SMBs and Technology Outsourcing: 2016 and Beyond
Small and Medium-sized Businesses (SMBs) are constantly challenged to meet the demands of today’s digital business environment. According to market data, the two biggest IT challenges facing small businesses are security issues and the time it takes to fix problems.
With today’s business climate, SMBs will increasingly turn to outsourcing partners that offer round-the-clock support to manage these concerns and their overall IT infrastructure. Resources previously spent addressing maintenance, migration, availability, performance and disaster recovery become the responsibility of a trusted service provider. In turn, the SMB benefits from increased profitability, reduced risk and higher levels of customer satisfaction.
Over the past few years the technology landscape has become increasingly advanced and complex. The reliance on technology from both the business and consumer perspective has skyrocketed. With this progression, many small- and medium-sized businesses are struggling to keep up with the IT skillset and number of staff required to support the technology infrastructure needed for business sustainability and growth. In fact, according to a recent National Small Business Association survey, the two biggest IT challenges that small businesses face: Security and time to fix problems.
SMBs are looking to break through these types of constraints and address these challenges. One way is for SMBs to turn to technology outsourcing providers. By outsourcing, they look to obtain the wider breadth of skills needed, while saving costs and ensuring enterprise IT support.
Outsourcing Tackles IT Challenges for SMBs
Traditionally, SMBs are looking for new and innovative products and business strategies. These businesses also have the added challenges of modest budget allocations, while needing to provide exceptional service delivery with fewer employees and meet the changing demands of tech-savvy customers. The deliverables and challenges for IT departments of SMBs are no different. IT executives and business owners are looking to improve IT service delivery and deploy new technology. With that, many are turning to technology outsourcing to handle day-to-day tasks and expand their breadth of IT capabilities.
By outsourcing daily IT tasks – remote monitoring and maintenance (RMM), managed cloud and email archiving – internal IT departments are able to focus on essential business processes and goals while saving costs. Outsourcing technology functions also enables SMBs to harness talent and specific skillsets for which they couldn’t previously hire. The restriction in added resources may have been a result of budget constraints or recruiting difficulties. Through an outsourcing partner, an organization that is looking to deploy the latest Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution can get the necessary support. There is no need to add a new hire to obtain that skillset.
Tallying up the Benefits
The benefits of outsourcing technology solutions and support include:
- Risk reduction: Since SMBs are generally supported by a smaller staff, technology outsourcing providers offer great value in reducing and mitigating risk. If an internal staff member is unavailable because of vacation or illness, the organization may face increased risk with compromised system availability or protection. In fact, Gartner estimates that downtime for computer networks costs a business about $5,600 per minute, which quickly adds up to more than $300,000 per hour. SMBs can mitigate the risk of downtime by utilizing an outsourcing provider.
- Cost savings: When an organization outsources any specific technology function, it will likely see a 20% to 30% reduction in cost.
- Alignment: Historically, IT departments have struggled to align properly with the business. By removing non-core competencies, like day-to-day support, from the internal IT teams’ task list, the staff will have more time to focus on organizational goals.
- More insight: Technology outsourcing vendors often work across a breadth of industries and organization sizes. This enables them to offer insights to SMBs that were previously not available. This means added expertise on trends in new technology tools or changes within the market.
- Better service: With the availability of expanded skillsets and staff, harnessing a technology outsourcing vendor enables SMBs to deliver better service 24 x 7 x 365.
Taking the next step – Searching for the right vendor
With any investment there are several best practices to keep in mind – and when looking to outsource, SMBs must focus on many factors. Service level agreements (SLAs) are traditionally the make-it or break-it aspect of any business purchase. Yet, outsourcing requires a different kind of focus. This is not to say that SLAs aren’t important, but they should not be the only factor. Instead, IT executives should also consider identifying a vendor that understands and has experience in its particular industry. Whether in the telecommunications field or the retail sector, it’s essential that the outsourcing provider has the expertise within that industry to understand the requirements and compliance needs, as well as the specific business goals. Additionally, it’s important to look into a vendor’s references.
With 2016 upon us, we are sure to see SMBs continue to embrace technology outsourcing as a game-changing solution to support enterprise IT performance while saving costs. And, as we look toward 2020 and beyond, we will likely see the majority of the SMB technology portfolio outsourced.