The technology sector of our economy is experiencing exponential growth, and we can see this growth across different sub-sectors. As of 2021, there are 4.88 billion internet users, solar energy adoption has grown by 50%, and there are 1.35 million tech startups. Estimates suggest that by 2025, the following will be true:
- 38.6 billion smart devices will collect, analyze, and share data.
- The web hosting market will reach $77.8 billion.
- The Global AI market will reach $89.8 billion.
How does your organization plan to respond to these changes strategically? As technology continues to amplify operations or become an essential component to serve customers, organizations look to managed IT services to provide solutions and support. This article will explain what managed IT services are, the benefits of such services, and how you can identify the provider that can best serve your organization.
What are managed IT services (and why does it matter)?
A managed service provider (MSP) is an organization that handles services that are non-customer-facing but essential to the operation of the business. MSPs in the technology sector function as your organization’s IT department. An MSP is an expert in their field, able to address your IT needs in the ever-changing world of business technology. While your business may have specific needs, many businesses choose to outsource:
- Remote monitoring, management, and technical support of hardware and infrastructure.
- Communications support, such as VOiP service.
- Cloud services, including configuration, monitoring, and management through in-house or third-party cloud services.
- Security services, such as advanced endpoint monitoring and antivirus.
The workplace is evolving
Workplaces had a particular culture when everyone was in the same physical location. When a tech problem arose, the on-staff IT team could walk over and troubleshoot. Remote offices and geographically distributed teams increased in the 2000s, increasing the challenge of the IT department. Advances in systems like cloud computing and virtual machines require deeper technical expertise and knowledge, causing technology budgets to expand.
Events like the COVID-19 pandemic sped up the process of remote teams and the need for organizations to gain complex and expensive technology systems. As organizations continue shifting to a remote workforce, some challenges are becoming familiar:
- Onboarding new employees and supporting remote workers.
- Keeping servers online in the event of a power or internet outage.
- Fixing problems such as the blue screen of death, the spinning wheel, or a jammed printer.
- The Zoom meeting with investors, but you can’t connect to the internet.
These challenges compound if your IT staff is not up to the task. You leave calls and messages to the IT department, and they leave those requests unanswered. Or the IT department is stretched too thin, causing the IT staff to juggle priorities. At the same time, critical systems must be maintained to avoid disruptions for customers. Disruptions cost your organization money, so you may decide to increase the size of your IT staff. However, hiring new IT staff increases overhead, making your operations costs skyrocket. If your IT department can’t show the strategy behind these increases and deliver a return on your investment, you might conclude the investment is not worthwhile.
Here’s the hard truth: technology is, and will continue to be, a focal point for your organization. The dilemma isn’t whether you can afford the help. The dilemma is figuring out the best way to get the support your organization needs.
Can you keep pace?
With technology constantly changing, organizations must keep up with the latest trends, security measures, and technical advancements. These developments are necessities. Staying on top of the latest trends gives you a competitive edge, particularly with industries featuring lots of competitors. Security upgrades, meanwhile, are requirements, not luxuries, to protect intellectual property and customer data. Technology will continue to morph, which is why a thoughtful, strategic approach ensures your organization makes meaningful investments.
This is where an MSP can help. An expert service organization is aware of these trends and allows your organization to focus on revenue-generating tasks.
Benefits of managed IT services
Once again, an MSP is an expert in their industry. A good MSP will have specific technical knowledge to solve issues and find innovative solutions for your organization:
- IT security. Effective MSPs constantly push out new updates and patches for your systems. Trained professionals respond to compromised systems, mitigating damage and assisting with recovery.
- Uptime management. Having systems available for employees and customers gives your organization a chance to earn revenue. Performing tasks like system updates and routine maintenance outside of business hours translate to fewer interruptions.
- One-stop-shop. MSPs function as one resource for all technology needs. From vendor management to network monitoring to subscription management, your MSP can take care of it all.
- Contractual terms. An agreement with an MSP removes the need for you to recruit, hire, or train an IT staff and avoid the costs of full-time employees.
How does an MSP drive positive change?
We cannot emphasize enough the impact of a positive change in IT management. An MSP can deliver this change with the benefits listed above, and we would argue that strategy is the most crucial. A strategic MSP will be your partner and can provide planning guidance to optimize performance, make timely investments, and achieve ROI. The only way this strategic level of thinking is possible, however, is by including your MSP in meetings with organization executives. At this level, understanding your core business objectives and operating environment, a strategy-oriented MSP can identify areas to grow your business through technology. Using strategy to drive positive change means:
- Reviewing relevant workflows and introducing technology to streamline processes.
- Finding opportunities that will maximize savings and reduce spending but also maximize output.
- Identifying liabilities and developing contingencies to reduce risk.
- Developing custom program solutions based on your business needs and providing ongoing maintenance and support of your new processes.
Finding the right managed IT service provider
Once you decide to hire an MSP, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First, determine the tech support your business needs. You can do that through:
- Educating yourself on what MSPs can offer (Congratulations! You’re already taking that step).
- Determine your business goals. What are some of the immediate needs of your organization? Did your organization recently experience a major outage or data loss? Do you need continuous tech support, or do you simply require help on projects with a limited scope?
- Assess current IT systems. Gather as much information as possible on annual IT spending, the number of endpoints (laptops, desktops, cellphones, printers, etc.) in your organization’s network, and the size and capacity of your current IT staff.
- Request an audit of current systems. You may have limited knowledge of the items mentioned above. An audit conducted by an MSP can help provide initial answers.
- Develop your budget. Based on business goals, current and future needs, and where your organization currently stands, you can outline a budget for annual IT spending. This budget will determine if you are best served by in-house IT staff or outsourcing to an MSP. As you develop this budget and initial plan, consider scalability and flexibility. You need to find a provider that can support you where you are and scale to fit any growth that might occur.
If you decide an MSP makes the most sense, your next task is to determine if the MSPs you’re considering will truly work for your company:
- Accountability. There should be a coherent system of performance reporting that includes metrics and analysis.
- Planning. Includes infrastructure upgrades, configuration changes, and system additions. This planning isn’t limited to the immediate future but should extend through at least the next fiscal year.
- Record. A good track record is a solid indicator of reliable performance. A reputable provider can provide you with proof of their value. Ask the MSP about their approach to addressing problems similar to the ones you face.
- Culture. Although you are contracting with an MSP, they are more than a contractor. An MSP is an extension of your organization. Therefore, you need to ensure the culture of the MSP is compatible with your organization.
What happens once you engage an MSP?
We can’t speak for every managed IT service provider, but at Anteris, we have a workflow in place for working with a new Client. The onboarding process will include:
- Project Manager. After signing the service level agreement, we will connect your organization with a Project Manager. The Project Manager is a responsive point of contact who will oversee all aspects of onboarding and keep you updated based on your preferred method and frequency of communication.
- IT framework review. We will perform a complete review of the details that make up your IT framework. If you previously worked with another MSP, we will coordinate with them to gather necessary information and update the framework to include endpoints, existing software, and more.
- System configuration. Based on the framework review, our technical staff will make any necessary adjustments to improve system security and operation.
- Strategic consulting. Once initial configurations are complete, the Project Manager and an Anteris expert will help you identify projects that need to be undertaken and the best times to complete those projects.
The Anteris approach to managed services
We believe in a comprehensive approach to managed IT services. As a strategy-oriented MSP, we created a service offering we call Anteris Complete. This is a monthly agreement designed to meet the needs of our Clients without dealing with the fluctuations that stem from hourly pricing.
Industries we serve
Anteris has a wide range of solutions specific to the industries we serve.
- Legal. We have the expertise to guide your practice into the modern era of always-on and always-accessible.
- Finance. In the world of ever-changing regulations, our team of experts can help you fulfill your customers' expectations while remaining compliant.
- Healthcare. Our team will help you manage the continual sharing of patient data while maintaining HIPAA compliance.
- Manufacturing. Let us bring efficiency to your manufacturing processes that will translate directly to an improved bottom line.
- Transportation. From public transportation to private charter, we can ensure your customers receive the service they expect with every technological amenity they require.
- Non-Profit. We can guide you through the best solutions for your non-profit in everything from effective use of technology to compliance with state/federal requirements and everything in between.
How can Anteris help?
An MSP can be a support system for your business. At Anteris, we take that a step further by developing a partnership with our Clients to promote growth and meet strategic initiatives within their business. Reach out to us today to learn how we will make your technology freeing, not frustrating.