Spring Forward with IT Managed Services
April 10, 2012
Nostalgia, like spring, is in the air. Viral videos envision what popular online services might have looked like in previous decades. Microsoft’s been publishing a timeline of computer security. The new Facebook Page Timelines allow companies to showcase their entire corporate history (including ours!)
Information Technology (IT) has certainly come a long way since the days of dial-up and DOS, so it’s not surprising that the question of how to manage that technology has become a widespread concern. Most small businesses aren’t able to hire a complete in-house IT team with the latest and greatest tools, especially not in the current economic climate. But they still have tech-related responsibilities: protect customer data, prevent system downtime, and comply with an ever changing regulatory landscape.
If it sounds like managing all these IT services is a full-time job, you’re right. Now ask yourself this question: can you do it and maintain your core business? Fortunately, there’s a viable solution small and medium businesses can choose: managed IT services.
Just What is It?
Managed Services may sound like just the latest buzz word to cross your path, but it’s really not that technical (or expensive, which is the other big show stopper). A managed service provider is simply an outsourced IT team, one made up of qualified professionals with up-to-date equipment, who proactively monitor and provide support for your business technology. The independent security research firm Securosis has a great write-up of the value managed services provide, such as:
- Skilled staff made available at cost effective rates.
- Technology scaled to maximum potential.
- Risk shared for system security and performance.
- IT monitored beyond regular business hours.
Do I Really Need This?
Yes, you do. The days when you could count on being “too small to notice” by online threats are long gone, if they ever existed to begin with. Some businesses are in more dire need than others, but almost all businesses can benefit from some aspects of managed IT services.
Here’s a great example of what we’re talking about: according to the Verizon 2012 Data BREACH Investigations Report, “the bulk of criminal activity targeting payment cards has shifted away from larger organizations to smaller ones, primarily because they can be obtained at a lower risk.” Why do cyber criminals want that info? Personal customer data enables them to craft phishing schemes to commit identity theft and fraud (see our series on Malware & Your Business for specifics).
Sure, we hear about big brand data theft all the time, even from the likes of tech giants like Google. These events make headlines, but have relatively little impact on how much people still choose to interact with that business (you did come to this article via a search, didn’t you?) These brands also have deep pockets from which to reimburse wronged customers and litigate against spammers.
In contrast, a small business’s life blood is the trust customers place in it. A data breach could destroy your credibility, perhaps permanently. Would you shop somewhere known as an easy mark, whether in the physical or virtual world? Should you expect any differently from your customers?
How Do I Sign Up?
Glad you asked. There are a lot options when it comes to outsourcing your IT to a managed service provider. Remote desktop and cloud services has created a competitive, international market. When researching your business’s options, make sure to look for providers who partner with recognizable names in the world of technology security, and who have a track record of successful client work they can direct you to.
While cost is obviously a concern, there’s a major advantages to be had from contracting locally. A firm like Cii Technology Solutions isn’t on the end of a tech support queue reaching across the world. We’re native to the Raleigh, NC area, able to come in person to your business, answer any questions you have or providing insight into problems you may not even be aware of. As a Raleigh managed service company, our list of successful partnerships with companies like Microsoft, SonicWALL, and Google means we know how to get you the maximum return on your investment, regardless of what type of system you are running.
Managed services can free up time and resources, allowing you to focus on what you really want to do: grow your business. Contact us to find out how you can get started with Managed IT Services.