Managed IT services firms are third-party technology support companies that provide organizations with oversight of their entire information technology infrastructure and operations. Their offerings may include on-demand IT support, consistent monitoring of IT infrastructure, software/device acquisition, predictive maintenance, and problem resolution.
Recent industry stats show that the US is the most prominent market for managed IT services, accounting for nearly a third of the $223 billion generated last year by the industry worldwide. The demand for managed IT services is also soaring, with the global market projected to grow at a CAGR of 8.1 percent to reach $329 billion by 2025.
Larger corporations typically need managed IT services providers (MSPs) for support in cases of IT disruptions in the workplace, protection from cyber-security threats, and minimizing IT management risks. Small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) also opt for these services because of their limited IT expertise, staff, or specialized knowledge.
This makes managed IT services an important part of any organization, especially now that remote working is rapidly gaining traction. But how should you choose a provider that’s right for your organization? To make your search easier, we’ve done the research, and here are our top picks for the best managed IT services firms in Chicago this year.
What are Managed IT Services?
Managed IT services refer to ongoing services offered to organizations to help them with proactive IT infrastructure monitoring, management, and technical support. This essentially enables organizations to delegate their information technology operations to an MSP who, in turn, charges a flat monthly fee for the delivery of its services.
A traditional managed IT services company usually takes care of software application deployment, device maintenance, IT acquisitions, technical support, and cybersecurity on behalf of the organization. Depending on the service level agreement (SLA), the MSP can be responsible for portions or the entirety of an organization’s IT systems.
Some organizations lack sufficient IT manpower and resources to address all of their IT needs. And many IT departments may lack specialized knowledge and expertise, which can be a competitive disadvantage. This is where managed IT services come into the picture, helping fill in these staffing and expertise gaps.
In large corporations, IT management services are often performed on the enterprise-owned or in-house IT infrastructure. Nonetheless, they can also be performed on a third-party managed services provider’s infrastructure, resources, or platform.
MSPs also help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) get a handle on their mission-critical IT functions — such as technical support, data storage management, and cyber-security — as they continue to build their internal capacity. IT management services can be offered remotely or on-site depending on an organization’s specific needs.
Some managed IT services firms focus on a particular niche, industry, or type of software, while others provide generalized services.
What Services are included in IT Managed Services?
IT managed services can cover the entire information technology gamut. Most managed services revolve around IT risk management, virtualization, technical support, security, network monitoring, bandwidth and connectivity, and disaster recovery.
IT managed services can go beyond traditional infrastructure and application monitoring and management. They may also encompass services like mobile device management, help desk, storage, cloud services, and communications. Generally, the following are commonly included in IT management services:
Cloud IT-Managed Services: Organizations often hand over management of their cloud operations to managed IT services providers because they don’t have the capacity to stay on top of all cloud-related tasks internally. These firms typically help with cloud migration, setting up cloud infrastructure, cloud backup & disaster recovery, cloud security, cloud deployment, and cloud monitoring & reporting. This can considerably increase security, provide better access, ensure business continuity, and reduce hardware costs for any organization.
- Disaster Recovery – Remote back-up and other risk management measures can ensure that business runs as usual in case of any disaster. These IT managed services can help your business avoid the dire consequence of data loss or downtime.
- Infrastructure and Network Monitoring – The best Chicago managed IT services firms provide robust infrastructure monitoring and networking solutions. This not only minimizes disruptive downtimes but also ensures smooth workflows.
- Compliance and Security – With cyber-attacks posing an increasing threat to organizations, IT managed services can help prevent data theft, ransomware, and hacking. They also help organizations get a handle on their compliance, data security, and privacy concerns.
- Business-to-Business Integration – Managed services can also handle functions like communication services, internet connectivity, videoconferencing, and supply chain management.
- Marketing Services – A good MSP can also help you with marketing planning, strategy, and implementation. They can assist with everything from mobile app development to search engine optimization and social media management.
- Managed Helpdesk – Managed helpdesk can be an effective customer service tool for staying competitive, enhancing productivity, and improving customer satisfaction.
- Managed Security – Aside from network performance optimization, a great managed IT firm in Chicago would help ensure compliance and security across many infrastructure and operations. These include cloud service security, network security, endpoint security, data security, and policy management.
Why Should You Use IT Managed Services?
In our highly digitized business world, more and more organizations are turning to managed IT services, and it’s easy to understand why. The benefits of using IT managed services are varied and numerous:
– Enhanced infrastructure performance
IT managed services allow for ongoing monitoring of your IT endpoints and infrastructure, helping detect, report, and mitigate any abnormalities in real-time. This means that your organization can identify IT network and infrastructure issues before they escalate and result in damage. The result is increased uptime and enhanced quality of service.
– Optimize uptime
Uptime refers to the time in which your IT infrastructure and networks are up and running. In the US, each minute of downtime is estimated to cost organizations an average of $5,600. And that doesn’t factor in the financial cost associated with lost reputation and public relation remediation.
The good news is that managed IT services include ongoing support and network monitoring, helping ensure your organization’s IT systems are always up and running. Let’s not forget that disasters and emergencies can occur. By working with an IT managed service company, you will ensure that your organization has a disaster recovery plan and management in place for such situations.
– Ensure Data, Privacy, and Security Protection
With the growth in digital data and user interactions, security, privacy, and compliance have become major concerns. This rings especially true if you collect, process, or store data from users and other organizations. You must guarantee that you have a robust and secure IT system in place, so they can entrust you with their data.
Compliance and security regulations are constantly evolving, too. It can be challenging to keep up with constant changes in policies, laws, and regulations. By working with an IT-managed service, you can rest assured that your IT organization is compliant.
– 24/7 Monitoring
IT managed services provide more than on-demand technical support and monthly check-ins. It’s often an around-the-clock service that makes sure your IT infrastructure and networks are up and running without a hitch at all times. Whether it’s an application update scheduled for midnight, troubleshooting an email service, or anything in between, you can rely on your managed IT services firm for a timely and effective solution.
In most cases, your employees won’t even know that there was an issue with the IT infrastructure. Before it escalates, the MSP will rectify the abnormality and ensure everything is back up and working smoothly again. This means any discrepancies, glitches, or bugs can be handled in no time!
– Helps Keep Up With Latest Technological Changes
Even if you’ve got a fully-fledged IT department, it can be difficult to keep up with policy, technology, and best practice changes that occur all the time. Working with an IT managed services firm enables you to tap into their vast and up-to-date knowledge. In other words, you’re leaving the experts to take care of any technological updates and address changes in industry best practices.
By doing so, you can gain access to their technology resources, expertise, and knowledge, ensuring your organization stays ahead of the curve. Best of all, this won’t cost you a small fortune!
– Saves Money
Small and large enterprises alike depend on technology to run smoothly and stay competitive. As reliance on IT continues to grow, the means to support a company’s infrastructure and networks must evolve too. However, many organizations (especially SMEs) might not have the staff and resources to effectively monitor and manage their infrastructure.
Managing IT services can be resource-intensive, all the more if you manage everything in-house. You will have big-ticket sunk expenses like employee office upkeep, insurance, benefits, and monthly salaries. In addition, it takes both money and time to recruit, train, and onboard in-house IT staff.
It makes sense to consider outsourcing some or most of the costs associated with managing IT services for your organization. For SMEs, this makes even more financial sense as the cost savings are huge, and all your IT management expenses are reduced to one affordable monthly bill.
– Proven Experience and Expertise
One of the most notable benefits of using IT managed services is that you’re bringing in a team of experts who already have the necessary experience, certifications, training, and qualifications specific to your niche or industry. The best managed IT services firms give you access to best-in-class IT experts with specific skills, removing the need to recruit them yourself.
– Reduce or Mitigate Risk
All organizations, no matter their size, carry a certain degree of risk. Some of the risks that your organizations might encounter may include changing technologies, please put a gerund or noun of some other type before “financial” financial conditions, evolving market conditions, and regulatory changes.
Hiring the best managed IT services firm will help you mitigate these typical business risks. You’ll have a team of IT experts on your side who understand the ins and outs of the whole industry, plus keep up with the latest compliance and security best practices.
– Easy Vendor Management
Managed IT services providers offer a single point of contact for all software and hardware vendors. This removes the guesswork out of qualifying vendors and ensures that you get the best rate out there. It’s a double advantage at no added cost!
– Increased Productivity
Whether you offer legal services, manufacture/sell consumer products, or build software, the uptime of your IT infrastructure is a top priority. IT-managed services, especially one that incorporates cloud services, provide you with access to fast-paced resources that eliminate or minimize IT inefficiencies. By removing such barriers to productivity, you can ensure better customer services and significantly cut time to market.
Is SaaS the Same as IT Managed Services?
Most organizations think IT managed services and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) are the same thing – but they are different. SaaS entails cloud-based software services that your organization pays for monthly or annually. Think SAP payroll service, WorkSpace from Google, Microsoft Office 365, or Slack. They offer their services through the cloud and assess your organization a small subscription fee for access to it, usually charged per user.
How is SaaS different from IT managed services? On the one hand, SaaS providers offer software that organizations and individuals can use over the cloud, so they can avoid the hefty upfront costs of setting up software in-house. Managed IT services providers, on the other hand, go the extra mile by providing networking and infrastructure support, monitoring, and management services.
A good example is Salesforce CRM software which it offers as a service, a SaaS service. If your organization outsources the software’s technical support, setup, security maintenance, and help desk, then it becomes an IT-managed service. In a nutshell, a good managed services company offers an everything-as-a-service (XaaS) solution.
Is There a Difference Between Managed IT Services and Outsourcing?
The first thing that pops into your mind when you hear about “managed IT” is technology outsourcing dressed up in a fancier name. But thankfully, that isn’t accurate. Yes, both outsourcing and managed IT services involve working with a third-party provider, but they are almost as different as chalk and cheese.
This is especially true when it comes to the scope of work. Outsourcing providers typically offer discrete services that focus on a specific set of technology or business processes. For instance, you might outsource your customer support function. Or perhaps you need an external team to work on data entry, analysis, or social media support. With outsourcing, you hire a third-party firm to help you with specific services or address specific organizational needs.
On the other end, managed IT services firms provide your organization with an all-in-one third-party solution for all your IT support, infrastructure, and networking needs. It’s a more holistic strategy whereby you let a trusted external agency handle all your technology services. You will benefit from their economies of scale, their experienced team of skilled IT administrators, and access to the latest technology knowledge & best practices.
Are There Many IT Managed Service Providers in the US?
The US is unquestionably the biggest market for managed IT services. As we’ve noted earlier, North America alone accounts for about 30 percent of the global managed services revenue, which totaled more than $223 billion in 2020. The market size is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of anywhere between 8 percent and 12 percent in the next half-decade or so.
And while North America is the largest managed IT services market in terms of revenue, Asia Pacific has been identified as the fastest-growing market.
Part of the reason the US dominates the global managed IT services industry is that most of the world’s renowned MSPs call the United States home. They have spread their presence across many major industries, including healthcare, government, finance, and telecommunication.
The most recent stats show that managed services providers in the US and Canada account for roughly 13 percent of North America’s total information communication and technology (ICT) market. That means MSPs contribute a huge chunk of the estimated $1.375 trillion ICT market. In the last couple of years, IT-managed business applications, infrastructure, and services have generated about 78 percent of that revenue.
Clearly, there are a lot of managed IT services firms in America. Some focus on certain industries, while the majority offer a more generalized managed services solution.