Keeping the lights on is preventing IT departments from focusing on the customer experience, says Claranet

Digital transformation trends mean that businesses are focusing more heavily on their customers and are using technology to improve their experience. However, IT departments remain bogged down in day-to-day activities and the need to keep the lights on, which is preventing teams focusing on how they can help drive improvements to the customer experience. This is according to research commissioned by managed services provider Claranet, with results summarised it its 2018 Report, Beyond Digital Transformation: Reality check for European IT and Digital leaders.

In a survey of 750 IT and Digital decision-makers from organisations across Europe, market research company Vanson Bourne found that the overwhelming majority (79 per cent) feel that the IT department could be more focused on the customer experience, but that staff do not have the time to do so. More generally, almost all respondents (98 per cent) recognise that there would be some kind of benefit if they adopted a more customer-centric approach, whether this be developing products more quickly (44 per cent), greater business agility (43 per cent), or being better prepared for change (43 per cent).

Commenting on the findings, Michel Robert, Managing Director at Claranet UK, said:

As technology develops, IT departments are finding themselves with a long and growing list of responsibilities, all of which need to be carried out alongside the omnipresent challenge of keeping the lights on and making sure everything runs smoothly. Despite a tangible desire amongst respondents to adopt a more customer-centric approach, this can be difficult when IT teams have to spend a significant amount of their time on general management and maintenance tasks."

Improving customer experience is the second most-commonly-cited challenge by European IT departments (38 per cent), only behind security. Finding the right balance between digital and human interaction was also a common struggle, with 46 per cent of respondents expressing that sentiment. For Michel, this is where the expertise of managed service providers could help to lessen the load and enable IT teams to work more readily on customer-driven projects. When asked about the main drivers behind outsourcing elements of an IT estate to third parties, 46 per cent cited more time to focus on innovation, and 48 per cent said it frees up resource for them to focus on company strategy. Michel continued:

IT and digital teams are struggling for resource in an increasingly competitive business environment, and the evidence from our survey underlines this. By entrusting the responsibility for keeping the lights on to a third-party, IT departments can relieve themselves of this time-consuming burden, while maintaining peace of mind in knowing that these tasks are in the hands of a partner with a high level of expertise in this field."

Placing faith in a third-party supplier will allow the IT department – and the wider business in general – to focus on what really matters: an ever-improving, positive customer experience. IT innovation will be free to come to the fore, and it will become easier for the goals of the IT department to be effectively aligned with those of the rest of the organisation."