As a business owner, you’ve probably heard the term “managed IT” more times than you can count, but there’s still a good chance that you don’t know what it really means or even how expert managed IT can help your business succeed. Below, you can learn more about what managed IT really means – and what it could mean for your business, too. 

The Definition of Managed Services

By its very definition, the term “managed services” refers to a business offloading many of its operations to an outside provider. Instead of the business owner constantly monitoring and managing his or her network and the other IT systems driving his or her business, the managed service provider handles it 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For small business owners without the ability to hire a dedicated IT team, or for those who have a need to maintain an IT infrastructure but who only have a few employees, managed IT services can be a huge boon. 

Why Businesses Choose Managed IT 

Today’s businesses choose managed IT services for a wide variety of reasons, but ultimately, it has to do with a company’s need to have access to the latest technology in order to operate with any degree of efficiency. What’s more, companies that do not have access to the latest technology tend to fall behind their competitors; without modern IT, they simply cannot connect, collect data, and process data in such a way that allows them to maintain relevant in any industry at all. 

Business owners also find themselves busy – incredibly busy – and unable to keep up with the routine maintenance that goes into IT. They forget to run backups as frequently as they should, and they may forget about downloading the latest security fixes and patches designed to keep their data (and their customers’ data) safe. As a result, these businesses are at risk of losing access to things like financial applications, email servers, and other things that are critical for everyday operations. 

Managed IT is Not a Break-Fix Service

Finally, it is important for all business owners to remember that managed IT is not a classic “break-fix” service. This means that it is not a service you employ when something goes wrong; rather, it is a service you employ to prevent something from going wrong in the first place. In today’s connected world, losing your connection for even a few hours can lead to unrecoverable business issues. Rather than waiting for something to happen, then calling an IT professional to resolve it while your business suffers significant downtime, managed IT support is always there, always watching, and always protecting your data and your network. 

With managed IT support, business owners can stop worrying about things like backups, security patches, and even the latest antivirus definitions. By offloading these operations to an outside company that specializes in IT infrastructure and security management, business owners can spend less time with these simple but time-consuming tasks and more time running their businesses the way they originally intended.

Information technology has come a long way in the last two or three decades. Whereas servers once took up entire rooms, it is now possible to fit numerous servers in a room the size of a closet – something even experts would have never predicted. Below are five predictions for the future of IT that could affect the way your company does business – or at least affect the hardware and services it uses. 

#1 – Zero-Size Intelligence Technology is Coming

It’s hard to believe, but the first computers took up an entire room and had only a fraction of the processing power of today’s smartphone devices. Today, things are certainly different, and the technologies we use to keep us connected to the world and to our businesses easily fit in our pockets. Within the next 10 years, experts believe that we will be even closer to what is known as zero-size intelligence. This simply refers to having a ton of processing power in a very, very tiny package – perhaps even the head of a pin. 

#2 – VoIP Will Still Be Relevant

Though mobile phones have come a long way in the last several years, they simply cannot compare to the features and benefits associated with VoIP for business. In fact, companies that choose the right VoIP provider can enjoy many of the same calling features that a mobile phone would provide, including the portability. Other reasons why VoIP will remain relevant in the next decade include cheap international communication, enhanced affordability, user-friendly software, and incredible scalability. 

#3 – Mass Data Could Replace Independent Decision-Making

IT, or Information Technology, is all about data management. In the next 10 years, experts think that the tremendous amounts of data being collected, the machines used to process that data, and the algorithms telling those machines what to do could progress to a point where many independent decisions about what to watch, what to wear, and even what to eat become a thing of the past. In fact, the technological advances may even pose moral problems in the future as people must decide how to use the vast amounts of data they collect. 

#4 – Youth Involvement in Technology will Increase

There’s an ongoing joke that the older we get, the less “tech-savvy” we become, but it’s actually the opposite that is true. Younger people who grow up with the latest technologies fare far better in the high-tech world and they can adapt at a much faster rate than the older generations. Because of this, the younger generation is by far the best generation to drive the tech industry forward. They can build upon what they already know and create new technologies designed for convenience, safety, and more. 

#5 – You Will Need to Protect Yourself from So-Called “Dark” Networks

The more data we collect, the smaller the world becomes. The internet allows us to gain access to practically anything we can imagine – a recipe, a chat with a friend on the other side of the planet, and more – instantaneously with a few clicks. Unfortunately, while most people use the internet for good, there are some who use it for more sinister purposes. As technology advances in the next decade, these “dark web” groups and “hacktivists” will thrive, and they will pose new challenges for businesses of all sizes striving to keep their data safe. 

The next decade will bring about some brand-new challenges for everyone connected to the internet, including both consumers and businesses alike. In some cases, the problems we already see today will be exacerbated. Hopefully, though, with increased knowledge and the ability to predict the actions of others, it will be possible to make the right decisions about information, technology, and the way they work together. 

 

Information technology is a huge industry these days. In fact, almost every single company in existence – from one with only one or two employees to one with thousands spread across the globe – relies on accurate information and a secure network in order to thrive. Before you hire an IT professional for your company, look for the following qualities and skills to ensure the perfect match. 

Problem-Solving Skills

Information technology is fraught with problems. Things simply stop working, networks go offline, and hardware decides to simply stop functioning properly. However, an IT professional should be able to not only remain calm when these types of failures occur, but he or she should also be able to preemptively plan for such things to prevent any disruption to your business. Any IT professional you hire should demonstrate outstanding problem-solving skills for this reason. Otherwise, you may find yourself dealing with far more downtime than you anticipated. 

Effective Communication

Keep in mind that IT professionals must be able to communicate issues with other departments, and failure to do so appropriately could lead to trouble. Maintenance is just a part of information technology, and that means rebooting servers, checking network health, and more. These things should always be done outside of peak hours, but it is still important for other people or departments to be aware of when they will happen. It is also crucial that your chosen IT professional can explain complex networking issues in such a way that people in other departments can understand them. 

A Love for Technology

Some people have a love-hate relationship with technology, but for an IT professional, technology is life. These individuals not only appreciate everything technology has brought to the table over the last several decades, but they are also passionate about keeping up with new trends and technologies that could help your company thrive. Sometimes, a simple new technology is all it takes to help your company get a leg up on the competition, and this is far more likely when you choose an IT professional who is passionate about technology. 

Self-Discipline

For the most part, when you hire an IT professional (whether in-house or remotely) you will not be able to supervise around the clock. For this reason, choose an IT professional who is a self-starter and who can work on projects alone without supervision. This is the very definition of “dependable”; someone you can rely on to get the job done even if you are unable to answer questions or provide guidance. When combined with all the other qualities above, this individual should be perfectly capable of making decisions in the best interest of your company, as well. 

Hiring an IT professional can seem like a daunting task, and this is especially true if your own knowledge of IT is limited. However, whether you choose to hire someone in-house or outsource your IT needs to a company you can trust, these are all important qualities that you should look for. Ultimately, they can have a tremendous impact on your company’s success. 

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