Businesses of all sizes, across industries, are constantly challenged to implement changes in technology, both simple and complex, while keeping costs minimized. Oftentimes, the pressure for cost reduction stifles the fundamental innovation required for businesses to not only improve current outdated or failing work flows, but to successfully differentiate themselves from the competition.
The modern considerations for IT strategies fall between in-house IT departments and infrastructure or utilizing managed service providers (MSP). As technological needs increasingly progress, it is imperative for businesses to choose the appropriate option that fits strategic goals and budgets, without sacrificing innovation.
For many, innovation is the foundation of an IT strategy, and as with any strategy, decision-makers must account for resources required to meet business goals. IT strategies are influenced by cost of resources, levels of control, and the competitive landscape. When electing to use in-house IT operations and infrastructure, several cost drivers are incurred throughout ideation, development, implementation, management and maintenance efforts. A key benefit of in-house IT is overall command of operations and visibility of progress. However, extended resources of personnel and budgets may be required to compensate for IT’s unpredictable nature. Deployment of more advanced technology can be slowmoving or outside of the in-house department’s expertise, possibly hindering its effectiveness, as timeliness is a quintessential element for ever-evolving technology. What was once intended to be a cost-saving effort can quickly turn into an unmanageable, expensive undertaking.
The ability to accurately deploy agile technologies promptly can be considered the competitive advantage for organizations defined by the convenience and reliance on information systems.
Managed IT Service Providers (MSP)
MSPs are external parties offering professional or managed IT services to organizations who seek to simplify their IT environments, diversify their technology portfolio, offset routine tasks and/or specializations outside of their capabilities.
The history of MSPs began with traditional break-fix IT services. When problems or issues occurred, expert technicians would be called in to fix it. This became problematic when end user symptoms were repaired, instead of implementing holistic, long-term solutions. Organizations learned to be proactive about root cause analysis and the modern preventative IT approach was born.
In the early 1990s, deploying systems and protocols to find, fix, report and monitor new or reoccurring technical issues was reserved only for Fortune 500 companies or organizations with enough resources. Data compiled from these early operations would be utilized to continually improve processes, predict possible issues, and develop optimal solutions before they negatively affect business operations. As systems matured in the mid-2000s, small- to medium-sized organizations were then able to reap these advantageous benefits and features through managed service providers.
Also referred to as management service providers, MSPs partially or fully perform hosting, information services and/or telecommunication services, including, but not limited to:
• Cloud Hosting
• Web Hosting
• System and Data Backups
• Data Recovery
• Disaster Recovery
• 24/7 Remote Monitoring & Management
• Malware Removal
• Anti-Virus Detection
• Internet Services
• Network Infrastructure Design
• Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
• Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)
• Audits & Consultations
• Network Management
• Systems Management
• Change Management
• IT Support/ Help Desk
• Remote Hands
Growth of MSP
The growth rate of MSPs is higher than any other technology sectors and outperforms the overall IT market. Globally, the managed services market is predicted to grow at 12.4 percent through 2018.
The increased supply of MSPs is supported by 47 percent market demand for the majority of IT services to be provided or managed by external service providers, according to international industry surveys.
Attraction to MSP
Currently, 45 percent of organizations already use an MSP, with expectations to increase another 18 percent in 2015. Accordingly, 80 percent of organizations’ IT budgets will be allocated to service integration of internally and externally sourced business IT services by 2016.
Organizations that have made the jump to outsource or extend their innovative technology needs to MSPs cite the following expected benefits:
• Increased Available IT Resources – Offsetting mandatory, yet time consuming or complex tasks to specialized teams with automated technologies increases the value of in-house IT staff, while taking things off of their already full plates.
• Cost-efficiency – High capital expenditure for in-house infrastructure, hardware and network systems is eliminated, while total cost of operations for routine maintenance and management is greatly reduced.
• Strategic Productivity – Implementation of advanced IT systems based on business needs of integration and consolidation optimizes cross-departmental operations and increases overall productivity.
• Sustainable Innovation – MSPs specialize in emerging trends and technologies to provide businesses with a holistic view of IT environments to improve long-term planning and scalability.
• Focus on Core Competency – Perhaps the most compelling reason businesses seek access to complex technologies and expert technicians through an MSP is because IT is not their core competency. Leveraging the resources of MSPs enables organizations to compete effectively while refocusing efforts on innovating their business.
Having innovation for innovation’s sake is not a viable technology plan. Organizations who aim to simplify their IT environments ultimately benefit by aligning overall strategies, integrating teams and supporting business growth.
Managed service providers level the proverbial playing field by providing accessible, affordable and innovative resources to organizations of all sizes to compete effectively in the modern IT landscape.