How to ensure your IT strategy is strategic, not reactive

Julian Box, CEO at data privacy specialist Calligo, discusses how companies can ensure that their outsourced IT partners deliver value for their business.
Growth-focused businesses all have a common goal; to expand and provide their product or service to an ever-larger group of people. Yet with globalisation and technology lowering the barriers to entry all the time and across almost every industry, companies must constantly find new ways to stay ahead of competitors.
One of the ways that many businesses are doing this is by investing in digital innovation; digitising internal processes to help the business deliver faster, cheaper and better products or services. However, transforming one’s operations through technology is not an isolated event, but rather an ongoing process that needs to be reviewed regularly to maintain a competitive edge.
There are two primary ways to invest in digital innovation. Firstly, through hiring full-time IT employees who can drive technological advancements from the inside. Strategists, developers, cloud engineers, network administrators and support teams are the typical roles that may be recruited for. But most businesses, particularly SMEs, do not have the resources to develop and maintain an in-house IT environment.
For instance, IT recruitment is becoming an increasingly costly enterprise. Companies’ digital innovation ambitions and rapidly-evolving technologies mean the demand for specialist IT professionals is increasing at a dramatic rate, making the salaries these professionals can now demand too high for many.
The second solution is to hire an IT Managed Services Provider (MSP). Outsourcing a company’s IT services is often the best way of accessing the necessary talent and skills who can ensure that your business’ processes remain efficient and at the cutting-edge without breaking the bank.
However this is not all there is to it. Many SMEs unadvisedly focus on the resource and expertise deficit that an MSP can fix, leaving the strategic oversight requirement unaddressed. But innovation is only valuable if it well-directed.
Adding tools and platforms without ensuring they actively and measurably support the business’ operations, employee productivity or customer experience is essentially worthless. Strategy has to come first, else any IT initiative - however well-meaning - risks not delivering benefit, costing more than planned, or even compromising compliance.
A business must therefore seek out an MSP that puts as much effort into strategy as routine maintenance and the delivery of IT projects. However, during the selection process for an MSP, it can often be difficult to identify such a partner. To help, here are the three key considerations that will lead you to the provider that will genuinely impact your business.
Also of interest: Data security: how to keep the investors happy