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In this ‘New World,’ IT trends shifting toward services to drive business resilience

communication technology
(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/violetkaipa)

As businesses respond to the Covid-19 pandemic and look to position themselves for growth in this new world, demand for IT services is increasing. According to IDC’s Global ICT Spending Forecast, overall information & communications technology (ICT) spending is expected to grow by at least 5 percent annually between 2021 and 2023, with specific growth in IT services driven by digital transformation being highlighted. Within Lenovo, Software & Services grew 39 percent year-on-year last quarter, reaching a record revenue of US $1.2 billion. This comes as we’ve seen customers from more conservative professional services sectors like accounting, legal and consulting increasingly turning to external IT sources to help them rapidly adopt more modern workplaces.

Though these accelerated transitions seem to be a knee-jerk response to the socioeconomic factors presented by the pandemic, the incorporation of IT services to achieve digital transformation has actually been taking place for years. Thanks to the maturity progression of services-related technologies and the development of Modern IT business models, forward-looking companies were able to start deploying a wide range of IT services well before the pandemic, placing them in a better position today. Those who recently decided to take the leap and consider outsourced IT services are discovering how doing so can help them better respond to the now and prove more resilient in the future.

Smarter technology deserves smarter services

Like most things in life, a one size fits all solution is not ideal. Yes, there are a range of IT services available, but not every service is right for every situation, just like every piece of hardware isn’t right for every function. Rather, smarter technology deserves smarter services that go beyond solving for the problem at hand.

Whether attached to the device, offered as an outsourced managed service, or included as part of a more complex integrated hardware, software and services solution, when deployed wisely, IT services can deliver and support desired business outcomes. This means enabling companies to get the most out of their technology investment by helping to reduce business costs, minimize downtime and influence the end user experience.

These are just some of the keys to improving productivity, efficiency and agility which all contribute to what’s needed now more than ever…resiliency. These factors and how they are incorporated will be instrumental in shaping how companies move forward from here.

Empowering people for remote lifestyles (work, play and learning)

This year, the power of remote living has truly emerged. Not only are individuals working from home, but they are also studying and learning from home and even team playing from home through platforms like eSports. Regardless of which activity is being performed, the common denominator is the remote capabilities that are being afforded through technology and the services that support them, making people more productive with what they have, no matter where they are.

But, if we hone in specifically on the commercial space, distributed workforces are no longer the exception; in just 9 months they’ve become the rule. This year’s mass exodus from the office has put businesses to the test and they’ve had to quickly assess the needs of their employees and fulfil them in order to ensure productivity and results. This fulfilment, however, extends beyond simply providing them with laptops.

In order for companies that previously operated on premise to truly empower employees to continue business as usual in the new landscape, they had to update their IT infrastructures. Seamless and secure connections and collaboration simply could not take place without this critical step, whether through incorporating cloud-based resources or other means. Yet, the capital investment required to keep such important IT infrastructures running daily can be significant. To ensure greater cost predictability amid uncertainty, more and more businesses are leveraging external IT service experts and as-a-service models so that they can shift resources to core business and mission-critical applications. By partnering with a trusted IT advisor, companies have found the guidance they need to ensure a well-designed customized IT service solution that can help resolve problems and create IT infrastructure readiness.

Supporting in-house IT for better business agility

The efficiencies once enjoyed by companies with centralized IT support systems have been reduced as a result of remote work. In-house IT staff don’t have the access to the devices or employees they once had, and employees in need of help can’t as easily reach out to their IT helpdesk anymore either. However, IT teams are under immense pressure to not only support the exploded number of remote employees, but also new sales channels and business requirements in order to better serve their own customers. They must meet performance and operations expectations under these tough circumstances, while also casting the security safety net more widely and striving to keep costs down.

These pressures are driving IT department leaders to find a partner that specializes in the services they require. Which is where outsourcing routine services like IT support, endpoint management, configuration, zero-touch deployment and fleet management, just to name a few, can prove beneficial. These are services that have been offered for years but had been on a less urgent trajectory before the pandemic. Now, companies truly see the value they provide, especially when an end-to-end solution is tailored to their desired outcomes. Furthermore, the use of AI and machine learning is being deployed to support IT admins with proactive and predictive analytics that facilitate fleet management even more by diagnosing issues proactively and predicting failures before they occur. Reallocating the middle person (i.e. the IT admin) from these processes to instead focus on other key areas of the business can reduce operational costs and minimize downtime for the user, allowing that IT admin to direct their attention to more business-critical tasks, such as application migration, cloud initiatives and security.

Integrating with end customers for increased flexibility

The productivity of the employee and the agility and efficiency of IT resources are just part of strengthening resilience, but the one area that can’t be overlooked is of course the end customer. To ensure business continuity and long-term survival, companies must stay close to their customers and that involves anticipating, preventing and proactively responding to new challenges posed by the pandemic and market conditions. Ideally, an IT partner can offer support here, as well, to enable increased flexibility in the way businesses interact with their customers.

For example, a food delivery platform in Taiwan had to rethink its use of technology and the integration of IT services in response to the dramatic increase in demand during the pandemic. Hundreds of restaurants came to them to incorporate delivery into their business models, many of which were smaller establishments with limited IT experience and resources. The food delivery company had to quickly develop a technical onboarding process that covered even the basics of how to use a tablet and connect to a network. In response, we developed a tailored solution that included a full-service package that not only met this challenge, but ultimately made delivery pickup faster and more efficient, increasing opportunities for deliverers and shortening the order-to-delivery time for the end customer. 

What’s next

The volatile conditions of 2020 have resulted in organizations learning to quickly adapt, anticipate change and better plan for the future, and IT services are a part of that equation. Not only do such services simplify how technology is scaled and deployed, but they have the ability to effect real and lasting change on business outcomes and deliver better user experiences. The increased incorporation of IT services to support digital transformation isn’t a trend of the period, but rather a rooted reality as companies seek to build their resilience and prepare for what’s to come. By seeking out an IT partner that is well-versed in the possibilities and offers a range of integrated solutions, companies will be better poised to transition through this new reality.

Jie Yu, VP & GM, Intelligent Devices Group, Global Services Business, Lenovo