Introduction

Did you know UK businesses are more likely to have both internal and outsourced support in comparison to France, Netherlands, and Germany? But what does outsourced IT involve?

IT Service Providers deliver the technical expertise that businesses need at a much lower cost than hiring dedicated IT staff. They can recommend, install, and manage technology according to business objectives and core competencies, as well as ensure that critical data is safe and secure. That’s why according to a study conducted by Strategy Analytics, 1 in 3 European small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) currently outsource some or all of their IT support. Rather than waiting for something to break or shut down, Managed Service Providers (MSPs) take a proactive approach to IT by ensuring a customers’ IT can avoid most tech issues in the first place. We understand there are many considerations for companies thinking about moving their IT to another company.

In this article, Datto and IQ in IT summed up the key factors to help you decide what’s best for your company. Let’s get started!

What’s an MSP?

A Managed Service Provider is an IT service professional that companies outsource their technology needs to.

“MSPs are technology partners who put people and processes first and allow companies of all sizes to maximise their technology investment.”

They can deliver ongoing monitoring and management of client applications (email, website, security, etc.) and IT infrastructure remotely. This is typically accomplished through remote monitoring services, which allows them to keep tabs on the health of their clients’ IT environments, change and update systems and troubleshoot problems. MSPs closely monitor a wide variety of IT solutions that businesses have implemented such as:

  • Application monitoring & management
  • Helpdesk
  • E-mail
  • Security
  • Storage
  • Backup and Disaster Recovery

MSPs work with a variety of technology vendors to deliver these services. However, it’s not just about technology. Ultimately the expertise of the service provider holds the most value for all sorts of companies because IT-related downtime can have a devastating impact on revenue and reputation – especially for businesses trying to grow.

Why SMB’s Adopt Managed Services
One Size Does Not Fit All

We understand each company is different. Therefore the specific reasons SMBs adopt managed services depend on the unique needs of the organisation. For example, the IT needs of a five-person company with no in-house IT will be quite different from those of a 100 person company with a dedicated IT team. Therefore MSPs can provide different levels of support to meet the technical requirements of various businesses.

“Moving all or some IT tasks to a managed service allows businesses to focus on their core competencies instead of day-to-day IT management.”

According to SMB IT Usage and Perceptions 2019 Report, the top reason UK SMBs adopt managed services today is “down to the increasing complexity of IT”. But, context is essential because the size of the business will determine the complexity of the IT infrastructure for the evaluating company. A larger business may face more challenges in implementing its IT strategy across its organisation and may use an MSP to manage the process. The 2019 report also states larger SMBs believe IT helps their business to succeed; therefore, they are likely to contract with MSPs for strategic reasons. At the other end of the spectrum, it might mean outsourcing some routine tasks so in-house IT experts can focus on higher-level technical challenges. This concept is called co-managed IT.

Many businesses also choose to work with IT service providers because they have expertise in a specific area of IT. For example, 28% of respondents from the SMB IT Usage and Perceptions 2019 Report said they adopted managed services for “enhanced security/compliance”. This is likely due to the roll-out of GDPR across Europe in 2018, in addition to ransomware attacks frequently appearing in the news. On average, 2 in 5 SMBs from Datto’s 2019 European State of the Channel Ransomware Report, reported that they had fallen victim to a ransomware attack. In particular, SMBs who don’t outsource their IT services were more at risk. MSPs can work to keep software patched and up to date to protect against security breaches, as well as to ensure the company’s data is fully protected from malicious or careless actions.

Save Time and Money

MSPs can also initiate new projects and implement new technologies quickly. They have the resources and flexibility to get projects off the ground, which might take weeks or months in-house. Implementing new technology with your existing environment can be complicated and time-consuming. Because MSPs work with a wide variety of clients with different IT needs, they are uniquely equipped to take on complex IT projects. They also have vast experience troubleshooting the products they use – allowing them to resolve problems quickly.

“Because MSPs work with a wide variety of clients with different IT needs, they are uniquely equipped to take on complex IT projects.”

Depending on the company, cost savings may also be a factor – especially among smaller companies with straightforward IT needs. Monthly fees for managed services will vary depending on the services delivered. But managed services are generally more cost-effective than hiring in-house IT staff for smaller businesses. According to Kaseya’s 2019 MSP Benchmark Survey Results, 26% of MSPs said their average monthly managed contract is £750 – £1900. Therefore, SMBs are paying a fraction of a yearly salary for an IT professional in Europe.

Conclusion

There are a variety of reasons that SMBs need help from MSPs. Very small companies look to reduce IT costs while getting the IT expertise they need by partnering with an IT service provider. Larger businesses typically work with IT service providers to offload many difficult or time-consuming tasks, allowing their internal IT staff to focus on mission-critical activities. If you’ve never considered an IT managed service offering and are trying to manage your own IT, it’s worth being aware of this cost-effective way to have your IT burden lifted.

If you’ve never considered an IT managed service offering and are trying to manage your own IT, it’s worth being aware of this cost-effective way to have your IT burden lifted. If you are working with an IT service provider on a project basis, it is worth investigating whether they offer managed services as well. Or, if your current IT team is running ragged, perhaps you can offload some difficult IT tasks. MSPs can help keep you focused and keep you safe!

Let’s have a look at one of the many tools that come with the Microsoft SaaS Package.

In a world that turned into one big Teams meeting over 4 different devices and infinite time zones, it’s worth asking why productivity is not necessarily increasing. Is a meeting always adding value or do we have them for the sake of having a meeting? It certainly sounds important, very important even.

“I just had a very important project meeting about flame powered food processing with my lifelong mentor and friend, where I learned about his preferences.”

… just asked my dad how he wants his steak – although I should know that by now.

From experience, everybody knows that it takes a bit more than just sending an invite and hang around for half an hour to call it a productive meeting. Microsoft happens to offer a solution to help with this thought process. MyAnalytics provides insights into two of the key factors in personal productivity.

How do you spend your time and who do you spend it with?

It can be hard to go deep on your most challenging work when you are distracted by back-to-back meetings and endless notifications.

Want focus time every day? Plan your week!

By blocking just 2 hours of time for focused work into your calendar every day, you can get more done in less time, master your task list, and unleash your creativity. Block some time out to finish the report for your director, write that blog post about productivity, get that proposal out before your competitor swoops in…

MyAnalytics helps with automation. It reserves time automatically, reduces distractions by muting Teams chats and provides weekly reports that show focus trends that allow you to plan ahead.

Your time in meetings should matter.

In case you can’t escape an invite to a meeting, make sure to make the most of it. Set expectations, clarify goals ahead of time, have an agenda – it sounds so obvious but enforcing it will lead to a more efficient team.

Network

When was the last time you solved a massive problem all by yourself? Meeting new people and communicating with them helps with new ideas, different angles to problem-solving and quicker results. The key is healthy, productive communication – internally and externally.

Are you growing your network?

The MyAnalytics Network page shows how many people you actively connect with in the last month and gives you suggestions on how to improve connections with your most important contacts, such as your manager or your direct reports.

It also shows your top collaborators in either a map or list view, enables you to view details about the important people in your network and suggests people to add to your important list of people and grow your network.

Have a look here for more information.

Wellbeing

Working from home (I know…it’s probably the first time that someone picked this topic…) came with a bunch of challenges. People work whenever their phone rings, inevitably more than their contractual hours. This leads to a disconnect from friends, partners, family and leaves individuals even more isolated than the lockdown already did.

“People who disconnect daily from work, report lower levels of stress and anxiety.”

While more and more restrictions are being lifted, “old habits” take some time to exit the new work culture. So, in reality, we need to find a consensus that keeps friends, colleagues and customers sane and mentally healthy.

Summary

Be smarter with your time and other resources. Not every meeting needs the whole team to be involved, especially not when nobody planned it.

Not every Teams chat message needs to have top priority. Switching between tasks costs time and leads to worse results – literally a lose/lose scenario.

Make sure to take the breaks that you need to make your working hours matter. Your family and friends will thank you for it, so will your mental health.

Your network is your biggest asset. There is nothing wrong with collaboration if done right.

Use Microsoft MyAnalytics to improve your working habits.

Graduation photo

On International Women’s Day, I want to celebrate all women in Technology and STEM. Women working in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths face challenges and gender bias every day. It’s a sad fact that even in 2021, women in science struggle to be taken seriously sometimes. We battle prejudices and face gender bias on a regular basis. Sometimes people prefer to speak to our male colleagues, even if we have decades of experience and expertise equal or more than that of our male peers.

This is wrong and today I choose to challenge and ask everyone to help create an inclusive world where women are equally valued. I call out to everyone to support girls and women who are passionate about technology and sciences. I choose to challenge, so that young girls are encouraged to make their own education and career choices. I want more girls to be offered STEM subjects at school, and not be put off from studying subjects traditionally dominated by their male counterparts.

 

When I was at school, I discovered my passion for science, technology and electrical engineering. I didn’t come across gender bias while growing up in the Czech Republic, instead I suffered from educational background bias and was discouraged by my teacher from studying A-levels in computer science, because my parents do not have education to degree level. I worked hard to pass the entry exams and ended up with top grades for my A-levels. I love learning and wanted to continue, so I went on to university to do a computer science BSc, alongside my full-time job as an IT manager. After setting up my IT business, I continued studying and completed a master’s degree while running the company.

IT is a male dominated industry, and it was then I started to come across gender bias. Even as a business owner with years of experience in my profession, I find it hard to be taken seriously by men sometimes. Women should not have to work harder to prove their worth and this must change.

The gender gap in technology starts in schools and I have personally experienced it with my niece. Not many girls take IT as a subject at school or in further education because it’s seen as a male dominated area and they lack support from their teachers. I want to see computing and technology taught to all children equally, with the same importance, if not more, as literacy. Children need encouragement and support in schools to take STEM subjects from a young age. Over the years I have worked with schools, universities, and other organisations like young enterprise to inspire the younger generation into business and IT.

So, if you are a young woman wanting to work in technology or science, follow your dream, choose to challenge. If you’d like to connect with me or just have a chat with a woman working in IT, then please get in touch. Together we can make a change.

Connect with Kat:

Phone: 0330 1224420

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @IQinIT

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/katerinad/

Digital Learning Day

As our US friends celebrate #DigitalLearningDay, we look at why learning new technologies and digital skills, in and out of the classroom, is important no matter how old you are.

As an Information Technology company, it’s no surprise that our team is passionate about digital technology. Most of our employees have completed degree or college courses in computing, some are still studying. But learning doesn’t stop when you step out of the classroom. Technology is changing all the time, so the learning must continue. There are lots of ways to learn new digital skills, here are some of them.

Peer learning is a fantastic way to acquire new skills and techniques. Our IT engineers learn from each other every day. Everyone has unique interests and ways of fixing problems. When an issue occurs, speaking with other members of the team is a fantastic way to learn how to diagnose and fix a problem.

Formal learning with a college or university course is a great way to learn and gain qualifications. Two of our team are currently studying for apprenticeships while they work. Formal education allows our team to combine accredited learning and apply those new skills directly into work. In turn, the students take solutions learned at work into their educational setting, so the knowledge sharing is a two-way street and benefits everyone.

Informal learning is ongoing. Our team spends a huge amount of time in and out of work improving their computer skills just for the fun of it. We’re taking part in a competition called #CyberDrainCTF. A capture the flag series of online events, the competition has a series of IT questions and challenges to be completed. With different technical levels and specialist subjects, with a score board updated in real time. IQ in IT Technical Director Luke Whitelock came joint first in the event, with several of our team doing incredibly well.

IQ in IT Technical Director Luke Whitelock says: “We are always striving to improve the services we provide to our clients. We live and breathe IT, so for us playing a game that involves learning is a great way to test and improve our skills. Outside of work, I like to experiment with writing scripts that will hopefully improve the service we give our clients. I really enjoy this learning side of things and have started posting my work on a platform with other Managed Service Providers (MSPs). We share our ideas on IT solutions, and that way we all learn from each other.”

Professional learning is not just something we do ourselves, it’s something we encourage our clients to do as well. Digital learning is crucial for all staff in all businesses to keep your company safe from cyber-attacks, which has seen a massive increase since the start of the COVID pandemic. We organise cyber-security training to help companies train their staff to avoid digital crime. Learning should be fun for everyone, so there are games, quizzes, animations, videos, and a whole load of interactive tools to make learning fun.

If you would like to find out more about digital learning, get in touch [email protected] or book a chat here.

 

How to improve your cyber security and why COVID is not the only virus that could disrupt your business. 

To mark national Safer Internet Day, our Technical Director, Luke Whitelock, shares 5 ways to improve your cyber-security and protect your business. Cybercrime has increased significantly during the pandemic. Whatever your business, you will manage large amounts of information that could be valuable to criminals.   It is crucial you take steps, not only protect your clients’ information, but also to avoid costly downtime if something does go wrong. 

1 – Back up your data.  

Regular and thorough back up of all your data is one of the best and easiest to protect your business in the event of a cyber-security breach.  Make sure you are backing up your data to a cloud-based solution on a regular basis.  Check the back-ups.  If your data is properly backed up and something goes wrong, you can restore lost data.  This is essential for business continuity.  There are some great solutions that can act as a temporary bridge for your business systems in case of a loss of service while things are fixed.  We recommend this to all our customers to minimise any downtime which is both costly and inconvenient.  

– Keeping devices safe  

Make sure that all devices used by your staff, whether personal or work, are kept secure by applying all software updates on a regular basis. This can really help stop attacks on vulnerabilities exploited by criminals or in the event of loss or theft of any devices.  Make sure that all devices used for work are encrypted and compliant with frequent updates applied. 

3 – Restrict access 

Limit the access of employees to your internal data.  By reducing the number of people who have access to company information and files, you limit the risk. Use additional passwords for all confidential data as an extra layer of security to make sure only those who really need to access something can. 

4 – Passwords and 2FA 

You should have a password policy and share it with all your employees. Your password policy should advise all staff use a secure password manager like LastPass. 2 Factor Authentication is another essential tool that should be part of your password policy.  There are many different free APPs which enable 2FA and it’s a simple way to add another layer of protection. 

5 – Avoiding phishing attacks 

Since the start of the pandemic, there has been a huge increase in phishing attacks using both ransomware and malware.  The simplest way to protect against these is to train your staff to spot the attack before it happens. We recommend regular training and testing of your staff.  There are some great tools out there to help businesses do this quickly and regularly.  We even use this on our own staff! 

If you want have a question about being safer with your cyber-security please get in touch with [email protected] or book a chat with one of our team here https://iqi.click/cybercal 

03 Feb 2021

Meet our Apprentice

As part of National Apprenticeship Week 2021, we’d like to introduce you to one of our IQ in IT apprentices.  Meet Blake.  Blake joined IQ in IT in 2019 on our IT support team.  Since he started working with us as an IT apprentice Blake has gained extensive technology skills and is a popular member of our team.  As his confidence grew, Blake showed a natural flair for business development. He has recently started management CMDA degree course at Kingston College. We asked Blake for his thoughts on apprenticeships. 

  

Tell us about your apprenticeship: 

I am doing a Management Degree CMDA Apprenticeship. It’s a 5-year degree course with lessons at Kingston College.  At the end of the course, I will have a University degree and chartered manager status. I get to combine study with a real jobgaining valuable work experience at the same time as getting my degree qualification. 

Why did you choose an apprenticeship? 

At school the focus was on going to University to get a traditional degree. I knew I wanted to study but was worried about graduating with huge debts and no work experience.  An apprenticeship helps me to gain formal qualifications while learning in a real-world situation, and without any financial worries at the end of the course.  

What do you like about the apprenticeship scheme? 

Being able to put theory into practice in real-life work. have to implement all the things I am learning into my job.  This is much more useful than a normal degree where you only learn the theory of something but don’t get to apply it.  

With an apprenticeship there is no learning lag, we study current things and apply them to real work situations.  If I was doing an ordinary degree course, especially in technology, the technology would have already changed by the time I finished my course.  I love that the course content is current and relevant to my job here and now.  It’s much more interesting and useful than just reading about something. 

What do you most like about your job? 

I love that I am always learning something new, and that no day is ever the same. I enjoy the comradery of being part of a great team, we are always sharing ideas and learn from each other all the time.  I like talking to our customers and helping them understand and fix problems.   

What are the benefits for employers of having an apprentice? 

An apprentice can be moulded to be the exact person you need for your business. An apprentice is always ready to learn.  Companies can make sure they get the right staff training to suit their company and its customers.  An apprentice will have more work experience than someone who has finished a normal degree because they have had to work as well and are good at juggling. 

 

What advice would you give anyone considering an apprenticeship? 

Don’t be put off by teachers who don’t know much about apprenticeships, do your research about the course and the provider. It’s a great way to learn while you earn and get a proper degree. There are lots of different courses depending on what you want to do. It can be demanding with full-time job and studying, so you need to be careful to not burn yourself out.  

 

To find out about apprenticeships at Kingston College visit here: https://stcg.ac.uk/apprenticeships 

This week brings the start of the online shopping event known as Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  With most high street shops closed for lockdown; the biggest online retail event of the year is expected to be bigger than ever. Be warned, this increase in internet shopping brings increased dangers to consumers.

Cybercriminals are using increasingly sophisticated and convincing techniques. Unsuspecting shoppers looking to bag a bargain can easily fall victim to online fraudsters. Fake websites advertising must have items, seemingly genuine emails with links to the best deals, fake social media posts with buy it now options.  These are just some of the ploys being used to obtain your money and your personal details.

According to Action Fraud, over £3million was lost to cybercrime in 2019 Black Friday shopping. Action Fraud also reports that since the start of the COVID pandemic online shopping fraud has increased by more than 30% as cyber criminals exploit the boom in online sales.

This week Action Fraud have launched the #FraudFreeXmas campaign to warn bargain hunters about the dangers of online fraud. Here we share our own top tips to avoid falling victim to a cybercrime this Christmas.

 

  1. Choose where you shop:
  • Look for known and trusted retailers
  • Use website search to find a retailer rather than clicking on a link in an email or message
  • If buying from a retailer you don’t know, check their reviews and search consumer websites
  • Avoid deals that seem too good to be true – they almost always are!

 

  1. Choose safer payment methods:
  • Never pay for shopping via bank transfer
  • Use a credit card if you can, they offer some protection and you’re not sharing your bank details
  • Use a payment platform like PayPal, GooglePay or ApplePay, this keeps your data private.

 

  1. Be secure:
  • Make sure there is a closed padlock icon in the web browser before entering payment details. It doesn’t mean the retailer is legitimate but does mean their website is secure.
  • Only share personal information that is essential to your purchase
  • Don’t create an account with that retailer unless you absolutely must
  • If you are creating a user account, never use the same password twice
  • Choose strong passwords that are different to your email accounts
  • Use 2 factor authentication wherever possible
  • Don’t save payment details for later if a website offers this option
  • Use a secure WIFI network when you’re shopping or banking.

 

  1. Watch out for phishing emails and texts:
  • These can be really convincing and appear as though from a genuine retailer
  • Look out for subtle differences in email addresses for businesses you do subscribe to
  • Don’t click on any links sent via email, these can be used to download virus to your devices which will harvest your data
  • Copy and paste the address into your browser or do a search for the genuine website.

 

  1. What to do if you think you’ve been scammed:
  • Don’t panic or be embarrassed – it can happen to anyone
  • Contact your bank immediately
  • Report it to action fraud police.uk

 

Cybercrime can affect any individual or business, but there are steps you can take to prevent it.  If you’d like to review your cyber security and cybercrime awareness please book in for a free 15-minute consultation with one of our security experts. https://iqi.click/cybercal or call us on 0330 1224 420

International Fraud Week, November 16-21, 2020 

Why you need to act against cybercrime during the COVID pandemic 

 

It’s International #fraudweek! Why does it matter? There has been a massive acceleration in cyber-crime since the start of the COVID pandemic, with a 660% increase in March alone according to the Office for National Statistics.  The nature of these cyber-attacks varies, but there are increasing trends in email hacking leading to serious invoicing fraud. Ransomware attacks, phishing and data breaches are also increasingly common resulting in costly downtime. 

With fast-paced changes in workplaces and more staff working from home, cyber-criminals are exploiting vulnerabilities created by the situation.  The increased risk to business is a real and serious threat.  Cyber-attacks can cause both data and financial loss for organisations already impacted by COVID.   

So, what can you do prevent yourself becoming a victim to cyber-fraud? Having a security plan in place to protect your company and employees from cyber-crime is essential.  The most cost-effective way to deal with fraud is to prevent it!  

As a business, knowing where to start can be daunting. IQ in IT uses and recommends cyber-security training tool to train all your employees what to look for.  We use it for our own staff as well. 

Our training platform offers comprehensive and ongoing training for all your staff.  There are quizzes, cartoons, graphics, downloads and even comedy shows to engage your staff in learning.  The platform is fully interactive, allowing managers to track staff engagement, identify risk and any further training needs.   

At IQ in IT, we set this up for our clients and work with you to understand any identified risks and make suggestions on actions you can take to protect yourself.  Avoid becoming a statistic.  

Book your fraud health check up here: https://iqi.click/cybercal

or give us a call on 0330 1224 420 

You might also like to see our free webinar explaining all about cyber-crime and simple steps you can take to prevent it. 

 

 

 

 

PLAY VIDEO

Kat DamcovaFounder and Managing Director of IQ in IT, has been elected President for the Kingston Chamber of Commerce. 

The Chamber is a local business support organisation, IQ in IT have been active members since 2011. Kat was elected to the Board of Directors in 2015 and is a passionate advocate of supporting the local business community. 

Kat was elected as President at the Chamber’s summer AGM.  She is the first president to be elected virtually and during a national lockdown!  Her role as President is to support and represent the Chamber at events and meetings with local stakeholders and partners across the business community. 

On being elected President Kat says: 

“I am thrilled to be President and be able to help the local business community.  With so much economic uncertainty, it is a challenging time for many companies.  I am looking forward to supporting the Chamber and its members in my year as President.” 

“I joined the chamber for networking but have made friends as well as clients.  I’ve gained so much support from other local businesses and this is my opportunity to give something back.” 

To mark her presidency Kat gave a short interview to the Chamber which you can see here:   

https://www.kingstonchamber.co.uk/blog-post/meet-our-new-chamber-president/ 

A new bug with Microsoft Edge has caused issues world wide with the New Edge browser to crash when typing into the address bar. The quick workaround at this time while awaiting a fix is to disable the site suggestions. To do this, navigate to Edge settings and select Privacy and services and then scroll […]

A new bug with Microsoft Edge has caused issues world wide with the New Edge browser to crash when typing into the address bar.

The quick workaround at this time while awaiting a fix is to disable the site suggestions.

To do this, navigate to Edge settings and select Privacy and services and then scroll down to Address bar. See image above for help. Slide the “Show me search and site suggestions using my typed characters” to the off state.