Article by Datto business development vice president Rob Rae
For small-to-medium businesses (SMBs), keeping up with rapid technology advancements can be tough.
Digital transformation moves quickly, and trying to stay on top of expanding networks and cloud services can be exhausting – not to mention the rise in new technologies such as the Internet of Things and, of course, ongoing cybersecurity threats.
Managed Service Providers (MSPs) are maturing, becoming more sophisticated and increasingly able to deliver enterprise-grade solutions that are simple to use for SMBs.
They’re evolving into virtual CIOs, serving their SMB clients in much the same way as a conventional, in-house CIO.
Hiring a virtual CIO could be the answer to your technology woes.
A virtual CIO will save you money.
Information is a valuable asset, but many SMBs lack the resources to hire a full-time employee devoted to it.
Virtual CIOs offer constant assistance and support – much like a physical CIO – but at the fraction of the cost of a full-time salary.
A virtual CIO’s round-the-clock service also means that if anything does go wrong, it will be sorted in no time.
Less downtime means more fully operational time, and therefore more time your business is bringing in money.
Put technology to work for your business
In this digital world, organisations have all the technological resources they could possibly need at their fingertips – but how many take full advantage of this?
A 2017 Deloitte report found that in 70% of SMBs, business owners make the digital technology decisions.
This is on top of having to juggle administration, finance and everything else encompassing their business.
It’s no wonder many SMBs stick with the same technology and processes they’ve always used.
When you’re a small or medium-sized business, time and money are your two most important resources – and maintaining and improving technology requires a lot of both.
A virtual CIO can deploy and maintain cloud-hosted applications (also known as Software-as-a-Service or SaaS), where the only infrastructure you need is an internet connection.
This approach will make your business more mobile, while also freeing up the time of owners and staff to focus on other parts of the business.
A virtual CIO will help SMBs make the most of cloud-based resources, including tools to simplify and enhance communications, data and document management systems, finance applications and security controls.
Virtual CIOs will be able to deploy applications you previously placed in the ‘too hard’ basket, as well as open your eyes to the many others that exist to make your life easier.
Last year, the Australian small business and family enterprise ombudsman Kate Carnell told a security conference that half of small-to-medium enterprises believed their small online footprint protected them against cybercrime.
Carnell told the conference the opposite was true, and she’s right.
This persistent laissez-faire attitude among SMBs makes them a real – and easy – target for cybercriminals.
You may not own a huge corporation, but you still hold data that hackers deem valuable – because they know its valuable to you and your business.
In the case of ransomware, SMBs will often pay the price demanded as they don’t have the resources or know-how to combat the attack.
The Datto 2017 Ransomware Report surveyed 1,700 MSPs who work with 100,000 SMBs globally and confirmed the ransomware threat against SMBs is very real.
In the Asia Pacific region, 92% of MSPs reported ransomware attacks on SMBs between 2015 and 2017.
A breach can be catastrophic for SMBs.
The Ponemon Institute 2017 State of Cybersecurity in Small & Medium-Sized Businesses report found that the average cost due to damage or theft of IT assets and infrastructure increased from $879,582 in 2016 to $1,027,053 in 2017.
The disruption to normal operations cost an average of $1,207,965 up from $955,429 in 2016.
A fresh perspective and the knowledge to match
Your virtual CIO has in-depth IT industry expertise and can provide your business with advice about what technologies are helpful and how to use them.
It is their job to be on the cutting edge of technology, to draw on their experience servicing multiple and varying businesses, and to use this knowledge to give the best advice and service to their customers.
Technology is complex and constantly changing.
An in-house IT worker can offer guidance, but they are often siloed and their knowledge can be limited by working for a single business for an extended period of time.
A virtual CIO can become an active member of your organisation and an ongoing consultant, contributing to your success by recommending the latest advancements in networking, BC/DR and SaaS protection technologies to support, in real-time, business needs and goals.
This, in turn, gives you peace of mind, saves you time and money, and gives you an advantage over your competition.