Four Reasons to Use Managed IT Service Providers

There are many reasons people start retail businesses. Among them are: 

  • Be their own boss. 
  • Create an ideal work/life balance. 
  • Take a risk and enjoy the rewards.
  • Follow a passion. 
  • Fulfill a consumer need. 
  • Enjoyment in helping people and giving back to their communities. 

It’s probably a safe bet that very few retailers go into business because they love doing inventory, keeping books, or managing information technology. As the retail landscape evolves and becomes more dependent on digital technology, store owners have adopted digital platforms that handle many of the tedious chores associated with their business. But managing that technology is often still up to them or their employees. And as rapidly as technology changes today, considering managed IT service providers to make sure their businesses and networks run smoothly seems like a wise idea. 

Increasing Speed of IT Evolution

Since 2013, mobile e-commerce (m-commerce) has grown over 800%, from $41.71 billion to an expected $338 billion in 2020. And m-commerce is much more than e-commerce giants like Amazon, Wayfair and big-box retailers like Walmart and Home Depot. Social media has joined the sales parade by introducing “buy buttons” which allow browsers to shop without leaving their site. So, a larger percentage of any store’s sales – brick-and-mortar or e-commerce – are becoming more dependent on electronic systems. 

Retail businesses are also more reliant on technology – 49% use point of sale systems todaye-commerce platforms (57%), inventory management (40%) – than ever. Brick-and-mortar stores also use digital technology to schedule deliveries, manage their workforce, handle customer loyalty programs and do advertising and marketing. Digital platforms essentially control all aspects of a retail business today.   

That means a poorly performing, or worse, completely crashed network is more than an inconvenience to a business. Yet retail businesses are slow to dedicate staff to IT or contract with managed service providers. 

“There are certain programs and protections you have to have, just like you have to have oil for your car. You have to update your programs and keep them protected from viruses,” explains C.J. June, Managed Services director for Paladin Data Corporation. “You can get that oil from just about anybody, but if you get it from the company that provides your network, you know it’s going to work well.” 

Having an up-to-date retail network keeps businesses prepared for new technology. The continued rise of m-commercethe evolution to 5G networks, and the Internet of Things (IoT) are on the horizon. There are plenty of reasons that it’s a good idea for not just retail businesses to consider managed services providers. Here are four.

Round-the-Clock Support

In the world of digital retail, business is done 24/7 which means problems can crop up while a brick-and-mortar store is closed and its owner is at home in bed. Even though the problem, whatever it is, might not affect routine business operations until the store opens the following day, managed service providers and their automated programs can spot issues and correct them before the doors open for business. 

It’s the business of a managed IT services provider to be the watchdog of their clients’ technology. They keep an eye out for problems and often solve minor issues without the business ever knowing there was a problem. 

“There’s always an extra set of eyes that are watching for issues stores may not see or know to look for,” June explains. “The backup files – we check to see if those are working. The antivirus – we make sure that is working. Stores don’t have to worry about checking their computers or network to see if they are up to date or backed up. They can concentrate on doing what they got into business for and that’s working with their customers. 

Lower, More Predictable IT Costs 

With unemployment levels at historic lows and technology changing as quickly as the weather, finding and retaining qualified IT staff is increasingly hard for small businesses. Managed IT service providers eliminate much of the need for technical staff and frees up businesses to focus on customer-facing staff and services. 

Contracting with managed service providers also creates more predictable monthly costs which helps small businesses with budgeting and strategic planning. Businesses today often run a variety of operating systems or programs. Managed IT services providers can supply: 

Improved performance

Managed updates

Internet fallback

Increased security

Managed IT services provider solutions are also scalable, which means they can grow with a business. Many offer services ala carte or packaged system solutions that cover an entire network including off-site terminals. 

Network infrastructure can be overlooked when a company expands or downsizes. A managed IT services provider can solve those issues before they become problems.  

Improved Security … 

While cybercrime against companies like Target, eBay, Yahoo, Equifax and others dominate the headlines, 43% of cyberattacks are aimed at small businesses, according to the Verizon 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report. And the Accenture Cost of Cybercrime Study says only 14% of those businesses are equipped to deal with an attack. 

Managed service providers provide a level of security that small businesses don’t even consider beyond equipping their computers with over-the-counter antivirus protection. If those services come from the same company that provides a business’s point of sale, it’s more likely that the protection will be comprehensive. 

“Depending on antivirus software alone is like taking a knife to a gunfight,” says John Oetinger, director of ManagedNetwork™ for Paladin Data Corporation. “Adding the more advanced security functionality available in UTM (Unified Threat Management) firewalls, as well as Windows Security Patch Management, makes it a fair fight.” 

… And Performance

Security isn’t the only reason businesses might consider managed IT services. Network performance can be compromised by bandwidth-robbing programs or activities. Employees who stream movies, sports or games, or guest WiFi that isn’t passwordprotected will cause even the best systems to sputter and cough. 

Over a 14-month period, Paladin’s ManagedNetwork™ blocked more than 1.4 million security threats and performance-robbing activities on its client networks. 

“Almost all of our managed services were built for a specific need of a business and we make them available to all our clients,” June says. “We recommend our clients use our managed services because we know they work well with our system. You don’t have to use our services, but we know our products work best with our system.” 

Whether you want better network performance, more security and reliability, or whether you’re not skilled enough to manage your technology and just want some help, using a managed IT services provider might be a good way to go.

Brian Bullock