Challenges faced in 2020; our six lines of business explained; and a first look at how things are lining up as we move into 2021.
Highlights of the Year
Top Line: 2020 was a tremendously challenging year for us given the pandemic and all associated impacts on the economy and society. But through it all we managed to survive in fact I think it is fair to say we even managed to prevail. Our financial reporting and control helped us greatly to manage thru this crisis. By end of the year, we had stabilized revenues, and while there are still more impacts on revenue expected to happen in early 2021, we will make it through. Entering 2021 we are positioned well to seize upon new opportunities and to have a very good year.
Below the Surface: We, along with everyone else, had to run hard to remain in place! Remote-work started company-wide in an instant in mid-March and continued thru rest of year. It is expected to continue thru at least ~first half of 2021 and possibly longer. Overall, and perhaps a little surprising to me, moving to WFH turned out to be easier than expected, and in the end turned out to be a definite productivity booster for us. We are now considering remote/office work patterns of 3-4 days/wk. WFH as the general rule. We are continuing to seek out technologies & processes to further enhance remote-office work coordination and operation.
2020 Work Program: There is a tremendous amount of very positive things to talk about here!! As you’ll read below, we made truly significant enhancements and changes to the inner workings of our company, added new lines of business, and enhanced our existing lines tremendously as well. In my view, this is our success story for 2020. It sets us up well to grow and prevail in 2021!
Some Good News at the Start of 2021: Several large deals from excellent companies are on the line right now (Jan) that would together help us meet growth targets. Let us hope we are fortunate, and these projects come our way. I am telling you this to show how much potential we have in the company in many of our LOBs, how the services we offer are outstanding and valued in the marketplace, that large multi-billion-dollar companies are seriously negotiating big deals with us!
Lines of Business are Strong: As noted below, our business has been re-organized into 6 lines. Sales funnels for 3 of these LOBs are surprisingly strong at the start of 2021. Two others have reasonable (normal) levels of new work opportunities. Overall, this is another major good news story for us heading into 2021.
Important Goal – move to higher value-add work: In 2021 we will continue the transition started in 2020 to seek out higher value-add work. Given the specialized and in-demand nature of our work in 3 LOBs we are expecting new work to meet this goal. Two of our large LOBs have the bulk of legacy work; for them we are targeting higher value-add results on new work.
Top Goal of Company – increase our customer base: This is THE goal for our company in 2021. As noted in LOB descriptions, our business lines are performing well and ready to scale up. So, the overarching imperative for this year has to be for us to ‘get the word out far and wide’ to bring in new customers as well as find new value-add ways to serve our existing customers. 2021 will be the year for Macrosoft to further expand and enhance our already excellent marketing and sales structure!
Our Business Structure
In 2020 Macrosoft organized into 6 lines of business (LOB’s). As usual with re-orgs of this type, we re-organized ourselves to clarify the complexities around us and to reflect the new realities of our company. A lot in the company has changed and grown, and a lot of new things have been added. So here is what the new, more streamlined, more organized new Macrosoft looks like!!
Let’s start with short synopses of the six lines:
|Development Teams||This line comprises our US development and technology consultants, as well as the recruitment and placement team that generates and manages this business. There are now over 120 individuals in this BU, up 10% from year-end totals for 2019, and the total is continuing to rise. This work represents one of Macrosoft’s core business areas and it will surely remain so.|
|Migration Services||This area has been a mainstay of Macrosoft’s business for many years. As we enter 2021 we are keenly focused and energized on enhancing and securing our outstanding competitive position as the Top Technology Supplier in this area in the United States. We continue to be engaged in developing and enhancing our outstanding suite of automation and QA tools.|
|Enterprise Technology||This area of work comprises people and projects at our two offshore facilities that work in support of our US client base. There are well over 120 members of this LOB spread between our two offshore facilities. They serve approximately 40 separate US clients.|
|Quadient Technology||Prior to 2020 we had a modest presence in this area (with one large long-term project plus several smaller ones) but had no sustained strategic push to expand. That all changed radically with a bang in early 2020 with signing of our technology support partnership agreement with Quadient. So many major positive things have happened since that signing.|
|Call Miner Technology||This is a tremendous new business area for us, one that was only established half a year ago via the signing of our technology support agreement with Call Miner. We expect this business to explode in 2021. The current team members, less than 10 now, are like settlers in a new world, one populated with all the AI/ML/NLP technologies we have been fervently seeking out for years.|
|Process Automation Techs||This LOB is the newest kid on the block. It is a perfect fit for Macrosoft in terms of technology and business requirements. As importantly it will provide major spin-off benefits to several other LOBs as described below.|
Descriptions of each Business Line
Let’s start with one of our newer LOBs – Quadient Technology, which we expect to grow greatly in 2021.
Imagine, as recently as two years ago this business line as well as the Call Miner Technology LOB basically did not exist and no one had any real idea that they were in our future, and in our future in a big way! That is how fast change and creation is upon us, not just in these two lines, but as you’ll see in all our other business lines as well. Everything at Macrosoft is and needs to be participating in the accelerating movement of change powered by the digital revolution!
- Quadient Technology
We secured our technology partnership with Quadient in early 2020. Basically, as their partner we provide technology services across the span of Quadient service offerings, including their newest services – interactive, dynamic, scaler, customer journey, among others. Thanks to the tremendous work of our team, Quadient senior management already considers Macrosoft one of their top technology vendors!
Our technology team grew from less than ~10 individuals that were all offshore at end of 2019 to ~55 at end of 2020 with 35 in Mac India, some in Mac Pak and 20 in the US. Consider that – a phenomenal increase! We are watching over and nurturing this growth very carefully. It is fast becoming a crown jewel of our company.
In addition to work we acquire directly from Quadient (~50% of work currently), we are now engaged in major marketing campaigns highlighting our capabilities and experience as a top-tier Quadient vendor. We are targeting further growth to ~75-80 individuals by 2021 year-end. That will put us at the top of the worldwide partner list by a wide margin, ahead of global companies Accenture and Cognizant.
How did we achieve this level of growth in 2020? We did it thru TRAINING. We have been growing our team mainly through our very successful new training program created in 2020. Prior to establishing it for Quadient technology, Macrosoft had never really considered training as an option. Now, this training capability is a major new asset for our company, and we intend to use it more widely in other LOBs as well.
In 2021, we expect to have 1-2 new Quadient training sessions in Mac India and 1-2 in the US. These will help us reach our goal of ~75-80 individuals by the year end 2021. The training programs have produced spectacular results in certifications. Have a look at the chart below, we are proud of the great success story this chart reveals.
|CERTIFICATION||INTERNATIONAL||UNITED STATES||GRAND TOTAL|
|Inspire Content Manager||46||22||68|
|Inspire Designer Scripting||6||1||7|
|Certifications Grand Total||215||112||327|
|People/Resource Grand Total||50||26||76|
Our current training program goes for 16 weeks and is working very well in bringing on new Quadient professional staff. After the training program, the newbies work on projects under the supervision of senior team leads, and soon enough, they become serious talents in their own right. Quadient considers Macrosoft Training Program an important new capability for them. And we have in mind possible additional formal Quadient training programs for 2021 including:
- Training for advanced services such as interactive, dynamic communications, scaler, and others
- Specialized training in areas such as system implementation, solutions architecting, template design, API development, data master, Quadient Xpress
We are determined to lead forward, supporting Quadient’s push into the newest and most advanced areas of their business.
Below are three important final points happening in this business line.
(1) One of our consultants has recently completed training from Quadient to become an implementation expert allowing him to install the Quadient software on Unix platforms. This could be a big deal for us – we hope it will lead to spinoff downstream professional services work from the clients this implementation work is done for.
(2) We are now in discussions with Quadient to become a preferred partner for Inspire Xpress a major new product offering. The tool is an AI-based automation tool for converting large batches of documents generated from any one of a bunch of competing CCM products to the Quadient Inspire platform. We consider this a really exciting new opportunity, since Quadient is clearly pushing hard to expand market share in 2021 and has the industry reputation to do so. Once our consultants are trained on the tool we expect a lot new migration work to come our way especially in the 2nd half of the year. We intend to make this a major focus on our work.
(3) We have built our own automation product (PDF Morph) to be used exclusively by our internal developers. Its purpose is to speed up our internal professional services work. Trial results so far show productivity improvements of 50% or more! This offers us increased profitability and a major competitive advantage! We are planning for several additional automation tools before the end of 2021. Our ability to develop automation tools like this one quickly and easily within Macrosoft itself, via development capacity available in several of the other LOBs, is a major strategic advantage for our company.
- Migration Services
This has been a premier technology area of Macrosoft for many years. It is and remains one of Macrosoft’s crown jewels. We have a tremendous (and referenceable) list of clients/partners for whom we have already successfully migrated their legacy code to a modern cloud-based platform. In effect, we now ‘own’ this business area! This is the year to blow open the flood gates and double or more our work levels. We have incredibly smart and knowledgeable people, and we have the technologies, the processes, the methodologies, the deep experience, and the reputation to grab this market for our own, and this is the year!
What happened in 2020 is we fundamentally upped the ante on our competitors. We continued to add major new automation and QA tools to our practice. Remember, all our tools are used exclusively by our internal developer teams so the automation we achieve gives us the competitive advantage. As we enter 2021 we intend to continue to enhance and refine these tools to add further advantage. It is our good fortune to have the development capacity to do all this internally within our company, so we can build and enhance these tools on our own!
Below is the list of the tools we currently have, I won’t be able here to go into details on what each one does (lots of content about them is on our web site), but suffice it to say these tools taken together, along with the unbelievably expert developers that utilize them, make us the #1 IT company in the world for VFP migrations!
All told these tools reduce our development efforts by close to 50% for most new projects, and at the same time significantly improve quality. This is a tremendous competitive advantage that has catapulted us to the leading global technology position for VFP migrations. We intend this year to increase the automation percent by 5-10% more or so.
The most important thing we have to do now is ‘get the word’ out far and wide, and convince the many companies that are sitting on the fence and doing nothing to finally do what they all know they have to do – convert their company’s assets and knowledgebase embodied in the VFP code into a modern platform. And we are hands-down the ones to do that best.
We are indeed getting the word out! Our marketing campaigns have continued to see definite increases in qualified lead counts (on order of ~1-2 serious leads each week) during the course of 2020. We intend 2021 to be the year we take full advantage of our market and technology position. The early signs of success this year are there – we have 2 gigantic opportunities and several smaller ones already lining up in final negotiation stages. If these come in as expected, they alone would more than double prior-year annual business and profit for this line!
It is our considered judgement that there are sizable numbers of large clients out there with large VFP assets that need to be migrated, and our job is to find them and show them the facts. We are in fact their only and best option. The longer these clients wait, the longer they will remain in a downdraft of limited business potential and inefficient and risky business performance, not able to take full advantage of the digital revolution going on around them!
Regarding our overall technology direction in this LOB, as noted, we intend to further enhance the automation toolset we already have for our VFP migration work. Moving in other strategic directions we are looking into possibly building a set of automation tools for VB conversions for which there is a big market potential, as well as other code conversion opportunities for which there might be significant market potential. Stay tuned – we are still considering these possibilities!
- CallMiner Technology
Explosive growth in 2021 is the ticket for this business line! As with Quadient, our objective in a nutshell is for Macrosoft to work really hard and really smartly to become a most-valued technology partner of Call Miner and then to grow along with them. Sales in this business area are typically very large and complex, and have lots of moving parts, and we are so fortunate to have Call Miner’s technology and leadership teams at our backs.
This technology area fulfills our strategic intent to move our company squarely into the AI arena! Call Miner executives (including Jeff Gallino, himself, Quadient’s globally recognized CTO and Founder) are coordinating directly with us and expecting us to be one of their top technology vendors, thought of in the same vein as Cap Gemini, Accenture Cognizant. A lofty ranking for sure, and we intend to proactively seize this moment and opportunity.
Currently we have a relatively small team working on the Call Miner technology. But they are truly ‘the project team that can’. The team consists of a couple of data scientists, an AI/ML expert, an amazing US developer, and an extraordinary product manager. All told, less than 10 individuals so far. They are our first settlers in this new world of NLP. It shows me one more time what amazing things a small, focused, smart, highly driven team can do! The team consists of senior level people so when the time comes, we will be ready to scale up to meet the need and we are expecting that need to materialize before 2nd half of 2021.
Our 2021 goal is to achieve top tier status in size and depth of our technology team dedicated to Call Miner technology. For sure, the technology is highly complex to implement and configure for a client, and harder still to ensure the client achieves full value out of the tool (whether the goal is ROI, improved sales performance, QA monitoring and automation, or all of these). That makes the tool a perfect fit for Macrosoft’s technology teams, and indeed our current team is rising strongly to meet the challenges!
Call Miner is rated market leader for voice interaction analysis, where advanced NLP algorithms are essential, so we are partnering with the best. We have major marketing campaigns already underway, so in addition to clients referred to us by Call Miner, we anticipate direct clients as well. We like to have this mix in sales – and believe it provides the best healthy environment for our work.
We are also working directly with Call Miner (specifically Jeff Gallino) to become their single technology partner for implementing & upgrading client applications using Call Miner’s complete API framework. Many of the largest companies using or planning to use Call Miner want their interaction analytics capabilities and results reporting their way and that means an API-based custom application needs to be built. Call Miner intends to refer that work to us.
Using only APIs in enterprise development is a hot and fast-growing area of work in general so we are so excited to be involved with Call Miner on this. This is truly a unique opportunity for us and we are ramping up our capabilities to be ready to provide outstanding development and support to Call Miner clients when the API approach is the preferred way forward.
And keep in mind, the real reason we feel we are ready to take this on and be successful is because of the tremendous groundwork done and experience built up over many years in the Enterprise Technology LOB. We have already built up all the development tools and methodologies, all the design and architectural knowhow, all the development and QA team experience to provide these new Call Miner clients who want a custom API solution with top-notch enterprise-ready teams. Based on our prior work experience this will be a piece of cake for us!
As everywhere in the company, we are seeking out automation opportunities in this business line as well – to assist our professionals, increase their productivity, reduce implementation and support times and to add to our competitive edge. We already have one automation tool in development for automation of and QA oversight of input feeds. More will follow I am sure.
Our deals in this area are usually based on ‘call hours’ rather than developer time, so reducing the time our professional teams take to implement, configure and support clients provides cost savings that flow directly to us! We can use these cost savings to further accelerate and deepen the knowledge and capabilities of our developers and data scientists, further improving our competitive advantage, clearly a virtuous cycle!
So this partnership with Call Miner is one of the ways we have now landed in the AI world, which has been our goal for a long time. With Call Miner the AI is already embedded in the system and the tool has already proved to be highly productive for clients that use it. No need to spend endless time and energy confronting all the problems inherent in productionizing and operationalizing AI algorithms to a business environment. So this is now one important way for us to accelerate our push into AI. We have other ways in the works as well – to enter the AI world and I am sure you will hear about them as 2021 progresses
Rest assured we are more than ready, willing, and able to expand the team on a moment’s notice as we see major new work appearing on the horizon. Using our training capabilities will likely be the keyway for us to ramp-up our teams, since frankly there simply are not a lot of developers out there already trained in this technology. There is an unbelievable shortage in the marketplace, and so it will be up to us to create our own new talent!
- Development Teams
This business line encompasses our US technology consultants, about 120 employees and consultants, who provide professional services to a range of major firms in the US including AT&T, Direct TV, Verizon, Comcast and many others (see web site for complete list).
Critical to our success in this line of business is the extraordinary team and processes that comprise our recruitment & placement organization. It is they who generate this business day in and day out! This team is a tremendous asset for our company!
In the case of AT&T for example (our biggest client in this business line), 2020 was the year we reached the top tier of their vendor rankings (done by AT&T’s internal supplier mgt organization and published quarterly). Please take note of this – we achieved this distinction in the face of companies ~10 times or more our size!! Another indicator of how good we really are – many of the smaller companies and organizations we work with are so sure of our value-add that they have decided to use us exclusively as their sole supplier of technical talent.
The team is continually testing out new sources for identifying specialized top-tier talent. In addition to our mainstays of Monster, Dice and CareerBuilder, we are now working within and testing out many other sources, such as LinkedIn Talent Hub; Indeed; going directly to industry & technology forums/blog-groups, and many other things.
This is a complex fast-paced business with many competitors around every corner Even incremental improvements in any step of our processes vis-à-vis our competitors…finding the exactly right person, doing so a little more rapidly, having an incrementally better reputation in the professional community, knowing and cultivating our connections to really good people for future positions, and a hundred other such things…can make all the difference. Here it is the myriad of little things that matter most for success.
In 2020, we also established a close working partnership with Fac-Tek Staffing Services, a women-owned staffing & placement company, and we anticipate this to be a key strategic advantage for us as we expand our work into new global companies and government/non-profit organizations wherein diversity requirements are critical and essential.
For each professional we place with a client, there is a unique relationship of the person to Macrosoft and a story behind that success. The professionals we place with clients have a very diverse set of skills and capabilities – the one thing that is common – they are all dedicated and highly skilled in their area of expertise.
The imperative for 2021 is to take advantage of our tremendous capabilities and increase our US Professional Organization significantly. This represents one of the biggest untapped potentials within our company, and we are determined to get this done in 2021! How do we do that?
There are two sides to that challenge. On supplier side we absolutely need to open-up several big new direct channels. Good news, one new channel is presenting itself as I write this, and we are very optimistic it will work. Believe it or not, getting a new channel like we are talking of here to work well is like docking a supertanker, no small feat!
As importantly, on the technology professionals side of the equation, our objective in 2021 is to become much more broadly known (via job rating boards, etc.) as a go-to place for professionals especially in selected targeted technology areas.
- Enterprise Technology
A good news story here! This LOB comprises all the teams of professionals working at our two offshore facilities in support of technology projects for US clients. Think of this business unit as Macrosoft’s BPO offering! The numbers are about 120 now and rising! There are a large number (~40) of projects and teams working out of our two offshore facilities in India and Pakistan. Team sizes range from single developer projects up to a technical team of 24 developers and testers. Almost all projects are multi-year.
Many of these projects are in fact managed teams in the sense that the team works closely with the client’s project manager and lead developer that guide and prioritize our work. Core skills on most teams include developers and testers of course, but can also include designer, architect, project manager, program manager, even product manager.
Some project teams work for startups, in which case the Mac team generally represents the startup’s entire IT/tech team. Two long standing examples of this are Nenuphar and Savanet. Another more recent one is Triotos, a new IoT venture that started up in early 2020.
Underlying all individual projects is a strong common interconnecting web of: SOPs, latest integrated development environments, communication modals, code review processes, code quality and standardization practices, rigorous QA reviews for performance/ functionality, and continual new technology trainings both online and in-person. A complex set of inter-related capabilities and assets that are all in place and working well together.
We have built up this knowledge and practice and technology infrastructure over many years through the tremendous foresight and diligence of our development organizations, and we always continue to enhance to the latest. Without this super-structure in place doing serious work in this area is really not possible.
Also, as you know, Macrosoft is ISO 9001 certified, which guides and infuses all our business, development and management practices. Project teams are rigorously directed and managed within the offshore organizations as well as within the US. Most definitely, the work done out of our two offshore centers provides major value-add to our clients, we have any number of client reviews to attest to that! At a fundamental level I consider this business unit to be a big part of the heart and soul of Macrosoft!
The prime imperative for 2021 is again to grow this business. As noted, we have all the organizational structures and superb technical capabilities in place, what we need now is to greatly expand the business. A good portion of this business unit’s current work has come into Macrosoft via people and company connections. Therein lies one of the major challenges: ‘tapping into friends and colleagues’ is not a reliable rubric to large scale growth. But know for sure we will make major new efforts, try new things, to crack this nut. This also is one of the large untapped potentials of our company, so we must make it happen!
- Process Automation Technologies
Once established this business unit will add considerably to the value of Macrosoft. Among other reasons by adding the glue to bring together our other LOBs. We are planning for that to happen no later than mid-year 2021!
The objectives of this LOB are three-fold (1) build and implement automation projects throughout all our own LOBs that saves us costs and improves performance and quality of our work (2) target automation solutions for all our clients that speed delivery of their products and save them costs and assist them along the road to digital transformation, and (3) tap into the red-hot market for RPA and IPA and process mining solutions by securing partnerships with leading vendors, and moving forward in a manner similar to what we are now doing very successfully with Quadient and Call Miner.
In terms of bringing major automation technology to Macrosoft, lots of work is already underway. A range of new automation solutions are slated for completion in the first two quarters of 2021. Some of these are identified in the chart below, and many more are now taking shape. It is important to keep in mind; an automation tool can embody a very simple idea and be simple to build and implement. Generally, they are limited in scope and self-contained, automating only a couple things. So, the key is to identify an opportunity, build the tool, and move on quickly to the next level of automation. Think of these as like automatons or robots!
An aside. There are numerous synergies among the 6 LOBs, and I point some of them out below. We are determined to take full advantage of these synergies. Ability of one LOB to provide relevant support to another, is a major advantage of our company. The results can give the receiving LOB a major competitive advantage.
One case I always focus on. Macrosoft wants to seed its LOBs with as many automation tools as possible to accelerate performance, reduce cost and provide major competitive advantage. Since two of our LOBs are stocked with large numbers of developers, and this process automation LOB has the knowhow of process automation, we can often build these automation tools internally quickly and at lower incremental cost.
There are 3 types of process automation work we are or will soon be engaged with: (1) custom automation solutions, (2) building RPA and IPA (intelligent process automation) solutions using UiPath, and (3) building process mining solutions using Celonis. The table below gives further descriptions of these 3 process automation work areas, along with sample processes and use cases.
|Automation Type||Description||Example Processes|
|Custom Process Automation||We develop tools & applications in-house using our std. development techs. and methods.||Code Morph for VFP Migrations, PDF Morph & WebMineR|
|RPA/IPA app building via industry leading tool UiPath||We use UiPath’s Studio Automation Cloud & related automation modules as our backbone platform for building these applications||Ultra-fast implementation, Non-intrusive to underlying architecture, Use to eliminate manual entry work anywhere and everywhere in business processes, Use to extract text/image data from structured, semi-structured & unstructured documents|
|Process Mining via Celonis industry leading tool||We use Celonis to document/audit business processes as they actually are, including abnormal process paths that happen in real organizations. Critical benefit – this approach provides objective review of process outliers and provides blueprint for prioritizing best steps to automate business processes||Process mining, Task mining, Assemble transactional log sources from as many of the company’s enterprise systems as possible. Key analytic output – clear detailed data and analysis on all process paths, and especially those causing major completion delays, QA issues, abnormally high manual efforts, etc.|
Along our way I have pointed out some LOB synergies. Let me end with a fuller list. We find new ones all the time. Key thing is we must make sure these synergies do not remain just nice words on a chart, but we work hard to utilize them as actual and definitive courses of action we all take in our company to help strengthen all areas!
|Giving LOBs||Receiving LOBs||Example Synergy|
|Process Automation Tech Enterprise Technology||Migration Services Quadient||Building automation tools for these LOBs.|
|Process Automation Techs||Call Miner||Provide work force automation solutions to enhance functionality for our Call Miner clients. Ex. Task Mining.|
|Enterprise Technology||Call Miner Quadient||Build API custom solutions for Call Miner clients that want custom solutions|
|Enterprise Technology||All other LOBs||Seamless R&D on new ideas, technologies that might benefit us. We are already doing a lot of Skunkworks R&D on several advanced tech. issues|
|Call Miner Technology||Migration Services||Provide AI/ML/NLP solution know-how to Migration Services|
|Call Miner Technology||Process Automation Tech||Provide NLP solution know-how for document understanding capabilities.|
|Development Teams||Enterprise Technology||Consultation and support on complex enterprise challenges. We have the exact right talent somewhere to address a specific need.|
|Enterprise Technology||Call Miner Technology||Build reporting dashboards for our Call Miner clients using Tableau, Power BI.|
|Enterprise Technology||Migration Services||Build advanced code migration tools (like Facebook TransCoder)|
|Enterprise Technology||Quadient||Build pre and post automation steps for Quadient services.|