IT Managed Service propositions - finding the one that best aligns to your strategy and vision

July 8th 2019

An excerpt of John Bergin discussing IT Managed Services with Ian Campbell of the Sunday Business (7/7/2019).

IT Force has been successfully operating in Ireland since 1999 as more of a niche provider. With a customer base of around 80 small to medium-sized businesses with between 20 and 100 employees, it’s a segment that managing director John Bergin knows well.

“Most of them are either financial services companies who want help with security, compliance and dealing with Central Bank regulations, or professional services firms like accountants and solicitors that are looking for ways to differentiate,” he said.

IT Force addresses both goals through ISO 270001 certification, which ensures that the quality, safety, service and reliability of the firm’s data management has been safeguarded to the highest level, and by providing Cyber Essentials, an industry recognised methodology for implementing key controls to mitigate the most common threats.

Bergin characterises his customers as ambitious and aware that standing still is not an option. “They see the writing on the wall; they know that IT isn’t going to go away and they need to be more compliant and security conscious. They also know that ISO 27001 is a very big ask for any small company to try and do it on their own,” he said.

Years of working with these types of firms means IT Force rarely encounters a business problem for the first time. “We will have seen it before so we can steer them in the right direction,” said Bergin. “You want to know from them what their points of pain are and you’ll find they are very similar to other people’s pain points.”

Pragmatic in his approach, he won’t let his client or his own business succumb to the hype that dominates a lot of IT conversations. His attitude to cloud exemplifies this. “Most of our clients have embraced it one way or another, and while it is a change of mindset in terms of where information and data is stored, it’s not really that different,” he said. “Our clients tend not to be pioneers and we wouldn’t encourage them be even if they wanted to.”

Every engagement starts with a thorough audit of the client’s estate, with IT Force taking on the role of strategic advisor, looking at where the business is at, what it’s got in terms of technology, and where it needs to be going next.
If it’s a financial services company, for example, the cloud might not be the right place for them to move business-critical data.

This is just the first phase of the IT Force offering, as Bergin explained. “What we provide is more or less a managed service built around continuous assessment, an ongoing engagement that’s a mixture of the technical and advisory,” he said. “The audit never stops, like painting the Golden Gate Bridge. You have to get the client into the mindset of consistently wanting to improve how they are perceived in their market place.”

When it comes to advising clients on what to outsource, Bergin recommends a wholesale handover. “The nuts and bolts, the security, cloud, networking, helpdesks – they should get rid of it all in my view. All they need to keep inhouse is a handle on line-of-business applications, the people who are expert in their software applications, the efficiencies they deliver and the users who use them. Everything else can go,” he said.

His main advice for companies engaging in managed service is to keep things simple. “A lot of companies come to us because they’ve had problems with other providers and over-complicated things,” he said. “Everybody wants to be agile; everybody wants the best of everything, but these things are hard to do if you keep going down cul-de-sacs. People still think of IT as something magical when it’s mostly common sense.”

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