“Exactly what does IT do?” A question we have heard hundreds if not thousands of times during the last 20 years.
Each IT company provides a variety of technology related services. Some are generalists, some are specialists, some are “boutique” and “niche” providers but generally there are some basic foundations that all companies who class themselves in Information Technology provide.
Of course as technology changes and evolves so has the services and abilities of the IT provider. The biggest surprise for most who ask the question is that not all the items on this list are technology based. Let’s review:
10)Your computers – the basic foundation of all IT is the computer. The primary hardware is usually a pc, mac, tablet, smartphone, console, servers or kiosks. In most cases IT is required to acquire, manage, maintain and support your hardware.
9)Your software – in most cases, IT supports your operating system, your general applications and in some cases specific software. This is where some IT companies can specialize by software suite, or by industry or by skill set. You can expect and IT person with experience in the world of Optometrists will be of more value and charge a premium over an IT person who is doing virus removals at a budget store.
8)Your accessories – generally IT is also responsible for things like printers, scanners, integrated faxes and any device or additional technology that work in conjunction with your primary hardware.
7)Your networking equipment – This includes internet connections, switches, routers, wifi and all the connective gear to make your network operate. This is also an area where you can get some specialization and certain skill set requirements depending on the size of the network and the demand. Also things like cabling and provisioning may or may not be provided by your IT contractor. (though in most cases this is par for the course)
From here on, it gets a little less techy….
6)Training – Some IT providers do train the client on the equipment they provide and install. It depends on if they are an exclusive rep or reseller of a certain technology and/or have a specific employee in their resources who can offer this service. Generally, IT providers do not train as part of their offering.
5)Software design/fix/repair – This one is usually taken for granted as people assume that somebody in IT is also familiar with programming code able to repair, redesign, rebuild or generally “fix” software problems whether it is a custom application or an operating system issue. In 99% of cases, this is NOT true.
4)Web design – During the early 2000’s, when small business IT and home based IT were just in their infancy, many IT people supplemented their income with web design, web hosting or web programming. Very similar to programming regular software, in today’s market IT doesn’t usually include web offerings. If your IT guy is pulling cable and setting up your internet connection, most likely he will not be the ideal candidate to create an e-commerce website for you.
3)Phone systems and Photocopiers- In a lot of cases, with technology advancing in leaps and bounds when it comes to VOIP and wireless phone services, the lines between what is IT related and what is phone related are disappearing. Generally IT companies will refer out large projects like phone system integration and large photocopier/MFP devices but some IT companies are now handling small scale VOIP or virtual phone services as part of their offering because the technology is as simple as installing a router, some cabling and a phoneset.
2)Electrical work – IT contractors are NOT electricians. Though in terms of communication cabling, we have to work closely with electricians to provide power to our equipment, the misnomer is that if we are IT and running data cable, we are qualified, educated or licensed to be an electrician. To this I say… “NOPE”. Conversely, electricians get the same treatment when it comes to communication cabling. See my previous article for more on that end: Why you should NOT let your electrician run your data cabling!
1)Business planning/consulting – the most effective way you can utilize your IT contractor is to use them like a fully fledged department of your company. This means including them in company decisions like moving, infrastructure changes, renovations, major software changes (when they are from a 3rd party) etc. If you keep your IT in the loop and make them part of your business planning, they can help you with proactive decisions that can save money and time. There is nothing more frustrating for the client than to have to call IT in to fix or correct a problem that arose from poor planning for a move a renovation. I urge all of our customers to use us to bounce ideas off of, help in the needs analysis of the business plan, even help in providing resources that may have a working relationship with the IT provider to work in the client’s best interest.
Here are a couple of related articles that touch on the topics in a little more detail: