In the world of business, if you want to stand out against the competition an information technology (IT) system that supports your goals is vital to your success. However, while this component of your business is crucial, it can be difficult to maintain on your own. Between developing your products and services, attending to the needs of your customers and handling all of the other aspects of your business, finding the time that is needed to invest in your IT system may be virtually impossible. Additionally, you may not have the in-depth knowledge that is required for managing your system.
Hiring a full-time IT department is certainly an option, but it can be extremely expensive to maintain, especially if yours is a small business. That doesn’t mean that you have to forego the expert advice and knowledge of professional IT development. Outsourcing the task to an IT consulting professional who works off-site is a much more cost effective option and can be extremely beneficial for your business.
Here’s a look at how an off-site personal IT consultant can aid your business and boost your success.
Expert IT Support
When you hire a personal IT consultant, you’ll have the expertise of a professional, knowledgeable and experienced expert on your side. This individual will be able to keep you abreast of the latest advances in the world of information technology.
Information technology is constantly changing and in order keep up with these changes and stay ahead of your competition, you need to be kept in the loop. A personal IT consultant will be able to provide you with the information you need so that you can make the best and most informed decisions regarding IT for your business.
More Time to Focus on Your Business
When you have a professional IT consultant managing this aspect of your business, you will have more time to focus on the core functions of your business. In other words, you’ll be able to spend more time doing what you know best – developing your business and connecting with clients. If you’re an accountant, for example, you’ll be able to focus your energy on acquiring more clients and providing them with your undivided attention.
It’s Cost Effective
You will be able to better manage your IT costs. Employing an in-house IT department can become quite costly. When you outsource the job, you can keep better control over the amount that you spend. That savings can be put right back into your business, which will significantly increase your bottom line.
Imagine if a potential client was to visit your website and find that it was down. You could lose that client, and losing just one prospective customer can significantly impact your success. With a consultant managing the IT side of your business, you’ll have less downtime, which means that your current and your prospective clients will always have access to your website.
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Everyone in the office loves Eric. Sporting a different ironic t-shirt everyday, Eric is the one we call when technology spits in our face. Whether it’s a slow system, a bug that needs to be squashed, a website issue, or a crash that results in unexpected downtime and data loss, Eric is right there. Not only does he get to the bottom of any issue but he also rights the ship like he’s some sort of miracle-working captain who just happens to have a pretty wickedly funny Peter Griffin from Family Guy impersonation.
But business is growing and Eric is overworked. Eric has certain skills that you’d love to use to develop innovative applications and revenue-generating projects– but he’s too busy running around fixing things that break. Or he’s performing the most mundane and routine tasks day-in-and-day-out just to keep things secure and running smoothly.
You get a sense that Eric’s overburdened and he’s saddled with too many responsibilities. His demeanor has changed from pleasant to moody. He’s listening to angrier metal and punk music and you’re noticing cracks in his work. You fear Eric is being pulled in too many directions and the reliability of your server, network, and applications, as well as the integrity of your data, are all at risk.
Someone who has watched a bit too much of Donald Trump on The Apprentice might think Eric should be fired. We’re not going to fire Eric. But we’re also not going to hire a full-time salaried Robin to his Batman or Cheech to his Chong. We’re going to help Eric by exploiting IT automation and managed services to handle many of the monotonous tasks making Eric hate his job right now.
Let’s help Eric…..
Focus Primarily on Cost-Cutting and Revenue Increasing Projects: First things first, Eric has to realize that he can’t do everything himself. Where are his skills best used? Whether it’s processes that help drive down costs or ones with the potential to raise revenue, evaluate the projects in the queue and rank them by what impacts the bottom line the most. Once that’s done, look at the day-to-day processes designed to keep things running securely and efficiently. What can be off-loaded from Eric? Determine which of those tasks can be automated either through the cloud or managed services.
Take to the Cloud: Some IT people fear the cloud spells the end to their job security. Meanwhile, the cloud can actually help them take on a more prominent contributing role in the company’s success. The cloud should be seen as another tool that further eliminates the mundane yet necessary daily drudgery from their workday. Those who work WITH the cloud will find that they have more available time to take on more meaningful cost cutting or revenue generating projects.
Use a Managed Service Provider: Using outsourced managed services not only alleviates much of Eric’s pressure and stress, but also boosts productivity and gives the company a much improved ROI (Return-on-Investment) on their technology investment. While technology has gotten easier for the end user, it has become more complex on the backend with the advent of virtualization, cloud computing, and advanced infrastructure. Using an MSP gives Eric access to a trusted advisor, a 24/7 help desk, remote monitoring and management tools, mobile device management tools, and much better disaster recovery and business continuity solutions. All without the overhead that comes with hiring more help for Eric. MSPs offer a consistency to not just your end-user but also your main IT guy who will certainly appreciate the help.
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Small-to-medium-sized businesses (SMBs) generally don’t have the resources to fully support all IT infrastructure needs. Even if your business has one or several in-house IT technicians on payroll, they’re often so bogged down by routine daily tasks that their talent is wasted. The very core of your business infrastructure is jeopardized if they’re overworked and vulnerable to error. This employee isn’t adding nearly as much value to your business as they should be. It’s not a good place for them or you.
According to the research group Gartner, over 65% of IT budgets go towards tasks that do nothing more than keep the lights on. This means SMBs investing in their technology aren’t necessarily improving operations and efficiency or enhancing their security. They’re just keeping the wheels turning.
The concept of “managed services” has evolved through the last decade. Today, managed service providers (MSPs) are being used by small businesses to cost-effectively manage, service and support their IT processes. MSPs are often called in as an alternative to adding additional in-house staff. Unfortunately, this also means MSPs are typically seen as a threat to the job security of any IT employee that fears they’re about to be replaced by “outsourced” help.
A hybrid approach, utilizing managed services, cloud services, and internal IT support can truly be the best of all worlds. They simultaneously help SMBs achieve a greater return-on-investment (ROI) on their IT costs while allowing existing in-house IT resources to be channeled into more valuable development roles.
A Happier, Less Overwhelmed In-House IT Staff
Many of those never-ending mundane tasks performed by in-house IT support on a daily basis can be automated. While this could easily be interpreted as suggesting on-site staff aren’t necessary, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Your current IT support can leverage all of the benefits of MSP services such as:
End-user help desk
24/7 network operations center
Disaster recovery/business continuity solutions
These services free your in-house IT support from much of the routine daily maintenance and support taking up most of their workday. This enables them to expand their role and work on more meaningful projects. They’re also happier on the job since they’re no longer perpetually overwhelmed or feeling as if they’re wearing too many hats.
In this case, MSPs remove the burden of routine tasks from internal IT support, allowing them to make better use of theirtime. With access to the MSP ticketing and monitoring system, and support from the 24/7 Network Operations Center (NOC), in-house IT have help identifying and addressing system issues before they become business disrupting problems.
Additionally, daily interruptions like constantly having to run to Susie’s computer to figure out why her system is running slow can instead be handled by the Help Desk.
Guided Focus, Direction and Prioritization
Working with a MSP gives existing in-house IT support some much needed focus and direction. MSPs commonly offer a complimentary consultation and network assessment that evaluates the overall performance and health of your IT infrastructure. From there, the MSP will recommend the products or services most beneficial to current IT needs.
This evaluation helps internal IT determine what system oversight and future planning they should be doing. A queue can be created where projects are evaluated and ranked by what’s most critical. Any regular system maintenance tasks can be performed by the MSP while in-house IT can focus on processes that will drive down costs or potentially increase revenue.
Fewer Instances of Failure and Human Error
A high percentage of costly security breaches are the result of human error. This is often because IT employees are stretched too thin and overlook vital security measures, such as applying tested security patches or updating antivirus software programs. Working with a MSP will eliminate much of the work overload that often leads to system or security vulnerabilities. Systems can be backed up in the cloud for an immediate full system restore if needed. Internal IT support will no longer bear sole responsibility for the constant availability and security of stored data.
Many of the issues that become costly business disruptions for SMBs, such as downtime-inducing hardware, software, and application failures, are completely preventable if they’re detected and addressed early enough.
It’s a reality that your systems run 24/7, but you likely don’t have the resources right now for a 24/7 IT staff.
Existing in-house IT support will find their workload to be much more manageable with the help of MSP services like the Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) tool and the 24/7 NOC. Systems are monitored around-the-clock through a comprehensive interface that can even be viewed on a mobile device. Alerts will notify the in-house IT staff of any potentially threatening issues on the horizon.
Many SMBs have some incredibly gifted and skilled IT employees on staff that are burdened with way too any responsibilities and tend to get stuck in a routine each day. These employees would be solid contributors to your business if they weren’t running around extinguishing tech fires and handling monotonous tasks that are below their skill-level.
A good MSP acts as an extension of the business they’re servicing. SMBs and MSPs will work very closely together but caution must be taken, as any internal IT staff will likely consider a MSPs presence to be intrusive and a threat to their job security.
SMBs must convince their internal staff that embracing the cloud and leveraging the service desk and RMM tools of a MSP will only make their jobs more manageable and less stressful. Freeing them from manual tasks will allow them to work on projects that matter- developing applications, concepts, and strategies that will benefit the company or organization’s bottom line rather than spending the day tending to the intern’s computer after she clicked a malicious link in a phishing email. Your existing onsite IT support can do much more for your business as you cut costs by exploiting the industry’s best practices, latest tools, and newest technology.
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Many SMBs may feel as if they can’t afford quality back-up services but affordable solutions do exist. This is especially true with the emergence of virtualization and the cloud. Backing up an infrastructure that is fully virtualized is much easier than backing up physical servers. Additionally, site-to-site replication via cloud technologies has made disaster recovery financially feasible for many small and medium sized businesses. Download THE VALUE OF A HELPING HAND: Reducing Business Costs of Network Failure with a Managed Services Provider Knowing that you can reinstate your business infrastructure back to normalcy will provide you peace of mind that business continuity is maintained no matter what. Now find out how you can get the help you need doing it. Start shifting focus back to running your business and put your technology in the hands of some experts.
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With the rate of technology ever increasing and the importance it has on becoming a successful business, Michael is increasing his number of speaking engagements as a value add activity to surrounding communities. He can easily adapt his talk to the audience or topic and speaks on all things technology and how to maximize it for your desired results. Please let us know if you are interested in having Michael speak at your upcoming meeting. Read Michael’s full bio below. Thanks!
Keeping up with Technology
Michael St. Martin
Learn what’s up with the latest technology trends and how “Strategic Technology Acceleration” can rocket your business forward. Is your technology a competitive advantage? Do you know how to leverage Cloud Computing? Mobile Devices? Is your network secure? Michael St. Martin will provide information and real world tips that you can use immediately to make your systems an asset instead of a liability.
Michael St. Martin is an entrepreneur and founder of Cognoscape, a Business Technology company that specializes in bringing Enterprise Class technology solutions to Small and Medium Business. While Cognoscape is the newest of Michael’s successful business ventures, his experiences include executive positions with Accenture, building sales organizations with NetIQ and Permeo and adding value to multiple IPOs’ and M&A’s. His current passion resides in assisting business owners to utilize technology and gain a competitive advantage while streamlining their business.
Michael has spoken to audiences both large and small, always imparting insight into the latest technology and how to apply it to the audience. “My goal as a speaker is to give the audience something to take away immediately and apply to their business that day, while entertaining them along the way,” says Michael. So… great and timely content, mixed with Michael’s engaging style motivates the audience into action!
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Just had a great time helping host the North Dallas Chamber AM Exchange Breakfast. It was hosted by Hudson Peters, Armour Wealth Management and Cognoscape LLC. Awesome attendance with 65+ and made some great contacts! Thanks to all who were involved. Chad King Director of Sales and Marketing for Cognoscape remarked “We are happy to help out the North Dallas Chamber and other business partners whenever we have the opportunity.” Charles Tholen owner and CIO was also in attendance. Please visit the Chambers website as well as return to Cognoscape’s website for more great networking opportunities.
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Cognoscape LLC to Host North Dallas Chamber of Commerce AM Exchange – check out our new office!
Cognoscape the IT Services Company from Addison Texas will be one of the host for the upcoming North Dallas Chamber of Commerce AM Exchange. This early morning networking opportunity is hosted quarterly by different chamber members at their place of business. This event is an excellent venue for chamber members to showcase their office location and products and services.
Date Wednesday, October 23 Time 7:30 a.m. Location 16479 Dallas Parkway, 1st Floor in Addison
Co-hosted by Armor Wealth Management, Cognoscape and Hudson Peters Commercial Real Estate
Cost No charge for members who pre-register, $5/members at the door, $15/non-members.
Register online or by phone at 214.368.6485. Please RSVP by October 21.
Chamber contact: Carol Short
Senior Vice President, Public Affairs
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Cognoscape, the Dallas based IT Services and Consulting company has been nominated for the third year in a row for Addison’s Favorite IT Company by Addison Magazine readers. We are thrilled about this nomination and look forward to winning again but can only do so with your help. Please vote asap as the deadline is June 7th! Thank you so much, it is greatly appreciated!
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Cognoscape is honored to help sponsor the Dallas CPA Society Annual Golf Tournament today at Gentle Creek in Prosper, TX. Join your colleagues and friends for lots of fun, prizes, awards, food, and more! Prizes will be awarded for Closest to the Pin, Longest Drive, Straightest Drive, etc. Say hi to Chad King, Director of Sales and Marketing who will be manning the beverage cart :-)
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Benefiting the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program – Join us for a beverage at the DBA Pro Bono Golf Tournament – Chad will the one in the Beverage Cart helping to keep you hydrated.
Date: Thursday, May 2, 2013
Time: Registration: 10:00 a.m.
Tee-off: 1:00 p.m.
Location: Brookhaven Country Club Registration: To register, click here. For more information: Contact Rhonda Thornton.
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Phone: (214) 377-4884 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Address: 3939 Belt Line Road, #505, Addison, TX 75001