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One of the proven paradigm shifts we are facing today is that the general use of Cloud Computing is undoubtedly becoming mainstream; permeating mission critical implementations and future initiatives alike, evolving from the early days of rudimentary Software & Infrastructure as a Service, to today’s more sophisticated, intelligent multicloud offerings that can dynamically optimize workload execution venues. Thus, we have now generally latched onto the need and notion that ‘all things digital’ may be achieved, without egregious amounts of capital, to transform our businesses. From basic productivity arbitrage and new digital business process creation, to full blown AI-driven models, the Digital Age is truly upon us, and accelerating at a rate never seen before in our history as a species. Whether you are a disruptive, boot-strapped start-up or a radically changing, well-funded enterprise, barriers to entry for the ‘new and digital’ are dropping like flies; driving fierce and nontraditional competition. While we can all benefit from the myriad of affordable choices that have availed themselves through today’s sea of IT solution providers, the abundance of these choices, and the broad differences in the potential client benefits, can also lead to confusion, complexity and, in some cases, disastrous consequences.

This situation, and the associated opportunities in front of us all, is exactly why organizations and enterprises of all sizes and domains should be leveraging, and/or at least considering, a partnership with a truly tech-enabled Managed Services Provider (MSP) to fuel and accelerate their digital transformation strategies. Let’s first examine what a real tech-enabled MSP is and how they fit across the spectrum of choices. A tech-enabled MSP should both portray some of the attributes and benefits of traditional IT Outsourcers, but should also embody some very, very important differences. Instead of offering rigid, asset centric, big bang approaches to IT outsourcing, today’s tech-enabled MSP should be nimble and flexible with a prescriptive service catalogue and agile engagement model that can be easily commercially and operationally configured to meet the specific needs of a given client, while still leveraging industry standards and best-practices. The tech-enabled MSP should also offer its clients economic advantages well-beyond simple shared services and global delivery models, delving prudently into automation, remote services and process optimization to drive predictable, sustainable and affordable outcomes. The provider should offer a reliable, always-on, digital business platform that can be counted on for availability when and where ever required. Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, the user experience with the modern MSP, be the user internal IT professionals or end business consumers of the service, should be unquestionably exceptional. The engagement model should entail an open, transparent, qualitative and quantitative governance process of analyzing user feedback, meaningfully score-carding operational performance and tracking tangible benefits that drive an overall cadence of Continual Service Improvement (CSI) throughout the entire lifecycle of the relationship.

Not only should all of these operative and experiential qualities be available from today’s tech-enabled MSP, they should be wrapped with a formal Innovation Program.

The tech-enabled MSP should natively offer ongoing innovation that encompasses strategic visioning, pragmatic planning, road mapping, experimenting and early adopting new technologies, processes and next-gen business services that will continue to provide value well into the future. The industry myth that Managed Service Providers cannot also be innovators should be challenged at every turn. The innovative blurring, and successful amalgamation, of the legacy hard lines between people, process and technology can often unlock new and exciting paths forward that were previously unobtainable.  The tech-enabled MSP partner should clearly sift through (and determine the most accretive) choices in the context of the client’s environment, culture and constraints. The provider should thoughtfully bring forward these alternatives with a plan and risk/benefit profile regarding adoption. They should understand where the fast track approach best applies, as well as where a forensic proof-of-concept works best.

In conclusion, not only is this type of provider relationship possible, one could argue it is required for success in today’s world. Most organizations are so embroiled in just trying to keep pace that they are strained to operate and innovate in a manner that delivers a demonstrable leadership position. While the research, evaluation and assessment required to select a tech-enabled MSP partner can itself seem like a daunting task, I will leave you with one salient and actionable point; do some basic digital homework about the type of providers that can meet your needs and then reach out and ask them for a real, old school corporate briefing. Use this simple technique to separate the client-centric players from the pretenders and posers. I wish you the best of luck and good fortune on your journey.

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