Owners of SMBs are often jacks-of-all-trades, but few of them want to tackle such time-consuming IT tasks as troubleshooting PC problems, setting up networks and installing security patches. At the same time, many SMBs don't really require -- and can't afford -- a full-time dedicated IT staffer.
This Catch-22 is leading a variety of service providers, from enterprise giants like IBM to consumer-oriented suppliers like Best Buy's Geek Squad, to beef up their SMB offerings, reports The New York Times. The article mentions a salon/spa manager who contracted with Geek Squad to install and network several PCs and install software. A collision-repair consultant got Geek Squad to set up a PC, digital camera and wireless Internet connection in her home office, and later spent about $2,800 at Best Buy when it was time to upgrade her gear. Referring to Geek Squad, she says:
You can call them for help, but you don't have to have them on a full-time basis.
The article also features a 50-employee business based in Lynnwood, Wash., that employs a service provider called Press Any Key as its de facto IT staff. It was able to cut its tech spending nearly in half after contracting with Press Any Key to remotely monitor its systems and troubleshoot problems. Such remote services make a lot of sense for SMBs, as I wrote last April. SMBs save not only money but time, since they don't have to take tech gear offline, remove cables and connections and take it somewhere for analysis. An executive from Support.com, a company I cited in that blog, says 85 percent of his company's calls can be handled in remote diagnostic sessions lasting less than 30 minutes.
Hardware vendors like Dell are also expanding their SMB service offerings, as I wrote last month.