ICT Managed Services - Making a strategic contribution

March 25th 2019

An excerpt of John Bergin discussing IT Managed Services with Jason Walsh of the Sunday Business (24/3/2019).

Often seen as mere outsourcing, in fact managed services is a lot more like taking on a partner company to help develop a strategic approach to IT. John Bergin, managing director of IT Force, said that the managed services sector has grown precisely because IT’s role in business is now so central.

“A lot of it will come from compliance. A lot of our clients will be financial services companies. They’re driven by the Central Bank of Ireland to reach certain standard – and that’s particularly tricky for 20 to 100-user companies,” he said.

Naturally, security is a key area; something which makes sense when you consider that, such is the demand, individual security professionals are almost impossible to recruit.

“Other things that drive them might be they’ve had an event or heard of one somewhere else: a posing attack, a staff member comprising the network,” said Bergin.

IT Force works with its clients to deliver IT to recognised global standards; something that they might find difficult to attain on their own.

“It may also be someone who just wants to improve their business. For example, ISO 270001 is a formal compliance standard for information security, which we ourselves have. Anyone who has that can demonstrate that they have met a globally recognised standard. They in turn may use that win business for themselves.”

This does not mean that ISO 270001 is simply bestowed by IT Force’s mere presence. “We can drive best practice, and we have a client who has just passed their ISO 270001, but we can’t write cheques for you,” said Bergin.

However, compliance and security are not the sole focus of IT Force’s proposition. The company prides itself on delivering a tailored, complete—and strategic IT service for customers, Bergin said.

“It’s a complete IT service: everything from sourcing the right products to installing the product to running the product. For example, you could spend, easily, a million euro on a security service, but if your turnover is half a million a year, you’re not going to do that. The biggest part of it is to turn your IT into a strategy that impacts the business,” he said.

The question then is: where do you start? Enterprise IT has a reputation for being something of a nightmare, but Bergin said this was down to misconceptions that drive bad practice.

“IT is not a nightmare. IT is a string of common-sense things that you have to do, which will get rid of the nightmares and start creating business opportunities for you,” he said.

Endless firefighting is itself part of the problem, Bergin said, as it works against developing IT services that contribute to the business.

“Everybody wants to deal with one particular problem and then deal with the next problem when it pops up. You need to talk to someone who will take you on a journey.”

One of the key issues that has to be overcome is ego, or at least the inertia of things always having been done a certain way.

“Your average small to medium business is owner-driven and each one will have a particular personality,” said Bergin. “He or she might like to do a deal or have a contact whom he feels can do this or that. Other businesses would have a more mature view of it, and some are being coached and cajoled by the regulatory bodies. You still find the odd maverick, though.

“The view among professional services companies – accountants, solicitors, and, to a certain extent, architects – tends to be more mature.”

Bergin cautions that smaller firms should not take a casual “Ah, sure it’ll do” attitude: the stakes are staggeringly high, even for the smallest of businesses.

“The one-man and five-man bands, their IT is just as important to them as, say, Bank of Ireland’s is to them. It’s like driving around without any insurance. You might think: ‘This is grand, sure I’ve never had an accident’,” he said.

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