Dear Hosters of the World:

 

Customers looking for hosting are moving away slowly from dealing with physical servers, customer support phone calls, cabling, scripting, extra capacity, maintaining application infrastructure and all such pre-historic necessities. They need hosting services that wrap around their business seamlessly versus the other way round.

 

How does that break down on your side?

 It means one or more of the following:

o   You have relevant services, offers for your target market.

o   Your infrastructure is a well oiled, flexible machine running at max utilization.

o   Efficient and effective processes are in place.

o   Every touch point takes customers a notch up the loyalty ladder with you. Not towards your competitor.

 

What is it that enables the above and more?

Well ...  a hint. Just think of 5 hosters that are doing great according to you. See how they are able to remain nimble and grow. You will see one clear pattern. 

 

They have superior ‘Business-driven IT Infrastructure’ in place - to enable services; to maintain optimized infrastructure and processes; to help provide great customer service and more.

 

Look at the hosting industry. It is where the Airlines were in the early 70’s - similar potential, similar challenges. Investment in IT is one of the keys for your future survival and growth.

 

Read this extract from the book ‘Business-driven Information Technology: Answers to 100 critical questions’, by David R. Laube and Raymond F. Zamm. It brings forth some interesting points on how IT has transformed the entire Airline industry, and how it still continues to do so.  “The original intent was to develop an inventory management system to reduce clerical costs. However, American Airlines discovered that information captured by the system was invaluable in managing passenger service levels, aircraft capacity, baggage handling, food and fuel requirements etc. etc. As American Airlines continued to experiment, it found new competitive uses of its IT, such as extending the reach into travel agents’ offices in the 70s, using the information to develop sophisticated pricing models.” Today that system called SABRE forms a backbone for even the web based travel sites we use, as consumers.

 

Just pause for a moment here. Think about how you can transform your business by bringing in resources on board that can help you remain relevant, through IT.

 

It is ironic. Hosters help run sophisticated IT applications for their customers, but an overwhelming majority of hosters themselves are not taking advantage of IT for their own business.

 

There is no standard dosage of IT. Too much of IT at once is dangerous too. If you use a spreadsheet today, see how you can take advantage of the easy-to-use SharePoint to automate workflows. If you have a patchwork of applications for provisioning, billing and customer support, step back and  see how a little integration can transform the way you take orders, provision services and support your customers. Act today! Take a step - even if it is a small one.  But start moving in that direction.  You will be amazed at the ROI.

 

Microsoft has resources you can tap into: templates, guides, IT business models, relevant code samples and more. I will elaborate on that in my next post.

 

Hameed Mohammed, Industry Manager, Microsoft Communications Sector