Becoming a Fortune 100 company Featured

10:59am EDT October 29, 2006
With the technology revolution, the playing field’s been leveled.

“No longer do the world’s largest companies hold insurmountable advantages,” says Bill Nemeth, president and CEO of Mirifex, a technology consulting firm with offices in Columbus and Strongsville. “Any company has the ability to perform like a Fortune 100 in its own right.

“For decades, industries of all kinds have enjoyed the ability to set themselves apart based on product, service or price. But not anymore. Things like lean operating practices and process optimization have commoditized traditional means of distinction. To compete and win tomorrow requires that you innovate with emerging technology as the principal means of setting your organization apart. The good news is that it’s possible for any company to do it. The better news is that it only requires a change in philosophy to make it happen.”

Smart Business asked Nemeth how managed IT services hold the key for a business to win these days.

What is a managed services IT environment, and why is it critical?
A managed IT services environment is the remote management of some — or all — IT functions combined with focused on-site support so that IT can be both efficient and effective. It requires that companies throw out the old rulebook for managing IT and replace it with a new understanding of the dynamics of advancing technologies.

Since the inception of business computing, companies have relied upon internal departments to manage and deliver all of their technology needs. And they’ve done so with the belief that IT was simply a function needed to support other value differentiating areas of their businesses. Today, technologies are advancing so rapidly that an internal IT department simply can’t keep pace. There’s just too much to know, understand and do to effectively leverage all that technology.

About a decade ago, Fortune 100 companies began to realize this very fact, so they began to outsource IT. At the time, it was difficult and expensive to do, but the upgrades in capabilities made it well worth it. Now, technologies have evolved to a degree where any company can outsource virtually every IT function. And they can simultaneously lower their IT investment while dramatically advancing IT capability by doing so. This is critical because technology itself is becoming the most valuable way to outpace your competition and create business value.

What IT functions can be managed remotely, and what steps need to be taken for an organization to do so?
Outsourced desktop management, application development, help-desk/call centers, and hosting services are now commonplace for any size business. More advanced organizations can supply design and architecture, network engineering, project management, and asset and lease management. At the most advanced level, managed services organizations can assume responsibility as a partner in the strategic IT management of the client organization overall. By partnering with a managed services firm in this way, organizations are assured the best possible outcomes.

The stepping stones to a managed services environment include conducting an analysis of existing IT planning and strategy and its alignment (or lack thereof) with the business strategy; establishing IT governance protocol; metrics of measure; and executing service level agreements (SLAs) for delivery.

In most instances, the transition to a managed services model can be undertaken with ease and with improved service levels.

What kind of ROI is possible by moving to a managed services model, and what are the added benefits?
It is not uncommon for managed services solutions to deliver 15 percent or more bottom-line savings to the total annual IT spend — savings that can be redirected to the true core competencies of the organization. Yet cost savings are only a slice of managed services value. By increasing capacity and capability, and by leveraging every new IT option available to you, any organizational initiative involving an IT component (and literally all do) can realize substantive, measurable gains.

What should a company look for in an outsourcing partner?
Most critically, an organization needs to assure that its managed services partner is willing, able and driven to help you position IT as a strategic business driver, rather than simply a support function.

Second, you’ll want to assure that the partner you select has the experienced personnel, secure remote environment, and scalable capacity to meet your needs as they change or grow. It is important to evaluate each of these components fully. By switching to managed services, you will be buying a slice of each of these assets.

Next, be aware that flexible, built-to-suit, and ala carte managed service arrangements are made available among a select handful of organizations. This provides flexibility and cost savings to you that, until recently, had not been offered as an option. It used to be all or nothing.

And finally, look for a partner who believes in your ability to become as powerful as any Fortune 100 firm. Because, in fact, you can by leveraging the best that technology has to offer.

BILL NEMETH is president and CEO of Mirifex, the nation’s fastest-growing privately held business and technology consulting firm. Reach him at (440) 891-1210, ext. 201, or wnemeth@mirifex.com.