Although the computing needs of SMBs may seem less complicated than the IT issues
facing large corporations or major non-profit institutions, IT complexity is still a major
challenge for SMBs. System failures are more commonplace in many SMBs because these
organizations typically lack the in-house skills and resources to implement essential
management tools and perform routine management tasks. In addition, the threat of
computer viruses, spyware, malware and other security attacks is now an ongoing concern.
As a result, many SMBs spend more time reacting to IT problems rather than fully
leveraging the power of their IT investments to meet their business objectives. For instance,
many SMBs unintentionally overload their servers, causing crashes that often lead to
disruptions to their businesses and valuable data being lost.
Even when their IT systems and business applications are up and running, SMB executives
are not sure if they are getting the best performance out of these critical resources or the
best return on their investment (ROI). For example, many SMBs under-utilize their servers,
creating unnecessary added expense and effort buying, installing and maintaining excess
equipment and software. SMBs in many cases may be only generating 10-30% utilization
from their servers but not know it because the equipment is poorly configured, translating
into a poor ROI for this pivotal technology.
Many SMBs are unable to monitor and measure the performance of their systems around
the clock because of a lack of appropriate management software or staff skills. As a result,
they miss key indicators that would enable them to proactively manage their systems and
prevent potential problems and costly downtime.
Rectifying this IT management issue isn.t easy. An SMB must not only have the skilled inhouse
staff who can select and deploy the right IT management software, but also have
sufficient IT staff to properly configure and monitor the management solution around-theclock
to meet the SMB needs. In addition, while many IT professionals are good at installing
hardware systems and common business applications, few have the skills, experience and
dedication to evaluate IT trend data that can uncover potential issues before they become
SMBs also face higher turnover among their IT personnel than larger organizations where
there are more career opportunities. Because IT personnel within SMBs also have less time
to document their work, staff turnover can make it difficult for new staff to become
acclimated quickly. The discontinuity in IT staff makes SMBs more vulnerable to system
failures or security threats. In the past, SMBs would compensate for their IT inefficiencies
by looking for outside help from two sources:
1. IT contractors to handle their IT issues on a part-time basis
2. IT service companies to address specific systems and software
Neither of these alternatives can fully address an SMB.s IT needs. Individual IT contractors
lack the breadth of knowledge, experience and time to handle an SMBs. end-to-end IT
requirements. Traditional IT service companies focus on specific products or applications,
and generally react to problems rather than proactively managing their customers. IT
operations on an ongoing basis to make sure they are performing properly.
Because of the shortcomings of IT contractors and traditional service companies, a growing
number of SMBs are investigating managed services as a strategic sourcing alternative.