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There’s naturally a lot of hype these days when it comes to digital process transformation. But a survey of 200 CIOs and IT directors published today by Trace3, an IT services provider, suggests the most important areas of IT focus are data analytics (74 percent), cloud (64 percent), cybersecurity (63 percent), and artificial intelligence/machine learning (44 percent).

Obviously, all these technologies are intimately related to one another. The sheer volume of data that needs to be analyzed requires access to inexpensive cloud resources to process machine learning algorithms. Given the sensitivity of much of that data securing it on IT infrastructure that exists outside the four walls of a traditional enterprise naturally becomes a larger concern. It’s simply not possible to “lift and shift” existing cybersecurity policies and processes into a public cloud. IT organizations need to develop policies that are specifically focused on securing highly dynamic application workloads.

The Trace3 survey shows that CIOs are under pressure. A full 62 percent of respondents say new technology “has not evolved fast enough” to meet their needs, which requires them to constantly update and replace applications and systems. A total of 28 percent cited “people” are the biggest challenge when it comes to aligning teams and priorities.

Despite those concerns, however, about half the respondents feel good about themselves. Nearly half (47 percent) of respondents consider the CIO function to be “important” in moving the business forward. A total of 39 percent described the function as “critical” to the organizations.

Nearly half the respondents (47 percent) of respondents also say they are “constantly looking for new ways to embrace technology” to move the business forward. A third (33 percent) describe themselves as being “hungry” for technology with a desire to make it part of their organization’s DNA. Only 16 percent say they are happy with the “status quo” and just two percent said they are “uninterested” in technology.

While the pace at which new technologies are embraced might vary, a full 76 percent of respondents say they consider their companies to be “innovative” in that “everyone is encouraged to experiment with new technologies” to move the business forward. Only 16 percent say they consider their business to be reactive when it comes to investing in IT.

The major drivers of those investments were ranked as efficiency (72 percent), competitive advantage (67 percent), speed to market (39 percent), and customer service (35 percent).

The opportunity facing MSPs

The challenge and opportunity facing managed service providers (MSPs) is how to go about inserting themselves into a digital process transformation conversation that is occurring within their customer base. Too often MSPs are viewed as being a little more than efficient providers of commodity IT services. There’s nothing wrong in being the most efficient provider of a commodity service. But there’s an opportunity for MSPs to fill an emerging technology gap that appears to be widening with each passing day. IT leaders need to master a range of emerging technologies to drive digital process transformation. Most of them, however, have limited access to the IT expertise required to implement a data analytics application infused with machine learning algorithms. Most MSPs may not have the expertise either. But clearly the average MSP is in a better position to acquire those skills than the average IT organization.

MSPs need to digitally evolve as much as the organizations they serve to remain relevant, otherwise it’s only a matter of time before many MSPs will find themselves consigned to the proverbial ash heap of IT history.

Photo:  metamorworks / Shutterstock.


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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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