What Are Managed IT Services?
Simona Rollinson, CTO for international IT governance association ISACA, offers a simple definition for managed IT: “packaging and delivering a third-party relationship where a company outsources services to another provider.”
These services aren’t fixed in stone; some companies prefer to outsource IT service requests, while others want help managing their transition to the cloud. Some are looking for adaptable security architecture beyond their current skill and scope, and many want help managing the sheer volume and variety of applications now required to retain their competitive advantage in a technology-first world.
Rollinson notes that while “this is a very mature market, there are a lot of entrants, a lot of companies providing both broad and boutique services.” She predicts a significant uptick in managed service spending — recent research offers a similar perspective, suggesting “tremendous growth” over the next five years.
Why Are Managed IT Services Needed?
Rollinson cites two top reasons for managed IT service adoption: cost savings and peace of mind. “CIOs want to make sure they can sleep at night,” she says, and that’s increasingly difficult thanks to cyberattacks, tech outages and data breaches. In fact, 56 percent of CIOs and CTOs now report stress-related illnesses tied to ongoing IT issues, according to CIO Dive.
Rollinson also points to the growing “war for talent” as the IT skills gap continues to widen and many organizations find themselves understaffed and underskilled, even as technology offerings diversify. When it comes to rapidly evolving technologies such as cloud computing or Big Data analytics, many businesses, especially small and midsized organizations, don’t have the time or budget for in-depth training. The result? They’re often aware they need to adopt new IT services to stay competitive but aren’t sure of the best approach. Managed IT services can help bridge the gap.
What Are the Benefits of Managed IT Services?
Deploying managed IT services offers multiple business benefits, including:
- Improved cost management: Fixed monthly costs help CIOs manage budgetary allocations and clearly articulate spending needs to C-suite executives.
- Increased staff availability: Local staff can tackle critical in-house issues while managed IT providers handle regular maintenance, upgrading and performance monitoring.
- Reduced complexity: Issues such as new service implementation and software integration are handled by providers, removing a critical layer of IT complexity.
- Enhanced scalability: The as-a-service nature of managed IT services makes it possible to scale up or down as business requirements evolve.
- Streamlined response: Managed service service-level agreements include specific response time guidelines and ticket escalation expectations, providing a clear path from issue identification to resolution.
Managed IT Services vs. Break-Fix IT
Break-fix IT response is familiar — but not always effective. Waiting for services and technology to fail before creating tickets and deploying IT resources ensures specific problem resolution but also costs time and money. Software and infrastructure left unmonitored until its next breakdown doesn’t just carry the potential costs of failure; companies must also deal with concerns about data breaches, compliance obligations and regular system updating.
As noted by Rollinson, the problem management framework offered by break-fix IT “is table stakes for managed IT services.” While managed services include problem response and remediation, they also include proactive systems monitoring to solve for potential problems before critical services suffer.
Put simply, managed IT services provides support for technology breakdowns but puts the emphasis where it belongs: on the solution.