Most business and IT leaders intuitively understand that legacy IT applications and infrastructure make their organization less agile. That’s become a significant issue because most of them are also keenly aware of the need to embrace digital business transformation initiatives to make sure their organizations will able to continue to survive and thrive well into the next decade.

The need to modernize IT environments to enable that transformation obviously creates a massive opportunity for IT services providers. What is less clear is the degree to which organizations will rely on third-party IT services providers to accomplish that goal. 

A survey of 200 IT leaders conducted by International Data Corp. (IDC) on behalf of Datalink, the solution provider arm of Insight Enterprises, finds that only 24 percent of respondents have launched an enterprise-wide IT transformation initiative, while 32 percent saying they have launched some projects in a more piecemeal fashion. Another 29 percent said they are actively discussing what approach to take.

In terms of reliance on third-party IT services providers to make that transition, the survey shows that, on average, respondents expect 38 percent of tasks associated with those initiatives will be handled by a third-party. Interestingly, that number rises to 44 percent among respondents who say they have a cloud-first strategy in place as it relates to new IT projects. A total of 45 percent of respondents said they have adopted a cloud-first IT strategy, while another 30 percent say they simply make deploying workloads in the cloud a higher priority.

The survey also reveals that those organizations have adopted a hybrid cloud computing strategy are much further along. A full 63 percent of respondents that are engaged in IT transformation across the enterprise have reported the most progress using a hybrid cloud approach. The top two challenges cited by all respondents when moving to the cloud was first determining what workloads to move, followed closely by acquiring and mastering the tools needed to monitor those environments.

Obstacles to overcome

Not surprisingly, budget and data security/privacy concerns are ranked as the top two barriers that need to be defeated when launching IT transformation projects. What’s more surprising is that most organizations appear to be focusing on training issues long before they ever buy anything. The survey also finds that organizations are beginning to transform IT by first reorganizing to support IT strategy (64 percent), defining new required skills (57 percent), defining roles and responsibilities (52 percent), hiring skilled workers (50 percent) and aligning skill sets with priorities (49 percent).

Despite all those preparations, 51 percent of respondents report that the challenges they’ve experienced have prompted them to stall or abandon some IT transformation initiatives. A total of 62 percent of organizations admit they have failed to lay a strong foundation for IT transformation by both documenting and communicating their plans.

One of the two things that the survey makes clear is that IT organizations clearly need a lot of help making these transitions. Second, most of them are making that transition long before they ever purchase any equipment. IT services providers would be well-advised to launch IT modernization consulting practices to insert themselves into those initiatives as early as possible. By the time a purchase order is issued chances are high the IT services provider will find they are already late to the proverbial party. That’s problematic because the amount of influence an IT services provider might exert over those projects will be sharply reduced since the overall strategy will have been crafted without their input.

The good news is that it’s clear IT modernization is starting to achieve critical mass. The issue that IT services providers need to address now is figuring out how to make themselves more relevant within the context of those initiatives.

Photo: 13_Phunkod / Shutterstock

Mike Vizard

Posted by Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications including InfoWorld, eWeek, CRN, Baseline, ComputerWorld, TMCNet, and Digital Review. He currently blogs for IT Business Edge and contributes to CIOinsight, The Channel Insider, Programmableweb and Slashdot. Mike blogs about emerging cloud technology for Smarter MSP.

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