First Line Software is a premier provider of software engineering, software enablement, and digital transformation services. Headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the global staff of 400 technical experts serve clients across North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.
Recently Global Services Magazine interviewed First Line’s Chairman & President Nick Puntikov, following our repeated recognition in the prestigious Global Services 100 ranking of the world’s top outsourcing service providers.
Which segment/s in IT/BPO contribute the most to your revenues? What trends/ developments are you seeing in this area from an industry perspective? How you describe your company’s differentiating value proposition in these areas?
First Line Software focuses on implementing software solutions for enterprises, as well as providing software R&D and product development services for technology vendors. Application development and integration drive the bulk of our revenues.
The big trends are visible for all to see. The most significant of them from the standpoint of our business is possibly the proliferation of mobile technology in the enterprise, both on the back end and the front end; the growth of PaaS as a paradigm, as opposed to building and maintaining a large infrastructure of custom applications; and the growing appetite for big data, analytics, and mathematical modeling. As far as mobility is concerned, we are coming from a very strong background of delivering comprehensive solutions for the enterprise, and are therefore positioned very well to meet the needs of a discerning enterprise buyer.
When it comes to working with the most popular cloud business applications and platforms, we have a very strong team of experts capable of delivering enterprise-grade projects of the highest complexity. We are also convinced that there will always be a need for vendor-agnostic, independent, and experienced technologists to help companies make the best decisions in deciding between COTS on-premise, cloud-based, hybrid, or custom solutions, and implementing that strategy with the highest quality.
What are the top three initiatives for your company in 2014?
Among our highest priorities for 2014 are:
- Continuing to build out our delivery capability in select competencies that are exhibiting growing demand, such as Ruby on Rails, Saleforce.com, and others
- Promote our proven ability to deliver unique enterprise grade projects in the areas of enterprise mobility, CRM and digital marketing technology e-commerce, wearable devices, etc.
- Increase our on-site presence and project support in our key markets, most importantly the United States and the EU
How are the four forces – cloud, mobile, analytics and social media redefining sourcing of services? Which one of these, do you think, will have the maximum impact on your business and why?
It is quite obvious that cloud and the SaaS/PaaS paradigms, in particular, are making it increasingly tempting to treat the standard back-office business functions as a commodity. This in turn reduces demand for truly custom business applications. If you think about it, it makes total sense: If my company is not in the business of making software, why would I focus my money, talent, and energy on creating custom software systems to take care of my back-office functions, where a “mass market” cloud-based solution can address them reasonably well and with great transparency? Companies will focus their attention on the areas that truly differentiate them.
In the context of software services, this is likely to mean that the value-add will be concentrated in the front end, customer-facing applications, user experience, and highly specific business processes. This means that selling “plain vanilla” engineering resources in the traditional offshore model will only keep getting harder over time. The front-end focus pushes us to be closer to the customer, and thus increase our on-site presence, while the shift to the cloud forces us to invest in building out domain expertise and developing our proprietary platforms and solutions.
Also, the enterprise mobility push is creating a huge new market for us, for there clearly isn’t an excess of qualified engineering firms that can deliver the level of business solutions that meet the enterprise demand for usability, quality, security, and manageability.
According to you, what is the one biggest macro-trend that would shape the future of the global services industry?
The biggest macro trend by far is the ongoing ‘cloudization’ of IT. The need for traditional services like infrastructure support will continue to decline, while custom application development will change from long risky projects to dynamic implementations on cloud platforms. In order to survive, service providers will have to change their market offering from generalized procurement of engineering resources to highly specialized domain expertise combined with excellent cloud-specific skills (performance, security, scalability, reliability), as well as toolsets built on top of the cloud and aimed at adding value to the client’s business (e.g., analytics over big data).