Keeping an eye towards strategic business needs is hard enough when keeping systems up-to-date, handling the day to day issues and trying to maintain innovation. CIOs are up to the neck with user requests, mandates, and slipping projects as well. So how, in all of this work, are they to push closer to making IT a strategic asset to the business and cement the relationship between themselves and the business? Steve Tonge believes the answer is managed services. Managed services (the management of an IT application or environment through a vendor or third party) can, generally speaking, free up resources within an IT organization so they may better focus themselves on strategic development. The first reason Tonge brings up is that of effective management: managed service vendors can create, maintain, and support the often complex infrastructure that comes with managing multiple vendors and multiple technology environments. Another is a little more close to home for CIOs who have ever experienced the effort behind implementing new networks and technology. Managed services can provide contracts that are based on “walk-in and take-over model” agreements. This promotes the work being completed on behalf of the IT organization to be close if not exactly as they did themselves. The post also explains how managed services can help keep IT agile and able to meet strategic business objectives: With staff and budget reallocated from managing infrastructure, managed services can help enterprises focus on strategic project and business applications. By putting their internal IT staff on internal application development, enterprises can ensure that the entire team is aligned to business needs. In addition, the IT department is able to scale their managed services up or down to meet any business requirement. This could be a seasonal demand for connectivity in a specific location, such as a conference centre or a contact centre over Christmas. Alternatively it could look to their managed services partner to deliver communications quickly to offices in new locations where the business is targeting local demand. While it's certainly not a silver bullet, the opportunity to move some of the more mundane or repetitive (but important) to an outside group frees IT to focus on how better to align in the business world.