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Managed IT Services Minneapolis

Managed IT Services for Small and Medium Size Businesses

We understand how ongoing IT issues, lack of security, or not knowing what to do when faced with a technical problem or disaster, can cause major stress and take you away from your work. Not having a reliable IT technician or team only adds to that worry.
When you sign up to work with Nicolet Tech, you say goodbye to that constant uncertainty and frustration. You didn’t start your business to learn about IT. So, while you’re running your business and helping customers, our team is managing your technology.
We are experts in all the services we provide. Our goal is to give you the IT support you need through our managed services. Meaning, you spend more time on your work and less on worrying about and dealing with tech problems.
We will work with you to figure out what plan and technology solutions you need covered. Nicolet Tech can service your company’s network on an ongoing basis at a regular rate. We offer long-term and month-to-month contracts from more Basic to Comprehensive.
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What are managed IT services

Managed IT Services for Small and Medium Size Businesses

Managed IT services is a general term often used to refer to the suite of services offered by information technology companies. Common services can include computer hardware and software setup and networking, cyber security, data management and protection, VoIP phone service and support as well as other computer and network related services.

Managed IT Services and Data Security Providers are Filling a Skills Gap

All the businesses in the United States that have a digital footprint face cybersecurity challenges. Cyber-criminals constantly upgrade their tactics to attack companies. The targets of these criminals rang in size from SMEs right-up to large corporations as seemingly invulnerable as Sony.
According to the US National Cyber Security Alliance, “Proper security hygiene can increase business continuity and productivity by allowing you to conduct business uninterrupted and with peace of mind.”
But, in 2019, CNBC reported that small businesses are not doing enough to stay safe.
According to an Accenture report: “Forty-three percent of cyberattacks are aimed at small businesses, but only 14% are prepared to defend themselves.” They also reported that incidents now cost businesses of all sizes $200,000 on average”, based on data from the insurance carrier Hiscox.

And, in the CNBC article, they stressed how essential it is for small businesses to adopt strategies for fighting cyber threats rather than sitting on their hands and hoping for the best.

So, what’s stopping you, or other small business owners from hiring IT professionals in-house to keep their businesses safe?
A technician learns about managed it services
Complex code used for managed it services security

Choosing The Right Managed IT Services for Data-Security is Challenging

Selecting the right managed IT services provider is hard for any size of business. But small and medium enterprises have another disadvantage. They often have strict budgets.
In many cases, the managed IT service providers that do get selected by small businesses focus on package-based provision. They offer problem-solution-style transactions. They are also focused on reactive problem solving, not proactive problem prevention.
Managed IT service providers often battle to under-cut each other on price too. That’s especially true in a crowded market like the one here in Minneapolis. But, providing quality data-security services to customers that truly keep their companies safer and providing the cheapest possible service to customers presents an obvious dichotomy.
It doesn’t have to be that way. By finding true, managed IT service partners to help proactively manage data security, and by following the advice provided by the US National Cyber Security Alliance, including proper security hygiene, businesses can access smarter, less expensive solutions that tick both the affordable box and effective box.

Accessing The Best Managed IT Services with Data-Security Support

All the businesses in the United States that have a digital footprint face cybersecurity challenges. Cyber-criminals constantly upgrade their tactics to attack companies. The targets of these criminals rang in size from SMEs right-up to large corporations as seemingly invulnerable as Sony.
According to the US National Cyber Security Alliance, “Proper security hygiene can increase business continuity and productivity by allowing you to conduct business uninterrupted and with peace of mind.”
But, in 2019, CNBC reported that small businesses are not doing enough to stay safe.
According to an Accenture report: “Forty-three percent of cyberattacks are aimed at small businesses, but only 14% are prepared to defend themselves.” They also reported that incidents now cost businesses of all sizes $200,000 on average”, based on data from the insurance carrier Hiscox.

And, in the CNBC article, they stressed how essential it is for small businesses to adopt strategies for fighting cyber threats rather than sitting on their hands and hoping for the best.

So, what’s stopping you, or other small business owners from hiring IT professionals in-house to keep their businesses safe?
A technician learns about managed it services
A clock measuring managed IT services updates

Timely System Updates and Patches are Vital for Data Security

If an employee sees a notification that a new ‘update’ or ‘patch’ is available, they might think it can wait a day or even a month. But, it’s good to get into the habit of calling your security support team right away. An IT pro will understand the subtle nuances of why keeping security features up-to-date is important and what to look for.
For example, if an update has been released by the software provider, it’s likely to patch and protect against a known vulnerability.
By deferring all updates to your company’s outsourced security team, you can make sure that your data infrastructure stays water-tight.

One Provider Should Be Able to Provide a Full Suite of Managed IT Services

If you choose a managed IT services company that is as professional and experienced as Nicolet Tech, they should be able to provide you with everything you need. Network security is a complex stack of cards, and small businesses need to choose service providers that can adjust, augment and see the whole deck.
A high-quality information technology provider will feature a suite of services including security, help desk support, monitoring, and reporting, backup recovery plus business continuity (and DRP, Disaster Recovery), hosting solutions, and network infrastructure, cloud solutions, and more.
In this way, an IT company can have an intimate knowledge of how their customers’ businesses work enabling them to offer more comprehensive and streamlined services. In other words, if there are too many cooks in the kitchen, it creates an environment where mistakes are frequent and security holes glaring.
A single managed it services provider
A person calling a managed IT services provider

When is the Right Time to Enlist a Managed Security Service Provider?

Returning to our original question. When should companies enlist help with cybersecurity and managed IT services?
The answer is the moment they start managing customer data. Although it might seem like it’s safe to fill excel spreadsheets with customer phone numbers and email addresses, depending on your cybersecurity vulnerabilities, you might already be taking a risk.
If you have no internal IT team or your existing IT team is overwhelmed, it’s also time to invest. One of the longstanding issues in modern IT is difficulty finding the staff. That’s particularly true in cybersecurity (where there’s a shortage of professionals), as previously noted, so keeping your existing employees from burning out is vital.
If your team routinely passes around full of passwords, employees have difficulty with (or simply ignore) updates and patches, or you have suspiciously slow computer speeds, these are all good indications that your security hygiene needs to be upgraded urgently.

Your Checklist for Choosing a Managed IT Service Provider in Minneapolis

A lot of SMEs do not intend to be small-to-medium enterprises forever. A key part of company growth is IT infrastructure and digital strategy, which necessitates a strong foundation for cybersecurity and IT ecosystem.

Or, in short, as businesses get bigger, so do their tech needs. A growing business can automate processes better, grow faster, and have a healthier set of systems to work from if they enlist a good service partner. So, how do you know if you are choosing a managed IT service partner who is as good as Nicolet Tech?

There is a simple checklist that you can go through to check they will meet your needs. Here are ten things to look for.
Are they reliable and timely?

Entrepreneurs running small to medium sized businesses are always there for their customers. Your IT services company should be there for you.
Security issues and system bugs do not wait for a convenient time to happen. If your systems get attacked during a long holiday break for example, you need an IT team that will respond. A good provider will tell you they are available all year. They know the chances you’ll need them on Christmas Eve are slim, but if you do, your business might depend on their availability.

Do They Respond Fast?

This is a bit difficult to ensure from a client perspective because sales teams often respond fast in the pre-contract phase, and a supplier might not be as fast once you are signed up.

If possible, try to speak to their existing clients or get a referral to check they’re responsiveness. One of the main benefits of having a managed IT services company work with you is the reduced cost without sacrificing the benefits of reliability and timely response.

Check Their Annual IT Budget Planning

At Nicolet Tech, we trust you, and you trust us, and we work like we’re part of your company. If you are already a client and reading this, you know that. Some companies, unfortunately, do not build the same level of trust. The fact remains in commerce that you get what you pay for, but how much is that true in IT services? When you pay them X amount, how much of that money gets spent on real man-hours working for your business, and how much is just a retainer fee like an unread magazine subscription?

A well-managed service provider will explain your yearly planning and where the money you pay them is actually going. Will you have monthly system checks and updates? Will you spend some of the fees you pay them on SaaS or specialist research for keeping your particular business type digitally secure? Ask them how much of the fee you pay them is actively going towards improving your business IT infrastructure and in what way.

They Must Offer Disaster Recovery Planning

If you are scouting for a managed IT service provider, and they do not offer disaster recovery planning and implementation, walk away. If your business is hit by outages, a weather disaster, or another type of tech issue that means you lose large amounts of data or hardware, they have to make sure your business can recover from disaster and disruption in one piece.

Minneapolis On-Site Maintenance and Support

Ensure that the business you partner with can come to your premises and help you with hardware as well as software. Choosing a local provider in Minneapolis like us is the first step. The next step is ensuring they will make office visits.

Do They Provide Daily Backups and Cloud Services?

Choose a business that provides automatic and consistent backups, backed up onto a remote server for safety.
Finally, invest in a business that invests in yours.

A smart, managed IT service company will work hard to help you to grow your company because by doing so, they can grow theirs. At the very least, they know that you will provide them with some glowing testimonials and referrals, which directly impact the IT service provider’s reputation and their bottom line.

Businesses across Minneapolis ask us, when is the right time to invest in managed IT services (MSS) and data security? We recommend -- right now.

Hybrid Data Backup and Cloud Gains Momentum in Managed IT Services

According to an Orbis research report, the cloud backup and recovery market will register a 14.2%% CAGR in terms of revenue over the next five years. The global market size reached $ 11870 million by 2020. Significantly up from $ 6971.7 million in 2019, and it’s predicted to continue. That’s astounding growth, but why?
It’s easy to understand why the cloud backup and recovery market is growing when you understand a little more about how mission-critical data needs to be stored, accessed, and protected for modern small to medium enterprises.
Storing data remotely in the cloud is convenient. It is also fast becoming a standard across industries, regardless of business size. That’s partly due to the ease with which cloud-based storage enables employees to access it.

When a business has data backed up and stored in the cloud, file sharing and accessing documents from anywhere globally is easier. Working from multiple devices becomes effortless. By backing up a company’s digital infrastructure in the cloud, businesses also reduce the requirement to use and host technology resources such as servers on-site.
Backup challenges for managed it services
Small businesses using managed it services

SMEs Face Some Challenges to Back up Their Data Securely

However, while it might be effortless for larger companies to invest in the cloud, that’s not true for everyone. Some smaller businesses have obstacles to overcome.
How should an SME approach the backup and storage of their data when a small business budget is more restrictive? High-capacity cloud storage can get expensive fast. Furthermore, because cloud storage is a solution as a service (SaaS) that means you have to keep paying for it from your business’s operational expenditure (Opex). That is less appealing for some small businesses than a capital expenditure (Capex) purchase of hardware such as a server stack.
So, small to medium enterprises in Minneapolis are turning to a hybrid solution. They’re choosing to use a blend of both cloud provider support and physical storage, which can meet their storage and backup demands. In doing so, they can relieve the pressure off their operational expenditure. They can also modernize their data storage strategy.
A study by Technology company Fujitsu revealed how finance managers are feeling. The study found that finance managers are more likely to approve future-proofed storage solutions. They can see the need to cope with rapid and unpredictable growth. The same report revealed, “Fast-paced digital transformation means escalating data storage, and management costs are a top concern for 76 percent of senior finance decision-makers.”
Small to medium businesses might not have the same number of employees or budget as a larger company. But they often still create a lot of data. And, they need long-term, cost-effective solutions to store it and keep it protected from cybercrime and events such as disasters.

Small Companies Can Save Money with Better Data Storage Strategy

Here at Nicolet Tech, we believe that it’s possible to categorize an SME’s data storage requirements into three broad categories: 1. Data the business will need to access daily such as databases, apps, and project management software. 2. Data storage for disaster recovery. This is mission-critical and would need to be rescued if it was lost from downtime, cybercrime, or a disaster event. 3. Data that is rarely ever accessed. This needs to be stored for regulatory and compliance purposes, such as Know Your Customer (KYC) data or financial and tax data.
To address all three requirements necessitates a data storage strategy. That strategy should take advantage of the cheaper hardware-based in-house options. It should also leverage the streamlined, responsive advantages of cloud storage.
Small to medium businesses can save a lot of money by choosing the right managed IT service partner—for example, Nicolet Tech and working smarter, not harder.
Save money on managed it services
Data loss in managed it services

SMEs Choosing Only In-House Hardware Backup Solutions Risk Data Losses

A favorite tactic of SMEs is to rely on cheap external hard drives or Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices. These are then used for local data storage and backup solutions. Are they fast and cheap? Yes, but in the event of a loss of data, spyware, or virus infection, the data on them can easily be lost.
Furthermore, locally stored data kept on hardware in-house is only as safe as the building it is stored in. A flood, fire, burglary, or even employee sabotage could lead to catastrophic data loss.
Another problem with only relying on hardware in-house is the SME cannot add capacity instantly the day their demand increases. So, a business that suddenly sees an influx in lead generation might not be able to store or manage the leads. There’s also a risk of equipment becoming obsolete and having data transfer difficulties or complications.
Perhaps the biggest risk, though, of storing data internally and without the help of a managed IT services firm is a reliance on employees at the company to manage it. If they are sick or on vacation and a problem arises, there can be a shortage of IT skilled staff to step up and fix the issue.
With the correct data backup and storage strategy in place, companies can recover data from broken hardware. They can scale their business more easily. Moving data, accessing daily applications, and conducting tasks becomes effortless from anywhere.

SMEs Need to Be Reassured That Cloud Data Storage is Safe

Cloud data storage terminology isn’t always that easy for owners of small to medium businesses to understand.
One concern for small business owners who are considering managed IT services in Minneapolis is whether the cloud is truly private when it’s using servers that are referred to as ‘public.’
Technology company Citrix defines the public cloud. “A type of computing in which a service provider makes resources available to the public via the internet. Resources vary by provider but may include storage capabilities, applications, or virtual machines. Public cloud allows for scalability and resource sharing that would not otherwise be possible for a single organization to achieve.”

The ‘public cloud’ allows organizations to scale at a near infinite rate. That’s something that would not be possible in an on-premises data center. As a business grows, it doesn’t need to acquire additional hardware or maintain a sprawling network.

In other words, users no longer have to worry about installing and updating applications on their machines. Instead, their cloud-hosted applications will always remain up-to-date with the latest features and security.

So, the benefits of using a public cloud and hybrid strategy have not been overlooked by SMEs. Some are already investing in Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud to save money and store data. However, some premium ‘private’ cloud solutions do exist for businesses who are concerned. These are popular for businesses that work in industries such as banking and healthcare.

Public cloud data storage solutions are as safe as the cybersecurity hygiene which the business uses. Keep passwords safe, train employees on cybersecurity, and the public cloud is not a dangerous choice for storage.
Cloud storage
One backup recovery option

The Best Backup or Data Recovery Option for SMEs

Every company is different, and there is no golden rule when it comes to data storage solutions. The best solution or strategy for your business is the one that addresses all three of the aforementioned requirements.
You need to be able to store daily-accessed data, save longer-term regulatory/compliance data and also ensure disaster recovery is possible. So, the storage solution needs to meet all three business needs and also be within your budget and fit your company’s use of technology.
What does the future look like?
Globally the cloud backup market is growing exponentially. The adoption of cloud backup and cloud hosting is also fueled by an emerging trend. More and more SMEs are encouraging freelancers and gig-economy employees to Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD). That means giving them access to networks through coffee shop WiFi or home-based internet. It also generates a huge amount of data that has to be securely stored somewhere, so it can’t be lost or stolen.
A hybrid cloud and on-site physical storage solution might work for you. It offers small businesses real-time backup and recovery, data duplication. And, also supports lead generation and customer support activities.
SMEs in the retail sector have increasingly switched from in-person sales to e-commerce over the past decade. But, the Covid-19 crisis, which previously meant stores had to close their doors to customers, has profoundly boosted online sales and activity.
IT decision-makers (ITDMs) are quickly realizing that backing up their data using a hybrid cloud strategy can become a major building block for company growth.

What Is Holding Small Businesses Back?

SMEs used to be considered the nimblest businesses and the most open to business evolution. Meanwhile, larger corporations were considered to have monolithic legacy systems that couldn’t quickly adapt to today’s modern, digital world.
While that might be true in some cases, SMEs also have the challenge of a smaller budget and smaller number of employees.
Understandably small business owners can sometimes be nervous about the additional time it could take to change existing processes. And to, for example, move from an excel based lead generation model to a Salesforce-based CRM.

An SME doesn’t just take into account the cost of storing and backing up their data using a hybrid solution. They also take into account the time it might take to retrain their small team to use cloud-based solutions. They think about the cost of hiring a managed IT service provider to help them with backup and storage strategy and implementation.

They compare new ideas to the existing IT and working processes they have in place and try to assess cost-benefit.

However, enterprises can enjoy the advantages of improved data storage, backups, disaster recovery, and data access without rearchitecting their familiar on-premise work environment. They do not have to succumb to disruptions to their network, employee productivity, and security.

Small to medium businesses based in Minneapolis can pivot to improved technology solutions for their data storage. Managed IT service providers like Nicolet Tech can help.

Michael Tsang from the digital infrastructure company Equinix perhaps said it best. “At the end of the day, SMEs not only need a hybrid cloud infrastructure but also a proper hybrid cloud strategy to truly recover and grow – one that can deliver high performance, secure cloud workloads, provide consistent operations and access to vibrant business ecosystems.”

Digital infrastructure experts like Tsang also suggest that SMEs are on their own personal journeys. So, they should not compare themselves with competitors unless it’s galvanizing. Every business needs to select the correct data backup and data storage strategy for their specific company for long-term growth.

They shouldn’t simply grab a pre-packaged deal intended for the general market. By customizing solutions for your small to medium enterprise and choosing a marketing IT services partner like Nicolet Tech, you can make cost efficiencies and get precisely what you need.

Finally, as small businesses speed toward an ever more digital way of doing business, they need to find scalable and affordable ways to ensure their digital infrastructure, storage, and systems work for them and their small team. Backup and disaster recovery are just part of an IT framework that should be optimized and customized to your business.

Nicolet Tech is a premier managed IT services company in Minneapolis that provides local clients, including law firms, auto groups, and real estate businesses, with backup and recovery, cloud storage, cybersecurity, data management, disaster planning, recovery solutions, and more.

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