Striking the Proper Balance Between IT Outsourcing and Insourcing

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During my early days in the world of IT, the “computer guru” was always thought of as this oddly nerdy resource who kept everything running. No one really knew what they did or how they did it, but they were responsible for supporting everything from horribly unstable desktops and network devices to paper jam-prone printers with exhausted ink cartridges, and this thing called the Internet that nobody knew what to do with. That was the early 90s, and businesses have transformed dramatically from using the internal “computer guru” who owned everything and was considered overhead to figuring out the proper mix of internal and external support personnel. Mixed IT teams can keep your employees safe and find ways to get access to important data instantaneously and from anywhere to give you an advantage over your competition.

Clearly, advanced technology solutions and safe connectivity are now key enablers that allow businesses to function in 2018, and expectations have shifted dramatically. Immediate access to information such as connectivity to applications, data sets, analytics, as well as collaboration solutions is now expected anywhere and at any time. It’s like walking into a room and flipping on a light switch; you expect the lights to come on, it’s just a given. Or like going into the kitchen and turning on the faucet; you expect water. When you don’t get it instantly, you are annoyed because anything less than immediate gratification is just not good enough. It’s the same with our connectivity to important data, the internet, and each other. When you sit in your office chair or pull up your end-point device on the train, you expect to connect right away. The “computer guru” gets a passing grade when that happens. Not an “Attaboy” but “OK, that is what is expected”. When you cannot connect, not only is it unacceptable, but it could possibly have severely adverse consequences on your business.

The “computer guru” of old has transformed into what we see typically as the IT team, which is made up of some mix of skilled internal resources and outsourced partners. The number and type of each depend upon many factors but suffice it to say that gone are the days of having one technology propeller-head who can take care of everything from databases to data cable. As one of my former colleagues used to say, you cannot eliminate complexity, only hide it. End-user demands for applications to be extremely easy to use and access while remaining safe, as well as consumable at light speed has brought extreme complexity, placing heavy burdens on the back-end teams. Technologists generally must specialize and dive very deep in their respective areas to be capable of designing and implementing the solutions that fit the needs of the business, not to mention being able to provide support in an ongoing fashion.

And, to further complicate the discussion, just how strategic do businesses feel keeping servers and network devices running really is? Not very; remember, that stuff is expected. Businesses want strategic results out of their IT team. They want advanced analytics that provides reporting and views into data that give insights they’ve never had before, enabling them to make strategic decisions. They want collaboration from anywhere; they want to join a video meeting on their device on the way into the office, then sit at their desk and seamlessly flip the conversation to their laptop or the board room solution. The vast array of demands often places an unrealistic and unwieldy burden on the overworked IT team. How the IT team leverages each member and utilizes partners make all the difference; so how do effective internal IT Teams strike the proper balance?