Business technology evolution can be a double-edged sword if large-scale shifts are not approached with the right mindset. On one hand, adopting new technology often leads to greater efficiency and more productivity. On the other, selecting the best solution for a given task is easier said than done, particularly when considering the extra management burden this places on internal IT teams.
Optimizing an IT strategy increasingly requires specialized technical knowledge, which many organizations may find difficult to obtain even when considering traditional IT-centric areas.
The IT security skills gap
One area in particular that can be dynamic and difficult to plan for is IT security. One challenge is quantifying the return on investment of preventing an attack from happening. However, there is also a shortage of IT security experts, according to Infosecurity magazine.
"There is a significant skills shortage across the IT industry," John Yeo, EMEA director at Trustwave, told the news source. "It is more difficult for businesses to find employees with the skills needed to protect a company's information against threats that are continuously becoming more complex."
As the news source noted, this shortage has created demand for managed IT services to fill the cybersecurity gap. This increased need has also led to more complex IT strategies, such as hybrid approaches - these enable organizations to maintain some functions in house while outsourcing others. For instance, it may be beneficial to let another entity handle software updates and other time consuming tasks while internal teams focus on matters related to their core competencies.
It is worth noting that this trend extends worldwide. A recent Frost & Sullivan report predicted the managed security services market in the Asia-Pacific region to increase from $1.66 billion in 2012 to $5.34 billion in 2019.
The benefits of market maturity
Researchers noted that the increased interest in managed services has led to improvements in vendors' offerings in the form of expanded service portfolios. For instance, data protection is becoming a common service alongside traditional IT security solutions.
"The improved quality of services and the enhanced service-level agreements offered by professional security service providers play an important role in accelerating trust in third-party services among enterprises," said Frost & Sullivan Information and Communication Technologies Industry Manager Cathy Huang. "Organizations are also adopting security services as an add-on to their existing security setup."
As a result, businesses stand to gain from market maturity across managed services as a whole, which is expected to increase 12.4 percent annually from this year to 2018, reaching $256.05 billion.
According to a report from Research and Markets, adopting managed services from a reliable provider can reduce IT costs by as much as 40 percent and improve efficiency by as much as 60 percent.
From a customer's perspective, this growth is likely to open a range of new possibilities for managed IT services. For instance, vendors will likely expand their offerings to accommodate a wide range of needs, while others may deliver highly specialized services in the form of software implementation.
B2B integration: A case for managed B2B integration services
Another area that third-party services can add significant value is in B2B integration. A report from IBM recently outlined the core challenges companies face as they undertake these projects - with complexity emerging as a primary issue.
"While the advantages of transitioning from error-prone email, phone and fax transactions are clear, many organizations are rightly hesitant to move toward the more automated, but still problematic, B2B environments of multiple systems, data formats and protocols that they have partially in place," the report stated. "It can amount to replacing one flavor of complexity with another, without a strategic blueprint for a next-generation system that can meet the ideal of maximizing efficiency and collaboration across your value chain."
As IBM noted, transitioning from disparate legacy environments has its own complexities associated with it. Businesses must ensure that they not only migrate all of a system's existing data but that the most up-to-date version of that information is being used. This issue is further complicated when considering the vast solutions that may exist across a full partner network and the lack of internal B2B integration expertise. Analysts suggested these types of complex scenarios are ideal cases for solutions like cloud integration and managed IT services. A managed B2B integration offering provides the following benefits:
- More accurate data, reducing invoice and order errors
- Lower time-to-market due to the expertise of the provider
- More visibility and accuracy for information related to compliance
IBM focused on its cloud-based solutions, which offer features such as data synchronization. This can be valuable for partners that are highly collaborative, since synchronized data ensures that employees have the most recent version of the information they're working with. The key functionality for any B2B integration tool is automation. The more that the numerous processes involved can be streamlined, the faster companies can onboard new partners regardless of the other organization's size and capabilities.
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