Small businesses are always looking for ways to increase productivity and better serve their customers. In order to do this, businesses have to ensure they are not only working at full capacity at all times, but also cutting costs and working efficiently to turn a profit.
Managing an enterprise IT infrastructure and utilizing business applications within it are what can help you compete with the best and make up the collective goal of improving efficiency and growing a small business or startup. However, these two factors are completely different functions that not only require varied subsets of skillsets, but also different mindsets unique to each given role.
IT Support for your end-users is vital as it helps them better understand any technical issues that may crop up when using your products, apps, software, and more, and it provides them the technical support that they may need. For example, when a one-man IT guy is having to deal with 10 problems first thing Monday morning, inevitably, someone will have to wait, and that may not reflect well for your business.
Types of Business that Need IT Support
At a small business, the complexities of modern IT infrastructures evolve quicker than the time it can take for in-house IT teams to develop the skillsets required to manage them. It is critical to the future of your business that you identify where the tipping point is and determine when to seek IT Support.
Modern businesses have their own objectives and use different business applications to achieve their goals. The level of IT support a business needs is determined by which applications they have in their infrastructure and which technical problems persistently arise.
For example, if the livelihoods of your business and those who work in it are reliant on a fully functioning online trading capability – what would happen if the security of your company website were compromised (even if only temporarily)?
It is always worth paying attention to any potential reputational damage or operational disruptions you may undergo as customers grow more reluctant to enter their financial details online if they feel there is a risk their details could end up in the wrong hands.
It takes a proactive approach to mitigate these risks. By setting up alert flags for potential threats and putting preventive measures in place, you will have greater peace of mind in the knowledge that a defensive strategy has been implemented in your business.
Minor issues with Wi-Fi connections, problems with the printer, maintenance of operating systems are examples of things IT support can cover. With a more secure and less disrupted in-house IT department, they can focus purely on improving these and other technical and operational processes within the business.
Odds are that in 2019, your data management system is not contingent on a warehouse full of filing cabinets and staff documenting their sales processes with a feather quill. If they’re working and communicating via digital mediums, your devices must be secured and running efficiently. This can be achieved as well so long as knowledgeable IT engineers are managing your IT infrastructure.
What’s more, this technical IT support can be delivered to your business users over chat, over the telephone, via email, or using specific software. Your in-house IT team can also interact and learn from other IT experts via various means online, over a phone call or even email message to keep abreast of trends in the industry. This can work wonders for their ability to meet your customers’ tech support needs.
Common Small Business IT Support Available (And the Benefits)
Here are common types of IT Support you can use in your business, and considerations and benefits to keep in mind:
1. Managed IT Services
Many IT service providers that work with small businesses are called managed service providers. This can encompass a variety of specifics, but it allows the business to service the company’s network on an ongoing basis at a regular rate. It is often less costly for companies over time, since it can prevent expensive problems from happening in the first place.
2. Cloud Services
This category includes any type of IT support service that is delivered over the internet or a dedicated cloud network. So, a cloud platform or on-premises storage option for system backups or additional storage so that users don’t have to keep everything on their main devices. You could also combine this with a security offering if you deal with sensitive or proprietary data.
A super useful benefit of cloud computing is the importance of virtualization in the event of an IT outage. No IT decision should be made in haste; it should always be about optimizing business performance, and the ability to reboot entire infrastructures in a matter of minutes is a capability that almost takes the word ‘disaster’ out of the equation.
3. Microsoft Office 365 Deployment
Microsoft continues to push the envelope by improving how businesses communicate both internally and externally with customers and partners. The deployment of their Office 365 Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform appears to become increasingly beneficial as the giant tech company continues to roll out more and more new applications as part of their SaaS service.
Most recently, their Microsoft Teams application is growing rapidly in popularity - changing the way teams within businesses are collaborating, and new research shows it is set to dominate the collaborative app space, with some advantages over its older rivals like Slack and Dropbox.
IT expert Marian McHugh delves into the debate on whether Microsoft Teams’ surge in popularity may surpass the tried and trusted email as the most widely used communication medium. She notes that the newcomer Microsoft Teams could dominate the collaborative app space among businesses by 2020.
4. NOC Monitoring Services
A well-maintained IT infrastructure is pivotal for stable and productive systems. If your customers demand a round-the-clock service from your business, then – without question – you need a proactive infrastructure and management service 24/7/365 days a year.
Without a dedicated Managed Network Operations (NOC) service, who in your business has the time, level of experience and expertise to meet the demand where the core responsibility is to ensure your client’s systems are operational and available?
NOC monitoring services enhance your operational capabilities so you can focus on other business priorities.
5. Disaster Recovery & Business Continuity
As you may be aware, businesses nowadays require 24/7/365 access to their data. Hackers are aware of this too and have developed highly sophisticated tools and hacking methods threatening the security of your data. The ability to recover from an on-site server failure is one thing, but complexity of enterprise IT infrastructures is becoming its own worst enemy, particularly from a cyber security point of view.
Businesses need simplicity as well as flexibility to counter these cybersecurity threats and staunch recovery methods for high-risk situations, such as hardware failure, ransomware attacks, application corruption, entire site failure (fire, flood etc.) and the most common denominator, human error.
Businesses need knowledgeable and experienced IT support engineers to protect their data and mitigate new cyber threats that seem to be multiplying daily. A competent managed service provider (MSP) or IT services company will assess your requirements, define protocols and recommend an appropriate solution to safeguard your business data and infrastructure.
For your end-user environment to thrive and help the business to prosper, it is imperative that they're not continuously disrupted throughout the day and kept on hold at the first line of IT support. They must be able to get through to an experienced IT team who can quickly solve their issues. Experienced IT engineers will be able to find a solution for 90% of your day-to-day technical IT issues.
In addition, the key to an excellent IT Support Services is clear real-time reporting. This is important as it provides transparency into everything your Managed Service Provider is doing. Having a clear view into your infrastructure will inevitably shed light and bring peace of mind throughout your workforce in the knowledge that all is well. If something is amiss, you will be able to see it immediately. Such transparency between you and your MSP breeds a culture where they work with a preventive, proactive mindset, and makes it possible to troubleshoot any potential disruption before it can gain momentum.
The purpose of partnering up with a Managed Service Provider is to not only ‘hold the fort’ for your IT Infrastructure, but for your IT team to benefit from their expertise. It can enhance your business by tightening up your bottom line and, in return, make it more profitable.
What may be most critical of all is knowing the solution(s) your MSP are proposing, that they use the same tools daily and have learned them inside and out. This signifies they are fully adept with the solution and know how it can be beneficial to your business as it has for their existing clients.