Wireless Noodle Episode 20: Lots of Microsoft and a touch of WFT (Working-From-Thailand)

Welcome to this week’s Wireless Noodle. After such a long break before the last episode there has been a lot in the news. So I want to cover that. I also want to talk a little bit more about the motivation for launching our User Group. But before that, more on hyperscalers. 

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An approximate transcript of the podcast is available below. 

Just recently we at Transforma Insights published a new report about the Digital Transformation strategies and capabilities of AWS, Google and Microsoft. Link to press release: Transforma Insights rates Microsoft the leading hyperscaler in supporting enterprise digital transformation

The bulk of the report provides our assessment of the capabilities of each of the vendors for each of the eleven technology families and between 5 and 14 functions per technology family. This includes hardware, software, services, consulting and various other elements. We assess them based on ‘Emerging’, ‘Significant’ or ‘Market Leading’ capabilities and provide tabulated notes on our views on each of the vendors for each of the technology families. We also include recommendations to enterprises on which vendor would be best placed to support them for different functions within the particular technology family.

Based on the rating of each vendor for each function in each technology family we are then able to rank the vendors, by technology, by role and overall for Digital Transformation. For the purposes of ranking the vendors, we apply a weighting for each function and for the eleven technology families relative to each other.

 These weightings allow us to score the overall capabilities of the vendors for Digital Transformation as a whole. 

Microsoft is the overall leading Hyperscaler in its ability to address enterprise requirements for Digital Transformation. AWS is just behind overall, but has some specific strengths. Google trails some distance behind those two in third place.

In terms of absolute ratings, we compared the capabilities of all 3 against a theoretical ‘maximum’ for an organisation that is ‘Market Leading’ in every aspect of providing Digital Transformation across all technologies. Of course, no such company exists, but it provides a scale against which we can benchmark vendors. In total Microsoft has secured a rating of 52% compared to that theoretical maximum, AWS 42% and Google 25%.

AWS and Microsoft particularly perform well in ‘software products’, reflecting their heavy software focus and ability to deliver the off-the-shelf products covered in the category. They also rate high for integrated solutions (i.e. full products aimed at addressing specific client requirements), application development and specialist services. It should be noted that for the latter two categories these vendors tend not to commercialise their offerings directly to end users, for instance not providing application development for third parties. Their strong showing in those categories is generally for internal purposes only (a distinguishing characteristic which we highlight in our analysis of each technology). Where these three companies tend to fall down is on two areas. They have limited capabilities in delivering hardware, although they are market leaders in particular areas such as Human Machine Interface. They also score poorly in two other categories: systems integration & project management, and field & operational services, both of which are inherently less scalable. The hyperscalers general eschew elements of delivering Digital Transformation that require large teams of people focused on delivering for a single client. That type of work they leave to consultants.

All three score very well in Artificial Intelligence and Edge Computing. There are few surprises in that result; the hyperscalers represent three of the most innovative companies in those fields in the world. Both AWS and Microsoft also score strongly in IoT, although the relative maturity and diversity of requirements in that field mean that they do not score as high as they do for AI and Edge. Other segments are much more mixed. Microsoft is a market leader in RPA and aspects of HMI and there are some minor strong points in Autonomous Robotic Systems, Data Sharing, Distributed Ledger and Hyperconnectivity.

The message for enterprise adopters is that Microsoft overall is the lead vendor to support a Digital Transformation, but that hides quite a bit of diversity. For early adopters looking for cutting-edge solutions, AWS is generally a step or two ahead of Microsoft. 

Report on AWS: AWS re:Invent showcases a broad portfolio focused on solving industry needs 

However, when it comes to breadth of offering and mass-market delivery, Microsoft is the clear lead. 

See this report for more details: New ‘industry clouds’ and enhanced consulting capabilities mark a change in Microsoft’s DX proposition 

Google has some particular niche capabilities, and is often favoured by developers, particularly in AI, although it seems unable to translate that into mass market adoption.


Quick round-up of some very interesting news stories from the last few weeks:

  • Microsoft (aforementioned) bought Nuance Communications which does natural language processing, speech recognition, that kind of thing. It’s a key part of an AI strategy, and it means it’s well position for voice to become the main UI, which at some point it will.
  • More on the topic of Microsoft, it won an eye-watering $22bn contract to provide augmented reality headsets for the military over 10 years. 
  • Verizon sold its first overseas mobile private network deal with Associated British Ports. Incidentally I had an interview with them as a fresh-faced 21 year old. The interviewer smoked all the way through the interview. Different time. Anyhow, just more evidence of how the connectivity market is being turned on its head at the moment. As I’ve spoken about many times before. If you’re interested in Mobile Private Networks I strongly recommend you check out an interview I did with Stephane Daeuble from Nokia about MPNs. Really great stuff. Link will be on the Wireless Noodle website at wirelessnoodle.com as usual. Link HERE.
  • Sierra Wireless suffered from a ransomware attack which shut down its website and its production for several days. Website OK. Production? I can’t help thinking that sometimes IT/OT integration goes a bit too far. Or certainly isn’t done with sufficient security. They’re back up and running again now and with a  neat new product, the Acculink Cargo a managed solution for asset tracking. With connectivity being increasingly commoditised MVNOs (and I’m including Sierra in that even though most their business is hardware) will need to focus on building products. Like KORE has done in healthcare. Or Aeris in automotive. Undifferentiated connectivity is not a sustainable market. 
  • Oh, and speaking of KORE, it announced an IPO, in a round-about way. It’s been acquired by a Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC)
  • Lots of discussion around semiconductors recently and specifically (a) a shortage which seems to be having a short term impact on some companies, and (b) how the likes of Intel is onshoring production as a strategic imperative. We’ve not really seen silicon foundries as a strategic asset until now, but they absolutely are. Expect more geopolitics around this in the coming few years.

I know there’s been a lot more happening than that, but that’s a few things that I noticed in the last few weeks. 


On last week’s episode I talked about the launch of the TI User Group…

A few weeks ago, we launched the Transforma Insights User Group, a new member community for technology adopters who are responsible for their company’s digital transformation.

The main driver behind establishing the User Group is to create a community of executives (which includes Chief Digital Officers, those working in Innovation Business Units, and similar) to share their experiences and best practice in deploying technologies such as the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, and Blockchain. That sharing between the members will also, of course, be complimented by the Transforma Insights analysts providing our perspectives on all the latest key technology trends.

While the discussions of the technologies themselves will be important, we actually expect those discussions to be eclipsed by a more important set of conversations: what do enterprises need to do to adapt their company to best take advantage of the technologies. In a blog post a few months (https://transformainsights.com/blog/eight-internal-factors-iot-digital-transformation)  ago I shared some perspectives on the process, business model, finance, people, partnership, systems and culture change that is likely to be necessary, not to mention the change management that is implicit.

It’s also worth noting that in the Transforma Insights webinar back in July entitled '7 ways to harness AI, IoT and other disruptive technologies for competitive advantage’ (which is available on replay to User Group members, which includes some free options currently) we focused not on the technologies that you need to use, but on the commercial and operational strategies you need to make sure that you are best able to harness (or avoid) disruption when it comes. So, the focus is on horizon scanning, project prioritisation, project team organisation, organisational flexibility, and (the aforementioned) change management, amongst other things. Getting Digital Transformation right is 90% about putting in place the business building blocks and only 10% about the technology.

Interestingly enough, as similar major theme emerges from Jim’s recent report which was written exclusively for the User Group ‘2020 Review of Top Digital Transformation Use Cases and Technologies’ which walked through all the impact of Covid on how organisations might be thinking about Digital Transformation. The most important impact wasn’t directly due to the emergence of new technologies, but due to the changing working patterns that have been enabled or encouraged. Remote working and increased globalisation is one key theme. Jobs are increasingly footloose. I chaired a session at the Digital Week Southeast Asia event this week on the changing digital skills requirements in Thailand, and one of the interesting potential opportunities for that country was for footloose employees to relocate; maybe rather than WFH, in future many of us will WFT (work from Thailand). Or, maybe it’s just the jobs that will move, not the people. Another major theme was the requirement for supply chain diversity and resilience, plus the strong potential for greater on-shoring of manufacturing. The technology capabilities that enable these changes are certainly not the complex part of the equation, it’s the operational changes that need to be made.

This idea of focusing on the business outcome rather than the technology permeates what we do in the User Group. Every quarter our focus switches to a new business theme. For 2021 these include the demands of a post-Covid world and how technology is being used by businesses to adapt, how to scale and build resiliency at different stages of digital implementation, using data to drive competitive advantage, and how best to meet your ESG goals. The quarterly schedule includes podcasts, on-demand, and live case studies, exclusive reports, webinars, deep-dive interviews, interactive panel discussions, and exclusive roundtable workshops.

You can learn more about the User Group via this link.


A little something that caught my eye recently was  Next CEO Lord Wolfson talking about retailer Next’s recent transformation, and specifically the approach it took to developing it. No grand strategy. Mercifully not reliant on a boardroom vision. And no ten year plan. And I quote: “Instead, the business has followed the money, developing new ideas bottom up, drawing on innovations generated throughout the group ‐ new product ranges, new businesses, new distribution channels, services, partnerships and markets”. That’s the way to do it. Maintain flexibility all the way through the process. He also talks about an inconvenient truth: retail stores are at a fundamental and irreversible disadvantage to online. No head-in-the-sand approach here. 

Just a reminder: if you’re enjoying the podcast I’d be obliged if you could leave a review. It’s much appreciated. 

Next week I will talk to you about how IoT will save the planet, based on some research we’ve been doing with InterDigital.

Links to some of the research that I’ve refered to in this week’s show, as well as a transcript of the recording, will be available on the podcast website at WirelessNoodle.com

Thank you for listening to The Wireless Noodle. If you would like to learn more about the research that I do on IoT, AI and more, you can follow me on Twitter at MattyHatton and you can check out TransformaInsights.com

Thanks for joining me. I’ve been Matt Hatton and you’ve been listening to the Wireless Noodle