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For Technology That Helps Your Business Thrive, Think MSI

Knowing your limitations is undervalued. In the technology world, where providers have a big information advantage and clients aren’t especially interested in how their technology works as long as it does what it should, the idea of one partner who can solve all of your technology problems is enticing.

It’s also a pipe dream. As technology grows, becoming more refined and infinitely more complex, specialization is critical. The traditional skill sets that technology providers built their careers on just a few years ago just aren’t relevant now.

In the room where I’m writing this, I have four devices within reach, and I can access my work data through three of them, by using no fewer than seven collaboration tools. Determining which tools fit a business and its teams is a skillset all its own. Implementing even a “simple” solution draws on so many wide-ranging and incredibly specific skillsets that things can get dicey fast for the Jack-of-all-trades provider.

Think of it like building a house: You need a general contractor, and that person needs architects, engineers, electricians, plumbers, and all the other specialists who contribute their knowledge to your sound, functioning home. Oh, and when you get there, you might want to bring in a security specialist. And maybe a landscape designer.

Businesses depend on technology. That’s only going to expand and deepen. Remote workforces are now the norm; cybercrime is a critical concern; effective workflows depend on agile and transparent data. To function in any given workday, a single user depends on an astronomical number of systems. I could go on, but the point is your organizational “house” can’t be built by one technology partner. To thrive, you’re best served by a partner who works as a steward of your technology.

The answer that gives you more options also simplifies your IT approach

The response to any technology conundrum is to find an expert. Strong start, but it gets troubling fast. Which expert? What services do you really need? Do you add to your internal team or work with an outside partner? And which partner?

The expense of adding a wide range of specialties to your staff makes that approach a nonstarter for most organizations. Your internal IT resources are better devoted to supporting your business goals rather than solving implementation issues.

You almost certainly want to find a technology partner, and there are a gazillion of them. In other words, they’re a dime a dozen, and those who tell you they do everything most likely shine in a couple of areas and are just getting by in others.

Yes, there are a handful of sprawling organizations that have the resources to solve any technology problem you throw at them. The downside is that you’re constantly working with new people rather than developing a relationship with a team that understands you and your business. Turnover is high, and your “team” includes dozens of members, most of whom you never meet. You’d be lucky to find one who remembers your name, let alone the goals your team is striving for.

These ultra-large organizations also tend to have massive legal teams, drafting contracts that bring surprises for companies whose needs change or for meeting the moments of crisis when you’re most desperate.

Another outsourcing pitfall? Prepackaged solutions. Many managed services providers come with a product suite, and only one. Your business gets shoehorned into the solution that’s most profitable for them, which rarely is any kind of real solution. You end up with ad hoc services rather than a partner who manages your entire technology ecosystem.

From many sources, one just-right solution

Technology gets overwhelming fast for anyone who doesn’t think about it all day. As it gets more complex, finding your solution just gets thornier. The way toward peace of mind and a high-performing technology ecosystem that serves your business strategy is to find your general contractor—the technology partner who functions as steward, strategist, and overseer of all your technology.

This strategy, called multisource service integration (MSI), puts a face to your technology solution. You always know who to reach out to, and you get a partner who has deep knowledge of how your business functions and where you want it to grow.

An MSI partner brings the vendor relationships and the product and strategy knowledge that enables them to build a solution without limitations—one that is customized to your organization rather than simply utilizing the products and skills they have access to and hoping all of it works for you.
That kind of partner draws from the universe of technology services to build your exact-right solution. As a result, your solution is innovative and agile; you can swap in the right services at the right time without missing a step—or having to develop new partnerships.

The MSI model isn’t about selling the limited services you can provide but about supporting the outcomes an organization is striving toward. Your MSI partner handles the details of your IT environment, keeping in close contact with you about your challenges and goals. You work together to build a technology strategy that helps your business thrive, and then your partner draws on their knowledge and relationships to make it happen.

That kind of close relationship with a knowledgeable partner supports continuous improvement so that your solution grows with you. You get an integrated ecosystem of vendors, data, systems, and applications that helps your teams perform effectively in pursuit of your goals.

Even better: When things go awry, or when your needs change, you know just who to contact to make it happen.

Find the partner who stewards your technology—the sooner, the better

Technology providers have an intimidating information advantage to a lot of businesses as they struggle to determine how to meet their IT needs. You can make the decision a lot easier by looking for that technology general contractor—the partner who will guide your exact solution without limitation.

That’s a decision I encourage you to make soon. If you’re struggling with technology, or if you’re getting by on “good enough,” you’re going to be surprised by how much better life gets when you have tools that strengthen your teams’ capabilities.

And, a word of caution: You might not recognize your own vulnerability to cyber threats. Chances are, you’re getting by with an incomplete solution that fails to address the latest tactics for breaching your systems.

Security breaches are a huge, scary, and obvious expense, but you also face an expense that’s not as noticeable. Working with an ill-fitting solution creates inefficiencies that drain your resources, drip by drip.

I’m a big fan of the MSI model for what it brings in terms of customization, innovation, agility, and peace of mind. Of course, I’m biased, because that’s how we’ve been doing things since before anyone had bothered to give that approach a name.

I welcome your questions. Send them to rgould@ksmconsulting.com.

Ryan Gould, Senior Solutions Architect
Ryan Gould is a Senior Solutions Architect at KSM Consulting. Ryan’s focus is developing the best solution to deliver positive outcomes for our clients. Ryan is passionate about understanding people and delivering high-quality service to meet their needs.