SMBs Show Static Growth in IT Operations and Cybersecurity

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are poised to spend more than $676 billion dollars on IT by 2021.

This increase comes as SMBs are focusing their resources on improving their organizations through improving employee productivity and work processes.

While hardware has traditionally monopolized IT spending, software, in particular the growing market for software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions, has been on an upwards trend, expanding year-on-year at a rate of 21%.

As more SMBs adopt computing solutions to hit their goals, managed service providers (MSPs) will move to the forefront as they implement SaaS solutions for customers.

Failing to Hit Maturity

Achieving an acceptable IT operational maturity is a goal for many SMBs, with the early aspects of maturity gradually progressing as companies grow.

IT maturity can be classified by stages, from the earliest levels where businesses operate in a “break/fix” mode in regard to IT security, through eventual adoption of proactive approaches to IT management.

These advances can include the automation of repetitive tasks, tracking against service level agreements (SLAs) and finally, the development of innovative technologies that drive sales and deliver outstanding value.

For many, however, progression beyond more basic digital maturity remains an elusive goal.

Maturity among SMBs has seen little improvement over the last three years, with most still operating in a purely reactive model when it comes to IT network management.

That’s why many SMBs are turning to managed IT service providers (MSPs) to assist them in monitoring their networks and to help build a plan for achieving their long-term IT goals.

Unfortunately, even for those who are partnered with MSPs, SMBs that lack formal service level agreements (SLAs) or have SLAs with an unclear roadmap are the organizations which have the lowest levels of maturity and demonstrate the most reliance on reactive processes.

Reactive and Proactive Operations

The evolution of IT for SMBs, in particular cloud and IoT tech, has meant that typical methods of management are no longer a viable option to maintain networks.

Since prevention is critical for avoiding downtime and other crises, proactively managed IT services has become the go-to method to prevent technical issues before they develop into emergencies.

Proactive IT support is the perfect choice for SMBs who wish to avoid costly downtime.

In this model, a managed IT service provider uses advanced monitoring tools like vulnerability scanning, penetration testing, and others to manage issues before they become threats to company infrastructure.

Businesses that are still operating under a break/fix, or reactive, model are typically not using an MSP, or even worse, they’re using an MSP which doesn’t operate to a high enough standard.

A good MSP should offer an SLA that provides proactive support and comprehensive protection, spotting and removing issues before they become a significant hindrance.

Operating under a reactive model with its eventual downtime, emergency IT projects, and loss of productivity keeps organizations from pursuing operational maturity.

SMB Cybersecurity

Almost 50% of cyberattacks are aimed at SMBs. When you consider that 99.7% of businesses currently operating in the U.S. are classified as SMBs, it’s easy to see the increasing significance of cybersecurity for small and midsize businesses.

Hackers are increasingly sophisticated in how they conduct attacks. They use remote code execution (RCE) attacks to take control of computers, malware delivered by email to stage attacks, and phishing practices to get employees to give out sensitive information.

Even though SMBs are targeted increasingly often, many currently do not have the capacity to defend themselves against these tactics, and so remain vulnerable.

And, many companies are unaware that these gaps in their security are a major concern.

Despite this, corporate decision makers are showing increasing awareness about their security, with 57% of SMBs saying that improving security is at the top of their IT priorities—up from 40% in 2017.

This has led many SMBs to improve their IT operations by using a managed security service provider (MSSP) offering to safe guard their organization.

Adopting Modern IT Operations Solutions and Maintenance

When businesses don’t operate at maturity or they remain “in the dark” about cybersecurity threats, they often run into problems resulting in the use of precious resources—human and financial—as they constantly scramble to put out fires.

Most SMBs run into trouble over simple things, like not patching their network antivirus, failing to make appropriate backups, or not removing admin rights from employees that have terminated their relationship with the company.

Keeping on top of these simple, but necessary, IT housekeeping tasks is one reason SMBs look to MSSPs to help them with security.

MSSPs can perform periodic maintenance, keeping abreast of current threats and keeping the SMBs’ network up to date with security patches and changes in access—without disrupting corporate workflow.

Partner With an MSP That Has Your Best Interests in Mind

Moving away from break-fix and requiring comprehensive and constant network maintenance measures means more demands on MSPs from SMBs

Many SMBs do not have formal SLAs with their managed service providers—a detail that can cause huge problems if there isn’t an outlined, comprehensive expectation on deliverables.

When you partner with an MSP, be sure that they can offer—and deliver—on IT operations and additional cybersecurity components if desired.

There is no point to having a partner if you’re still operating with reactive IT practices and a break/fix model.

A good MSP should provide expert oversight, flexible service models, network monitoring, predictable costs, and access to a large and diverse team of experts.

Depending on your IT operations framework, they may provide onsite tech support/installation, remote monitoring/troubleshooting, a security baseline, support for the cloud, and a guarantee of up-time.

When choosing an MSP, look for one that can provide certification and accreditations for the solutions they’re proposing for your project.

Check out case studies and testimonials that deal with projects similar to use or research their reputation to dig deeper into their methods of operation.

Takeaways

  • IT operational maturity levels are lagging among SMBs, many of whom mostly operate in a break/fix, reactive way.
  • Nearly half of all cyberattacks are aimed at SMBs, yet most are unaware of gaps in their networks.
  • Partnering with a good MSP or MSSP can help move SMBs to a proactive IT model. Good MSPs will be accredited and certified to provide the solutions your needs.

Are you concerned that your IT department isn’t driving your company forward? Thinking it’s time to talk to someone about your plans for the future? Reach out to Impact’s Managed IT team and speak to one of our experts today! http://bit.ly/2noQoEK