Has the Way we Buy IT Changed?

Change | Digital Evolution | IT Industry | IT Infrastructure

Has the Way we Buy IT Changed?

Change | Digital Evolution | IT Industry | IT Infrastructure

The Past
Few would contest the observation that the IT industry has changed. How we buy, develop and implement technology solutions has altered. In the past, most organisations had extensive internal IT teams that were masters of all they surveyed. They would source IT from a range of suppliers and then implement, largely, custom built, self-assembled solutions. Companies would get what they needed, albeit at a cost, including hefty supplier margins and consulting costs, etc. On the plus side, service was personal and, more often than not, face to face.

Then web-based, self-service, ‘point-and-click’ IT came along, led by companies providing hosted IT services with limited, if any, need for communication between supplier and customer. Amazon and others have taken this ‘point-and-click’ supplier model to another level of sophistication and scale, based on an array of options and a per-second/minute/hour pricing structure.

Yes, it can be quick and easy to access, but it’s largely a service based on proprietary technology customers are accessing, as apposed to making technical choices about the appropriateness of specific technology components.

And all of this is barge pole, as opposed to arms length; often customers are completely unable to speak to a real person. In fact, even chat support is now increasingly being delivered via AI bots.

The Problem
Previously, IT departments, with their numerous supplier relationships, were able to find what the business needed, even though this model had costs attached to it, both in time and money. Today you can find almost anything you could want, but often it’s not quite fit for purpose or requires in-depth knowledge of a service provider’s systems to make it work as you want, which can often lead to ‘sticky plaster’ implementations.

In reality, this results in systems, services and solutions being led down the path of compromise for the sake of being able to implement on a particular provider’s infrastructure. Equally problematic, customers get tied into a provider’s eco system, which, in many cases, requires further costly and time consuming customised integration.

Clearly, this all makes very good business sense to the web-based, self-service IT provider, but for the customer, if the service changes or it’s unable to meet some new operational requirement (like presence in a specific geographical location), it can lead to huge disruption, cost and delays while the systems are re-engineered.

Customers chasing economies of scale with the intentions of driving down escalating costs, whilst managing budgets under pressure, often find themselves making poor strategic decisions, that can come back to bite them. For example, in the case of Amazon’s spot market, it’s a lot cheaper than regular instances, but can be cancelled with no warning leaving customers without service.

Companies using self-service IT provisioning are requiring developers and technical staff to understand billing impacts of development where really their attention should be on the creative process. As a result, costs can often balloon out of control.

In such a competitive market as ‘hosting’, the self-service supplier model is actually limiting competition, which, again, is good for the incumbent suppliers, but not for the customers. As a result, customers are effectively becoming tied to suppliers because of their eco-systems/cost of change, etc.

The Solution
Second generation suppliers, like Flexiion, exist to provide customers with a ready-to-go service solution tailored around their needs, as apposed to an IT solution the customer needs to tailor around a predefined delivery platform.

We have a preferred set of suppliers and technologies that we work with to provide our services. However, we are very happy to source alternatives or additions to suit our customers’ requirements.

We aim to build long-term relationships by working in partnership with our customers. We don’t charge consulting or support fees, nor do we require CapEx investment. Our services are provided using a subscription model and we aim to be as flexible as possible, so should requirements change, so does our service.

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