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Organizations
that rely on managed services providers for some or all of their information
technology needs are reaping significant annual costs savings, according to a
study published today by CompTIA, a nonprofit association for the IT industry. The
Trends in Managed Services study revealed that among current users of managed
services, 46 percent of firms have trimmed their annual IT expenditures by 25
percent or more as a result of their shift to managed services, including 13
percent that have slashed annual IT expenditures by 50 percent or more.

An
additional 50 percent of organizations have saved between 1 percent and 24
percent in IT costs annually. The study also found that 89 percent of current
managed services users are very satisfied or mostly satisfied with their
experience. Performance and uptime, agreeable contract terms, a secure
environment, and the flexibility to easily and quickly add new services all
contribute to customers’ satisfaction.

“This
is compelling evidence that managed services, even when implemented on a small
scale, can deliver significant cost savings, freeing up cash for other business
needs,” said Carolyn April, director of industry analysis for CompTIA. “More
importantly, these savings are accomplished without impacting the availability
and reliability of the technology solutions the company relies on to conduct
business.”

Another
critical factor is good communication between the customer and their managed
services provider (MSP), according to the report. Among companies that are
highly satisfied with managed services, three-quarters say their MSP provides
regular activity reports on all of the steps they take with the customer’s IT
environment, including documenting any problems averted to keep the customer up
and running.

“This
shows return on investment and fuels accountability, which builds loyalty and
raises satisfaction among customers,” April noted. “From the MSP‚Äôs perspective,
these are opportunities to make recommendations on new services to add to keep
pace with business growth. Customers are engaged even though they’re not
managing their own IT.”

While
costs savings are the top factor in deciding to turn to managed services, more
than half of respondents in the CompTIA survey said a major reason they are
contracting with an MSP is to free up their internal IT staffs to work on
projects that fall into the business‚Äôs core competencies‚ÄĒin other words,
revenue-generating activities. Looking ahead, 62 percent of end users surveyed
said they plan to increase their IT spend on managed services over the next two
years, with the balance opting to remain at current levels. Among the IT needs
that companies intend to move to managed services in the next 12 months are
security, such as firewalls and antivirus, cited by 38 percent of customers;
Website hosting, 36 percent; network administration and maintenance, 34 percent;
and help desk and IT support, 31 percent.

A
full 15 percent of channel companies offering managed services today reaped
more than 75 percent of their revenue from these contractual services last
year. Nearly half said that managed services accounted for between 50 percent
and 75 percent of sales during the last 12 months. “Growth expectations are not
overly aggressive, perhaps reflecting the tepid economy,” April said. “Still, a
quarter of respondents project growth of more than 10 percent and a full
two-thirds expect modest growth. None of the sample predicted any level of
decline in MSP business in the coming year.”