Systems integrators can cut staffing costs and boost project success rates if they take a cue from the gig economy.
A Constellation Research study published this week reported gig economy IT projects used 30% fewer FTEs over time compared with projects staffed the traditional way. In addition, gig economy projects experienced a 9% failure rate versus the IT industry average of 70% to 81%, according to market research firm. Large IT initiatives such as digital transformation projects are especially prone to encountering obstacles.
Gig economy staffing "lowers risk substantially by boosting IT success rates dramatically," according to Constellation Research's report, "How the Gig Economy Is Reshaping Tech Careers and IT Itself." The report's findings are based on Constellation Research's analysis of project data from Gigster, a gig economy platform that focuses on IT staffing.
The research firm said it compared data from 190 Gigster projects with typical industry projects. Gigster helped fund the research.
From outsourcing to crowdsourcing
Gigster CEO Chris Keene said the gig approach -- crowdsourcing IT personnel on demand -- will "change the way systems integrators think about their talent." The Constellation Research report, he added, suggests the application of gig economy best practices "could be as big for systems integrators as outsourcing was years ago."
Outsourcing's labor arbitrage made its mark in the systems integration field beginning in the 1990s. Today, crowdsourcing and what Keene refers to as "elastic staffing," also aim to reduce personnel expenses on IT projects. He said Gigster's Innovation Management Platform, a SaaS offering, lets organizations assess talent based on the quality of the work an IT staffer performed on previous projects. The tool provides sentiment analysis, polling an IT staffer's teammates and customers to gauge their satisfaction. The tool's elastic staffing capabilities, meanwhile, are used to identify on-demand peer experts who review a project's key deliverables. As an integrator reaches a project milestone, it can use the Gigster platform to conduct sentiment analysis and an expert review before moving on to the next phase.
The increase in staffing efficiency stems from elastic versus static approaches. The Constellation Research report noted personnel assigned to a traditional project tend to remain on the team, even when their skills are not in high demand during particular project phases.
"Activity shifts among project team members over time, resulting in a relatively inefficient model because underutilized people continue to add to the project budget and overhead," the report observed. For example, architects may play their biggest role at the onset of a project, while demand for developers and QA personnel grow over the course of a project.
Keene said the gig economy approach avoids locking people into specialized projects for long periods of time, making the staffing process more agile. He said when organizations discuss agile approaches, they are typically referring to their delivery processes.
"Most agile projects are only agile in the way they drive their processes," Keene said. "They are not agile in the way they resource those projects."
Keene, meanwhile, attributed the increase in project success rates to the peer review function. He said bringing in an on-demand expert to review a project milestone helps avoid the "groupthink" that can derail an IT initiative.
Gigster is based in San Francisco.
SAP elevates partner-developed apps
SAP has revamped SAP App Center, an online marketplace where customers can purchase SAP-based apps developed by partners.
The SAP App Center now features an updated user experience to make it easier for customers to search for offerings based on the underlying SAP product used, certification, publisher and solution type, the vendor said. SAP unveiled the updated SAP App Center alongside several other new partner initiatives at the company's Global Partner Summit, held online on June 3.
"The [SAP App Center] should be the place to go for all the customers we have. … And it should be the place to go for all of our account executives. We are going to make it easy for our customers to go there, and we are going to run campaigns to enable our customers to find what they need in the app center," SAP chief partner offer Karl Fahrbach said during the Global Partner Summit event.
The marketplace currently features more than 1,500 partner-created offerings, according to SAP.
On the partner-facing side of the SAP App Center, the company added tools to publish SAP-based offerings and manage and track sales. "We are working very hard on reducing the time that it takes to publish an app on the app center," Fahrbach said.
SAP said a new initiative, SAP Endorsed Apps, aims to bolster SAP partners' software businesses by spotlighting partner apps and matching them with potential customers. SAP Endorsed Apps is an invitation-only initiative.
In addition to updating the SAP App Center, the company said it is focused on improving how partners approach SAP implementation projects. To that end, SAP introduced a set of standard processes, tools and reporting aids designed to facilitate implementations. Benefits include grants for educating partners' consultants, incentives for partners that invest in customer success, and increased investments in partner learning and enablement, SAP said.
Fahrbach also said SAP is opening its pre-sales software demonstration environment to qualifying partners for free. Additionally, on July 1, SAP will offer partners one year of free access to SAP S/4HANA Cloud and Business ByDesign.
Channel partners find allies in backup and DR market
Several channel companies this week disclosed partnerships and distribution deals in the backup and disaster recovery (DR) market.
OffsiteDataSync, a J2 Global company offering DR and backup as a service, rolled out an expanded partnership with Zerto. The Zerto relationships lets OffsiteDataSync provide DRaaS options to a "broad spectrum of businesses," according to OffsiteDataSync, which also partners with Veeam.
In another move, Otava, a cloud services company based in Ann Arbor, Mich., launched Otava Cloud Backup for Microsoft 365, partnering with Veeam. The Microsoft 365 SaaS offering, available for channel partners, follows the November 2019 launch of Veeam-based backup offerings such as Otava Cloud Connect, Otava-Managed Cloud Backup and Self-Managed Cloud Backup.
Meanwhile, Pax8, a cloud distributor based in Denver, added Acronis Cyber Protect to its roster of offerings in North America. The Acronis Cyber Protect service includes backup, DR, antimalware, cybersecurity and endpoint management tools.
- A survey of IT professionals found 24% of businesses adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic without downtime, with 56% reporting two or fewer weeks of downtime. The study from Insight Enterprises, an integrator based in Tempe, Ariz., noted 40% of respondents said they had to develop or retool business resiliency plans in response to COVID-19. Insight also found IT departments are planning to invest in a range of health-related technologies, including smart personal hygiene devices (58%), contactless sensors (36%), infrared thermometers (35%) and thermal cameras (25%). A third of the respondents are looking into an IoT ecosystem that would let them pull together and analyze data gathered from those devices.
- Research from Advanced, an application modernization services provider, revealed that about three-quarters of organizations have launched a legacy system modernization project but failed to complete the task. The company pointed to a "a disconnect of priorities between technical and leadership teams" as an obstacle to getting projects over the finish line. Advanced's 2020 mainframe modernization report also identified a broad push to the cloud: 98% of respondents cited plans to move legacy applications to the cloud this year.
- IBM and solutions provider Persistent System are partnering to deploy IBM Cloud Pak offerings within the enterprise segment. Persistent Systems also launched a new IBM Cloud Pak deployment practice for migrating and modernizing IBM workloads within cloud environments.
- Distributor Ingram Micro Cloud rolled out the Illuminate program for AWS Partner Network resellers. The Illuminate program provides partner enablement in the forms of coaching, marketing, sales and technical resources.
- US Signal, a data center services provider based in Grand Rapids, Mich., said it will expand its cloud and data protection capabilities to include data centers in Oak Brook, Ill., and Indianapolis. The company already offers cloud and data protection in its Grand Rapids, Mich.; Southfield, Mich.; and Detroit data centers. The expanded services are scheduled for availability in July at the Oak Brook data center and in September at the Indianapolis facility.
- ActivTrak Inc., a workforce productivity and analytics software company based in Austin, Texas, unveiled its Managed Service Provider Partner Program. The initial group of more than 25 partners, which span North America, South America, Europe and Asia, include Advanced Technology Group, Cloud Synergistics, Cyber Secure, EMD, NST, Nukke, Wahaya and Zinia. The three-tier program offers access to a single pane-of-glass management console, MSP Command Center. The console lets partners log into customer accounts through single sign-on, investigate and address alerts, configure the application and troubleshoot issues within individual accounts, according to the company.
- Tanium, a unified endpoint management and security firm based in Emeryville, Calif., formally rolled out its Tanium Partner Advantage program. The program launch follows partnership announcements with NTT, Cloudflare, Okta and vArmour.
- Nerdio, a Chicago-based company that provides deployment and management offerings for MSPs, expanded its EMEA presence. The company launched a partnership with Sepago, an IT management consultancy based in Germany. Nerdio also appointed Bas van Kaam as its field CTO for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
- DLT and its parent company, distributor Tech Data, launched an online forum, GovDevSecOpsHub, which focuses on cybersecurity and the application development process in the public sector.
- Kimble Applications, a Boston-based professional services automation company, appointed Steve Sharp as its chief operations and finance officer.
- High Wire Networks, a cybersecurity service provider based in Batavia, Ill., named Travis Ray as its director of channel sales. Ray will look to build alliances with MSPs around delivering High Wire's Overwatch Managed Security Platform as a Service offering, the company said.
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