Empowering Your IT Future: The Rise of Independent Support Services

Discover a solution beyond the vendor’s agenda – independent support services are taking center stage. Here are five takeaways from Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo 2023.

Gartner’s global IT Symposium/Xpo™ series has established a strong reputation built on the networking and learning opportunities it provides attendees – a virtual who’s who of leaders across the SAM, ITAM, procurement, and IT ops spectrum.

This year, we were honored to take the floor at several of the research leader’s sold-out events. For his presentations, Origina CEO and Founder Tomás O’Leary brought with him a group of seasoned business partners and Origina customers. In Orlando, Tomás was joined by Mike Rozsa, an experienced CIO and executive advisor formerly with NiSource, and James McGlennon, a global CIO, board member, and executive advisor, formerly with Liberty Mutual. In Barcelona, Tomás had onstage a representative from PwC, Global Category Lead Gillian Leicester. Let’s explore a few takeaways from the expert sessions and discuss ways companies can extend the life of their current software without dashing ongoing modernization plans.

Takeaway 1: You could probably be getting (a lot) more for your current IT spend

Ninety percent of the average IT budget goes to maintaining software that’s currently in place. But have you ever stopped to think about how much value you actually receive from that spend? In many cases, the support and security services OEMs provide are little more than an insurance policy when something goes wrong. And the extended support options are typically defect-based, leaving little room to resolve the actual problems a company might raise a ticket over.

OEMs are quick to suggest version upgrades or outright product migrations every three to five years, but the fact is that the benefit in situations like these only flows one way – towards the vendor.

“The economic impact of rip-and-replace can’t be the answer. We need to find a way to extend the life of IT investments and the precious dollars we use to get us there,” O’Leary said at the Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo™ in Orlando, Florida.

Takeaway 2: As time goes on, relationships start to shift in the vendor’s favor

For PwC’s Leicester, who has extensive experience helping companies manage their IT expenditures, the trend for long-term customer-vendor relationships is clear. By creating business technology environments where support prices contractually cannot be lowered and strongly enabling business dependency on pack-in software deals, large OEMs are playing a long game in which the first few years of a relationship look more like a honeymoon phase.

After that, the situation changes drastically. Much like the rip-and-replace tactics they tend to suggest, the rest of the relationship takes a heavy shift toward the OEM’s pocketbooks. And because customers are led to believe there’s no other option to provide viable IBM® software maintenance and IBM® software security, they also assume that’s the way it has to be, unless they want to undergo the risk and trouble of a full vendor migration, which is a technical and financial hit few businesses can take without years of planning and oversight.

In Orlando, former NiSource CIO Mike Rozsa gave his own example of the declining value from software OEMs. “Back in time, we needed the megavendors. They did it all for us and we got in these big contracts. Overtime, [software megavendors] became significantly less relevant, but they had to keep their numbers up. You create your roadmap, and you have specific projects you want to do. All of a sudden, [the megavendor] comes in and says you’ve got to upgrade. Or, our software maintenance costs just went up 22%, and we didn’t budget for that. So you have to stop an exciting transformational project to pay for an upgrade or maintenance fee that doesn’t really add any value. It is wasteful.” 

Takeaway 3: It isn’t just customers that lose out when OEM megavendors rig the game

Software choices force hardware necessities. In the case of business software, the decision to take certain software products out of service might render physical electronic goods like communications endpoints, computers, and mainframes unusable, even though they’d be perfectly securable and supportable under a more level software licensing landscape.

Perfectly good business purchases end up as e-waste in landfills and drive up the costs those changes inflict on buyers. It doesn’t need to be that way.

“My vision is for a more responsible and waste-free IT world, where longevity is the new mindset,” said O’Leary at the Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo™ in Orlando.

As companies look for ways to shoulder more environmental responsibility, topics like corporate right to repair will become more important.

Takeaway 4: The difficulty of maintaining and securing legacy systems has been mythologized

Another problem with the all-or-nothing OEM approach is that over time, it leads customers to falsely think the vendor’s way of doing business is the only way to achieve technology objectives.

When terms like “end of support” get tossed around, for instance, a customer could be led to believe they have to update to a supported version to keep receiving help with business-critical software. In many cases, however, all they would be losing is the option of OEM support.

The same notion applies for security, baseline maintenance, carrying out upgrades, and numerous other areas that are typically – and incorrectly – considered to be primarily the vendor’s domain, Leicester said in her segment at our talk in Barcelona, Spain.

“Working with a third party, we have discovered there are ways and means to fix that vulnerability and remove that vulnerability without needing to move to the next version,” said Leicester at the Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo™ in Barcelona. “There’s really no point investing good time, money, and resources into the next version. […] The third-party relationship is more of a personal service that’s tailored to you.”

Takeaway 5: Independent support, security, maintenance, and audit services are ready to take center stage

OEM activity will always align first and foremost with their own company goals. You can’t fault them for looking out for themselves first, but that basic fact leaves a lot of their customers in the lurch when their roadmaps, tech plans, and budgets diverge.

As seasoned CIO James McGlennon said in our Orlando Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo™ talk, seeking outside help is a fast solution to the ongoing problems this disconnect can solve. And the reason is fairly simple. Instead of locking you into an ecosystem, moving you to a new platform, or furthering you along a tech funnel, independent third-party software maintenance (TPSM) providers are directly motivated to help you achieve the outcomes you are after.

Be curious and notch more IT, ITAM, and SAM wins

Simply put, the vendor’s way isn’t the only way. That’s true whether you’re looking for ways to mitigate the impact of a pending IBM® software license audit, searching for layered security options, or simply trying to find support to maintain your vulnerable legacy infrastructure as you modernize the rest of the estate.

“You have to be curious and ask a lot more questions,” McGlennon said in Orlando. “You can’t abdicate responsibility to any vendor, whether it’s a megavendor or a small vendor.”

In our case, we’ve got noted expertise helping companies extend the life of their current software. That’s a far cry from trying to shoehorn companies into one set, prescriptive path forward. We invite you to click the button below to learn exactly what that difference might mean.

Don’t let OEMs dictate your roadmap and IT growth. Get a free consultation with Origina.

Watch the full Keynote from Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo Orlando

Watch the full Keynote from Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo Barcelona


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