How to jump the hurdles to a responsive and agile business

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In today's tough economy, agility and responsiveness to changing market demands are big responsibilities for everyone entrusted with a business' strategy.

Indeed, a recent global IT report by management consulting firm McKinsey says that "business leaders must be part of the change necessary to realise the full potential of [new] technologies" - and "growing through IT is an issue of importance to those inside and outside the IT function."

Meanwhile, the same report asks that CIOs and technology leaders embrace a new mindset; one that puts business objectives like boosting profitability and winning customers at the forefront of their investment plans.

But that's easier said than done. Over half of respondents to McKinsey's survey recognised that their companies' organisational capabilities and business processes would need to change in order to support their business priorities. However, only 26% believed that colleagues fully understand the changes their firms must implement to exploit technologies that would potentially make them more competitive.

Many companies lack the in-house IT resource to capitalise on innovative technologies; the cloud and mobile platforms which will increase their agility and improve their bottom-line. It's time for some outside help.

Come to us if...

  • Your IT projects are forever behind schedule
  • Your IT team are stretched too thin to be proactive
  • A little help could make a lot of difference
  • You're devoting too much time to fixing old technologies

We can...

  • Deploy IT with you, which yields business value fast
  • Create IT strategies which support your business objectives
  • Give an expert second opinion on your IT plans
  • Help future-proof your systems

Making a business nimbler on its feet is about planning for systems that will work not just today but in the future, says Microsoft Services Management Consultant, Simon Hall. Companies that lack speed and agility are generally those whose systems aren't being run properly. Resolving this means designing a plan which says: these are my architectural standards and if I want to get to this future workplace, then I need to have my building blocks in place and I need to enforce their adoption.

"It means making sure the plan is reviewed regularly; and that you've got the right team set up to look after it. Business agility comes from having efficient IT which runs properly. It's an outcome of doing things properly - and that's precisely where Microsoft Services Premier Support can help."

Unfortunately, budgetary constraints mean midsize companies tend not to manage change particularly well, says Microsoft Technical Account Manager (TAM), Jon Cranston. "This means they are missing out on tools that would not only give them richer information to make faster, smarter business decisions, but cut costs in the long run too. Cloud services like Office 365, for example, allow you to convert capital IT expenditure into operating expenditure by purchasing services on a pay-as-you-go basis. Virtualisation tools, in the cloud or on-site, yield even greater economies." However, as a business evolves to exploit the power of cloud solutions like Office 365 and Windows Azure, so too must their systems, processes and the skills of the IT team. Here, Premier Support is able to plug any in-house knowledge gaps by joining forces with the company's implementation team throughout a project and beyond. Our clients get instant access to a wealth of expertise in cloud applications and infrastructure, a designated delivery manager, priority incident handling, and proactive services to maximise uptime and nip problems in the bud.

Best-of-breed cloud technology for a prestige brand

One company that chose Premier Support to unlock a migration strategy is luxury sports car manufacturer, Aston Martin; whose IT team saw Office 365 as an opportunity to expand its current productivity tools without shifting too much focus away from other projects.

"Premier Support was with us for the entire migration," says Aston Martin IT Infrastructure Manager, Daniel Roach-Rooke. "They worked with us to plan the move and mitigate the risk of moving our employee mailboxes in one weekend. We couldn't have done it without them."

By providing easy access to business-critical productivity tools, Roach-Rooke says Office 365 has greatly improved collaboration within the company and made business processes more agile, whilst dramatically reducing IT administration. He says Aston Martin's IT team is now able to devote its time more usefully to addressing business problems and improving productivity.

"We were stretched too thin before to really be proactive, but now we have the time to talk to the business and really help. Sometimes a simple suggestion like moving an Excel spreadsheet into SharePoint to provide access control and version control can have a big impact for a team. We have positively changed the perception of IT and been able to show our passion for the business."

Embedded knowledge, embedded value

Buying back time in this way comes with embedding knowledge within the business, rather than parachuting in consultant expertise which dissipates just as fast. "Unlike many consultancies that help with a project and then disappear", says Cranston, "Microsoft Services Premier Support focuses on ongoing value. Of course, we help clients work out the scope and build the migration, including design, planning and other advice. But for many midsize businesses, the hard part is the ongoing knowledge, the processes and operational stuff.

"With our approach and well-rounded training, it's the client's staff who are actually doing the work; so when they come to support it afterwards, they know exactly what has been done and why", Cranton adds. "It's about knowledge transfer and up-skilling as much as any provision of technology. There are no unsupported 'black boxes' and no ambiguity." An IT team empowered with expertise is ideally positioned to become a business driver: delivering change rather than fighting yesterday's fires.

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