IT outsourcing evolves towards strategic partnerships

An interview with Wolfgang Horak, Manager of ICT Austria, on trends and developments in IT outsourcing

How has IT outsourcing evolved in the last few years and what are the general trends?

ICT outsourcing has changed considerably in recent years. Initially, it was technology that was at the forefront of many people’s interests, and later, the processes behind the technology became of far greater attention. IT outsourcers often take over both the business’s existing hardware, as well as the management of employees, with both sides trying to optimize what was most efficient, however, not always to the benefit of the business. Today the business of ICT is a core focus for businesses, and hence data has become very important too. In the course of digitalization of many sectors (from government and health, to industry 4.0) IT is an essential and competitive factor. RFPs (Request of Proposal) and general suppliers lose importance and get replaced by continuous cooperation of specialized partners at eye level with a focus on business.

What specific aspects of IT outsourcing for customers and providers in Austria has changed?

Austria is a small but representative market with ideal conditions for new solutions. Small and medium enterprises are the backbone of our economy, and have excellent business expertise. Austrian entrepreneurs play an important role in the world market, as market leaders as well as highly specialized niche players.

In Austria, two essential things can be seen. Due to the widespread SME business structures, many Austrian companies are missing highly specialized IT staff, as the associated costs are often tough to tackle. On the other hand, the major international suppliers have reduced their staff in recent years, opening up new opportunities for strategic partnerships with domestic outsourcing providers, allowing them to respond to specific requirements. They know the market and the business of our customers and are interested in long-term, mutual success.

How has the IT outsourcing market developed in Austria?

The Austrian market has developed very well. Reliability, trust presence, and long-term thinking in Austria have always been deeply rooted virtues. Technology supports core business and provides the user with “real time” valuable data. Now that IT and business are handled as integrated parts of a business, IT outsourcing has also been recognized for its importance. These values also gain IT outsourcing important. The anonymous, technology-centric outsourcing contract with 10-year duration will soon be history, and will be replaced by strategic partnerships.

Today, IT is closely linked with the core processes of companies. What does this mean for outsourcing?

For a long time technology was the measure of all things. Today, the focus is on the processes which occur, which is an essential and important development in IT outsourcing. Companies have optimized their processes, thereby increasing customer satisfaction, and reducing costs and error rates. Now we are able to go a big step further, and we can focus on the data that we have and look for patterns. The principle of cause and effect takes a back seat and will be replaced by data patterns that affect our business decisions significantly. The meaning of data and the need for security are growing disproportionately. If data forms the basis for strategic and operational decisions, it is important that the data is in the correct hands. This is a great opportunity for the Austrian economy, which we can use jointly.

ICT Austria was founded in 2014 to keep ICT value added in the country and to offer the highest standards of data security. The cooperation with internationally active IT companies with headquarters in Austria is driving the development of offers on the topics of the future Smart City and e-government, e-health and telemedicine and industry 4.0. In addition, ICT Austria is committed to connect startups with potential customers as well as for training and professional development.

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