Inspired IT’s Matt Seeds was featured on District 32 Radio to discuss what business owners need to know about their technology.
District 32 Radio’s Sally Barker recently had Inspired IT’s Matt Seeds on air with her to talk about his experience working with SMBs (small and mid-sized businesses) and their technology. Starting in February of 2016, Inspired IT provides Managed IT Services and Microsoft Office 365 support to local SMBs.
Managed Services are a great IT support model for smaller business especially, as they allow those businesses to budget for their IT on a more manageable scale with fixed-fee, all-inclusive services. Technology costs tend to go up fairly significantly when businesses reach a certain size, and the more a business grows, the more those expenses will grow. Managed Services from Inspired IT operate on a per-user rate and depending on the plan your business chooses services such as remote support, onsite support, backups, and antivirus/antimalware are included. Per-project and per-hour fees rates are also available depending on your business’ needs.
When asked what the biggest thing businesses overlook when it comes to technology, Matt’s response was security. Specifically, keeping antivirus software up to date, patching Windows servers and Operating Systems (OS) on a regular basis, and completing backups. Missed patches and updates are a real concern. Released by manufacturers and vendors to fix minor vulnerabilities in your OS or software, these patches are designed to keep cybercriminals from exploiting known vulnerabilities. Installing these patches as they’re made available minimizes your risk of a cyber attack.
A Managed Services Provider not only takes care of patches and updates but monitors your systems and network for potential issues. Typically, servers are patched/updated once per month, while workstations are taken care of once per week. Workstations tend to have smaller updates that are easier to install more frequently. Major vulnerabilities are patched as soon as patches are released, eliminating the risk of something important being missed by your staff. Having Managed Services also allows growing businesses to focus on operations and other areas in need of extra attention, leaving IT needs to a trusted support partner.
Another area that’s often overlooked is technology itself. Many businesses owners aren’t using technology to their full advantage, and Matt is a big believer in using technology to enable businesses to do more. There are lots of different products available, and lots of new ways to do things. Another bonus that Managed Services provides is the ability for IT professionals to get to know your business and suggest what technology works best for your business and employee needs. Even better, it allows for you and your Managed Services Provider to do a bit of long-term planning, looking three to five years down the road to set goals and discuss how best to use technology reach them.
Matt’s background in Microsoft lends itself well to one of Inspired IT’s areas of expertise – Office 365. One of the most exciting new technology developments, Office 365 has seen massive growth over the last few years, and it’s somewhere small and large businesses alike should be looking. With even more new stuff coming in the next year, it’s a lot to keep up with, but it’s all very exciting.
The greatest benefit to SMBs that Office 365 offers today is email in the cloud. By eliminating onsite exchange servers, there is no need to backup, patch, or otherwise support expensive onside hardware. The fact that SharePoint lets you store your files and data in the cloud and sync them to workstations can often remove the need for onsite servers for many businesses. SharePoint is a file structure that allows you to store files in the cloud and easily access them via the web. Microsoft recently linked SharePoint to OneDrive, allowing your team to access files from anywhere and sync them to any device.
On top of the added flexibility and accessibility Office 365 offers, not having servers is a big cost saver. Hardware typically lasts 3-5 years and then needs to be replaced – which can be very expensive. Office 365, on the other hand, is subscription based, making it easy to budget for, with no surprise costs or maintenance fees. Its per-user subscription model means you know exactly what your IT costs are when you add a new employee.
The latest updates and features are a part of that fee and include the full suite of Office programs. Plans are monthly or annual, and Business Premium is typically the go-to option. This plan supports up to 300 users at $16 per user, per month. Previously, your business would have been looking at a cost of $600 – $800 per user for each new physical copy and software license, which would then need to be renewed every three years in order to be kept up to date.
Cybersecurity – specifically, backups – are the final critical area of technology business owners should take note of. Many businesses don’t, and with so many viruses out there and other vulnerabilities including your staff and the risk of human error which can counteract your security measures, not having those backups to restore from can be devastating. One click on a malicious email can encrypt your data, and as much as 80% of companies go out of business within a year if that happens with no backups in place to restore from.
Another key part of Managed Services, backups are completed at minimum once a day. Different intervals, such as every hour or several times a day, are used depending on your recovery plan and your business’ needs. Backup should include documents and emails, and server images to allow for server restoration. If it’s important to your business, it needs to be backed up routinely.
Putting Managed Services and tools like Office 365 to work for your SMB is a great way to make sure you’re covered no matter what, and have the support you need to continue to build your business.