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Your new CIO: how a great managed service partner (MSP) becomes your virtual CIO

If you’re hoping to successfully implement and leverage technology across your business, then you need the support of a Chief Information Officer (CIO). The good news is that there’s no need to employ an in-house CIO. Here’s what you need to know about partnering with a managed service provider (MSP) for your IT needs and how your MSP can also act as your virtual CIO (vCIO).

Why you need an MSP 

Whether you’re in healthcare, finance, or general commerce, you can benefit from partnering with an MSP in the following ways. 

Increased productivity 

One of the biggest challenges and cost pressures faced by SMBs is downtime. The average company loses over 500 hours of productivity per year due to downtime, and a typical employee spends at least 30 minutes per week on IT-related troubleshooting. 

An MSP provides 24/7 IT support and has the expertise to not only get you up and running again as soon as possible, but also provides proactive support to prevent those downtime-causing problems in the first place.  MSPs reduce downtime and minimize wasted resources. 

Increased cybersecurity 

Cybersecurity is a huge issue for every business. A study, conducted by Michel Cukier, Clark School assistant professor of mechanical engineering profiled the behavior of “brute force” hackers, who use simple software-aided techniques to randomly attack large numbers of computers. It was discovered “There was at least one hacking attempt every 39 seconds, on average, 2,244 times a day”.

With an MSP’s support, you can protect your vulnerable infrastructure and receive the education and training staff requires to help spot and prevent phishing scams. These scams are usually emails or text messages that appear to come from a trusted company. Employees will unknowingly contribute to these scams without proper training. An MSP can help you stay one step ahead before these scams infiltrate your systems. 

Increased value

An MSP adds real strategic value to your company because they help you access and implement cutting-edge IT solutions, such as cloud-based platforms and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). With the right IT, you can get ahead of your competition and generate sustainable growth for your company. 

How your MSP can be your new vCIO

Since a CIO is responsible for overseeing a company’s overall IT strategy and assessing the role that IT plays in the organization, it makes financial and commercial sense to turn your MSP into a virtual CIO. Here’s why. 

Budget and risk tracking

The IT budget is a major concern for all companies, and no one understands this better than the CIO. An MSP can serve as your vCIO by providing IT strategies, products, and training that align with your IT budget. 

What’s more, your vCIO can give you comprehensive advice on the risks associated with failing to upgrade systems or monitor your networks, and they can help you prioritize where to invest your budget according to a risk profile. 

Infrastructure monitoring

For most companies, purchasing, upgrading, and maintaining IT infrastructure can put a major strain on the IT budget. When you partner with an MSP as your vCIO, you can get remote access to the latest servers and IT infrastructure. This means you can reduce costs and free up valuable office space. 

Expertise sharing

With a vCIO, you’ll have access to comprehensive, expert IT advice on demand. Your MSP is dedicated to helping your business succeed, and they’ll offer you IT advice specifically tailored to your own corporate needs and goals. An MSP has the expert knowledge to serve as a partner in any IT-related challenge. 

Find your ideal CIO 

Whatever niche you operate in, you’ll always benefit from introducing a vCIO into your hierarchy. By leveraging the industry knowledge and expertise of an IT consultant who fills that CIO role, you gain access to a staff of people who can guide your IT planning and strategy in a way that’s tailored to your goals. For more information on why an MSP is the ideal vCIO for modern businesses, or to work with us, contact us today. 

How a managed services provider reduces your business downtime

Every business suffers downtime at some point due to servers failing or the internet crashing. However, an experienced IT specialist can substantially reduce your downtime and minimize any undesirable consequences. Here’s why downtime is such a problem for any business and how a managed service provider (MSP) can help you reduce your downtime frequency. 

The impact of downtime on your business 

Downtime has serious and tangible consequences for any growing business. Let’s take a look at some of the most common effects of business downtime. 

Cost 

The most significant cost of downtime on your business is the toll it takes on your bottom line. 

Reports show that downtime can cost your business up to $10,000 an hour in profits. This means that if systems are down for too long, small businesses may struggle to recover from the financial losses. The reality is that no business, whatever size, can afford to ignore the possible financial consequences of prolonged downtime.  

Morale and productivity

Employees who frequently waste time troubleshooting IT problems are unhappy ones. Working on outdated, slow, or inefficient computers can seriously affect staff morale and reduce productivity rates. When your teams are unproductive, your employees are less effective and there is an increase in frustration.

Reputation 

If your business is prone to downtime, this may affect how well you communicate with consumers and how available you are to clients. If, for example, clients find they frequently can’t contact you because your lines are down, they may look elsewhere for their business needs. 

How an MSP can help to reduce downtime 

With the support of an MSP, you can minimize your downtime and keep your business profitable. It all comes down to having the right strategy. Here are the top four reasons that an MSP should be part of your overall IT strategy. 

Cybersecurity 

A staggering 95 percent of cybersecurity breaches are caused by human error, often because employees don’t know how to identify security breaches or resolve them when they occur. An MSP provides you with network monitoring to minimize the risk of intrusion and help to detect vulnerabilities should they occur. 

24/7 support

Your MSP shouldn’t just offer an easily accessible ticketing portal. They should be available at any time to troubleshoot your IT problems as they happen. MSPs understand that the business world doesn’t sleep, and they provide you with support when you need it most. 

Auditing

Sometimes, downtime is an inevitable consequence as a result of outdated equipment, unsupported software, and overstretched infrastructure. An MSP can audit your existing IT infrastructure and advise you on what needs upgrading – usually within your existing IT budget. 

What’s more, since you can transfer much of your backup and network monitoring needs to an MSP, it can help leverage existing technology to receive more value from the hardware you’ve already invested in.

Risk management

An MSP can help you identify the main threats and risks affecting your business and devise a strategy for managing these challenges. Whether you’re at an increased risk from a cyberattack or your business is growing at a rapid pace and your infrastructure is struggling to keep up, an MSP will advise you what steps to take to control your unique business risks. 

Minimize impact

The reality is that downtime costs time, money, and resources. Although it’s impossible to prevent every cause of downtime, especially natural disasters, extreme weather, and power outages, it’s absolutely possible to minimize the impact of downtime on your business operations. For more information on reducing the loss of time, contact us today.

The 4 parts of a holistic risk management strategy

Risk management is an essential part of any organization’s existence. As businesses throughout the United States become more dependent on digital technology each day, failing to manage risks can be detrimental to your business. On average, most companies take nearly 6 months to detect a data breach, even major ones. If there is no strategy in place, your business could be in the dark about their data loss for half a year.

Treating risk management and reduction as a tick-box exercise isn’t enough. To make your efforts effective, you need to create a holistic risk management strategy. Here are some of the components such strategies need to feature:

Enthusiasm at board level

Every person who works for you plays a role in reducing risks. Around 90% of cybersecurity breaches arise as a result of human error. Although you won’t be able to eliminate human error entirely, you can significantly reduce the effect that it has.

One way to make your employees more effective at reducing security risks is to generate an enthusiasm for risk management at the board level. When employees can see that board members are driven by the idea of tighter security, they’re more likely to embrace better risk management practices themselves.

Detecting patterns & addressing them

It’s rarely the case that an exposed risk or breach occurs at random. When you continuously analyze events, you’ll start to see a pattern. Being able to identify and address those patterns is important, especially when you want to reduce risks for the future.

One way to detect patterns is to audit breaches. You may also want to try vulnerability detection. Gather your data on a regular basis and look for areas where you’re falling short. By accepting that new risks will always arise and that they’re rarely random, you can build stronger defenses.

Reduce bias and group-think

Naturally, there are some employees and groups who are better at managing risks than others. However, that doesn’t mean they’re completely risk-free. In many respects, those who fall into the trap of thinking that risks don’t apply to them can become the riskiest individuals of all, due to self-bias.

Continue to educate all members of your workforce all potential risks to reduce the chances of self-bias. For example, around 55% of employees believe that letting a friend or family member use a company device isn’t risky. In reality, such actions could pose a significant threat to data security. If you become aware of a particular group failing to apply proper standards of risk aversion, make sure you educate them as a whole to cut out group-think.

Find new risk management opportunities

Although it’s useful to analyze patterns to find areas in which you’re not managing risks well, it isn’t a future-focused approach. In the spirit of becoming more robust on the risk management front, start looking for new opportunities.

Begin by looking at approaches that your organization doesn’t currently use. For example, off-site data storage for disaster recovery purposes. Then, look at the latest trends and technologies. Discuss whether using new technology will benefit your business with your IT team. If they feel as though the new technologies are worth investing in, take the plunge.

A holistic risk management strategy involves thinking outside the box. Always consider the human factor, i.e. addressing how your personnel approach and engage with risk. Make sure your strategy remains flexible, too. As your organization changes, so should your policies of risk management. Reach out today and let us help guide your risk management strategy.