Using IT Consultants and Managed Service Providers to Help Control Your PCs
By Eric Townsend
As a small business trying to manage your own technology, you likely have had days when you are battling the forces of evil: hardware repairs, crashed operating systems, and data loss. Managing all this plus running the business, keeping the books, planning marketing campaigns, and dealing with HR is enough to send you over the edge – and send your margin over the edge as well.
And the thing is, IT has become more than just a laptop to send an email. The day of having your system crash and simply losing your email is long over. Now if a PC goes down you can lose your supply chain, or your customer data, and all of this can affect business continuity.
Gary Bazelon, President of Trek Freight Services concurs: “Today, the PC has become even more important than the phone. Everyone—from accounting to dispatch to sales—uses their PC all day to get information to and from our customers. Losing a PC for one hour can mean losing thousands of dollars of revenue. I’d buy an insurance policy against PC downtime—the productivity gains are that important.”
One way small businesses are getting smart is by working with IT consultants and managed service providers who use remote monitoring tools to watch over your PCs. Rather than hiring a single person in house who has a limited skill set, IT consultants and MSPs give you more people with a wider skill set, who actually cost you less money that a full-time equivalent. In addition, MSPs work 24×7 and can access your system anytime – not just Monday – Friday, 9-5.
With remote management capabilities, a technician can run antivirus on one system, diagnose a second, and reload an OS on a third at the same time. They not only get more work done more quickly, they can also manage multiple PCs per technician, which saves you time and money.
PCs with remote management capabilities allow your service provider to monitor, manage, and repair a wide range of problems remotely. This greatly reduces maintenance and management costs, and increases your staff productivity. Matt Freeman, the service manager at Integration Technologies, a managed service provider inHawaii, uses the remote management capabilities in PCs with Intel vPro technology, and he says, “If a PC has Intel vPro technology, it cuts our repair times approximately in half. With 2,000 workstations to support, that adds up and it’s a pretty big deal. vPro has a force-multiplier effect.”
In addition, PCs with remote management capabilities mean you’re back to work much faster. This matters both from a productivity standpoint and a cost standpoint. As Matt Freeman continues, “The fact that we can repair problems faster with vPro is a significant selling point for our customers. We do a cost-benefit analysis for each proposal, and where it makes sense we’ll monetize the time they save through less downtime. A lawyer, for example, may bill at $200 per hour, so it can add up.”
Stopping Problems Before They Happen
Perhaps the best part of these remote monitoring tools is the ability to push out security patches at night – even if a PC is not left on. “Security is a peace-of-mind issue,” explains Gary Weitzel, a legal administrator at theIndianapolislaw firm, Tabbert Hahn Earnest & Weddle LLP. “When I leave at night, I know that if a security patch needs to be pushed to our PCs, it will happen and the systems will be secure and ready to go in the morning. Intel vPro increases our peace of mind.”
These are just a few ideas that can help your small and medium business get smarter about their IT. But you might also take further advantage of a relationship with an IT consultant or MSP. Sure, they can provide your infrastructure and answer your technology questions, but they have multiple customers across multiple industries and because of this, they’ve got lots of insight and opinions if only you ask.
Eric Townsend is the director of MSP and SMB marketing for Intel Corp. For more than 18 years, his work has encompassed tools across the computing spectrum—from devices to services to software. Eric has worked with companies in industry verticals including healthcare, retail, manufacturing, and services, and believes strongly in the efficiencies and value created by Managed Service Providers and the technologies they deploy.