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Updated by Charles Bystock on 06/29/2015

datacenter_outsourcing_innovation_first_businessIn today’s fast-changing business environment you’re either moving forward or you’re falling behind. Creative innovation is no longer considered solely the province of those on the extreme cutting edge, it has become a necessity of life for large enterprises. Data center outsourcing can help your company become – or remain – an “innovation-first” business.

Just a couple of years ago Forrester noted that 97% of IT execs and technology decision-makers said innovation is a factor in their financial planning and budgeting.

Innovation can come strictly from within, it can come from an outsourcing provider or it can be the result of a collaborative effort with vendors. Data center outsourcing can expand and improve your technical capabilities and save you money to put toward other innovation-oriented pursuits.

How can you use data center outsourcing to further innovation?

Innovation is no accident. If you want your outsourcing provider to work with you as an innovation partner, you have to take overt steps to make it happen. If it’s not part of the conversation and part of the contract, it’s highly unlikely to materialize.

Establish and communicate your desires (and priorities) regarding innovation to prospective outsourcing providers. This is an important topic to discuss before you select a vendor, since their ability to collaborate effectively with you will be a major factor in determining success. If they aren’t innovative themselves, how can you be? Don’t forget that your ability to work with them team-to-team on a personal level can contribute significantly to your success or derail it.

What are your objectives? Once you’ve determined your favorite candidate provider is capable of helping achieve your innovation goals, your expectations must be incorporated into your contract along with appropriate success metrics. You have to clearly define roles for your enterprise and your vendor when it comes to improvement and innovation, just as you do with every other aspect of your relationship.

With that in hand, you will be able to take full advantage of contractual opportunities and continuously work with vendors to identify new opportunities for improvement – an outsourcing benefit closely related to innovation that is also critical for business growth and development. Forrester has suggested that you can engineer outsourcing relationships in such a way that they produce both of these key benefits.

Your innovation expectations may differ depending on the sourcing model you choose, or put another way, the model you choose can help achieve your innovation goals.

For instance, it will likely be easier to separate issues surrounding continuous improvement and innovation if your data center outsourcing is based on managed services, because continuous improvement will clearly be your provider’s responsibility. With other models, your provider may be able to offer recommendations even if they aren’t directly responsible for continuous improvement.

Your provider wants to do their utmost to help ensure your business success, but their own business success matters as well. Mutually available benefits of innovation will identify a path toward success and motivate both of you to achieve your goals.

Another way your contract serves both you and your vendor is defining what details of continuous improvement and technology upgrades are part of the regular scope of work and what areas of innovation are to be addressed outside the ongoing contract – and in what way. Outsourcing allows for a variety of pricing models that include incentives to make innovation a priority. You can share both risk and gain, if you choose.

Data center outsourcing can make your enterprise better at what you’re doing now and more agile going forward, boosting your “business as usual” while freeing you up to take advantage of  technology and financial opportunities that support and enhance your internal ability to innovate.