Qin Zhangbo of iSoftStone: ITO Empowerment as Flexible as Fingers

"Five fingers have different lengths but each finger can be the same flexible," Qin Zhangbo, Senior Vice President of iSoftStone made this metaphor when describing the ITO strategy. She also acts as the head of iSoftStone's business development committee. Citing the popular concept of "middle-end", the committee is further integrating and extracting the company's ITO capacity accumulated for years to develop an ITO capacity middle-end and empower its ITO services in all aspects by standardized "micro-services".

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Software becomes ubiquitous and service pulses up

Perhaps five years later, there will be a giant software service provider in China with 100-billion-yuan revenue.

Instead of swallowing the world, software is penetrating into every corner of the world and creating a better life. Tiktok brings together all the young people with a strong desire of expression, which is the power of software; WeChat connects our work and life, which is also the power of software.

Software is ubiquitous and permeates all walks of life.

Nowadays automobiles, machine tools, finance and communication are all centered on software; smart medical treatment, smart education and intelligent manufacturing are all dependent on software. The final realization of digitalization and intelligence is decided by the capability of software.

"The fast development of software results in dramatically expanding demand for software service," Qin Zhangbo said that the popularizing software is changing the world and the competition of software service should no longer stay at the manual level. She stressed, "The threshold of software service is rising together with higher requirements on software engineering e.g. development tools, development platforms, and the quality, process and delivery management of development programs as well as the fundamental capabilities of safety and compliance management, human resource management, space and environment management, etc. ISoftStone targets at a whole range of integrated service competency. It is not a simple combination of the existing capabilities but the output of stable and systematic service codes, standards, processes, tools and platforms after integration and restructuring." 

Integration into the digital world by service

So it is.

The slogan of iSoftStone is New Power of Digital Transformation. As a domestic leading enterprise of software and IT service, the company started from software service and now assists various sectors in profound digital transformation step by step. ITO is one of the seven major strategies and the earliest business focuses of iSoftStone, also known as "software outsourcing". Quite a number of enterprises outsource the services like testing and IT office system maintenance.

2015 is a landmark year that China's head enterprises in finance and energy sectors initially built up their IT system architectures. They thought they were on the top but later found it was just a starting point of informatization. The mushrooming information silos internally failed to uplift productivity and there was an urgent need to break data barriers and deepen IT development, which led to digitalization. However, digitalization and informatization are not on the same dimension.

 Informatization is technology-driven while digitalization is business-driven; the former serves corporate management with priority to business process while the latter addresses business bottlenecks with priority to application scenario. The connotations of ITO start to change. The enterprises ready for transformation are holding an open attitude and an ecology-centered view to look for partners. They prefer the software companies like iSoftStone to jointly start the top-level design of digitalized system and finish the prophase planning of digitalized business.

Progressive ITO capacity

ITO is a basic skill for iSoftStone. Facing different types of clients, iSoftStone gradually accumulated a set of effective methodologies e.g. the all-round capabilities in project management, online IDE, configuration management, pipelining, code inspection, compile and build, testing, deployment, etc. Since 2013, the company has constantly optimized the system, quickly introduced and developed its own ITO-related quality management and HR management systems, and then improved the management system including site management, information security and cyber security so as to put ITO well beyond the narrow sense of "software outsourcing".

Based on the accumulation of countless lines of code, test cases and deliverables over the past nearly two decades, iSoftStone has expanded the business coverage to a dozen of major sectors e.g. communication, finance, high-tech, manufacturing and energy, serving over 1,000 global clients, most of which are global top 500 or China's top 500 enterprises.

"Now iSoftStone intends to sort out, connect and integrate the ITO capabilities across different industries in a modularized, standardized, streamlined, digitalized and intelligent way, to provide our customers with services of sustainability and premium quality," said Qin Zhangbo.

This is the strategic mission of ITO business development committee.

ISoftStone presently has five Business Groups (BG). Each BG has its own ITO business but with different industrial priority, business process and application scenario, leading to variant client needs and service highlights.

The purpose of ITO business development committee is to realize "the same flexibility of each finger". The committee consists of the members of the group's functional teams and five BGs that sort out, connect and integrate the best practices of each BG, modularize and standardize the abstract ITO service capabilities with knowledge pooling and management, and create the "middle-end" of ITO capability. In turn, the "middle-end" offers standardized, streamlined and digitalized "micro services" to support all the ITO businesses of the five BGs.

Qin Zhangbo added that by capacity sorting and interconnection, iSoftStone will shape up the system of ITO service standards, create ITO experience sharing and empowering mechanism, integrate the platform of ITO technology capabilities and delivery tools across divisions, and further advance and improve the ITO marketing strength.

Software? More than software!

ISoftStone's ITO business development committee has sorted out and integrated six major ITO modules: market & marketing, human resources management, site space management and service, quality delivery management, CoE competency center, finance and commerce.

It demonstrates the general competency of iSoftStone's software service. The prevailing ITO business model of most Chinese enterprises remains labor-intensified that recruits adequate engineers to meet demand and thus quickly expands business scale. However, the growth of software industry and the increasing threshold of software service have higher requirements on the management of human resources, quality, site space, project and information security. In the context of global development, the follow-up software engineering competency, intellectual property right, trade compliance, etc. will be of greater significance.

For example the human resource management is a complex issue. The software service industry is featured with frequently "dramatic ups and downs" or even "simultaneous ups and downs", i.e. enterprises have a big appetite for C/C++ engineers with intensified competition while the need for Java is withering. To guarantee the sufficient human resource supply and withstand the drastic volatility of resource is a challenge to be addressed by all software service providers. ISoftStone adopts diversified solutions to explore interior potentials that "one employee assumes multiple duties" to cultivate "multi-purpose, capable, skilful and professional talents". Meanwhile it partners with universities to offer the training courses of professional skills to junior and senior students.

ISoftStone joins hands with universities to provide skill training courses on C/C++, Android, Python, etc. that are urgently needed by employers but with supply shortage in the labor market. Such practice makes up the gap of talents, trains more "multi-functional" engineers and meets the needs of consumer Internet and industrial Internet.

Nor is this all.

ISoftStone is keen on advancing the establishment of CoE center for competency, improving the technological competency of all employees, expediting the implementation of new technologies, developing technology-related job qualifications corresponding to job responsibilities and personal remunerations, and broadening the employees' channel of technological promotion. Qin Zhangbo added, "ISoftStone is not only a technology company but a platform company. Through sorting out and connecting capabilities of ITO business, we should demonstrate strength externally and achieve optimization internally so as to consolidate the overall competitiveness of ITO business."


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