Unified communications and information technology have progressed significantly in the past decade. Organizations are using a much wider range of solutions, services and gadgets today than any other time in the past, and this goes for virtually every region and sector of the globe. While the opportunities involved in newer technologies have been massive and diverse, the challenges and complexities have been nothing to shake a stick at, as many entrepreneurs already know.
Some trends are becoming more prominent than others in terms of corporate spend. For example, one that has implications for both UC and IT, the Internet of Things, is expected to completely revamp the private and public sectors. In early November, Gartner forecast the world to have 6.4 billion connected items by next year, which is 30 percent more than the number estimated for this year. The analysts pointed out that this would translate to $235 billion in spending on the IoT in 2016.
It is worth noting that the IoT is just one of many transformative trends facing the average business. Others including advanced analytics, enterprise mobility, cloud computing and beyond, while each of which comes with a major opportunity, or several, for adopters. At the end of the day, implementation and long-term optimization of these highly novel technologies and solutions can be a major issue for smaller firms that do not have fully staffed IT departments.
This is why so many companies have resorted to managed services. If you would like a little rundown of what managed services can do to an organization's performance, check out this quick video from Networking Solutions on the matter:
Now it appears as though more budget is going to be directed toward managed services in the coming years, as a range of factors and catalysts are working in concert to motivate these decisions among business leaders. There are no signs that the digital revolution is going to slow any time soon, and companies need to ensure that they are keeping pace with trends to become and remain competitive in highly novel and modernized marketplaces.
The path most traveled
International Data Corporation recently affirmed that the private sector is already pouring a massive rate of its IT budgets into managed services and technology consulting support, but that the market is going to grow even more in the next few years. Thanks to skills shortages and talent gaps, combined with the speed of technological innovation today, many companies are no longer looking to dramatically expand their IT departments, instead seeking out support from outsourced service providers.
"As digitization alters the nature of business, competition, supply and servicing operations, a growing number organizations of all sizes and maturities will adopt elements of a digital strategy to create and/or maintain a brand, product, and operational advantage," Michael Versace, IDC's research director for Digital Strategy-related research, explained. "As more firms adopt digital strategies, consulting engagements must contain a larger digital strategy services capability."
According to the firm, companies are currently spending roughly 50 percent of their IT interactions on managed services and digital consulting, but will reach roughly 80 percent by the end of 2019 as this trend gains more traction. What's more, IDC expects total spending on these digital managed services to reach $97 billion globally by the end of the survey period, showing just how prominent this approach has already become and will continue to be through the end of the decade.
"A big question in the digital strategy consulting services market is around business risk taking: Is now the time to execute more innovative business methods or operational 'experiments'?" Versace added. "Or to expand and diversify digital services, offerings, and technical capabilities, as well as client demographics? The question remains one of how best to hedge against fluctuations in demand, execution risk, the broadening capability of digital pure plays, and the digital aspirations of traditional IT consulting and systems integrators."
The researchers then stated that security, the Internet of Things, big data, social media and mobility will be the main drivers of increased reliance upon IT managed services and technology consulting investments through the survey period, and that cloud computing will continue to be at the center of the trend. Considering the fact that the cloud was among the first technologies to encourage managed services utilization, it will be a force for decades to come.
Finally, IDC noted that digitization efforts to boost corporate agility, leveraging technology more progressively and overcome talent gaps will be far more outsourcing-centric in the next five years.
"Managed services are almost always invaluable."
Opportunities for small-business owners
Even when small businesses have a decently staffed IT department, managed services will often be invaluable. When these firms do not have a strong IT department, though, outsourcing is generally the only option available to get technologies off of the ground and into optimal use across operations. This goes for IT and UC, which have become increasingly intertwined in the past few years and will continue to be as the IoT and mobility gain steam.
Entrepreneurs will be able to get all of the power that used to only be available to larger enterprises thanks to the growing diversity and power of managed services and IT consulting solutions. Digital strategies can be propelled in the right direction with lower risk and higher rewards when these specialists step in to handle implementation, maintenance, management, optimization and service delivery, preparing the firm for modern competition.
Small-business owners will not have to worry as much about budget-related setbacks in their IT departments as these trends and technologies become commoditized, then offered on a pay-as-you-go, as-a-service basis. Looking forward, entrepreneurs who are quicker to the punch when it comes to acquiring the necessary support for their UC and IT needs will likely be better positioned to excel within current and future markets and industries.
With a managed services and digital consulting provider that specializes in the needs of small-business owners, these projects can be completed more quickly and progressively.