The rapid expansion of information technology options over just the last decade created tremendous opportunities for SMBs and large corporations alike. Yet, the expansion also created new specializations and an IT shortage.
This is less of a problem for big corporations that can just throw money at the problem. SMBs lack the resources to solve every staffing problem with signing bonuses and big salaries. That may explain why so many SMBs limit IT investment to websites and cloud solutions.
The good news is that SMBs can turn to managed IT services to fill that gap. Not clear on what managed services can offer? Keep reading for seven managed IT services every business needs.
Unless you’ve run your business with a telegraph from a cave for the last ten years, you know that data breaches are a serious problem. Even companies that should know better still get caught up in data breach scandals. After all, Microsoft experienced a data breach last year.
One of the most common offerings from a managed service provider is IT security. These services help shore up your network and identify weak spots in your security, like unprotected databases.
The cloud has revolutionized IT options ranging from disaster planning to software offerings. Yet, it’s also an industry dominated by a few major players. Even worse, implementing solutions through the major players often means navigating guidelines so arcane that the companies must offer certifications.
For the time-starved SMB owner, it can look like more of a hassle than it’s worth. A good IT services provider can help you cut through that Knot by setting up your services with the providers or offering cloud solutions themselves.
The Covid pandemic triggered one of the biggest shifts in the work environment in decades as employees transitioned from in-house to remote work. This mass exit from the office also created a deep need for streamlined collaboration tools. Unfortunately, that need didn’t translate into automatic expertise about collaboration tools.
Businesses the world over struggle with identifying the right tools for their needs. Some end up with tools that can’t meet their needs, while other get overpowered tools with functions they never touch.
A managed IT service can offer collaboration tools that scale up or down with your needs.
Data security and data privacy are global issues. You can see that with regulations ranging from PIPEDA in Canada, HIPAA in the US, and the EU’s GDPR. Beyond that, you may also find yourself subject to province-specific regulations, such as Ontario’s Personal Health Information Protection Act.
While these regulations serve important functions, they create new layers of complexity for your IT infrastructure. For example, let’s say you move into e-commerce for your business. That means you’ll start collecting customer information you likely didn’t before.
How sure are you that your system is actually PIPEDA-compliant? Another common offering from managed service providers is compliance. They review your system and help you update or find new software that meets regulations.
5. Network Infrastructure
Let’s face it. Most people don’t know the difference between one router and the next, and they don’t especially care.
Once the discussion turns to nitty-gritty like switches vs routers and LAN vs WAN, many business owners develop a glazed look in their eyes.
CAT5 vs CAT6? Only business owners with a serious interest in tech will understand that difference. Of course, it’s less a matter of indifference than one of inexperience.
Yet, that inexperience can lead business owners to invest in bad products or end up with poorly constructed networks. Managed IT providers can advise you on products and network implementation, so you get a fast, efficient network.
Smart business owners know that leaving their employees to sink or swim with new technology is a great way to see people never adopt new software or hardware. The learning curve proves too steep when added to a current pile of full-time responsibilities. If you force the change without providing training, you risk problems of resentment from anyone affected by the change.
If a managed service provider offers you new software to solve a problem, many of them also offer training on that software for employees. Even better, you don’t need to send your entire staff for the training. You can send one or two people for the training and let them train your other employees.
You get a fix for your problem. Your employees get training. You limit the resentment.
Just use good change management practices and explain the change to the employees ahead of time.
7. IT Support
Managed service providers usually operate remotely. Yet, even the best-run set of hardware and software will develop problems.
A piece of software will abruptly stop working at all or will start formatting data in strange ways. Hardware gets old and fails. Sometimes, it fails because there was a flaw in the manufacturing process.
When these things happen, you need someone who can walk you through troubleshooting processes that go beyond, “Have you tried turning it off and back on again.”
That’s why any good managed service provider will offer tech support as an option or even an integrated part of a service package. Some will even include a specific number of on-site visits for problems they can’t solve over the phone or online.