Managed service providers offer many benefits to companies: a level of expertise that an in-house IT department often won’t have, resilient and secure IT infrastructure, a centralisation of applications and data that will often result in increased productivity, and predictable (if not also reduced) costs. That’s only the start of the list.
However, according to Jimmy Sheahan, chief technical officer of Ergo, cost reductions are very low on the list of priorities of companies seeking managed services.
"There is a demand in the market for a balance between cost and quality. There is definitely a common message coming from customers saying it’s not all about money: they want to see value, and value isn’t necessarily about reducing the cost,” he said.
Whether a company is looking to scale for growth, or simply to tidy up their business processes for better efficiency, there’s very little escape from the role that technology plays in that. Easing the burden of increasingly complex systems means that companies can then focus fully on their business and what they’re good at.
"Nobody would expect that every company can be great at everything. For a lot of our customers, in their own verticals and own markets, they’re going through a lot of change themselves, and that change has to be focused on their business. We can take their technology enablement of their goals, and that’s our job. It’s enablement through technology and service management,” said Sheahan.
Outsourcing service management is not a new concept, and Sheahan feels that in order to compete in the managed services market, you have to be offering companies something more than the industry standard.
“The trouble in our particular market is, the stuff can become quite generic. We talk about ITIL [IT infrastructure library; a best practice standard], but that’s very much a basic requirement now. If you don’t have that, you’re not at the races. We put a lot of effort into making sure we do that right and then we have performance features we focus on, and we’ve a few things on the curve that really do make a difference with engagement,” he said.
Whether those additional features are real-time stats across all IT services, or technical insight to key performance in different areas, they each add extra value to the client. However, Sheahan does not believe every solution needs to be custom made, so long as the off-the-shelf package suits the customer’s needs.
“We offer the packages because, in some instances, they offer quick value in certain scenarios, but we would never sell one without doing a level of discovery to find out if they’re suitable. We would be very customer-centric and very customer value-centric, and every part of our sales engagement process would ensure that we’re not selling something that isn’t directly impacting value in a positive way,” he said.
As part of its managed services offering, Ergo has built its own product, FlowForma, which manages business processes.
“It has a lot of unique traits, because it’s a modernised approach to BPM. It helps us because a customer might have ten different IT services that we’re looking after, maybe plus a service desk. What FlowForma allows us to do is nest a very smart process management solution into our managed service solution. It’s done in a controlled way and in a way that everyone can understand that you’re actually achieving your goals, and that you have their hands around that challenge,” Sheahan said.
Achieving scale without compromise for the customer is really important, especially today where automating and accelerating business processes can a huge difference to your company’s performance. According to Sheahan, this will only become more important as the trend for managed services in terms of mobility and business intelligence continues to grow this year.
“The two are very much interlinked now, where you have a BI requirement. You usually have a requirement to visualise the results of any BI on mobile devices, and hence you get a lot of mobile integration there, and then the security concerns around that. Enterprise mobility is a big one,” he said.