In the age of digital transformation, the rapidly evolving capabilities of big data, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and other technologies are driving relentless, disruptive change. To succeed in this increasingly competitive environment, you need to turn ideas into value more quickly than your rivals. And you can’t do that without making your IT department more flexible and responsive. Being a passive IT service provider no longer cuts it. Your IT staff must become a lean, innovative, and proactive enabler of the overall business.

In short, it’s important for IT to stay ahead of the company’s pressing business needs. And it’s no longer acceptable for IT departments to say they can’t deliver solutions quickly and cost effectively. “Yes you can” must be the new mantra.

So what’s the best way to move to a more modern, agile IT service provider model? Here are five ways IT managers, CIOs, and IT directors can now say “yes you can” to their key stakeholders.

1. Yes you can achieve operational efficiency.

An entertainment company recently approached me to discuss its IT operations. After a spate of acquisitions, what started as a small, home-grown IT operation was now a mishmash of disparate IT divisions, technologies, people skills, vendors, and service contracts. The CIO explained his desire to rapidly move to a more consistent IT setup that delivers better service at a lower cost and with fewer people. He wanted to move to a hybrid cloud model, shifting less critical workloads to the public cloud while retaining business-critical and sensitive data on premises.

This is an all too common scenario for IT leaders today. Many struggle to find time for innovation. First, they must improve the quality and efficiency of their IT operations, ideally at a lower cost, which in turn creates time and money for innovation.

Indeed, an analysis by IDC shows that most IT departments are still inefficient. Over a given week, IT admin and operations staff spend just 14.5 percent of their time on innovation and new projects that can drive the business forward. Most of their time is spent on tasks such as maintaining software (firmware, patches, updates, etc.), handling new service requests, and troubleshooting problems.

The truth is that managing today’s highly complex IT environments can present major challenges for companies as they grapple with the different types of workloads, whether legacy or cloud-native. We frequently encounter IT departments that possess access credentials for only 25 percent to 50 percent of devices discovered across their networks, meaning that up to 75 percent of the devices on a given network are “rogue” and effectively unmanaged. That’s not only inefficient but also dangerous, opening up businesses to hackers, heavy fines, as well as the reputational damage that comes from a cyberattack. We’ve found that a fairly straightforward network scan can locate all assets and highlight the potential gaps in security.

In addition to this, some 45 percent of the IT equipment used by a typical large customer is over 5 years old, while as much as 10 percent of the IT equipment they use is more than 10 years old. This means businesses are paying to manage older, less efficient operating systems when it would be more efficient to maintain modern systems that run on more energy-efficient, newer technology with vastly improved management capabilities and security. In most cases, the cost and risk of retaining older technology outweighs the benefits and ROI of investing in newer technology, but a business often has the false perception that the old equipment is paid for and therefore saving it money.

No doubt the idea of upgrading your technology can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. To handle these challenges, we see CIOs and IT managers increasingly relying on outside partners with comprehensive capabilities and proven expertise to help them create and maintain more efficient, Hybrid IT environments. Doing so frees up staff to focus on building innovative technologies and solutions that drive new business models. An IDC analysis estimates the benefits of improved system performance, more productive IT teams, and smart hardware purchases can amount to $1.52 million per organization.

2. Yes you can enjoy a pay-as-you-go public cloud experience on premises.

Traditionally, launching an IT project meant making large upfront investments in hardware and software, retraining your IT staff, spending months getting the new system up and running, and then figuring out how to provide adequate support. Those days are over.

As consumers increasingly embrace pay-as-you-go services (think Uber and Netflix), IT is following this trend. By using a Hybrid IT model, companies can now rapidly acquire and consume IT capacity as it’s needed, with IT resources that scale up and down in line with the needs of the business. These systems can improve your ROI, save time, increase agility, and allow you to offer services more quickly.

Adopting a pay-as-you-go approach allows business unit leaders to manage their costs and align them to revenue, while still enjoying incredible levels of flexibility. A business gets billed monthly and has to pay only for what it consumes. An outside IT provider monitors usage 24/7 to ensure more capacity is deployed when needed. The entire IT experience is delivered as a service contract: The client commits to a minimum level of use, but has the flexibility to grow and shrink based on the company’s IT needs.

It’s an approach that’s very attractive to most organizations. And it’s especially attractive to CFOs, as the model can often be treated as an ongoing operating expense rather than a large upfront capital investment. Another key benefit is that your provider can usually deploy IT solutions very quickly, and if you wish to offload routine operational tasks—like backups or firmware and patch management—a provider can do the work for you and include the cost in your monthly bill.

3. Yes you can have a single point of contact for the entire IT environment.

Managing today’s complex Hybrid IT environments with multiple vendors is a challenge for CIOs and IT managers. Too often, when things go wrong, vendors engage in the blame game, pointing fingers at one another instead of helping you resolve your problem. This happens because most companies have a multitude of IT architectures, vendors, and hence service contracts. It’s a significant draw on an IT manager’s time just to deal with the variety of contracts in play, not to mention the wrath of internal business customers when delays, system outages, and other issues occur.

This is why IT organizations are increasingly seeking out partners that offer a comprehensive support experience that covers the entire IT environment, including managing multiple vendors. Multi-vendor support, as it’s known, can be increasingly useful for fast-growing companies, or ones with evolving technology requirements and software support needs. According to IDC, a personalized support arrangement for a data center can produce time savings and productivity gains at an average of $468,700 per organization.

4. Yes you can reduce your unplanned outages.

As the amount of data used grows, IT managers are under even more pressure to keep their businesses up and running. Many experience unexpected outages that can be costly especially for data-intensive industries such as financial services, where prolonged outages can cost millions of dollars.

Typically, the problem IT managers face is tracking down the culprit of a broader system failure, which can be a time-consuming, infuriating process because so many vendors contribute to a company’s IT system.

Finding a proven support vendor that can help you across the entire stack—from multiple hardware platforms to a wide array of operating systems, hypervisors, management applications, and even cloud layers—is invaluable. Multi-vendor support can also provide you with access to a wide array of experts who work with the different elements in the stack, taking the pain away from you, the customer.

You can think of it as a career-enhancing move too. IT managers who successfully manage unplanned outages, or decrease the risk of them happening at all, will become valuable employees who contribute to the competitive advantage of their company.

5. Yes you can deploy the latest technologies and the cloud.

You may be facing pressure from your internal business customers to move to the cloud, which is often seen as the best way to drive speed and lower costs. But public cloud solutions like Amazon Web Services are not always the optimal solution for every workload in a Hybrid IT environment. For example, when dealing with a legacy application—or when compliance, security, or network latency concerns exist—it’s often more practical to keep the workload on premises and inside your firewall.

Your IT environment can still provide all the benefits of cloud, but within your network and firewall via a private cloud solution like Microsoft Azure Stack. Often a mixture of public cloud and private cloud with dedicated on-premises infrastructure delivers the best results. This approach can help you create a best-in-class technology footprint, which in turn helps you launch new services much more quickly, improve your cost structure by identifying redundancies, and innovate by developing new solutions.

IT that matches the speed of business

History is littered with examples of companies that were too slow to adapt and, as a result, lost revenue and new business opportunities or disappeared altogether. To be successful in IT, you need to stay ahead of the needs of your company and be able to ramp up IT projects at a moment’s notice.

The good news is the best-in-class solutions are now within your reach. It’s time to take the next step forward.

Delivering “yes you can” IT: Lessons for leaders

  • Working with support and service partners that offer IT capabilities across the lifecycle can help you create, operate, and maintain a highly efficient, best-in-class IT operation.
  • Adopting a pay-as-you-go approach to your IT allows better management of your costs and aligns them to revenue, while still maintaining high levels of speed to value and flexibility.
  • A trusted and proven service partner can help you carefully identify and select the best location for your workloads in a Hybrid IT environment, so you gain maximum value from cloud adoption while meeting compliance and security constraints.