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Why have external IT services become so popular?

By Eli Sabatier

Though I rarely want to start off any article with dating myself, in this particular case it’s important to establish an accurate timeline—so here goes. When I first started my career, IT departments did almost everything. They built and configured infrastructure, built the majority of internal applications, managed the phone system, took support calls, and were the people who crawled under desks to plug in new workstations.

But then, something new appeared on the horizon that would change IT forever. Of course, that was the cloud. With the advent of cloud computing and applications, the day-to-day tasks that were once prevalent in IT departments quickly began to shift. The people who did everything “tech-related” in-house were handed a much bigger and even more important task: being the single greatest driver of new business process in the new millennium.

Suddenly, IT was now at the forefront of business planning—far outside of the traditional technology role. Now, IT was tasked with connecting systems and processes to cloud applications, managing cloud infrastructure, and more. Pair that with the Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) revolution and cyber security became the next evolutionary phase.

However, that’s not where the evolution stopped. With the demand of consumers and end-users, IT departments worldwide have been thrown into the midst of Digital Transformation—the inherent need to dissolve all silos within business to address the new digital economy.

So, where does that leave the IT departments of the past? Gone are the days of being the in-house, one-stop-shop—they now have far bigger projects on their plates. But like any new scenario introduced into the world of business there is a cause and effect—in this instance, the outcome has spawned the new and extremely popular world of external IT services.

With IT teams having so many mission-critical projects to implement and manage, what was the role of IT is now being handed off to external service providers, and for good reason. For example, IT budgets must now cover a far wider span of needs. The human element alone as it relates to the cost of people and productivity leaves little room for IT to be managing the mundane.

This is where external IT services make the most sense. For one, external sources can maintain certifications and expertise, delivering services from technicians who have a skillset that can cost any internal IT group a serious amount of money and time. However, in the case of managed service providers the economy of scale makes sense, providing the benefit to a wide range of customers.

Of course, the list of benefits goes far beyond the expertise that accomplishes untold operational efficiencies. Yes, there are decreased in-house IT expenses, increased productivity, and the enhanced efficiency of the people, but there is also the added benefit of costs controlled with flat fees, bundled solutions, and flexible usage-based billing.

Then there is the associated optimized hardware investment, remote monitoring and troubleshooting that delivers a greater level of support, and the ability to seamlessly move network equipment and wireless systems through the lifecycle of acquisition, maintenance, and transition—maximizing the value of network assets and generating far greater revenue.

In all, it’s no wonder that external IT services have become such an integral part of IT as a whole. As IT responsibilities continue to grow, internal teams must be at the forefront of planning and managing the desired outcomes. This also includes being in charge of external experts—choosing the providers with the expertise needed to meet the next set of business goals and results.

IT departments along with external service providers have created a new symbiotic relationship designed to accelerate business goals and revenue. Both have their roles, both have their goals, and both rely on each other to ensure the best outcomes possible. This is the new world order and the bright future of IT.