CBR: What are IT Managed Services?
RW: IT Managed Services is the process of providing IT support – anything from hosting up to full IT outsourcing – to a business that doesn’t want to run IT infrastructure in-house.
Most businesses don’t specialise in running their IT in-house at an infrastructure level. Rather, they can look to consume it as a commodity service just as they would do with a mobile phone or utility contract. IT Managed Services is the same concept.
CBR: What are the advantages of a business having IT Managed Services?
RW: IT infrastructure is frequently seen as expensive, time consuming and very much a case of ‘running around keeping the lights on’ whilst providing limited business advantage. IT Managed Services allows organisations to focus on what they do best – their core business – while benefiting from an IT managed service tailored to their business needs delivering an IT infrastructure that meets their daily demands and helps them prepare for things like digital transformation.
According to Advanced’s latest Trends Report, some 93 per cent of companies feel that a connected digital infrastructure is important in serving customer needs yet 55 per cent believe their existing IT infrastructure limits their ability to do so. IT Managed Services helps to keep the burden of running IT in-house to a minimum, freeing up IT personnel to concentrate on more customer focused projects.
Advanced as an IT Managed Services provider has application and software capabilities as well. This means we can manage an organisation’s IT infrastructure, but also deliver business applications that are tailored to any vertical in the industry from financial services through to healthcare.
CBR: How is cloud challenging the Managed Service space?
RW: The cloud is simply a different way to consume IT so, rather than challenging the Managed Service space, it’s more another option. In the past, executives focused on whether or not their businesses should adopt the cloud. Today, they give a resounding ‘yes’ and instead focus on finding the right cloud-based solutions at the right time that best meet their objectives.
The issue is that companies often find that some of the applications they designed five to ten years ago are not really suitable for the cloud, even if the objectives stay the same. It’s these challenges that often lead to businesses working with IT Managed Services providers, who can help develop a plan for change, and then execute on the technical front to make sure the business’ objectives are achieved soundly.
We often see cloud computing implemented as a result of an organisation making a significant business change, growing its number of users or needing to turn an application on or off quickly – and it’s the combination of IT Managed Services and the cloud that can enable such businesses to more effectively flex to their demands.
We’d argue the cloud is enhancing the Managed Service space. As well as the well-known benefits of using the cloud, like reducing the barriers to entry and increasing economies of scale, it is also faster to deploy too, because there isn’t the big task of having to build a server. In theory, it is often already built and businesses just have to switch it on, which can all be managed by Managed Services.
CBR: What industries would benefit the most out of IT Managed Services?
RW: The benefits of IT Managed Services run across all sectors at an infrastructure level. Delivering email as a Managed Service, for example, applies in every sector. It is a commodity used by most businesses across the UK.
There are also vertically aligned Managed Services, where the importance of specific knowledge based on that sector is important. The financial services sector benefits from a provider with a track record of security services while healthcare organisations might rely on one with expertise in compliance with specific regulations.
CBR: What are your top tips when choosing a MSP/Managed Service?
RW: Businesses need to make sure the IT Managed Services provider has the right capabilities, the right customer references and the specific vertical expertise in their business market. In doing so, they act more like a partner than just a commodity, where the cultural fit becomes important and actually enables the business to make a positive difference to its users from an IT perspective.
Essentially, finding a provider that knows the organisation’s market and has both industry and solution specific applications is the right place to start.