Get a Helping Hand with IT Managed Services

If you had the chance to simplify your work life, would you? I recently interviewed representatives from CenturyLink, ADTRAN, BroadSoft and Polycom about how managed services have evolved to benefit IT folks by giving them an extra pair of hands to take day-to-day infrastructure tasks off their plates.

To give you an idea of how the conversation started, did you know that 40% of small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are already using managed services? And 50% of them are spending more than one-third of their annual IT budgets on these services—a number that’s expected to grow 22% to 27% annually.

People have some misconceptions about managed services. For example, some small business IT managers worry that they might lose control of their IT infrastructures if they subscribe to managed services. What I found was, not only do you remain in control, with a good managed service provider (MSP), you have absolute visibility into the performance of your key infrastructure components from an easy-to-use dashboard, including the ability to configure features and scale service components.

Another misconception exists around whether managed services cost IT staff their jobs. Nothing could be further from the truth. Susie Stanek of CenturyLink pointed out that, typically, IT people spend 70% or more of their time troubleshooting and fixing basic infrastructure issues. Your MSP would take care of all that, freeing up time for you to work on projects that have more strategic value to the business—like testing new applications to see how useful they’ll be to the business, deploying a mobile app so customers can order products or services from their smartphones, or spending more time meeting with users to identify their needs.

Another of my guests, Barry Derrick of ADTRAN, talked about how managed services give you super-knowledgeable specialists on call to help with complex issues such as networking and security. The reason this resonated with the audience was because hiring IT specialists is usually beyond the budget of most SMBs, since these specialists have been commanding salaries of at least $150,000 in today’s hot tech market. With managed services, you get this expertise bundled in with your subscription costs, which (again) are typically much lower than if you go the DIY route.

We also discussed one of the hottest trends in IT computing for both small and large companies: mobility. The average small business IT manager must support 38 tablets and 92 smartphones of all different makes and models. An MSP can help you with the complex tasks of updating and managing multiple OSs across an ever-growing base of devices.

Security is another area where an MSP can be a huge help. With undetected malware now a huge threat, MSPs can really shine, as the leading ones offer sophisticated anti-virus and anti-malware protections. Most significantly, with managed services, you’re always sure that you’re up to date on your security patches and upgrades. This is important for preventing malware infections, as almost a third of SMBs who manage security themselves say they’re not on top of these essential activities.

Plus, MSPs have the ability to help you deliver a better overall experience to your users. Top MSPs provide sophisticated phone systems that offer HD voice, and even video, as well as advanced UC features. Moving to an MSP also allows you to take advantage of hosted applications like Microsoft Office 365. These apps can make your employees more productive by allowing them to share documents and work from anywhere they wish, without having to forward documents to themselves via email or copy them onto thumb drives. The most popular business essentials used in the office can now can be accessed on any device, from anywhere with an Internet connection.

You can watch the full interview below. I hope you’ll find the discussion as interesting as I did.

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