Making the right technology choices

The life cycle of technology is becoming shorter every year. Every now and then new companies are disrupting the IT industry with the latest digital practices and processes. MSPs are under huge pressure to provide a seamless service experience along with leading-edge capabilities like data analytics, artificial intelligence, automation, and integration with third-party systems.

The way IT teams functioned, say, a decade ago, is completely different now. Hardware no longer stands alone, as internet connections are embedded in practically all hardware. Even though hardware has changed so much, the vendors are mostly the same. Therefore, it is important to know what technology is right for you. However, understanding what to get right is equally important as knowing how to get it right. To make the right technology choices, you need to ensure you follow these 7 principles:

1. Simplify your architecture

There was a time when a single organization used to have different IT systems based on various coding languages, integration requirements, and support arrangements. It used to be quite a complex network of technology that served various purposes but was difficult to adapt, refresh, and integrate. Significant efforts were required to make changes and understand their implications on stakeholders and the functioning of the business.

But over a decade, the architecture of IT has evolved. The modern module-based platforms have brought a drastic change in IT. Standardized software development practices and improved integration standards have allowed systems to interact seamlessly. Tools like APIs have enabled organizations to develop interoperable components that fit together based on industry standards and interact effortlessly.

Instead of getting stuck between simplicity and the features you need, look for solutions that can provide you both, because such solutions exist now. Customers and employees both prefer a system with limited menus and features so that it's easier to understand and adapt. It's about time you move away from a "How do we connect our systems?" mentality and opt for systems that add value and attract customers.

2. Infuse flexibility and speed into your infrastructure

The ever-changing IT industry keeps getting disrupted with better products, services, and processes. MSPs, being the torchbearer for the latest tech, need to stay up-to-date. But an MSP’s very own outdated technology often ends up becoming a barrier to the modifications it seeks.

Therefore, in order to adopt new technologies and processes, look for platforms that can easily accommodate a wide range of plug-and-play functions, including the ones that are not yet designed.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are becoming more and more crucial for information technologies. Employees and customers are now used to apps that learn their habits (e.g., an autofill feature) and search engines guessing what they are going to type. Things like these are what they expect from a system that will help them get work done faster and stay productive. Look for systems that learn users’ habits, as users understand and accept such systems more easily.

3. Engage with your workforce to ease the adoption of new technology

Picking up new technology is only sustainable if the people in your organization can embrace it. New technology brings new abilities and processes that might impact your organization's culture. Therefore, it's very important to align the new systems with the habits of employees and your company's culture as well as establish new habits that employees will have to adopt.

You should interact with your workforce to find out their readiness to adopt new technology. The leaders at various levels in your organization’s hierarchy can tell you where you might face resistance and how much effort will be required to overcome it.

4. Plan your infrastructure journey before starting

You want your IT infrastructure to be perfect, so set a plan based on the end product you need. Lay a path based on customer value as your primary goal, and connect the dots that lead towards achieving your goal, which is either setting up new IT infrastructure or modifying the old one. For example, you may need cloud-based capabilities in order to deploy other initiatives, so start with that and move on to the next logical part.

5. Organize by capabilities

Organizations, particular large and midsized ones, can't replace or reorganize an entire legacy system all at once. These systems are too large and complex to manage. In order to make decisions about updating a legacy system, the efforts have to be broken down into small parts (projects), prioritized, and executed with the help of teams that are built just for the sake of the projects and disbanded once the project is completed. This leads to short-term focus that can sway MSPs from the most important goal of building capabilities that deliver value to customers.

Instead, organize the change process by capabilities. Each capability, a combination of systems, processes, and functions, delivers value. The customer-facing services are the most important in this approach. You should logically group the applications and parts of your infrastructure by business capability. The next step is to find the key applications and hardware needed to modernize those capabilities.

6. Take a user-centric approach

As you go on to build or redesign your infrastructure, take a user-centric approach. First collect feedback from customers and employees. Then, based on their responses, find the right pieces of technology that provide more value to these stakeholders at the end of the day, as they're the central part of any MSP business.

7. Partner based on shared values

During the process of selecting technology, you're bound to partner with other organizations, as it's extremely difficult to provide everything under a single roof. Before you partner with an organization, one of the main things to verify is whether you and the prospect organization share the same values.

Find an organization that you can build a good working relationship with, a relationship that’s based on mutual commitment and collaboration. It's so important to have shared values, because disagreements can cause the projects you're partnering on to fail, and the costs of switching to another partner could burn a hole in your pocket.

Look for companies that are trustworthy (based on references, their portfolio, etc). Evaluate each company on the basis of how it’s built technology systems for itself and how well it supports its own capabilities.

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