Irene Pimentel

Irene Pimentel

Irene Pimentel is an IBRS analyst who focuses on news and information on the global IT Outsourcing market. Irene provides IBRS clients with up to date information on all outsourcing deals that are taking place helping our clients understand who is winning business in what markets. With over 10 years experience as a management consultant, Irene has worked with some of Australia's largest blue chip companies and public sector organisations. Irene has also worked as a research manager for an IT sourcing consultancy, providing clients with targeted intelligence and advice for their specific IT sourcing transactions.

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Conclusion: This month, there have been increased discussions regarding highly targeted, industry-specific security threats. Security issues for managed service providers can be especially complex due to the nature of the industry and delivery frameworks. Targeted attacks on vendors that support a large and diverse client base, utilising intricate, often intertwined solutions which cater to a wide range and large number of business functions, can result in difficulties when security issues arise. Problems such as theft, malicious attacks, denial of service and framework collapses can cause added risks because of vendor/client structures in this sector. For vendors, attacks can result in difficulties such as managing security issues over a large number of clients or associated entities which provide services. For clients, outsourced networks spanning different sites and critical functions are amongst the variety of threats which can leave clients exposed. Responses for vendor co-ordination with clients, as well as associated service providers and partners, must be considered and thoroughly planned when developing response measures for service providers. Measures must be as robust as possible, as well as sufficiently flexible to cater to unforeseen events and the complex nature of the managed services sector, where threats can be highly variable in nature, volume and extremities.


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Conclusion: This month, discussions regarding ICT outsourcing project completion and outcomes have been prominent. Whilst project successes outweigh those which are still struggling, the results make it clear that the capacity to develop and implement a strategic approach to the adoption of managed services is critical. Projects experience difficulties due to failures to stay within budget, set timeframes or providers cannot meet basic milestones. Difficulties are also experienced when unforeseen problems arise because of miscalculations regarding the size or complexity of a project, as well as technical issues. Project successes, which provide a stable working relationship and added value to customers are the result of clear strategies, allow the services to facilitate business objectives, and a thorough consideration of adoption barriers during a project, including administrative, technical, legal and regulatory.


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Conclusion: This month, the large outsourcing agreement between Thales and the Department of Defence/Airservices Australia has been the subject of discussion. Whilst the contract value is high, more significant are the complex project objectives which resulted in a lengthy contract negotiation period. Initially, agencies involved anticipated an off-the-shelf solution to replace national air traffic control systems. However, it became apparent that a customised solution to support system functions was required, given the large and technically complex nature of the project. In order to reduce risks associated with contract failure, a two-year negotiation period was undertaken to ensure delivery responsibilities and specifications were well-defined. Project oversight and monitoring frameworks, vendor incentives to stay within project budgets and meet fulfilment targets were also described in detail within agreements. Although concerns were flagged regarding the delay in finalising this agreement, extra care was warranted given the critical functions the system will support, as well as the high value and complex system foundations. By adopting this approach, all parties have a sturdier agreement which can provide value for money, performance incentives, frameworks for contract execution as well as a better chance of project success.


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Conclusion: This month, discussions regarding digital transformation efforts have been prominent. Plans to upgrade, improve and modernise internal ICT frameworks are critical for effective value creation and faster results delivery. Customers need to invest in technological change in order to establish a set of digital products which address stakeholder needs and integrate with business operations and functions. Customers often struggle with identifying and evaluating vendor risks and establishing appropriate audits and controls for service providers. Whilst customers are familiar with issues such as contract compliance and security, obtaining a managed service provider with a deeper understanding of business requirements can be difficult. However, this understanding is critical when developing digital transformation solutions, and vendors need to augment skills, develop more detailed strategies and address concerns specific to particular customers in order to deliver business value during digital transformation efforts.


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Conclusion: This month has seen a focus on ICT 2018 forecasts and 2017 reviews. These types of analyses are important for vendors in order to strike a balance between providing new, high quality service offerings customers’ demand and traditional concerns, such as privacy and legislative compliance. It is critical that new offerings are carefully planned so they align market drivers such as cost savings, utilising new technologies and business improvements with basic needs that are common to all customers and integral to establishing, managing and completing outsourcing agreements.


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Conclusion: This month has seen an increase in activity for public sector outsourcing. While reports this year have flagged sector growth, with more diverse offerings and a greater uptake of smaller providers, difficulties with contract performance in this area are still clear. While the size and complexities associated with these projects can present serious problems, they are aggravated by issues that are especially prominent in the public sector. For instance, running critical functions such as financial management, customer service and human resources, on disparate, large or obsolete systems, can result in a wide range of vulnerabilities for government agencies. These can interfere with business continuity, pose security threats, hamper disaster recovery or prevent appropriate skills development. As vendors evolve to offer more specialised services that cater to customers’ requirements, it is important for the public sector to continue to review and analyse its outsourcing projects because of serious consequences associated with catastrophic failures, outages and exploitation of government systems.


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Conclusion: Discussions regarding the increased presence of small-to-medium businesses (SMBs) and start-ups in the IT industry have been prominent this month. Initiatives aimed at generating growth in the sector, such as funding for smaller providers, information exchange and facilities which allow for access to government contracts, are showing clear results. Support for smaller providers that offer specialist services are in high demand, as well as resources and information regarding sustained growth, product development and consumption frameworks. Both vendors, and customers seeking tailored and competitive offerings in a market traditionally dominated by large vendors as well as smaller customers hoping to access quality services, have benefitted.


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Conclusion: This month has seen an increased focus on security threats posed by managed service providers and associated vendors. ICT service providers are attractive targets because they can provide access to a wide variety of customer networks, or can be used as a starting point for other malicious attacks. Compromised commercial or government data, or products which facilitate vendor service provision, can result in serious breaches and unexpected losses. More in-depth reviews of vendor security protocols, products and response measures to threats are required for customers to obtain the best possible protection against attacks launched through their managed service providers.


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Conclusion: This month, there has been an increase in the launch of digital communities or marketplaces which facilitate partner access to resources, information and collaboration in specialist areas. These types of initiatives can be beneficial to both vendors and customers, providing the capacity to identify disparate services and combine them for specific needs or develop new tailored vendor offerings. Products, service offerings, project delivery, financial models and contract structures can be enhanced by targeting individual needs. In an environment where innovation is critical to remain competitive and relevant, these types of initiatives are valuable. They also allow for a clearer and broader perspective when developing solutions.
This kind of transparency can help to address some of the challenges associated with complex outsourcing agreements which result in technical or contract management difficulties. Allowing this kind of exchange can help drive fresh ideas and new approaches to IT outsourcing, as well as more effective customer and partner engagement.


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Conclusion: This month, discussions around the difficulties associated with establishing and maintaining managed services agreements have been prominent. Contract or service failures typically cannot be attributed to one issue, but are usually the output of a number of underlying factors. Inherent technological flaws, security attacks, human error, configuration errors, management procedures and delivery delays amongst a wide range of other factors often combine to result in contract failures and disagreements. These types of complexities and variables, which are often unforeseen, require stronger foundations between vendors and customers when establishing agreements.
More simplistic, outcome-based targets, as opposed to a focus on technological solutions, can often provide a beneficial framework for providers and their clients. Establishing and implementing complex agreements from this perspective can help provide the flexibility required to avoid disagreements as well as resolve problems which do arise.


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Conclusion: This month has seen increased discussions regarding systems integration service uptake and service range. Outsourcing agreements, partnerships and new vendor offerings indicate a heightened demand for services to consolidate disparate software systems and data sets, allowing for greater efficiencies, high-quality information access and analysis. Both customers and vendors have seen value in integrating multiple subsystems and data sets to function as a whole, and the trend towards systems integration service adoption and expanded offerings is expected to rise.


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Conclusion: This month, a number of high-profile systems outages were reported, again flagging risks associated with operating complex IT environments and business functions which rely on these systems. Seemingly minor incidents, or a combination of disparate problems, can result in serious and costly system failures. These problems are exacerbated when issues impact on a company’s service delivery mechanisms and their own customers. This month, a power surge which triggered a global systems outage at British Airways left 75,000 customers stranded, at an estimated cost of $135M. A failure at Westpac left online users unable to access funds for 24 hours, following a similar week-long online and mobile banking failure in November 2016. The Australian Taxation Office has experienced serious service disruptions as a result of three outages in recent months, related to two separate service providers. A review of two failures by service provider Hewlett Packard Enterprise found a number of issues contributed to ATO system collapses and an inability to respond to them, including monitoring systems used to detect operating errors that were not activated, and access to recovery tools required to resolve problems being stored on the network which failed. These types of incidents highlight the impact of unexpected failures and inadequate response measures as well as the need for both vendors and customers to prepare for such events.


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Conclusion: This month, discussions regarding skills gaps and talent shortages in ICT services have been prominent. Difficulties obtaining staff with specialist skills are expected to be apparent throughout 2017, and managed service providers are adopting a more strategic approach to obtaining and retaining qualified staff in key industry areas. The past year has seen a noticeable increase in acquisitions and collaboration between firms to provide services in high demand and maintain market relevance. However, vendors have recognised the need for long-term and strategic solutions to avert, rather than respond to, expected skills gaps. This has resulted in new positions being created dedicated to sourcing and further developing workforce capabilities that are sufficiently flexible to cater to a highly volatile and fluid industry, while providing environments that attract staff. A shift in perceptions of talent acquisition from an expense to a long-term asset investment is also required to ensure vendors can maintain a quality skills base.


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Conclusion: This month has seen a sharp increase in outsourcing agreements and a broader range of services adopted by customers. Due to globalisation and thus access to new markets and overseas resources through collaboration, vendor offerings are becoming more diverse and tailored to individual customers. This allows for the adoption of stronger digital models from diverse markets, not focused on particular technologies but on business processes and changing customer experiences (CX). This pattern is emerging globally, spanning both large and small businesses. Worldwide, there has been an increased emphasis on CX and recognition that a focus on customer needs as well as a capacity to adapt is necessary to maintain customer engagement and remain competitive in the industry.


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