In recent decades the world of IT has changed immeasurably. Despite the persistence of the archetypal helpdesk support that has become a hallmark of the industry, nowadays IT providers are expected to go above and beyond in helping their clients unlock value using technology.
The digital revolution began around 1980 and continues to this day. This transformative period has transformed the way we live and work, with digital technologies enabling effortless long-distance communication, data analysis in ways not previously possible and the optimization and automation of workflows for enhanced workplace productivity. This process has led to organisations handling ever greater quantities of data, necessitating advanced cyber security protections and a proactive, vigilant approach to IT governance in order to keep this data secure.
In today’s workplace, the changes seen over the past 40 years are accelerating, with cloud computing granting small-medium sized enterprises access to resources and capabilities that were once out of reach. Enterprise mobility has become the norm rather than the exception, and with emerging technologies such as AI and machine learning becoming ever more widespread and accessible, it could be argued that enterprise IT has never been so pivotal to business success.
In our competitive modern world inaction can lead to failure. Failing to keep pace with the latest technologies could see your business fall behind competitors, and a slack approach to data security could see your organization subject to hefty fines and lawsuits. A dynamic and committed IT partner should be helping your business on both of these fronts, by offering cost-effective, productivity-boosting solutions that accommodate operational and regulatory constraints. Their support offering should prioritize preventative actions, with the helpdesk seen as merely a fallback, and they should offer a range of managed security devices designed to make your network impervious to cyber criminals. If your IT partner is failing in these obligations, then it may be time to explore an alternative. After all, the success of your business could hang in the balance.
We appreciate that assessing the quality of IT support isn’t always easy. Yes, there are key performance indicators such as average response and resolution times, but these only evaluate a small portion of the service your provider should be offering. So how do you make a judgement on the rest?
From our bases in Santa Fe and Albuquerque, Zia Networks is currently helping dozens of SMEs across New Mexico gain maximum value from their business technology. With decades of experience in the IT sector we understand the transformative power IT can have when strategically deployed, but we also know how growth-inhibiting and constraining poor IT support can be. Some IT providers lack the capacity to truly deliver for their clients and others simply withhold about 70% of their capabilities, and provide the bare minimum in order to satisfy contractual obligations. Here are 5 signs that your IT provider doesn’t have what it takes to truly support your business’s technology.
Downtime is hindering your productivity
A 2014 report by Gartner found that a minute of downtime cost global firms $5600 on average. While this figure includes large corporations, downtime can be costly for businesses big and small, with over 30% of downtime occurrences thought to cause direct revenue damage.
Most unplanned downtime incidents can be traced back to one of 2 causes: hardware/software failure or a cyber attack. Fortunately, preventative measures can avert the majority of crippling downtime episodes. Your IT provider should possess the necessary technical tools and capabilities to monitor and apply fixes to your network remotely. They should employ a “prevention is better than cure” approach to network health, by applying software updates in a timely fashion and troubleshoot errors and performance issues before they’re able to snowball into damaging periods of downtime. Cyber criminals are constantly on the lookout for software vulnerabilities to exploit, so your provider should be applying security updates across your estate as soon as they’re made available by software manufacturers.
Downtime reoccurrences that are similar in nature could be a sign that your provider is cutting corners when it comes to preventative maintenance, and failing to address issues at their source. You wouldn’t want mechanic to handle your car in this way, so is such an approach really good enough for your business’s IT?
They focus solely on contractual obligations
A service level agreement is essential to manage expectations, and help all parties understand their roles and responsibilities in a business relationship. Laying out your provider’s obligations with reference to key deliverables and metrics, a comprehensive SLA is a key component of any successful client/service provider relationship. However, the relationship can go sour when a provider fails to offer any support beyond these basic written commitments.
Many of the service elements which distinguish exceptional IT support from the mediocre, won’t be clearly specified in a service level agreement. Take consultancy for example. While consultancy services can be charged separately, a degree of expert guidance should be included in the relationship as standard. Your provider should readily offer unprompted advice to steer your business towards solutions that offer the perfect blend of value, performance and capabilities, while also considering your business’s future trajectory and growth ambitions.
They should also assume a commanding role in the security of your IT systems, by implementing a range of protective measures to secure your digital estate as a matter of course. Organisations often cite network security as a leading motivation for outsourcing their IT, so a firm commitment to cyber security best practice should underpin your provider’s service by default.
Finally, your provider should have sought to understand the inner workings of your business from the outset. They should have taken a keen interest in your team, the way your work and any operational/commercial/regulatory constraints faced, so as to introduce solutions that seek to reconcile all of your business challenges.
A provider that has taken little interest in your organization and who never seeks to offer support beyond their basic commitments is unlikely to be the supportive tech partner you need in the long run.
The often-overlooked customer service element of IT support is vital to ensuring you and your team are able to get the most out of the technology you’re using. While the IT sector may not be synonymous with gregarious, larger-than-life personalities, you should never put up with abrupt interactions or rude/evasive customer service.
If possible, consider a time when your provider orchestrated a significant change your technology. Did they offer to support your team in adapting to the changes, and how helpful was this support if offered? Or, did they simply abandon your team, leaving you with a steep learning curve and the stressful task of learning new systems while trying to run your business? A supportive IT partner will go the extra mile to ensure their clients are comfortable using any newly introduced technology.
Next, consider the quality of interactions. Do they offer a dedicated account manager who’s developed a close bond with your business, or is the service cold and impersonal, with very little effort made to tailor interactions to your business? Are they communicative and personable, or do they discourage engagement through a taciturn approach to customer care?
We like to think that the business community here in New Mexico is characterized by warmth and hospitality: there’s simply no need to tolerate unfriendly customer service.
Every interaction is a sales pitch
Successful tech deployments seek to address critical business issues. From operational challenges and regulatory pressures to budgetary limits and client expectations, a well-conceived, strategy-driven solution should seek to reconcile these challenges and blend seamlessly with the rest of your business technology. This requires your provider to gain a detailed understanding of your business both in its current state and where you see it heading in the next 5-10 years.
Unfortunately, many IT providers continue to take the opposite approach. They’ll start with a product they’re used to selling and attempt to shoehorn it into every organization they work with, regardless of its compatibility and ability to address urgent issues. Sometimes it can be hard to tell if a provider is doing this, or simply promoting a solution they feel passionate about.
To determine which approach your provider is taking, use this test question: are they presenting the product as a response to an issue I’ve expressed, or does the product fail to resolve my business’s most pressing concerns? If the latter rings true, your provider is likely more motivated by their own bottom line than they are by helping you develop truly transformative IT infrastructure.
Bold claims with little to back them up
Even if you run a small business with limited IT needs, it’s important to consider whether an IT provider has the expertise and capacity to support you on your growth journey. Ideally you want a provider which offers a reasonably broad range of specializations so you’re not limited to a narrow field of tech solutions as your business develops.
While the IT sector contains some brilliant individuals who are highly skilled in multiple disciplines, staying ahead of the curve in the fast-moving world of technology is difficult without a team of specialists. This involves making a judgement call as to whether that one-man-band provider has the credentials to back up their claims, and whether they have the breadth of skills needed to help you through complex projects.
Examine the industry-recognized accreditations your provider holds. An accomplished provider will be proud of such achievements, and will display the likes of CompTIA, CCENT and ISO9001 certifications proudly on their websites. Also consider whether your provider has experience with your sector. Seek out case studies relevant to your industry, and ensure your provider has some understanding of the industry-specific software you use and any regulations you’re bound by.
Get in touch today
Is your IT support provider charging a premium for sub-par service? Is non-proactive support causing excessive downtime? Is your provider failing to maintain the integrity of your digital assets, leaving you vulnerable to cyber-attacks?
If your business is suffering at the hands of poor IT support, then get in touch with Zia Networks by booking a discovery call today. Our talented, friendly and energetic team will solve your technology woes, and help you unlock your business’s true potential.
Our Zia Networks team connects with and supports our New Mexico businesses.
Let us focus on your technology, so you can focus on your business!
Call us today at (505) 428-6544, or email us at [email protected].