What a world we live in. Did you ever think that you would have access to a fully functioning PC that fits in the palm of your hand? Did you ever think that you didn’t even need to own a computer to access the applications and information that you need day in, and day out? Did you ever think there would be an interface that you could search for goods and services and have them delivered, quite literally, the next day? Technological innovation moves so fast, you can hardly stay informed about the newest advancements. One thing is for certain, however, it is that the best technology solutions are the result of demand, and the brilliant innovators whose job is to build technology that can be capitalized on.
IT is one example of a channel that represents both the products used in the dissemination of information and the services that accompany those technology solutions. Both have seen a fair amount of innovation over the years, so when you begin to think of IT for your business you know that you will, or already have, deployed some technology solutions that are designed to make operations run more efficiently, or to make data more secure. This despite the fact that the next big thing could be right around the corner. For this reason, deploying IT solutions carries with it marginal risk; albeit risk that is substantially less than not deploying any IT solutions at all.
Information Technology – The Industry
The World Economic Forum labels information technologies as – information and communication technologies, or ICTs. These ICTs include the dissemination of Internet access and corresponding technologies that take advantage of the immense amount of data the Internet has come to have. Technology solutions such as cloud computing, voice over internet protocol, and software as a service are three of a multitude of technology innovations that have recently been commercialized, and are now available to nearly everyone.
Since IT in itself is a relatively new concept, and has become the backbone of most established, and many emerging economies, it plays a critical importance in today’s, and tomorrow’s, business landscape. One differentiator is that almost any organization can take advantage of IT to improve the way they do business. As a result, it is important for decision makers to understand the difference between IT as hardware and software deployment, IT services, and the other computing-related services that your business may have to spend vital capital on.
Information Technology – The Hardware
In order to be concerned with your business’ IT, you have to understand what benefits it may have for your organization. When someone suggests that any business can be improved through the use of IT, they are almost never wrong, but are often asked to elaborate due to the ambiguity of the subject matter. In the context of IT, much of the time, the person making suggestions is talking about the deployment of hardware or software solutions that are designed to solve a core problem of a business or organization.
Technology hardware, in the traditional sense, often comes as large capital expenditures as well as significant setup costs. Physical servers, routers, switches, monitors, workstations, accessories, printers, copiers, and more are considered hardware. This hardware is the core to your typical computing infrastructure and, at some level, is required to do any computing at all. In order to run the software, you need to have the hardware in place. As more organizations begin to lean heavily on cloud computing, you begin to see the hardware market shift with it. Now the products that companies were depending on for the past two decades are routinely being offered as services.
Whether it is the failure of the components that absolutely requires maintenance, the initial cost of the hardware itself, the hardware’s ability to run the software you require it to, or the disposal of old antiquated hardware, there are many issues that accompany the hardware end of IT. As a result, much has been made about a shift to “virtual” computing solutions. From restaurants, to retail stores, from wholesale distributors, to manufacturers, the new model of deploying IT hardware is through the use of technology hosted outside the confines of the business, accessed via an Internet connection, and managed and maintained by a third-party. This allows businesses to cut their initial capital expenses and take advantage of a more flexible service pricing model.
Information Technology – The Maintenance
With the shift to virtual hardware, a lot of the maintenance is no longer the responsibility of the company who is purchasing these hosted computing solutions. While there are plenty of small businesses that continue to host their own IT, the shift to the deployment of hosted solutions has not only produced less hardware to maintain, but has embraced the overall shift to mobile computing technology to produce results. There are some differences about how they produce this result, but most analysts agree that the potential problem IT presents is production downtime.
For everything it does to boost efficiency, if you rely on IT like many organizations do nowadays, you run the risk of taking on significant downtime if things go wrong. This is where the second part of the IT paradigm comes in. Every IT system is made up of hundreds of components and these components fail, so it is important to have access to people that know how to fix the problems that you have with your technology. If you don’t want to deal with significant amounts of downtime, hiring an IT professional to monitor and maintain your network is essential.
Much of IT has been shifting to a flat-rate service model, IT support has as well. Nowadays, the Break-fix/Value Added Reseller (VAR) model of IT sales and support has been widely replaced with the managed IT services provider (MSP). This platform, to which CTN Solutions is a proud advocate, provides proactive IT support (through the use of modern remote monitoring and management platforms), and several other IT-related services for an affordable flat rate. This provides a great deal of value by eliminating the need for an in-house technician, a position that can cost a substantial amount in terms of payroll, while receiving the services that the position would typically provide.
MSPs often offer additional services, like comprehensive backup and recovery, cloud computing platforms, and network and physical security solutions; many of which are able to be obtained for a very slight increase in cost. Despite the obvious benefits MSPs provide, nearly 55% of all American IT workers still work for non-IT companies, suggesting that most organizations are still employing a dedicated IT worker. Since most organizations rely heavily on their IT, it’s not as much as a surprise as you may think; but, there is value there if an organization decides to partner with a managed service provider.
There’s no denying that IT is a central cog in many of today’s modern businesses. Whether you are referring to hardware or support, service plans are altering the traditional ways companies and other organizations are deploying their IT solutions.