Take a Holistic View of Support
As we move into the second quarter of 2014, I am reminded of Gartner's 2014 predictions in terms of predicted IT technology and services spend. Whatever you think of Gartner and their predictions, they tend to be a fairly good predictor of how IT money will be spent. They predict in 2014 that spending for IT services (not including telecom) will be 6.74 times data center systems (servers, storage, networking, etc.) and 3 times enterprise software (ERP, management, etc., non-desktop SW). So the bottom line is that organizations will spend much more on services than on the technology or software itself.
Where will this IT spend on services be directed towards? Much it of will be for the implementation of the new technology and software that they will purchase, but I believe that the majority of it will be on providing support for the technology, software, processes, and environments already in place. And since much of this spend is allocated to support, the type, quality and delivery method of that support is critical. That is why I suggest that organizations take a holistic approach to support for their specific environments.
To boil it down, what do we mean by support for the IT environment? In its most simplest form, it's about providing the care and feeding to ensure that the technology, software, processes do what they are supposed to do to provide value to the organization. It means that the key applications are up and running; that the storage is up, optimized, and operating efficiently; that the appropriate processes for IT to accomplish how it service the needs of the business are in place and are being used. You get the idea.
Support is both reactive and proactive in how it needs to be thought of and used. Reactive of course is your traditional definition of support: my (take your pick, server, storage, application, etc.) is down or can't be accessed, come and help me. Proactive support is about optimizing the environment to ensure it continually operates (more) efficiently and in the best manner to serve the needs of the organization. Most organizations have methodologies in place to handle the reactive portion with specific SLA's and use a combination of internal (their own people) and external (service providers & VAR's) to handle as needed. I would argue that less have a proactive support strategy to help continually improve upon the technologies, environments, and processes in place to make IT continually more valuable to the overall needs of the business.
And we all know why IT organizations have more of a strategy in place to handle reactive support versus proactive. Why is this? It's because IT people are spending so much time just being reactive, that they don't have the chance to be strategic and proactive. It's a simple as that. That's the IT world we all live in every day. So how do you figure out how to have your people focus a bit more proactively on the items that are important, critical and strategic to the company? That's where that holistic approach to support comes in.
By taking a holistic approach to support that includes managed services, structured hours to use when needed, residency staffing services, or a combination thereof, you can create an overall support solution that is specific to the needs of the organization. Some organizations want to handle level 1 support in house and only need help when it gets to level 2 or level 3 and need a vehicle to handle that. Some need/want someone else to manage a portion of their environment via remote or onsite support. And some are looking for someone to fully staff a particular environment to provide fulltime support for that environment. In looking towards these options, the goal is to free up people to focus upon more strategic items that will benefit the organization more them focusing only on support. That is a critical and important distinction. It does not alleviate the need for support. To the contrary, support is even more important to be able free up people for other, more strategic initiatives. Therefore whatever support you choose and its execution needs to be rock solid. This is why a holistic method of support that looks at all facets needed is so important.
We have seen that our customers have found the most success in taking this overall, holistic view of support, where they utilize a combination of their own resources, with the resources I describe above from a trusted Services Partner. Vicom's customers have seen value through our Infrastructure Managed Services (IMS) offerings to provide them with the support they need. But whatever you choose to do for support, we feel that this holistic approach and methodology is the most prudent way to go. And choose the type, quantity, and quality of support that will bring the most value to you and your organization. You'll be glad you did. Your thoughts?