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A Boom in Managed Services - How to Prepare

New studies demonstrate the pros and cons of Business Technology deployments, especially as they relate to IT investment strategies.

First, the downside: in a recent study of IT management excellence, the results showed the continuing disconnect between finance and IT roles, and the value each one brings to the organization.

As the report states: "The lack of alignment within organizations is exacerbated by a lack of awareness on the part of both IT and finance about their own contributions to the problem. Nearly one-quarter of the respondents report that discord between IT, business, and finance is a frequent occurrence when making IT investments."

Why Clear IT Processes Matter
Lack of alignment is triggering a bigger cascade of problems relating to IT investment. For instance, sometimes companies excuse their lack of IT investment due to limited budget and resources.

In reality, "companies are unsure how to define or implement management processes, therefore they are unwilling to make significant changes and they allow other investment priorities to step to the front."

The temptation in this scenario might be to outsource the contentious area to a third party to save money. This is exactly the wrong time to act.

Clearly, you have to get your own house in order before you take advantage of out-tasking, and then you have to apply strong governance to the service provider relationship. If you can't manage the process internally, you surely can't manage it externally.

Foundation for Competitive Advantage
Why do you need to get your house in order? Assume your competitors are going to act, and thereby gain an advantage from deploying managed services.

Forrester Research analyst Henry Dewing predicts in The Broad Opportunities in Managed Services that "macroeconomic factors, including rapid technology evolutions, a coming investment wave in IT, and market constraints on capital, increasing the attractiveness of managed services over the next 24 to 30 months."

In fact, Dewing proscribes the managed services model, represented by the confluence of faster technology change, a new technology investment cycle, and capital constraints. It's a proven way to take advantage of new technologies without capital investment -- while still having a hedge against increasing change.

Even more important, Dewing continues, "Given limited prospects for growth and the high cost of capital, Forrester believes that many businesses will turn to managed services to limit capital investments while increasing the flexibility of IT infrastructure."

Now, the upside: if you want to be in a position to take advantage of technological advancement to spur new growth -- while still hanging onto precious capital -- then managed services is likely the way to go.