Posts

What is the Business Value of Managed IT Services?

It must have been a terrifying sight. Green, piercing eyes. Muscles that rippled beneath striped flesh. Teeth sharp as knives. When the tiger bore them, it must have taken all the fox’s energy to hide his fear. With no other choice, he steadied himself and spoke.

“Do you think you’re the only king of beasts?” he said. “Your courage doesn’t overshadow mine.”

The tiger smiled. Or maybe it was a snarl. Either way, the fox continued, his life depending now on his cunning mind.

“Let’s make a deal. Walk now behind me, and if everyone who comes along does not flee in fear, you can devour me.”

You can imagine the tiger must have licked his lips. After all, who would flee a fox?

So he agreed, and off they went down the highway. And to the tiger’s surprise, every traveler they encountered fled at first sight of the fox.

“See,” the fox remarked, “I went first, and they fled in terror at the sight of me.”

The tiger decided he had judged the fox wrong, tucked his tail and left. It never occurred to him that the fox had harnessed the benefit of his own ferocity to succeed in the wager.

The fox, for his part, knew the truth. Being cunning is its own strength.

You’re probably wondering what all this has to do with your IT department. The answer is simple. Smart businesses know where they are strong, and are cunning enough to know when to lean on the strength of others for maximum success.

Three Invaluable Benefits of Managed IT Services

Just as a fox can match the courage and cunning of a tiger, many SMBs are capable of managing their own IT.

But that doesn’t mean they all should.

In fact, there are a host of advantages in harnessing the power and expertise of managed IT services. Here are three quick ways managed IT Services can help your business thrive.

Focus on What You Do Best

Most SMBs are working on a limited budget that doesn’t allow for a focused internal IT department. By taking advantage of managed IT services, they get tiger-sized services in fox-sized portions, all custom-designed to meet their unique needs.

This means more time focused on the company’s mission and less time troubleshooting network problems.

Achieve Continuous Protection

Most businesses can find a way to fix technological issues after they happen. The problem is, this takes time and money and resources away from focusing on business growth. Maybe more than they can afford if delivery or communication to customers takes a hit. A good Managed Services Provider (MSP) heads off problems before they start.

Don’t think of that as minimizing downtime. It’s more like maximizing uptime – and minimizing risk.

It’s like our fable above, but with the tiger going down the IT road first, making sure the path is safe, while the cunning fox is behind him taking care of business with no interruptions.

Network security and proactive problem solving keep you working on strengthening your results with the confidence that your data, and thus reputation, are secure at all times.

Create A Competitive Advantage

One of the toughest operational challenges facing SMBs is managing the cost of their technology infrastructure. Many companies invest up to their fur in the latest technology, only to find it outdated a few years later.

Even growth can become a problem, if not handled correctly. Often, SMBs who manage their own IT end up requiring additional staff to meet their expanded needs, in addition to purchasing new equipment – all of it diverting time and resources away from the tasks that bring in revenue and serve customers.

With managed IT services, SMBs gain the dedicated resources and expertise to stay on the cutting edge of technology at a cost-effective, predictable price point. And with the added ability to scale up services and equipment seamlessly as needed, IT solutions grow and change with the company.

All of this coupled with the benefit of professional planning from the MSP throughout the process.

Foxes and Tigers and Services, Oh My!

Like a fox, an SMB’s greatest advantage is their ability to move fast and stay mobile in the marketplace. You rely on your cunning to get the job done.

And while there’s no question that cunning SMBs are capable of managing their own IT, there will always be a point where their brilliance is better spent serving up value to the company’s mission.

With managed IT services, companies free up resources and manpower while saving a bundle in their budget. Taking advantage of professional services gives SMBs the power to send the would-be tigers scurrying away with their tails tucked.

So maybe you’re curious about taking advantage of managed IT services. Give us a call and we’re happy to help– it’s what we do best!

4 Key Questions for Managing Your Business Technology Solutions

It’s one thing to know that your business technology solutions are working. That’s helpful information.

But it’s something else to know the minor changes that would make your business technology solutions even better—like tweaks that would save some money or the areas where you might run into trouble in the future.

Really, that’s the kind of information a managed services partner should include with even the most basic package. But what if you can’t afford a managed services provider (MSP)?

Life without managed services.

55% of SMB owners say the business technology they use every day doesn’t help them become more efficient. It actually gets in the way. At the same time, “72% of SMB decision makers say that technology solutions can help them significantly improve business outcomes and/or run the business better.”

Do you see a problem there?

SMB owners are largely convinced of the benefits of business technology, but most of them don’t think they’re actually seeing those benefits, themselves. Ouch.

Bridging the gap.

If you’re taking care of your business technology yourself, there are things you can do to ensure a stable network today and strategic growth for where you’re headed. Here are four key questions to ask.

1. What Are You Using Now and Why?

This sounds like basic information, and it is. And yet, a lot of SMB owners have to stop and think before they can list off all the applications and services they rely on.

Small businesses grow organically. There’s a decent chance you’re using a mix of several different kinds of technology and services to meet your needs. And all those solutions might not even fit together well.

That’s why it’s important to take stock of your current situation. Carve out the time to make note of it all. We’re talking about the OS you use on company PCs, how your server is set up, every cloud solution and chat program and CRM you use—all of it.

Then do the real work and ask why. What business need does each solution meet? And how well does your current mix of services and solutions work together to meet those needs?

2. Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?

Now that you know where you are, where do you see yourself going? Will you double your staff in the next five years? If so, will you need to stop using Excel to track customer orders and move to a proper CRM?

It’s a lot easier to get out ahead of big changes on the horizon than wait until you’re in hot water. By the time you feel the pain of technology that isn’t particularly growth-oriented, it’ll be too late to change to something new without a hassle and some real consequences.

Basically, plan ahead. If something’s not working well now, it’ll only get worse as you grow.

A farmer had two sons. Separately, he gave both sons the same task—talk to the neighboring farmer about buying some cattle.

The first son came back to his father and said, “Our neighbor has six cows for sale.”

But the second son’s answer was quite different. “Our neighbor has six cows he’s willing to sell. He wants $2000 for each cow, but he’s willing to cut the price by 10% if we buy at least four of them. He also said he has some new cows coming in next week, a very promising group. He thinks they’ll be even better than the ones he has now. He said if we aren’t in a hurry, it would be wise to wait.”

It’s the same core information, but the second son was so much more strategic, providing crucial details that could easily inform the father’s next steps.

3. What Are Your Biggest Security Risks?

Cybersecurity is a big topic. It makes headlines all the time because it’s a big deal when a company of any size experiences a breach. And the negative publicity of a security mishap is something you don’t want.

So think about your business like a criminal would. Where are you weak? If you wanted to steal your own information, how would you do it?

Whatever your answer to that question, that’s where you need to upgrade your security. And if you’ve never really thought about security at all, maybe it’s time to talk to a professional consultant. After all, small businesses get targeted almost as much as big corporations.

Being an SMB doesn’t make you automatically safe. You need to be as careful as any other business.

Read more about protecting your company from ransomware here.

4. What Do Your Customers Care About the Most?

At the end of the day, what matters to your customers is their experience. So how does your technology affect your relationships with customers?

Is your phone system a nightmare to navigate? Are you using advanced communications options (everything from email to video chat) effectively? When customers contact you with questions and complaints, how long does it take for your staff to dig into customer records?

If you can harness the power of technology to make the customer’s experience better, then you’re using technology the right way.

The next level.

All of that might seem like a lot. Admittedly, it is, though we’ve seen plenty of small business owners do a masterful job of managing their own business technology.

But it won’t surprise you to learn that we believe there’s real value in partnering with a professional managed services provider for the very best technology strategy.

If you’d like to learn more about managed services and how they can benefit small businesses, check out our free whitepaper, “9 Ways Managed Services Pay Off Big for SMBs.”

Why Hybrid Cloud Solutions Are a Big Deal

One can only imagine the woman’s surprise. She was simply going about her day when she encountered the beast. It was . . . unique.

Descriptions vary, but here’s what she saw, more or less. Its body was equine, bearing resemblance to a cross between a horse, a deer and an ox. It had scales along its body, like a fish, and its head looked more like a dragon than anything else. A dragon with antlers.

If you or I bumped into such an animal, we would probably not react as this woman did. She smiled, a hand on her belly. She was the mother of Confucius, and the creature in question was a Qilin, also known as a Chinese Unicorn.

A good-luck mutt.

The Qilun is, by western standards, a strange beast. A conglomeration of multiple animals, it looks nothing like anything you’ve seen in nature. And yet, it’s hardly the only mythological hybrid.

You’ve probably heard of others, like centaurs (half human, half horse), griffins (part lion and part eagle), and mermaids (beautiful woman on top, fish on the bottom). Hybrids pop up in mythology and folklore all over the world. Sometimes they’re meant to invoke fear, and sometimes wonder.

Or, as in the case of the Qilin, they represent an inspiring form of help.

As one article explains, “The Qilin or Chinese unicorn is a mythical beast that symbolizes good luck and prosperity.” Their presence signified the birth of a sage (like Confucius). They were so gentle and kind that they reportedly walked in the clouds to avoid harming even one blade of grass.

Basically, they were a good thing, even if hard to understand at first glance.

Introducing the hybrid cloud.

That’s the thing about hybrids. Because they’re a mashup of other things, sometimes they’re confusing.

We run into this all the time when we try to explain the benefits of hybrid cloud solutions. People who’ve never heard the term before look at us like you might look at a Qilin if you bumped into one tonight outside your home.

So let us set your mind at ease. The hybrid cloud isn’t as confusing as it sounds. Not only that, but like the Qilin, it’s a really good thing.

The beauty of the hybrid cloud.

Hybrid cloud solutions make use of two kinds of resources: local resources and cloud-based resources. One of the most common examples for small business is hybrid cloud storage.

A hybrid cloud storage solution gives you onsite storage space (which allows for speed and convenience) as well as offsite storage (which gives you remote access and the assurance of an additional backup). It’s an amazing fit for growing SMBs because it’s secure, scalable and cost-effective.

Secure

Security is a common concern for all cloud solutions, including hybrid cloud tools. However, it wasn’t that long ago that Gartner Research VP Jay Heiser made a bold claim: “Generally speaking, public cloud computing represents a more secure starting point than in-house implementations.”

In other words, hybrid cloud solutions tend to boost overall security rather than bringing it down a notch.

Scalable

Scalability is a big deal, especially for SMB owners. As your company grows, you need technology that can gracefully keep pace. Storage is a particularly critical component.

As Forbes points out, “A hybrid cloud can provide the architectural framework for a dynamic IT environment—one that can handle unpredictable fluctuations in usage and offer new possibilities for making the customer experience better across the entire organization.”

In other words, hybrid cloud solutions are a great fit for growing organizations due to their scalable flexibility.

Cost-effective

Most business owners perk up at the idea of savings, and hybrid cloud solutions certainly have the potential to drive down costs. After all, why pay for storage space you don’t need? It makes far more sense to take advantage of the scalability of a hybrid approach, adjusting storage space as your storage needs change.

But a word of caution here. While hybrid cloud solutions can trim your budget, any solution that doesn’t really meet your needs isn’t worth it in the long run. Be sure to think strategically before making a change. You may even want to talk to an IT consultant first.

The future is now.

Hybrid cloud solutions are more than a passing fad. Big names like Microsoft and VMware are already duking it out for the top spot in the growing market. It’s estimated that by 2020 90% of companies will be utilizing hybrid options.

If you’ve been considering a move to a hybrid cloud infrastructure, you’re in good company. And if you need a little help navigating the change, don’t hesitate to let us know.

How Cloud Services Can Make Moving Offices Way Easier

Ancient mythology is chock-full of epic tales.

For example, there’s the story of Romulus and Remus, the brothers who built Rome. (Spoiler: It took more than a day.) Theirs was not a cooperative effort. Romulus eventually killed Remus, becoming the first king of Rome.

Or what about the Greek myth of Apollo and Cassandra? Cassandra was a priestess and apparently something of a looker. She caught Apollo’s eye, so he offered her a gift in exchange for a bit of passion. That gift? The ability to see into the future.

But Cassandra’s new-found clairvoyance gave her the ability to see Apollo’s role in the fall of Troy, so she spit in his face . . . at which point Apollo made a slight alteration to his gift. Cassandra could still see the future, but no one would believe her. Ever.

All her warnings fell on deaf ears, even though she knew exactly what she was talking about. Talk about irony.

We could go on, but you get the idea. Ancient mythology is a treasure-trove of good storytelling.

The Missing Myth

However, there’s a notably missing story. We know of the Roman god of beginnings and transitions. His name was Janus, and he was an important part of most Roman celebrations. But we don’t have any stories about him.

Not one.

Which is weird. Beginnings and transitions are important. When change happens, it definitely affects us. That’s true for personal change, and it’s just as true in your business.

It kind of makes you wonder if the Romans understand how distressing change can be, but didn’t particularly want to think about it. Who knows? Regardless of why they didn’t leave us with any stories about Janus, change can certainly be stressful.

What if you could eliminate some of the stress from one of the most difficult changes your business can undertake? What if you could make changing locations way easier?

Movin’, Movin’, Movin’

Moving a business from one location to another is a HUGE task. There are so many logistics to take into account. Anything that makes relocation easier is worth doing.

There are a lot of ways you can ease up on the stress of moving, but we have one suggestion that makes sense on multiple levels. Moving offices is the perfect time to embrace cloud services.

Why Cloud Services?

When it comes to relocation, there are three specific benefits to cloud solutions. What are they? So glad you asked . . .

1. Make the physical move easier.

Guess what? The less you have to move, the easier it is to move. If you don’t have to lug a server from one office to another, that’ll make relocation a whole lot easier. The same goes for any other technical tools you can replace with cloud solutions.

2. Save some money.

Not only will you have less to move, but you’ll have less to set up. That means fewer billable hours to your IT service provider for installation, cabling and equipment setup. Cloud solutions will be there, ready to go to work as soon as you log in from the new office. No setup required.

3. All kinds of new functionality.

We saved the best for last. You and your staff will already be open to new things. You’re changing locations—why not ditch any outdated solutions, as well?

This is an ideal time to make adjustments to processes. You’re already disrupting the flow of the average workday. Make the most of it by upgrading to cloud solutions at the same time. That’s killing two metaphorical birds with the same high-tech stone.

What If You’re Not Moving?

This post is great if you’re prepping to pack up the old office and move into a new one, but what if you’re cozy where you are right now? Does any of this apply to you?

You bet.

Cloud services make sense for SMBs in general. You don’t have to be in the middle of a chaotic relocation to take advantage of the cloud. And if you’d like to know more about how cloud solutions helps SMB owners in general, you’re in luck.

We’ve written about the general advantages of cloud solutions for small business owners before. You can read that post here.

Top Ten Resources for IT Support

You’ve heard “there is no shortage of bad information.” The same is true for information technology. As innovative technologies constantly improve with newer features, articles and posts that were found useful have become outdated and irrelevant. For this reason, Intelligent IT NYC conducted thorough research to find you the best resources for IT support. The following websites are always updated with fresh content that remains relevant with current trends and all you need to know for accurate and helpful IT support.

1. www.pcsupport.about.com

Offering tutorials, guides, tips and tricks, pcsupport remains a good resource for valuable information pertaining to your pc.

2. www.tomshardware.com

tomshardware has informative guides on various machines, programs, and software. You can find articles on bugs and updates for the mac, windows, android and more.

3. www.helpdeskgeek.com

Tips and troubleshooting guides for all windows versions. With each new update comes new issues, but here you can learn how to resolve them all.

4. www.computerweekly.com

Vast amounts of information can be found on this site. Offering access to their research libraries and IT management strategies, this can easily be an essential resource for you.

5. www.freeprogrammingresources.com

The url says it all. This website is a database full of books, resources, and tools for your desktop and mobile devices.

6. www.datacenterknowledge.com

Offering white papers and information technology news this website truly is a data center where you can learn a lot about the IT industry.

7. www.drchaos.com

Frequent fresh content on hot topics ranging from mobile security to government technology, Dr. Chaos provides context on what you should be aware of.

8. www.themodernnetwork.com

The modern network has its own resource center where they share white papers and case studies that can help your IT infrastructure and decision-making.

9. www.discussions.apple.com

10. www.answers.microsoft.com

With a responsive community for both the apple and microsoft products, there was no way we could ignore their tech support forums with hundreds of participants responding to thousands of issues; we’re sure you’ll find answers to your questions as well.

There are additional information technology resources that offer and direct you to more places where you can find the tech support you need.

You can also continue checking back our blog for tech support. Be the first to know about bugs and fixes by subscribing to our newsletter or connecting with us on social networks.