Cloud apps and a surge in connected devices have enveloped the consumer space. But in the same way, these technologies have also seen a large growth within the enterprise. Now, personal devices can be quickly provisioned to allow employees to communicate with peers on the go, while cloud-based services such as Dropbox and Skype have now transcended into the enterprise. Research from the Cloud Industry Forum indicates that 88 per cent of UK businesses are adopting cloud technologies, showing the growing popularity and importance of cloud within the business.
The advent of consumerisation and adoption of these technologies have stripped enterprises of legacy on-premise hardware. Businesses are now more flexible and agile in meeting the needs of employees and end-users - allowing them to access a wide range of services from any place, at any time.
Consumerisation may be an enabler for business success, but it can be harder for enterprises to justify or find the time, financial resources, business understanding and dedicated personnel required to effectively equip the new systems. In an era where technology continues to innovate and customer demands shift, enterprises are now looking towards IT managed service providers to provide additional and dedicated support in meeting their business requirements. According to the latest 2017 UK IT Outsourcing study by Whitelane, 35 per cent of those surveyed said they would outsource more in the coming years, with other European countries such as Germany and Benelux also showing strong adoption for outsourcing.
Further insights from the study, identified business transformation as one of the strongest reasons fuelling this outsourcing growth, with both end-users and service providers claiming its importance at 64 per cent and 67 per cent respectively. As more organisations increase their dependency on outsourcing in the age of consumerisation, the role of the service provider will alter from providing ad-hoc IT support to a more integrated business partner, fuelled by achieving collaborative business transformation and success.
Shifting the workspace from the desk to the cloud
Consumerisation of IT has had a profound impact on workplace culture due to its transformation of the traditional IT set up. The proliferation of cloud-based technologies such as software-as-a-service (Saas) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) require IT decision makers to have a much broader understanding of the services available on the market. And whilst the experience is more intuitive for end-users, complexity for IT has increased due to the volume of cloud-based applications used in business today.
Businesses and their employees have shifted from conducting business from a static location, to accessing business-on-the-go across multiple devices. This has become an important tool in driving innovation by responding to customers quicker than ever before. For organisations and employees based in various locations around the world, accessing cloud-based services such as Microsoft 365 or Box quickly and in real-time, have boosted business productivity. In order to facilitate this, managed service providers have had to incorporate additional network and security measures to ensure the smooth running of these services, as well a clear understanding of how these new technologies can improve the overall business offering.
For many organisations, cloud-based solutions such as PaaS have emerged as an attractive solution to better leverage against these changing workplaces. Customers can tap into the expertise and resources of their IT service provider by developing services built on a platform, and then enabling them to easily configure and programme the service to meet their demands. As these solutions already have a built-in infrastructure, maintenance and enhancement is often easier, ensuring businesses are flexible and quicker to respond to their customers.
The growth in PaaS has also introduced another innovation in the outsourcing contract model – seeing an increase in pay-as-you-go contracts, rather than the traditional long-term contracts. As PaaS continues its upwards momentum, it won’t be too surprising if a greater variety of IT services are outsourced on a similar pay-as-you-go model.
This growth in new technologies has also changed the relationship between the customer and managed service provider. Traditionally, most IT managed service providers were tasked with helpdesk queries and ticketing services, but customer demand has called for more than just IT support. Deloitte’s 2016 research on global outsourcing highlighted this issue, with 46 per cent noting that providers were more reactive rather than proactive, followed by 33 per cent of respondents who claimed that not enough innovation was provided.
Growing technology pressures and the need to stay ahead-of-the-curve, has resulted in an increasingly strategic and proactive business alliance between the service provider and customer. This collaborative partnership is not solely dependent on meeting IT requirements, but a thorough understanding of how the entire IT ecosystem sits in alignment with the overall business strategy.
IT managed providers have had to become bolder in taking the first steps to recommend new changes in IT solutions, rather than responding only when a problem arises. In the same way, customers must also develop the understanding that service providers have a broader scope of services, extending past the micro tasks of helpdesk, to the macro level that can support wider business objectives. In today’s fast-paced world, any delay from either party in responding to the latest demands can put customers at a real disadvantage.
To secure this proactivity, conversations between service provider and customer will extend past the internal IT departments, and include business executives to better visualise, measure and achieve success for all parties involved, especially the customers’ customer. Failure to recognise this can lead to major problems for organisations.
Most recently, British Airways suffered severe business disruption after their IT outsource partner accidentally pulled the plug on the uninterruptable power supply (UPS), leaving over 75,000 passengers stranded and racking up £150m bill for the company. While this is a more extreme case of failure, this example highlights the intrinsic link that is now present between the customer and the IT service provider in ensuring business success.
With consumerisation leading to higher workplace demands to deliver a greater user experience, IT outsourcing will require a new way of thinking if it is to better support enterprises’ IT needs. As organisations seek to become more agile and flexible to better respond to the demands of its employees and end-users, so will be the requirement for managed services provider to facilitate this.
Consumerisation will open the door to strategic business alliances that will be facilitated by a two-way proactive relationship to achieve IT results across the entire scope of an organisation. And as newer technologies continue to come to the forefront of the enterprise, this relationship and dependency on IT outsourcing will only deepen.
Tim Patrick-Smith, Group CIO and head of portfolio solutions, Getronics
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