Tired of Computer Network Problems Bringing Your Business to Its Knees?
According to an NBC News survey Americans worry about money and work more than they think about sex, this includes corporate CEOs across the nation. While the majority of what we worry about never actually materializes, fretting can take its toll on our health, relationships, and general outlook on life. Typically, the more out of our control something feels for us, the greater our anxiety. Ask any executive what keeps them awake at night, the list would read something like this: how can I meet revenue goals, make enough to pay my employees, and keep my business running to achieve goals one and two? Business downtime provokes anxiety for even the most collected CEO and with good reason. According to an IHS survey, companies report an average of five outages per month with the cost ranging from $1 million per year for midsize companies and up to $60 million or more for large corporations.
Most of the downtime cost is attributed to lost revenue and employee productivity. The biggest trouble-makers for business computer networks? Equipment failures and network interruptions. The octopus-like tentacles of a network outage have serious consequences. Your servers, applications, and devices may be working perfectly, but they can’t communicate with each other when the network is down. The result is a whole lot of employees sitting around staring at each other until they can get back to work. Ouch. Aside from lost time and output, you’ll also have the pleasure of dealing with frustrated staff.
What can a CEO do to make these problems go away? Either hire an in-house IT team or engage a Managed Service Provider (MSP) to take care of problems before they start. The current salary of a network engineer averages between $78-$109K annually. Depending on the size and needs of your organization, you may need quite a few staffers at this skill level. In addition, this team must be willing to provide user support and daily grunt tasks that many engineers feel is beneath their pay grade.
The Five Most Common Computer Network Issues for Businesses
Before our imaginations run away with all the possible IT disasters let’s look at the most common computer network problems for any size business:
1. Using Outdated Hardware or Software
Equipment and software that isn’t updated or patched on a regular basis leave your network wide open for infiltration for social engineering attacks. Maintaining current anti-virus licenses, spam blockers, and spyware blocking software on all network machines adds another layer of protection. This step is often left to the user who may or may not heed the repeat desktop alerts to shut down and install critical updates. Oversight of this function by technical professionals is highly recommended.
On top of the potential attacks, outdated software simply does not function as well. Vendors often stop upgrading old software leaving users stuck to deal with bugs themselves.
2. No Data Backups
No network back-ups or those done only on an infrequent basis mean you stand to lose critical data. Back-ups sound simple, but they require an elevated level of skill to perform effectively. Saving information to a drive that can’t be quickly restored in a live environment means downtime and the potential pain of re-creating work already completed. On top of that, what if the server you keep your files on crashes? Does it have a backup?
3. Bad Network Connectivity
The never-ending demand for bandwidth in our business computer networks puts an enormous strain on IT resources. Almost everything used in business today is connected in some way via the Internet including third-party apps, conference and video calls, cloud-based tools, and remote users just to name a few. No internet means work grinds to a halt until the issue is resolved. With 24/7 demands on network connectivity, it’s important to maintain quality equipment that supports good connectivity and speed that’s fast enough to accommodate the company needs.
4. Security Leaks
Cybercrime is now part of mainstream corporate America, no longer the hacker sitting in their basement, this criminal element is very sophisticated and always looking for ways to weasel into your business for personal gain. Security concerns include business computer networks vulnerable to malware, viruses, phishing and ransomware attacks due to poor network maintenance and unprepared employees who fall prey to dastardly schemes.
5. Lack of IT User Support
IT support is vital when it comes to maintaining the hardware and software for a company. Tech support makes everything run smoothly and when something breaks they fix it on the spot. Mitigating expensive downtime whether it be one user or an outage affecting the entire company needs to be done quickly and with the least amount of confusion possible.
How Much Can Networking Trouble Cost Your Business?
The annual estimate across all North American companies is $700 billion lost due to business computer network disruptions. Yes, you read that number right. The carnage broken down into further detail paints this nasty picture: 78% to lost employee productivity, 17% to lost revenue, and 5% actual cost to fix downtime issues. Of course, actual estimates vary by industry, but the cost of downtime is serious not just for business results, but employee morale and satisfaction. Visit CIO.com’s Calculate the Cost of Downtime for a deeper dive into how much your business could be losing to system interruptions.
Ransomware pirates, originally targeting consumers have now shifted their focus to the business community. Why? Because that’s where the real money is. The average bounty for a consumer attack averages $500 while businesses have much deeper pockets as evidenced by the whopping $30,000 ransom paid by Los Angeles Valley College. Attacks on business computer networks have increased three-fold in the last year with corporate ransomware invasions occurring every 40 seconds. The distressing part is even when an organization pays the ransom less than 1 in 5 businesses actually get their data back. For small companies the news is grim indeed, 60% of those who suffer a cyber-attack are out of business in six months.
What is a Managed Services Provider (MSP) and How Do They Work?
A Managed Service Provider (MSP) is a technology firm offering various outsourced IT services typically to multiple customers. Depending on the need, an MSP can deliver just the basics, top-of-the-line business network support and consultation, or any hybrid service model in-between.
Most common services available include business computer network maintenance and support, back-up and disaster recovery solutions, 24/7 help desk, cybersecurity defense solutions, and in some cases Compliance as a Service (CaaS) to protect organizations bound by HIPAA, PCI, or other complicated compliance protocols. Project-based support is also available for complex integrations that may not need extended resources or support once executed.
Pricing models vary, but generally fixed monthly cost options are popular with a la carte choices also available for project work or to supplement in-house technology staff for specific needs. Engaging an MSP to supplement in-house staff is a big trend, especially in HIPAA-compliant businesses where immediate expertise is necessary to avoid hefty fines.
Benefits of Outsourcing to a Managed Services Provider
Working with an experienced, professional Managed Services Provider can feel like you bought into a world-class pro sports team without the serious outlay of cash to get there. MSPs have the luxury of working with many businesses so they learn what works and what doesn’t pretty quick. This means they aren’t learning on your dime, they can quickly diagnose and resolve the issue because they’ve seen it before. To stay efficient Managed Service Providers typically adhere to proven business computer network best practices, they don’t need much direction or assistance to implement solutions leaving company executives free to run the business instead of worrying about IT problems.
Since the MSP staff doesn’t work for you, it means no staff hiring, training, or HR concerns to fret about. Managed Service Providers already have seasoned staff accustomed to providing user and network support either remotely or in-person. Since time is money, MSPs typically own incredibly sophisticated network management tools most companies could never make a case for purchasing.
The fixed cost nature of an MSP agreement makes it easy to predict expenses and trim when needed without the added stress of employee layoffs. Since contractors don’t show up as a labor expense on your balance sheet, MSPs can help build a lean bottom line your investors and board members will enjoy.
If you’re tired of worrying about what could happen to your business computer network now may be the time to give a Managed Services Provider a test drive. Even if you have an in-house team consider engaging an MSP that offers Total Network Security, Backup and Recovery Solutions, and Compliance as a Service delivering experienced resources to protect your company and bring you peace of mind.