Choosing The Right Network Support Provider
Discover Why Partnering With A Network Support Provider In East Texas Will Benefit Your Organization, And What Service Features And Capabilities You Need To Look For.
Why Should You Partner With An East Texas Network Support Provider?
If you haven’t been working with a network support provider in East Texas yet, or have one that’s “good enough”, it might not be obvious why you should be looking for another, right?
To really understand how a network support provider could deliver value to your organization, you need to see past the marketing fluff. A lot of companies will make different claims, about how their services will “revolutionize your business” or “make your profits soar”.
But that’s not actually helpful information. The fact is that, by 2021, network support providers are expected to deliver 25% of the $4 trillion that small and medium-sized businesses will budget for IT around the world, and there has to be a good reason for that.
Let’s explore why — to start, here are six benefits you can gain by partnering with a network support provider in East Texas.
Guided Access To The Latest Technology
Many business owners struggle with keeping up with the ever-evolving technology landscape, and in most cases, it’s hard to sort through which innovative forms of hardware and software are worth investing in and which aren’t. A network support provider handles this for you — keeping ahead of new technologies to help you take advantage of various security products, mobility solutions, analytics tools, and more.
Develop More Accurate IT Budgeting
When mission-critical technology fails, this can cost your company in several ways. First of all, your workflow is disrupted. Your employees can’t work. During any downtime, employees still get paid (often overtime), which includes paying the in-house technical support personnel, possibly paying outside consultants, and a potential loss of business Undetected IT issues become expensive hourly service calls.
This happens when a system isn’t monitored correctly. When the server and network outages keep happening, this is a sign there may be deeper problems that could be expensive to repair.
One of the biggest challenges associated with the traditional hourly support model of managing information systems is unexpected costs in terms of repairing equipment, dealing with downtime, or troubleshooting the same problems over and over again. There’s simply no preventative maintenance or technology roadmap in place to prevent these sorts of challenges.
This is where an outsourced, managed approach can help — a network support provider minimizes unexpected costs because you’re paying them a flat-rate monthly fee to act in a proactive nature for support purposes.
Enhance Your Business Continuity
This is one of the most commonly overlooked benefits of working with an East Texas network support provider.
You’re able to rest assured knowing you have a team managing an effective data backup and disaster recovery plan that incorporates onsite backups, as well as offsite backups to the cloud. This means that recovery is possible even if a disaster destroys on-premises equipment.
Prior to working with a network support provider, many businesses rely on tape backups that are typically hard to recover from. A network support provider will create a comprehensive plan that outlines exactly what to do in the event of data loss and/or an outage.
Improve Your Cybersecurity
Working with a network support provider gives you peace of mind knowing you have an expert team managing your cybersecurity.
They will have a multi-layered solution that incorporates a range of cybersecurity technologies, and in many cases, they’ll train your staff on cybersecurity awareness to ensure you’re prepared to defend against any sort of threat.
Optimize Your IT Environment
In many cases, handling information technology on your own leads to a confusing, misconfigured environment wherein products and/or tools don’t work well with one another at all times.
A network support provider knows what they’re doing when it comes to addressing your infrastructure. They’ll ensure your hardware and software are properly configured to work well together, creating a cohesive environment that’s well-managed and maintained. They will handle the security requirements necessary to safeguard each and every device and/or endpoint on the network.
Reduce Your Downtime
Often, day-to-day computer issues do not get immediately noticed. Network support providers run monitoring and reporting tools that identify the unknown items. They will report their findings when a potential problem gets discovered. That way, the problem gets fixed before it causes frustration and downtime for your employees.
Many issues that your team encounters on a daily basis can be solved remotely, eliminating the expense of a technician doing an on-site visit and assessment. This is a fast, easy way to resolve common computing issues so your employees can get back to work.
4 Things You Need To Know About Working With A Network Support Provider In East Texas
While you may understand the benefits of working with an East Texas network support provider, you may still believe it’s not the right choice for you.
That might be true, but let’s make sure you have a crystal clear understanding of how it works:
Size Doesn’t Matter
You don’t need to be a massive corporation to benefit from working with a network support provider. Although you may have tried to do everything in-house when you started out, you’ve likely come to realize the value of outsourcing tasks that you don’t have the time or expertise for. That’s why many in your position choose to work with a network support provider.
Also, you may not be aware that working with a network support provider can be affordable. Many providers offer rates that are designed on a per-user basis – meaning that your small size gets you a lower rate.
Furthermore, as a matter of expertise and capability, outsourcing can’t be beaten. It’s reported that 23% of small businesses don’t have the right IT team, while 30% want to keep up with technological advances – the best way to do so is to outsource all of it to a capable team.
Your Internal IT Team Isn’t Necessarily More Effective
This is entirely dependent on the time and money you invest in your team.
Consider the two major time/money/resource expenses that come with managing an internal IT team:
An in-house network administrator can cost a lot to have on staff — on average, $58,000 every year.
To be effective, IT service and support requires up-to-date skills and expertise. An in-house staff member is subject to business hour restrictions, full salary, annual leave and will undoubtedly call in sick from time to time.
While your business may be profitable, management probably doesn’t want to devote their time to overseeing IT.
Do you even know if your IT staff are doing their jobs adequately? And if you have a remote network support provider, can the same be said of that team?
By outsourcing your IT to a network support provider, you leave the hiring, training, management, and other expenses to them.
You Don’t Have To Fire Your IT Team
Many business owners and managers stick with an underperforming internal IT team because they don’t want to fire them and replace them with an outsourced alternative. It doesn’t have to be this way.
According to CompTIA, only 6% of businesses like yours that outsource their IT end up eliminating their entire internal IT presence.
Instead, you can augment your internal team with additional support from an external network support provider. After all, managing IT can be a daily struggle. Your IT manager or internal IT staff will tend to spend most of their time just “putting out fires” one after another.
As important as that is, the constant stream of requests, troubleshooting, and maintenance tasks can keep your IT personnel from tackling the larger goals you have for your business technology, including:
- Developing comprehensive IT security measures and practices to keep you safe
- Completing major projects, such as migrations, upgrades, and relocations
- Replacing servers and other fundamental hardware
- Moving application workloads to the cloud
That’s why many businesses have opted to augment their internal IT staff with a little help from an outsourced provider. It’s a smart way to keep from overworking your staff.
Working With A Network Support Provider Is More Expensive
This is patently untrue.
Based on data from PayScale.com, we know that an IT technician will cost you somewhere between $45,000 – $71,000 per year. The range is dependent on how experienced the technician is, what types of certifications they have, etc.
However, don’t forget that this number fails to account for costs associated with health benefits, sick pay, vacation time, and annual payroll tax.
You also need to provide your employees with space to work, and resources to work with. That’s not to mention whatever amount of time you’ll spend recruiting, interviewing, training, and managing this employee on an ongoing basis.
An average small business should expect to pay somewhere from $100 – $115 per device per month for a network support contract. Again, that cost can vary – but it can still come in much lower than the $65,000 per year you would spend on a single employee.
Top 5 Must-Have Features To Look For In Your East Texas Network Support Provider
Now that you know why it’s beneficial to work with a network support provider in East Texas, let’s explore the service features and capabilities you should require from them. No matter who you’re talking to, walk through these 5 items to make sure you’re getting the right value.
#1: Cybersecurity Services
Perhaps more than any other IT service that you could have managed, security is likely the most valuable. Unlike printers or communications, security requires ongoing monitoring and maintenance, all of which can best be delivered as a managed function.
And now, it’s more important than ever.
When the COVID-19 crisis hit, it hit fast. Despite what, in retrospect, may have seemed like a gradual build-up, it was virtually over the course of a single weekend in March that businesses across the US had to pivot to a remote work model.
Obviously, the first priority was maintaining business continuity. You needed to make sure your newly remote workers had the technology and the remote access necessary to do their work.
But the process doesn’t end there — security is a complicated undertaking for remote work models. In fact, 71% of security professionals noted an increase in security threats or attacks since the start of the pandemic.
A network support provider can deliver fully managed security services, including 24/7 monitoring and management of firewalls and intrusion detection systems. Your network support provider will also respond to emergencies, perform security assessments and security audits, and oversee patch management and upgrades.
Security Services Your East Texas Network Support Provider Needs To Offer
Microsoft 365 Data Governance
In the course of the pandemic, your Microsoft 365 data has likely been integrated into a much more complicated network. You’ve got employees at home, back in the office, and on the go accessing this data — are you sure your data governance practices are how they should be?
Your network support provider can make sure they are, assessing your Microsoft 365 environment to double-check how your data is accessed and protected:
- Management of security patches and updates
- Implementation of best practices for user privileges and access management
- Ongoing management of data backup
Data Loss Prevention
Your network support provider will monitor the flows of information to and from your organization and apply intelligence-based rules (keeping industry-specific compliance in mind) to ensure only the right information is being sent.
Beyond the technical aspects of cybersecurity management and risk mitigation, your network support provider will also educate your staff to recognize modern cybersecurity risks.
It is critical for every member of your organization to understand the danger that malware, ransomware, viruses, phishing schemes, and a range of other cyber-related crimes pose to your organization.
Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) & Mobile Device Management (MDM)
This is a basic offering that any network support provider worth their money will be able to assist with.
When you log in to an account that has MFA enabled, in addition to entering your password, you must either enter in an added generated code, or authorize login with a “push” request to a secondary device.
In the event your password is compromised, your account can remain secure as the cybercriminal is unable to authenticate the secondary requirement.
There is a range of options for generating the MFA codes:
- Receiving a text message
- Using a dedicated authenticator application
- Possessing a physical device on which you must push a button to verify that you are the authorized user of that account
The protection that MFA adds allows you use your passwords for a longer length of time between password resets, and in the event that your service provider is compromised and your email and password end up in an open database on the open web, you will have time to change your password before your individual account is compromised.
It is no surprise that mobile devices are continuing to become a bigger and bigger part of the business world as companies begin to adopt “Bring Your Own Device” policies for their employees. What’s surprising is how unprepared some businesses are for this new step is professional technology.
If mobile devices are a part of your business’ process, your network support provider should provide effective device encryption, strong security measures (PINs, thumbprint scanners, etc.), and remote wipe capability in the event of a lost or stolen device.
#2: Remote Work Expertise
According to 317 CFOs recently surveyed by Gartner, the business world may not change back when the pandemic is over:
- 74% of CFOs say they expect to move previously on-site employees remote post-COVID-19
- 81% of CFOs plan to exceed their contractual obligations to hourly workers and to fund that they are using remote work to offer flexible schedules and maintain operations.
- 90% of CFOs said their accounting close operations will be able to run effectively without disruptions off-site.
- 20% of CFOs said they are cutting their on-premise technology spending with 12% planning the same move.
- 13% of CFOs have already cut real estate expenses with another 9% planning cuts in the months to come.
And for good reason — a silver lining of the pandemic is that many businesses have discovered the benefits of remote work:
- 77% of remote employees say they’re more productive when working from home
- 76% of employees prefer to avoid their office completely when they need to concentrate on a project
- 98% of remote workers want to continue to work remotely (at least some of the time) for the rest of their careers
As you and the other c-level executives at your business have likely discovered since the start of the pandemic, your ability to work remotely depends directly on your IT support.
In the remote setting, technology is necessary so that you and your staff can:
- Access files, applications, and systems
- Collaborate with colleagues, partners, and customers via video conferencing solutions
- Stay secure against the increased rate of phishing attacks related to the pandemic
- Maintain communications with cloud-based phone systems that keep staff connected
It’s understandable if your internal IT team has been struggling to keep your staff supported — many business’ IT support processes were not developed with a remote model in mind.
If your team hasn’t been able to deliver the support required, it’s likely led to some issues:
- Poor functionality for remote solutions deployed at staff members’ homes
- Compromised security in your extended network of home offices
- Less value for the investment you’ve made in your IT support
If you plan to continue with remote work in one way or another, you may need to change your model of IT support. As you and the other c-level executives at your business have likely discovered since the start of the pandemic, your ability to work remotely depends directly on your IT support.
The right East Texas network support provider can help.
Over the course of the pandemic, they’ve had the opportunity to gain extensive experience in helping their partners to launch, optimize and secure remote work capabilities. Now that the mad rush to go remote is over, it’s time to perfect your processes — and you don’t have to do so alone.
#3: Cloud Services
By definition, the cloud is a network of technologies that allows access to computing resources, such as storage, processing power, and more. In layman’s terms, the cloud allows you to access IT resources that wouldn’t be available otherwise – or, at least, not without a much higher expense.
General advantages include:
- Easily Budgeted Expenses: The cloud services subscription model offers the strategic advantage of low-cost, low-risk opt-in combined with a simple, predictable monthly fee.
- IT Resources: The cloud has the ability to activate tens of thousands of CPUs. This unparalleled power can quickly perform deep analytics of your data, and process nearly any ad-hoc queries that you require.
- Connecting Team Members: With cloud technology, your staff doesn’t have to wait for each other to be done with their part of the document or project in order to tackle their own aspect. They can all work on the same project at the same time to maximize productivity.
- Simple Scalability: Cloud services have the unique strategic characteristic of being able to stretch or shrink to suit your current level of demand. This is especially useful for businesses of any scale that will change in size over time.
Cloud Services Your East Texas Network Support Provider Needs To Offer
Microsoft 365 is a powerful tool. This subscription-based service enhances the user experience with familiar Microsoft applications like Word, Outlook, PowerPoint, and Excel with the flexibility and accessibility of the cloud.
Over the past few years, productivity suites like this have become more and more popular with businesses of all sizes, in a wide and varied range of industries. It’s the type of solution that has something to offer everyone.
Most businesses can harness the basics – but if you want to get everything you can out of Microsoft 365, then you need expert management, which you can get from an East Texas network support provider.
Potential benefits include:
Greater cost efficiency as you pay a low-cost per month for access to the desktop, mobile, and cloud-based applications you need. There are no upfront costs and upgrades are automatically applied.
Higher data security measures than traditional, on-premises alternatives – from data loss prevention to mobile device management to encryption to advanced threat analytics and everything in between.
More reliable integration with third-party tools as various third-party tools are supported with minimal technical configuration required – making it simple to migrate, secure, and monitor the platform.
Virtual Desktop Infrastructure
Virtual desktops are not a new concept. Some vendors have been offering compelling virtual desktop solutions and have established themselves as market leaders early on as a result. But it’s been a tough grind as many industries weren’t quite ready to embrace the concept.
However, given the ongoing pandemic crisis, all that has changed. Business owners are in need of a convenient and secure way to access work data remotely and keep their business productive.
The virtual desktop virtualizes what’s on your computer. When you use a virtual desktop, all of your icons, wallpaper, folders, toolbars, etc. are stored remotely on a server rather than on your computing device.
With the right authorization, your computing environment can be accessed from any computing device. When you’re away from the office, all you need is a computer and to sign in to your virtual environment.
A virtual desktop environment lets your staff access applications and documents from multiple devices like workstations, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. This increases productivity because your employees can access the data they need from anywhere.
Traditional phone systems are a thing of the past. Landlines are expensive, rigid, and inconvenient, so why not modernize your business’ phone systems?
Unified Communications (UC) solutions use cloud technology to make calls instead of a traditional phone line, granting you greater connectivity, more features, and reduced costs.
- Manage your services via an easy-to-use web portal.
- Route your calls anywhere and transparently so callers don’t realize you’re in a different location.
- Unified messaging combines email, voice messages, and faxes into a single system that you can access from anywhere via the Internet.
- You and your staff can receive and make calls via the Internet from anywhere while enjoying the same features and functionalities you have in the office.
Another key benefit of the cloud is that it allows you to host important applications and systems offsite, protecting them against issues that can occur locally.
You outsource the management, maintenance, and support for these systems to a network support provider in East Texas, eliminating work for your onsite team and optimizing the performance of whatever you choose to have your network support provider host:
Software as a service (SaaS) allows users to execute and operate their software applications entirely from the cloud. Hosted applications are powered from remote cloud infrastructure, giving everyone full access through the Internet.
Windows Server Hosting
You want to move your servers to the cloud, but you’ve probably wondered how you would get there. If you’ve never done it before, the choices and processes can be daunting. The right network support provider will have the expertise to implement your server migrations to the cloud, and handle all the leg work for you.
The telecommunications industry is moving more towards hosted exchange because it frees up your servers for more important data storage. Get the space you need for all your business email communications, along with top security that will keep cybercriminals out.
For a streamlined accounting experience, hosted Quickbooks is the way to go.
Your staff can work from anywhere and all documents and files are available anywhere you have an internet-enabled device. This gives your staff more options for getting their work done each day, no matter where they are.
Organize and collaborate more effectively. Give your staff the gift of better ways to work together by sharing documents, data, and news, all from one central platform.
When additional support is needed, your network support provider should be able to provide troubleshooting assistance or strategic advice, helping you to leverage the power of these cloud technologies to their benefit:
If you’re not sure which solution is right for you or how to migrate all of your workstations over, your network support provider will walk you through the entire migration process, handling each step of the way to make sure it goes smoothly.
Your network support provider should offer onsite and remote support to help you resolve any sort of configuration and/or troubleshooting issues right away.
A vital component of the success strategy of any software offering is the ability for a business’ employees to understand it well enough to utilize it to its fullest potential. Your network support provider should be willing to walk your staff through any new features or applications.
#4: Expert IT Consulting
Do you have a Chief Information Officer? They provide an invaluable service for your business.
It’s their job to understand your organization completely and offer strategic IT planning, analysis, and overall IT management aligned with your business’ goals.
Unfortunately, finding an experienced CIO that is willing to carry out executive-level duties on a small business salary is a near-impossible task. Payscale estimates the current average salary for a CIO in the US is $157,557.
Can you afford that?
Many businesses can’t even afford to hire someone to fill this position — but just because the resources aren’t there, it doesn’t mean that the need for CIO services isn’t there either.
The solution? Get a virtual CIO to execute all those tasks, but as a cost-effective, outsourced service.
A vCIO, as a service delivered by your network support provider, oversees your business strategy, how it integrates with IT planning and investments and will manage all of your high priority concerns:
- Business Continuity: The key to effective Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity strategy is how well your business plans ahead. With a reliable and experienced vCIO, you can make sure your business is prepared for the future and any emergencies that may entail.
- Consultation On Emerging Tech Trends: New applications of business technology are hitting the market every year, and without the right perspective, your business could miss out. A vCIO can help you keep up with the latest and greatest in IT.
- Optimal IT: Tomorrow quickly becomes today. When you plan effectively for your future, you’re making sure that you’re always prepared in the present as well. Not long after a vCIO joins your operation, you’ll soon see the benefits of proper planning take effect in your business’ daily operation.
#5: Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery
Without comprehensive disaster recovery planning, you’re left vulnerable to any and all emergency situations, whether it’s a major meteorological event like a hurricane, common power outages, or the result of malicious or accidental employee actions.
Any of these consequences could happen to you:
- Permanent data loss as onsite copies of your data are destroyed
- Severe downtime as your business scrambles to replace lost data and get up and running again
- Major damage to your reputation as the quality of service you deliver to customers plummets.
That’s why you should have a network support provider in East Texas helping you protect your data. As a part of business continuity and disaster recovery services, they can help you:
Maintain Data Integrity
Whether it’s in your on-site server or stored in the cloud, you need to be sure your business’ data is protected and securely backed up.
How can you expect your staff to work productively if they keep losing their work, or relying on out of date backed up data? Protecting data protects your bottom line.
Mitigate Employee Risks
Cybersecurity gimmicks — such as “set it and forget it” firewalls and antivirus software — fail to account for how important the user is:
According to the 2019 Shred It Protection Report, 31% of small business owners report that human error or accidental loss by a staff member led to a data breach.
Malicious Insider Threats
Employees acting in bad faith can cause extensive damage as well. According to the 2018 Insider Threat Report, of 874 reported incidents, 191 were caused by malicious employees.
Should You Partner With An East Texas Network Support Provider?
Unfortunately, there’s no definitive answer. It all comes down to what you need, and whether you can find it.
As you’ve seen through the course of this Buyer’s Guide, without doing your homework, asking the right questions, and properly vetting the network support providers in East Texas, there’s no guarantee you’ll get what you need.
But you might – if you know what you’re looking for, and how to look for it, you can find the right network support provider. One that will take care of all your IT needs, work with you to eliminate long-term tech-based obstacles, and do so at a cost-effective monthly rate.
Discovery IT can help — over the course of the pandemic, we’ve gained extensive experience in helping our partners to launch, optimize, and secure remote work capabilities. We have the expertise you’re looking for in a network support provider, and we may be the right choice for you.
Get in touch with the Discovery IT team today to find out.