IT Service Providers, Customers Needs Poorly Aligned, Study Shows

New research finds a substantial disconnect between IT service providers and IT departments in how their relationships should evolve.

it management and logicnow

While IT departments initially reach out to IT service providers to help tackle an immediate, business-critical need, many service providers right away try to offer a wider, more consultative service in response, giving this greater priority than addressing the more pressing requirement, new research shows.

There is a substantial disconnect between IT service providers and IT departments in how their relationships should evolve, according to the findings of IT service management specialist LogicNow's worldwide survey of more than 1,300 IT departments and almost 700 IT service providers. The study showed 71 percent of U.S. IT service providers were keen for their customer relationships to move toward greater strategic consultancy and looking to offer wider, more diverse knowledge-based services.

"Service providers are acutely aware of the importance of good communications, but they don't always focus on tailoring the message to their prospective clients," Alistair Forbes, general manager of LogicNow, told eWEEK. "You never really know what you have said until you know what the person who was listening actually heard. The survey results show that the communication approach of many service providers is not matching what their prospective clients are looking for."

Showing broader capability at an early stage is a sensible approach, but it should be clearly delineated from the core response to the client's requirements, Forbes said.

However, just 13 percent of IT departments felt the same, with the remainder split evenly between wanting no change at all, and actually wanting more focus on tactical, technical IT support instead.

Asked where managed security offerings should improve, IT departments are most interested to see better email security, better Web protection and better antivirus, while service providers appeared to be planning on prioritizing security consultancy and offering more proactive system updates and patching.

In addition, 78 percent of U.S. IT departments want to pay for managed security services with a single invoice on either a monthly, quarterly or annual basis that encompass all the charges for all their IT security needs—technology licenses and associated services combined.

However, 45 percent of service providers are invoicing in exactly the wrong way, on an ad hoc basis. Even worse, 53 percent are deliberately not planning to change their invoicing processes in the next 12 months.

"Given the state of evolution of the managed services market, the survey findings are a little surprising, and on that basis, it seems unlikely that the situation will change substantially in the near future," Forbes said. "Our objective in commissioning the research study was to get an evidence base on which to assess the current situation that we can use to inform our own input to service providers to help them achieve strong alignment with the audience they are seeking to serve."