Editor’s note: Boz Hristov is a senior analyst within TBR’s Professional Services Practice. Boz leads and participates in research and analysis of the financial performances and strategic investments of the companies in the professional services market, including Accenture, Deloitte and Infosys. In addition to his quarterly benchmarking activities, Boz leads TBR’s digital marketing services research for Digital Marketing Services Vendor Profiles, the Digital Marketing Services Benchmark, Digital Marketing Services Customer Buying Behavior and the Global Delivery Benchmark.

  • TBR: What do you see as the major trends in the areas you cover?

Boz: My research focus is split between two key areas: digital marketing services (DMS) and global delivery and automation. DMS includes strategy, creative, interactive, advertising and analytics services, while global delivery and automation evaluates IT vendors’ resource management strategies across professional services lines of business and the impact of automation on employee pyramids.

While the streams of research are independent, many of the same vendors are included in both, and automation of service delivery helps me to connect and draw the bigger picture of IT market evolution across systems of records, midoffice and systems of engagement.

Digital marketing has been the hot topic over the past 24 months, and while many brands are still transitioning or evaluating the steps to evolve from traditional marketing, we see digital marketing becoming marketing in a digital world. The data economy and demand for customized consumer relationship tools and applications compel buyers to spend more on DMS.

As part of the transition to digital marketing, though, brand health remains a top buyer concern, and buyers demand faster, measurable ROI across the customer life cycle on their investments, creating opportunities for vendors in emerging areas such as programmatic creative services and marketing operations.

From a global delivery perspective, the hype, the hope and the fear surrounding automation continue to raise questions about the future of IT service delivery. Currently, we believe automation is used more as a marketing buzzword rather than generating actual savings that can be passed to clients.

We believe most vendors use the benefits from the domain to offset higher costs associated with hiring premium on-site personnel. However, digital transformation awards are yet to scale in sheer volume; therefore, any benefits gained from the use of automation are offset by pricy consulting resources.

  • TBR: Looking ahead, how do you see these two areas evolving?

Boz: The shift to persona-based marketing will continue to spur the adoption and integration of mobile-based marketing platforms, positioning vendors that maintain technology agnosticism to win share as they manage broad CRM platforms that complement offerings in marketing operations, customer experience and data management. Proliferation of programmatic creative services is helping enterprises speed up the transition to digital marketing. The benefits from such offerings enable vendors to take an active role in media buying through either proprietary IP or third-party offerings, such as demand-side platforms, to improve media efficiency and drive more analytics services opportunities. Additionally, people-based marketing, enabled by the data economy, will compel brands to seek advice and support converting customers to brand ambassadors.

Profitable business impacts of automation will continue to encourage technology vendors to invest in process engines augmenting human service delivery. “Do engines” such as Alexa, Siri and Cortana can accelerate the transition from robotic process automation to cognitive automation with consumers driving the shift. We believe there is an opportunity for vendors to collaborate with consumer-centric content providers to accelerate the creation of additional “do engine” solutions and offerings.