Companies expect more responsiveness and reliability from IT service and support providers.
They used to take it for granted that they would need to deal with many different vendors – one for their network infrastructure, another for sourcing or upgrading computers, and others for printers and point of sale systems.
Now that they know there are companies who effectively handle all of these things in one package, they’ve begun to expect better service levels and features like alerting and reporting, just-in-time consumables, and strategic planning.
Increasingly, companies want a consultant-type relationship with a service provider. Infrastructure is becoming increasingly complex, and so is cybersecurity. As people become comfortable with shifting applications and services to the cloud, they expect someone who will help them work through these complexities, while looking at the business as a whole.
They need support for in-house IT teams, and they want turnkey solutions to “free” their resources.
When it comes to supporting existing IT teams or looking for turnkey service and support offerings, customers want “all of the above.”
The delivery of our services has always been a mix of remote and onsite service — depending on business requirements — but what have really evolved over the past four decades are our systems for monitoring, reporting, and making recommendations to customers. Scantron has always provided environmental assessments, periodic analysis, and strategic plans, but our customers have begun to depend on periodic reports and ask for more detailed insights.
Because a company’s IT is so often a part of its competitive advantage, management needs to free its in-house talent – sometimes these are even the principals themselves — to focus on new projects, new features, and experimentation with new technologies. That motivation, to make better use of IT talent, has helped drive our service and support model: we team up with the in-house IT resource(s), offload the day-to-day stuff, find the security and support exposures they have, and close them.
More companies are willing to move to a “hybrid cloud” environment, where they have a mix of on-premise and hosted applications, so they need a versatile support model that accommodates both. When we help a very small IT team (or a very stressed senior manager) stay on top of things, we tend to keep that customer for a long, long time.
This helps customers adapt to forces of change: innovation, regulation, labor, competition, and more.
In terms of technology, we’re continuously evaluating new vendors and new technologies so that our customers never need to wonder if they’re working with the latest (and most reliable) platforms and services. We’re developing Infrastructure as a Service, Device as a Service, and other packaged offerings as demand rises.
Skilled labor shortages play to our strengths. It’s much easier for us to recruit, train, and retain one highly skilled IT administrator who can service a hundred customers than it is for those hundred customers to do so. Another factor is regulation. Increased data privacy regulations also play to our strengths. We can stay abreast of regs, scale up, train, and rapidly enact consistent policies in ways that our customers can’t.
The best part about change is the benefit of scale: when we discover a technology improvement, new efficiency or best practice in one geography or in a particular industry, we can apply it quickly everywhere else. Often, customers don’t have to take any action at all.
As it grows, the IT service industry is responding to growing expectations of reporting and recommendations. Since businesses have access to increasing amounts of data, the service providers who win are those who can show customers how to make sense of the information – in our case, risk analysis and performance data – and respond to it.