Sahem Azzam is VP Middle East Africa & Turkey, Orange Business Services
In the IT world, the managed services model is not new but is evolving. As enterprise demands and business models change, the managed services approach must change with them. But what does that involve?
I recently talked with a partner company, reminiscing about transactional business models in our industry. Those days gone by when you would operate as a vendor and sell a “thing” to a customer: that might have been cloud infrastructure, data centre, networking, or connectivity, but it was still a narrow, transactional event.
As a supplier, this approach could only give limited insight into our customers’ digital infrastructure and how they operated. This in turn restricted the scope and depth of what advice, support and solutions we could recommend to them. Overall, it meant that customers would not get the full benefit of the experience and expertise of their suppliers.
The new managed services era
The role of a managed services provider (MSP) has evolved alongside digital transformation. Companies know that to be competitive, they must operate efficiently and strategically. Agility and flexibility are vital, while cost controls are essential. Big CAPEX investments and the transactional approach have had their day. And the demand for the latest digital technologies has outpaced in-house capabilities for the majority of organisations.
However, MSPs have capabilities, resources, partnerships and bandwidth that enterprises often do not. And working with the right MSP in a trusted relationship can deliver multiple benefits. Companies can reap impactful, longer-term benefits by engaging more deeply with an MSP at every stage of the digital transformation journey.
An MSP can help you jumpstart your digital transformation initiatives through its technological expertise. It means companies don’t need to begin a hiring spree. MSPs can save you time and money thanks to their presence in the wider technology arena and knowledge of how to eliminate unnecessary expenditures.
One trend that I have noticed recently is specifically outsourcing IT to MSP partners. Customers are asking us to manage their IT infrastructure for them to reduce total cost of ownership (TCO) and let them focus all their time and resources on their core business.
It is a journey, not a destination
That might sound like a business cliché, but it is nonetheless true. By treating customer engagements as a journey, we put ourselves in a position to gain detailed insights into their motivations and behaviours. It helps us better understand their expectations and be able to solve pain points more quickly.
The most effective managed services operate within a long-term strategy and implementation plan, agreed between MSP and customer, particularly in the IT world. Because it is all too easy, due to the pace of technological change, for customers to find that their technological requirements have outpaced their implementation plans if not carefully mapped out.
With this in mind, Orange provides Multisourcing Service Integration (MSI) for customers. MSI means we can offer seamless, end-to-end management of multiple IT service suppliers through one customer-facing IT interface for integration and governance. It gives our customers high levels of visibility and control while simplifying operations and ensures contract compliance all under one SLA.
We are using the MSI approach in MEA with customers in sectors as varied as education and petrochemicals. For example, we recently engaged with a government agency to manage the IT infrastructure for over 600 schools, encompassing the IT needs of both teachers and students. We also signed a deal with a petrochemical company, again to manage its IT infrastructure and allow it to focus on growing its core business.
The era of “functional” managed services, where an MSP simply sells a product or service to a customer and that’s that, is over. Customers demand an ongoing, sustainable relationship built on strong foundations and an in-depth understanding of their needs. Enterprises need genuine partners who will be with them every step of their journey. That sort of commitment, underpinned by technological expertise, is an excellent route to success.