Gavin Livingstone, Bryley Systems Inc.
I’d be rich if I had a $5 dollar bill (inflation) every time I heard:
- “My son/daughter/niece/nephew (pick one) who is only 2/4/6/8 (pick one) years old was able to solve my computer problem; why do I need you?”
- Lisa, a senior VP in our marketing department, handles our IT.”
- “I’m moving to the Cloud, so I won’t need IT support.”
- “I looked up the answer on Google; it was easy to fix.”
Sure, anyone with technical interest and aptitude can address IT-support issues, particularly those at the lower, end-user level (comprised of printers, computers, and mobile devices). Many organizations have that one Lisa/Joe/Patty who helps with IT-support issues (in addition to working their full-time job) or is the dedicated IT resource within the organization; they feel it is cost-effective to have an internal IT person or an IT department, often citing the need for a warm body onsite who can respond instantly, particularly when the President can’t sync her iPhone.
However, IT is a complex field with many moving parts; it is difficult to be proficient, let alone expert, in all areas. For example:
- Lisa designed the computer network to be reliable, secure, and robust, but is overqualified (and not cost-effective) helping someone print a document.
- Joe can change toners, but does not know what to do when the Internet is down; especially troublesome when your primary application is Cloud-based.
- Patty configures Windows desktop computers and iPhones for employees, but cannot verify that the firewall is doing its job.
Basically, IT is a multi-facet discipline; successful IT support personnel have:
- An understanding of the components (desktop computers, mobile devices, servers, firewalls, routers, Cloud, etc.) and their interdependencies.
- A step-by-step troubleshooting mentality that works well under pressure.
- A willingness to stay current with constantly changing and emerging topics.
IT is an expense, but also an enabler; it is usually fundamental to an organization’s success, often representing an opportunity to get ahead of a less-savvy competitor. Given the breadth of technology options and the potential to develop new business or reduce costs, more organizations trust (and outsource) their critical IT functions to a Managed IT Services Provider (MSP) or a Total IT Services Provider (TSP).
Truly effective MSP/TSP companies are dedicated to remaining IT savvy while focused on the business requirements and concerns of their clients. These companies share similar characteristics:
- A broad, experienced service team with varying levels of competence:
- Technician (Level-1) – End-user oriented and experienced in the devices common to end-users: Mobile devices, PCs, MACs, printers, scanners, and the like. They should work well with others, be experienced in end-user operating systems (Microsoft Windows, Google Android, MAC iOS), and have excellent troubleshooting skills.
- Engineer (Level-2) – Network-device oriented and experienced in Cloud, servers, virtualization, Ethernet switches, firewalls, routers, Wireless Access Points, and other network devices. They must be good troubleshooters and understand network-level IT components.
- Consultant (Level-3) – Implementers of Cloud-based solutions and local and wide-area networks. Social skills are expected; business skills are a must.
- Chief Technical Officers (God-level) – Architects of Cloud-based/ hybrid-Cloud solutions and wide area networks. They must understand the technical functionality of all of the moving parts, while keeping the business needs and consequences in clear focus.
- A proven, capable management team that can focus technicians, engineers, and consultants on the tasks at hand while preparing them, skill-wise, for an ever-changing world.
- A defined set of business-oriented processes designed to manage, optimize, and secure (coincidently, Manage ● Optimize ● Secure is our tagline) their client’s network environments. These processes are not static, but tend to be ever-evolving and striving toward proactive automation and perfection.
- IT is a complex, changing discipline of multiple levels,
- IT can enable new opportunities or reduce costs,
- IT can make or break an organization, and
- MSPs/TSPs can maximize your IT potential!