The arrival of a digital economy has ushered in an era of rapid business transformation. It’s brought new business models, new value propositions and new client engagement models. It has also allowed a playing field for more and different competitors. Every dimension of business is being impacted, from planning to ops and go-to-market strategies. This is compelling leaders to rethink their businesses and approach to services. Managed services, which is being considered more often – especially for communications – is a hands-free high-tech option that lets companies focus on innovation and position themselves more competitively in a challenging trading environment.
A managed service offering brings high-level resources, strategies and best practices into play in business operations. It frees up business resources to focus on the core business and on business innovation, an element that has become critical to retain competitiveness in the increasingly digital business environment.
Perhaps even more importantly, companies that provide these services are focused on the specific technologies. They constantly leverage off the updates of technology and the opportune advances are addressed and incorporated into the service delivery. This means the customer can move onto new platforms when available which is essential for agile innovation and business transformation. For example, to:
• Provide the customer’s customers with advanced multi-channel engagement options
• Create portals and platforms that provide multiple value-add services
• Launch new services or products to market rapidly
• Target new markets with multiple new business ecosystem partners
• Measure, monitor and understand customer responses, and refine strategies
• Improve internal collaboration
• Lower communication costs and improve efficiencies
• Improve security and meet regulatory requirements
Understanding the digital environment
Communication – the way people interact and the technologies, platforms, apps and networks they use to do it – forms the backbone of the digital environment. The challenge for many businesses when it comes to communication and digital, is that the approach to change has evolved so rapidly. However, the move to digital and social media platforms cannot be delayed. This is where customers are going and what they demand; and it’s where the workforce is going – they expect an integrated digital environment with digital tools and automation that enhances their productivity.
The first step for organisations assessing a managed service option is to understand what they have in place and what they could have. In many instances, companies working with legacy technologies and network topologies – e.g., where each branch of a company has its own network and IT staff – do not see the bigger picture. Centralising functionality and an option to shift to a cloud model within a managed service solution will not only cut communication costs (data and telephony costs), but licensing costs along with the need to employ scarce skills or even own the infrastructure. The managed service provides access to trained staff and has best practices in place to manage technical and other issues. These services include management of licenses, report generation, a reduction in risk and a fixed spend. There are no one-size-fits-all solutions, however; a solution that meets the organisation’s needs and works in the environment (e.g. a boardroom versus an office) is vital.
Go all the way, stay ahead
So how do you pick a managed services partner? There are a couple of essentials. Find a company that knows the industry, specialises in the technology, has a good track record and the right certifications, and makes use of best practices in providing a managed service. Organisations’ need a partner that is forward looking and innovative. That means they keep up to date with trends, have a roadmap for the technology they use, and are interested in helping your business move forward by meeting your objectives, whether that means increasing business efficiencies, cutting costs or scaling up or out.
Managed service providers (MSP’s) will offer different service models to meet customer needs. This may include rent or rent-to-own options, providing an onsite or cloud solution, or even a hybrid solution. What does not work well, however, is trying to make the shift using a piecemeal approach to services. This may happen when companies shy away from committing to a managed service because they believe the provider will ‘take over’ their IT department. The reality is that managed service providers only take over specific specialised portions of IT systems and service provision. Companies stay very much in charge of their IT strategies.
To move into a digital era, companies need a stable platform for communication. An integrated, centralised system ensures supportability. But these systems cannot be ‘grown’, they need to be planned and put in place and they need to do more than just enable the company to run the business – they need to provide a platform for innovation.
Is your company set to compete in the digital era? Can it remain competitive and relevant?
By Ian Summerfield