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​IT Outsourcing: from adolescent to adult

The term outsourcing was born in 1981. In those days we didn't yet think about outsourcing our IT management or IT infrastructure, but focused on the outsourcing of our generic business processes instead. Today outsourcing is mainly used by companies to guarantee the continuity and performance of their IT systems, to be compliant and to agree on specific SLAs. The market is in development, but what stage are we in?
In the early days of IT outsourcing it was common to outsource its daily management but keep the infrastructure "in-house". Since then many organisations became used to the fact that external parties managed their IT, to the extent that their requirements and expectations increased. Today many companies outsource their entire IT infrastructure, and IT partners are called upon regularly to cooperate in business innovation.
Let's compare this development with the acceptance of the mobile phone. In the beginning a lot of people didn't want to hear of it. We didn't want to be permanently accessible and live with a phone in our pocket. But, after the first positive experiences with calls and text messages, we realised its multiple benefits and wanted more. Result: we now rely on an advanced version of that first mobile phone. As our personal assistant, to get directions, as a news medium and to keep in touch, still, with others. Multiple uses.
Outsourcing has undergone a similar development. The reasons it has become accepted are that organisations have discovered the numerous benefits of outsourcing, that you do not necessarily lose control and that it is particularly difficult to maintain an appropriate level of knowledge in IT departments. Here as well, we want more. And "more" means that IT partners play an increasingly important role within organisations, for example because of their IT knowledge in the area of business development and innovation.
Higher requirements
For many organisations the growing role of the IT partner is another reason to critically consider the requirements for such a partner, especially with regard to security. It makes sense because things like DDOS attacks, BYOD and the Internet of Things are the order of the day. This increases the level of security risk. When concluding contracts, parties involve their IT manager and their purchasing department. Today, more and more often a security officer gets involved as well, to take a closer look at things like security policies and certifications. There are industry-specific certifications and the security officer often insists on a proven track record of successful projects.
The future
I believe that the outsourcing market is in its adolescent stage. There certainly have been growing pains, and whilst there has been a growth spurt of developments, there is still more to come. As previously mentioned, IT outsourcing requirements are still growing. I don't expect that in-house management of IT will disappear, just like there are still people who use a landline, however, I do predict that the acceptance of outsourcing will strongly increase. More and more organisations decide to control their IT, but to outsource its daily management. As far as I am concerned, the outsourcing companies are ready for it!

This blog has been written by Jean-François Bloem and is published on