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October 19, 2017

Crossing the transformation chasm – the role of managed services

Every enterprise organisation is at a different point in its journey, but ultimately all of them will have to go through the same tough process to reach the promise land of digital transformation.

By James Nunns

Although at different stages, many businesses, large and small, are going through some kind of ‘digital transformation’ or ‘digital journey’ at the moment. These efforts are partly driven by the natural progression of technology, by competitive pressures and partly by the modern employee or consumer’s demand for a faster, clearer, simpler digital experience.

The best examples are as they should be – transformational. Look at Netflix, a pioneer in its field and an early adopter of the transformation concept, it moved from a ‘traditional’ mail-order DVD rental service in 1997 to the hugely successful online streaming service it is today. The business model and market it left behind has withered to the point of extinction, while the new Netfix has thrived.

To add more challenges to the mix, IT departments are expected, and often required, to spend their budget sparingly and their time on both huge transformational activities and ensuring consistency throughout the IT infrastructure for the daily activity of the business.

So how can enterprise IT leaders juggle the push to embrace bleeding edge technology while maintaining the systems that the organisation depends on for day to day use?

 

Figure out what you need

The best place to start with any digital transformation project is to ascertain exactly what the businesses is trying to achieve and what technology is needed to support that goal.

This can lead to questioning everything from what technology is currently available to how it can be utilised at the end of the transformation and if a whole new infrastructure is required to support the business change. Another key part of this is evaluating the skills available on the IT team to understand if they can support any technology that the business will ultimately depend on.

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Once the business has a firm grasp on the current infrastructure, its performance and vision of improvements, it is easier to figure out what is needed. Does it make sense to invest in a complete set of new hardware or would it make more sense to outsource? Is seeking outside expertise needed to support certain areas?

There are lots of questions and often multiple answers to each, but a firm grasp on what the end goal is will lead to a smoother, more successful transformation throughout the enterprise.

 

Draw on the experience of MSPs

One of the most challenging issues facing IT is managing the data and applications that are utilised by large numbers of employees spread across multiple sites. Many enterprise companies provide IT services across geographically dispersed locations and sometimes huge numbers of satellite offices or remote workers. Typically, this also means lots of IT vendors and partners to deal with also.

This type of dispersed, complicated environment can present a great opportunity specifically for the IT team to embark on a consolidation exercise while the business undergoes an overall journey. Not only does this make the IT infrastructure simpler and streamlined operations across multiple programs, devices and sites, but it minimises compatibility complications.

There a couple of ways an enterprise-level company can minimise its IT vendor ‘footprint’, one of which is through a managed service provider (MSP). MSPs supply businesses with the expertise, the new technology, while bridging the gap between legacy and modern technology. In a sense, by investing in an MSP a business is investing in an upgrade in communications and technology without the expensive overhead of new hardware and, perhaps, a larger in-house IT department.

MSPs can pick up the functional jobs that keep a business moving, like outsourcing lines of support, networking and end point management – tasks that are important but not necessarily value-creating. So rather than fire-fighting problems and doing the IT housekeeping, the in-house team can focus their skills on value-driving objectives like application development and play a vital role in the overall digital journey.

Using an MSP can mirror having one single vendor and point of contact to manage all areas of IT. Imagine the person who comes to fit the internet in the office is also the person on the end of the phone helping you connect the new business devices and the person on the phone fixing the customer’s connection problem – it’s simple and efficient.

Every enterprise organisation is at a different point in its journey, but ultimately all of them will have to go through the same tough process to reach the promise land of digital transformation. With a detailed inventory, an great plan and often the support of a skilled MSP, the change can be as painless as possible and the end result will have amazing impact.

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