Effective delivery of information communication technology managed services and support is critical to the functioning of state departments. Media coverage of reported rifts between service providers and certain government departments highlights a significant stumbling block in the rollout of technology and improvement of systems.

This is the view of executive management at the Integr8 Group, South Africa’s largest privately owned ICT managed services provider.

“The fact is that in order to function effectively and provide the necessary level of service, government departments have to be in a position to run off the latest ICT infrastructure and systems,” says Robert Sussman, joint CEO, Integr8. “This is why the government sector is considered one of the most active and growing areas of investment.”

“The partnerships these departments have in place with service providers will influence the pace and quality of service delivery, and ultimately determine whether or not the technology works effectively and if users will really benefit,” explains Sussman.

According to Sussman whilst innovation and growth is driving the development and introduction of next-generation infrastructure, and lowering costs, the credibility of service providers remains a critical factor.

“At the end of the day technology alone can only do so much in terms of improving efficiency in infrastructure management and the application of systems to enhance operations. Knowledge, expertise and experience are non-negotiable requirements in a service provider that presents itself as a credible entity able to offer support,” he says.

Sussman stresses the need for decision makers to understand their core requirements and adopt a vigilant stance when it comes to investment in managed ICT service providers.

“Aside from the conventional IT requirements and ability to effectively engage technology to maintain and sustain presence, organisations and businesses are obliged to keep abreast of trends such as virtualization and cloud computing, as well as social networks. These all have the potential to influence credibility and standing in society at large,” he continues.

In particular they have changed the way operators do business and have also provided wider access to resources. It has also fundamentally changed perception of technology management and available options.

Executive management at Integr8 says the days of simply supplying technology are long gone. Today there is the option to outsource, retain ownership, rent or co-source with regard to infrastructure acquisition, support and management.

“In order to truly add value and compete at the highest levels of service delivery service providers must demonstrate skills competency, an understanding of the nature of ICT managed services and the impact it has on specific environments. For example, an official government department has requirements that may differ strategically to that of a company or commercial venture. The dynamics are completely different and a service provider must have a clear understanding of this,” says Sussman.