Partner View

Steering SMBs Toward Managed Services

SMBs can't afford to hire a qualified IT staff to administer their networks. Partners who provide managed services can step in.

Sit down with any owner of a small to midsize business (SMB) for a quick cup of coffee, and you're bound to hear a long list of things that keep him or her awake at night. Somewhere near the top of that list are likely to be headaches concerning the company's information technology.

Most small businesses can't afford the luxury of having a qualified IT administrator, let alone an entire IT department, to manage a network and its assets. SMB owners know that they need reliable, up-to-date technology to survive in their competitive business environments, but they may well find the challenges of continually understanding, implementing and managing their technology overwhelming.

That's where partners who provide managed services can step in. SMB owners, as ever-ready entrepreneurs, typically thrive by having their critical business information at their fingertips. Knowing that they need the best computers and networks that they can afford, they must figure out a way to acquire and maintain IT assets without crippling company finances.

Partners have a real opportunity to sell to SMB owners, who look to them to provide technology solutions. The key to success here is that SMB owners generally don't want to worry about the gritty details underlying infrastructure decisions, such as what kind of servers they should use or exactly how they're storing their data. Instead, they simply want the confidence that their systems are working and that they are able to access messages and data when they need them.

Even companies large enough to have some in-house IT support can better spend their resources on strategic initiatives than on managing low-level functions. Outsourcing basic IT services frees them to focus on more critical functions that sit on top of their IT infrastructure.

For these reasons, partners should encourage many SMB owners to have their IT functionality delivered as a service managed by an outsourced provider. That message is a powerful one for partners: Managed IT services can help SMBs reduce the cost of acquiring and managing an enterprise-class technology infrastructure by delivering a complete computing solution for a consistent monthly fee. Benefits worth explaining to SMB customers include:

  • Simplicity. Instead of worrying about piecing together different technology components, SMBs get a complete, standardized, integrated solution. As a bonus, they don't need to deal with multiple vendors and bills.
  • Affordability. SMBs can enjoy the collective purchasing power of larger organizations by spreading their infrastructure costs across multiple customers. They also don't need to worry about large, up-front capital expenditures. Rather, they can simply lease the equipment they need.
  • Manageability. Many SMB technology headaches come from technical support and security issues. With managed IT services, the service provider takes responsibility for supporting and securing the SMB customer's network.
  • Accountability. Customers have one point of contact for all their network, hardware and software services. Meanwhile, providers are motivated to make sure that they deliver reliable solutions.
  • Low-Risk Investment. Because there are no large, up-front expenditures and customers only pay a monthly software fee, the monetary risk is lower and less daunting for most SMBs.

Partner companies that recognize the benefits of outsourcing are able to help their SMB customers take a long-term approach to growth planning. Rather than going for the quick return of selling additional hardware components individually, partners can show commitment to their customers by looking at outsourced options, whether they deliver them themselves or partner with established providers.

The bottom line: Managed IT services can free SMB customers from having to worry about managing their IT infrastructures so that they can focus on what they do best -- running their businesses and remaining competitive in their markets.

About the Author

Michael Proper is CEO of DirectPointe Inc., a Lindon, Utah-based Certified Partner and provider of managed services.