Addressing the Misconceptions of Managed IT Outsourcing

Discover how UK SMBs can benefit from outsourcing their IT functions in a cost-effective and flexible manner.

5  minutes 5  minutes
Table of Contents
The results of a recent smb digital transformation study conducted on behalf of Konica Minolta by Keypoint Intelligence suggested the primary reason UK SMBs (Small and Medium Sized Businesses) choose to avoid outsourcing their IT function is a perception that it is too expensive. I am somewhat surprised by this as many SMBs choose to outsource other key business functions (such as accountancy for example) to expert suppliers exactly because it is a very cost-effective approach.

SMBs (which account for a vital 99.9% of the UK business population) operate at a level where IT is absolutely essential to operations, yet very few can enjoy the luxury of the ‘money is no object’ level of technology investment. Clearly finding the best value approach requires a careful examination of the realities of IT provision and the current it services outsourcing trends.  

Going it alone

One option is to employ your own IT expert or team, but let’s put that in context. The average salary for an IT professional in the UK is £47,500, considerably above the overall average (£38,600 for full-time employees  in 2020) and a good reflection of the value of trained experts. On top of this, there is a well-publicised UK tech skills gap which means that even with the right budget it is a challenge to employ a suitable IT professional.

Within the SMB sector those businesses that have recruited IT professionals tend to be a Managed IT provider themselves (and therefore provide this service to other businesses too), or they are outside of the IT industry and won’t necessarily have the expertise to recruit the right talent.

In contrast, a Managed IT provider will deliver all the IT expertise you need for a monthly or annual fee (often per user) which means you can scale your budget to suit this. There are no further employment complications or costs (such as training, sick-pay, annual leave etc), the service is delivered for a predictable cost to an agreed level.

Threats to IT

Virtually all businesses have an online presence these days and it is a huge opportunity for sales, promotion, and recruitment. However, the online world is a two-way door – with opportunity also comes vulnerability. Cyberattacks are sadly a reality of the modern connected world and can range from low-key phishing emails (or even text messages) right up to international cyber warfare, as we are witnessing as part of the conflict in Ukraine.

US President Joe Biden recently warned about the potential for cyberattacks on third-party states as part of the broader conflict and we have already seen these tactics used against not only state-run and financial IT networks, but also businesses and even civilians themselves. Like a physical war, sometimes even ‘non-combatants’ can be caught in the virtual fallout zone. Similarly, when the likes of malware are let loose online they can spread and infect critical systems much like a virus - a concept we have all become far too familiar with over the last few years.

Threats to your business

If your business is online, then it too is potentially at risk from cyber criminals and even cyber warfare. Ransomware (whereby a malicious party threatens to publish the victim's personal data or perpetually block access to it unless a ransom is paid) is an ongoing concern for any organisation and indeed for individuals too.

Sadly, threats can come from within as well. If your network is not properly protected and monitored, members of the team may unsuspectedly introduce problems by using non-secure websites or downloading software/apps onto business devices, connecting a USB device that contains hidden malware, or via unsecured BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) hardware.

Also, if you do have an in-house IT professional what happens if they leave suddenly, especially if this is under unfriendly or disciplinary circumstances? How would you check for any issues or correct problems that remain, either through deliberate actions or a lack of monitoring? Unless you are an IT professional yourself, this is a difficult situation to diagnose, let alone to repair.

The benefits of expertise without the overheads

IT systems are an absolute business essential in much the same way as the premises that house your operations or the accountancy team that ensure you have the finances to operate. These are good examples of other critical services that many SMBs outsource to expert providers because its more cost effective, flexible, and simple to do so than to deliver it in-house. You don’t need to understand the minutiae of each of these specialisms, you just need to have an expert that does and will have a frank and supportive relationship you can trust to support your core business activities.

IT is also a ‘beating heart’ of your business – an essential that needs to be constantly monitored and maintained. You may be able to scale or even stop/start other elements of your operations (such as recruitment for example), but as the pandemic has demonstrated, your IT systems are one of the business foundations that hold everything together and must always be reliably available.

A good Managed IT provider should be like your favourite pair of shoes, a comfortable fit with your business and supportive in all the right places. It will not only have technical professionals but also those that fully understand the commercial and strategic challenges of your business, ensuring that the technology directly supports your needs rather than being deployed simply because it is available.

Going back to the study conducted by Keypoint Intelligence, the second reason given for UK SMBs not outsourcing their IT function was that the ‘Benefits are not clear’. Clearly there is still some way to go to educate small businesses on the importance of their IT provisions and equally the need to ensure you have the right support to maintain it flexibly and affordably.

About the author

Stephen Feeley

Steve Feeley is the ITS Category Manager at Konica Minolta Business UK. He is responsible for the management of the IT solutions and services as well as the Go-To-Market delivery. His favourite part of his role is to work with a motivated team who focuses on KM's IT development to create products and services that support our existing and new customers with their strategic IT objectives.

IT on your terms

In a fast-changing, digital-first world, the expectations on IT departments are growing at a phenomenal rate. Demands to reduce costs, drive innovation, compete more effectively and maintain a resilient and secure infrastructure is putting increasing pressure on these teams.

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