The Evolution of Managed IT Services
In the late 90’s, email was becoming more common for employees, not just the company executives, and BlackBerry launched their Enterprise Server. In the early 2000’s tape backups were becoming more sophisticated and Windows XP launched. Employees of large corporations and Fortune 500 companies were using company-purchased computers more, and therefore also needed technical support. In these earlier days, IT support services were onsite only and typically based on an as-needed, “break/fix model” for an hourly fee. Generally speaking, if an employee had an issue, and a technology-skilled employee was not on staff, a call was made to an independent contractor who was good at fixing computer problems. The computer manufacturers, such as Dell, HP, and eMachines started to take notice and began to offer onsite and phone support as well, often for a flat fee or per-computer price. Relatively speaking, this was an expensive IT support option and most small businesses and start-ups could not afford this level of support.
The evolution of managed IT services began when IT support providers started to realize that smaller businesses needed a more proactive and comprehensive approach to the management and support of their network. Their services were priced at a more reasonable cost, and were invoiced monthly at a flat rate, rather than billed by the hour. This created a more predictable technology budget for their clients and more services could be offered, such as proactive work. The IT support providers were seeing that by configuring the network and putting in effort to maintain the computers in order to prevent issues from happening in the first place, less issues and a reduction in client frustration would result. Employees were able to be more efficient, as they were not dealing with downtime. These new managed IT service companies were also understanding how important it was to double-check backups on a very regular basis to ensure company data was protected.
As time progressed, companies formed that developed software and tools for these managed IT service providers to use for their clients to better monitor and manage their clients’ technology environment, as well as stay better organized with ticketing systems. These additional tools and systems were, are still are, very beneficial to the client and something not easily obtainable on their own, as they are not only expensive, but a great deal of customization is required in order to make them useful. If properly configured, the systems work together as an ‘ecosystem’ and integrate the Ticketing with IT Documentation with Remote Monitoring and Management, IT Project Management and finally Billing. By working together, the systems automate processes, send important alerts and warnings, keep documentation and billing accurate and current, and help the managed IT service provider to be organized, thus delivering a higher quality service.
This is one of the reasons why companies with 15 – 250 employees may prefer working with a managed IT service provider rather than an independent contractor or small IT support provider. The better tools and systems are pricey and in general, require a Network Administrator to link and manage the systems. If this sounds like something that would be important for your company to benefit from, it is important to ask about the systems used when interviewing managed IT service firms.