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

SaaS – The New “Cash Cow”

The conversation about software as a service (SaaS) has been going on for a long time.  The evolution of hosted applications is pretty interesting. It all started back in the 1960s when IBM and other mainframe vendors offered computing power and database storage from their data centers to the financial industry and other large firms.  Fast forward to the 1990s when, with the proliferation of the internet, Application Service Providers (ASPs) began offering hosted business applications. According to Wikipedia, the acronym (SaaS) allegedly first appeared in an article published in February 2001 by the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA).

Some may think SaaS is passé and has been talked about to death, but although SaaS can be considered a “mature” market there are some very good reasons to revisit cloud software:

  1. Industry analysts and mainstream media all cite SaaS as a technology with strong growth prospects for both adoption and spending. AMI estimates that worldwide, small, medium and large businesses (SMLBs) spent $62 billion on SaaS solutions in 2017 and that figure is projected to more than double by 2021.
  2. Globally, about 22 million firms are planning to allot more of their IT budgets for hosted/cloud solutions as opposed to on-premise IT products and services with the largest portion slotted for SaaS applications.
  3. SaaS solutions are major forces driving growth as industry mainstays, who were formerly strong on-premise vendors, shift emphasis to the cloud. For example, Oracle reported Q3’17 overall cloud revenue increased 51%, but SaaS revenues rose 62% and Microsoft reported strong increases across all of its cloud offerings and is now the leading cloud service provider (Office 365 revenues alone increased over 10%).

“SaaS” comprises a wide variety of different cloud-based applications, from the most basic e-mail to solutions tailored for very specific industries.  Spending in 2017 on prominent hosted applications was strong. Beyond email, other leading apps included hosted CRM, business intelligence, productivity and highly customized line of business software (vertical or industry specific software).

As SMLBs seek to leverage technology to help them reduce OPEX, improve efficiency and employee productivity and improve the customer experience, many are looking to the cloud as a solution. About one-third of firms we surveyed reported migrating more applications to cloud services was very important to their company’s continued success. Firms reported a variety of reasons for adopting cloud solutions, including cost savings, scalability and flexibility.  Many businesses feel SaaS solutions allow them access to technologies that might otherwise have been out of reach cost wise, while others utilize cloud services because it enables them to reduce system hardware by using cloud vendors’ servers to store data. In addition, SMLBs will increasingly look to bundle SaaS solutions when making new PC and device purchases.  Popular bundles include hosted productivity suites, security, data back-up/recovery, online data storage, and online document collaboration.

Overall, projected growth for SaaS apps is strong through 2021 (20% CAGR).  Fueling this growth will be solutions such as productivity, point of sales, business intelligence, email, quotes & invoicing and travel and expense solutions.

Software as a Service is a concept that will continue to evolve as it is a win-win for everyone.  SMLBs will benefit as they shift legacy on-premise solutions to seat-based models for cost savings, flexibility and scalability, as well as access to new technologies. Independent software vendors (ISVs) offering cloud solutions will be able to attract and engage firms that may not want to incur the large capital investments required for on-premise installations. Cloud hosters, such as AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google and IBM, will benefit as more ISVs shift their current on-premise solutions to the cloud.

~ Eileen Zimbler, VP

IoT 101

Internet of Things (IoT) is a popular buzz word around town. What is IoT? Why now? What are the growth elements?  How do I even segment these IoT devices?

Too many questions and too many ‘things’ to answer.

Let’s start IoT 101.


Internet of Things refers to the networking of physical objects using embedded sensors, actuators, and other devices that can collect or transmit information about these objects (excluding smartphones and computers). As humans directly interact with the device for information exchange, therefore smartphones and computers are not considered IoT.

Tesla’s self-driving car is considered a partial IoT device as it has thousands of sensors and motors which can move without human intervention and take people from one place to the next.

IoT Market:

Murphy’s Law can be helpful to describe the IoT concept with a little tweak: Whatever can be connected, will be connected.

  • By a recent estimate there are over 20 billion devices connected to the internet as of 2017 and that number is forecasted to reach over 75 billion devices by 2025.
  • According to AMI’s Global Forecast Model, small, medium and large businesses spend on IoT technology reached over $800 billion worldwide in 2017.
  • There is a huge potential for IoT in developing economies in terms of adoption. Also, nearly half of the value is expected to be generated from developing countries.

Growth Elements:

Technology, being the root of all development, is at the center of every new breakthrough. The driving factors behind the development and adoption of IoT is the widespread availability of all the technical components and infrastructure.

  • Hardware: Many IoT devices rely on multiple sensors to monitor the environment around them. The cost of these sensors has dropped 30-70% in the past decade and prices are expected to drop further leading to more cost-effective sensors.
  • Internet: The expansion of the internet is another major growth element of IoT. Approximately 45% of the global population is connected to the internet. This increase in connectivity is paving the way for higher IoT adoption worldwide.
  • Smartphones: Smartphones can be a major driver for this segment despite not being an IoT device. IoT relies heavily on “remotes” to monitor and manage IoT devices. Today smartphones account for over 65% of mobile phones sold globally. These can be used as remotes to control IoT devices. According to AMI’s Global Forecast Model, businesses have installed over 4 million smartphones and over 1.3 million tablets as of last year.

IoT Segmentation:

IoT is very tricky in terms of segmentation because of various components involved and there are many gray areas between just being another tech product and an IoT product. Also, in terms of market adoption, it is difficult to identify IoT penetration in businesses and hence difficult to track spending. Here at AMI, we have identified 3 distinct segments for IoT to simplify tracking.

IoT Hardware:

Hardware is considered a building block in the IoT ecosystem. IoT Hardware includes spending on standalone components as well as those installed in devices, sensors, appliances, vehicles, machinery and many more. According to AMI’s Global Forecast Model, hardware components within IoT accounts for 50% of overall spending within the IoT segment. As we are in the initial phase of IoT growth, companies are setting up the necessary infrastructure for IoT thus increasing hardware spend.

IoT Software:

Some areas included in IoT software spend are IoT OSs, platforms, end user applications and cloud services (which is still in the early development phase). Software provides an integrated set of capabilities including mobile application libraries, analytics, security and device/services management.

IoT platforms include Cisco Jasper, Windows 10 IoT, Azure IoT Suite, Uptake, and Ayala.

IoT Services:

IoT services include solution design consulting, implementation, deployment, and management services as provided by service providers of all sizes such as Datatrend Technologies, Softweb Solutions, Accenture, IBM, AT&T and Verizon.

The IoT services market has wide reaching potential for one simple reason: IoT in business is well connected with other disciplines like security, data management and other vertical specific elements. No company can do everything alone and that’s where IoT service providers can help these companies achieve efficient results.

Finally, IoT will give birth to all new business models based on technology. Remember the Tesla car? Now imagine, Tesla selling just car service and not the actual cars. Anything-as-a-Service, selling transportation service rather than automobiles.

In a nutshell, companies are spending more on infrastructure set up and deployment. This is due to the initial growth phase of IoT being hardware centric. In the next few years, the market will experience an incredible growth in the IoT Software and Services industry. We will see companies spending more on platforms, security and analytics because of IoT expansion.

~ Ankit Mehta, Associate

Managed Security Market Gaining Strength by the Day

Many companies have been the victim of cyberattacks including Malware, Denial-of-Service(DoS) and Ransomware. A recent example being Equifax, where hackers were able to get personal and confidential details of approximately 143 million people. SMBs are more vulnerable to these attacks due to a lack of expertise and budget. Managed Service Providers (MSPs) are leveling the field for SMBs and LBs by providing these specialized security services. The Managed Security market is growing exponentially with the rise in cybercrimes and security threats. Business factors such as meeting the needs of compliance and data protection laws, budget constraints, lack of in-house expertise and increased adoption of cloud services are shaping the future of the Managed Security market.

According to AMI’s Global Model, SMBs around the world are spending approximately $11 Billion on Remotely Managed Security, which is expected to grow at a CAGR of 14% by 2021. The increasing demand from SMBs is the key driver for this growth. As the services offered by SMBs increase, the need for high-level security for sensitive and confidential information is also expected to increase. AMI’s MSP study shows that 22% of an MSP’s total revenue is generated by providing Managed Security Services to clients and it will continue to grow. This is a great opportunity for MSPs to expand their security offerings.

 Region wise, North America is expected to remain the largest market for Managed Security Services as most managed security service providers and technology vendors are based in the US. The U.S. is expected to account for 92% of the market by 2021 for Remotely Managed Security Services.


Data is the new currency in this era and that is the biggest challenge for Managed Security Providers. As the data increases, MSPs find it difficult to provide scalability due to the lack of integration between various security platforms and tools. There are no pre-packaged technologies that fit all the security needs of various types of businesses. These security needs are business specific and require considerable time, effort and monetary investment.

From a SMB’s perspective, there is always a risk involved with the handling of critical information through a third-party security provider, including the risk of sensitive information getting into the wrong hands. So, establishing trust with these businesses is a big challenge for MSPs. Additionally, according to the MSP study over 60% of Managed Security Service Providers find it challenging to maintain close relationship with vendors.

Expectations from Vendors:

MSP’s share in overall revenue for the vendor is growing quickly as SMBs shift their focus to core business offerings and outsource all other IT services required to run the business. Certainly, MSPs are expecting competitive prices and premium customer service from vendors. Additional selection criteria include:

  • Delivering technologically superior platforms and tools compared to other competitors in the market
  • Highly scalable and customizable technology solutions according to the customer’s needs
  • In addition to technology, vendors are expected to carry all the relevant certification and audit credentials to be compliant with the data privacy and security laws especially in regulated verticals such as Healthcare, Banking, etc.

These are a few of the many challenges and selection criteria uncovered in AMI’s MSP study. This research demonstrates that expansion of managed security offerings such as Endpoint Security and Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) could be a major contributing factor in the growth of the managed security market. MSPs should pay attention to several growth factors such as flexibility for changing requirements, high level of automation, regular security testing, quick customer support and the ability to provide end-to-end security solutions. Taking steps in these directions will help MSPs to stay on top in this competitive market.

~Ankit Mehta, Associate

How are Regulated Industries using Managed Services?

Government is tightening rules and regulations on data storage and security especially in regulated industries such as healthcare, and financial services. These sectors include doctor’s offices, banks, and credit unions, where sensitive information is collected and stored. Firms in these industries are leveraging the expertise of Managed Service Providers (MSPs) to setup and manage compliant IT environments. Hence, these providers are on the front lines ensuring data security and navigating a myriad of laws and regulations on behalf of their clients.

According to AMI’s Global Model, SMBs across the world are spending almost $63B on remotely managed services, this spending is forecasted to grow at 15% CAGR by 2021. SMBs in regulated industries such as Banking/Finance and Healthcare account for nearly 20% of this spending and is forecast to grow at 12% CAGR by 2021. This represents overwhelming opportunities for MSPs in these industries especially in providing specialized managed services such as security, storage and networking to mention a few.

MSPs serving these industries are handling responsibilities above and beyond handling managed services. The focus is not only on keeping people and systems working, but also on making sure they work in a legally compliant manner. These MSPs typically have a dedicated compliance and security department that stays on top of regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). In case of a successful hack, investigators determine whether the victim organization followed all laws, had appropriate policies and procedures in place, and if the IT department was properly designed and capable of handling the security needs. The aim is to examine if the IT department was susceptible to that breach or hack. MSPs serving these industries need to be diligent and take an active role in encouraging their clients to update their policies and meticulously follow procedures.

A recent study conducted by AMI shows that MSPs are increasingly focusing on these regulated industries to expand their portfolios and customer base. Larger MSPs with more than $10M in annual revenues are forming vendor partnerships with the needs of their regulated industry clients in mind. The top of mind concern for these MSPs while partnering with vendors, be it an Remote Monitoring & Management (RMM) vendor or a Professional Services Automation (PSA) vendor or a hosting platform provider, is to ensure that they carry relevant compliance certifications and audit credentials. In addition, serving regulated industries and demonstrating vertical industry specific expertise allows MSPs to stand out in a crowded, commoditized MSP market. AMI’s MSP Study shows that MSPs focus on services such as Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS), and Archiving as a Service (AraaS) especially in regulated verticals. It is imperative to store/archive historical data as well as to have systems up and running all the time with fast up time in case of an outage.

The stakes are high for businesses as far as security and compliance are concerned. Businesses are looking for ways to offload these cumbersome tasks on experienced partners in order to focus on their core missions. So, MSPs are increasingly targeting these regulated industries that cannot afford to be lenient with their security standards.

~Kunika Sodhi, Associate

HP: Focused on Form and Function

We had the opportunity to attend HP’s pre-launch event where the company unveiled a series of new laptops and workstations to meet the needs of all market segments. HP has shifted its focus to an “Office of the Future” concept with the launch of 13-inch Spectre x360 convertible business notebook. This year, the x360’s fingerprint reader comes embedded on the side of the laptop to provide easy access when in tablet mode. AMI’s Global Model predicts that, within the SMB Market, 2-in-1 PCs will surpass growth of Desktop PC and Notebook PC spending achieving a CAGR of 22% by 2021. SMBs are quickly adapting new technologies and spending towards multi-functional devices and certainly Notebook and Desktop PCs are no exception.

The second generation Spectre 13 is a design marvel and as HP claims it is the world’s thinnest touchscreen laptop with an optional 4K display. The all new “Ceramic white” finish looks great, which is made from aluminum that has been treated with a smooth white coating. Spectre 13 ships with eighth-generation Intel processors and HP is promising up to 11 hours of use. HP is positioning the Spectre 13 amongst high-end laptops with cutting edge technology and even better design than many of its competitors.

In the desktop series, HP launched the EliteOne 1000, a new all-in-one PC. Most parts are hidden in its wedge-shaped base that can be opened to access its storage, RAM, processor and even display which is upgradeable. There are three displays to choose from- 23.8”, 27” and 34” which is a diagonal curved display that provides an immersive and engaging visual experience. This modular design and easily upgradable parts will provide significant benefits to Managed Service Providers(MSPs) as the idea of Desktop as a Service(DaaS) becomes increasingly popular among SMBs. According to a recent MSP research study by AMI, spending is expected to reach $3.4 Billion by 2021.


Another new feature HP launched this year is the ability to add HP’s “Sure View” tech which works as a privacy guard to make the screen harder to read by prying eyes. This feature is especially useful for travelling professionals that want to protect their privacy while on the go. Although this feature drains more battery, it can be switched on and off with ease and it works as intended. In the quest of workplace centric design, HP also introduced PhoneWise; an application targeted at business users that provides smartphone notifications on workstations/laptops so you are always connected to your mobile device even when it’s out of reach.

All the user-friendly design changes are part of HP’s new strategy of giving customers exactly what they want. Company is putting lot of efforts into Data collection, Machine Learning and AI to research the web for product reviews, and its regularly conducting surveys to find out what customers want and eliminating red flags by making design changes. Gone are the days of bulky laptops and workstations with multiple components and thick designs. HP is trying to replace the workplace products by bringing beautiful consumer centric designs to the workplace. According to AMI’s Global Model , worldwide spending on Notebooks and Desktop PCs within the SMB segment is expected to reach $71 billion by 2021. Clearly, HP is aiming to win over the business segment with the launch of these flashy laptops and workstations. It is safe to say that with these new features and designs, HP is investing time and money in the right direction.

~Ankit Mehta, Associate

MSPs to capture $1.0T in ICT spending by 2021

Large numbers have a certain aura to them. We almost disrespect these figures by using abbreviations. One trillion dollars written out looks like $1,000,000,000,000 and for those wondering, such a sum would weigh approximately 10,000 tons (9,071.85 short tons) when carried around in the largest denomination US currency currently in circulation, the ever popular $100 bill. To have such transportation and storage problems… For the sake of preserving the “0” key, we’ll stick to the $1.0T abbreviation for the rest of this piece, but there is no shortening the drive of MSPs to capture an increasing share of global information and communication technology (ICT) spending across the SMB and Large Enterprise space.

MSP spending capture growth
$1.0T in spending capture… that’s a spicy meatball












How are MSPs winning?

There are a host of factors contributing to the rise in MSP spending capture toward the $1.0T plateau. As with any business, Continue reading “MSPs to capture $1.0T in ICT spending by 2021”

Storage in the Cyber Attack Era

Ransomware has returned to the front page in the form of the WannaCry threat sweeping the globe. AMI-Partners has written about cybersecurity before and it is a well known fact that being proactive is the best approach to security. In this blog, AMI will take a look at how a robust storage solution can help a company in the SMB space rebound from an attack.

Pay the butcher’s bill?

The WannaCry ransomware has arrived in 150 or so countries. Blame is still being assigned and solutions are being sought. Experts agree that paying a ransom isn’t the best course of action. There is no guarantee your files will be decrypted. The sting of having been on the receiving end of the malicious attack will be compounded by the fruitlessly spent funds filling the coffers of criminals. However, each firm must respond as they see fit. If the rightful owners and users are locked out of files, retrieving duplicate information from storage can get a business up and running again. Of course, when ransoms aren’t paid, Continue reading “Storage in the Cyber Attack Era”

Facebook still looking strong despite issues

Facebook, the evolving and diversifying social media and social networking service, based in California via Harvard University’s Kirkland House Room H33, has posted its latest quarterly results. The figures bode well for the company and those at the helm are determined to have the future of social media marketing revolve around its products and services. Let’s take a look at the figures and see how the SMB space is impacted by the latest news out of Menlo Park.

A Brief Recap

In a previous entry, your intrepid blogger covered the overall usage of social sites such as Facebook (including Instagram), Twitter, LinkedIn, and Snapchat among others. That blog highlighted the importance the SMB space places onsocial media as well as the potential Benefits and Concerns for SMBs in using these services to foster a positive social presence for a business. With only 37% of US Small Businesses actively using social media to market products and services, Continue reading “Facebook still looking strong despite issues”

Business Services: In-House or Outsourced?

Companies of all sizes seek out cost savings. When it comes to deciding what business services to outsource (which can present a significant savings), small businesses must take a measured approach. The reality of giving up control over a facet of one’s business can be difficult for some, but if it makes good business sense, outsourcing can be the right move to make. Some services are more likely candidates for outside support than others. Let’s take a look at what the small business space in the United States is doing for outsourcing.

Pros and Cons of Outsourcing 

With any decision, particularly outsourcing, a weighing of the pros and cons must be taken up in order to determine if the correct move is being made. Personal preference plays a big part in the decision making process. Each business is unique and a thorough review should be conducted before reaching a verdict.

Outsourcing of Business Services



Frees up time for core competencies Loss of internal control
Access to subject matter experts Potential quality and accuracy concerns
Potential cost savings Time delays for customer support

The above table is not exhaustive of all the benefits and drawbacks. Rather, Continue reading “Business Services: In-House or Outsourced?”