In today’s technology-driven business climate, harnessing the power of IT is key to staying competitive and operating productively. Maintaining a cyber-secure, efficient and up-to-date IT system will help your business better serve its customers, grow sustainably, and explore new sources of revenue.
In order to unleash the strategic benefits technology can bring, you need an IT partner that’s committed to providing an exceptional service. By choosing the right IT provider for your business you’ll benefit from secure, streamlined IT that helps you prevail over your current challenges, while equipping you for the obstacles of tomorrow and supporting your business’s growth journey. This raises the question: how do you distinguish the best from the rest, particularly when all IT providers claim to offer a first-rate service?
Solution Consultants – The Leading IT Service Provider to Reading’s SMEs
Since 2009, Solution Consultants has been helping businesses across Reading, Berkshire and the UK reap the benefits of secure, optimised and strategically aligned IT. From class-leading IT support and managed cyber security, to the cloud and connectivity solutions that modern businesses need to stay connected and productive, we offer end-to-end IT services delivered with our customer-centric approach.
Selecting an IT support provider is a pivotal decision, with potential implications for your business’s future growth and strategic direction. Equally important, is the ability to assess your current IT support provider’s performance, being able to determine whether they’re managing your IT adequately and offering your business a sound return on investment. To help you assess the standard of service you’re receiving, here’s 5 ways your IT provider should be helping your business.
Your IT provider should be employing a proactive approach to problem solving to ensure minor issues aren’t able to escalate into business-critical disruptions. This approach should extend to everything they do, from taking pre-emptive action to resolve network traffic and server performance issues, to addressing security vulnerabilities at source.
Your provider should be leveraging several tools and practices to detect and diagnose potential problems across your environment, including remote management and monitoring systems and security vulnerability assessments. Techniques like load balancing and network traffic optimisation should be implemented to ensure your IT resources are being used efficiently, and to prevent individual devices or component being stressed to failure.
Your IT provider should be playing an active and instrumental role in ensuring your IT system is conducive to achieving your business’s goals and objectives. This guidance and support can come in various forms, but it always starts with a provider gaining an in-depth understanding of your business, its processes, IT challenges and the regulatory climate you operate within.
The strategic guidance offered should seek to help your business overcome existing challenges, while making plans that accommodate your business’s future growth. Here are a few examples of the strategic guidance that should be forthcoming:
Budget Alignment. Armed with an understanding of the budgetary constraints and commercial pressures that bear on your business, they should be delivering cost-appropriate solutions that offer effective performance while staying within your cost parameters. They should be proactive in proposing cost-saving initiatives, such as the use of virtualisation to save on hardware costs, and carrying out IT expenditure reviews to ensure you’re paying a competitive price for IT services and utilities, such as broadband.
Technology Roadmapping. While your provider should be helping you use IT strategically in the here and now, they should also have one eye to the future. A technology roadmap or ‘future IT strategy’ should be in development, to ensure your IT is able to adapt and accommodate anticipated changes in your business. This strategy should contribute to the achievement of business objectives and contain a clear path for the phased rollout of new technologies, upgrades and innovations.
Scalability Planning. Scalability means ensuring your technology can quickly and effortlessly accommodate changes in demand. Your IT provider should be working proactively with your business to ensure solutions are calibrated to expand quickly in response to the changing requirements of your business.
Multi-layered, Strategic Cyber security
Your IT provider’s approach to cyber security should acknowledge the data processing vulnerabilities and regulatory pressures your business faces, and apply security tools accordingly. Tactical, multi-layered security infrastructure should be in place to robustly defend your critical data against threats at every point of vulnerability across your IT system. Consider whether your provider has implemented any of the following security measures to protect your business.
Firewall and Intrusion detection systems. Your provider should apply and regularly update firewall systems to regulate incoming and outgoing network traffic to protect your business against online harms. For more advanced protection, consider an intrusion detection system which offers the ability to detect and counteract inbound threats in real time.
Data Encryption. The tactical use of data encryption can serve as a vital safeguard against data loss or theft. Encryption can be applied to data both in transit and at rest, offering protection against risks such as man-in-the-middle attacks and device loss.
Endpoint Security. Managed endpoint security is a vital security consideration, particularly in the age of remote work, where an expanded attack surface grants cyber criminals new pathways to infiltrate business networks. Ensure your IT provider has deployed anti-malware protection across all your endpoint devices, including desktops, laptops, mobile devices and tablets. For more advanced protection, consider endpoint detection and response tools, which incorporate live threat hunting and remediation.
Identity Management and Secure Authentication. To maintain the privacy and integrity of data, it’s crucial to ensure that only authorised and authenticated users are able to access your apps, systems and resources. Your IT provider should be implementing secure authentication protocols such as multi-factor authentication, to guard access to your digital estate, and provide a solution to help you manage privileges and access rights.
With so much of today’s business activities conducted in the digital realm, harnessing technology to drive productivity and efficiency gains is now a strategic imperative. Your IT provider should be helping you enhance and streamline your operations with guided support on getting the most out of the latest digital innovations. Here are some of the ways they could be delivering efficiency improvements for your business:
Systems Integration. Your provider should (where possible) be helping you integrate your digital systems to enable seamless data transfer across networks and departments. Better integration fosters close cross-business collaboration and helps eliminate data silos.
Cloud-based solutions. Cloud-hosted data storage solutions, software applications and collaboration platforms enable efficient, agile collaboration and seamless remote access to organisational resources. Your IT provider should be helping your business explore the potential of cloud solutions to save you money and transform how you operate.
Workflow Automation. For the ultimate in efficiency enhancements, your IT provider could be helping you find viable opportunities for the application of workflow automation. By applying automation across data stores and applications, you can reduce manual data handling, minimise the risk of human error and carry out complex processes faster.
Responsive, SLA-Backed Support
Helpdesk support remains a critical component of any IT service partnership. When IT incidents strike, you need access to a personable, responsive and fast-acting helpdesk team who’ll communicate in language that makes sense to your employees. Here are a few other hallmarks of a high-quality helpdesk:
24/7 Availability. You need the helpdesk to be working when you are. Restrictive operating hours could leave you unable to resolve a critical issue while working late or accessing your systems from a different time zone.
An Effective Ticketing System. Your IT provider should have an effective ticketing system in place to ensure issues are methodically tracked and assigned the appropriate priority status. A robust ticketing system provides transparency and accountability.
SLA-Backed Guarantees. The helpdesk service you receive should be underpinned by SLA-level commitments. Your service level agreement should (at minimum) contain a response time guarantee (the maximum time it should take the helpdesk to respond to a support request) as well as an uptime guarantee (the percentage of time the helpdesk will be available without interruption).
Proactivity. Helpdesk support should be your business’s last line of defense against IT troubles, not the place you turn to have preventable issues resolved. Your IT provider should be applying patches and updates to your software systematically, remotely monitoring your network for capacity issue and traffic bottlenecks, and helping you plan for the replacement of aging devices to avoid the risk of hardware failure.
Solution Consultants – Managed IT that Supports the Success of Reading Businesses
Based in Reading, Solution Consultants provides IT Support, Telecoms, and Cloud solutions for SMEs across Berkshire and the Thames Valley. We get to know your business, its challenges and goals, and deploy scalable and agile technology solutions that make a real difference.
We specialise in simplifying IT, making valuable technology more accessible than ever before. We believe technology has the power to transform your business and open access to new markets. Need a hand with a tech challenge, or getting the best from your tech more broadly? Get in touch with us today. We’ll be glad to meet with you, listen, and provide actionable insights and guidance that move you forward.