With more than 25 years of solid IT experiences, Gary is a technical-minded leader who achieves objectives by integrating team-building methodologies and a deep understanding of data analytics, budgeting and operations.
Are you running your IT infrastructure, or is it running you?
Mid-sized enterprises – firms with 200 or so employees – are the beating heart of Hong Kong’s economy. Unfortunately, they are also the sector facing the biggest challenge when it comes to digital transformation.
That’s partly because, compared to just a few years ago, technology is so complex it can easily overwhelm limited in-house IT resources. Even worse, while big-name businesses are a magnet for ambitious IT professionals, mid-sized firms have trouble attracting and retaining experienced staff. That, in turn, creates a constant leakage of skills and institutional knowledge which limits performance, reduces flexibility and hampers growth.
It takes considerable talent to adopt emerging technologies like IoT or mobile apps. Without it, quickly implementing new capabilities, such as enabling remote office operations when a pandemic strikes, is almost impossible.
The traditional solution to IT challenges has been to outsource – i.e. parcel them out to third-parties. However, a piecemeal approach can create more problems, starting with a lack of consistency in service levels that may or may not be specified in SLAs (Service Level Agreements). Depending on how quickly the provider receives and reacts to a complaint, response times can vary. Simply identifying who is responsible for resolution is a major factor when multiple providers are used. Arguments are not uncommon.
Not all third-party providers have an appetite for investing in the latest technologies, or the skills to ensure continuous improvement. This, coupled with uneven experience in applying best practices to enhance the existing support process, and inflexible contracts that make dynamic cost-planning difficult or impossible, have soured the experience for many companies.
One of the biggest challenges for any company considering outsourcing any or all of its IT infrastructure is maintaining good IT governance. Unless IT risks are addressed proactively, serious responsibility gaps appear. These inevitably lead to embarrassing and/or expensive failures, followed by acrimonious blamestorming between the customer and the service provider.
If pushing problems out the door doesn’t sound like a good idea, what about bringing everything under one roof? i.e. Partnering with a single, capable and qualified managed IT services provider.
It can work very well. The secret is picking a provider that is certified to ISO standards and has the skillsets to ensure consistent service levels throughout the enterprise. They must also understand and use the latest ITSM (IT Service Management) tools to enhance daily operations and improve user experience by following ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) best-practices.
Incorporating this kind of managed IT services approach into the business model can make all the difference for mid-sized companies. Take Hung Fook Tong for example.
The popular Chinese herbal products retailer has grown rapidly, expanding to more than 110 retail stores in Hong Kong. However, its small IT team simply didn’t have the skills to keep pace with changing IT technologies.
Rather than trying to hire its way out of trouble, the retailer decided to future-proof its IT infrastructure, enhance IT service levels, and plug internal technology skills gaps by using managed IT services from HKBN JOS. In July 2020, HKBN JOS started managing Hung Fook Tong’s entire IT operations, from its infrastructure, such as data centre and network, to core business systems management and e-commerce support.
The results include better IT governance, greater flexibility and lower operational expenses. In fact, after re-baselining its IT infrastructure, the company is ready to proceed full-speed-ahead on its digital transformation journey.
Ultimately, engaging a reliable managed IT services partner that understand your industry/ business ensures responsive professional support, consistent service levels and good user experiences. With effective governance providing complete transparency and visibility, it can be a game-changer for mid-sized firms and SMEs alike.
The key is picking a partner that has the range of skills needed to address current and future needs, along with a genuine desire and ability to become an almost seamless extension to the in-house team. Get it right, and embracing digital transformation becomes less of an ordeal and more of an exciting growth opportunity. And you really can run your IT and your business, instead of letting it run you.