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Leverage the increasing partner ecosystem for increased IT value

by Dave Hannon

December 14, 2010

Dave Hannon @Daveatwispubs

Outsourcing.

What image came to your mind when you read that word? Honestly?

Outsourcing has taken on a negative tone in recent years, conjuring up images of lost jobs and poor customer service for many people. But in the IT organization, shifting traditionally internal workloads to partner firms can be an effective way to increase your internal IT organization’s output, and show increased value to the enterprise.

A fascinating study from MIT’s Center for Information Systems Research found that CIOs on average spend 44% of their time in the “services” role, which is basically focused on IT service delivery within the enterprise. And while other parts of the enterprise want their IT services delivered effectively, during follow-up interviews, MIT researchers found that other C-level executives expect the CIO to be participating more in strategic discussions focused on acquisitions and compliance issues than they are today. They want IT to be more strategic.

So how do you make that happen? How can you be in two places at once? The study outlined three ways in which CIOs can reduce the time they spend in that services role and focus on more strategic issues, one of which was, “Develop the partner ecosystem.” According to the study, “too often, enterprises still buy technology rather than services and therefore don’t free up the time of the CIO and the IT unit.”

So, when you’re considering the model for your next IT project, thin k beyond the current project. Think about the value of that project in the bigger context and decide what level of internal resources should be dedicated to it. And then find a delivery model that meets that need, because there are models to fit just about every level of needs these days.

But the key to this strategy is to communicate that strategy to key stakeholders. If the goal of moving to partner-based service is to truly free up IT to focus on other things, communicate that up front or the rumor mill will start up pretty quick, and you can be sure “outsourcing” will take on that negative tone then.

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