Why managed IT services make smart business sense
In today’s globalized, digital age—and unprecedented times during the recent pandemic—companies of all sizes need to view their IT as a strategic enabler of their businesses. However, with an exceptionally tight labour market and cost pressures, it can be difficult to justify, let alone build, an internal IT team. Investing in an IT team can be challenging in terms of retention, continuous skills training, and staying constantly up-to-date regarding new technologies, cybersecurity threats, etc.
In other words, the stakes have never been higher for companies to level up and maintain their IT know-how and infrastructure. As indicated in an IBM white paper, entitled The Business Value of Managed Services:
“According to IDC (International Data Corporation) research, the biggest challenge that businesses face in executing their corporate strategy is focusing the right people and resources on strategic initiatives. Essentially, firms are looking to ensure that their talent is focused on core areas of their business while optimizing productivity.”
These are just some of the many reasons why more and more businesses are opting for managed IT services. According to a recent report by research firm Frost & Sullivan, 80% of US companies are choosing to work with managed IT service partners rather than rely on internal IT firms. Across all departments, managed IT services can help a company ensure that its employees and resources are allocated to creating value for the business in the most efficient and effective ways possible.
During the IDC’s research on the value of managed IT services, the firm found that for every 100 users in a business, approximately $400,000 can be saved annually.
Let’s go into more details as to the value of managed IT services for your company.
Benefits of managed IT services
There are many advantages to managed IT services, both from an operations and financial standpoint.
Improved employee productivity: IT downtimes and staff struggling with IT issues can cost companies a lot of money, year after year. With a managed IT service provider, you can rely on a team of experts to support employees when they have IT problems as well as proactively monitor (and fix!)) IT infrastructure to ensure the highest level of uptime possible. Did you know that, based on findings from Gartner, the average cost of downtime to a business is $5600 per minute?
Fast response times and comprehensive support services from your partner can save you a lot of costs associated with downtimes. Moreover, your employees can always be productive, day or night! In fact, most providers offer 24/7/365 availability, through ticketing, email and phone.
Reduced infrastructure expenses: Switching to a managed IT services partner means that you can downsize on-site infrastructure as you will be leveraging that of the provider. You can therefore save on hardware (along with space and energy required to make it run), software licensing, training, emergency repairs, consulting, etc. All of these needs are consolidated in a monthly fee based on the services you select. According to IBM, businesses can save up 25% in IT infrastructure costs with managed services
IT expertise: Technology evolves at a rapid-fire pace, and it can be hard for teams to keep up among their day-to-day work. Outsourcing the management and tasks associated with your IT gives you instant access to professionals who are always on par with the latest technologies, cyberthreats, best practices, and certifications. Working with a managed IT services provider helps to centralize critical IT functions and simplify the management of complex IT environments. All of your employees, whether they be in IT or not, can remain focused on your business priorities.
Security and data protection: Cybercrimes, such as the damage and destruction of data, theft of intellectual property, personal and financial information, etc. are on the rise. Statistics are rampant about just how many businesses fall prey to cybersecurity issues. Recently, Mastercard indicated that 66% of SMBs have had at least one cyber attack occur in the past two years. A managed IT services provider can safeguard your data from security breaches and act swiftly if a threat does arise. Furthermore, investing in managed IT services means you will also have a disaster recovery strategy in place before you need it.
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Types of managed IT services
Most managed IT services providers offer a wide range of services and solutions. You can have the capability to mix and match services based on current needs or decide to opt for a fully managed IT solution. Here are the most common services offered:
- IT help desk, where employees can get technical issues resolved by experienced agents. Support can be offered for operating systems, applications, mobile devices, connectivity programs and other deskside IT services.
- Infrastructure management and support, which include managed networks, network security, firewalls, data backups, data analytics and reporting, printing services, etc.
- Cloud services to help staff with file sharing, data storage, secure remote access to networks, disaster recovery initiatives, and more.
- Security services to protect your business from cyberattacks; your partner can provide managed detection and response, threat hunting, security awareness training and email security services.
- Support for major IT projects, such as deploying SharePoint or Teams, implementing an ERP or CRM, or carrying technology assessments to future-proof your business.
What to look for in a managed IT services partner
It is important to take the right steps to using managed IT services. Not all potential providers offer exactly the same services or have the same experience and expertise. While it may be tempting to choose a provider at the lowest possible price, you may end up losing out in the long run. The reason? You get what you pay for. Bargain-basement prices with managed IT services is a definite red flag, which could mean a variety of problems, such as relying only on junior IT people that don’t necessarily grasp all the technical intricacies or impact of their work, a lack of continuous training and skill upgrades, and limited services and support functions, to name a few.
Here are the most important things to consider when selecting a managed IT services provider.
- Deep skills and extensive experience. The right managed IT services provider will give you access to professionals who have skills that go beyond simple operating system management and cloud technologies. While certifications and headcount are important, ask about the firm’s expertise in security, cross-platform integration, networking technologies, etc.
- Broad portfolio of managed services. The ideal partner should be able to scale based on how your business and IT needs change. You will want the flexibility to add services without the unnecessary costs, complexity and IT fragmentation that can occur when you work with several vendors. Determine if the firm is also willing to use your existing equipment and processes—as opposed to overhauling them and breaking your budget.
- A business-driven mindset. Sure, you want your managed IT services partner to be on the leading edge of technology. However, you should also consider how a prospective provider can contribute to business outcomes. Can you gain a competitive edge with the provider’s experience in technological shifts?
- Reputation and financial stability. As you scout out potential partners, consider not only their length of time in the market but how their track record. Ask for customer references and quantified KPIs that show they walk the talk. Dig further than the fancy certification logos on their websites. What is their approach to remaining on top of their game? How much do they invest in perfecting their team’s skills?
The business case for managed services shows no signs of abating for companies aiming for growth and increased competitiveness. IDC’s research has shown that companies gained significant and quantifiable benefits from using managed services, with a 5.5-month payback period. Now that is a compelling ROI!