeiten gewohnten Funktionen weg, wie Halten, Makeln oder Vermitteln. Wenn zudem schnurlose DECT-Telefone weiter verwendet werden sollen, ist zu untersuchen, ob eine Weiterverwendung möglich ist. Sollen analoge Fax-Systeme angeschlossen werden, gibt es Laufzeitenprobleme. Das sind nur einige Beispiele, die zu berücksichtigen sind.

Darüber hinaus sollte die Umstellung auch als eine Chance begriffen werden, die Möglichkeiten neuer Technologien zur effizienten Kommunikation und Zusammenarbeit zu nutzen und sich damit auch die Wettbewerbsfähigkeit zu erhalten.

Wie können Unternehmen in diesem Zusammenhang optimal die Weichen stellen? Wir stehen Ihnen in einem Strategie-Workshop zur Verfügung, in dem wir Entscheidungsunterstützung zu den vielfältigen Aspekten anbieten und auf die Punkte hinweisen, die berücksichtigt werden sollten. Wenden Sie sich bei Interesse bitte an (Betreff: „All-IP Countdown“)


Abbildung: Beispiel-Optionen der Kommunikationstechnologie. Quelle: Experton Group AG, 2015.

New Research – 10 Key Insights for 2017

Bruce Guptill Research Alerts

What is Happening?

Based on our analysis of current and emerging business technology, industry, and market trends and causes, ISG Insights expects 2017 to be the year when “digital business” begins being absorbed into “business as usual,” pushing enterprise leaders and IT providers, into either accelerated business and IT transformation – or competitive decline.

A recent Strategic Perspective published for our premium subscription research clients outlines ten key changes and developments behind this transformation. Those changes and developments are summarized in this Research Alert.

Why is it Happening?

While we see a broad range of business IT changes and developments emerging through 2017, we find ten that are most likely to force fundamental change in how enterprises do business, and how they procure and manage business IT – and in how IT providers do business as well. The ten are as follows:

  1. “Digital Business” becomes just “business.” Digital transformation is rapidly becoming a normal state of business. By YE 2017, it will be important for all aspects of business to shift their thinking away from Digital Business being something separate or compartmentalized, and toward a larger, more integrative vision. This will require increased synchronization between the changing IT organization and all aspects of business operations – not just Finance and strategic planning.
  2. Digital Labor settles in. While the applications and effects will differ by firm and by market, 2017 will bring an acceleration of mostly-software-based “robots” in more areas of business than ever before. This will include a changing variety of mixed digital and human functionality. Today, we see most such automation is taking place in enterprise IT and Finance organizations, with some increasing activity in HR.
  3. Workforce management and Talent 3.0. While enterprises look to more automation and outsourcing to reduce reliance on human-focused functionalities, they will also create more complex and non-standardized mixes of software- and services-provided labor. The resulting complexity of labor management will increase costs, and trigger business for outside providers who can improve the management of said complexity.
  4. IoT swallows Enterprise IT. In essence, the IoT (including the Industrial Internet of Things) will become the connectivity hub for the majority of enterprise information technologies that collect and feed data stores for analysis. The core data connectivity, distribution, storage, and analysis function of the traditional IT department, in effect, gets “swallowed” by IoT; IoT thus becomes the de facto enterprise IT architecture.
  5. IoT / IIoT as an economical way to extend legacy infrastructure value. As a result of “swallowing” enterprise IT, we will see IoT capabilities help to prolong and even enhance the lifetime and value of many legacy systems. In most IoT / IIoT environments, greater current business value (including operational and process efficiency improvement) will be derivable from existing infrastructure – and help to extend legacy equipment and system lifespans. This will cause enterprise IT and business leaders to re-think workload migration as well as investments in traditional and Cloud-based infrastructure.
  6. Agile operating models go mainstream. Given all of the above, we will see traditional business and IT operating models clearly demonstrated as obstacles to necessary innovation and business growth. In 2017, agile and iterative models will start to shift from experimental stages to be competitive table stakes for businesses seeking expansion. Like “digital business” becoming “business,” “agile” will become the IT and enterprise operating norm.
  7. Shadow IT grows closer to being “real” IT. While “shadow IT” has always been present, Cloud IT adoption and adaption has driven massive shifts in technology and services buying growth outside of traditional channels. As this behavior becomes mainstream through 2017, we see enterprise IT procurement approaching a tipping point, where Shadow IT shifts into being considered “real” IT throughout the enterprise. This forces traditional enterprise IT organizations to quickly adapt – or risk being restructured into primarily support roles.
  8. As-a-Service buying surges. Systems of engagement are critical enablers of a digital business transformation. These types of platforms are increasingly being delivered via As-a-Service delivery models that prioritize speed, productivity and innovation over cost reduction -the traditional outcome sought by outsourcing buyers. Therefore, As-a-Service buying will continue to increase, while traditional sourcing will stay relatively flat. This will add disruption for traditional service and technology providers, while steering enterprise buyers to more IT buying/usage options.
  9. The de facto decline of business software upgrading. We are seeing a substantial, sharp increase in the number of longtime enterprise software users (and buyers) considering Cloud sourcing instead of upgrading core, legacy applications and supporting databases. This is a huge reversal of long-standing IT industry trends. The economic case for rip-and-replace is becoming better – and the more legacy software vendors try to force upgrades, the more likely user enterprises are to weigh replacing them. In 2017, we will see this “get real” as enterprise business and IT leaders begin to flex their preferences for Cloud-first solutions over legacy upgrades.
  10. Cost management initiatives demand and drive CFO-CIO unification. The business benefits of digital transformation will be limited or even unattainable without improved alignment, synchronization, and operations at all levels between enterprise Finance and IT organizations. We have been encouraged by recent initiatives toward more converged CFO and CIO approaches as regards IT cost management. But in those firms where these groups – and leaders – are not in synch, expenses will spiral out of control while competitive capabilities improve only in fits and starts.

Market Impact

Everything is not suddenly changing in 2017. But our analysis of patterns, trends, and causes make it clear that 2017 will be the year when provider-side IT-as-a-Service, and enterprise/user-side IT adaptation and business innovation, really begin synchronizing. This will put transformation (and disruption) in enterprise IT procurement, usage, and management into overdrive. It’s been a bumpy ride to this point on the digital journey; from here through 2018 at least, we expect it to be more of a roller coaster.

ISG Insights will be examining each of these ten developments and changes thoroughly throughout the year (and beyond), and providing insights, guidance, and best practices regarding each. Look for upcoming series of research note and reports covering disruptive technologies and providers, models and guidance for aligning changing software and services needs with vendor/provider capabilities and offerings, and summary insights and guidance from our advisors and consultants based on real-world experience among hundreds of enterprise clients and provider clients.

SAP: Preisvergleiche und Leistungsverrechnungen

Axel Kohlmann-Gralfs

Axel Kohlmann-GralfsSAP spielt in vielen Unternehmen mittlerweile eine zentrale Rolle bei der Abwicklung von Geschäftsprozessen.

Durch die zunehmende Ausdehnung des Portfolios über das klassische ERP hinaus (z.B. CRM, Business Intelligence, etc.), sind die IT-Budgets für die SAP-Landschaft stark gewachsen und vereinen auf sich häufig mehr als 50 Prozent der Kosten für Hosting sowie Anwendungsentwicklung und -Wartung (ADM). Gerade weil SAP in solchen Fällen eine Schlüsselrolle bei den Geschäftsprozessen des Unternehmens innehat, sollten diese Kosten eingehend auf ihre Angemessenheit und Verteilung hin betrachtet werden, um größtmögliche Effizienz und Transparenz zu gewährleisten.

Kernfragen dieser Betrachtung sind:

  • Wie teuer ist eigentlich die gewählte SAP-Implementierung bei den Betriebskosten im Vergleich zu anderen Unternehmen der Branche?
  • Wie lassen sich diese Betriebskosten verursachungsgerecht auf einzelne Konzerngesellschaften umlegen?
  • Welche Abrechnungsparameter können zur Leistungsverrechnung herangezogen werden und wie können diese Parameter als Maß für marktübliche Kosten/Preise dienen?

Für diese unterschiedlichen Fragestellungen werden im Folgenden anhand von Beispielen Wege aufgezeigt, um Antworten zu finden und Lösungen zu entwickeln.

Beispiel 1 – Vergleich der Betriebskosten: Branche Energieversorger

Durch die vor einigen Jahren gesetzlich vorgeschriebene Entkoppelung (Unbundling) von Netz- und Stromversorgung (EnWG Novelle 2005), mussten die bestehenden Landschaften der von SAP angebotenen ERP-Industrie-Lösung zur Energiedatenverwaltung und Abrechnung (Industry Solution Utilities, IS-U) angepasst und verändert werden, um diese Trennung in den Verträgen abbilden zu können. Dies geschah oft über zusätzliche Mandanten oder auch eine zweite Landschaft mit Prozess Integration (PI) als Schnittstelle zum Datenaustausch.

Stückpreise SAP

Da bei SAP IS-U der Vertrag bzw. Zählpunkt die zentrale Bezugsgröße ist, über die zum Teil sogar Service Provider die IT-Betriebskosten abrechnen, lässt sich hier über diese Geschäftskennzahl der Benchmark durch Beratungsunternehmen herstellen.

Voraussetzung für einen validen Vergleich ist aber, dass die Daten für die jeweiligen Landschaften gleichartig über eine einheitliche Methodik erfasst und normiert werden. Dabei ist es besonders wichtig, genau die Leistungstiefe aufzunehmen und gegebenenfalls auch gewisse Anteile abzugrenzen (z.B. SAP-Software-Wartungsgebühren o.Ä.).

ISG verwendet hier ein bewährtes Modell, das alle relevanten Betriebskosten gleichartig erfasst und darüber hinaus die Option eines Drilldowns (ein Verfahren, bei dem die verschiedenen Eigenschaften von vorhandenen Informationsobjekten herangezogen werden, um die Datenanalyse schrittweise zu verfeinern) eröffnet, um Ursachen für Abweichungen analysieren zu können. Dafür ist es nötig, eine funktionale Sicht der IT abzubilden, die vergleichbare Anteile normalisiert und gegenüberstellt.

SAP IS-U Hosting

Das Beispiel illustriert einen solchen Vergleich und die daraus resultierenden Unterschiede: Man sieht sehr deutlich, dass der Preisanteil für den Serverbetrieb deutlich höher als beim Referenzgruppenmittelwert ist. Die folgende Ursachenanalyse in diesem Bereich fördert dann schnell die Gründe für diese Überhöhung zu Tage und eröffnet den Weg für entsprechende Maßnahmen, um die Kosten effizient anzupassen. In der Konsequenz bedeutet eine solche Anpassung Kosteneinsparungen, die Ressourcen für neue Projekte oder Optimierungsmaßnahmen freisetzen, die letztendlich dem Unternehmen als Ganzes zu Gute kommen.

Beispiel 2 – Verteilung der Betriebskosten: SAP HCM

Durch die steigende Funktionalität und Komplexität hat die HR-Lösung von SAP längst die Dimension verlassen, in denen die gesamten Betriebskosten auf HR-Stammsätze oder Personalabrechnungen normiert werden können.

Der Service Stack ist geprägt durch neue Funktionen und Produkte (z.B. das Portal), die klar abgegrenzt werden müssen, um einen adäquaten Preis- oder Kostenvergleich durchführen zu können. Diese neuen Zusatzfunktionen erzeugen zusätzliche Betriebskosten und Aufwände, so dass sowohl aus Transparenzgründen wie auch aus der Sicht eines Dienstleisters eine Erweiterung des Preismodells nötig ist, um diese Funktionalitäten abzubilden.


Über die Einführung eines Servicekatalogs, der alle Leistungen transparent und detailliert erfasst und darstellt, lassen sich nicht nur IT-nahe Leistungen, sondern auch Themen wie Zeitwirtschaft und Personalabrechnungstätigkeiten beschreiben und für ein exaktes Preismodell granular abgrenzen.

Am Ende bekommt der Kunde so ein klares Leistungsprofil mit den genauen Preiskomponenten der abgerufenen Leistung. Dadurch wird verhindert, dass z.B. einzelne Konzerntöchter für intransparente Leistungsschnitte unterschiedlichste Kosten haben und es eröffnet die Möglichkeit, über Marktpreise in einem Benchmark die erforderliche Transparenz herzustellen.

Beispiel 3 – Abrechnungsparameter: ERP

Die Leistungsverrechnung wird weitaus komplexer, wenn die Applikation eine Vielzahl von Geschäftsprozessen unterstützt und keine eindeutigen Normierungsgrößen mehr vorhanden sind.

Dann muss ein Ansatz gewählt werden, der ausgewählte Größen für die Geschäftsprozesse nach einem gewichteten Raster normiert. Hier bieten Beratungsunternehmen bewährte Verfahren aufgrund profunder, empirischer Daten aus verschiedenen Branchen an, um Kunden bei diesem Prozess zu unterstützen.

Dies ist vor allem bei einer neuen Leistungsverrechnung notwendig, da externe Expertise eine höhere Akzeptanz für ein neues Verfahren schafft, das dann von allen Beteiligten trotz der neuen Kostenverteilung auch angenommen wird.

Dieser Ansatz kann z.B. innerhalb eines Konzerns anwendet werden, um mit am Markt validierten Preisen eine verursachungsgerechte Abrechnung für die SAP-Nutzung einzuführen.

Für ein ERP-System ist dies nachfolgend beispielhaft illustriert.


Neben den Stamm- und Bewegungsdaten einzelner Geschäftsprozesse wird auch eine User-bezogene Komponente verwendet, die aber nur eine von vielen Parametern ist.

Häufig wird nur der User als einzige Abrechnungskomponente eingesetzt, was im Vergleich zu diesem ausgewogenen Modell, das auch die Nutzung in den Geschäftsprozessen als Parameter dazu nimmt, starke Ungleichgewichte erzeugen kann, wenn einzelne Firmen aufgrund ihres Geschäftsmodells, z.B. eine hohe User-Anzahl benötigen, aber eventuell nur wenige Geschäftsprozesse im ERP nutzen.

In der Kombination von Geschäftsprozessdaten, die das Nutzungsprofil dokumentieren und darüber auch den Ressourcenverbrauch verursachungsgerecht zuordnen, mit den Nutzerzahlen lassen sich die Abrechnungen von gemeinsam genutzten Systemen wesentlich transparenter strukturieren.

Neben der reinen Leistungsverrechnung kann ein solches Schema zudem ein Vergleichsraster für einen Benchmark sein. Hier bietet die Höhe der einzelnen Stückkosten je Geschäftsprozess ein Maß für die Betriebskosten und Effektivität der Implementierung. Denn häufig liegen die Gründe für erhöhte Wartungsaufwände in der gewählten Anpassung.

Innerhalb einer Branche kann die Höhe der Betriebskosten bezogen auf die Geschäftsprozess Parameter ein Maß für den gewählten Weg der Implementierung sein und als Benchmark für die Marktüblichkeit der Gesamtkosten dienen.

Die angeführten Beispiele zeigen, dass die eingehende, neutrale Betrachtung und Bewertung der SAP-Landschaft eines Unternehmens, branchenbezogen Transparenz schafft und durch den Marktvergleich über Benchmarks Kostenpotenziale aufzeigt oder eine verursachungsgerechte Leistungsverrechnung fördert.

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2017 – An Inflection Year for Digital Labor in Enterprise IT?

Bruce Guptill, Ron Exler Research Alerts

What is Happening?

A review of both enterprise client hiring plans and third-party insights indicate a significant and accelerating information technology skills shortage that will continue, and likely grow, through 2017. And unfortunately, that shortage looks to be worst among skills critical to the development and growth of digital business – i.e., IT security, Cloud, and data analytics and management.

Our net take: These shortages will hasten enterprise moves toward more, and more advanced, methods of staff augmentation, including more aggressive outsourcing, more and better skills training, and greater deployment of digital labor in IT through 2017. In some places, governments are stepping in to fund technology training.

Why is it Happening?

Our ongoing research among C-level business and IT leaders clearly indicates the significance of Digital Business development and improvement, as well as the challenges in finding necessary skills such as advanced IT security, data science, and associated analytics and data management. It’s becoming clear that business and IT leaders alike face a skills shortage that threatens their enterprises’ ability to develop and grow Digital Business initiatives.

Figure 1: Digital Business Signposts

Digital Business Signposts

Source: ISG Insights Digital Business Survey among C-level Business/IT Leaders, Nov. 2015 (n=129), & Sept. 2016 (n=141)

Meanwhile, our assessment of hiring plans among enterprise clients, supported by analysis of published third-party research, indicates stagnant IT hiring through 2017. The majority of market data highlight limited (and limiting) technology hiring expectations amongst IT leaders. For example, TEKsystems’ annual IT Forecast reports that 63% of IT leaders expect 2017 IT salaries to stay the same overall compared to 2016. The Robert Half Technology’s IT Hiring Forecast and Local Trends Report says that only 16% of CIOs plan to add more IT staff in the first half of 2017, and 69% plan to hire only for open IT roles. Economic factors exacerbate the flat IT hiring projections, with some economists saying that 2017 will see flat or low growth accompanied by global political and economic uncertainties.

Net Impact

We believe that this stagnation (or at best, very limited growth) in IT hiring will help make 2017 an inflection point in the growth of digital labor adoption, especially within enterprise IT organizations. We already see a clear influence of automation on the cost of IT outsourcing (ITO) and business process outsourcing (BPO) services. Providers’ automation of several traditional aspects of IT operations and management is increasing sharply, leading to upwards of a 50 percent reduction in the number of resources required to support core IT operations services. This, in turn, is leading to significant cost reductions for data center, application management, service desk, and network services customers. We see these approaches both (1) increasing some enterprises’ ability and desire to outsource, and (2) providing examples to enterprises as to how they can address hiring needs when budgets fall short.

2017 will not be the year that software and robots replace highly-skilled IT staff, however. The state-of-the-art in IT automation replaces people in some of the more simplistic IT areas, such as operations monitoring and help desk. Extending automation to more intricate tasks requiring greater skill levels is complex, and outside of today’s capabilities. That being said, we see rapidly increasing use of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) in both provider and enterprise IT; RPA supports additional complexity, and will be key to extending automation beyond the simple tasks.

Digital labor will not only be deployed in IT operations. Our work with clients in areas such as Finance, Human Resources, and Contact Center suggests that more than two-thirds of these business areas will see significant RPA adoption by 2020.

While automation can reduce staffing and associated costs, it doesn’t directly solve the problem of lack of people with expertise in required technology domains. Enterprises can resolve the lack of expertise through training or by hiring beyond current sources.  For that, we see 2017 also being an inflection year in the growth of advanced IT skills training in security and data science.

Some governments are stepping in to help with technology training. The U.S. White House TechHire initiative is a campaign to expand local tech sectors by working with companies in building technology-talent pipelines in communities across the country. There are now more than 50 TechHire communities in the U.S. and the government recently released $150 million in new Department of Labor TechHire grants for training.

Programs such as TechHire should close some of the skills gap and address concerns many companies have in light of some of the populist attitudes in many regions against corporations that outsource work to offshore locations.

CES 2017 – Bellwether of Next-gen Enterprise IT User Experiences?

Bruce Guptill, Jim Hurley, Ron Exler Research Alerts

What is Happening?

CES – formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Show – now underway in Las Vegas, traditionally has been a conference about consumer gadgets and gizmos, and not about enterprise IT. But we see this year as different; it is the year CES transitions from largely disconnected or loosely-connected gadgets and gizmos, to one where devices from augmented reality systems to drones to autonomous vehicles to sensors and controllers become interconnected via 5G and immersive broadband, and utilize context-led data mining and machine learning, and degrees of cognitive capabilities, to transform end-user experiences.

What is important for ISG Insights clients is that the immersive, user-centric IoT experiences being showcased at CES this week are going to create new demands for customer, employee, and partner experiences in the workplace; the use cases showcased at CES are early indicators of where user experience for enterprise IT is headed, and its inherent IT management challenges.

Why is it Happening?

In addition to being a coming-out party for new gadgets and consumer services, CES is an indicator of what is just around the corner involving user-oriented technology innovation. In and among the technology provider announcements, sessions introduce, explain, and demonstrate incredibly diverse consumer and commercial IT as diverse as artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, 5G and ATSC broadband, connected cars, entertainment, healthcare, IoT, mobility, public safety, smart cities, transportation and wearables.

But this year is a bit different than past years at CES. This year’s focus on the interconnection between people and their experience with interconnected devices, data, and applications indicates that a new era is underway in the innovative consumer electronics industry. Instead of being about disconnected or loosely connected, the innovations being showcased at CES are forecasting where user experience technology innovation is going, using the convergence of data, devices, immersive connectivity, machine learning and emerging uses of cognitive artificial intelligence.

We see strong focus on the interconnection between voice activation and the command and control of devices and associated services, including messaging, calendaring, device or system access, streaming content, and environmental controls, including those in automotive vehicles. Use cases are being demonstrated this week for all of these interconnected user-controlled-and-customized capabilities across automotive, entertainment, healthcare, transportation, and smart city / public safety applications and environments. This is an important aspect of the growing trend toward greater adoption and adaptation of more immersive user experiences (including wearables, augmented reality, and social IT) in more environments.

Net Impact

In much the same way as the PC, laptop and then smartphones redefined the user experience in the past few decades, we expect this year’s CES will be the beginning act of a longer-term evolution that will again redefine customer experience for enterprise IT. Our experience suggests that key developments demonstrated at CES this year becomes what individual users expect in their business IT environments within the next two years.

The immersive, highly-integrated, voice-commanded environments showcased at CES 2017 are unlikely to make strong commercial showings immediately, but the users will be bringing them in to the enterprise very soon. The most likely early areas of enterprise adoption will be in systems or processes with multiple sets of relatively simple tasks that utilize readily-available information services of some type.  But these early initiatives will help to rapidly develop and refine an increasing range of business environment use cases through 2018. Much of this will be disruptive to enterprise IT management, driven by individual and small group initiatives similar to early Cloud adoption instances.

The net problem to be anticipated and addressed is as follows: An unpredictable mix of traditional and nontraditional devices used by a rapidly-growing number and range of users in nontraditional ways to access and control both traditional and nontraditional (and likely non-approved) services will test resource management and system security at tens of thousands of intersecting points daily – while creating massive amounts of user/device/resource data. Clients of ISG Insights will see continuous updates and guidance on all aspects of this combined burgeoning problem and innovative adaptation of consumer IT for enterprise business.

Grußwort zum Jahreswechsel

2016 war ein äußerst ereignisreiches Jahr. In der Weltpolitik zeigten sich Umbrüche, die auch voraussichtlich unsere Märkte beeinflussen werden. Hierzu passt, dass die Unternehmen in Europa die allergrößten Herausforderungen im Rahmen der Digitalisierung primär nicht nur bei IT-bezogenen Themen, sondern besonders in der (Führungs-) Kultur und der Bereitschaft zum organisatorischen Wandel sehen. Nichtsdestotrotz war der ICT-Markt deutlich in Bewegung. Dies zeigte sich nicht zuletzt an zahlreichen milliardenschweren Übernahmen, mit denen sich viele Anbieter für die Herausforderungen in rasant sich wandelnden Märkten wappnen wollen. Sei es etwa, indem die Möglichkeiten des Internets der Dinge angestrebt werden, der Wandel zum Dienste-Provider vorangetrieben wird oder das Momentum einer gewaltigen Netzwerk-Community dem Geschäft zu Gute kommen soll.

Auch für Experton Group selbst war 2016 ein sehr bedeutendes Jahr. Im März wurde unser Unternehmen von der Information Services Group (ISG) übernommen. ISG ist eines der führenden Marktforschungs- und Beratungshäuser im Informationstechnologiebereich und weltweit aktiv. Die Dienstleistungsangebote unserer beiden Unternehmen sind komplementär und ergänzen sich sehr gut. Der Marktforschungsfokus von Experton Group passt zu den immer wichtiger werdenden Digital Services von ISG. Durch unsere Vendor Benchmarking Services erhält ISG zudem ein neues Standbein, welches weltweit genutzt werden kann. Ein erstes gemeinsames Portfolio haben wir bereits auf unserer Hauskonferenz „Expertonale“ zusammen mit ISG vorgestellt. Unser Ziel dabei ist, für Sie die Markttrends auch 2017 mit zeitgemäßen, innovativen Beratungs-, Analyse- und Research-Methoden zu begleiten.

Zum Ausgleich des in unserer Branche vorherrschenden Innovationstempos wünschen wir und das gesamte Team der Experton Group Ihnen ruhige und erholsame Festtage, einen guten Jahreswechsel und viel Glück, Erfolg und Gesundheit im neuen Jahr.

Frank Heuer Frank Heuer Frank Heuer Frank Heuer

Jürgen Brettel

Nils Bachmann
Bernd Schäfer
Managing Director
ISG Germany
Barbara Florschütz
Partner ISG Germany