Digital Future What's 'Next-gen' About Next-gen Services Apr 24, 2017 at 1:52 AM | Approx. reading time 4 mins. Recently, Infosys was acknowledged for its application services leadership in NelsonHall's Vendor Evaluation & Assessment Tool (NEAT). While the rating, at one level, is a reflection of our ability to deliver compelling immediate benefits to clients, what's equally relevant is that it's an indicator of our preparedness to fulfil their future needs. Although the report itself acknowledges this, it's my conversations with clients from across the world that strengthens my conviction. It is clear that leaders at the helm of every kind of business are grappling with the same dual agenda - to make problem-solving of well-defined, current challenges more efficient, and simultaneously to also focus on problem-finding and explorations to uncover new avenues of value creation that can serve the enterprise's future. Next-generation services - like the ones referenced in NelsonHall's Evaluation of Infosys - power this duality. And here's how. These services rely on automation to bring breakthrough productivity to problem-solving endeavors. In fact, the very core of next-gen IT services is based on automation and a people+software delivery model with efficiency benefits that can then be shared with the businesses that commission these services. From bringing automation to IT operations, building process automation, scripting test automation and frameworks for automated knowledge curation, the point then is to focus on doing more, with less for more. Using agile and DevOps capabilities to deliver modern applications in a shorter timeframe is integral to the game plan. Artificial Intelligence (AI) can also be harnessed to bring productivity improvements to work. Advanced AI technologies, when combined with in-depth understanding of the business and the IT landscape, can give businesses the edge of automation while also using critical knowledge locked inside source code, application silos, maintenance logs, exception tickets, and even individual employees, to solve tough business challenges. It can enable systems to predict problems and automate the solving of these problems otherwise requiring skilled people to invest time and effort. With problem-solving in the domain of automated systems, thanks to advanced technology and new-age services, fresh bandwidth is created for people to devote themselves to problem-finding, to spot new opportunities and build the unprecedented solutions that can bring home the value of these opportunities. An increased focus in product engineering services on IoT and areas such as predictive maintenance, machine learning, and intelligent and adaptive systems is making it easier to bring brave new ideas to life. In addition, when Design Thinking services are also included as part of the services package, it can help client businesses internalize the ways of problem-finding, as repeatable and practical methods to explore new avenues of value-creation and bring innovation into their context. And yet, it's not unusual for a discomfiting tension, between problem-solving and problem-finding, to make things far from simple for businesses. And the solution often lies in nurturing an organizational fabric that supports the harmonious co-existence of both these mandates. An ethos where people are continuously learning to harness machines that are growing every day in their ability to solve problems, and also to measure people-success in terms of the breadth and expanse of their purposeful problem-finding. So, in addition to automating what can be automated, and innovating to find new problems ahead of new solutions with techniques such as Design Thinking, there is in the next-gen services repertoire something that nudges the thinking of the client organization to not let focus on the 90-day rhythms of enterprise life distract them entirely from long-ranging pursuits of real progress. Something of an inspiration to wait for fruits to be borne over longer lifecycles. This coming together of automation and innovation in a culture of purposefulness, this catalyzing of the natural cycles of business, tempered with longer-term priorities and perseverance, in my view, separates the 'next-gen' services from the more easily contracted set of next services.