The provision of IT services has gone through multiple phases over the past 30+ years. Technology is one of the fastest-growing industries around. Technical skills you learned a few years ago are generally out of date by now. Yes, you can still use them and achieve a result, however, modern approaches have already come along to achieve the same tasks more efficiently and at a lower price point.
Things change rapidly in this industry. You must constantly evolve to keep up. This level of change also applies to the various business models being used to provide technology services.
Let’s have a quick look at the models and what they mean to your business.
The Break / Fix model
Prevalent in the 1990s and before.
This is the simple approach of calling a local IT provider when your systems break. It’s the same approach you would take if you needed an electrician to fix a broken power-point, or someone to come to fix your air conditioning. It is usually billed on a time and materials basis.
It can sometimes be cheaper to put a quick fix in place, which solves the problem today at a lower cost, but it does not address the underlying issue. This often results in repeated support calls (and cost) at later stages.
The good news is that this model is usually low cost. You only pay if something breaks (and you want it fixed). The bad part is that this is very reactive and offers little to no strategic value to your business. It’s a reactive approach where you need to understand your requirements and tell the provider what to do.
Basic Managed Services
Started appearing around the 2000s.
This is the first stage of Managed Services where your IT provider takes a closer look at the standard IT you have in the business. The model typically has a fixed monthly cost for either unlimited support or a block of hours that are used to keep things going.
In the unlimited support approach, the IT provider is directly incentivised to spend more time fixing properly (rather than using a band-aid approach) as the effort and cost required to fix something again (if it continues to break) is on them.
Basic reports can be provided to meet specific requirements, but they are not usually provided and reviewed on a regular basis.
Structured Managed Services
Gained momentum around 2010.
This is the next evolution of Managed Services, encompassing the activity of the “basic managed services” approach with regular reporting, service delivery management and a level of accountability over the availability of all systems. Reporting can look at more proactive elements, such as ensuring patching is up to date, backups are regularly performed, and applications are kept current.
This approach is still very “IT” focused. The service provider generally has a better understanding of the client’s business and may be able to identify solutions that would be a good fit. However, the provider is not always engaging widely across the business or interacting at the leadership team level to help solve key business issues.
Where we are today.
This is the modern approach to Managed IT Services. It is focused on strategic engagement with the business to help it succeed in the modern economy. Discussions are around topics such as workflow, automation, efficiency, and collaboration. We look at what is possible with modern technology and how it can be used to improved processes and overall operations.
There is much less focus on topics such as ‘what computer should I buy?’ and much more around ‘how can I make my business more efficient?’.
A strategic business engagement helps the provider understand the business more and identify how technology solutions can help it.
Of course, all the standard IT functions are provided – this is a given. Done properly, standard IT should be just like water or electricity. It is there and you assume it just works. Yes, there will be issues from time to time, however, these are managed for you.
The real focus here is to use technology to help make the business better.
Where is your business in this timeline?
An equally important question - where are your competitors?
If you are trying to grow and outperform others in your industry, make sure your technology is helping you and not holding you back. Nobody gets a competitive advantage using 5-10+ year-old systems in an industry that moves as quickly as IT does.
You are never going to keep up if your competitors are driving sports cars and you still have a horse and cart!
If you're looking to grow your business through the strategic use of technology solutions, talk to us today.
You may be pleasantly surprised by what you learn.