For CEOs and business owners the biggest challenge these individuals often face has nothing to do with sales, marketing, productivity, employee morale or leadership in general. The obstacle is both more abstract and easily identifiable, requiring nothing more than a few paces to a server room or a suite of offices run by an in-house information technology (IT) department.
For, it is within that space – in the exclusive province of administrators and personnel, who have near absolute control over company data – where a CEO must make a profound decision: To maintain the current system, with its high costs, political tension (technology is a territorial issue, too, with offline disputes between IT administrators and fellow workers) and inefficiencies, or embrace the freedom of retaining a managed IT services provider.
I certainly have a stake in this matter, since I am the Founder and President of My Instant Guru, which offers IT support, cloud computing solutions, vendor management and nationwide service for companies in a variety of industries. But I also write these words, independent of my professional title and responsibilities, because I have a passion for technology and an understanding of how companies can immediately improve operations and save money.
An additional point of qualification: I have no animus or brief against in-house IT staff. These individuals have a complex and stressful, no-room-for-error assignment: To ensure that the technological foundation of a company – from the backend maintenance necessary to sustain a website and the sudden onslaught of a significant spike in traffic to the transmission and protection of confidential materials, as well as overseeing a mobile workforce of global proportions – to guarantee the smooth performance of all these things (and more) is very intimidating. It is also very expensive.
A Choice, Not a Compromise: Managing IT
To illustrate the cost of the status quo, which is now a luxury for even the largest companies during this period of economic uncertainty, slow job growth and the threat of creeping inflation, to better appreciate the expense of running an in-house IT department, let us review the financial investment of having just two full-time, salaried IT employees. Between their combined incomes (excluding Social Security taxes, health insurance premiums, disability coverage, workers' compensation, paid sick days, one to two weeks of vacation time, and reimbursement for travel expenses, per diem receipts and other sundry bills), the total can easily exceed $400,000.
Again, that figure is for two IT administrators – and two people do not constitute a team of any sort – which makes this fact all the more sobering. Do I question the talent or experience of these individuals? Not for a second. These men and women have a degree of technical expertise, by dint of training and years of experience, which warrants our respect, even if it does not demand opening our wallets, so speak. Meaning: Companies may not be able to afford an in-house IT department, but we should acknowledge the credibility and knowledge (in a field, where education never ceases) of these professionals.
So, while not every company can or should create an in-house IT department, there is no need to compromise IT, in whole or part, because every business has a choice – the freedom, actually – to embrace the benefits of working with a managed IT services provider.
Be Smart About the Savings: Reinvesting in Your Company
By eliminating the cost of running an in-house IT department, the savings (as mentioned earlier) can be swift and substantial. My recommendation to CEOs is to make smart use of that money by reinvesting in their respective companies. More specifically, invest in your employees – the intellectual capital responsible for every idea, product, service and system, which defines your brand – so you may strengthen the single greatest asset you have the honor of representing.
Think of this suggestion in both a literal and metaphorical way: The physical assets of your company – your servers, which contain all your corporate data, or the manufacturing parts of your factory, which house so many gears, gauges, levers, pumps and conveyor belts – all of these things, even in the aftermath of theft or natural catastrophe, are retrievable. A company can salvage lost data, it can rebuild a plant; it can survive in the most literal sense of the word, with its physicality intact.
But, figuratively, a company cannot succeed without a skilled, dedicated and talented workforce. Excellence will yield to mediocrity, which will succumb to resignation, leading (eventually) to extinction. The only way to avoid that scenario is to hire and retain the best employees, using the savings of switching to a managed IT services provider to enlarge performance bonuses, foster a culture of camaraderie and lead for the long-term.
Make Technology an Ally, Not an Annoyance
Despite all the costs and occasional frustrations technology can impose on us – symbolized by that iconic Microsoft Windows hourglass, indicating a frozen screen or a stalled program – we are the better, as workers and individuals, for the many conveniences of not just technology, but information technology in particular. That information is infinite, encompassing news, correspondence, designs, data, and all the ones and zeroes, which are the language of our era.
By this standard, technology is our ally, not some costly annoyance. We should treat it as such, with respect for its necessity – no company, today, can operate like an analog business in a digital world – and regard for its manageable (or managed) services. From there, technology can empower every executive and satisfy every employee, for the good of each person and the betterment of all.
Michael Hosey is the Founder and President of My Instant Guru (www.myinstantguru.com), a leading provider of managed IT services, innovative technology solutions and other customized vendor resources.