According to the most recent studies, IT downtime costs businesses upwards of $1.5 million—and counting—each year. Worldwide cyberattack costs are in the billions and may reach over $11 billion this year. On top of that, issues from data loss to network malfunctions cost businesses countless more dollars in lost productivity and sales. Most small to midsize businesses don’t have a budget line item for IT emergencies, which means the unexpected moments of IT frenzy can cost way more than a company can support. Protecting your business doesn’t have to be difficult, however. Proactive IT support provides a way to manage your IT budget, protect your data, and prevent some of the big technology risks that businesses face today.
What is proactive vs reactive IT support?
There are many elements of the business world that function within the balance of proactive vs reactive. Proactive marketing, for instance, requires research and analysis to choose a marketing approach that will garner the best results. Preventative healthcare encourages annual check-ups and an approach to daily behaviors that are known to prevent health issues.
Reactive, on the other hand, is an approach that is always a step behind. If you think back to your physics class and the law of action-reaction, the concept for businesses is very much the same. Something happens, we react. When sales drop, we react with a quick, poorly devised marketing plan. An unfortunate health diagnosis causes a reactive change in diet or exercise. Reactive IT support, also referred to as the break-fix approach, is much the same. It is one of the most common approaches to IT, and one of the costliest.
The idea of reactive support is simple: something breaks, and you call your managed IT service provider to fix it. Reaction isn’t always bad, however. Support for the unexpected will always be a necessary part of IT—and life—and it is important to have that in place. Functioning continually in the reactive mode, however, is not worth your time or money.
Proactive IT support, like other types of proactive or preventative behavior, works to analyze, identify, and prevent IT issues before they ever happen. It is a form of diagnosing your IT systems, equipment, and procedures to ensure you are doing everything possible to protect your company from IT risks both big and small.
While many businesses are moving toward a proactive approach to keep their data and technology secure, others still face the ongoing struggle of putting out fires and trying to navigate IT risks as they happen.
The rising cost of reactive IT support
What are these risks that businesses face? Some of the biggest IT issues that companies face today are cybersecurity and unexpected downtime due to system malfunctions. Facebook faced a system failure just this past March that lasted nearly 24 hours. The company downtime meant that users on WhatsApp, Instagram, and Messenger were also impacted. Delta had to cancel 280 flights in 2017 due to an IT systems outage. That same year, British Airways experienced a technological failure that also stranded hundreds of customers and cost the company more than $102 million in business losses and repair expenses.
The cost of unexpected IT downtime is extraordinary. Research shows that the average cost of downtime for an enterprise company is nearly $9,000 per minute. Most of that cost is reflected in lost revenue, business disruption, and IT productivity, which means the issue isn’t always how much it costs to fix a problem, but how much business is lost in the meantime.
Regarding cybersecurity, the amount of risk businesses face is also very high. In 2017, businesses collectively lost $5 billion due to ransomware alone. The losses were due to ransoms paid as well as lost data, data recovery, and business downtime.
Unfortunately, no company, large or small, is immune from the potential for lost revenue due to IT downtime or security issues. As a small to midsize business, you may not experience $9,000 in losses every minute you have IT downtime, but the risk of costs and business losses are just as high if not higher.
What would it cost to replace lost data or failed hardware? What plans or budgets are in place for an IT emergency? IT downtime—regardless of its cause—is a potential issue that every business must face. For some companies, not preparing for that moment could be devastating. Understanding how these issues could impact your company, and how to mitigate the risk, is the first step in the proactive approach to IT.
The profit of proactive IT support
In many small to midsize businesses, IT support is considered an extraneous line item on the budget to be used “in case of emergency.” Proactive support, however, works to ensure that the emergency never takes place. Instead of hoping you will never have to dig into your emergency IT fund, you can go about your business with confidence that you, your data, and your equipment are all protected.
Easy to budget
One of the keys to proactive IT support is saving money. Instead of paying thousands in data and business losses, you can work with your managed IT service provider to create a proactive plan that costs you the same amount each month, regardless of the unexpected. Budgeting for IT support that you can see and manage is much easier than budgeting for an emergency.
Proactive IT support looks different for every business. Finding a managed service provider that creates a service plan to fit your company’s needs is an important aspect of proactive support. Do you need desktop maintenance, cybersecurity strategy, or onsite support? The right service provider will help you create a strategy and budget that works to keep your company secure.
Cybersecurity Support and Training
One of the biggest threats to businesses today is the malware known as ransomware. Cyber criminals use social engineering to influence individuals (namely your employees) to click on or download content that, once on the device, encrypts files or data. The user than receives a message stating that the decryption code will be given once a specific ransom is paid. Companies facing the loss of critical data often end up paying the ransom because they do not have proper back-ups or data recovery techniques in place.
Cybercrimes like ransomware are particularly threatening to small and midsize businesses. In 2018, in fact, 58% of cyberattacks were against small businesses. Proactive IT support covers every aspect of cybersecurity, from software updates and protection to training employees.
Training your employees to detect cyber threats is a significant aspect of cybersecurity. Reports show that 91% of cyber-attacks begin with a phishing email. That means that most cyberattacks can be prevented through proactive training and support.
As a business owner, you understand the value of maintaining company data and records of company designs and ideas, customer information, and everything that makes up your unique business. Unfortunately, many companies do not have secure back-up processes in place.
Proactive IT support involves the process of analyzing current systems and back-up procedures, and then creating a strategy for how to ensure data loss doesn’t ever occur. Whether your business can benefit from cloud services or onsite servers, monitoring company back-ups could be the difference between data protection and data loss.
If your company does not have in-house IT support, working with a managed IT service provider is the best way to proactively protect your data.
Every business is impacted by laws, regulations and guidelines. The same is true as it pertains to your IT practices. Understanding how your company fares with regards to regulatory compliance may not be your forte, however, it is an important aspect of proactively protecting your company and your data.
Are your remote employees putting your company’s security and data at risk? Do you have mobile device management protocols in place? Is your software regularly patched and up to date? How we use, share, and experience data can impact a company’s compliance with national and global regulations. Regulatory compliance is an important aspect of proactive IT support and should be part of the services provided by your managed IT service provider. Staying compliant can protect your company from unwanted fees and protect your employees and customers from threatening data breaches.
Protecting your business
Every business will experience the need for IT support, and mitigating known and unknown risks through proactive support could save your business thousands of dollars. While not every business needs the same level of proactive support, analyzing your business—finding the gaps, weak points, and strengths—will help determine how best to protect your company from unexpected downtime, cyberattacks, data loss, and compliance issues. Proactive IT support, like preventative healthcare and proactive marketing, saves you from emergency spending, last-minute crises, and allows you to navigate and manage the health of your company’s data and technology.
If you’re interested in assessing your company’s network stability and security to see how you can benefit from proactive IT support, reach out.