Companies are always trying to figure out the next trends when it comes to IT outsourcing and other important business tools. Right now, the future remains a bit shaky as the industry undergoes a paradigm-changing transformation. In other words, outsourcing as you know it may be a thing of the past.
The whole point of outsourcing is to allow an enterprise to focus solely on its core competency without having to worry about ancillary functions. These days, businesses generally outsource functions that don’t differentiate them from the marketplace while zeroing in on core business functions that do. Doing so allows them to streamline their departments while enjoying the financial savings that result from eliminating otherwise redundant functions.
A Brief History on IT
Once upon a time, everything was done in-house. IT operations, payroll, customer service, you name it. Before the advent of outsourcing, it was considered normal to perform all your company’s operations under one roof. Outsourcing became a popular idea during the 1980s, and companies like EDS and IBM had a lock on IT outsourcing functions like mainframe data centers. In the 1990s, application service providers (ASPs) made waves by allowing businesses to essentially rent functional applications over the Internet or private network, as opposed to building their own.
ASPs were successful for a time, but they ultimately fell by the wayside for various reasons. These providers could not support all of the applications that were important to businesses, especially if those applications were required to be relatively complex. Some ASPs were also tasked with handling sensitive corporate and customer data, a function that today’s companies are reluctant to outsource. When an ASP shut down, many businesses found themselves lacking the applications that were essential for their day-to-day operations.
Managed service providers replaced ASPs as purveyors of external IT services, offering a safer and more conservative approach towards IT outsourcing. MSPs also offered a greater degree of scalability, allowing companies to broaden or restrict their outsourced functions as needed.
Today’s IT Outsourcing Trends
These days, IT outsourcing relationships are seen more as strategic partnerships than subcontractors. The days of multi-year contracts may go out the window in the coming years as the very face of outsourcing changes. The emergence of consumer technologies brings with it new challenges businesses must be ready to surmount.
Cloud computing holds the key to a whole new realm of IT outsourcing. According to Microsoft, most companies spend 11 percent of their IT budget developing new applications while devoting the rest of their budget to maintenance and infrastructure. Only a fraction of that 11 percent is used towards securing employee access to resources regardless of their location, software or device. Outsourcing IT functions to a cloud-based collaborator not only reduces the need for a huge in-house IT department, but also saves money and possibly employee aggravation in the long run.
“Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) is one way that companies can mitigate the consumerization of certain technologies while streamlining enterprise IT. Applications that once required several different versions for different platforms now have common access via Internet or private network. Virtual desktops and cloud storage are also becoming popular ways to facilitate shared data access among employees with different devices.
The history of IT outsourcing is one of constant innovation, as well as trial-and-error approaches that resulted in newer, more stable solutions. Cloud computing and BYOD policies are just two examples of how the future is shaping up in regards to IT outsourcing. You won’t have to wear sunglasses to see this future, but it is bright, indeed.