Small business owners face a number of challenges and wear many different hats in order to keep their company competitive in today’s fast-paced market. From being an accountant balancing the books to acting as the Director of Communications to guarantee the company brand is marketed correctly, and even ensuring IT operations are running smoothly, small business owners do it all. Home business owners in particular have a long list of responsibilities, because they often do not have the team in place that other businesses do. While these business owners may feel the need to hire employees to fill particular roles, we’ve seen a trend take shape that seems to be the preferred alternative – outsourcing.
IT management and maintenance is a huge hurdle for many small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Often times, these organizations don’t have employees with the technical skills or expertise to manage and solve the breadth of tasks or issues associated with complex technology. In fact, according to market data, the two biggest IT challenges facing small businesses in particular are security issues and the time it takes to manage infrastructure. In an effort to address these challenges, over the last several years an increasing number of SMBs have turned to technology outsourcing partners to handle cloud-based applications and support their daily remote monitoring and maintenance (RMM).
The Outsourcing Movement
As with any trend, there are several factors that are driving SMBs’ increased reliance on cloud and IT outsourcing, especially for RMM. And many of these particularly hold true for home businesses.
The first is a labor shortage of qualified staff with the skill set or expertise in cloud, security, mobility, analytics and infrastructure. Given today’s technology landscape, one staff member is likely not well-versed enough in all IT tasks to manage the infrastructure, support the use of mobile devices, analyze and securely store company data and keep pace with technology advancements. For a home business owner, one person may be all they are willing to bring on-board full time due to budget. But that one person will likely not have the expertise to address all the technology needs. As such, outsourcing IT gives business owners access to a network of professionals with the skills needed to manage daily tasks, mitigate any issues that arise and have a pulse on the quickly changing technology landscape.
An additional driver of the SMB outsourcing trend is that more businesses of all sizes – from SMBs to global corporations and even home businesses, are acting as multi-channel businesses. This means that with additional channels, such as eCommerce, they are open for business 24x7x365. With customers, distributors and even dispersed employees that are mobile and operating self-service, the demands on the infrastructure can be more than a company owner can handle. Again, this is where having a network of IT professionals is essential to managing all IT aspects of the company – enabling business owners to focus on the strategic business decisions associated with this increased demand rather than the day-to-day IT tasks.
Another key factor driving outsourcing is that SMBs can no longer operate without business continuity and disaster recovery processing. In fact, doing so can be costly to the business. According to the Aberdeen Group, on average data loss costs approximately $8,600 per hour of downtime. On top of this, there are also secondary costs that come in the form of damage to brand reputation because of an outage. As a home business owner, any major incident that results in lost revenue or customer dissatisfaction can have a lasting effect on the overall business. By outsourcing RMM, these businesses can work with solution providers that can size their offerings to fit the unique needs of the company and mitigate such risks.
And when discussing risks, you have to talk about security, which is top of mind for all business owners. SMBs cannot easily put the level of security in place that is achievable in a robust cloud environment, and they don’t have the resources to assess ongoing vulnerabilities if security capabilities stay on-premises. This is where harnessing an IT outsourcing provider’s RMM capabilities comes into play. The provider is able to offer a broad skill set and large infrastructure of available technology, often including robust cloud environments. Through RMM, IT and operations professionals and home business owners alike can easily manage their entire enterprise infrastructure, including mobile devices, desktops, servers, networks and storage, and cloud/Software-as-a-Service environments.
RMM Dashboard Provides Competitive Advantage
Turning to an IT outsourcing provider for RMM capabilities is a fast-growing trend for SMBs. They have not traditionally been able to access the same level of information such as key performance indicators (KPIs) that larger enterprises receive when outsourcing. Because of the lack of information available to SMBs, outsourcing can appear to mean a loss of control. For that very reason, CGS responded to this concern by introducing a RMM dashboard specifically for businesses of this size.
The RMM dashboard provides SMB IT leaders with new actionable insights, giving them more control and understanding of priorities that require attention. The dashboard serves as a consolidated resource for business owners to obtain real-time health check information on infrastructure and application components to maximize preventative actions, forecast procurement, minimize downtime and prevent performance issues. Cash flow associated with this information is a critical consideration, so this proactive approach is crucial for SMBs, especially home business owners, that keep a careful eye on finances.
The RMM dashboard specifically provides:
- Real-time health checks on infrastructure and application components to maximize preventive actions
- Up-to-date visibility into networks and servers to minimize downtime and prevent performance issues
- Customizable insights and alerts on issues that need immediate attention, such as storage and end of life (EOL) considerations for support.
This enterprise-wide visibility and customization is especially beneficial to SMBs that generally have fewer resources to dedicate to daily IT maintenance tasks. By outsourcing IT operations and having a tool in place to monitor activity closely, SMBs are given more control. They have oversight of their outsourcing partnership, management of their IT infrastructure and health and as a result, more control over key business decisions. Outsourcing really provides business owners with the opportunity to worry less and focus more on what will make their company grow, rather then keeping up with daily IT tasks.
Delegate IT, Reduce Stress
There is no compelling reason for SMBs or home business owners to carry the weight of infrastructure and IT support. Outsourcing IT and transitioning to the cloud does not translate into a loss of control. In fact, the providers become an integral extension of the business’s IT team that ensures the system availability and performance is there while providing insights into areas of optimization. The amount of headroom created by transferring daily IT tasks and RMM to a third party, whose core competency is outsourcing, translates into increased profitability, reduced risk and reduced distractions from fundamental business initiatives and goals. In turn, SMBs and home business owners can focus on their core competency of managing their business, serving customers and generating sales.