SMEs and ICT – Going it alone or having a managed IT service?

Posted on
16th July 2018

There comes a time when most small businesses have to ask – how can I get my IT to work better for me and how am I going to achieve it?

In today’s world there’s no escaping the need for ICT (Information & Communication Technology) in business.  It can help ambitious firms to:

● work more efficiently
● communicate more efficiently with existing and new customers
● be more productive
● attract skilled new talent to take your business further
● project a modern, confident image

SMEs and getting to grips with IT

The recent need for all businesses, small or large, to have to comply with the EU’s new GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) laws actually highlighted how many businesses understood little about digital matters. Over 90% of UK SMEs were unprepared to meet the 25 May deadline to ensure they fully complied with the new digital data rules and were working to the last moment, potentially leaving themselves open to huge fines, according to a FSB survey.

Most small businesses will already use the Internet to send emails, transfer files or documents or gather information. However there is much more that firms can do with the right technology – for example analysing data, using software for ‘back office’ functions such as accounting, human resources and marketing.

However, unless your business is in the IT sector itself, it can be baffling to know where to start when technology grows in complexity by the day.  SMEs in sectors as diverse as retail, construction, floristry and charities may not have the skillset to make choices about how IT can help improve their business.  Yet small businesses still have the same needs as large companies but need to fulfil them on a much smaller budget. IT equipment, hardware and software can be expensive so the wrong choice can prove a costly mistake. Even when businesses do know how they’d like to develop their ICT, they may not have the in-house capacity to do so or maintain their systems.

ICT services needed by SMEs

As a start it’s important that businesses all over the county have access to high quality broadband; this allows especially smaller firms to take advantage of the higher speeds to deliver better results for themselves and their customers. According to government figures , 84% of all businesses had internet access in 2016 while all size bands of businesses with 50 or more employees had levels of internet access of 99% or above, compared with 82% of micro-enterprises having internet access. On top of this, the good news is that high-speed fibre optic broadband is being rolled out across the UK by providers offering faster internet speeds. The slow rollout of faster internet speeds is something which has long frustrated SMEs and business groups.

Even with better broadband connections, firms still need to get to grips with a number of other areas related to ICT – for example:

● the basics of having well-functioning servers, computers and printers
● telephony systems
● print and email services
● cloud computing
● data management
● any migration from one system to another
● anti-virus protection and cybersecurity
● regulatory compliance e.g. GDPR

Many small businesses opt to buy-in expert ICT help because they find it pays in the long run. It saves time on having to get to grips with IT jargon and the complexity of choices out there.

You can contract ICT services of different types, and on varying basis. Professional IT experts can also help with an area which is an ever-present and nagging worry to most small businesses – cyber security to protect your firm from cybercrime or data breaches as well disaster recovery and business continuity measures.
In all this, an important factor is having a simple and reliable cost which business-owners can build into their costs.

What is a managed IT Service?

A managed service is a type of proactive outsourcing of a key function, before things breakdown. In the case of IT services, it’s when an IT provider delivers on-demand service for your firm and then bills you only for the work done.  You can outsource all or part of your IT functions.

The advantages to a small business of employing a firm to manage their IT services include:

● it’s an efficient way of keeping up-to-date on technology
● you can take advantage of ‘future road-mapping’ so that you can plan ahead and are not stuck with outdated technology or saddled with unexpected costs
● firms get access to specialised skills
● it’s an excellent way of resolving the cost vs. quality vs. risk conundrum
● it allows firms to focus on their business rather than on the supporting functions and technology
● the value added to your business gives you a competitive advantage
● outsourcing means lower costs and time spent on recruitment, trainings, benefits and pensions etc.

At 360ict Ltd we recognise that knowledge and skills bases will differ from business to business, as will the age, size and maturity of its existing ICT usage. A ‘one size fits all’ approach rarely works. That’s why we offer tailored services.

Pay Per Desk subscription scheme is a simple way for business-owners to ensure that their IT and Communications are working at their best.  Rather than a confusing array of options, our Pay Per Desk model for managed computing and telephony support services is straightforward. You simply pay for a package of IT service per desk – some of the essential service which can be included in your Pay Per Desk package are:

√  24/7 unlimited support
√  Full management of your business IT
√  Software management and security patches
√  Backup and disaster recovery
√  Expert on-site when required
√  Remote and on-site service
√  Priority response within 15 minutes

Pay Per Desk can give you access to as little, or as many of these business IT services as you choose.

Choosing a managed IT service could be a game changer for your business.

For free specialist advice about your company’s ICT requirements, talk to us at 360ict Ltd on 0208 663 4000.

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