As a business owner, you will have to choose between establishing an internal IT department and partnering with a managed IT services provider at some point.
While both options have their own merits, new entrepreneurs need to factor in several elements into their decision, including affordability.
A handful of in-house technicians may be able to fulfill day-to-day technological requirements, but they are seldom as effective as a team comprising multiple IT specialists.
Additionally, small businesses often struggle with limited IT resources, which puts their entire infrastructure at risk of unprecedented network failures or security breaches. You may find it difficult to resolve these problems on your own, especially if you don’t know what you are doing.
Having said that, companies providing IT services assign seasoned professionals with years of industry expertise to their clients. They can guide your technology choices, help you acquire the right hardware/software, fix network catastrophes, and ensure that your IT infrastructure is customized to your business’s specific needs.
But before we jump the gun, let us first define what we mean by managed IT services.
Managed IT Services: What Does It Imply?
Simply put, managed service providers (MSPs) take on the role of your internal IT team and keep a vigilant eye on your IT infrastructure. They patch security gaps, back up data, resolve routine IT glitches, and install updates/upgrades as required.
Over the years, the global demand for managed IT services has grown exponentially. According to Fortune Business Insights, the international managed services market stood at $200.29 billion in 2019 and is expected to reach $492.15 billion by 2027. The study suggests that businesses are using these services to:
Automate their business processes
Implement the latest IT innovations
Increase employee productivity
Global Market Insights indicates that the MSP market's rapid growth may be attributed to the growing demand for reduced IT management and maintenance costs.
Why Small Businesses Need Managed IT Services
Tight budgets, limited workforce, and intense market competition often lead startups to scramble for recognition. Fortunately, recruiting reliable IT support can help your business stay ahead of the curve. When it comes to Baltimore, this is easy to do.
Baltimore is widely regarded as one of Maryland’s most prominent technology hubs. In 2019, the city’s IT industry contributed about $21 billion to Maryland’s economy. Also, most of Maryland’s IT workers reside in Baltimore, which translates into increased availability of technological expertise.
Moreover, the city is one of the leading centers of IT innovation in Maryland. Apart from harboring a remarkable talent pool, the city also hosts several tech incubators and technology-based events. These efforts combine to create a rich, constantly evolving IT ecosystem.
As an entrepreneur in Baltimore, it is in your best interest to take advantage of the city’s burgeoning technology landscape by implementing the latest advancements.
However, many owners are often intimidated by complex technical innovations. Consequently, they are unsure of investing in a concept they do not fully understand, even if it claims to benefit their business.
This is where Baltimore IT services can help. These companies usually employ highly trained and experienced IT professionals who can break down technical information into simple terms. In other words, they can help you understand technology better, enabling you to decide whether or not you need it.
Additionally, outsourced IT experts in Baltimore can recommend new technology based on your business’s specific needs. So, if you want to expand your IT but have no idea how, you can turn to a Baltimore IT services provider for help.
Below, we’ve listed a few other ways in which a third-party IT company can help you win a competitive edge in the startup market.
Benefits of Hiring Managed IT Services
When networks fail, companies are left to deal with several expensive consequences. There are multiple negative effects of prolonged system downtime, some of which include:
Loss of customers’ trust
Loss of data
Tarnished brand image
Fortunately, a reliable and efficient IT support company can help you prevent all of these outcomes. By monitoring your network 24/7/365, they locate and dispel potential system issues before they spring to life and interfere with your business’s workflow.
Reduced Initial Investment
A managed IT services provider can help you reduce your initial technology investments. Instead of purchasing expensive software and hardware, you only pay for the services you avail. The IT company offers you the equipment and expertise in exchange for a flat fee.
Moreover, upgrades and repairs are usually included in an MSP’s contract, meaning you will not incur any additional charges for them.
The RobbinHood attack is probably one of Baltimore’s most infamous cyber breach incidents. On May 7, 2019, hackers digitally seized approximately 10,000 government computers and demanded bitcoins worth $100,000 as ransom. As a result, employees were locked out of their email accounts and citizens were unable to pay their bills/taxes for about two weeks. This disturbing cyberattack nearly shut down the city and cost it millions of dollars.
This goes to show that no organization is completely immune to cyber threats. With cybercrime on the rise, enterprises should take active measures to protect their intelligence and infrastructure as best as they can.
However, small business owners often put cybersecurity on the back burner, assuming that their company won't be targeted. In reality, small businesses are an easy target for cybercriminals. Further, 60% startups affected by security breaches rarely survive.
It is always a good idea to partner with a Baltimore IT services company to protect your IT network from all sides. These teams often employ skilled cybersecurity analysts who can assess your network and patch security gaps effectively. They also recommend additional security measures to further safeguard your IT infrastructure.
Maintaining and scaling an IT network requires considerable skill. An in-house team will require constant training to stay updated on the latest technological advancements, which can add to your overhead expenses. On the other hand, managed IT services teams consist of trained technicians who are invested in learning about the latest IT trends.
Moreover, an MSP provides you with immediate access to a team of competent professionals capable of preserving enterprise-grade IT architecture. They use their comprehensive expertise to streamline your IT network and maximize efficiency.
Adherence to Regulatory Compliance
If you’re new to the industry, chances are that you’ll struggle to align your business’s technology with all state and federal mandates. Verizon’s 2020 Payment Security Report indicated that only 27.9% of global companies were able to fully observe the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS).
An experienced managed IT services provider will help you take note of your compliance exposure and analyze your IT network for potential compliance gaps. By doing this, they ensure that your IT infrastructure is industry-approved and always prepared for an audit.
Provision of Data Backup and Recovery
In the event of a catastrophe, data backup is your only reliable defense against its loss and/or theft. However, transferring important business intelligence to a safe off-site location requires significant time, skill, and labor.
Hence, many businesses outsource their data backup and recovery processes to an external MSP. Besides protecting your company against data loss, an MSP can help you avoid the costs of managing these processes internally.
Proactive IT support focuses on prevention, i.e., the managed IT services company will address and resolve technical issues before they snowball into full-fledged disasters. This helps save expenses by minimizing downtime and performance problems.
Below, we list a few other benefits of proactive maintenance:
Technical consultations for tailored IT strategies
Round the clock assistance
Onsite engineering for relevant emergencies
How to Find the Right Managed IT Services Provider for Your Business
Once you have decided to hire external IT support, you should team up with a company that understands your specific needs. Here are a few things to keep in mind when looking for an IT services provider:
Ask about Their Services
Not all IT support teams are made equal. While some may specialize in cloud computing, others might focus on cybersecurity and data recovery. It is, therefore, important to understand what you need from them. With this knowledge, you will be able to pare down the potential number of IT services providers to a select few.
Also, talk to your prospective technology partners to assess their credibility. It is always a good idea to hire an IT support team that can tackle major problems as effectively as routine ones.
Consider Their Experience
An MSP that has been around for a long while can offer you reliable IT support for security monitoring, network troubleshooting, and hardware/software setups or recommendations. They will be well-positioned to align your business’s IT infrastructure with industry specifics.
Additionally, they can implement tried and tested solutions for system issues and resolve technical glitches quickly.
Check How They Implement Changes in Technology
Be sure to note the relationship that your prospective MSP shares with technology. If they are working with outdated platforms, struggling to keep pace with upgrades, and avoiding software updates just to reduce expenses, they may not be worth your money.
In contrast, a competent managed IT services provider will blend the latest technological developments into your IT roadmap without your intervention. In other words, they are eager to invest in advanced technologies for their clients’ benefit.
Investigate Their Market Presence
An MSP’s market reputation may be indicative of their quality of service. Once you’ve decided on a prospective managed IT services company, run a background check on them, starting with checking their website for customer reviews.
You can also read customer feedback on third-party review sites, or contact some former clients to learn about their experience working with the MSP. This will help you develop a fair understanding of the company’s service quality.
With Baltimore’s thriving startup scene drawing several new entrepreneurs each year, your business will need a strong strategy to stay ahead of the competition. In this regard, an MSP can help streamline your technical infrastructure and improve productivity. Also, when you leave your business’s IT responsibilities to an expert MSP, you have more time to focus on your core offerings and contemplate growth.
If you’re thinking about teaming up with an IT services provider in Baltimore, we’ll be happy to provide you the information you require. Call us today to find out more.