Tangled Application Ecosystems Creates Opportunity For Solution Providers, Study Finds


Over the past three years, the application marketplace has expanded rapidly and become more snarled, a Capgemini study found. However, that signals an opportunity for solution providers to step in and untangle businesses application ecosystems.

In Capgemini's 2014 Applications Landscape Report, released Wednesday, the company surveyed more than 1,000 CIOs and IT leaders to find out how the application marketplace has evolved since the same survey was conducted in 2011.

The application ecosystem is getting increasingly complex, the study found, but businesses are struggling with underutilization and replication as they add new applicaitons to their portfolios. The number of applications has increased by 34 percent in the three years since the 2011 survey, the most recent study found, while only 37 percent of CIOs said that most of their applications were critical to business operations.

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The gap between what the businesses think they need and what they have in their applicaiton ecosystem is growing, the study found, with 48 percent of businesses saying they have more applications than they need, up from 34 percent in 2011.

This complexity and rapidly growing marketplace means a huge opportunity for solution providers, Capgemini Senior Vice President of Application Services Ron Tolido said in an interview with CRN.

"The moment you start to simply improve your effects and metrics and get a better objective understanding of the landscape, that seems to be a breakthrough in moving forward," Tolido said.

The clear enthusiasm in the marketplace for applications in business has been driven by rapid growth in cloud, social, mobile and big data technologies, Tolido said. However, Tolido said that while the interest is fueling growth in the number of applications a business take on, the landscape is not suitable yet for all of them. For solution providers, that means there's an opportunity to improve business processes by implementing best practices for their clients.

Adding that value helps create a self-perpetuating cycle for mature solution providers, where best practices and the right applications for the business can help cut costs and improve efficiencies, the savings from which can be reinvested into the IT budget for further improvements.

Drew Kimball, director of product management and marketing of cloud services at Cbeyond, said that three years ago, businesses would only move less-business-critical applications to the cloud, but now they are realizing the benefits and moving more applications to the cloud and picking up even more to go along with them.

He said that Cbeyond itself has evolved to provide more than just the cloud infrastructure to its clients and is working to offer a more robust application and application management portfolio.

"We're moving quickly into providing solutions on top of infrastructure, instead of simply providing the infrastructure," Kimball said.

Kimball said he predicts that the application landscape and cloud will only continue to expand, and he said Cbeyond will "continue to adapt and focus" to stay on top of the trends.

"Three years from now, I'd be surprised to see more than a small percentage that haven't moved something to the cloud," he said. "Tech firms will be completely in the cloud."

For solution providers to get ahead of the trend, Tolido recommended they start by getting the basics together. He said the application landscape is one of the biggest worries, so solution providers should work on establishing a foundation for their clients. Once the existing landscape is cleaned up, he said, solution providers can use the applications as a "wedge" to create more business breakthroughs.  

"Use these next generation of technologies as a tool, a lever if you like, to create some breakthroughs," Tolido said. 

PUBLISHED MARCH 7, 2014