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What is a managed IT service?

Omar Ali Amin

on 1 December 2021

This article was last updated 1 year ago.

Technology is one of the main success factors for any organisation. A few decades ago, when technology (and life) were not as fast-paced as today, IT was more about keeping the lights on and maintaining business as usual operations. Today, the game has massively changed. On the roads that are ever-changing, innovation is what keeps the wheel spinning.

If you think that the world is doing enough innovation today, then it would be very interesting to check the recent Growth & Innovation McKinsey report. This report shows that only 6% of executives are satisfied with innovation within their organisations, with the majority not being able to identify how to encourage innovation!

So, how is innovation related to managed IT services and the speed at which organisations adopt new technologies? And even more, what is a managed IT service?

A.K.A. “outsourcing”

A managed IT service is a form of outsourcing IT operations or tasks. Outsourcing has been a widely used operating structure for many years. It basically refers to assigning specific tasks or responsibilities to external service providers within an agreed upon framework.

There are many reasons why organisations might be looking to outsource some responsibilities to a service provider. In cases where tasks need 24×7 non-stop operations, regular full-timers with fixed working hours and annual leaves might not be suitable for the business requirements. Some cases also require unique skills, and hiring for these roles might be very difficult, costly, and time consuming. Some organisations might be in competitive markets that require constant technology evolution, where time to market cannot be compromised. Additionally, others might be looking for cost reduction and increased productivity.

IT decision-makers, despite their different problems and motives, found their way to the same solution: outsourcing. 

How can managed IT services increase innovation?

Now really, what does this have to do with innovation? How is outsourcing IT operations going to create more innovation within your organisation?

Let’s think of it the other way around… Why aren’t organisations innovating enough?

In most IT departments, engineers spend the majority of their time doing reactive work: responding to user requests, troubleshooting any issues that occur, and making sure that business applications are up and running. All of this reactive work is essential for the business, and has to be done in all cases. What’s questionable here is who should be doing this work. How much does it cost, in terms of budget and time, to hire the right talent within your IT organisation? Moreover, how much time does it take to train and develop new hires to get them to a state where they can actually benefit the business? After that much investment, your engineers are mostly being leveraged to keep the lights on.

Your IT specialists can improve business

I personally believe that keeping the lights on is not the best investment you can make. It does not move your business forward, nor does it add a competitive advantage to your organisation. Your insourced IT specialists are best positioned to advance the business. They understand the company’s strategy, know the risks and constraints, and understand your industry’s trends. They have the best potential to expect the future and prepare your organisation for it. But why can’t they simply take care of operations while they plan for the future?

Proactive work is simply never urgent, but firefighting is. When performance degradation or an outage of a critical service occurs, attention is usually directed towards resolving the issue, deprioritising other proactive work. And as IT is very demanding, little to no time is left for improvement. 

Managed service providers can keep the lights on for you

Imagine an ideal scenario where your IT operations run smoothly with minimal intervention from your engineers.

This would free up your engineers’ time to work on more long -term proactive tasks that can actually impact the business. It will allow them to innovate and explore how the right technologies can be leveraged for the benefit of the business. This allows you to reallocate your IT budgets for more value creation and less keeping the lights on.

With an average of 55% of IT spend going to operations, being able to spend more on innovation better positions your organisation in the market. Managed service providers can provide you with technology experts at a fraction of the hiring cost, and can easily run your services 24×7 all year long. This offloads all the firefighting work from your team, shifting back their focus to digital transformation. Instead of training them to maintain your services, they can be trained for your future business requirements. And instead of having to hire for unique skills in the future, you get to create them internally. 

Finding the right balance with managed IT services

Managed IT services are not replacing your in-house IT team, and they never will. Optimising the costs of operations comes from finding the balance between what to outsource and what to insource. Strategic activities that impact the business should always be insourced. Any reactive tasks that divert focus from these strategic ones should go on your ‘to outsource’ list. A detailed guide on how to categorise IT activities and outsource non-strategic ones could be found in this whitepaper.

Looking for more details about managed IT services? 

Register for our webinar “Building cost efficient open source cloud operations”,read the whitepaper “Managed IT Services: Overcoming CIOs biggest challenges”, or visit our managed IT services website.

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