When executives at COMDA Advertising Connections decided to transform the promotional products company, they knew they couldn’t go it alone. They wanted their employees to solve business problems, not manage technology. With the help of a managed service provider (MSP), the company moved from traditional catalog sales to e-commerce with impressive results. Last year alone, online orders grew by 48 per cent.
“The need to innovate is what drove me to a decision to outsource,” Melody Collet, COMDA’s senior vice president of IT & Operations, said at a recent ITWC webinar. “We now rely on partners to do the heavy lifting.”
The story is not unique. Many small to medium enterprises in Canada are still trying to do it all on their own, said Chris Christianopoulos of HP Enterprise. But that’s getting harder to do with the increasing complexity of cloud services and the pressure to innovate, he said.
MSPs solve tough problems
Managed service providers foster innovation by managing an organization’s infrastructure and processes, said Bik Dutta, vice-president marketing of Carbon60 Networks. MSPs take care of the challenging issues in today’s technology environment and “that allows the organization to spend its energy on driving its business forward,” he said.
One of those challenges is developing the right mix of on-premises IT, private and public cloud to support business needs, said Christianopoulos. “Hybrid environments are complicated to design and manage,” he said. An MSP can act as a service broker to deliver and manage a comprehensive solution for the organization, he said.
Shrinking capital budgets are driving organizations to seek technology as a service, said Dutta. In particular, organizations start to look at different models when their hardware reaches end of life.
The skills gap continues to be an issue for many organizations. “When we began our transformation, I knew I needed help from the outside,” said Collet. “I couldn’t build an internal team fast enough.”
The lack of skills can make it even more difficult for organizations to deliver the always-on, high-quality customer experience required in today’s marketplace, said Christianopoulos. “That’s where a white glove service from an MSP will help drive success.”
How to choose an MSP
The top priority in selecting an MSP has to be its service level capabilities, said Collet. They must provide 24 x 7 x 365 support, both remote and on site. “You should feel confident that the support team will be on top of a request at all times,” she said. In the event of an emergency, a fast resolution time is crucial. A good MSP should be communicating with you the entire time.
The MSP should also have a strong change management team in place and should be willing to look beyond the service agreement to solve problems.
Building the relationship with a partner starts with your own business, Collet said. “Be open and honest and say exactly what you’re expecting. Introduce them to your customer and your business.” A key differentiator is when the vendor is willing to come on site and engage in conversation with your leaders,” she said. “They should understand everything about your business.”
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