Picture this. Your teenage son’s car stops running. You have it towed to a shop and inspected, and the mechanic discovers a cracked cylinder that’s going to cost over $3,000 to repair. Then you get the really bad news.
The cracked cylinder happened because the car ran out of oil.
Your son hadn’t performed proactive maintenance on the car by checking the oil and changing it every 3,000 miles.
Now what if instead of a car, what broke down was your company’s servers? You’d be lucky to get away with only a $3,000 loss.
In our recent survey of CEOs at over 25 businesses, proactive IT support was consistently one of the top three most important aspects of their relationship with their IT vendor.
But oddly enough, proactive support is not always the norm in the IT world.
Checking the Oil: Break/Fix Versus Proactive Support
Many IT vendors have business models specifically built to be reactive rather than proactive. We classify this as break/fix model of operation.
In other words, when a client has a problem – when something breaks – they call the IT vendor to come fix it. These break/fix vendors are typically less expensive precisely because they are not proactive.
Proactive IT vendors are another breed of service providers. They work with their clients to implement processes, procedures and tools that enable the IT support team to anticipate the client’s needs and make recommendations, repairs and patches before problems occur.
The use of Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) tools have been a huge advancement in this regard. RMM tools run on user devices and can send notifications back to the IT vendor about a potential problem before it happens. For example, a notification that the hard drive on a PC has only a fraction of space left and needs to have some data removed to prevent the system from crashing.
The Mechanic Who Reminds You to Change Your Oil: Proactive Support at the Business Level
There is a type of IT support vendor who is much better equipped to provide your business with truly proactive support. This is the vendor whose business model was built from the ground up to first understand the client’s business.
When an IT service provider understands your business so well they know what is planned over the next 6-12 months, they can take much more proactive and helpful approach to your business.
For example, if the IT provider knows that you plan to open a new branch in Denver, they can create a proactive project plan with all the necessary lead times. No surprises from operating in reactive mode. No branch opening delays caused by technical problems.
Or here’s another example. The IT provider knows you would like to enhance your sales force with mobile tools while keeping the data secure. Now the IT vendor can assess, recommend, implement and support iPads out in the field, and secure them with Mobile Device Management (MDM) software, before you hand your first sales rep his new tablet.
A Well-Maintained Vehicle: It’s All in the Business Model
Asking your IT vendor to be proactive is not unreasonable; however their ability to do so is based on the vendor’s business model. Asking a break/fix vendor to be proactive will not go well.
If you don’t understand the basics of your IT vendor’s business model, you should. Ask them. If they are truly focused on your business they should be more than happy to explain not only the “what” and “how,” but more importantly their beliefs and passion for understanding your business. This should be embedded in their entire culture. Only then will you truly have proactive IT service.
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