What Every CIO Should Know About Managed Services Heading into 2021

By Elizabeth Clor

Cybersecurity (61%) and cloud services (53%) top the list of CIO investment plans for the new year, according to Gartner’s CIO Agenda survey. In order to realize those ambitions, however, CIOs not only have to advocate for IT spending, but also prove they can invest in cybersecurity tools and cloud solutions that deliver ROI for their company, fortify digital operations and provide value to users. CIOs’ instincts on where to focus their spend in the new year tells a bigger story though, as both of these areas of attention make a case for managed services. 

Cost matters, there’s no doubt about that. But so does competition. For CIOs in particular, the call to bring in an external partner when IT team security and cloud management capabilities or bandwidths fall short is justified—and may actually prove out to be a profitable decision that separates a company from the pack.

These leaders need trustworthy, secure, reliable and expertly managed digital infrastructure to lead their IT teams into the future. Here’s what CIOs need to know about managed services in a certain-to-be competitive 2021:

Enlisting An External Managed Services Partner Can Be A Strategic Business Decision

A CIO’s business value to an organization is intrinsically tied to the collective productivity, expertise and development outputs their IT team can deliver. CIO decisions tied to staffing and bandwidth need to be made swiftly and accurately—especially when it comes to modernizing legacy infrastructure or introducing new tools. If CIOs don’t have certain IT capabilities in-house, like disaster recovery or cloud migration, they should feel empowered to outsource them. That move will certainly carry an upfront cost, but it will almost as certainly return dividends for years to come.

A Focus On Improving Managed Services Can Improve Overall IT Operations

Whether a company is hosting their digital operations, working with a hybrid setup or relying on a public cloud like AWS or Azure, a strong managed services operation can enhance other areas of cloud-centric IT. For instance, bringing on an external partner to manage web hosting or disaster recovery can open in-house IT teams up to focus on more strategic projects like improving user experience elements, overhauling web design and facilitating more back-end integrations that expand a site’s functionality. Time is everything. Productivity is hard. A focus on upleveling managed services can help on both fronts.

A Good Managed Services Partner Should Offer Agility And Expertise

CIOs sit firmly in the C-suite, but often answer to both executive and IT teams. In order to be truly effective, CIOs need dependable IT teams and external partners that can work without the need for constant hand-holding or micromanaging. Especially if a company has complex web hosting or digital solution migration or support needs, it’s important to select or hire managed services experts that can be trusted to efficiently manage complex tasks, like driving webops, monitoring disaster recovery and providing IT support. 

There are many managed services providers that offer speed and agility or expertise. CIOs should select the partner that can deliver all of the above—along with extensive cybersecurity and cloud infrastructure experience.

Access To 24/7 IT Support Should Be A Priority

CIOs searching for external partners or looking for in-house experts should prioritize bringing on talent that delivers around-the-clock IT support—a necessary element to complement cybersecurity and cloud solution investments. In an ideal world, they should invest in a partner or in-house hire(s) that can maintain full-service end-user experience while supporting the security and operation of standard hardware like on-premises data centers, custom business software like Drupal 9, workflow solutions like Atlassian’s Jira and other technical support requests that come in from across time zones and departments. Today’s business world is fast-paced and very online. Regardless of its make-up, a corporate IT support operation—ideally one focused on security and cloud solution functionality—should be, too. 

There’s No One-Size-Fits-All Solution For Managed Services

As CIOs search for the right talent and solutions to invest in, it’s crucial to understand that there’s no single formula for success—especially when it comes to managed services. There are many variables and considerations that depend on just as many factors like IT team skill sets and the age or interoperability of legacy infrastructure. At the same time, thinking through what and who to invest in naturally raises affordability concerns—especially when it comes to cybersecurity and cloud infrastructure.