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Digital business transformation may be the latest buzzword phrase to come down the marketing pike, but in terms of elevating the conversation around IT, this shift in understanding the true value of IT may turn out to be the best thing to have happened for managed service providers (MSPs) in a very long time.

A lot more business leaders are now starting to equate the value of IT. Rather than simply thinking of IT as another cost of doing business, there’s now a much greater appreciation for the fact that without IT there is no business. A survey of 1,000 business decision makers conducted by Riverbed Technology, a provider of network infrastructure, finds that the primary reasons organizations are considering investments in digital business transformation projects are improved customer/user experience and satisfaction (53 percent), greater market agility (49 percent), increased revenue/sales and profitability (49 percent), increased employee productivity (49 percent), and achieving faster times to market (48 percent).

Over three quarters of the survey respondents (77 percent) said they recognize that it’s critical for their company invest in improving the digital experience in the next 12 months. Key areas of investment include: modernizing networks and infrastructure to drive greater agility (60 percent), ability to better monitor and manage the end user’s digital experience (59 percent), improving service desk capabilities (59 percent), and accelerating the development of applications (58 percent). 

There’s also a strong appetite for investing in emerging technologies such as data analytics (60 percent), Internet of Things (59 percent), blockchain technology (48 percent), machine learning (47 percent), artificial intelligence (47 percent), virtual reality (36 percent), and 5G Networks (21 percent). Most business leaders may not fully appreciate how these technologies will impact their business yet, but the fact that awareness of them is that high bodes well for the future of IT.

But arguably the most important from an MSP perspective, is an appreciation for the value of IT downtime. Almost 80 percent of survey respondents report critical digital services and applications are failing at least a few times per month. Nearly a quarter say they experience failures at least several times a week. Half of the survey respondents say the maximum acceptable time to resolve digital performance issues is within an hour, and nearly 20 percent said it’s only minutes. Consequences attributed to IT downtime included loss of sales and revenue (42 percent), delayed product launches (41 percent), loss of customers (41 percent), loss of brand loyalty (41 percent), and loss of employee productivity (40 percent).

The MSP opportunity

The results of the survey make it clear that the gap between what most internal IT teams can deliver on their own and the level of service demanded by business leaders is widening. That creates an opportunity for MSPs to engage in a conversation with potential customers that goes way beyond outsourcing a single service. More than ever, business leaders want IT functions to be as reliable as any other utility the business depends on. Over course, survey respondents recognize they are dealing with constraints ranging from lack of budget and overly complex or rigid legacy IT infrastructure, to a shortage of skills and lack of buy-in from the leadership of the business. All these issues in one way or another can be addressed by relying more on an MSP. The real challenge MSPs face now is finding a way to present the value of the services they provide within the context of a larger digital business strategy that many more business leaders are clearly anxious to achieve.

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.

One Comment

  1. Great article! If the “real challenge” for MSPs is to “present the value of the services they provide within the context of a larger digital business strategy,” the answer for how to do that is right in the survey data – by showing their clients how they can monitor and manage the digital experience of their customers and their workforce. More than uptime, what really counts is what users actually see when business critical applications render on the screens of their devices.


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