Our experience over the past year has certainly confirmed for us that the time between a discovery and rolling it out in the real world is becoming shorter. Discovery and looking ahead has become our daily business, as we keep pace with our customers. They, too, are utterly convinced that they must shift their focus toward change, innovation, and acceleration, while retaining high levels of availability, reliability, and compliance.
Nowadays customers no longer ask us just for flexibility in their infrastructure, but rather for adaptability in the total application landscape. Renewal and acceleration vie for attention on the boardroom agenda and the desire to apply the potential of new technology has grown enormously. Now the needs of our new customers, such as Enexis Groep, PostNL, Prospery and Frankx, align precisely with what we see ourselves supplying.
In the past, infrastructure outsourcing could result in big, expensive, timeconsuming projects. Nowadays you can order capacity from Amazon Web Services, Google or Microsoft Azure in the morning and install functionality on in the afternoon. Infrastructure has become a commodity. Whereas our engineers once wrote scripts for managing the infrastructure, now they write scripts for rolling out application landscapes. What you develop today can be put into production today, with Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery. Building, testing, and implementing are now a single continuous process.
What's more, all the components that you need in the cloud to run applications are available off the shelf. That means that migrations to the cloud revolve more and more about choices in the integration of applications, business processes, and data flows, and less about infrastructure choices. These applications are also less likely to be managed by one supplier, which increases the need for a partner who can orchestrate and facilitate among all those involved.
At Schuberg Philis we began to respond to this change of direction in IT years ago. In recent years we have recruited many software developers and business consultants with domain-specific expertise, who can translate information related to business processes into functionality and vice versa. We have invested in training in methodologies such as design thinking and growth hacking. We have hired in knowledge and expertise relating to diverse business processes, application security, and the use of the cloud and cloud applications for specific sectors. We have also invested in-house, in areas such as onboarding new colleagues and compliance with the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Instead of simply following – assuming overall responsibility for a customer's infrastructure – we are now more likely to take the lead. We no longer focus mainly on the customer's current landscape; we are also explicitly engaged in choosing and applying new options. More and more we and the customer together make proposals as to which applications the customer can use to best meet their operational needs. We have anchored this knowledge-based approach by establishing three Greater Customer Teams (GCTs), each combining knowledge and expertise relevant to several economic sectors. We have also established Schuberg Philis Labs, an environment in which we experiment with new applications and technologies, together with our customers.
The world of technology and business applications is changing so quickly that nowadays you cannot look more than a few months ahead. So, it is critically important that we send scouts ahead of us, who will enable us to explore new technology and applications and can enormously increase our customers' ability to respond.
With a dedicated team in the form of Schuberg Philis Labs – a sort of guerrilla version of the company as a whole – we can increase our effectiveness in renewal, innovation, and experimentation. In combination with expertise in the customer's field of operations, this ensures that we can be sensitive and alert to emerging new concepts. We can also test them and, if our customers wish, provide them in a scalable form.
This dedicated team within the company focuses on two areas. In the first place, Labs has the autonomy and freedom to search for new technologies, and to explore and test them, acting as a source of inspiration for our Customer Teams. These technologies include voice-based applications such as speech analysis and sentiment analysis as well as the further development of chatbots. These technologies need further improvement to achieve good communication with customers.
This initiative is precisely in line with our ambition to bring customer needs, domain knowledge, and technological innovation as close as possible together.
Another example is the development of data lakes, which entails replacing batchbased data analysis with real-time data analysis and decision-making. In this field, many new services are being developed in the ecosystems of public clouds that can enormously increase the options available to our customers. We expect this to persuade some of them to make the transition to the public cloud. In the second place, the Customer Teams can go to Schuberg Philis Labs with specific questions about new solutions for specific sectors: what new technologies and new business initiatives have emerged in, for example, the financial services sector or the automotive sector?
Schuberg Philis Labs is also a good place for young talent to get acquainted with the way we operate. By participating in projects – such as developing experiments, Proof of Concepts, and minimum viable products – from their base in Labs, they can easily look over the shoulders of a customer team at work, and gain experience. This initiative is precisely in line with our ambition to bring customer needs, domain knowledge, and technological innovation as close as possible together. It will keep us in sync with our customers as well as the world of today and tomorrow.