Application services providers are under intense pressure to transform themselves to truly support rapid customer innovation at scale. They’re pressured by a lack of skills and capabilities in emerging hot areas like AI, automation, and IoT, and by their sprawling size and complexity, which are often barriers to getting innovation done at speed.




Redefining the Market

Providers need to be several steps ahead of their customers and emerging rivals with provable expertise in these next-gen techs and how they can be used to deliver leading-edge applications. However, rivals are increasingly agile, and often more able to access the right skills and spin up teams quickly to respond to demand. They’re able to offer point solutions direct into the line of business, using collaborative DevOps delivery, rapid-to-deploy low-code/no-code tools, and cloud-native platforms, as well as advanced AI, automation, and analytics across their customers’ application landscapes.

App services providers need to deploy these same tools and technologies with even better agility and skill than their disruptor rivals, while embedding intelligence at the core of their propositions. Access to customer data and intelligence-led insights will be critical. This way app services providers can play a pivotal role in the creation of highly optimized, leading-edge enterprise products and services for their customers, and remain relevant to their next phase of digitization.



The Three A’s: Responding to the Speed and Skills Dilemma

The application of the three A’s — AI, automation, and analytics — is providing solutions to the skills shortage, and also the need for greater speed and accuracy in accelerated app delivery. This is because digital tools are far quicker than humans at intelligence gathering and crunching data. It’s also about using people far more smartly, focusing on their strengths in the application delivery process, such as their creativity to design great applications, user experiences, and customer journeys.

It’s an opportunity that’s arisen out of enterprise customers needing to change fast, as their own digital-native competitors launch new products and services in days or even minutes in some cases. Think of an insuretech start-up, like Lemonade, introducing a new AI-enabled product within weeks — making it far quicker, cheaper, and more efficient for a customer to take out a new policy with it than an incumbent insurer. Failing to rapidly design and launch a competing product quickly leaves the incumbent unable to fight back — and potentially out of business before too long.



The Need for Data-Led Insights and Hyper-Agility

It’s fair to say app services providers have been slow to adapt and respond to this accelerated application delivery opportunity early in the digital era because they have still been incentivized to focus on meeting today’s customer needs. But as we enter the post-digital future, success will be all about predicting, preparing for, and delivering for customers’ needs before they may know it themselves.

It’s therefore imperative that application services providers make the pivot now, designing in intelligence throughout the application life cycle, via the deep domain expertise of the customer from both an outside-in and inside-out perspective, and through industry- and customer-specific insight.

Achieving this will be dependent on predictive insights that can only be achieved through access to good quality data and the ability to interrogate and apply that knowledge within the design development and delivery of the application itself. They must do so by continuously innovating and co-creating products and solutions with their customers, while being hyper-agile and responsive to their changing needs.

But getting there isn’t going to be easy — this is nothing short of a paradigm shift for most app services providers, and they will face a huge challenge in pivoting at the speed required.



Intelligent App Services Becomes Part of AccAD

It’s against this wave of disruptive change that I’m landing my research stake in the ground at IDC — intelligent application services, which is spinning off from old world application development and management (ADM).

At the heart of this will be how successfully, or otherwise, European application services providers are pivoting their businesses to the “new,” underpinned by intelligent applications using automation, AI, and analytics, to effectively reimagine their roles in the digital and soon-to-become post-digital era.

The Intelligent Application Services research program sits within IDC Europe’s new Accelerated App Delivery (AccAD) practice, where we’re going to explore these and other disruptor themes in the app development and delivery life cycle — topics like DevOps, low-code/no-code apps, cloud-native development, and hybrid cloud delivery. In this way, we’re able to explore both the challenges and opportunities of accelerated app delivery across the entire ecosystem, from end users, to digital innovators, through to application services providers pivoting to this new world.


I’d love to know what you think about my ideas for intelligent application services, so please drop me a message at

And, if you’re an innovator or customer interested in the opportunities presented by our Accelerated App Deliveryresearch, the whole team want to hear from you!,,


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