Do IT Services Firms Still Matter in the Cloud Era?
Let’s get right to it and start with an opening question: Do IT solutions and services firms still matter in today's cloud era? The answer is a resounding yes and, I will add, more than ever. I’ll admit that since I have 25 years in the IT world, I might a be a little biased, but with good reason. Give me the opportunity this month to discuss/lament (take your pick) and I’ll color it with my own experiences. I usually give you my conclusion at the end of my posts, but on this one, I’ve lobbed it right up front.
We are in the era of the cloud, which most firms have embraced. It makes sense for all of the reasons we all know and love: no (or limited) on-prem technology, quick time to bring workloads and applications to life and to value, predictable spend, no large capital outlay, and no need to be IT experts. Ironically, for most people outside of the IT word, this distinction is not that big of a thing, it’s just how companies run their business. However, for those of us in IT, it means the world.
The reasons for cloud adoption are continually reinforced with the firms we work with: resource constraints, flat budgets, IT doing more with less, inability to hire more people, but yet need to provide better IT services, more workloads and applications than ever before. Sound familiar? We continually hear from our customers on a regular basis.
With our customers, we are routinely asked a straightforward question: is it more cost effective to use the cloud or not? The answer to that is generally skewed by what they perceive “cost-effective” to mean, as it does for all of us. If it’s just IT spend, using the cloud will cost more over time as opposed to using on-prem technology—that’s well established. But does that matter?
a firm with a substantial on-prem IT presence with well-established processes and resources, fork lifting their entire IT environment into the cloud will cost more. However, for a start-up, it’s significantly more attractive (and viable) to spend $5,000 a month for IT infrastructure and services versus investing $250,000+ upfront for on-prem technology. I think you get my point. Costs for on-prem also do not include IT personnel to administer the technology—you generally don’t have to do with cloud— which we all know is expensive. And so the conversation goes. Ditto for things like security, availability, compliance, data protection and a host of other items.
How do firms know they are doing the right and prudent thing using the cloud, on-prem technology, or a combination of both? Some firms have that figured out. However, our experience shows that many more firms don’t have this established to the degree you would think. In many cases, firms believe they do, but it’s based on thoughts and not through data—subjective versus objective. This is the crux of my article this month: IT services and solution providers can not only help, but are necessary today.
We’ve all know that most people do research and generally have made a buying decision before they even talk to an IT solution and services provider like us. How’s that for competition and a sales cycle? Their conclusion is based upon what they read on the web (can be subjective) versus talking to experts about it, such as us, which is objective. This is the need that IT services and solution providers not only provide but at which they excel.
If you go to your managers and tell them your buying criteria for the IT solution or services you are looking to invest in was done based upon web research versus consulting with experts, how do you think that conversation is going to go, especially if something goes wrong? IT solution and services provides become your trusted advisors and will make you look like a hero to your firm—if you use them.
I’ll give you an example from my own perspective: As Director of Marketing I engage firms to help me with demand generation, content, and campaigns. How do I choose them? Of course, I do online research, but I engage deeply with each to get their perspective on how and what they do, why they are different and why they believe they are better than other firms. I even ask to speak to some of their customers to gauge their experiences. It helps give me the data that I need to make a decision—a decision based upon data—which brings objectivity to something that seems subjective. I look for and, frankly expect, trusted advisors to guide me so I can make the right decisions, as in the end if these firms work out for me and my company’s needs, their results reflect on me, good or bad.
As I mentioned, it’s prudent to use outside firms to help guide you on the services, support, and IT solutions you are considering. Lean on your you trusted partners, and they will help guide on what is best for you and your needs, be it cloud, on-prem or multi-cloud. If you have good and trusted partners, they will guide you in the most objective way possible.
I believe that good IT partners are often overlooked in the cloud era where it’s so easy to spin up IT services, workloads, and applications. Expectations are it is just that simple: spin it up in the cloud, and all of my IT issues will be solved, and it will work as needed. Well, maybe.
Firms often forget to ask if they are doing the right and cost-effective thing in moving to the cloud. Don’t forget that that’s what your trusted advisors and services and solution providers are all about—helping you figure it out. I will continue to opine that they are more critical today than ever—a pretty strong statement. Have you trusted advisors and IT solution/service providers prove that to be true. You’ll be glad you did, as the future of your firms IT may be counting on it.