IT services providers need to become strategic business partners

Posted by Mike Vizard on Oct 6, 2015 11:30:00 AM

Strategic business partnersOrganizations of all sizes have come to realize that IT is at the heart of their ability to compete. But a new report from CompTIA suggests that IT service providers need to seriously improve their game when it comes to generating ideas about where and when to apply IT solutions.

As part of the “Building Digital Organizations” report, CompTIA surveyed business executives to discover where they get ideas for new IT-related projects. Their own personal research naturally topped the list at 53 percent, followed closely by the internal IT department at 51 percent. Third-party firms came in last with 34 percent, ranking after business events, technology events, and peers.

Among mid-size businesses, third-party firms fared slightly better, with 41 percent reporting they rely on third-party firms, compared to 32 percent for large businesses and a paltry 27 percent for small businesses.

Carving out a larger role

At a time when businesses are relying more than ever on digital processes to optimize everything from customer engagement to their supply channels, IT services providers should be playing a bigger role in educating business leaders about how to apply IT to advance that digital business agenda. Unfortunately, it appears that too many IT services providers are acting as fulfillment arms of the internal IT organization instead of building relationships with the C-level executives that fund the IT projects inside those organizations.

Naturally, many IT services providers are cautious about stepping on the toes of the internal IT organization. But unless IT services providers are seen to be contributing intellectual capital to the business, they will ultimately be viewed as little more than providers of commodity IT services that can be easily replaced by another provider willing to cut their prices just a bit more. The result is endless rounds of cost cutting that winds up devaluing IT services across the board.

How to get the C-suite's attention

By and large, C-level executives are keenly interested in one of two things: IT projects that advance the top line by creating new revenue streams for the organization to tap into, or IT projects that increase the bottom line of the organization as a whole. In an ideal world, a perfect IT project does both.

What C-level executives are generally not interested in are things that make IT more efficient. Anything relating to the delivery of IT services is usually left in the hands of the IT organization. So, for an IT services provider to become relevant to C-level executives they need to be focused on delivering new applications that materially affect the business. Based on the survey results from CompTIA, it’s clear there isn't nearly enough of that happening.

Of course, many IT services providers these days takes pride in being trusted advisors to the organizations they serve. The problem is that in the age of the digital business, most organizations aren't looking for a trusted advisor as much as they are a strategic partner that helps them become a fiercer competitor.

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Photo Credit: Kyle Van Horn via Flickr.com. Used under CC 2.0 License.

Topics: IT Services Trends

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