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9 commandments of IT managed service in the new normal

The COVID-19 virus has changed our world forever and created a new normal instantly. Working from home went from a benefit to a necessity, making us more dependent on IT as an enabler and facilitator. While it has been a very trying time for most of us, more and more people are focussing on how we can use this crisis as a force for good. With this whitepaper we aim to show you how IT managed services can work a little better in the new normal.

The crisis has accelerated the adoption of many of the current technology developments. Normally change is gradual, people do things like they always did until they are inspired to do things differently. Inspiration can come from a friend, an expert, a company or maybe even a commercial, the moment of adoption is different for everybody. Some are early adopters, friends of early adopters, mainstream adopters, and some are laggards. That is why every change is gradual, usually over multiple years unless there is a compelling event, like a crisis, a war or in this case a pandemic. In 2020 everybody was instantly dependant on IT to work from home. People needed to continue their work and were not able to come to the office, making disruption inevitable.

PLTFRM started in 2020, while COVID-19 came to the Netherlands. Nine months into 2020, we quit our jobs, making it important to follow the developments in IT meticulously. We think we have a good handle on which changes will accelerate and define IT managed services in the coming 5 years. We will share our conclusions and opinions with you in 9 commandments.



1 . Everything will be as a Service (XaaS)

2. Everyone will work in an agile manner

3. Develop processes & business models with talent scarcity in mind

4. You already are an ecosystem, act like it

5. Honour your customers & honour your partners

6. Business development will continue to change, support it

7. You will get a platform, you will get a platform and you, and you

8. IT quality needs to be managed at runtime not with contracts

9. Have patience, and prepare, changes will be gradual



1.Everything will be as a Service (XaaS)
Public cloud started the “as a Service” movement. It’s one of the main innovations this decade, making huge impact on business. Public cloud is gaining momentum and the “as a Service” business model is rapidly copied in other markets. “As a Service” has four key aspects which will make it the new norm. When other service providers copy these aspects, they can easily profit from this new delivery model. I personally think IT companies who cannot change their model will disappear quickly. The same goes for customers who aren’t flexible enough to benefit from these new services.


a. The services are highly standardized; you know exactly what you get and when you get it.

b. These standard services are easy to buy, SLA’s are standardized, and pricing is transparent.

c. Services are easy to compare which means customers choose suppliers based on value perception.

d. This democratization is creating a market where customers are king, customer intimacy is key & innovation is currency.


Services are easy to compare which means customers choose suppliers based on value perception.
This democratization is creating a market where customers are king, customer intimacy is key & innovation is currency.
Managed Services in the new normal is about customer value and quality. Organisations that try to bamboozle customers with complexity and non-transparent pricing, will have a hard time when XaaS is the norm. This will not happen overnight, but it’s just a matter of time until the services that are not easy to understand, buy and consume will lose traction and fade into history.


Managed Services in the new normal is about customer value and quality. Organisations that try to bamboozle customers with complexity and non-transparent pricing, will have a hard time when XaaS is the norm. This will not happen overnight, but it’s just a matter of time until the services that are not easy to understand, buy and consume will lose traction and fade into history.



2. Everyone will work in an agile manner

Virtually everybody is working Agile, DevOps, Lean, Scrum, whatever. One of the mayor exceptions where organisations are still working waterfall is outsourcing. Outsourcing contracts are still planned extensively, with fixed scope, time and Prince2 project plans. It’s even becoming less agile because of the increasing number of demands and complexity of IT landscapes. That’s not sustainable, with the current IT innovation rate planning more than 2 years in the future is bad for business.


We, in the IT industry, are used to setup controls for every intercompany collaboration. Contracts are our bread and butter; it’s part of our standard operating procedure. That is going to change. Even though it will be tough for bigger organisations to pivot and forecast revenue when contracts are becoming more flexible.
The current way we work will disappear quicker because of COVID-19. I personally don’t know what I will be doing in five years. How can any company?


On the demand side, consumer and customers’ demands focusing on the latest and greatest, organisations cannot afford to take out contracts that span a decade. That means making the best plans will no longer be a selling point, service providers will deliver talent combined with best practices and predeveloped standards. This will open the market to specialists, increase the amount of agile XaaS contracts and create new chances for specialized service providers.
It will be a whole new world.



3. Develop processes & business models with talent scarcity in mind

Talent is becoming harder to find, it will probably be one of the biggest threats for growth the coming years. As a Service and DevOps services are dependent on talented employees which will make the problem worse.

At PLTFRM we think the only thing an organisation can do is to aim to use talent wisely and cultivate it actively.


As a first step put your most talented people on the most valuable jobs. Make sure they support as many of your customers at the most important times. Attach trainees to these experts to support their efficiency and to create more experts fast. Do not invest the time of your best people in putting out simple fires or sales projects, even though it can be very tempting. Invest time into productizing and standardizing expertise.

Ensuring your best people are only needed for only the hardest escalations will be the best investment organisations will make. Customers will also be happy to have access to your best people when they really need to and receive high quality, innovative standardized solutions.


Second, if organisations specialise it will be easier to cultivate expertise. With a recognized level of expertise, it will be a lot easier to set a common purpose, draw in the best people and develop new talent quicker. These components are rated very important by employees. Developing expertise and put that towards achieving the organisations purpose will profit your business goals and improve customer’s and employee’s happiness.



4. You already are an ecosystem, act like it

To manage a complete mission or business critical IT stack organisations need more than one expert service provider. These experts should work together, they are all needed for a successful IT stack. Together multiple smaller, talented experts will support organisations with Agile, XaaS offerings, in projects or as managed services.


Collaboration across expertise is already common practice in a lot of other markets. In construction or fabrication experts are always responsible for components and the final product is built by, or under orchestration of one responsible party. In IT, every organisation has multiple service providers. Every organisation has providers for a phone, a laptop, Wi-Fi, internet connection, software from different vendors and a system integrator or managed service provider.


The organisation and its suppliers are an IT ecosystem. Why not act like it and manage it actively? Choose partners that are willing to work together, give them shared goals that are important to you. Friesland Campina has had success with this approach years ago. With the number of contracts increasing and more specialists supporting your organisation, it is mission critical to make partners work together like a perfect orchestra.



5. Honour your customers & honour your partners

What makes an ecosystem work? The term ecosystem comes from nature, according to Wikipedia: An ecosystem is a community of living organisms in conjunction with the non-living components of their environment, interacting as a system. These biotic and abiotic components are linked together through nutrient cycles (money) and energy flows (value). Simply said, an ecosystem is a community that is co-dependent.

For an IT ecosystem to thrive there are three requirements:


1. 1+1=1

The ecosystem should act as a whole. All parties need to have a common goal, usually based on the reason the customer created the ecosystem. This gives the ecosystem purpose and reason to collaborate.


2. 1+1=3
The ecosystem needs to be more than the sum of its components. With the belief that together the parties of the ecosystem can achieve the goal significantly better than alone is the second step to success.


3. 1+1=1.4+1.6
The ecosystem stakeholders should work together proactively to balance the work and rewards of the ecosystem. It’s important for every stakeholder to remain successful, if the ecosystem is unbalanced the collaboration will suffer. This is one of the main reason unbiased orchestration is a big asset in every IT ecosystem.


Ecosystems need a shared focus, a customer or group of customers that brings experts that want to excel together. With this new focus on ecosystems, on quality, and the rising opportunity for smaller, more specialised organisations, the number of choices will grow and thus, the IT market will become democratized. Customers can make informed decisions based on transparency and simplicity.



6. Business development will continue to change, support it

With customers making better informed decisions and the focus moving more toward quality, new sales models around solutions will take precedence over traditional sales. If customers can buy services with a credit card and cancel them whenever they want it will not be feasible to invest too much time in the sales cycle. Standardizing products and finding new digital delivery models will be key.



This shift in the way sales is done has been growing over the past years, and now sales is no longer able to visit customers, this has taken a huge leap. Sales on teams can feel sub optimal but you can do more meetings and have a lot of technology at your fingertips. Using movies, demo’s and inviting experts seamlessly from everywhere in the world can create a very dynamic on-line sales pitch. These types of technology can help sales create an even better pitch. McKinsey shared an article sharing that sales teams and customers prefer the new way sales is done and see great opportunities. It’s a new world where being able to pivot business development and acquisition will be fundamental for success for every partner and customer.



7. You will get a platform, you will get a platform and you, and you

With organisations looking for the best small partner instead of one of the 20 global service providers of the magic quadrant, new challenges arise. If there are 100 different partners, how does an organisation know which one is the best fit? Standardised services are nice but still a good cultural match will be important to achieve a true partnership.
A price seems easy to compare but how do you compare quality? And what if you do not need to choose 1 partner but 20? That seems an impossible task. Especially if you think about the tenders and RFI/RFP projects we are used to today.


The answer is simple: platforms. Consumers are used to Airbnb, Booking, Uber and we will see the same shift in the business-to-business market the coming years. The world economic forum has predicted that the coming 5 years, 10% of the global investments done in digital transformation will be acquired through business-to-business market vertical platforms. Partners that have already been preparing their services will dominate this domain. Investing in standardized services, willingness to share success and allowing transparent communication between customers, are steps that cannot be taken too soon. The platforms will be a central location for decisions, collaboration, knowledge exchange and to referee; to ensure balance in the ecosystems.



8. IT quality needs to be managed at runtime not with contracts

The risk an organisation takes when contracting a partner is significantly lower when a service is standardized, transparently priced, based on quality and when the contracts are smaller. That means you can take a bit more risk and use contract that are less complicated. With lower risks you might even say we will contract a little bit more based on trust and human relationships. Organisations can manage the contract in run, based on the relation, data driven and the conviction that all partners have the same goal.

The market vertical platform can referee when there is a problem or in the worst-case scenario find another partner to help. With the belief that everyone will live happily ever after, contracting might even be disrupted. Maybe we could do away with huge legal teams, tenders and Request for Price requests (RFP) all together in a couple of years? That would free up a lot of talent, energy, and capital.



9. Have patience, and prepare, changes will be gradual

It seems like a perfect fit, the market trends that are emerging, the new delivery models and the speed of innovation. As most changes, it will take time, time to trust the platforms, to get used to jumping in the deep end and for partners to build standardized, scalable services. Business models need to be adopted; products need to be created. When organisations are ready, partners are ready, and the platforms have achieved critical mass for automating all parts of the ecosystem and orchestration it will be at least a year or two.

Until the change has become mainstream, managing relationships personally, traditional sales and independent IT orchestration are necessary. This orchestration and the creation of the infrastructure for these platforms will be the key to success. When it is finally up and running democratisation of the IT service market will have spectacular results for IT solutions in general, the organisations that use them, employees at partners and most importantly, the people who depend on IT every day.



At PLTFRM we know that the 9 commandments will not be applicable for every product and for every organisation. We also recognize it will take blood, sweat and tears before we can say we are successful, if we will be successful. We like to think the potential is worth every drop of our energy:

A world where the best experts transparently work together from anywhere in the world. Organisations can make a difference by selecting sustainable, inclusive and high-quality service providers. Experts can focus on becoming even better in their niche and working together with likeminded organisations. By selecting partners, organisations can improve our world, improve employee happiness, and improve turnover. Join us on our journey, invest some time, some energy, to give a better IT market vertical a shot. Let’s find out what impact democratisation of business services in a post-growth world can have.



About the author

I’m Rolf van Anholt, one of the three founders at PLTFRM. I’m responsible for designing our solutions, running the PLTFRM and orchestrating the ecosystems. I love long term collaborations and designing, building, delivering easy to use digital products for real world challenges.
I’m a creative problem solver that is motivated most when working in teams on new things. Before PLTFRM I worked in IT managed services in IT strategy, orchestration, operations, consultancy, projects, and monitoring.
Besides IT, I love to cook, play field hockey, snowboard, game and read fantasy books (which explains my writing).
Join my network on LinkedIn to find out more, follow our journey at PLTFRM or give me a piece of your mind.


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