In this week's Sunday Business Post, Arkphire's Gerry Harvey discusses the benefits of managed ICT services.
“We offer a very broad range of managed services for many clients. At the moment, we can say there are about 26,000 end users that connect with us in one way or another when they have queries, either directly on a portal, via email or in some cases via calls,” said Gerry Harvey, Head of Enterprise at Arkphire.
“One of the things we’re seeing is a kind of a trend towards businesses starting out by outsourcing in an iterative way. Very few companies are going to do any ‘big-bang’ change because it’s too risky.”
Instead, companies usually start out by outsourcing out-of-hours IT support to a third-party service provider.
“Out-of-hours is a particularly useful one because it’s increasingly a 24/7 activity now for end-users. They think about work when they’re sitting at home watching TV and want to access the company’s file system to check something and it must work,” said Harvey.
“All the aspects of having a mobile or nomadic workforce means that staff are working 24/7 even if the office is closed. So typically the organisation will make IT support available by outsourcing it to a service provider like ourselves. We have a 24/7 manned network operations centre (NOC) here so there are three or four people here even at three in the morning,” he said.
The logistics of providing this kind of support in-house are significant. To start with, it requires many more full-time staff — more than people often think.
“Here’s the simple calculation. There are 168 hours in a week and staff are legally allowed to work 37-and-a-half of them. That tells you that if you want to offer 24/7 support in-house, you’re going to have to pay five people to do it,” said Harvey.
“What does an IT person cost these days, fully loaded and multiplied by five? A lot. Now, of course, people tend to come to a halfway stage where they use call-outs or on-duty or on-call or you bring home the mobile phone and all that kind of stuff, and that’s fine for the smaller office.”
“If you’re a 24-hour supermarket or a 24-hour travel bureau, you need a readily manned NOC with somebody looking at your system who has the expertise to deal with any problem that may come up in your infrastructure or your end-client device 24/7,” said Harvey.
This focus on the business goals of the company is a broad market trend in managed services, with the result that outsourcing is increasingly seen as a prerequisite for clever companies to be at their most market-fit.