The world has changed radically – and the IT managed services space is changing with it. The relationships between productivity, reliability, security, assurance, improvement and innovation are shifting.
Then vs now
When Network Overdrive began in 2000, Information Communications and Technology was a very different ball game. Even 10 years ago, things were a lot less complicated.
The past decade has seen developments on multiple fronts. The result is that – in 2021 – every business of significant size IS becoming a technology business.
Not so long ago
Businesses had in-house servers connected in an in-house network.
The “network” was primarily physical cables, routers, etc connecting servers and workstations in one building.
Business networks are increasingly wireless, global and distributed.
The devices attached to networks are more varied and smarter than ever – from TVs to smart speakers.
People came to work, used their work computers, then went home to family, recreation, sports, and friends.
COVID has accelerated an already growing work-from-home revolution – and made massive ongoing demand for workplace and workforce flexibility.
Business data sat on network servers, plus some on individual workstations.
“Backup for recovery” meant backing up the office workstations and the network servers.
Business data is widely distributed, through the cloud as well as locally, so business depends on external networks, not just in-house systems.
Hacking was predominantly an individual, uncoordinated process, with rogue actors targeting big systems in big organisations.
Cybercrime is global, organised, and industrial in scale – and targeting all organisations, requiring a whole new approach to “cyber security”.
“Security” meant logins with passwords, having a firewall and keeping your anti-virus software up to date.
Security is a complex challenge, requiring a multi-faceted approach that integrates protection, monitoring and behavioural analysis.
It was feasible for a few “skilled users” and an “IT guy” (or two or three) to contain the breadth of knowledge required to keep business technology running.
Keeping the systems that enable business-as-usual operations humming requires a team of professions with a range of skills.
Internet business meant a brochure-style “what we do” website and some PPC advertising.
The eCommerce/Internet explosion has put more business operations online than ever before, from online shops and EFT scanners to CAD and 3D printing.
You set your business strategy, did business, then recorded the results in your computer system.
Technology increasingly drives business strategy, offering a world of opportunity to mid-size and small businesses, not just big corporations.
Cyber attackers were mostly out to disrupt your operations.
Cyber criminals are out to extort everything, from your IP to your contact databases.
What does this mean for ensuring that your “business as usual” operates safely and efficiently?
Supporting business as usual needs careful planning and broad skills
It means that mid-size businesses need a much broader range of technology expertise on call – just to support their day-to-day operations.
Inadequate technology support can mean:
- Lurching from crisis to crisis without finding and fixing root cause issues.
- A backlog of performance issues and a whole lot of people “waiting, waiting” for files to save, reports to print.
- The best and brightest of your team are getting sucked into being unpaid “tech support” – because they’re on the spot and too nice not to help.
- Inefficient systems and processes stifling your business growth.
- Loss of productivity as remote workers try to do their jobs from kitchen tables and converted bedrooms.
Expert technology support, enabled by professional systems and deep expertise, means that your productivity improves:
- Technical problems are fixed quickly and effectively
- Recurring problems are analysed and managed.
- Systems perform at their best, enabling people to get their jobs done.
- Your best and brightest work on your operational needs, not supporting your infrastructure.
Security has become a separate, complex, and business-critical activity
Good managed services providers will level up your security, providing you with an integrated and tested strategy that minimises the risk of attack AND the time and costs required to recover from breakdowns.
You need three complementary security components. Two are well known:
- Strong boundary protections
- Effective device monitoring
You ALSO need to monitor the behaviour of the processes and users within your systems. Cybercriminals don’t just lock up your systems anymore – they also steal your data then hold you to ransom to keep your losses out of the public eye.
The third arm of full-spectrum security is network monitoring, threat detection and strategic response management.
The result is that cybersecurity is becoming a service in its own right – in response to the massive new levels of threat and harm developing.
Innovation and improvement need more careful management
IT projects no longer happen one-at-a-time, with short durations on a small range of platforms. Today, IT projects come in multiple sizes and durations. Many are bigger, longer, more complex and have more stakeholders – your end users, your tech team, your suppliers (and sometimes your customers).
The line between support and innovation is shifting. Change management and incremental improvements become more complex to manage. ‘Just one little change’ after another can actually end up costing you a lot of money if you don’t have effective management.
Overall, there’s more work to be done today to keep everything on track.
So how do you thrive in this new world?
It starts with Techceptance – acknowledging that YOUR business IS becoming a technology business – and treating your technology as a strategic business element that you manage as carefully as your financial performance.
So, take some time to think through your business technology in these three dimensions:
- Productivity and Reliability – how well your infrastructure performs and is managed, including help desk, equipment management and support services
- Assurance and Protection – how up to date the management of your security is, including, protection, backup/recovery, behavioural risk monitoring – along with your ability to visibly demonstrate your compliance.
- Improvement and Innovation – how well your innovation projects are running, the benefits they are delivering, and what consulting and project services could keep your business moving forward in today’s technology-driven world.