3 Questions SMB Leaders Must Answer about IT for Their MSPs


Managed ServicesThe engine of Digital Transformation is evolving business technology from tactical support to strategic platform. It’s a trend that affects companies of all shapes and sizes, but the most profound impact for small to mid-size businesses  comes in the form of competitive advantage.

As we’ve argued in many posts, digital technologies enable small and medium business operators to function at a scope and scale like a large corporation. But an opportunity of this magnitude also represents a challenge, as the typical SMB leader doesn’t have the deep pockets and breadth of staff available as their counterparts at big organizations. That’s why we regularly advocate that executives in any position think about their IT resources – hardware, software and people – like the “big-time CIOs” do.

So, on behalf of our readers, we’re always scanning IT magazines, searching for insights into the mindset of corporate CIOs. And recently, we found a stunning statistic, shared by InfoWorld columnist Minda Zetlin:

In a survey of more than 700 CIOs around the world, 84% reported that their company employs their own IT staff.

Judging from this finding, it seems as though the big companies are taking their cues from the smaller ones – i.e., engaging specialized IT resources to address requirements and challenges specific to their operations. Smart business leaders retain IT Managed Services Providers (MSPs) to cope with digital evolution in the form of cybersecurity threats, the spread of mobile devices and critical issues such as business continuity.

For her latest InfoWorld column, Zetlin talked to several corporate CIOs about how they cope with digital evolution, too. As a group, they agreed that technology leaders in any position must address a few critical questions about their organization’s approach to IT.

We reviewed their comments in Zetlin’s piece and translated their thoughts into questions we believe business leaders must ask [and answer] for the MSPs supporting their firms:

•    Is IT supporting our business strategy?
Are your IT resources – digital and human – advancing a strategy? Or just keeping the network running? Not that a functional network is an insignificant issue. But there’s a reason for consistent uptime, right? Your team needs to work from the road, run the machinery that makes your products, answer customer questions, etc. If your MSPs know what your business is working to accomplish, they can ensure your technology supports the cause.

•    Is IT helping drive revenue for our business?
The hardware, software and services that make up your IT configuration always will be a significant cost center for your company – like facilities and personnel. But those two aspects of your business drive revenue, too, right? For example, your shop is where you create and/or deliver the products and services you sell. And your team does the creating and delivering. So, if smartphones, for instance, are making the process of creating and delivering faster and easier for your staff, those devices are helping drive revenue. Your MSPs can help optimize their performance.

•    Is IT applying our data as well as containing it?
One tremendous benefit of digital evolution is the cost of and how large amounts of data can be saved and accessed. Not enough space in this post to cover all the opportunities but suffice to say your MSP can help deliver this potential.

The more you understand about your company’s approach to IT the better your MSP can serve your business, helping it operate efficiently, compete effectively and grow profitably.