3D Printing – A Revolutionary Technology

3D Printing is indeed a revolutionary concept. It is literally makes something out of nothing. To define the technology in short, 3D printing is a process where material is joined together under computer control to create a three-dimensional object, with material being added together layer-after-layer.  This is done by the joining of liquid molecules or by powder grains being glued together. These processes are also known as “additive manufacturing”. Technology behind 3D-printing is extremely flexible since the objects being joined can be of different shapes.

Who discovered the first 3D printer? I would imagine one should name Charles W. Hull since he used the stereolithography technique in mid-1980. However, this was not meant for regular or frequent use since stereolithography is an extremely expensive technique with the machines often costing $100,000 or more. Prices of these machines have come down substantially since then.

The 3D Printing Process: The Basic ABCs in a Nutshell

The very first step in 3D printing is to create a 3D Model on a PC. This digital aspect can be done by creating a file in a computer aided design (CAD) program and utilizing the vital role of the 3D modelling software to create a 3D model. This model is now ‘cut’ or ‘sliced’ in different layers using a ‘slicing software’. The 3D sliced model is sent now to the 3D printer using various connectivity methods – e.g. wi-fi or US depending on the nature of the 3D printer. Now the file is slowly and gradually ‘3D printed’ layer after layer.

Different 3D Printing Technologies

There are various 3D printing technologies mainly depending on the types of printers. Some of these processes are listed below:

  • Stereolithography
  • Digital Light Processing
  • Fused Deposition Modelling
  • Selective Laser Sintering
  • Selective Laser Melting
  • Electronic Beam Melting
  • Laminated Object Manufacturing

 3D Printing Material

3D printers can use a wide variety of materials. Some of them include –  ABS plastic, PLA, nylon, epoxy resins, silver, titanium, steel, ceramic and gypsum, just to name a few.

Advantages and Disadvantages

There are numerous advantages to 3D printing. One can manufacture various customized products, create fast prototyping of designs, incur relatively low cost of manufacturing, provide employment for expert designers, enhance accuracy and reduce errors substantially.

As with any new technology there are indeed some associated grey areas. Some of the possible problem areas can lie in the fears of fabricating fake items, manufacturing hazardous items like weapons or guns (someone even reported 3D-printing a rifle using a model downloaded over the Internet), restrictions on material sizes, inability of using a combination of different raw materials, expensive 3D print software and less channel partners with expertise in the field.

The 3D Printing Ecosystem

Many major associations play a vital role in propagating growth and knowledge concerning 3D printing in various countries across the globe. Some are The 3D Printing Association, Association of 3D Printing, Additive Manufacturing Society of India (AMSI), Hong Kong 3D Printing Association, Australian 3D Manufacturing Association (A3DMA), World 3D Printing Technology Industry Alliance, Inside 3D Printing Conference and Expo, and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).

3D Printing – Various Applications

3D printing can be utilized in numerous field such as say Aerospace, Architecture, Automotive, Consumer Goods, Defense Industry, Education and Medicine. Some illustrative examples include:

  • Making attractive and lasting models for architectural/construction industry.
  • Building medical devices and prosthetics.
  • Prototyping parts for cars.
  • Printing molecular structures in the chemistry industry that can also be shown to students when teaching chemistry.
  • Customizing products for the retail industry. Just to name a few

Future Trends

At present, various companies are exploring the many applications of 3D printing to see how they can be commercially useful. Estimates show that global 3D printing spending is likely to enjoy a bright future in the long-term. The future growth rate of as high as 20% per annum over the next 3 years. This would equate to an estimated rise from $12B in 2018 to $20B by 2021 (Source: Statista). In the next decade, 3D printing may cause a paradigm shift in the manufacturing arena for different industries worldwide and its future applications may be massive.

In conclusion one must mention that an unlikely albeit interesting example of 3D-printing application is in the field of medicine specifically in replacement of human organs where a major hurdle is the lack of availability of donor organs. The day is not very far off when successful bioprinting can combine cells and tissues. These biomaterials would be able to create bio-medical parts such as complex human organs. Say the human heart or pancreas. This would certainly be a godsend for organ donation and could possible save many lives. At some point in the future, we might all become the “Bicentennial Man”.

~Dev Chakrabarty, Senior Manager – Research

ITaaS – The Next Step Towards the Software-Defined Data Center

Nowadays consumers are moving towards an “Everything-as-a-Service” model and businesses have similar expectations for their IT departments. Hence the advent of “IT-as-a-Service” (ITaaS). Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC) can provide a strategic approach to support the business goals of a firm and provide the speed, agility & elasticity to thrive with digital transformation.

For years businesses have had to adapt to greater competition and changes in the economic purchase cycle. Now organizations are embarking on a path towards digital transformation with an objective of building newer competencies around being more adaptable to an ever-changing landscape as well as becoming more consumer-oriented, cost-effective, aligned to consumer needs, less complex and more efficient. This transformation is vital to counter competition from new sources, small startups, and often from companies born in the cloud. Small startups can create turmoil in the industry thus causing problems to established market leaders.

The above facts are almost universal for all businesses and have always existed for chief experience officers (CXO). But what has changed now is enhanced competition from new sources.

The Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC) – a key tool for Digital Transformation

SDDC can provide a strategic approach to support business goals and provide flexibility to thrive by embracing digital transformation. At the fundamental center of this transformation is the data center which is constantly evolving in an effort to keep up with business objectives.

It’s an accepted fact that the ability to bring new applications and services to market fast is crucial to success in today’s rapidly-moving marketplaces. Consequently, organizations are adopting public cloud services, or implementing hybrid cloud strategies, as they deliver business agility beyond the capacity of internal IT infrastructures. SDDC can support all workloads in a holistic approach optimally across the entire data center. To achieve this, a properly configured SDDC must display the following main principles:

  1. The SDDC must be dynamic and adaptive to respond to changes in resource workload. The adaptability should be automated and built on defined configurations as per the demands of the applications it runs.
  2. It must be ‘intelligent’, eliminate complexity and create elastic computing without direct human intervention.
  3. The SDDC must be robust to compensate for hardware and software problems and continue with the highest level of availability.

Modernize the Data Center

While businesses understand the need to modernize data centers and complete the journey to a hybrid cloud and SDDC, they still face significant challenges.

According to Sanjay Deshmukh, VMware’s vice president of End User Computing – “Apps drive various changes in enterprise infrastructure. Companies born in the cloud can integrate a modern data centers into operations from the beginning. The challenge for most other firms is how to advance the existing infrastructure to take advantage of new cloud-application capabilities without losing critical functionality from the legacy technology on which the business relies.”

Software and Automation

“Modernizing data centers is about altering the organization’s mindset from hardware to software, and embracing automation,” says Sanjay. “Companies mistakenly think they’re automated when they run scripts, but if the hardware changes, the company must then rewrite those scripts. That’s not true automation, which means delegating to the software.”

For modernizing, change is not always limited to technology; it also asks for changes to staff roles & the policies needed to accomplish work efficiently. In many cases, that means updating technologies developed over years specific to the business and have been working reliably.

Bottom-Line Savings and Top-Line Growth

Immediate benefits of modernization may be difficult to demonstrate to top management. An SDDC model delivers ROI / cost-savings through automation, reduced labor costs, improved security, and simplified IT management, but these savings are not visible in the short term and will take time to seen in the bottom-line.

There are immediate bottom-line savings, but significant top-line value, too, e.g. driving new business models. Once a business changes to SDDC, it is far more agile and able to rapidly respond to business needs.

Faster agility increases go-to-market strategies and drives innovation. New apps and services can be quickly developed, tested and improved through accelerated iteration. Also, modern data centers enable companies to scale up to meet demand and scale down when necessary.

Businesses with modernized data centers save money, innovate better and react to market changes faster. Other businesses innovate slowly and spend more time & money attending to hardware infrastructure issues & repairs.

It is better for companies to modernize data centers focusing on automating manual IT, modernizing infrastructure with virtualization software across the entire data center stack, focusing on unified management and laying a foundation for running both traditional and modern cloud-native applications.

Conclusion

Utilizing SDDC to create IT as a Service provides a strategic roadmap for IT leadership. It sets the basic principle on how a data center needs to evolve; it creates an evolutionary path for the data center. SDDC is a strategic approach to ensure the data center supports business goals and provides the flexibility required to enable businesses to embrace the digital transformation and thrive.

~Subrata Sarkar, Senior Research Analyst

Augmented Reality the Next Step in Product Design and Manufacturing

Augmented reality (AR) is a type of interactive, reality-based display environment that takes the capabilities of computer generated display, sound, text, and effects to enhance the user’s real-world experience. Basically, it overlays 3D graphics on real-world surroundings using devices like mobile, tablets, or smart-glasses.

AR was supposed to transform the consumer industry but could not live up to its expectations. Even the Pokémon GO craze faded away after few months. Interestingly, AR in the B2B world has far better news. A recent study found that one out of three manufacturers expect to adopt virtual reality (VR) or AR technologies by 2018. In hindsight, this makes perfect sense because it is easier to find business uses for AR than consumer ones.

Let’s look at consumer versus business uses for AR. Does the average consumer really need to see restaurant menus or apartment listings while walking down the street?  However, a technician who needs to fix a jet engine in 30 minutes or less can benefit greatly from a hands-free way to identify potential issues and their fixes.

AR in Product Design:
Driven by extreme consumerism, products and services for consumer and commercial customers are going through massive changes. This is affecting the ecosystem of designing and delivering smarter products and services. As a result, not only products but also the tools we use to design those products are evolving.

For example, an engineer is designing the interiors of a rocket. Augmented reality tools will let that engineer sit inside that design while creating it, which quite literally sounds like a scene from a Marvel’s Iron Man movie. Designers are constantly looking into leveraging AR technology to visualize various prototypes and hypotheses by overlaying virtual design elements onto a real environment.

AR can be used to perform post design checks as well. Designers at Volkswagen use AR to overlay a CAD model of a car on top of a real car to check anomalies between virtual and physical designs. Also, engineers no longer need to compare each 2D drawing with a prototype which shortens the product development cycle.

Apart from improving quality of a product, AR can be used to design the next generation of products. Once AR is out in the field, all the embedded sensors can collect various data points that can be analyzed to see how users interact with these products under a range of real-world conditions. The results can appear in AR while designing the product and suggest improvements based on collected data.

AR in Manufacturing:
AR in manufacturing can be divided into two logical sections: Assembly and Training.

Assembly:
Initially, multiple workers spent long hours to complete a single product. Henry Ford came along and changed everything with assembly line. The speed of production increased dramatically with the concept of the conveyor line. Now, in many instances, robots are replacing humans but there are still some tasks which robots cannot handle. Augmented reality will provide these factory workers with a visual display of the parts and instructions necessary for assembly. This eliminates the need to look at blueprints on laptops or hard copy, thus saving time and reducing errors. For example, Boeing currently uses AR glasses to guide technicians as they wire hundreds of planes a year. As a result, Boeing has cut production time by 25% and lowered error rates to nearly zero.

Training:
Product lifecycles are getting shorter and companies are expected to continuously update and upgrade product designs. As the product design changes the manufacturing and/or assembling process also changes. AR applications can be used to train the new employees or to provide new instructions to existing employees. AR combined with voice search allows employees to solve their questions on the go. AR training in production helps to prevent failures and reduces the training time for new workers. It also increases the quality of work as employees have all the necessary information available instantly with visual directions to complete the task.

The adoption of Augmented Reality is essential to drive growth of industry 4.0. The potential of AR tools is extensive in manufacturing and product design as it can be applied at every stage of the product development life-cycle from design to delivery. The technology is cost beneficial and scalable and has a huge potential in the B2B market.

~ Ankit Mehta, Associate

Travel, Expense, and Invoice Management Automation Boosting Business Performance

Managing expenses and invoices is an inescapable part of doing business. There is simply no way around it. But, firms have a choice as to how they track and manage their spending. They can do it the old-school way—updating countless spreadsheets, tracking and filing paper work (invoices and receipts), and running around for signatures. Or, they can leave the cumbersome processes behind and opt for an automated travel, expense (T&E), and invoice solution.

The digital transformation is rendering traditional methods obsolete, and organizations are increasingly automating business functions such as expense and invoicing to improve efficiencies and boost productivity. Small and mid-sized business with 1-999 employees (SMBs) are beginning to catch on. According to AMI’s Global Market Sizing Model, worldwide SMB spending on T&E and invoice solutions is expected to reach nearly $4.7 Billion by 2021. This represents an 18.6% compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2017. Cloud-based solutions are outpacing their on-premise counterparts with spending on SaaS T&E and invoice spend growing faster than 23% year over year through 2021.

There are dozens of brands to choose from including SAP Concur, Xero, MS Dynamics and Zoho to name a few. A top notch, comprehensive solution is one that offers, but is not limited to the following features.

  • Analytical tools for better tracking of data on spending
  • Auto-populate of expense reports
  • Receipt capture via mobile app
  • Flagging of non-qualified expenses
  • Integration with traditional Accounting/Finance/ERP software (i.e. QuickBooks, SAP ERP)
  • Integration with corporate credit cards
  • Travel and hotel booking in a user-friendly environment

Technology solutions really shine when they enable businesses to tackle key challenges and automated T&E and invoicing is a prime example of a software solution that does just that. Through its conversations with SMBs, AMI-Partners has found that companies using a well-rounded T&E and invoice solution benefit as they are able to:

  • Save time and money
  • Increase employee satisfaction
  • Improve employee and company compliance
  • Gain better visibility into spending and cashflow

These benefits tie together and are reinforced by one another.  For example, employees using a T&E application spend less time submitting expense reports which boosts employee satisfaction. Happy employees are more likely to use the application, which improves compliance. Since more information is captured, financial decision makers have better visibility into data on company spending, which they can more readily analyze. Finally, improved visibility helps firms to gain financially as it allows them to uncover cost saving opportunities.

Ultimately, a well-integrated T&E and invoice solution empowers firms to focus on overarching goals such as customer acquisition and business expansion.  Automation gives decision makers a clear picture of how money is flowing through the organization while giving back some of that ever-precious resource…time.

To learn more about how businesses are adopting automated solutions such as T&E and invoicing visit www.ami-partners.com or drop us a line at ask_ami@ami-partners.com

~ Joseph Bertran, Associate Director

ROBOTICS – Asia Rising to the Industrial Transformation

When all our eyes were on the athletes participating in XXIII Olympic Winter Games held recently in PyeongChang, South Korea; some were also eagerly waiting to see how their athletes performed in the “Olympics” ski challenge for robots. Robots of all shapes and sizes skied, and in some cases tumbled, down a course at the Welli Hilli ski resort, an hour’s drive west of PyeongChang. Eight robotic teams from universities, institutes and a private company competed for a $10,000 prize in the Ski Robot Challenge. The challenge was held to promote South Korea’s robotic technology.

Robotics are driving the industrial transformation of this century and Asia is driving the push. There are 3 ways to view robotics adoption in its current scenario. Industrial robots, professional use robots and personal/domestic robots with the latter being broadly classified as industrial and service robots.

Source: IFR Press Conference, 11 October 2017

Industrial Robots

There will be around 1.3 million new industrial robots entering the workforce globally by 2020. This is over 15% additional annually. Automotive and Electrical/Electronics industries are heavy adopters of these industrial robots. With competition putting pressure on every industry, the key players are looking to reduce their operation cost and make goods more cost effect. This can be accomplished by using robots. However, foreign direct investments or local government investments will be key to getting the real capital needed to drive the show.

With China being key, Asian countries are among the fastest movers when it comes to industrial robotic adoption. The major pull factors are rising labor cost, increasingly aging populations and global competition. China has made it well known that its “Made in China 2025” campaign will leapfrog the country into being a global power in the manufacturing of advanced technology rather than cheap, and often imitated, merchandise. The top five countries in the list contributes almost three-quarters of the WW industrial robot supply, among them the top three are China, South Korea and Japan. China is expected to have 40% of the global industrial robot supply by 2020 with 20-25% annual growth. To support the huge need for robots, China aims to produce 50% of the total robots required in country itself.

Taiwan, ranks 6th among all the countries globally with industrial robot supply from 2013 onward, growing at a 15% CAGR. Thailand is also a key market in Asia with high robot deployment, however due to local political turmoil, the market has not gained much momentum in the last couple of years. India witnessed strong growth in industrial robot installation, coming close to Thailand. Other ASEAN countries are also seeing positive momentum.

There are a few developments in advanced industrial robotics, which indicates the huge potential and an earlier inflection in the manufacturing sector.

  • Robots are a rational substitute for human labor – based on price and performance robotic labor is becoming cost effective. Robots and humans together are 85% more productive than either one individually.
  • Emergence of ultra-low-cost robot systems will expand potential markets in SMEs – new features have been introduced suitable for SMEs, as that is a significant contributor to the overall manufacturing sector.

The global average robot density is about 74 industrial robots installed per 10,000 employees in the manufacturing vertical. The most automated countries in the world are South Korea with 631 industrial robots for 10,000 employees, followed by Singapore with 488, Germany with 309 and Japan with 303. Overall the average robot density in Asia stands below the WW average at just 63.

Professional Service Robots

Professional service robots are mainly those deployed for logistic systems, defense, field, public relations and medical applications. These types of robots are expected to grow 20-25% on average annually through 2020. There is huge growth expected in household robots with the forecast unit supply reaching cumulatively over 32 million between 2018-2020. These robots are produced for a mass market with completely different pricing and marketing channels. Household robots are mostly used for vacuuming and floor cleaning, entertainment & leisure purposes.

Service robots are in high demand in the Americas. This is not true for Asian countries. However, there is strong growth potential in Asia by 2020. The demand for domestic robots is on the higher side in Asia, where deployment was closer to that of the Americas in 2016.

In Conclusion

Innovation is crucial for future productivity. By mastering innovation, Asian countries like China and Japan have gained control over productivity on the factory floor. They are removing the guess work by using advanced analytics and robotics to analyze the ocean of data thereby building actionable insights. The interesting part of this is, we have just started seeing some major changes using these insights.  The use of robots is still nowhere near scale. Once enterprises master the analytics, the technology leap-frog is bound to happen on a larger scale in regards to robotics, artificial intelligence and machine learning.

~Surjyadeb Goswami, Regional VP, APAC

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) – Drones – Hawks in the Dawn of the IoT Era?

In March 2018, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced it will start testing the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) like drones at 300 air traffic facilities covering 500 airports in the US on incremental manner on April 30.  This deployment is scheduled for completion by September 13, 2018.  Commercial drone usage is expected to surge. This surge is being made possible in part by the LAANC system that is expected to automate the approval process of airspace authorization requests for operations in the entire US. In addition, FAA rules and regulations that clarified previously identified as potential issues are also assisting this growth. The FAA expects commercial drones to grow fourfold within 4 years from 110,000 to 450,000 units in the air in 2022.  But the impact on IT and cloud service providers is expected to be much larger.

Drones have long been in a trial phase for business use in various industries – delivering foods, packages & medical goods, monitoring agricultural crops and fields, responding to disasters, inspecting facilities, monitoring worker safety and mapping/surveying landscape to list a few. Powered by cloud platforms and the increasing availability of software applications, drones are able to function as robots in the air generating an enormous amount of data to feed cloud storage space and big data analytics.

Growing Usage of Imaging Apps

Photography and video are major drone applications. According to the FAA, 43% of commercial drone usage is for taking aerial photos, films and videos.  Photos and videos are already must-have items for almost all industries for marketing materials, brochures, how-to-use videos, and so on.  Increasing usage of social medias for marketing among businesses in any size has also been fueling the trend.  In the realm of social media today, eye-catching visual materials are must have while the role of language is decreasing.

Virtual reality (VR) is still in the nascent stage.  But it should be easy for everyone to foresee that it will play an important role in various fields in the near future – not just gaming, but we have already started to see its usage in tourism, entertainment and industrial design. The role of drones in the VR field is almost limitless.

The significance of these trends for cloud service providers is the data volume that drone operations will generate. Generally, image files are much larger than regular document files. In addition, an increasing number of commercial grade drones are equipping 4K cameras with 360-degree view for superior image quality. Drone photos will be a key driver for cloud storage consumption as, on average, a 4K video file is nearly 10 times larger than that of the standard definition.

Vertical Expansion and Applications

The core functions of drones in the traditional sense are transporting and monitoring. But their operation areas are widening. Power and energy companies, manufacturers and insurance companies are using drones for inspecting facilities.  Telecommunication carriers are using drones to carry cellular network, especially in the isolated remote areas and disaster sites.  Also, drones are convenient tools to manage inventory in huge warehouse facilities.

There is even a case where drones are used for time management by monitoring employees and work sites within an office building to reduce unnecessary overtime. This may look a bit awkward and employees may feel uncomfortable to be monitored but as insider threats by malicious users or employees are increasingly recognized as a major security concern, it will not be surprising to see drones hovering overhead in offices in the future.

Drone-Related Solution Providers

There are several players providing cloud-based drone tools for commercial use. Most of such tools are equipping functions of autopilot, data management, processing, analytics, planning and reporting. Most pricing are subscription models and quite affordable even for small businesses.

Key ISVs specializing in drone-related solutions include:

Flight/Operation Management

AirMap Kittyhawk
Drone LogBook NV Drones
Everdrone Skyward
Flyte
Microsoft UAV simulator (an open source aerial informatics and robotics platform for engineers/designers to test and train machines)

Mapping and Data Processing

3DR DroneMapper Raptor Maps
Agribotix Esri Sentera
Airware Gamaya Skycatch
Avision Robotics GeoCue Group Skydio
Bentley Maps Made Easy SLANTRANGE
Botlink Pix4D Uplift Data Partners
Datumate Pix Processing WebODM
DroneDeploy PrecisionHawk  

The market landscape is already quite crowded and M&As and vertical expansion strategies have already taken place. Verizon acquired Skyward in February 2017. This pairing is a good marriage of a wireless network and the aerial app.  DroneDeploy is pursuing vertical expansion via launching App Market to integrate its solutions with external apps such as Audodesk and John Deere to appeal to manufacturers and farmers.

Commercial drones are clearly becoming a key market dynamic in the cloud landscape at the dawn of IoT era.  IoT solution vendors and cloud service providers should gear in on these players.

~ Yuki Uehara, Senior Director

PC as a Service (PCaaS) – A Key Tool to Boost PC Market!

On a global front, PC as a service (PCaaS) is garnering a good deal of attention lately. There are a few queries that need to be explored. For one, what exactly constitutes PC as a Service? What are the driving factors for PCaaS adoption? What is the need for this technology at this moment in time? Let’s see if we can answer some of these questions.

What is PCaaS?
PC as a Service can be defined as the combined package of hardware, software, lifecycle services and financing. This is all offered as a package from a single provider with a fixed monthly price for every employee in a particular business no matter what the size of the company is (small, medium or large enterprises). Presently, this service is evolving gradually with more options for mobility, data management and security applications being developed. There is a continuous movement towards IT and digital transformation for most enterprise users with an ever-increasing adoption of technologies such as cloud computing, analytics and social media. PCaaS offers a business model that is ideal for most enterprise companies experiencing a significant increase in their mobile workforce.

PCaaS and the Product Lifecycle
Apart from providing the latest version of devices, the PCaaS model also offers additional bundled services. This includes pre-installed all the necessary software (OS, Apps, Security, etc.) and software updates on a recurring basis. With a PCaaS model, vendors are engaging with their business customers throughout the device lifecycle allowing vendors the opportunities to provide support, maintenance and other services as and when required. To ensure that PCaaS will become the preferred business model for businesses, vendors will need to be able to offer financial assistance to these customers. To this end, many vendors are offering new initiatives to promote PCaaS in tandem with various financing organizations.

PCaaS – Added Advantage over a Traditional PC Procurement Method 

 A Win-Win Situation for All Players
Let’s look at how PCaaS is affecting the various players.

  • Vendors/OEMs
    • Due to a lower demand for PCs and their longer lifecycle, PCaaS would be an alterative business model increasing profits to PC vendors. This model would also enable PC vendors to reduce their present on hand inventories.
    • PC vendors would be able to initiate a longer engagement with enterprise customers throughout the device’s lifecycle extending their role beyond just a traditional hardware seller.
  • Reseller/Channel Partners
    • PCaaS model facilitates resellers to expand their product portfolio offerings based on the customers’ specific needs.
    • They are supported by other players in the PCaaS ecosystem for all unpredictable risks, the services offered and financial assistance.
  • Enterprise Customers
    • PCaaS alters the spending pattern from a one-time CAPEX mode to the smaller, monthly recurring operational cost.
    • Existing IT staff can be utilized in key strategic organizational IT initiatives since they would be free from the day-to-day PC management tasks. A PCaaS model also reduces the refreshment cycle.
    • With a PCaaS model, millennial/tech-savvy employees can prioritize their work with more device flexibility within an efficient IT environment.

Making a Long-Term PCaaS Model Work
To develop PCaaS as the new-age business model and enhance its popularity among enterprises, all players need to work together developing each other’s capabilities and infrastructure. The role of channel partners is vital in this endeavor since PC vendors require a wide and robust network of partners to reach out to enterprise-users with their PCaaS offerings. Also, collaboration with a software expert is required to provide regular services and solutions. All other players having capabilities in different technological areas (e.g. security, data management, cloud, mobility) are required to join the evolving PCaaS ecosystem to extend its reach and influence.

 Need of the Hour
The PCaaS adoption journey has only begun. It is likely to evolve further with a greater understanding of the ever-changing future needs of consumer PC users. Therefore, the PCaaS model has been designed to offer flexible, affordable and customized product & services offerings. At the same time, increased awareness of its value propositions, benefits and return on investments, change of mindset among potential users and innovative marketing strategies by vendors are the need of the hour to take the PCaaS model to the next phase.

Finally, the growth prospective of the PCaaS model for consumer PC users can be viewed as aligned with the mobile device market wherein vendors are offering a smartphone (the upgraded model) pre-loaded with all security, insurance, social media, brand specific software and entertainment apps with monthly payment options over the contract term. In coming years, PCaaS could evolve into a model like the mobile device market, enabling vendors to tap the PC market in small and medium business circles.

~ Arpana Bharti, Market Analyst

The Evolution of Business Analytics: From Reactive to Proactive

Business analytics — Boy have things changed!  In the past static reports were all that we had to use now there are interactive dashboards that allow users to dig deeper into their data and utilize it while it’s still current.

Forecasting Made Easy

Gone are the days when forecasting was done with crystal balls. People are using “intelligence” in their “business”. Business forecasting has seen a tremendous shift in methodologies from gut instinct to statistical forecasting and demand modeling for example.

No matter what you’re trying to achieve, either estimating future monthly sales or optimiz-ing your supply chain, forecasting is all about using existing data to predict the future. To accomplish this, very large amounts of data must be processed quickly and efficiently. Nobody can beat a machine when it comes to that. By using this processing, improved data access is possible and previously hidden insights can be uncovered.

Advanced analytics revolves around predicting trends and future possibilities and making recommendations based on potential outcomes. Businesses are using sophisticated tools like simulation, machine learning and data mining to identify trends and patterns in structured as well as unstructured data. There are numerous potential use cases for machine learning- risk detection, behavioral analysis, customer support, image recognition, text analysis, and much more.

Machine learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI) will make estimates of future behavior just as accessible as historical data.

Outlier identification simplified

Machine learning enables businesses to find anomalies as they occur, and this real-time identifi-cation lets them take immediate action. This can be used in cases where real-time information can drive valuable responses, such as in fraud detection & surveillance, allowing fraud to be identified immediately and an alert sent to the customer. Real-time information processing can also assist image & voice recognition, and product recommendations.

To take it a step further, businesses should consider feeding this information into their business intelligence system (BI) to aid in policy exchange and product development.

Machine learning and AI capabilities, when combined, allow businesses an opportunity to catch inconsistencies in real time and correct them before they can become problems and or issues.

Implications of Machine Learning

In the case of machine learning, you get what you give. Machine learning is based on algorithms that learn from data and is dependent on relevant and reliable data. In other words, we are teaching a program how we make decisions. The value extracted from machine learning depends greatly on the quality of algorithms, reliable data, and the degree to which these systems process structured and unstructured data. So, businesses must analyze all available data for quality.

Organizations should have a clear goal in mind. What are the questions that need to be answered and what data is needed to answer those questions?

The adoption of machine learning enabled AI applications allows faster decisions and more accurate insights. This is useful for product development, supply chain, logistics, customer relationship management, marketing to name a few. In a hyper competitive world, businesses that can realize value from their data assets using advanced analytics such as machine learning and artificial intelligence will be ahead of the competition.

~Kunika Sodhi, Associate

Artificial Intelligence is Modernizing the Future Workspace

Technology and data administration is maneuvering across vertical borders and previously isolated sectors are being integrated and creating new business opportunities. By capturing the diverse needs and expectations of today’s multi-demographic workforce, these connected technologies will help businesses of all sizes to plan and invest in their future workplace strategy.

“The modern workplace starts with empowering everyone in organizations to be more creative, collaborative and ultimately apply technology to help shape the culture of work” – Microsoft

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is among the most significant chapters in this great growth story. With a CAGR of over 50% through 2021, AI is developing into one of the key forces that in changing the outlook of the workplace, and will force many of today’s workplace habits, tools and environments to become archaic over the next 4-5 years.

With the red-carpet being rolled out for AI, we are starting to see the rise of a more personalized user experience which is vigorously adapting to capture and translate content in terms of relevance and preference. These technologies, when unified with cyber “customer service” agents, speech recognition interfaces and wearables, are leading to a more unified and collaborative experience.

A leading telecom, MNC having operations in India, is using AI to collect and crunch data from a variety of sources to find people with the right talents and the experience to match. Their HR system can also analyze workers’ email to identify job sentiments and triggers appropriate action for management. Similar cases have been seen in multiple domains where the use of chatbots and robotics have reduced human interaction from tactical jobs to more thinking roles.

The growing importance of AI in the workspace has triggered Google to transform its Translate Service to an AI model. In addition, Cisco and Microsoft have been advancing ways AI can impact everyday work life, from helping to connect users in virtual meetings to acting as an active listening agent that provides additional context regarding topics being discussed.

While countries such as U.S., China, Germany and South Korea have been making strong investments in developing their AI technologies, India too has picked pace in advancing its technologies. The Indian government’s push for ‘Make in India’ and ‘Start-up India’ has given a much-needed lift to the AI ecosystem. With tech start-up driving the way, India today has over 160 start-ups who are purely focused on AI and have raised over $30 million in venture investments to build their AI programs.

We are only at the beginning of this digital journey where AI and chatbots transform all aspects of the workspace including collaboration, communication, cross-function (HR, Production etc. processes), mobility, cloud, and security. We are seeing a huge migration of business processes becoming AI enabled and driving the business world forward.

However, the eminent fear that the advent and incorporation of AI will replace the human race with robots still looms overhead. Another way of looking at AI is to transpose the letters. “IA = Intelligence Assistance”. This would emphasize the fact that AI is only assisting the individual worker to work smarter and not make them less important to the workforce. In summation I would like to suggest that we all enjoy the change and let’s make our workspace a smarter place!

~ Kishalay Choudhury, Director Client Services

Riverbed New Channel Partner Program “Riverbed Rise” – Innovative and In-time Amid Ever-Changing Needs of Consumers

On February 9, 2018 we were invited to an analyst briefing that was hosted by Riverbed. Riverbed is one of the major players in the WAN optimization space with expansion toward software-defined technologies. They focus on providing hybrid networking, SD-WAN, SaaS and infrastructure visibility, working towards building a software-defined architecture for digital business. The purpose of this seminar was to introduce their new partner program Riverbed Rise. With this program they plan to consolidate their contact with partners from “compliance concept” to “capacitating their partners based on performance and value-based awards”.

Riverbed Rise is a clear transition from their traditional program, which is based on competency. This new program is based on the three-key designed operational principles of simplicity, flexibility and profitability. The objective is to expand their customer portfolio by tapping existing and new businesses and simultaneously ensure that partners’ performance is at their peak.

The key focus area of this program is to align Riverbed’s sales strategies to expand their portfolio sales and strengthen their commercial segment. Riverbed has introduced a performance & value-based reward system to acknowledge the performance of all partners with different requirement levels and financial models.

Riverbed Rise a Partners’ Panacea:

  • Riverbed aims to address issues related to new technology adoption and digital transformation of its channel partners through this new program of industry-leading digital performance solutions.
  • Riverbed’s new partner program offers more choice options to customers. It also ensures that the new partner program accommodates all unique business needs of their partners and at the same time guides them vis-à-vis decision making for investment and profitability plans in the long run.
  • Further, partners have more possibilities to select the different Training and Certifications criteria in accordance with their businesses.
  • Riverbed Rise is primarily based on dividends. These are determined by the overall partner performance and not on competencies or revenue attainment. It gives equal opportunities to all Riverbed partners to compete on individual strengths and customer value propositions, in their preferred target markets.

In the changing and rapidly disruptive business world, Riverbed’s program provides partners with individual decision power with the added benefits of earning and spending criteria that would also be unique in every instance.

Riverbed’s Journey in 2018:

Riverbed has made significant changes to its product portfolio in the last 18 months. Building on its legacy as a leader in WAN optimization, the company believes that these changes will create new opportunities for partners, to expand into new technology areas including SD-WAN and Digital Experience Management. Its focus on Digital Performance is aimed at addressing some of the most pressing challenges businesses are facing as they embark on digital transformation and move to the cloud. Riverbed Rise is an innovative program designed for partners of all types to respond immediately to these rapidly changing customer needs.

Riverbed Rise promises the partners to achieve more on productivity, performance and profitability through the unique reward system based on new business models and a diversified range of services. With this innovative reward matrix giving dividend and achievement rewards to associated partners, Riverbed is highly placed on the diverse partners’ ecosystem and in the competitors’ circle.

The new partner program has also enabled Riverbed to expand its partner base into new business avenues, emerging markets and newer verticals. Furthermore, Riverbed Rise is expected to help build a new partner portal with strong marketing tools revolving around simplified, flexible and a profitable dividends-based model.

As We See It:

Riverbed Rise has more commitments beyond the traditional partner schemes. However, the need of the hour is to sustain the longer retention of partners while keeping the product portfolio diversified.

Enforcing the authorized partners to use all their dividends for training, shows Riverbed’s priority on partner training and indeed supporting the partners to elevate their expertise.

In addition, Riverbed should also ensure the reach of this newly launched program to small and emerging markets where end user dynamics are very specific to each region and industry. They can also enrich their product positioning and roadmap with inclusive strategies for when partners’ investment plan is minimal or indecisive regarding changing adoption trends of various technologies.

What Does Their Success Depends On?

The strength of the Riverbed Rise partner program is centered around a strong partners’ base and a diversified product portfolio. With this program, Riverbed is aiming to strengthen their present relationship with existing partners as well as new market regions and in the ever-changing technology scenario. The more Riverbed empowers their partner ecosystem and enhances collaboration with their partners, the more likely Riverbed will obtain the success they are envisioning from this program.

~Arpana Bharti, Analyst and Subrata Sarkar, Sr. Analyst