Index Insider: Retail sector bouncing back from pandemic lows

Hello. This is Stanton Jones with your weekly briefing on what’s important in IT and business services.
In this edition: The retail sector is bouncing back from pandemic lows. Salesforce adds RPA to its portfolio. Coca-Cola Beverages Africa is creating a shared services organization. European staffing firm Adecco Group makes $2.4 billion investment in engineering R&D.
Did someone forward you this briefing? If so, subscribe here to get a copy of the Insider in your inbox each Friday.


The retail sector is bouncing back from pandemic lows. 2Q21 managed services ACV in the retail sector is up 58% Y/Y. Very strong growth to be sure, but it’s important to remember that 2Q20 was really when the IT services market hit its lowest point, so the comparison can skew results. But, when you compare results on a half-year basis, it’s clear the retail sector is bouncing back: the $843 million in ACV generated in the first half is the retail sector’s second-best half-year result in history – just behind the $918 million in ACV generated in 1H18 (see Data Watch).
Retailers were obviously hit incredibly hard during the worst of the pandemic – and most needed to take out costs quickly. But taking cost out was not going to solve the fundamental challenge in this sector: thanks to Amazon, customers expect the same experience from whatever channel they are using – in-store, curbside, online – or a combination of all three. The pandemic simply accelerated a transformation that already needed to happen.
The challenge is that many retailers learned this too late. Those that had started their transformation pre-pandemic were in a better position to weather the storm than those that had not. And given the forecasted growth of this sector – between 10.5% to 13.5% in the U.S. – our POV is that retailers are going to be spending even more to accelerate their transformation to a hybrid company that meets customers’ rapidly changing expectations and can withstand the impact of a global pandemic.


Managed Services Annual Contract Value in Retail, 2Q20 - 2Q21



Salesforce just added RPA to its enterprise portfolio, with the acquisition of German company Servicetrace (link). Salesforce plans to fold the new acquisition into its MuleSoft business, which it acquired for $6.5 billion in 2018. Salesforce joins a growing list of big software companies that are acquiring RPA capability, including Microsoft, which bought Softomotive in 2020, and ServiceNow, which bought Intellibot this year.
But it’s not just big tech that wants to be the go-to for automating and connecting data and processes across the enterprise technology stack. The RPA vendors want to fill that role, too. The challenge is that many of these workflows will require an API-level integration, rather than screen-based automation. In fact, UiPath acquired API integration platform Cloud Elements earlier this year to become the de facto enterprise automation and integration platform, which is creating an interesting inflection point in the market: will the automation of the enterprise be led by IT from the API layer up, or by the business from the screen down?
And by the way, if you’re interested in keeping up with important automation trends, I highly recommend you subscribe to my colleague Wayne Butterfield’s podcast, Bots and Beyond. Wayne’s a pioneer in this market – he started using RPA way back in 2010 – and he has immense RPA and cognitive automation practitioner knowledge. You can subscribe to Wayne’s podcast here.


  • Coca-Cola Beverages Africa and Genpact. Largest bottler in Africa creating shared services organization (link).
  • Rich Products and TCS. U.S. food products company transforming its supply chain (link).
  • Neptune Energy and TCS. European exploration and production company modernizing IT (link).
  • Select Portfolio ServicingInfosys and Hitachi Vantara. Mortgage loan servicing company extends application and infrastructure relationship (link).
  • UnionBank of the Philippines and Infosys. Asian bank migrating core banking to the cloud (link).


  • European staffing firm Adecco Group acquiring French automotive and aerospace engineering firm AKKA Technologies (link).
  • Engineering services firm Cyient acquiring field service management consultancy WorkForce Delta (link).
  • Accenture acquiring supply chain firm Blue Horseshoe (link) and IT benchmarking firm LEXTA (link).
  • Bangalore-based Sonata Software acquiring Azure cloud expertise with Encore Software Services (link).

About the author

Stanton Jones

Stanton Jones

Stanton leads ISG's Index research, helping providers, investors and ISG clients make sense of the global IT services sector. Stanton’s weekly newsletter, the Index Insider, is read by thousands of market stakeholders each week. An ISG Digital Fellow, Stanton has been quoted in Fast Company, Forbes and, and has appeared on national cable news.