Today’s business environment is more competitive than ever before. Small and medium-sized businesses in Ontario have to do more to stand out to their customers, gain new efficiencies, improve profit margins and enhance company culture.
The most effective way to do all of those things is through digital transformation.
Technology has tangible and intangible benefits for small and medium-sized benefits, in regards to the efficiency of the business, company culture, cybersecurity, workflows, collaboration and so much more.
Organizations that have the right technologies to empower their employees to work effectively will boast higher profits and be highly-competitive with other businesses in their industry.
The problem is, IT is complex. Businesses have to research and implement new technologies that will progress their company, all while managing their existing IT infrastructure so that it’s working seamlessly.
Yet it’s not uncommon for small and medium-sized businesses to have little-to-no in-house IT support. The world of IT is navigated by a team of one, or worse, left to the most tech-savvy person in the company.
To address this challenge, many small and medium-sized businesses are turning towards local IT providers to fulfill their requirements.
Yet many organizations don’t know where to look for one reason. They don’t know the difference between IT solutions, IT services, managed IT services and all the other terms out there.
That’s why we’ve created this guide to IT solutions. We hope it helps!
The Cambridge Dictionary describes a solution as ‘an answer to a problem’. When it comes to IT solutions, that’s exactly what it means. An outsourced IT expert provides an answer to your business for a specific problem.
Where it gets a little confusing is what’s actually included under the IT solutions umbrella. In general, IT solutions is used as a catch-all phrase by organizations that use technology to solve another company’s challenges.
Simply put, IT solutions are a range of services, which could be either physical technology or software-based that solve the issues and challenges that an organization is trying to address.
These solutions are typically an aggregation of products and services, for example if a business wanted to enhance their cybersecurity strategy they wouldn’t just invest in antivirus software. They would pair that antivirus software with related products such as a data recovery and backup service and network monitoring.
There are a number of terms thrown around fairly often when it comes to outsourcing IT.
IT solutions, IT managed services, IT support and IT consulting are probably the most popular of those terms. When looking for a solution, it can be confusing to truly understand which one of these you need.
So, how do IT solutions differ from these other two terms? Let’s first define all four.
IT solutions: As we mentioned above, IT solutions is when a company needs a solution to resolve a problem. The IT company will find and implement the solution to address the challenge, but they’ll do this on a short-term contract or project agreement and won’t manage that solution.
IT managed services: A business has all of their services in house, but an IT company manages them remotely to ensure they are all operating seamlessly. The main objective is to ensure the smooth running of the company and reduce downtime. This typically falls under the larger umbrella of IT solutions.
IT support: This is the maintenance and upkeep of a company’s existing systems and networks to ensure everything is running efficiently and to maximize the life of, as well as fix, current technologies. Technical support also typically falls under the IT solutions umbrella.
IT consulting: A business turns to an outsourced IT provider for advice and consulting to achieve a certain objective, whether that be reduce spend or improve efficiencies. Consulting could be a one off analysis and recommendation, or it could be a long-term partnership where the outsourced provider works.
IT solutions differ from these other terms because an organization is looking for a solution to a specific issue that they have within their business, whether it be poor collaboration, below-par cybersecurity, insufficient IT infrastructure or disorganized document management.
The business will disclose the issue they are facing, and a local IT provider will evaluate the best solution for them based on their specific budget, goals, and requirements.
An IT solution is a collection of software, applications or related services that are offered by an IT expert to address specific challenges and issues that a business faces. These solutions are designed to make a business more efficient and productive, so they can increase their profits and grow the company.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the most common types of IT solutions available for your Ontario business.
Cloud computing: Cloud computing refers to the delivery of computing services over the internet, including servers, software, storage, databases, analytics and so much more. When businesses transition to cloud computing they can benefit from reduced IT costs, easy scalability, flexible work practices that support remote work, and improved collaboration.
Collaboration: Speaking of collaboration, with employees increasingly working from outside the office communication is one of the commonly sought after IT solutions currently. Collaboration solutions widely vary depending on a company’s needs. Unified Communications & Collaboration (UC&C) software is hugely popular right now as it enhances collaboration no matter where employees are based.
Cybersecurity solutions: According to the Verizon Data Breach Investigation Report, small businesses are target #1 for criminals and represented 43 percent of all data breaches - often because their false sense of security leads them to not put proper defenses in place. Cybersecurity solutions address these challenges with software and processes that reduce cybersecurity risk.
Technical support: Tech support is the maintenance, and repair, of various pieces of a company’s software and hardware. This is typically a reactive strategy that focuses on fixing technical issues as they happen. Tech support can be on-site or outsourced to an IT firm.
Network and infrastructure: IT solutions just won’t function effectively if a business doesn’t have a solid IT infrastructure. This is the backbone that supports a business. An IT provider can work to procure the appropriate work to procure the programs and computers a company needs to operate efficiently.
Managed IT services: This is the process of outsourcing your IT infrastructure and management of a third-party company. This can include everything from software installation, maintenance and troubleshooting, hardware monitoring and more. It’s a way to offload general tasks to an expert, in order to reduce costs, improve service quality, or free internal teams to do work that's specific to your business.
IT support can improve your company’s efficiency levels, and can help your business scale as it grows - particularly helping with digital transformation.
When partnering with a high-quality IT solutions team, your business can benefit from improved productivity, an enhanced IT infrastructure (that performs better), more competitive technologies and more robus cybersecurity measures.
An IT solutions provider will help your business:
When choosing between in-house and otusourced IT support, it really comes down to one question. Do you have the time, resources and expertise to effectively choose a solution for your issue and manage the solution effectively?
In reality, most small and medium-sized organizations don’t have these three things. When a business doesn’t have the time, resources and expertise but tries to implement and manage IT solutions in-house, they’re most often left with inefficient and ineffective solutions that negatively impact the daily operations of the business.
With that in mind, let's take a look at the pros and cons of both in-house and outsourced IT Solutions
That’s a loaded question and depends massively on what your organization is trying to accomplish. Since IT solutions is such a broad term, the cost to your business can vary massively.
If you are looking for a one-off solution to solve a particular challenge, then the cost will depend on what that solution is. For example, installing an antivirus software is likely going to be less expensive than the creation of an electronic document management system that helps every department within your business collaborate and share files better.
Likewise with a one-off solution vs a long-term managed solution. A one-off solution will likely require only one payment if you intend on managing that solution yourself, while a long-term outsourced partnership (such as a managed IT services solution) will have lower monthly costs but will have a long-term contract.
Common things that impact the cost of IT solutions include:
Have you decided that outsourcing is the right way to go for any of the IT solutions that your business needs? If so, it’s important that you evaluate a range of companies before making your final decision.
Here are just a few of the top things to look out for when making that choice:
Technical expertise should be the primary consideration when selecting an outsourced IT support provider. Look for a partner who is able to understand and optimize your current technologies, knows exactly what goals you are trying to achieve and proactively plans your IT solutions around those objectives, and who has strong partnerships with leading technology vendors.
2. Fast service and response time
When implementing and managing IT solutions, fast responses are critical to avoiding downtime and potential issues. Make sure to partner with a firm that is able to offer fast service and prompt response times. IT firms will be able to give you a good idea of their average response time, and some will even set guaranteed response times if you sign a longer management contract with them.
While most IT solutions can be worked on remotely from different locations, there are still huge benefits in partnering with a local IT support provider in Ontario who is available for onsite support if required. There are plenty of highly skilled and experienced IT support providers across Belleville, Kingston, Ottawa and the GTA region.
4. Is an IT support partner, not just a repair service
When implementing IT solutions, it’s important that your partner works with your organization as an advisor. They should learn about your company’s requirements, conduct an audit of your current technologies, network and system and suggest areas of improvement that will make your business processes more efficient and profitable.
OT Group empowers your business to grow with professional IT services and IT solutions.
Whether you need to upgrade your office technology, design a new IT strategy or need help choosing and implementing an IT solution, we are here to help give your organization a competitive edge.
Headquartered in Belleville Ontario, we offer IT solutions to the area between the GTA and Montreal and north to Ottawa. Need help? Get in touch with our team of IT solution specialists today.
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