As the market enters the second half of 2020 - still clouded in uncertainty and unpredictability - customer priorities continue to fluctuate, almost in parallel as daily Covid-19 case figures rise or fall.
Alternating from optimism to pessimism - and back again - the CIO investment pendulum is swinging from galvanised to glum on an almost daily basis, as Asia Pacific plans for an undetermined future.
“Most digital transformation projects planned at the start of 2020 have been dramatically overhauled, if not altogether scrapped,” acknowledged Naresha Supramaniam, senior vice president and head of Asia Pacific at Virtusa. “Earlier priorities are a distant memory and new priorities have emerged.
“As companies re-emerge after being shut down from normal operations as a result of Covid-19, balancing the need to innovate and control cost is the new priority for many of our clients."
Offering a sense of optimism doused in realism, Supramaniam observed a shift in market dynamics across Asia Pacific - from Australia and New Zealand to Southeast Asia and India - with customer priorities evolving alongside the pandemic.
“Firstly, and back in March, many customers were scrambling trying to carve out a path forward with employees all over the world working remotely,” Supramaniam said. “We quickly turned our attention to Virtusa capabilities that could help.
“Our desktop-as-a-service offering provides employees access to the systems they need to work regardless of where they are located. Once everyone was up and running, many customers then turned to cost cutting.”
Speaking exclusively to Channel Asia, Supramaniam said Virtusa supported end-users during such a shift through helping businesses cut costs while maintaining service quality, citing cloud as playing a “big role” in the process.
A recent case in point is Oway Group of Myanmar, with Virtusa migrating the travel and ride-hailing start-up to Google Cloud during a six-week project.
In response to the challenging impact of the pandemic on travel - and the need to immediately reduce expenses - Oway partnered with Virtusa to leverage Google Cloud’s Migrate for Compute Engine, migrating its entire infrastructure to Google Cloud Platform (GCP) in the process. Starting in early April, the migration was completed in less than six weeks with the business now realising a 20 per cent reduction in total infrastructure costs.
Likewise in Australia and New Zealand, with cost saving and reinvestment activities representing prime opportunities for cloud partners during the current climate, according to Rhody Burton, head of partnerships and alliances across A/NZ at Google Cloud.
“Now, we’re helping clients get back on track with projects that will help grow revenue,” Supramaniam added. “In nearly all cases, clients are looking to balance spending with the need to continuously innovate. This pandemic has forced clients to change almost everything planned at the start of 2020. With the cost of innovation being watched closer than ever, this cost needs to be balanced.
“Successful technology providers must predict digital transformation successes very early in engagements with clients. Those who can are able to set specific performance goals with each client focused on areas including reducing technical debt, improving time to market or reducing costs.”
Skilling up to succeed in cloud
Founded in 1996 with a strong Asia Pacific heritage, the US-based business operates as a specialist cloud provider with deep expertise across Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud and Microsoft technologies, in addition to partnerships with Adobe, SAP, Salesforce and Talend among others.
Housing more than 22,700 employees, Virtusa goes to market across over 50 locations spanning 19 countries in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific. Closer to home, regional reach covers Australia and New Zealand, alongside Southeast Asia, India and Sri Lanka.
Key customers primarily include Fortune 2000 businesses, ranging from banking and financial services to communications, healthcare and life sciences, as well as insurance, manufacturing, media and entertainment, travel and hospitality sectors.
All up, this is a business nestled perfectly within the highly competitive cloud market - more nimble than the large-scale global system integrators (GSIs), yet packing more power than the born-in-the-cloud start-ups.
“We combine our deep industry and domain expertise with the right tools, techniques, accelerators and agility to help businesses move forward, faster,” Supramaniam added.
Supported by a team of engineers, designers and consultants, Virtusa recently achieved End User Computing (EUC) Competency status through AWS, in acknowledgment of “deep expertise” in helping customers provision and protect end-point devices, end-user apps and data.
“How, when and where work gets done has shifted dramatically,” Supramaniam outlined. “Enabling and keeping remote teams productive has become a priority.
“Achieving the AWS End User Computing Competency demonstrates our mastery of building, managing, optimising and implementing AWS technologies into modernised enterprise systems for our clients that run on a secure, high-performing, resilient and efficient cloud infrastructure for industry applications.”
Central to such efforts is Virtusa’s desktop-as-a-service (vDaaS) offering, designed to help customers enable remote working at a global level, while adjusting the level of resourcing in the process.
“This can be deployed quickly with enhanced mobility and flexibility to access the workplace environment from anywhere,” Supramaniam explained. “There is no dependency on physical hardware and vDaaS includes strong data security to avoid data loss or leakage.
“Combined with the agility and pace of innovation that AWS provides, users gain full control of the end-user computing environment to gain intelligence from any end-point device.”
In addition to expertise across big data, financial services and software-as-a-service offerings, Supramaniam said Virtusa’s value proposition is centred around helping customers increase the speed of digital investments.
For example, the provider’s Digital Transformation Studio operates as a proprietary platform capable of combining engineering tools to drive software development lifecycle automation. This is alongside reusable industry assets collected and enhanced via an Open Innovation Platform (OIP) which, according to Supramaniam, strives for a “near-zero approach” to coding.
“Our OIP is an integrated development environment that enables banks, fintechs, regtechs and insurtechs to ideate, build and publish applications collaboratively using open banking technology,” he stated. “Utilising a strong catalog of APIs to validate and develop minimum viable products, OIP provides users a low-risk environment to experiment, develop and validate solutions while reducing the time and cost of innovation.”
Innovation also comes in the form of vLife - an application marketplace for healthcare and life sciences customers - built to increase efficiency and lower costs through “click, try and buy” access to applications and solutions. Offerings include commercial analytics, clinical trials, patient engagement and bioinformatics-as-a-service among others.
Meanwhile, the Smart Field Force Management platform leverages artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR) based test diagnostic capabilities to improve efficiency of field force workers, while helping reduce the average handling time for communications service providers.
For Supramaniam, advancements in areas such as AI, AR, machine learning, the Internet of Things (IoT) and robotics process automation (RPA) are combining to "push the boundaries" of how technology can disrupt traditional business models.
“We have invested in developing deep capabilities in these new areas, fostering a strong partner ecosystem and building a rich platform for nurturing innovation and rapidly constructing prototypes that use IoT, AI, AR, and/or RPA to solve specific business problems for our clients,” he added.
“We have created innovation centres focused on certain technologies like IoT, AI and machine learning, which offer a robust ecosystem for clients to participate and innovate in creating new solutions to their business challenges."
Advance is a centralised editorial resource designed to help partners access forward-looking content as the markets across Asia Pacific attempt to reposition for growth.