Midmarket Companies: 8 Key Questions for your Future IT Services Provider

Recent data shows that the “great thaw” continues and the economy is coming back. Unemployment is less than 7 percent, the GDP expanded at the rate of 3.2 percent, increased IT spending is returning to pre-2008 growth rates, a plethora of new technologies, and aging hardware have led to a new dawn of opportunity. Many of America’s mid-market IT managers are now anxiously catching up to their larger competitors.

In fact, the continued economic resurgence has led to 79 percent of IT professionals suggesting that their 2014 IT budgets would either remain the same or increase over 2013, a year that enabled many mid-market IT departments to begin rebuilding.

The surge in mid-market comes as no surprise to readers of The Top 7 Communications Trends for 2014 white paper, which noted the rise of mid-market IT:

New technologies are powerful drivers of middle market empowerment. Mid-market leaders are no longer satisfied with solutions that are scaled down versions of larger systems. Instead, they want solutions designed to meet their specific business needs, as well as the ability of their IT people to manage them.

Support excellence will increasingly mean providing the right information in a tempo and volume that a smaller operation can handle, along with the tools needed to put that information to use.

Not being ready to invest in new employees, servers, appliances, and networks for many years has left many seeking outside solutions to help them catch up. That’s why 88 percent of mid-market businesses say they are planning to consult an external partner for assistance in developing and implementing their IT strategies, according to a Frost & Sullivan report.

With Gartner estimating that companies spend as much as $6,600 per year per employee in IT costs, many mid-market managers are increasing relying on enhanced support and outsourced solutions that enable adoption and support for new technologies without bearing the costs associated with technology, heavy staff training or staff resource redeployment.

The following 8 key questions can help you choose the right service partner:

  1. What capabilities & technologies are you missing from your current business communications tool box?

  2. Is your service vendor just providing scaled versions of larger solutions? One-size-fits-all solutions that are narrowed down will not necessarily meet future needs of a mid-market company. For too long, mid-market solutions were just limited solutions intended for larger enterprises. Does the partner offer customizable solutions that are tailored to your company’s needs?

  3. Does the company know your needs and your industry? Mid-market companies are often more industry specific than their enterprise counterparts.

  4. Can the service partner integrate, support, and manage disparate technologies in various locations? Having a partner that can quickly evaluate and manage all communications and collaboration resources will ensure continuity of service and ultimately, competitiveness.

  5. How deep is your service partner’s bench? Can they support your company’s headquarters on-site or halfway across the world? Mid-market does not equal single site, many mid-market companies have multiple locations that can span the globe.

  6. Are the right resources available both right now and as I scale up and business continues to expand? All business want to grow; can your service partner support you at all stages of growth?

  7. If something does go wrong, how easy is it to access the right solution? The need for support can be very variable, but when a mid-market businesses needs support, they don’t want to learn a new interface to access it. Does the service partner offer a full range of ways to access support 24×7 and enable you to use the collaboration venue that is most efficient to your IT team?

  8. When ready, can the vendor help my company take advantage of cloud offerings? Not all service partners are created equally, choosing one with cloud experience can help ease the transition to cloud for the parts of your IT infrastructure that make sense.

The expanding economy and advancing technology have created unimaginable opportunities, but with that comes considerable risk. Customized support from a valued partner can help simplify the path to deployment, empower employees and enhance your competitive edge. How mid-market companies manage investing in IT now will have profound effects in 2015 and beyond. Service partners can help smooth that revolution.

Are you planning to rely more heavily on service partners to accelerate your adoption of new IT solutions?

What challenges are you seeing at your mid-market company when it comes to growth and IT?

Follow me on Twitter @Pat_Patterson_V

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