The only constant is change. This holds true whether you’re revising your sales strategies or selecting an IT consultant. Today’s complex technology landscape requires companies to be more flexible and scalable than ever—and to embrace new technologies at lightning speed.
The only way to do that is with the right IT services in your corner, but technological forces are reshaping what defines a good IT consultant. Today’s IT service providers must combine old-fashioned customer service with deep technical knowledge, a willingness to collaborate and the ability to adjust services to meet your unique needs.
Specifically, four qualities characterize the best and brightest managed services providers out there—the kinds of businesses that make impactful changes to their clients’ IT strategy and ultimately earn their keep.
Collaboration and organizational skills
The shift to cloud computing means your IT services provider needs a different skill set now than it did five years ago. Being able to work well—and securely—with other vendors is a massive asset in today’s technological landscape.
Modern companies engage unprecedented numbers of outside vendors. In fact, a recent survey of 600 midsize to large organizations showed that these businesses allowed an average of 89 vendors to access their networks every day. Unfortunately, that access increases vulnerability to security threats, as suggested by the growing number of hacks, leaks and data infiltrations.
IT support providers who can’t offer due diligence and accountability have no place in today’s technological landscape, especially because security risks will only increase with the rise of the “internet of things.” Good MSPs take a holistic approach to security that views firewalls, software updates, risk management, monitoring and disaster recovery as connected parts of an overall security strategy.
Innovation and deep knowledge
That said, an up-to-date IT services offering is not enough. Any IT consultants you engage to oversee your technological portfolio should be leading the pack in terms of process and innovation.
To many business leaders, technologies like artificial intelligence or blockchain may seem far off. But businesses that prepare for their eventual adoption now will be far better off than those that don’t, because these services will most likely require massive changes to IT support and infrastructure. Blockchain, for instance, may completely alter database construction and security procedures. To stay competitive, your chosen MSP should be able to explain how emerging technologies affect its recommendations for IT products.
Technical expertise intersecting with customer service
You don’t have to be a technological virtuoso to understand the ways tech is changing our lives. For instance, the average American spends more time using a mobile phone than watching TV, while about 51% of smartphone users use their devices to shop. And then there’s IoT—by all predictions, more businesses will begin commercializing IoT data in 2018, and the number of voice-based services will practically double.
All of those changes are going to impact your business’s infrastructure. For instance, with more industries adopting IoT technologies, you may soon find yourself pushing for more flexible IT solutions and network strategies, such as adopting an edge computing system to cover IoT latencies.
At the same time, most businesses will need to rely on conventional cloud and on-premise networks for efficient, secure development and data management. Therefore, it’s paramount to engage an MSP that will design an individual, customized IT solution, rather than falling back on out-of-the-box equipment and software.
The partnership mindset
Similarly, the convergence of AI, IoT and big data may require you to seek out specialists—technical experts who are able to solve specific problems. However, managing vendors on top of daily operations is frequently time- and resource-intensive, especially if your team doesn’t have the technological expertise to keep up.
Many businesses find it makes sense to engage a single dedicated IT support provider to oversee security and project management across all technological stacks, networks and vendors. That means identifying an MSP that views your company as a strategic partner rather than as another name on a huge client roster.
IT service providers that fit the bill offer accountability through regular reporting and status updates. They’ll also have the ability to quickly escalate high-priority issues and outages as though you have an IT department right in your building.
Of course, just as there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to your networks, there’s no universal solution when it comes to hiring an IT service provider. Engaging a new MSP requires a deep dive into your individual needs and technological roadmap. To help you clarify your IT priorities and decide on an IT support strategy, download our free e-book, “How to hire the right IT services provider.” You may not be able to predict everything about your business’s future, but we can help you start preparing for whatever comes down the tech pipeline.