It’s a paradox we all face on a daily basis, whether we realize it or not: introducing technology into our businesses’ workflows opens up vast opportunities—greater efficiency, remote working capabilities, seamless collaboration, actionable business data—while at the same time introducing new and terrifying risks not only to the security of our data but also the very viability of our businesses. For many business owners, knowing this makes it hard to sleep at night, or to fully enjoy a weekend off.
So, how do you find an IT provider who will help you sleep better at night? First, acquaint yourself with the actual risks facing your business, and then consider the key qualities of a managed services provider who can help you reduce them.
Nightmare Technology Scenarios
While the risks associated with our increasing reliance on technology are myriad, they can usually be classified into two major categories:
Risk to Data Security
Risk to Business Continuity
Thankfully, there is a growing awareness of the risks businesses face in terms of data security, as evidenced by the almost daily news stories about the latest phishing scam or high-profile data breach. What’s crucial for business owners to keep in mind, though, is that while large corporations like Target and Equifax are usually the ones making the news, small and mid-sized businesses are also huge targets for cyber criminals. And according to a 2017 Ponemon Institute study of small and mid-sized businesses, the average total cost of a data breach was $2,235,018. On top of legal and technical costs and lost revenue due to downtime during a breach, you also have your reputation with customers and prospects to consider. All of these facts make data breaches nightmare scenarios for business owners.
Risks to business continuity are less publicized but no less painful. What happens when a server drive containing vital business data fails? When a key application crashes? When a power outage stops key production systems? When an internet outage severs communications? When a natural disaster threatens your physical premises?
In all of these cases, revenue suffers to some degree—and in some cases to a large degree. The viability of your business relies on your tools and systems functioning as expected, all the time. So when the unexpected happens, it’s a nightmare come to life.
Ease Your Mind by Outsourcing Your IT to the Right Managed Services Provider
Most business owners understand the need to partner with a managed services provider to ensure that their technology is secure and functioning optimally. But when evaluating providers, they often focus on their capability to respond to a disaster, basing their decisions on how quickly a provider is able to react to issues as they arise.
This is a crucial metric, to be sure, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. When it comes to managing risks, there’s an even more important question than how quickly a provider can respond: what does the provider do to mitigate the risks of data breach or downtime—to prevent and reduce negative impact—before they occur?
The best providers proactively and systematically reduce risk—and, therefore, the business owner’s anxiety. They do so by addressing risk on three distinct levels:
Strategy: The first step to mitigating risk is understanding that risk. An outsourced IT provider should first understand what data and systems are vital to the business, and then design strategies to systematically reduce it.
Technology: There are key technical safeguards that can reduce risks to data security and business continuity. The right data backup and disaster recovery solutions can keep your data safe and accessible at all times. Failover internet connections and power management solutions can keep you running during outages. Redundant hardware can prevent downtime or data loss due to failed components. Automated patch management and systems monitoring can keep your systems up to date and secure.
Process: Risk management is an ongoing process. Hundreds of small changes are made to your technology systems every day, and some of these open up risks. The best managed services providers, then, make it a point to evaluate your systems against documented standards for security and optimal functionality on a regular, recurring basis. This is the key to ensuring that your systems remain secure, and that your data security and business continuity strategies match the needs of your ever-evolving business.
How Well Are You Sleeping at Night?
Are you confident that your outsourced IT provider is taking all the necessary steps to mitigate risks to your business? If not, or if you’re not sure, contact us today to set up an IT consultation. Our team would love to discuss the risks you’re facing, and how we might be able to mitigate them with our holistic approach to managing and optimizing our clients’ IT.
It’s time to get some sleep—you have important work to do!