Companies offering IT Services, Development Services and IT Managed Services are largely focused on a Deploy – Maintain – Support model; this no longer meets the needs of many clients. The range of expertise that is now required from IT Partners or Managed Services Companies is much greater, those IT Managed Services Companies that will thrive will be focused on enabling digital business outcomes for their clients. The work that these companies undertake, the skills they need and the services they offer will need to be radically different, if clients are to get the high standard of IT and digital expertise they need.
There are three mind-set changes needed to move forwards. Challenging the current way of thinking in these three areas will drive service providers to have the right set of capabilities. They can then use these capabilities to drive forwards the clients and industries that they are providing IT and digital managed services to:
1. Digital – “Not just a shiny (or not so shiny) front end”
2. Cloud – “It’s not new and it’s not a place to dump current/old workloads”
3. Managed Services – “Don’t just keep the lights on”
If you are a prospective client of an IT or digital service provider and you think of any of these areas in this way, you won’t be delivering the maximum value that technology can help you to deliver, to your business, or your end customers. I’m sure many of us from companies large to small, can think of examples where digital means ‘tinsel’, or cloud is an expensive and growing dumping ground, or where no one is really sure where the ‘value add’ from a partner is coming from. By accepting and challenging these areas, we can start to see how the complex business and user needs driven landscape, can start to be enhanced, developed and tested to significantly push forwards what any single business is able to achieve through the use of technology.
For maximum value to be gained, all companies need to be open to working in partnership with a range of service providers to enable digital business outcomes. Their providers need to focus on three key areas if the partnership is going to be successful, in this complex and rapidly changing landscape:
1. Business Models, Culture and Processes
2. Internet-Era Digital Tech
3. Core and Legacy Technology
Business Models, Culture and Processes
Having a detailed understanding of how technology can support the business model of a company will provide a strong basis for further decision making. Operating within the context of a culture and series of processes, that can be developed or optimised to take advantage of various technologies, will also increase likelihood of success. Organisations should invest time to do discovery, to detail the user and business needs, to test requirements and expected outcomes. This will provide a strong basis for decision making, investment and technology development.
Internet-Era Digital Tech
Curating the most appropriate set of internet-era technologies to meet the needs of the business is a good start point. Testing, iterating and updating these technologies to get the best possible fit will be a continuous process of engagement, design, development and deployment. Organisations should not be scared to build new applications and systems, as sometimes this will be the correct approach. Doing this will mean that these organisations can rapidly exploit application services and functions provided through widely available cloud hosted platforms.
Core and Legacy Technology
Where these iterative processes may struggle, is with specific elements of legacy or core technology. Therefore, acknowledging this and having a different approach will increase the chance of success of the entire set of technologies that are being used; much like addressing the context and environment in which the technology is operating. This may result in refactoring existing applications and systems to take advantage of newer operating systems, middleware and ways of coding. This can provide a stepping-stone to internet-era centric new development in the future.
This is a highly adaptable yet defined approach, centered on business need, culture and process. As an approach it will provide the basis for the most appropriate set of digital and IT development services to be created. The ultimate goal of making these technology choices is to help the majority of businesses enable the outcomes that they need to survive and thrive.