By Bob Hicks, Senior Vice President — Operations
As an information technology executive you face a constant dilemma. While innovation is a competitive necessity in today’s world of digital disruption, you lack bandwidth because day-to-day operational demands monopolize your time. No doubt, this is why chief information officers rank innovation as one of their top five concerns for 2016 in the Society for Information Management’s (SIM’s) latest survey.
Fortunately, cloud technology and IT managed services have matured to the point that CIOs now have a viable solution for making time for innovation. Increasingly, forward-looking companies are selectively outsourcing functions to experienced partners who specialize in making sure your technology consistently works when and how it needs to. By getting out from under the daily struggle to keep routine but critical IT functions running smoothly, you can focus your resources on maximizing business value.
Transforming IT from a cost center to a business differentiator is achievable through strategic innovation. Maintaining or reducing operational IT costs while increasing business process efficiencies and enhancing your company’s go to market approach, whether directly or supportively, brings the business value maximization goal to a reality.
Here’s how IT managed services can help you and your team spend more time firing up innovation and less on putting out fires:
Identify which IT services are core to your business and outsource those that are not. Non-core functions are candidates for alternative sourcing. Are networking, backup, security and compliance, disaster recovery and general business applications a core competency? If not, then work with providers who do make delivering those services a core competency. With the non-core functions covered, your team is free to develop the innovative solutions that can create new revenue streams, improve customer satisfaction and capture increased market share.
Focus your team on strategic initiatives. By outsourcing the routine tasks of IT, you and your staff can double down on the innovation projects that can be a true competitive differentiator. Not only will this maximize IT’s value to the business, you will strengthen your ability to attract and retain the best IT talent.
Gain agility and flexibility to respond quickly. Keeping up with the pace of change and growth is a zero sum game for IT departments trying to go it alone. Managed service providers can handle capacity issues and grow your systems as needed because they’re in the business of quickly adding new servers and storage, implementing new technology, and planning for future growth.
When speed to market is one of the most critical success factors in business, IT must be more responsive than ever to changing technologies and business demands. IT can’t afford to take time getting up to speed on the latest technology when it’s more efficient to rely on specialists.
Spend more time collaborating outside IT. The best way for IT to lead on innovation is to understand the issues that keep company leaders up at night. Then you can help them strategize on how leading and emerging technologies can help them solve problems and succeed.
Is your chief marketing officer worried about changing customer expectations that can only be met by more responsive mobile technology capabilities? Is your CEO concerned about disruptive startup competitors who are more agile? When you’re not bogged down with maintaining basic technology services, you and your team have time to collaborate with other departments to identify and capitalize on the best opportunities for innovation. That way you can leverage your cross-enterprise perspective to eliminate silos and bring the different players together to deliver real business value.
Identify, quantify, and report. The first step in effecting change is to identify your opportunities. Partner with trusted experts to assist in identifying and prioritizing your innovation strategy. Quantify the financial and operational value of your plan. Gaining the support and initial funding to effect change is much easier when you quantify the end goal and organizational value. And finally, report back to the organization – develop a regular reporting cadence with key metrics tied to positive contribution to business goals. A constant reminder of the value of IT innovation will ensure continued support from leadership.
By becoming a champion of change beyond IT, you can help your organization make quantum leaps ahead of the competition. Moreover, this moves IT into closer alignment with the needs of the business, which is the number one issue for CIOs in the SIM survey.
Bob Hicks, with more than 30 years of experience in the industry, oversees TierPoint’s growing collection of enterprise-class data centers. He is responsible for local operations and data centers in Arkansas, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee. He joined TierPoint as Senior Vice President and General Manager, Pennsylvania, through the company’s acquisition of Xand in 2014. Bob is committed to helping clients solve unique and evolving technology challenges.