A Publication of WTVP

The buzz about managed services is hitting central Illinois in a big way, and businesses are realizing the benefits of preventative network maintenance. Often, businesses are caught in a reactive mode when there are network emergencies and problems. When there’s a problem with the network, a panic hits the office like a wave, and managers are left scrambling for resources and options.

When your business relies on technology to operate, you can’t afford to have the network down. Businesses and solution providers are discovering a better way to get ahead of problems before they occur. They realized it was time to stop repeating the pattern of reacting to network problems and start getting ahead of the issues before they arise.

Solution providers started kicking around the term “managed services” in the industry about five years ago, and now the term seems to be popping up everywhere. If your business understands the importance of technology and relies on technology to service your customers, you’re an excellent managed services candidate.

So, why would a business consider managed services, and what exactly are the benefits? Let’s take a closer look.

Where’s the Business Value?

Many service providers can say they offer “managed services,” but you should proceed with caution and find a partner you can trust. Examine what types of offerings they have, and ask for other customer references. After all, a managed services provider acts as your business partner in many regards and must be considered a trusted advisor.

After you’ve found a trusted advisor, then you can start to examine the business value managed services may bring to your company. Here are the top five reasons customers usually select a managed services model:

• Managed operational costs. Many companies are forced to do more with less, which means conserving dollars, including IT dollars. By moving to a managed services-type model, businesses effectively predict network costs and identify problem areas to prevent unnecessary hardware upgrades. By identifying these areas, companies are applying those dollars to more critical areas in their business. This type of strategy can reduce costly network outages and down time.

• Security awareness. We all know by now that network security is very important. We’ve heard all of the fear tactics and horror stories to get businesses motivated to make changes to protect data. The truth about security is implementing preventive measures before an attack can take place. A managed services model that includes remote monitoring provides advance warning of vulnerabilities before a breach in security can take place. Also, having someone specialized in security, versus just having a generalist review your network in-house, is priceless. Security risks such as network boundary protection, penetration testing, and application security assessments can all be reviewed by an expert to identify weaknesses in advance. Corrective measures before an incident takes place are far less costly than after a breach occurs.

• Service performance. A managed services package that offers remote monitoring and assistance is a bonus to any business. Often, a low monthly payment covers the cost of monitoring your network 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Imagine how much it would cost your business to pay a full-time IT engineer to perform this job? The expense would be too great, but that doesn’t change the need to have a watchdog out there overseeing your network after the office lights are shut off at 5 p.m. Not only would the business be monitored all the time, but your business also would receive a report card on the activity of your network. If there was ever a question of what occurred while you were out, all you have to do is review the reports.

• Free up your IT staff. By having your network monitored to catch problems before they occur, your IT staff is now freed up to work on more proactive projects and responsibilities. A better use of their talent is spent on the important, mission-critical projects for your business, rather than the administrative responsibilities they’re usually burdened with on a daily basis.

• Increased focus and efficiency. Last, but certainly not least, is the increased focus on efficiency your business will experience with a managed services partnership. By being proactive and setting up procedures for automatic trouble response and resolution, your business can accomplish IT projects placed on the back burner for the past year. Spending time and money on emergency service calls and other general service calls isn’t allowing your business to get ahead to service your customers better. There’s a more efficient way to run the network, and having a managed services partner is a good first step. IBI