As consultants, we talk with a lot of businesses. We hear their goals, their struggles, and their questions. While each situation is unique, there are also some striking similarities. Our Support Services Manager, Patrick Kimbrell, shared the common things he sees providing technology support through Managed Services.
More often than not, Patrick works with companies in Grand Rapids or the West Michigan region. He helps companies maintain their IT systems, educate their team on technology, or build a strategy for investment.
What are the biggest challenges you see clients face?
Most clients feel challenged around their IT investments. They want to know WHY and WHERE to spend dollars to make the biggest impact.
The business people often struggle with the why. They know IT is a necessity, but it feels like an expense that keeps draining dollars. They don’t always see the value that it should drive. But when companies want to grow or increase their efficiency, IT is foundational. Efficiency today is built on IT. For example, the simple act of creating a process in a word document and saving it in a single place for employees to access relies upon IT.
IT professionals, on the other hand, see the value. Their biggest challenge is figuring out where to invest because technology is ever-changing. It is difficult to make a plan for long-term investments when the next 5 years will likely bring an entirely new IT landscape. Take virtualization, for example. You can virtually control how hardware and software work together in your network. I know that when I first heard of this, I thought it could never work. Then I saw it in action and knew it would be a game changer. This is just one area that has seen a monumental shift, but there are countless others.
So how do clients keep up with changes in technology?
It isn’t something that anyone can do alone. Our clients come to Springthrough for expertise and knowledge. We constantly have to educate ourselves and look to what is new and what will be next. We discuss trends with peers and colleagues in the industry. This past November, I attended the IT Nation conference in Orlando to learn and share ideas.
Honestly, you need a mix of knowing the latest technology and knowing your clients. We could create standard packages around the latest trends, but that package won’t work the same for every client. We have to know how a company operates before making a recommendation. If they want to do something that they see a competitor or peer doing, we have to figure out if it will fit for them. If not, how do things need to change?
At Springthrough, we use ourselves as a guinea pig. Last year, we got fiber Internet and learned important lessons in that process (how to prepare and what roadblocks to look for). That personal experience makes the process smoother for our clients.
What are the biggest concerns around security?
The biggest challenge that people face with security is simply that they don’t know what they don’t know. They rely on us to uncover ways to protect their business.
Security is like insurance, which makes it hard for some people to see the value. We help businesses understand the potential cost if they can’t operate their business technology. That number often informs how much they decide to invest in security. Luckily, there are simple steps that businesses can take to protect themselves and educate their team. It’s all about making smart decisions at the right time. You might not have 100% certainty, but you can do your best.
Why would anyone consider Managed IT Services?
Efficiency. A managed services provider, with their team and resources, has so much more capacity than an IT process handled entirely internally.
Small organizations may put the responsibility of IT on one person, but that presents a lot of risk. If that person isn’t available, you lose access to so many business systems. And in many cases, that one person has other job responsibilities that they are trying to balance with IT.
For a mid-sized organization, they may have some IT people on staff. Those IT professionals have goals and plans for IT but often can do more with the additional resources of a managed services provider. Since we have access to many areas in the industry, we complement – rather than compete – with internal IT.
What experiences have helped you grow?
Professionally, I am most proud of the experiences that require teamwork to meet the promises we made to a client. Those aren’t always the easy projects. But you feel so much reward when you meet the high expectations.
On a personal level, my three kids have helped me develop my leadership skills. Again, they can be a challenge, but I am always learning and growing from the things they throw at me.