Outsourcing IT, can you succeed in your Digital Transformation?
The IT World in changing rapidly. Developments including Bring your Own Device (`BYOD`), Cloud Computing and demands for mobile computing have radically changed the IT landscape. Allied to this, an increasing demand to digitally interact with an organisation are piling additional pressures on IT.
Management are aware of these changes, and see their competitors embarking on Digital Transformation projects. They are under pressure from business stakeholders to embrace Digital Transformation so the business is not left behind. They are asking Heads of IT to respond, but at the same time are subjecting them to budget pressures. In short, IT is being asked to do more with less.
To add to the pressure, implementing Digital Transformation is not an easy process, since unless the site is a greenfield site, any fundamental changes must not affect the availability of the existing systems.
There are three implementation routes:
- Engage an outsourcing partner to work with you in the definition and implementation of the Transformation process. They would use their experience of similar projects to assess existing operations, advise on appropriate technologies and assist with preparing and implementing a transformation plan;
- Use IT Outsourcing to operate the existing IT function during the digital transformation process, releasing your resources to concentrate on the transformation. If the systems are stable, with little development underway, perhaps it is sufficient to outsource the IT Support function during the implementation to release your IT Support staff to be trained in the new way of doing things; and
- If you have sufficient inhouse resources, do it all yourself.
As always, there is a great deal of planning before deciding whether and how to proceed with Digital Transformation.
The first step is to define the measurable objectives of a Digital Transformation process. This will depend on your environment. In an educational environment, it may include allowing students to use BYOD and WiFi to reach E-Learning systems from their smart device, anywhere and anytime. In a manufacturing environment, it may include Internet of Things concepts to manage and control factory-floor production equipment. In a financial services environment, it may include improving call-centre performance and customer service levels with VoIP technologies.
Once that is done, see how much it is likely to cost in money and time and set out the expected tangible and intangible benefits likely to accrue. Then decide, go or no-go. If the decision is to proceed, select hardware and software technologies and prepare a transformation plan.
Part of that plan is to decide whether it can be implemented in the existing environment and whether it can take place in-house. That decision will flow from phasing, if incremental changes are possible without disturbance to existing operations, or whether a full fork-lift replacement is needed. The answer is likely to lie somewhere in between.
At this stage it is appropriate to assess if either full IT Outsourcing or only outsourcing of IT Support is needed. In most cases it is, if only to allow the organisation to fully concentrate on implementing the transformation plan. Remember also that some parts of the business may not be able to be outsourced for confidentiality or security reasons.
IT Outsourcing and outsourcing IT Support has both benefits and risks. The major benefits include offloading the normal daily pressures of keeping the systems running to allow you to concentrate on the transformation process. The downsides include a loss of control, and possible security risks, both in the outsourcing partner itself and in the security of your processes and data.
The considerations of selecting an outsourcing partner include:
- Stability. They must be financially stable and unlikely to stop trading during the project. If you are their only or major client and are providing the bulk of their revenue, that is a risk.
- Resources. They must have adequate trained resources to work on the project and to act as backup. There is a risk if the project becomes reliant on a single individual.
- Probity. They will have access to confidential company information. You need to be sure that they will keep that information confidential.
Overall, there is a place for IT Outsourcing, either in full or in part as the outsourcing of IT Support to help the Digital Transformation process.