If something isn’t broken, why fix it? Right?
Twenty years ago, this perspective was a common approach when it came to business IT. This reactive break-fix strategy—waiting until something goes wrong to fix the issue—was a small business’s go-to plan for IT in decades past. And, more or less, it worked.
But taking this approach is less advantageous and increasingly dangerous to your business. As we approach 2021, you can put your company at an advantage by seeking to be more efficient, competitive and reduce your business’s risk. Here are three reasons why the approach of old isn’t applicable today.
1. Today’s businesses face a greater number of technology-related threats
Any business that uses the internet is at risk for a cyber attack, and in many cases, once the damage is done (to your system or your reputation), it’s hard to undo, making a break-fix approach simply unreasonable.
While you may not believe that your organization has anything that would be of interest to a hacker, the truth is that small and medium-sized businesses are in the crosshairs of cybercrime.
Unfortunately, it’s becoming more common. The 2019 Ponemon Institute’s annual cybersecurity report for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) reports that 76 percent of SMBs in the U.S. fell victim to a cyberattack, up significantly from 55 percent in the 2018 report.
This increase can be traced to two primary factors. First, small businesses have fewer available resources to manage proactive cybersecurity and preventative maintenance activities, with 88 percent of companies spending less than 20 percent of their IT budget on cybersecurity.
Second, hackers have greater access to automated hacking tools, allowing them to cast a wider net and more efficiently take advantage of known vulnerabilities.
2. Break-fix services that were common previously are now more expensive than ever before
Break-fix is a pay-on-demand service, but it’s a roll of the dice. This month may cost nothing, or it could result in thousands of dollars in unanticipated IT services.
While many businesses may believe they are saving money and efforts by adopting a break-fix approach, it can actually be quite expensive to wait until an IT problem arises to fix it.
Because cyber risk has increased, as has small businesses’ dependence on technology, there is a higher demand for break-fix services from IT providers. As any business owner knows, higher demand and greater need lead to increased costs.
A network issue or data breach can take days to identify. And then, once it’s remediated, there will likely be additional updates required to minimize the likelihood of the same problem happening again. Plus, break-fix services are typically charged at an hourly rate, which will likely lead to hours of billable time for your IT services provider and thousands of dollars spent to fix an unanticipated issue that could have been reduced or avoided had proper maintenance and prevention been established all along.
Not only is fixing the problem an unplanned cost, but it’s one with little to no predictability even during the incident.
3. Outdated systems invite risk now that companies rely on the internet
Hacks and issues can frequently be traced back to systems and software being outdated or unpatched. New vulnerabilities are found weekly, and software providers release updates often. Without these updates, your systems may be exposed or may cease to work properly.
Vulnerabilities in old versions make it easy for hackers to find and exploit your organization. Of course, patching and applying updates takes time, and if you only engage an IT service provider for break-fix issues, your systems could be woefully out of date.
At the same time, older, unpatched software may have bugs that can wreak havoc on your operations or compromise your data. For example, losing your invoice data because of a system failure can be a costly problem, and without regular backups, one which a small business may not be able to recover from.
Updating Your Approach to IT
Today, small businesses are far more reliant on technology for their day-to-day operations, and the number of threats and potential problems has increased exponentially, which means that the break-fix approach is no longer a viable solution for small businesses for a number of reasons.
If your business continues to apply the break-fix mentality, it’s important to reevaluate and adapt in the new year. Today’s business environment demands a more proactive approach to IT and there are cost-effective solutions that can help.
The managed IT service model offers businesses access to technology professionals who can provide support around the clock.
What are managed services?
A managed service provider (MSP) and managed security services provider (MSSP) fills in whatever gaps you might have in your IT—from end-to-end core services, monitoring and support, to bringing in additional resources or specialists to augment your internal IT team.
How do managed services update your approach to IT?
Small businesses that engage an MSP/MSSP are able to pivot from a reactive break-fix model to a proactive approach to protecting their systems and keeping them current. Without adding significant overhead or budget, utilizing a managed service provider gives businesses access to IT professionals that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford, and certainly don’t need full time.
An MSP/MSSP will plan and schedule regular maintenance and updates to a small business’s systems, much of which can be done remotely. This regular attendance to patches and updates vastly reduces a small business’s risk profile. Many providers also offer 24/7 monitoring of a business’s networks, so that problems can be caught quickly.
When you use an MSP/MSSP, over time, your provider learns more about your technology tools and needs, so they can tailor their services to your business. For some, this can result in better compliance along with tighter cybersecurity.
A managed service contract gives your business predictable, monthly IT costs that can be budgeted along with other operational line items.
How should you choose or evaluate your MSP/MSSP?
If you work with an IT service provider already for your break-fix issues, now is the time to ask them four important questions.
- Can you monitor our network and devices for threats 24/7?
- Can you access my network remotely to provide immediate IT support for me and my team?
- Can you make sure all of our data is backed up and that it’s secure?
- Can you keep our network protected with up-to-date malware solutions, firewalls, next-gen antivirus/anti-malware, web filtering and other key security elements?
The answers to all of these questions should be “yes”. If they cannot offer these services to you, it’s time to re-evaluate your relationship. Not all MSP/MSSP companies are equal in quality services, so make sure you are comparing appropriately.
Connect with an MSP/MSSP and an advisor who can help
If, on the other hand, you receive a “no” to any of these questions, it’s time to begin exploring options with a new provider—one that steps you into a modern model of IT with managed services that uses proven tools and techniques to proactively keep you safe.