2020 and COVID-19 had a profound effect on IT Services companies. Our clients looked to us to not only assist them to work from home but also ensure that this ‘surprise test of everyone’s Disaster Recovery plans’ went as smoothly as the plan intended.
Trusted IT Partners like eacs sprang into action, ensuring that the right equipment was available in the right locations and the remote access systems were stable and solid as everyone went to work from home. Little did we know at that time it would begin to feel like ‘living at work’ after a year or so!
It all seemed to work out remarkably well and now has become the new normal we all know and love.
One client remarked: “If you had said to me last year, within a week everyone would be working from home with this little impact on our business – I would not have believed it, I didn’t think our staff could do it, I didn’t think our systems were up to it – I thought we were going to fold.”
eacs regularly encountered resistance when consulting with clients on outsourcing as there appeared to be a pearl of received wisdom that their end-users required and demanded ‘by the side’ on-site support. We used to hear a lot of comments such as “our company culture requires IT people on-site” and “our staff just won’t use the phone to raise tickets, they want to talk to someone face to face”.
Paradoxically this can limit the benefit of outsourcing due to the costs and logistics involved in providing on-site staff. The vast majority of IT problems can be fixed remotely with a bit of co-operation from the end-user, which is a much more efficient use of time, money and resources.
Following the ‘surprise DR test’ in 2020, these perceptions changed remarkably, with end-users forced to raise tickets using all sorts of channels such as chat, email, online portal and the phone. What they couldn’t do, however, was raise them with an engineer face to face. This has shifted the mindset of the leadership of companies that consume Managed Services and necessitated partners such as eacs to innovate to make this transition as painless for the users as possible.
Driven by this mindset change, eacs have developed tools like eacsAssist, which allows the user to raise a service desk ticket with one press of a key. The tool collects all the pertinent technical information in the background, including the last actions of the user over a given time. This is then passed on to the technical analyst who mostly resolves the call there and then with little need for the protracted, lengthy and sometimes awkward phone calls which the users don’t seem to like.
Adapting to clients’ requirements they don’t even know they have is the marque of a great partner.
“Outsourcing in 2019 saved our business during the pandemic, we would not have been able to be as flexible for our IT users during these tough times.”
During 2020 and all the tumult surrounding getting people working from home and the raging uncertainty, there was little appetite to change outsource suppliers or adopt managed services. There were also very few procurement tenders released in the public or private sector, and eacs saw clients renew their managed services without going to market.
It felt like in 2020 companies were just holding their breath, riding things out and delaying the decisions.
We saw however that at the end of Q1 2021 things started to change, there is a certain amount of optimism in the market and tenders are flowing again. Incidentally, eacs secured more managed services business in Q2 of 2021 than the whole of 2020 and it is the fastest-growing area of our business.
The attitude toward managed services has changed significantly too, the questions we are being asked are different. It seems the drivers for Managed Services adoption, whether it be outsource, out-task or out-staff have changed. For instance, clients who were forced to reduce staffing levels last year are finding it hard to recruit again, salaries are climbing steeply for good people and managed services are becoming a more attractive option commercially.
An interesting motivator we see are companies consolidating properties, embracing home working as a standard and shutting offices they have occupied for decades. Also, the rise and rise of Cloud technologies can ensure companies are no longer tied to bricks and mortar data centres. In effect, detaching users and data centres from physical offices means working from anywhere is a reality. This has also driven interest in managed services and outsourcing.
“We have been able to save close to a 7-figure sum annually through the consolidation of our offices… The outsourced IT is key to supporting users at home.”
It doesn’t appear to be the benefits of outsourcing are increasing or changing, but more that the blockages to adoption are reducing. With end-user resistance waning, technology more reliable than ever and platforms such as the Power Platform providing easy automation, the reasons not to outsource IT support are diminishing rapidly.
Whether it be outsourcing wholly, out-tasking backups/patching or out-staffing to augment the team, the question which is being asked isn’t why outsource IT functions but when.