A survey conducted by Hurwitz & Associates of Dell Managed Services customers elicits some of the reasons SMBs are drawn to managed services and some of the benefits the participants have realized.The survey was conducted last September and October, on behalf of Dell, of 29 "business and information technology decision-makers" at firms with 5-500 employees in the U.S. and U.K and published in a white paper today. The participants were all Dell Managed Services customers, but nevertheless their responses, expecially the Before ones, are probably representatives of SMBs in general.
When asked about their top business challenges, for example, 57% of the respondents replied "growing revenue," 43% said "improving cash flow," 40% said "attracting and retaining customers," and 37% said "maintaining profitability." No surprises there.
When asked about their IT management challenges in particular, 69% of participants said "implementing new solutions that the business requires," by far the most popular response. Other answers were "gaining 'peace of mind'" (48%) and "containing IT costs" (45%). As far as why they considered implementing a managed services solution to address those challenges, 86% said it was very or somewhat important to have "more proactive services and improved service levels," and 71% said they wanted to "free up IT staff to focus on core business related functions." "Management of complete IT infrastructure" was very or somewhat important to 64%, "control IT management costs and make them more predictable" mattered to 58%, and "need to reduce down-time" was a factor to 57%.
Considering the fact that 42% of the participants had no full-time internal IT staff and 38% had only one, it's easy to see why outsourcing some IT functions was appealing. Working against the decision were concerns about timeliness of response (96% were worried about that), security (75%) expense (68%), and the ability to get support on site (64%).
The rest of the paper explains why they chose Dell Managed Services and describes the benefits they realized. As you'd expect, their experience was positive and their concerns satisfied (or Dell wouldn't be touting the paper). To read about the participants' success with Dell, download the full paper (PDF) here. The researchers did provide a set of guidelines for evaluating any managed services provider, though, as seen in the figure below:
Guidelines for Evaluating Managed Services Providers and Offerings. Source: Hurwitz & Associates.
Hurwitz also published a report based on discussions with the survey participants, entitled "Solving the SMB IT Infrastructure Management Dilemma." Available here (PDF), this second report is, like the first, a promotional vehicle for Dell Managed Services, but also sheds valuable light on the decision-making process that the participants used and that any SMB could benefit from.