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Wednesday, August 12, 2020

7 Ways Digital Operations Support the Modern IT Operations

By Joseph Lee — SVP, Digital Operations

No matter what industry you’re in, success in the modern market is all about experience. To create experiences that deliver a competitive advantage, you have to look at experience holistically. You have to blend human empathy with data, creativity, and technology. And you have to remember that experience is not a static thing. It’s not something to check off the to-do list. Experiences are naturally in a constant state of evolution. The companies that thrive in the experience economy are the ones that manage experience evolution with vision and intention. 

Thought: 7 Ways Digital Operations Support the Modern IT Operations
7 Ways Digital Operations Support the Modern IT OperationsSVP, Digital Operations — Joseph Lee
Thought: 7 Ways Digital Operations Support the Modern IT Operations

Proactive experience evolution requires continuous performance measurement of products and strategies; testing and learning; and enhancement of content, design, and digital assets. It’s a rigorous and ongoing effort that requires dedicated support from a variety of functions including IT. 

The challenge for IT is that these kinds of endeavors are not always factored in as part of the IT workload, so they put additional and unexpected pressure on IT teams who are already stretched thin. This situation became even more untenable with COVID-19. The pandemic changed so much so quickly, including the way we work. And IT teams have been under enormous strain to address a wide variety of technology concerns as companies scramble to adapt to the immediate and long-term repercussions caused by COVID. 

To keep their IT teams afloat in these challenging times, many companies are engaging digital operations (DigOps) partners who can provide complementary and support services. Sometimes referred to as “managed services,” we refer to these services as Modern Operations because they are clearly the future. Whatever you call them, these offerings cover a wide array of functional areas including design systems, analytics and optimization, design studio, critical support, and enhancement and development. 

Even prior to the pandemic, the growth of digital operations showed a pronounced upward trend. The industry is expected to grow from $223 billion in 2020 to $329 billion by 2025. According to one survey, more than 44 percent of CIOs say they are more likely to use outsourcing suppliers now than they were just 5 years ago. 

These stats are not that surprising given the many benefits of engaging with a digital operations partner, including cost savings, closing the skills gap, and improving IT scalability and agility. 

The Multi-front Battle of the Modern IT Department

The plain truth is that technology has driven rapid change across all aspects of business, and companies cannot keep up. For IT specifically, the demands have increased exponentially to cover everything from keeping the lights on, to providing 24/7 support, to implementing incremental website enhancements and monthly sprints to ensure that the company website and/or product is both fully supported and evolving apace with customer expectations, market demand, and business objectives.

The modern IT department wears so many hats, it’s amazing it doesn’t have regular identity crises.

The challenges are many, for example:

  • The rapid evolution of both business strategies and technology creates situations in which whole organizations and IT departments in particular must pivot quickly and flawlessly to adapt. 

  • The complexity of emerging and maturing technology solutions makes it almost impossible to stay current on all solutions and systems (especially when an already full workload leaves little to no time for career training).

  • Budget constraints shackle IT departments that face increased support needs without additional resources.

  • Team constraints create similar bottlenecks by limiting hiring and development efforts, both of which make it more difficult to recruit and retain critical resources. 

  • The need for 24x7 business operations across a global footprint means that IT departments need to provide 24x7 support to critical systems.

  • The growing scope of day-to-day IT operations work to keep a system running crowds out any opportunity for IT to focus on strategic, business-enabling activities. 

Clearly, the IT department has a very full plate. The good news is that you don’t have to settle for doing everything yourself and creating a scenario that’s ripe for errors and burnout. A digital operations partner can provide the complementary and supplementary services you need to bring more balance, efficiency, and peace of mind into your world.

7 Benefits of Engaging a Modern Operations Partner

There are many benefits to working with a digital operations partner. Whether you’re trying to reduce costs, expand capabilities, ensure uptime, or keep up with organizational growth, digital operations can support your IT and company-wide objectives in a variety of ways.

1. Cost Savings

We’ll start with one of the most common concerns—reducing IT costs. A digital operations partner can deliver both direct and indirect cost savings, both of which can really add up over time. In the direct category, one of the primary reasons companies engage a managed IT services provider is to take advantage of the cost-effective solution to reduce general IT overhead and expenses. Most DigOps providers offer subscription-based services; these fixed and predictable cost structures make it easier for IT departments to develop and manage accurate budgets. In addition, many providers offer customized SLAs that are tailored to each client’s specific needs, so you can make sure you’re not paying for services you don’t need. 

In the category of indirect cost benefits, a digital operations partner can help you reduce downtime and associated costs—both financial and operational. They can also, by bringing in skills that you don’t already have in house, increase your department’s efficiency with specialized tasks. Another indirect cost benefit is a reduction in overhead for things like office space, hardware, and vacation time.

2. Allows In-House IT to Focus on Core Responsibilities

One of the biggest challenges for any IT department is being spread too thin, and this problem has been exacerbated by the increased focus on experience. As the experience economy takes a firmer hold, IT efforts are often split between the critical day-to-day work of keeping everything running and the additional workload of IT support for business-centric initiatives around analytics, optimization, design, and the overall enhancements and development that drive experience evolution. 

Bringing on a digital operations partner gives overburdened IT teams the ability to share the load and focus their efforts wherever they feel they are best spent, whether that’s on core maintenance and upkeep or on experience-based initiatives driven by marketing, sales, and other functions within the organization. 

3. Better Vendor Access/Mgmt/Relationships

Most organizations rely on one or more platforms as the backbone of their IT systems. Whether that platform is Microsoft, Sitecore, Episerver, Salesforce, or some other product, it’s optimal to have a platform expert on your team. A platform expert can not only manage and troubleshoot the platform more efficiently, they provide access to the platform vendor, many of which will not engage with anyone who is not certified in their platform. 

Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to justify having such a specialist on the payroll. A digital operations partner, however, will typically have multiple certified developers on staff across a wide variety of platforms, so you can always be assured of access to the right expertise and the vendor support teams. 

4. Skillset Gap

No matter how good (or large) your IT team is, it’s nearly impossible to keep up with the scope and speed of all the advances in technology. There are too many different platforms, and they are all evolving at once. It’s a full-time job just to stay abreast of what’s happening, never mind being versed in all the practical knowledge needed to respond to the changes. And with the existing responsibility of managing critical systems, there’s rarely time to devote to supplemental training (which is also an additional cost). 

As for hiring all the different skill sets you need, not only is that an expensive strategy, it’s often completely unviable. You may only need a fraction of an expert on a particular person, but you can’t hire a fraction of a person, so you’ll likely wind up with a generalist who has some experience, but won’t be a master of anything.  

A digital operations partner can provide a full range of certified developers and engineers who have expertise not only in various platforms, but also in specific industries and sectors. This makes it easy and cost effective for an organization to access the exact right expertise without having to take on full-time salaries or shoulder the financial and time-related expense of training up existing staff.

5. Security and Compliance

Another area of great concern is security and compliance. Some organizations consider this area a reason to avoid partnering with a managed IT services provider. They see the addition of an outside party as a potential risk to existing protocols and security measures. However, in almost all cases, working with a digital operations partner actually increases the levels of security and compliance since providers that specialize in delivering reliable IT services are especially focused on protecting clients from digital threats. They are always up-to-date on software patches, well versed in the latest risks, and are very proactive about efforts to shore up existing security layers with the latest technology and strategies. 

In addition, some digital operations providers have special, industry-specific compliance expertise in areas like finance, healthcare, and other extremely sensitive sectors. 

6. Effective Disaster Recovery

A digital operations partner can also provide supplemental or expanded disaster recovery and business continuity solutions to protect against unexpected crises. While you may have your own internal plans in place, these are areas in which redundancy is always a good idea. And a managed IT services provider will offer the additional peace of mind that comes with a detailed SLA to define the terms and obligations of the protection.

7. Scalability

Finally, engaging a digital operations partner makes it easy to quickly scale your operation up or down depending on your immediate needs. This makes your overall team more agile and adaptable, both attributes that are extremely valuable in uncertain times. Taking advantage of the additional resources and expertise available from a DigOps partner gives an IT team the ability to support business growth without making a large and difficult-to-reverse investment in and commitment to new hires. 

In Closing...

The world is changing, and successful companies are changing the way they work. Traditional models aren’t always the right answer. Sometimes, the right solution involves finding the right partner, a partner who complements your existing team, allowing you to focus on the highest priorities while delegating other tasks and responsibilities. We all need to find ways to work smarter, and engaging with a strong digital operations partner is a great way to get started. 

At Rightpoint, we aim to build a complementary set of services customized to each client. Our goal is to help client IT organizations thrive by helping them close the skills gap and plug the holes they already have. Our offerings are comprehensive, but they are also modular by design. This gives us the ability to design flexible, tailored solutions that provide exactly the services and skills that each client needs—nothing more, nothing less. 

Maybe the best thing about Rightpoint’s Digital Operations offering is that the people behind it are as passionate about IT as even our most passionate clients. Through work with the highest caliber clients in a wide range of sectors, our team is constantly engaged with the latest technology. We’re always learning, always innovating, and always ready to share what we know with the clients who depend on us. 

Whether you’re looking for help with core critical support or new marketing-driven initiatives to support your company’s experience evolution, a digital operations partner can help you be more efficient, effective, and sane. If you’re interested, we invite you to learn more about Rightpoint’s Digital Operations services.