Seven Questions to Help Pick your Managed Service Provider

In previous blogs we have discussed two of this year’s surging trends cloud computing and self-diagnosing machine 2 machine communications from our white paper, Seven communications trends for 2013 . Let’s now turn our attention to Managed Services.

Many pressures face today’s CIO and IT departments. Disruptive technologies like the exploding number of mobile devices and video are impacting IT decisions. The need to support new functionality that maintains a corporate competitive advantage has out stripped IT’s ability to consume the technology complexity required to deliver the new functionality. We call this the Technology Adoption Gap. This technology gap is fueling IT’s need for Managed Services that can reduce the risk of deploying and supporting new as well as legacy solutions.

According to Gartner’s “Hunting and Harvesting in a Digital World: The 2013 CIO Agenda,” a global survey of more than 2,000 CIOs representing 36 industries in 41 countries, enterprises only realize an average of 43 percent of technology’s business potential from the more than $230 billion invested in CIO IT budgets. With investments and demands running so high, more is being demanded of CIOs. CIOs are turning to solution vendors for Managed Services to help them get more out of the investment they have and will make.

Adding more pressure, as stated in the white paper Communications services: Challenging the status quo by Avaya Senior Vice president and Avaya Client Services President Mike Runda, are tightening IT budgets that are forcing more out of existing IT staffs which are already under-staffed and overwhelmed.

This need for Managed Services is called out in the Seven communications trends white paper prepared by a panel of visionary Avaya experts as hitting an inflection point:

“Business conditions are changing at a breathtaking pace within most industries and, consequently, so are the requirements on organizations’ communications infrastructures. In this environment, having the flexibility to add, contract and change capabilities and leverage new technologies quickly and easily has become paramount. There is also growing interest among cost-conscious businesses in foregoing the expense of in-house staff to support their communications infrastructure, as well as the capital requirements of continually investing in new technologies. At the same time, business leaders want to focus their attention on the strategic needs, decisions and directions associated with their communications infrastructure rather than the operational requirements of running it. These shifts are leading businesses to think differently about their infrastructure strategy and examine the financial goals associated with their IT organization. Do they want their IT department to be responsible for the day-to-day operations of their communications technology with the accompanying high fixed costs? Or, do they want to adopt a utility model that enables them to add and contract communications resources as needed, whether using a service provider or an in-house, self-managed utility services approach? Such decisions will be front and center in 2013.”

What are CIOs and IT departments to do given these resource constraints and user demands? If Managed Services is the key it starts by selecting a service partner who understands the marketplace and appreciates the complexity of today’s systems which are typically cobbled together in a multivendor environment. “Almost every enterprise client we encounter has a complex multivendor environment, with equipment of all ages and often from different manufacturers. A great Managed Services provider will offer solutions with service level agreements covering the entire communications environment,” says Mike Runda in his Communications services white paper.

So, how should CIOs and IT departments take the first step to determine the right Managed Services partner for their business needs? They should ask themselves the following seven questions:

  • Will the proposed service partner support your business strategy now and in the future?
  • Do you trust them to have the necessary expertise and bandwidth to provide maintenance, deliver support services or assume Managed Services responsibilities?
  • Will they become trusted advisors that stay engaged and serve as an extension of your IT organization and business?
  • Do they provide a portfolio of offers that span the entire service continuum and have the necessary flexibility to ensure a smooth deployment of Managed Services?
  • What applications, diagnostics checks or analytic tools do they leverage to anticipate any problems or hidden issues?
  • Do they provide a single point of contact that can quickly swarm experts to resolve an issue in your network?
  • Do they really know you? Understand your solution?

What questions are key to you in deciding who should be providing critical IT support to your company?

Pat Patterson
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