As technological solutions develop, the services provided to support them adapt and change. Having spent a few more years than I care to mention in the managed services sector, I can certainly attest to this fact. What’s encouraging to see is that as you look back from where we’ve come from, review where we are today and look forward to the future, you can see those services becoming increasingly customer centric with the end user finally coming into focus.
Back in the day, when I was first cutting my teeth in the world of managed services, organisations would outsource everything to one service provider. There were a few main players including HP and IBM who would land monolithic contracts. Why? Organisations didn’t possess the necessary skills in-house. They had numerous disparate applications, running across servers filling cavernous rooms, across multiple sites. It was almost impossible to cover all the skillsets in-house that were required to maintain both the software and hardware.
The Towers of SIAM
With the convergence of operating systems, and as processes, systems and tools became standardised and the power of remote working took hold, it enabled organisations to utilise offshore facilities. Following government-led initiatives, enterprises quickly moved to a multiple supplier model. However, the promise of cost savings and operational efficiencies, through being able to negotiate the best price for each IT service/area, was overshadowed.
As issues arose, the finger-pointing among multiple internal and external suppliers began. Finding resolutions became increasingly difficult and time-consuming. The complexity and lack of transparency made it hard to understand how to achieve the necessary end-to-end service levels and meet the expectations of the end users. In addition to this, there was an inability to react in an agile manner to market challenges. As a result of these issues, Service Integration and Management (SIAM) was born.
SIAM provides the governance and a single point of ownership for the delivery of integrated services. With an operating model focusing on core competencies, they assign/outsource activities that are deemed non-core or commodity.
However, many companies didn’t fully adapt to this new way of working. As Alex Holmes, Deputy Director and Chief of Staff in the Office of the CTO discusses in his post 'Knocking down the towers of SIAM', a hybrid (twin tower) model developed as a result of combining full outsourcing with multi-sourcing. “It was still all about us, not about the needs of our users”. The management of a mixed vendor environment; ensuring that the ‘grey’ areas of service delivery do not impact the business and is always challenging. SIAM is great if you can define everything... life and especially IT rarely comply.
As the towers of SIAM come crashing down, what’s next in store?
With unique applications such as SAP HANA coming onto the scene, the requirements of IT teams change again. HANA has created a cross-category service requirement, slicing across the ‘towers’.
HANA requires specialist skills from deployment to ongoing support, from user interface to power supply. The SAP service is closer to the users, the impact of issues are more visible, users will demand immediacy, and to meet these demands they need an end-to-end HANA service provided by a single party. This has to be delivered in an environment where software releases and patch require continual updates... how do you ensure continuous uptime?
This gives our CIOs another headache: how to ensure they deliver the right level of support whilst keeping the budget under control. Support for something that is fundamental to an organisation’s business operations requires a partnership with a service provider who can offer the flexibility of high end onshore development services offset with the efficiencies of offshore capabilities. This ensures that business service level agreements are met with one continuous supplier across the technology.
Let’s fast forward to 2026. What will be the expectations and needs of internal IT teams?
Large proportions of the roles delivered by 1st and 2nd line will be automated; the issues that can’t be automated will likely be more complex requiring more highly skilled 3rd line resources. The 3rd line teams will be extremely specialised in the technical fields fixing the issues that machines can’t resolve and picking up the tickets that fall through the cracks. However, with the current rate of technological advancement, who really knows what’s in store?