Every year, a breakthrough role is introduced which is supposed to make all the difference for your business. And this year, that role seems to be the rise of the “Fractional CIO”. But what is a Fractional CIO, and how does this role differ from an in-house or Virtual CIO? Is there any difference at all?  And what are the benefits of having a CIO for a growing small business?   

In this blog, we’ll highlight the history of CIOs, the advent of the VCIO/Fractional CIO, the difference between VCIOs and Fractional CIOs, and how you can get a VCIO for your Barrie business at a fraction of the investment of hiring a CIO in-house.  

The Value of CIOs to An Organization 

Before we delve into what a fractional or virtual CIO is, it’s probably useful to dig into what a CIO is. You probably already know a little bit about CIOs but if you don’t, CIO stands for Chief Information Officer.  

The CIO’s job – really, the job of any IT leader in a growing organization – is multi-fold.  

A good CIO: 

The CIO is, or should be, the one person in the company whose job it is to own the technology and the network. This executive is usually full-time, is highly experienced, and serves on the board or reports to the board.  

And if you’re thinking, “Wait, we don’t have anyone at our company doing anything beyond keeping the IT lights on,” then rest assured that the very reason fractional CIOs exist is to serve the needs of small companies like yours.  

Enter the CIO Alternative  

To meet the need for an experienced Chief Information Officer without the full-time salary requirement, many organizations are turning to “Virtual” or “Fractional” CIOs, sometimes abbreviated as simply vCIO or VCIO.  

The Virtual/Fractional CIO’s job is to fill the technology leadership gap in a growing organization, whether that gap is due to never having a CIO or because that organization finds themselves with an empty seat at the table. As an objective third party, a vCIO can provide a crucial outside eye that can help an organization identify weak spots in technology, planning, or execution.  

When you hire a Virtual CIO, you’re getting “fractional” services which are, literally, a fraction of the cost of hiring for a full-time CIO.  

For a fraction of the investment, you’re getting the important bits, like: 

These tasks are too important to leave to a junior IT guy right out of high school, which is why the VCIO role is something we include in every IT MSP partnership. (Click to learn more about ACT360’s VCIO + IT MSP Partnership Program for Ontario Businesses.)  

Get Your Company's VCIO From Act 360

At ACT360, we include a Virtual CIO with every IT Managed Services Provider partnership, because we know that technology without strategy simply isn’t good enough. Your VCIO is a member of our executive leadership team and has been working in and running IT for over a decade.  

Our VCIO service is wrapped into the same base investment, giving you fractional CIO services that are deeply integrated into the IT management, IT support, license management, and hardware procurement you’re already getting as a result of working with ACT360.  

In addition to IT Helpdesk Support, Backup/Recovery, & Microsoft O365 License Management, you’ll also get: 

Learn more about our DEEP IT MSP Partnership Program 

As a business owner, while navigating through the world of Information Technology(I.T), the concept of an IT Strategy may seem strange to you. More often than not, business owners leave their IT solutions at a “break-fix” IT approach. 

When something is broken you go to fix it, or since you are missing a piece of equipment or device to do a particular task, you go out and purchase it. Without considering some very key factors, like the maintenance cost of the equipment? Is it newly manufactured or is the product end of life? What kind of license would best suit my business needs? 

All these answers and more are answered in an IT Strategic Plan. In this article, we will look at why this plan is an essential piece of your business planning, then we will explain each aspect of this plan so you can perform one within your company or be able to ask a service provider proper questions when they are presenting one to your business. 

Why do you need an IT Strategy?

According to SearchCIO, an IT strategy is a “document that details the comprehensive technology-enabled business management processes an organization uses to guide operations.” In short, it serves as a guide to IT-related decision-making.  An IT strategy is sometimes referred to as a technology strategy or an IT Strategic plan. It gives an idea of where IT should be over the next 3 to 5 years.

Typically, your IT strategic plan should cover the budget, your IT Projects, existing infrastructure, IT S.W.O.T Analysis, and human resource management. This list will be further explained shortly. 

Organizations in this decade realize that digital transformation is happening all around them and to be competitive in their respective market they must utilize IT to the fullest. Digital transformation is the incorporation of computer-based technologies into an organization's products, processes, and strategies.

Digitization has been affecting society for the past 2 decades and it is only getting more and more important, hence to be better able to reach more customers and see growth in your business you need to plan out the IT-related aspect of your business to make sure it is in line with your companies plans to grow. 

What are the elements of an IT strategy?

Now that we have discussed why you need an It strategy let’s now look at the various elements of an IT strategy. Some elements may differ from one organization to another, but the following is the basic outline that your IT Strategy should have.

  1. High-Level Overview - The first aspect of your IT strategic plan that you must document is that of a High-Level Overview.  The high-level overview pertains to your IT department, it will cover points like your mission, vision, core values, objectives, and approaches used to achieve its goal.

    The overview will be your foundation for building on the other aspects of this plan. You must always ask yourself. Is implementing this piece of technology making me reach my mission, is it in line with the approaches I have established previously, or will it better those approaches?
  1. Budget - In your IT strategy you must look at your current budget. Identifying the number of financial resources you will be putting into your IT needs. As a business owner, you may decide that your current budget is a starting point and you plan to increase it every 6 months. Or that this equipment will cost a certain amount to upkeep so there is a need for a spending forecast for a few years.

    Ultimately apart from your high-level overview, which will guide your decision-making, your budget is the next important aspect. Since based on your budget you will be able to formulate your plans for the next elements. 
  1. IT Projects - Now that you have your overview and budget you must document the IT projects that you have lined up. It could be a full-blown project that you have in the making or some initiative like going onto a new social media platform for instance. Whatever it may be you must document it with timelines and milestones. 

    When documenting your IT projects make sure they are S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely). Each project should be in line with your overview. Giving you a practical step to achieving them.
  1. Existing Infrastructure - Your existing IT infrastructure must be documented. Good documentation would consist of your equipment, the licenses, the warranty on that equipment., the number of equipment the various subscriptions and the like. The purpose of this is to catalog the infrastructure capacity and capabilities. 

    With this information, you can better decide to what extent you can implement your IT projects and what upgrades are necessary. 
  1. SWOT Analysis - The SWOT analysis looks at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats that may affect your IT strategy, while also looking at the internal and external factors that affect your ITs ability to meet its goals. The strengths may be things that your company does exceedingly well or things you don’t see yourself having any problems with. The weaknesses are factors that your company may not be doing so well at and may need some help or assistance to accomplish. 

    Such analysis will help you identify gaps in your IT systems. So that you can now take measures to fill those gaps and help allow you to meet your objectives. 
  1. Human Resource Management - The Human resource aspect of your strategic plan is also very important. This element looks at the skills sets of your staff, this can be done by itemizing the necessary skills needed to get you to your objective and then listing which staff meets those skills sets.

    With that information, you can decide if your IT projects would also require the training of staff members or outsourcing experts to perform those changes. 

The above elements are essential for your IT strategic plan. It is important that the plan is clear and easy to understand so that key stakeholders can take part in making that plan possible. 

CONCLUSION

Your IT strategy is an essential part of your business success by understanding what an IT strategy is and knowing the elements required to create one then you are well on your way to digital transformation and certain growth of your organization.

Tech News, Tech Industries, and Technology, all buzz words in our era and as they should be. I’m sure you are reading this article on one of the many technologies that are available today. These self-same technologies are being ingrained in our day-to-day life as society embraces the technological revolution until every aspect of our life, one way or the other revolves around a form of technology.

As a manager, entrepreneur, or employee, technology plays a major part in your business operation. It will be for our betterment if we recognize and appreciate the benefits that this technology brings to the table. But it is also of paramount importance that we do not neglect the possible drawbacks or disadvantages that it may pose to our business operations. 

In this article, we will explore 3 benefits and 3 disadvantages that technology can bring to your business, and by the end of this article, you will have a better appreciation for all aspects of technology. 

What Benefits can Technology bring to your business?

  1. Better Communication

It was Nat Turner that said, “Good communication is the bridge between confusion and clarity”. In any business endeavor, proper communication is very important. Technologies like emails, instant messaging, voice calls, and video calls make communication with coworkers, teammates, and clients better. 

Many companies are taking advantage of this opportunity and allowing their employees to work remotely, since communicating with them in real-time is so reliable via the latest technologies. The communication benefit is not only for the employers but for the employees as well. Being able to work in another location or out of the office and still being able to know exactly what is happening in your company is quickly becoming a basic necessity of employees. 

If you are a field worker, utilizing these technologies is a definite must. Instead of waiting to go back to the office to get new assignments. Using an instant message or voice call you can get your assignments while on the field and continue performing your task. 

  1. Maximize Efficiency 

Many companies desire to work more efficiently, as the saying goes, “Work smarter not harder”.Using technology is one of the ways to increase efficiency in your business. When you, as a business owner, invest in software and hardware to help speed up a process in your business,  then you will benefit from the additional time and the high-value output from that invested technology. 

Instead of logging in data manually, for instance, with pen and paper which can take you hours, use software instead. This in turn would minimize the number of errors that may occur from someone entering that information manually. Not only would it minimize errors but it would also save time on performing that task. And as an employer, you would save financially since your employees would not need to log in overtime for performing these manual tasks. 

Your ability to bill/invoice a client can also be drastically improved by utilizing technology. Instead of having to create invoices by hand and sending them out to your clients, having to remember to send them periodical reminders and follow up on any outstanding payments some software, like QuickBooks, do this for you in the most effective ways. 

  1. Enhanced Marketing 

Technology is in every area of society and touches every group within society. The goal of any marketing endeavor is to reach the most people as possible. With technology, the ability to reach people is limitless. Technology is fast and can reach many people, across diverse geographical locations at any one time. No need to go out of the comfort of your office to advertise and the cost of such advertising is many times cheaper than the traditional paper printing method. 

With technologies like social media, email marketing, websites, blogs, and the like your ability to reach the most persons is realized. The more persons you can reach the better your chances of landing that new customer and the better your ability to create brand exposure to secure your future clients. By creating a marketing plan you are positioning yourself to be future-proof in this technology-driven world.  

What Disadvantages can Technology bring to your business?

  1. The Initial Cost

Now that we have described the benefits of technology, we must identify some disadvantages that technology brings to the business environment. One of those disadvantages is that of the initial cost or capital investment that upgrading to new technology bears. 

There is no doubt the technology saves cost, in the sense of saving you time and increasing productivity hence bringing in an instant monetary value to your company. However, the cost of upgrading computer systems and purchasing effective software can certainly be expensive. 

Not only the initial cost, but the cost of maintaining the equipment can also dampen your bottom line. It may be the case that you have to hire an expert or train a staff to maintain said technology. Even if you don’t have an in-house staff to maintain the technology but an external company, or outsourced company it is still a cost that has to be met.

One of the ways you can mitigate that drawback is by getting professional consultation in regards to your technology upgrades and partnering with skilled professionals that can provide these services at more than reasonable prices. ACT360 is here to help make your technology advancement as affordable as possible.

  1. May hinder staff camaraderie 

As stated above, technology does enhance the communication between employees, however, the reality of remote working may be different. When an employee has to meet with a coworker face-to-face and speak to them on an almost daily basis that does enhance mutual trust and allows the employees to grow closer hence enhancing the work environment in the office. 

However, when employees are away from that face-to-face interaction, though they may be more productive, you can find employees not being as friendly or supportive of each other since their main focus is the work at hand. Communication may be easier and faster with technology but can’t replace meaningful and heartfelt face-to-face interactions.

As a business owner, the mandate of creating an environment even in a remote atmosphere that fosters healthy employee relations is paramount. Have group calls and encourage all persons to show their face or present something new they have been doing, apart from work. Activities like this can mitigate this disadvantage. 

  1. The employees need to get familiar 

This drawback needs to be taken into serious consideration before introducing any new technology. You should never assume that your employees are able to use some new technology without adequate training. 

The cost is definitely going to be a factor, but even if you don’t actually spend to train your staff there will be a significant time taken to learn that technology. After the initial training, there will be a learning curve where the employees have to get used to utilizing the new technology. This process may take a few days to a few weeks, of which time the productivity of your staff will decrease slightly. 

To mitigate this disadvantage one should have proper planning in place of who will be trained and when exactly is this technology going to be implemented. For instance, if you are implementing a new cash register system then it won’t be efficient to launch it in a busy time of year where you will be receiving many sales. 

CONCLUSION

Technology is only getting more ingrained in our culture and if you are not on this train then it’s time you jump on. It’s apparent how many benefits technology brings to your business and it’s clear that though there are drawbacks, with well-placed decisions you can mitigate those drawbacks and take full advantage of what technology can bring.

An optimized IT infrastructure brings about huge benefits to a business, but a poor IT infrastructure can lead to huge financial loss or worse. Many people think that the only costs to take into consideration for an IT infrastructure are the tangible costs of the infrastructure itself, like the servers, storage, support,  power, maintenance, and the like. One of the costs that are hardly considered is that of opportunity cost. The fact that there is proper IT infrastructure then there is a reduction of cost in other places however when there is poor IT infrastructure there is an increase of cost in another place within the business. 

For this blog post, we will define Poor IT as the lack of proper IT security, the lack of proper PC maintenance, a “Break, Fix” IT approach, and outdated technology. But all of these stem from simply not being aware of the various IT-related threats and how they truly affect your companies security, productivity, and profitability. 

Lack of Proper IT Security

While putting your IT budget together, it might be daunting to think of bearing that extra monthly/yearly or equipment cost for an extra boost in your security. But the fact is, organizations that cut corners in data security will be paying a lot more than that cost of keeping their data secure. 

For instance, if there is a security incident where data needs to be recovered that was stolen or deleted by a malicious attacker then your internal IT staff would need to work long hours to recover said data. That cost would include paying the staff for the overtime needed to recover the data and if they are not able to resolve those issues then you would have to hire a cybersecurity specialist which would be an even greater cost. 

Moreover, workers that work for long hours to resolve data security issues may suffer from burnout and fatigue which in turn will cause a lack of productivity and higher staff turnover. Adding the cost of training new staff. 

Lack of proper PC maintenance

As a small business owner, it is common to take up much of the task of your business on your own. One of those tasks is that of upkeeping your organization’s computers. At first glance, this task may appear to be very “doable”, a few updates here and there, you download a PC Cleaner and run it once in a while but basically the work of maintaining your PCs is all on you.

Now, this may seem more cost-effective for you since you don’t have to pay for additional staff, and there are a number of free tools out there that one can use to keep your PC clean. But the lack of professional servicing on any equipment, though more costly, would cause long-term losses that would oftentimes exceed that of the initial cost. 

It is common for a PC to get slower over time despite the free cleaning tools. A slow PC will cause frustration for you and your employees as they try to do there day to day tasks. Not only would it affect your employees but your customers as well. Your customers would expect quick service from you, the worst situation to happen would be to have them waiting for a receipt because your computer is still processing a command. So without proper PC maintenance, you will encounter issues that will affect your bottom line. 

A “Break, Fix” IT approach

A “break/fix IT” approach constitutes the monitoring of your IT operations, and when something is broken, it is then fixed, typically this is done by an outsourced company that works on a need by need basis, bringing you back to your original state before the issue.

The Break, Fix IT approach appears to be cost-effective at first. You only pay for the work done when the need arises and can hold back on certain expenses once it doesn’t appear to meet your needs. As a small business, this may seem to be attractive but there is a cost associated with this approach that you don’t see at the moment.

For instance, there are many unexpected cost that can occur with your IT Infrastructure and to bear the cost for every fault that occur would increase your bill significantly. Since one is trying to save cost then there might be issues that one does not bother to fix since it’s not mission-critical or not appear threatening. But these issues may spiral into much bigger ones that can cause your entire IT infrastructure to crash. 

The cost of repairing or building back your infrastructure will cost you a lot more and will be very time-consuming as well. Your best option, in this case, would be to utilize a fully managed IT plan for your business needs. 

Outdated technology

Many organizations use legacy systems, with hardware that was purchased since the early 2000s. The reality is the cost of upgrading your systems is a big one. It’s one that will take a huge chunk of your capital along with training your staff and the time it would take to implement and transition from the old system to the new one. The very thought of those above items may be daunting for you.

What’s even more daunting, however, is the risk of not having up-to-date technology. A study by Microsoft stated that more than 90% of consumers would rather take their business elsewhere than work with a company that uses outdated technology. Moreover, outdated technology reduces staff morale, a report done by PWC states that 73% of staff surveyed know of systems that would help them produce higher quality work at their workplace. Business owners not embracing these new technologies or considering their staff’s advice on those new technologies would further reduce productivity. 

Another hidden cost of outdated technology is that of cost of support. It may seem affordable to keep the system you have had for years but when that system starts malfunctioning the cost of bringing in individuals with the know-how of those systems can be really costly. 

CONCLUSION

The cost of IT is not just the capital expenditure for equipment and upkeep but the opportunity cost realized from making proper IT-based decisions for the furtherance of your company. Because Poor It can be detrimental to your staff productivity and profitability.

File management is the act of naming, storing, sorting and handling documents in a systematic way. With cloud file management this storing and sorting is done online instead of on your local computer, freeing up your local hard disk space and giving you the ability to access this data from wherever there is an internet connection. From documents, images, spreadsheets, audio files and more can all be stored in the cloud, also providing access from any device. 

So one might ask, “If my data is stored in the cloud, is it safe?” That's a natural question that arises when bringing up the cloud. And the answer is yes, it is very safe. The reason for that safety is that all data uploaded on the cloud servers are encrypted the moment it is uploaded to the application. Employees of said company have logical access to the data, which means they can move it from one server to another and upgrade your services when called to but not having access or able to see what you have stored. 

There are a number of file storage management applications out there all with different requirements, features, file storing capacity and accessibility. Below are 5 free cloud file management applications. 

  1. Microsoft OneDrive 
  2. iCloud
  3. Media Fire
  4. IceDrive
  5. Google Drive 

This list is in no particular order but they all have features and benefits that can be used for your needs. 

Why should you move to cloud file management? 

There are 5 main reasons why you should move to cloud file management for your daily operations. The five reasons are Cost-saving, Real-time information sharing, Easier to scale and improved customer service, Better security and improved productivity. If you want to learn more about why business are moving to cloud file management, check our article on the topic.

Now let’s look at the five(5) free cloud file management applications.

  1. Microsoft OneDrive

Microsoft OneDrive is a file hosting service and synchronization service brought to you by Microsoft.  It is available for free once the person has a Microsoft account and offers support for Windows PC, Mac, and mobile phones. 

OneDrive’s online cloud storage includes 5 GB for free and comes with capabilities like being able to access anywhere, easy file sharing, seamless collaboration and backup and protection. They also offer a personal Vault where more sensitive information is protected with an extra layer of security. 

Other features include:

  1. iCloud

iCloud securely stores your photos, videos, documents, music, apps, and more—and keeps them updated across all your devices. iCloud offers 5GB of free storage. On Apple devices, the iCloud service is built into the device and can be used at any time. 

iCloud features include:

  1. Media Fire

MediaFire is a file hosting, cloud storage, and synchronization service. It provides an easy-to-use solution for managing digital information online as well as on the go.MediaFire provides 10GB free file storage and up to 4GB per file. It is compatible with Windows, apple and android devices. Also offering an Ad-free experience to employees. 

MediaFire features include:

  1. IceDrive

IDrive is considered the next generation of cloud storage and offers a 10GB free storage. IceDrive provides a native operating system environment as if it was another harddrive on your machine. This gives you all of the features and feel of your native operating system - Edit, upload, delete, open - can all be achieved with ease.

They also offer  intelligent cache control operations which also mean you do not need to wait for your cloud to sync, you can access your files as soon as you have installed the app.

IceDrive also offers a full featured web app to manage files. State of the art, clean and easy to use interface, advanced browser upload and document conversion.

IceDrive features include:

  1. Google Drive 

Google Drive is a free online data storage service provided by Google. The service syncs stored files, photos, and more across all the user's PCs, tablets, and mobile devices. It offers 15 GB of free space.

Google Drive also offers Cloud-native collaboration apps like Docs, sheets and slides, where a team can collaborate on a document in real-time. 

Drive also integrates with and existing technologies like Microsoft office files

Google Drive features include:

CONCLUSION

Storing files online is becoming even easier and before committing financially to any one of those applications you can try them out for free and see what they have to offer.

Outsourcing has been a tried and tested business strategy for decades. Since the 1950s, businesses have been engaging external suppliers to perform responsibilities on their behalf.  

From the early 1980s, ‘traditional outsourcing’ was introduced where an operation previously done internally was moved to an external supplier. The goal of this strategy would be to reduce costs and maximize profit. Though the main goal of any outsourcing venture would be to reduce cost, there are so many other benefits to outsourcing key business operations. IT Services are one of those operations that should be outsourced.  

In this article, we will be identifying 4 reasons why SMBs outsource IT services, but first. 

What is IT Outsourcing?  

IT outsourcing is defined as contracting vendors outside your company to perform IT task and functions. An IT vendor could be a consulting firm, managed service providers, or just individual IT professionals. Some of the functions that an IT vendor perform include, but not limited to: 

IT service providers can take full responsibility for all IT-related functionality like the maintenance of your IT infrastructure, this type of service is called fully managed services. They can also provide support to an internal IT team, simply providing IT support.  

Four benefits from outsourcing IT services. 

  1. Vendor Expertise and Sophistication 

Outsourcing providers have specialized knowledge of their IT field. Bringing years of experience to your company. These experts know business technology like no other, giving you instant access to very high-level specialists. Their expertise will range in many of the functions listed above.  

One of those functions, for instance, that would see an instant enhancement is that of cybersecurity and compliance. Every day data is being breached, at no time should your data be in a vulnerable position, especially as an SMB. Cyberwarfare is real and these criminals enjoy targeting unsuspected businesses that cannot afford to have adequate cybersecurity, moreover, it is essential to know and comply with industry-based regulations in the cybersecurity sphere.  

This is where an IT vendor would come in, once contracted he will be able to bring his top-rated expertise in that field, bringing your business in a much better position in a fraction of the time.  

  1. Improved Quality of Delivery 

Most of the time, with an SMB, their internal IT team would not solely be working on one particular task, i.e. they won’t just be focusing on networking, or cybersecurity or application development and the like. Most of the time an internal IT team would be multi-faceted, handling many functions all at once and learning/implementing new functionality as they arise.  

There is an immediate problem with this method of IT work dominant in SMBs. As the saying goes ‘Jack of all trades, but master of none”. The problem which arises is that the task in question would be performed subpar. This is due to several reasons;  

  1. The team is not an expert in that field or, 
  2. The team cannot dedicate the amount of time needed since they are juggling so many other task or,  
  3. The team is not familiar with that new technology and has to learn as they implement it.  

With an outsource IT, provider, they have the right/trained expert for the task. They have spent many hours mastering that craft and only focuses on that task/function in question. Therefore, there will be improved quality of delivery from a task performed by an outsourced IT service provider than an internal IT team. 

  1. Increased focus on core competencies 

Steve Jobs is famously quoted as stating, “Do not try to do everything. Do one thing well.” No greater advice has been given, especially in the realm of SMBs. As an SMB, one has to be laser focus on one or a set of expertise that would drive the business in the direction that it has to go.  

If IT services are not one of that expertise then why invest so many hours and valuable resources on a part of your business that is draining you from focusing on other more important parts? The reality is managing IT services will utilize a huge amount of resources and attention from any business. By outsourcing your IT services, you allow that responsibility to pass on to someone else while focusing on what is truly important.  

The stress of having internet crashes or a server going down is simply too much of a headache to be juggling while there are a lot more pertinent issues at hand. By outsourcing, you gain better peace of mind and less anxiety. Hence increasing your focus on core competencies.  

  1. Cost Reduction 

By far, one of the most compelling benefits of outsourcing IT services is that of cost reduction. According to fespa.com “Organizations claim that they achieve, on average, a 15 % cost reduction through outsourcing.” Let’s consider it for a moment.  

An internal IT team would appear inexpensive at first but taking into account salaries, hardware expenses, software licenses, cloud service subscriptions, maintenance cost, and a whole bunch of intermittent cost that may pop up for repairs of equipment and the like, then the price of having an internal IT team increases steadily.  

When you outsource IT services not only do you save on the operation cost but on the capital funds as well. Since you would not have to invest capital into those functions to get them up and running. Thereby making capital funds available for use in core areas.  

Ultimately, outsourcing allows the opportunity to change fixed IT costs into variable IT costs, where you only pay for what you use when the need arises.  

CONCLUSION 

In conclusion, outsourcing your IT services may be the best decision your company makes this year. By gaining vendor expertise and sophistication, you will be able to level the playing field with other companies, adapting to new technology, and having your IT operations and the highest standard.   

You will have improved quality of service; by gaining access to these experts, your IT-related functions would be delivered at a much higher standard. There will be an increased focus on your core competencies, now you do not have the stress of dealing with the IT operations. Finally, you will be able to enjoy the cost reductions associated with your IT operations being managed by an outsourced company 

File storage, staff collaboration, and staff onboarding are all functions that businesses perform on a day-by-day basis. In the past, large businesses would spend 1000s of dollars on systems and softwares to manage those daily operations and tap into the productivity and efficiency of file management. Now, not only large businesses but all businesses can benefit from a cloud solution that would provide tremendous benefits to their company infrastructure and ultimately improve their bottom line.

According to Techjury, 85% of businesses worldwide are already making use of cloud technology to store information, and a further 37% of the global IT Budget is geared towards Cloud computing. So why is it that so many companies are moving to cloud computing especially in the field of file management or information storage?

In this article, we go through 5 reasons why companies are moving to cloud file management for their daily operations and why you should too.

The 5 reasons we will be looking at are;

  1. Cost-saving
  2. Real-time information sharing
  3. Easier to scale and improved customer service
  4. Better security
  5. Improved scalability and productivity
  1. Cost Saving

One of the biggest reasons why companies are moving to cloud file management is due to the fact that there are huge saving benefits than traditional storage of information. Usually, a company would have to spend on an in-house document management system, which could involve spending on various equipment, whether IT-based equipment or traditional equipment.

That expenditure would increase even more when they have to consider creating or developing back-up for those systems, like in the case of a traditional paper, printer, cabinet model. One would have to spend on that equipment and then create duplicates as a form of safety against theft of other natural disasters. In the case of IT equipment, one would have to spend on hard drives and other physical storage along with a management system to organize that information.

Cloud file management on the other hand eliminates the initial cost of investment. Having to spend on various equipment to maintain the system while also eliminating the regular maintenance costs as well, since maintenance is done by the company providing the cloud service like Microsoft, or dropbox.

  1. Real-time information sharing

Collaborating on a document has never been easier than with cloud file management. The cloud allows your entire team to edit, view, and work on any document made available to them, all at the same time, from anywhere in the world. The extent of that feature is powerful, for instance when an edit has to be made on a particular file for a client to be sent out ASAP, then anyone of your team members, with the right permissions, can access this file, make the necessary changes and send it out accordingly.

What about the onboarding of new staff? Then the cloud is the perfect solution. With cloud file management, business owners can place pertinent onboarding information so that the new staff members can get access to that data at any time.

  1. Easier to Scale and Improved customer service

One of the main reasons why any business exists is that of growth. Naturally, when a company grows, the amount of documentation naturally increases as well. With an in-house file management system, the growth in the system would be a costly and tedious venture. With a cloud file management system, on the other hand, a slight increase in rate can grant you 10x more storage capacity.

Not only is cloud file management easier to scale but with cloud file management your customer’s information is securely stored and accessible from anywhere. This means that your overall customer experience will definitely improve when dealing with your customer. When a customer depends on you to have certain information readily available when called upon, it is not the time to be searching through a file cabinet or trying to access a hard drive that is giving issues.

Cloud storage guarantees accessibility to whatever files stored in it, in spite of disasters, hardware failure, and the like. Your customer information needs to be able to stand the test of time and having it in a traditional model just won’t cut it.

  1. Better security

As mentioned previously, cloud file management offers better protection for your business needs, both in the sense of natural security and cybersecurity. The risk that comes from natural disasters such as hurricanes and storms doesn’t affect the information that you have stored in the cloud. And risks like hackers and viruses are also counteracted by the firewalls and encryptions built-in through these systems.

Apart from the built-in system checks, there are also security features that you as the file owner can modify and edit to suit your business needs. For instance, most cloud file management softwares have a logging system where they log who, when and what modification was done from its system. Moreover, the cloud software has features that can allow or deny persons from accessing, editing, or modifying files that been uploaded. All this is in the control of the company owner/administrator.

So not only is there better security from the outside i.e malicious applications coming in, but there is also security on the inside i.e one can limit access to certain files depending on various criteria.

  1. Improved productivity

Cloud file management increases productivity in various ways within an organization. Since the files are stored in the cloud, you can access those files from anywhere in the world. This allows employees to work remotely, from home, or anywhere.  No longer would the employee need to wait until they get seated behind their work pc to perform the task. They can now access their files from the comfort of their own home on their personal computers or phones.

Being able to access files from anywhere also allows for faster decision-making. One of the biggest holdbacks of certain works to be executed in any business is getting the go-ahead of the decision-makers. With cloud file storage, everyone can collaborate on documents and decision-makers are able to access and make decisions based on those documents.

Cloud file storage also offers a user-friendly interface which increases the productivity of the users. With a hard drive, searching for and organizing documents may be quite tasking, but with the GUI of a cloud file management system, the user is able to easily search for their documents and organize them in a way most suitable for their needs.

CONCLUSION

Many small businesses are riding the wave of cloud file management and you should too with tremendous cost-saving benefits, being able to share information in real-time, being able to provide a better customer experience, and ultimately being more productive, no wonder why so many companies are choosing a cloud file management solution.

Having difficulties choosing the best cloud file solution for your needs? Well, let act360 show you how our team of experts is able to provide you with effective solutions for your file management needs.

Having an outsourced third-party organization that specializes in handling IT operations is the most ideal way to keep your IT operations at the highest level. It could be the entire IT system or just a portion of it, but these organizations, known as Managed Service Providers (MSPs), are the ones needed to monitor and managed your IT infrastructure.

The responsibilities of the MSP are agreed upon in the Service Level Agreement (SLA), which defines exactly what services will be provided by the MSP. Those services may lean towards more monitoring IT services or managed IT services.  

Monitoring IT service, however, tends to constitute the typical “break/fix IT” approach, where the MSP monitors your current IT operations, and when something is broken, they come in and fix it, bringing you back to your original state before the issue. A managed IT service on the other hand provides a greater level of service and there are various plans associated with it.  

In this article we will be discussing 3 reasons to choose a managed IT service operation over just a monitoring IT service operation.  

In a nutshell, the 3 reasons to choose managed IT service over monitoring IT service is: 

Why choose Managed IT Plans over Monitoring IT Plans? 

Cost-Effectiveness 

Typical monitoring IT plan would consist of a set number of hours a month with the customer being billed for fixing issues that come up on the system. It's almost like you are paying for someone to find issues, then paying them to fix them! It doesn't work. 

A true Managed IT plan charges a flat rate to manage everything on the system, making your IT expenses more predictable. Your cost becomes a set amount, paid on an annual or monthly basis. The constant break it, fix it approach will give you many frequent and unexpected expenses which will surely damper your budget.  

The true Managed IT plan protects your budget from these unexpected costs. For instance, many systems equipment's needs to be maintained, replaced, or repaired. With maintenance as well as repairs as part of the contract, the cost of that maintenance is absorbed by the service provider. Protecting you from unnecessary fluctuation in cost.  

Furthermore, if you are a small business then the benefits are even greater. The initial costs to hire and train staff while paying to maintain servers and equipment can be a financial strain. With a managed IT plan, you get highly skilled professionals providing A-class service at a flat monthly rate.  

Under this model, the MSP makes money, when you make money. Under a monitoring plan, the MSP would make money when they find things that are broken. Act360 offers a true managed IT plan that fully supports your IT services with one low monthly fee. 

Proactive System Monitoring and Control 

There was once a time when break-fix IT services model ruled the market. Service providers was reactive when they came to responding to problems in an IT infrastructure. But this type of reactive IT support is dead, a true managed IT plan will be proactive in nature, doing all that is necessary to avoid systems from breaking in the first place. 

 According to quostar.com, the lack of active monitoring puts your systems at risk of cyber-attacks and other malicious threats that can cause serious damage to your company.  In fact, on average, a compromised system can stay undetected for 146 days before there is a fault on the system or adverse reactions.  

The lack of active monitoring and control can lead to spyware stealing one's data, ransomware, crypto-jacking, and viruses all sitting on a company's system because there is no proactive approach for finding issues before things go wrong.  

A managed IT plan performs proactive system maintenance and checks while having system performance, security, and uptime as the main thrust. Creating a clear technology roadmap that ensures companies spend only what is needed and stays within their agreed-upon budget. Proactive IT is based on strategy and prevention, not repairing what’s broken. 

Scalability  

A true managed IT plan grows as your business grows, with the cost of their services being low and manageable as your needs increase. To Train and in-house IT staff to adopt new technology may cost several thousands of dollars. With a managed IT plan, that cost is absorbed by the MSP and you pay a flat monthly or annual fee for the service provided.  

Scaling any network or system takes significant effort, manpower, cost, and coordination.  Monitoring IT plan or break/fix-it approach is not suitable for a company-wide upgrade. An IT team has to focus solely on those important functions, security being a major one. A managed IT plan, however, is designed with scalability in mind.  

Having necessary checks, back-ups, and able to move swiftly when a change is happening or about to occur. Any change or upgrade would be done as frictionless as possible with a true managed IT plan, having reduced downtime all throughout the process. 

Conclusion 

The break-fix approach to IT management has dominated this industry for a very long time. Moving into a truly managed IT approach requires understanding why it is so important in the first place. It brings Cost-effectiveness, a managed IT plan offers a fixed rate, be it monthly or annually for the service provided.  

Proactive system monitoring and control, where the MSP does not wait to react to a problem at hand but offers a consistent and proactive approach to keeping the system at its most optimal at all times.  Creating a clear technology roadmap that ensures companies spend only what is needed and stays within their agreed-upon budget. 

And Scalability, where the services provided grows as the business grows. Making changes and upgrades as frictionless as possible. The MSP focuses on adopting whatever new technology is introduced with only slight changes to the agreed-upon rates. A true managed IT plan is the future of MSP. 

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