Understanding new challenges
Making your business more resilient is a battle on many fronts today. It involves much more than having expertise on your own products, services and customers. It requires the ability to extend operations to new locations and monitor and manage processes in a hands-off way. It also requires the ability to be objective and honest about internal capabilities – and know when to depend on trusted partners. For the many organizations that are highly competent and take pride in their ability to run their business with great efficiency and security – this shift could be a difficult one. But improving resiliency means understanding your ability to be effective on new fronts. Ensuring cyber and physical security, improving operational efficiency, and meeting sustainability goals are complex and ever-changing challenges. Especially for cybersecurity – finding the skills and expertise to meet these challenges will be even tougher in the next few years as demand increases.
IDC conducted a study in early 2020 to better understand the challenges that organizations face and the strategies to improve. (Note that this study was done before the impact of COVID-19 was felt worldwide.) One of the puzzling findings from this study was that despite an overwhelmingly positive experience with services – and a high level of difficulty of tackling certain problems on their own – many organizations still plan to use internal resources to implement key initiatives. We live in a do-it-yourself world. The positivity and can-do attitude of many facilities and operations leaders is admirable and should be encouraged. However, in the face of increasing cyberattacks, the convergence of OT and IT, and the infusion of digital technologies into all aspects of business – many organizations lack the skills and scope needed to do business in an increasingly digital and connected world.
Confirming the critical role of having expert partners was found in data gathered in a May 2020 survey, where 42% of U.S. respondents said that because of COVID-19 and the resulting social distancing, they had limited or no physical access to data center facilities. They relied on partners to deal with the additional demands for service.
Making the business case for services
Today, many organizations are experiencing facility and operations issues that are negatively impacting the business. The opportunity for greater operational efficiency and competitive differentiation is massive, but most have been struggling over the past 18 months. 38% of organizations said that facility issues caused downtime and loss of production. 36% said they experienced data security issues. One-third reported increased waste of resources. The first step in making a business case for improvement is to help C-level decision-makers understand the connection between facility and operational issues and business success.
What do decision-makers want to see? Metrics on cost savings and operational improvement. They need proof of value before investing. Of organizations that have engaged with a services provider, the most commonly cited areas where they have seen improvements are quality, efficiency, and resiliency.
What should decision-makers know? They should know the what-ifs that will impact company reputation, productivity, and resilience. Data breaches can cause immediate financial pain and lasting reputational damage. Inability to meet sustainability goals will impact the ability to attract investors and top talent. Before being tested on digital transformation readiness, prepare the business for success by embracing new ways of securing the business.
Engaging with a trusted services provider to develop a strategy for initiatives can unlock synergies within your organization. For example, investments in energy resiliency can also improve efficiency, which will accelerate progress on broader sustainability goals. And investments in digital services to reduce or eliminate production loss can also pave the way for better remote management of processes to ensure business resiliency. A trusted services provider can develop a strategy to maximize the value of investments and ensure progress on multiple initiatives.
Reducing risk in services engagements
When asked about the barriers to engaging with an outside or third-party services provider, the most frequently cited objection was fear of security risk by having non-employees on site. This fear is a valid one. Human error remains a top reason for downtime or lost productivity. Most organizations are trying to reduce the number of people who interact with their infrastructure and operations, not introduce more people to the environment. For this reason, organizations should only engage with a trusted provider that has a deep understanding of their business and the ability to provide services in multiple functional areas and geographic regions.
Besides physical security risk – there is reputational risk if objectives aren’t achieved. Another way to reduce risk in services engagements is to ask your provider to bear some of the weight of investment with you. Look for providers that are able to shift to outcomes-based pricing – arrangements where payment is made when objectives or defined outcomes are achieved.
When asked how services have helped organizations, 36% said that services have improved the resiliency of their facilities. 40% said that services improved the quality of service and 38% reported improved operational efficiency. In a competitive environment, the ability to improve resiliency, quality, and efficiency are game changers. Key to gaining the most value from services is finding a partner that understands your business and can provide strategic guidance that will maximize impact across the business.
The organizations that will make the most progress on ensuring resilience are those that are able to understand the stakes, make an honest appraisal of internal skillsets, and leverage external expertise when needed. Services can help set the foundation for a more resilient business.
Download the full IDC white paper, “Maximizing Business and Operational Resilience Through Services” here.