More businesses than ever are embracing digital transformation; the use of technology to improve processes, productivity and every business’ end game, profitability
34% of businesses intend to fully adopt digital transformation within a year, and UK businesses who prioritise it also report a 34% growth in revenue. There’s a misconception, however, that digital transformation is about splashing the cash on technology that has a lot of bells and whistles, or that it’s only for large enterprises. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
First, let’s tackle the myth that transformation needs to be driven by a large in-house IT team. Whilst it’s imperative to have IT representatives at the highest level in your business in order to drive true digital transformation, reducing the burden of an in-house IT team could actually allow your business to focus on innovation and growth.
It’s clear that many business leaders have understood this, with more businesses than ever choosing to outsource IT and increasing the budget spent on outsourcing (Computer Economics). Unsurprisingly, the fastest-growing area for outsourcing is IT security; 47% of respondents plan to spend more on outsourced IT security services.
This makes sense for non-IT businesses, as highly-skilled cybersecurity experts in particular are hard to come by – a record 51% of organisations say they’re experiencing a “problematic shortage” of cybersecurity specialists (ESG). However, managed IT service providers are guaranteed to hire more of these specialists. Instead of struggling to hire an in-house cybersecurity whizz, particularly if you’re a small-to-medium-sized business, why not tap into the resources of your IT support provider? It’ll undoubtedly have a wide skillset simply because it’s their job to have one in order to serve its customers.
In addition to cybersecurity, businesses are also turning to specialist companies to manage their GDPR compliance. It makes sense, as the two go hand-in-hand; cybersecurity is critical to ensuring compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation, with fines expected to be dished out for a lack of security implementation in the event of a data breach.
Outsourcing GDPR compliance doesn’t mean you can absolve your business of responsibility; should you be in breach of the regulations, it’ll still be your business that is held accountable. But your managed IT services provider can help you understand the best security measures not only for your data but to protect your business against all kinds of malware and hacker activity.
A key GDPR-mandated role that businesses, particularly smaller ones, can outsource is the Data Protection Officer (DPO). For a long time, there was confusion around whether small businesses – defined as those with fewer than 250 employees or 5000 records – required a DPO, but the Information Commissioners’ Office (ICO) cleared this up by stating there was no exemption for SMEs. However, rather than requiring an increase in headcount, small businesses could appoint the DPO responsibilities to an existing employee or, more realistically, outsource the role of DPO and even ‘share’ a DPO with other small organisations.
By outsourcing the role of DPO, businesses will not only free up their internal resources to focus on transformation, they’ll also save precious budget. You shouldn’t, of course, outsource your IT support services solely for cost-saving purposes, but if done correctly, outsourcing can allow your business to grow through freeing up resource to focus on transformation. M&S has recently outsourced a large portion of its IT support as part of its 5-year Technology Transformation Programme; however, the business retained a smaller in-house team, demonstrating that outsourcing doesn’t mean getting rid of your entire IT department.
With any project, you need to weigh up the pros and cons, and choosing to outsource cybersecurity or GDPR compliance is no different. Outsourcing certain IT projects – for example, the implementation and support of your CRM solution – means there’s an additional party with access to sensitive data, which could potentially increase your business’ attack surface. To mitigate this, it’s important to choose an IT services provider that is fully committed not only to its own GDPR compliance, but to the compliance of its customers too. A high-quality IT support company will have in place the most sophisticated technologies to protect its data and yours – technologies that you could take advantage of as a customer.
Longer response times is also a risk, particularly for remote support teams that aren’t nearby. It’s understandable, as depending on the level of staff you retain, your IT helpdesk could very well be situated in an office hundreds of miles away. However, IT support services are ever-evolving, with many businesses offering remote services with unlimited telephone support. Some are so sophisticated that they’ll designate a support agent to be on-site with you every day. This again depends on the business that you’re dealing with; if they’re hard to reach, you might not want to entrust them with your business-critical systems that need immediate attention.
IT support is at a crossroads; it’s vital to the performance of any business with our ever-increasing reliance on technology. But for many it’s expensive, time-consuming and only exists out of necessity rather than innovation. Outsourcing IT services, and in particular IT support and IT security can take this off your business’ plate and allow you to focus on the ambitious transformational targets that will set your business apart from the competition.
If you find that in-house IT support is becoming a burden, this is a great opportunity to consider outsourcing. There are some careful considerations to make, however; your decision to outsource some or all of your IT shouldn’t be based on saving money alone. You need to ensure you choose a robust and established IT support provider that follows best practice rules. The benefits, such as cost-savings and a wider talent pool should be weighed against the potential downfalls, like an additional third-party business accessing your data or unworkable response times. With more businesses than ever outsourcing IT support, it’s time this became a real consideration.
Natasha Bougourd is TSG’s Lead Applications Writer, specialising in document management, IT support, Office 365, Dynamics Nav modules, hosted telephony solutions and business intelligence.