Managed Services Technology
“Business today is evolving at an ever changing rate.”
We’ve all read these words. They are commonly applied to many marketing pitches, as the setup for a narrative on business communications, and even as an introduction to a great TED Talk by Jim Hemerling. Consider for a moment if these words were in-fact not true. Consider if business was not actually changing but rather the mechanisms which facilitate business were the dynamic. In 1970 – long before the Internet was born – Peter Drucker wrote “Technology Management & Society”. In this staple of business school libraries and executive bookshelves, Mr. Drucker opined that there were two sets of assumptions surrounding the practice of management. The Old Assumptions and New Assumptions. For the purposes of this publication, let’s consider only the first of each of these two sets of assumptions.
The Old Assumptions
Management is management of business, and business is unique and the exception in society
The New Assumptions (Realities)
Every major task of developed society is being carried out in and through an organized and managed institution. Business enterprise was only the first of those and therefore, became the prototype by historical accident. But while it has a specific job – the production and distribution of economic goods and services – it is neither the exception nor unique. Large-scale organization is the rule rather than the exception. Our society is one of pluralist organizations rather than a diffusion of family units. And management, rather than the isolated peculiarity of one unique exception, the business enterprise, is generic and the central social function in our society.
By now you may be wondering why you’re reading quotations from Peter Drucker on an IT Services Provider’s website. Simple, Mr. Drucker foretold the evolution of business – specifically the business of Technology Management – in 1970.
When the term “Managed Services Provider” or MSP was coined in the late 90’s, it had a specific meaning. A typical business may have tens of such Managed Services Providers. One for telephone systems management, another for computer management, yet another for long distance toll management, and so-on. Each Managed Services company provided the application and management of a specific business facility. This term, as with anything in technology, changed over time. By the early 2000’s the term “MSP” became synonymous with a single-source vendor for IT services. Today, it means all sorts of things ranging from managed telephony to managed print to managed cloud services. The wisdom of Mr. Drucker’s New Assumptions, what he later calls Today’s Realities, is that business exists within a pluralist ecosystem. That ecosystem has many players, each contributing to the business’ operation and function. We see traditional Managed IT service companies operating in the “Old Assumptions” model. This model doesn’t allow for multiple inter-dependent services or vendors. It’s a legacy and frankly stale model which doesn’t boast agility nor is reflexive of the highly elastic Operational Expense (OpEx) model which is commonplace in business today.
While quotes from “Technology, Management, and Society” are not commonplace on Technology Management publications, we’d assert that the principals and practices they teach transcend time. Commonly today, no vendor is an island. Each software system depends on another which in-turn depends on yet another. Understanding this basic interplay leads us to look at Managed Services in a different light. A modern managed services provider needs to not be a single-source be-all provider but rather a resource in a modern business person’s ecosystem of closely trusted business partners. A properly aligned and deployed MSP provides equal amounts of guidance, consulting, and technical implementation. It’s their job to be an expert on the business of their client and how technology must play an integral part thereof. Managed solutions providers range in technical sophistication from single-person shops which outsource some or all of their technical work to worldwide networks of conglomerate affiliated companies. Not every MSP aligns with every business and vice-versa. The scale, scope, capabilities, and most importantly operational philosophy of the MSP must align with that of its clients.
Putting it all together
We’d assert that the era of “one-size-fits-all” MSP’s has past. Today, there are equal standards which must be applied to both the MSP and the client themselves. While the technical standards of the modern business economy (and the vendors, standards organizations, and other stakeholders) must not be downplayed, the MSP must ascribe to the technical reality of its clients and an entire constellation of potential technology solutions. Identifying the most optimal alignment between a business need and the most secure, reliable, and affordable technical solution thereto. There are some signs that you can look for to determine the underlying philosophy of an MSP.
Does your current MSP seem to always recommend a different solution for the same common problems? Do they sell everything under the sun that has a wire hanging out of it? Are you barraged by constant product-driven or vendor-led promotional material or events? If this sounds like your MSP, it sounds like they aspire to be Best Buy or Staples. They lead where the vendors take them and are in a constant state of “new”.
Always being pushed for an upgrade? Do you have more servers than employees? Have you ever been convinced to deploy ‘beta’ software into a production role? These MSP’s are in it for the love and passion of technology. They implement the best and latest tech but often fall into “the next version is always better”.
The opposite of this are those which never suggest an upgrade. Things are implemented and never touched again. Still see Windows XP or Windows 2003 around your business (and there’s not an application reason behind that)? Many of these MSP’s value stability and are the antithesis of change. They implement technology one way and keep doing the same thing until they have to change.
There are others, but we’ll keep this short. In closing, there are many kinds of MSP’s and each has an ideal client. Finding the right one can be challenging. Aligning business needs with the new reality of numerous technology vendors each dependent on the next does take a special skillset. It’s equal parts technologist, business analysis, consultant, and personal coach. We’d throw in information security researcher, penetration tester, and compliance associate. Adopting to the new reality is becoming an imperative for smaller organizations to transition from the pure Capital Expense (CapEx) model to a hybrid OpEx model and the radical elasticity | scale | growth | efficiency which it brings.
Corporate Information Technologies provides small to mid-market organizations with expert I.T. services including fully Managed and Co-Managed technology services, information security policy creation & assessment, cybersecurity services, penetration tests, and comprehensive business continuity planning services. Corporate Information Technologies can help organizations maximize and optimize their technology systems while identifying and mitigating cybersecurity risks presented by those very systems.
Contact us to learn more and let us show you how good I.T. can be!