A rose by any other name might smell as sweet but I doubt Shakespeare would extend the same courtesy to IT management. So why are the terms outsourcing, managed services and enhanced services often used interchangeably when they represent different points on the value chain.
Outsourcing is the first marker on the value chain. Outsourcers are personnel centric – they provide people to operate a firm’s infrastructure. Many firms turn to outsourcing to control or reduce their costs.
Managed Services acknowledges that processes and personnel are essential to producing high quality, high value IT management. This is a powerful combination enabling remote management that extends coverage and drives efficiency. Just as software developers adopted methodologies like Agile or Waterfall to produce high quality code, Managed Services providers are embracing the ITIL approach to service management. ITIL’s best practices, including change, continuity and incident management have helped transform service delivery and support from an art to a science. Most importantly, because ITIL promotes the alignment of IT services with a firm’s business needs, Managed Services firms adopting ITIL can deliver greater value to clients.
The top end of the value chain belongs to Enhanced Services organizations. They’ve risen to the top by positively impacting their clients’ top and bottom lines. Enhanced Services combines skilled personnel and ITIL processes with deep domain knowledge of their client’s business and workflow. In some respects they’re a hybrid of a Managed Services Provider and Knowledge Process Outsourcer. Enhanced Services organizations deliver operational efficiencies that drive down costs and provide value added services and expertise that helps clients capitalize on opportunities.
Obviously technology has evolved over the last 15 years. Firms used to access applications through a local client connected to a dedicated server via 56Kb circuit. The transformation in IT management – from outsourcing to Enhanced services – has, in its own way, been nearly as dramatic and continues to evolve.