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Mark Charmant

The Evolution of Managed Services - Part 1

02 June 2022

Mark Charmant, IT Services Competency Lead

When we think of Managed Services, we often focus first on the “services” element. We think of the products being offered but not the way in which they are provided. The “management” element is often assumed. However, it is also the part that most often causes problems.

For holistic and effective managed services, equal emphasis should be placed on the services being delivered and the way in which those services are managed. This is integral to partnership models between customers and Managed Service providers that can support the current and future needs of the customer. It allows providers and customers to develop and execute effective long-term strategies that can adapt to technological changes.

Acceleration of Technology

We are currently going through a phase of extreme technological acceleration. People are being exposed to and learning to use new technologies at an unprecedented rate. They are also learning how to use technologies in ways that are specific to their requirements, meaning that everyone is interacting with different technologies in different ways.

Some businesses have been caught on the back foot by this. They must provide employees and customers with the capabilities to use new technologies in the ways that they want. Managed Services is an effective way of tapping into additional expertise or expanding on capabilities to meet these growing demands.

However, Managed Services must operate within a long-term strategy and implementation plan. If providers and customers don’t establish strategies and expectations early on in an engagement, they’ll eventually find that the provider can no longer offer what the customer needs because their technological requirements have outpaced their implementation plans.

Services and products are crucial to any business. However, the way that they are managed and incorporated into a long-term strategy is equally important. These factors are not always as robustly interrogated as the services and products themselves. Services must be provided with comprehensive and adaptable support which can respond to an emerging new world of technology and of individual and business expectations.

Genuine Partnership

The term “Managed Services” may not sound as dramatic as “Agile Transformation” or “Digital Transformation.” However, it should convey a solid foundation for long-term success and sustainability. It should always refer to both the provision of tangible services and solutions and the management around them.

In order to provide Managed Services that meet a customer’s immediate requirements and anticipate their future needs, a provider must function as a true partner to the customer. They must work hard to embed themselves within the customer’s business and to understand their objectives and the challenges they face in achieving them. Establishing a genuine partnership is the first and most important step in providing exceptional Managed Services.

Long-Term Vision

Most companies now recognise that they require transformational change around technology. However, many remain unsure on their strategy for achieving this change. Often, they limit their focus to what they already require. When service providers can offer an evolved, comprehensive vision beyond those immediate needs, they can provide the foundation for truly effective and sustainable partnerships. Both partners can collaborate to identify challenges, objectives, and opportunities.

One challenge for providers is making their offering tangible at the proposal stage. Customers want to know what Managed Services means for their business. Providers must not only conceptualise the journey but must also put clear stages on this journey and provide desired outcomes for each stage. Completed tasks and projects must also be evaluated against the customer’s progress in their overall journey.

We must also accept that user requirements and expectations will continue to evolve rapidly. Sometimes, requirements change before the ink is even dry on a service contract, and defined targets quickly become irrelevant. The traditional MO of responding to requirements for customers as they arise will only serve to pigeonhole and eventually diminish a provider’s value to a customer over time.

This is not to suggest that traditional Managed Services is dead. However, it is now essential to deliver services as part of a long-term vision. For providers of IT Managed Services to remain relevant and vital to their customers, they must shift emphasis from “Service Delivery” to “Service Partnership.” The partnership model not only delivers a customer’s immediate core requirements but prepares them for future challenges by advising and consulting to align technology with long-term business goals and partnering on the digital transformation journey. This is how Managed Services providers must earn the privilege to partner.

You can read part 2 of this blog here where Mark discusses conceptualising the future, user-centric solutions and concludes his thoughts. 

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