April 2017: Don’t let overuse of the phrase “IT trusted advisor” keep you from having one — a real one. Recent events, including the massive CIA data dump and the Amazon Web Services outage that took down hundreds of thousands of websites, prove something very important — the IT stakes are higher now than ever before.
Keeping up with the latest IT threats, technologies, methodologies, and best practices is a full-time job and then some. Here are five reasons to partner with an experienced IT trusted advisor right now:
1. To protect against cybercrime
The stakes are higher because the motivations are getting more complicated. Not only are hackers interested in stealing information and money, they are often looking to cripple or disrupt. Disruption has proven successful whether it’s aimed at a person, company, industry, geopolitical cause or other target. So you need to update your cybersecurity stance from protecting your company’s finances to protecting its existence — who knows the kind of impact a hack or leak might have. Even something as simple as a contractor error could lead to a crisis. Antivirus software, a firewall and strong passwords alone don’t cut it anymore.
An experienced IT advisor will help you protect your company by helping you understand where your data is, how it’s being used and by whom, and what types of controls you should have in place to reduce your risk. Working all this out can be challenging for a company to do on its own, even one that has a robust internal IT department.
2. So you know what IT best practices look like
If you’re managing your IT network the same way you were a few years ago, you’re falling behind. But how do you know what today’s IT best practices look like if you’re only responsible for one company’s IT? If you have enough staff to continually update your network and processes, you’re in a unique situation — congratulations. Most companies struggle to stay on top of it while also managing their network, systems, special projects, and end user issues.
IT advisors who have at least a dozen years experience in managed IT and work with the IT departments of many different companies will have a lot of insight into what works best and why — they’ll have plenty of learned lessons to draw from. They’ll know the standards, processes, methodologies, and solutions that actually protect and drive business so they’ll be able to help you benefit from the latest best practices.
3. To design a Plan B
These days, you can’t have a laissez-faire attitude and still have a revenue stream. Technology breaks. Outages happen. If you outsource your operations completely to a single cloud provider, that means you accept whatever level of risk the outsourcer accepts. Do you know what level of risk they accept? If you’re an Amazon Web Services (AWS) customer whose website went down last month for many hours, you now know the risks of being laissez-faire.
Coming up with a good Plan B so your business stays online is only part of the picture — you need a Plan B for your entire business. A trusted advisor works with you on business continuity issues, including disaster recovery planning, and helps you understand what your infrastructure is and isn’t capable of. From there you can take the steps you need to mitigate risk where appropriate. Your advisor will begin with a business impact analysis and work with you to design solutions from there.
4. To say “no” to you
Not every idea is a good one and not every business is the same. Your colleagues or associates may be having success with a particular solution or approach but their company is not your company. And that great piece of new technology you saw at a trade show last month — how do you know it will work the same way in a real life situation? At your headquarters? Having someone you trust advise you on what makes the best sense for your company — both operationally and fiscally — can be the difference between leaping ahead and kicking yourself later.
Experienced IT trusted advisors tell it like it is. They’re far enough removed from the politics of your internal business operations and any sales incentives so that their only objective is your business success. They’ll tell you if something is a waste of money and gladly discuss your ideas and theirs throughout the year. They’ll also analyze your quarterly (or hopefully more frequent) business reviews and key performance indicator reports to help you say yes to your best options based on the data.
5. To bring in the right IT partners
No one person knows everything — there’s always someone who knows more in some areas. If you want your IT to truly leverage (and protect) your business, you’ll want to develop partnerships with specialists.
Good IT advisors know when to bring in other experts. Advisors won’t have all the answers themselves but they will know people who do. They’ll connect you with the right people and companies — those who have been successful at solving the same kinds of problems or gaps you’re facing — and together you’ll figure out the best solution. Finding the IT right partners is as important as choosing the right IT trusted advisor.
There’s no reason for your company to go it alone. The stakes are too high and it’s too difficult for a single company to keep up with everything. It can be tough for full-time advisors to keep up, too. With an experienced IT trusted advisor on your side — one with a great track record and impressive client retention — you can avoid critical mistakes that other companies make. Plus you’ll probably save money too.
One of the things that makes Leapfrog different is that our whole business model is based on being a trusted advisor. Our clients appreciate that we’re not a Value-Added Reseller (VAR). They like that we base our advice on the collective experiences of all of our clients (both positive and negative) have never taken the break/fix approach, and have completely separate teams for client services and for sales. And they like that we’re super-nice, of course. Please feel free to give us a call about your company — we’re happy to explain how we work.