The basics of managed IT support
Managed IT support is essentially another example of the growing trend for companies to outsource what, for them, are non-core services, to companies which specialize in those services. The basic idea behind this is that the specialist company can manage the service much more effectively than the business for which it is a non-core (but essential) function.
Managed IT support is, however, a bit different from most managed services in that it typically involves a much closer partnership between the client and the vendor, with the former relying on the latter to help the company reach its goals in a way which is simply not the case with many other forms of outsourcing (e.g. facilities services). Here are some of the ways in which a good managed IT support partner can help their client.
Changing the focus of BAU from reaction to proactive maintenance
Even though your internal IT team may understand the idea of focusing on proactive maintenance as a way not just to improve the user experience but also to save them time in the long run (by giving them less to fix reactively), they may not have the skills or experience to understand how to make this happen in reality and even if they do, they may not have the time on their own. Switching to managed IT support can lift the burden from them and make technology run more smoothly for your staff, which, of course, helps your business.
For the sake of completeness, moving to managed IT support does not necessarily mean you need to eliminate your internal IT team and if you choose to do so, it does not necessarily mean that you have to put them out of a job. You could, for example, choose to have your existing staff remain in place, either working for you directly, or re-employed by your managed IT support partner, but supported by your managed IT support partner’s main team.
In this way, you could keep your current staff’s knowledge and experience, but open up your options for the future. For example, when staff members leave (as inevitably happens), you could take an informed decision on whether you wanted to replace them in-house or just move more work onto your managed IT support partner.
Protecting your data
In some business areas, this benefit may even rank above switching the focus from reactivity to proactivity. Quite bluntly at this point in time, the ability to protect data can be a huge factor in deciding whether or not companies stay in business and this is particularly true of SMBs. Large corporations may have the ability to “ride out” regulatory fines and press scandals. They may even have the advertising budgets to discourage the press from coming down “too” heavily them, but SMBs are much less likely to have either of these benefits.
Even without the issue of regulators and bad publicity, the fact is that cyberattacks in general and data theft in particular can put companies out of business. For example, while it may not hit the headlines in the same way, the loss of intellectual property can be devastating and it could be difficult to impossible (and extremely expensive) to prove that a company which subsequently comes up with a very similar idea to yours did so because it had access to stolen IP rather than because it came up with a similar idea entirely independently.
For a few companies, technology is their business but for most companies technology is what can fuel their business, but only if you know how to use it effectively, or have access to someone who does. SMBs can no longer use their size and limited resources to justify not “buying into” new technologies, in fact, there is a very strong case for arguing that quite the opposite is true, new technologies and knowing how to use them can help SMBs to compete against the biggest players without compromising who they are.
In particular, technology can help to make it possible for SMBs and their staff to make gains by working “smarter not harder”. For example, advances in artificial intelligence now make it possible to automate basic tasks which are often a time-consuming inconvenience for human agents. An obvious example of this is the use of chatbots to “triage” customer queries, answering basic FAQs themselves and only passing the customer to a human agent if the inquiry would actually benefit from their input.
Implementing these kinds of advances might intimidate an SMB’s internal IT team working on its own, but the help of an effective managed IT support partner can open up all kinds of exciting possibilities.
What is managed and unmanaged switch