Mistakes to Avoid When Hiring Managed IT Providers
Dan: It's 8:30 and it's Tuesday. That means it's time for Bit-Wizards Tip of the Ward. We have the world-famous Sam and Jason on the air with us this morning. Good morning, guys.
Jason: Good morning.
Sam: Good morning. Good morning.
Dan: I trust everybody's safe and doing well.
Sam: Very well. Very, very well. And I appreciate the world-famous part, I'm definitely famous in other parts of the world, as far as Navarre and even as far north as Crestview, I believe.
Dan: Wow, man you're on the tour.
Sam: Yeah, up in Yankee territory, north of I-10 there. They've heard of me.
Dan: All the way up there? Up yonder? Oh, my gosh. That's good. So everybody knows Sam. What about you, Jason? Does anybody know you?
Jason: My wife claims to know me, but some days I worry about that.
Dan: Yeah. She's like, " Who are you?" And your kids are like, " Uh, who's that guy?"
Sam: " He's always around here."
Jason: They only really know me when it's time for dinner.
Dan: Yeah. Or, " We need to buy something."
Dan: I know how that is. Yeah. You're really important when it's time to buy something. After that, it's like, " Who are you again? What? You want me to do what? No, I don't think so." I know that feeling plenty well. So, the technology ... What always interested me with technology ... We talked to you guys because a lot of us aren't very tech savvy. So, we listen to both of you when you're talking about technology because I remember back when I had my first computer and the one thing that I miss about the new computers are, when I would fire up my computer and it would start warming up and booting up, I need to push that little button in the cup holder to come out. I don't see that in my new ones anymore.
Sam: Yeah and the toaster hole in the front of it where you're supposed to cram the bread in doesn't exist anymore either. They got rid of all of that.
Dan: I know and you know, all those amenities are gone. Now, it's just the basic computer. I don't know what's the deal, and they charge more for them too. All right guys, are you guys getting ready to roll? Let's do this.
Announcer: Bit-Wizards : Bits and Bytes.
Sam: I wanted to start out today talking ... In the Bits and Bytes section. We often look at something that's been in the news, something technology related. Most of the news this week is all about gaming. This big gaming convention happening. But one piece of news that stuck out to me is Microsoft is pledging to upskill 25 million workers for the COVID-19 economy. Now, upskill, I think is an interesting word they just made up. And I think it really means to train or to give people the skillsets they may not already have, but specifically for the job market, that's going to be happening in the environment that we're in now. Basically they said in a press release that they plan to help 25 million people globally, acquire the skills needed for this COVID-19 economy. They hope to help accelerate economic recovery, particularly for those who are out of work right now. Moreover, they said that they had plans to do so by the end of this year. They're working with the LinkedIn economic graph, it's sort of what's on the backend of LinkedIn. Some of our listeners are probably familiar with LinkedIn. It's the professional social network, but the magic of LinkedIn really is all of the information that connects one person to another. That's how Facebook makes all of their money, is figuring out how you're connected to somebody else. LinkedIn does something very, very similar, but they using that to get market insights and to the skills and the gaps in the employment market right now. So basically they're looking and saying, what are the most in demand jobs? What are the most desirable skills and which companies are actively hiring for these roles? And they're using those data... Anyone actually can have access to that data from LinkedIn, businesses, policymakers to better understand what's happening in their local markets. Microsoft has identified 10 jobs that are the most in demand today, which will likely to grow over the next decade. And really, they're looking to see as well are there job openings for these jobs? And they think that any of these jobs are about to list here. These 10 jobs are great for going into the future. These are going to be solid job markets to stay in no matter what happens with the stay at home orders or the economy or any of that stuff. And they're committing 25 million workers, a lot of money essentially to help people get into this job.
Dan: Well that's great because there's a lot of people that could use a second skill. Like you said, with all this going on right now, a second skill would be good. Maybe move into a different career.
Jason: Absolutely. And some of those booming careers that Microsoft has identified are software developers, sales reps, project managers, IT administrators, customer service, digital marketing, IT support and help desk, data analysts, financial analysts, and graphic designers. So seems to be a little bit of a theme there and to capitalize on that surging popularity of Microsoft Teams to connect those teams together through this COVID-19 crisis. Microsoft also said that it would be bringing new learning functionality to the communication and collaboration platform. This is less aimed at job seekers than it is **inaudible** creating a system of learning in the workplace.
Sam: What Microsoft is saying there're some great technology fields here for anyone who's interested in learning a new skill, because I can tell you from experience, the job market for wedding DJs is bottoming out very hard right now, especially in Destin, not a whole lot of people coming into town to get married. And so, I'm sure that wedding DJs is not the only industry affected by that. Not the only job... Skill affected by that. I have an acquaintance of mine, a good friend of mine who's a... Is a professional DJ up in New York City and he said he has his first live gig, hopefully this Saturday. This, his first live gigs since the whole thing started. So for people in those kinds of positions, being able to pivot and find a different niche or different skillset to tap into seems to be very important. Microsoft wants to get behind that. Microsoft says they're looking to strike while the iron is hot. And so as companies are having to now embrace these remote working tools more than ever, even us having to do this radio show over the phone rather than in the studio, but they are saying, Satya Nadella the CEO of Microsoft. He took over for Steve Ballmer who took over from Bill Gates. But Satya Nadella said that COVID-19 has resulted in two years worth of digital transformation in just two months because it's forced companies to go online and upgrade their environments and learn to do this remote work thing. So for Microsoft Teams, which is the platform that they use, they're evolving it into becoming this all encompassing workplace platform, which is [inaudible 00:06:51 ], chat and meetings and communication and collaboration. And now they're going to add this learning aspect to it, where they're putting in these learning paths to these job fields, these career fields of software developer and project manager and customer service specialist and IT support and graphic design and all of that. It's a pretty big move on Microsoft's part and I think they are doing the right thing by reading the room. I think they are identifying opportunities in this and I got to say, I'm very impressed with that. Vince talked about this a few weeks ago, there are different types of business owners. There are those who get... The weight of all of this on them just crushes them and there are other people out there, other business owners who see opportunities. And I see this as Microsoft finding an opportunity here, they have information because they own LinkedIn, so they can see what job markets are hot and which ones are not doing well. They can see which skill sets are most in demand. And then they're providing a means to try to enable that for up to 25 million people globally, by the end of this year.
Dan: I got a question for you though, Sam, with all the technology, crammed into a few months, all the technology we're talking about with all the people across the globe, what is your opinion, your personal opinion. Do you think this is going to really change the way people do business even after the COVID-19 has gone?
Sam: I think so. I don't like the phrase, the new normal, because I don't really like all of the connotations around it, but I do think that, everything affects us somewhat. This is big enough that it affects everybody we know. And so just because of that, there is going to be a shift. I was listening to the show a little earlier. You were talking about the decision right now about sending kids back to school. Well, Jason and I are right now working with some local schools in the area to help them figure out what that's going to look like for them, because on the one hand, they have parents who are not willing to their children back out into public again. But on the other hand, they have parents who don't want to be stuck home with their kids anymore, starting in August. What we're doing is we are actively putting together a game plan for them, so they can shift almost all of the work they're doing out of the classrooms and into the cloud. And they'll still have classrooms, but all of the classes, all of the lessons, all of the materials and the curriculum and all of that, will live in the Microsoft cloud. And so that they can access it, whether they're in a classroom or whether a student is at home learning or whether they build a satellite campus in a strip mall, because there's an empty lot there, whatever works for them. And so we're helping build that because I do think that moving forward, there will be some changes. And I think some organizations have already talked about they're going to do a permanent work from home policy, that they are going to allow their employees to do that. They've figured out ways to pull that off in a lot of industries, especially even the one we're in working from home isn't necessarily the best option because we're very collaborative here at Bit-Wizards. We pride ourselves on having all of our soft developers and all of our IT technicians and all our wizards under one roof. And so that's a big deal for us, but I do think it is shifting the landscape quite a bit. And I think Microsoft is trying to anticipate them. Even we at Bit-Wizards, we try to help the customers, **inaudible** our clients, the people who trust us and rely on us to do their IT for them. We want to make sure we're enabling them. So we're trying to stay on top of these trends. When Zoom blew up, because they went like... Well they're like 200 times overnight their market share. Right? So when that was big, we were here helping companies get set up. Then when the stuff came out, where people were hacking into Zoom calls and they weren't super secure, we were there as well, helping customers lock down their Zoom environments or shifting them over to Microsoft Teams.
Jason: And that is actually something Dan that I have realized over the past couple of months [ inaudible 00:10:58], a lot of companies are calling us up and we're starting to see that they just didn't anticipate. And they figured out, we have no idea what we're doing and we've got to figure this out quickly. So that has been a eye opening experience for a lot of our local businesses that are calling in and asking us questions. So, there is going to be a shift towards a remote working environment for the foreseeable future. But if anything, it's going to be more preparation as well, just from the area that we live in, for disaster recovery.
Dan: And I bet but their strategy is going to be changing for their business as well, and since Bit-Wizards is really good at having some software engineering folks there, you can help them get back on track and bring them up to speed. **inaudible** their business can flourish rather than just dangle out there and trying to figure out what they're going do without contacting you and trying to figure it out themselves.
Jason: Right and that's what we really do. Bit-Wizards is going to be your strategic enabler. We're going to make sure we stay on this IT trends and Managed IT Services is a perfect way to go because we provide our virtual CIO service to help those businesses establish and brace pivoting and creating a culture of continuous transformation, innovation and improvement as part of their business model using technology.
Sam: Yeah and we do that because that's a big deal for us, is making sure that our clients have contingency plans. They have a disaster recovery plans in place. They have business continuity plans, we help build those. Even though no one saw COVID-19 coming, we did have plans in place already for all of our clients. And even for us ourselves, to be able to pivot and to be able to turn on a dime as we needed to, and use technology to enable our clients to be able to do these shifts in the way they work. And by embracing the cloud ahead of time, that's actually really helped us. So that actually is a good segue for us going into our next section, talking about some common mistakes to avoid when you are looking at hiring some IT services.
Announcer: Bit-Wizards, what's up our sleeves.
Dan: You must not be wearing a wife beater, you got a sleeve on it right.
Sam: I got sleeves on today.
Dan: Okay good.
Sam: **Inaudible** is no shirt, no shoes, no service at Bit-Wizards, so I had to get dressed for work today.
Jason: I'm glad you're wearing your [inaudible 00:13:35 ].
Sam: I am too.
Dan: **crosstalk** Just sitting there on your underwear. Don't give you that.
Sam: Too much beer stains on my wife beaters so I had to dress up today.
Dan: Cigarette burns, I know it's bad.
Sam: That's right. When you're searching... We talk about this all the time on this show, every single week. We talk about how your business is in the business of IT, whether you like it or not. We're working with animal rescue shelters. We were working with schools, we're working with investment consulting firms, we're working with... All these vastly different industries, pet hospitals, and vacation rental companies and steel factories and all of that. But the thing they all have in common, is they all have IT needs and we get to step in there. Jason actually has put together some really good tips here as you're looking for IT for your business, because no matter what you do in your business, you have some level of IT needs. If you have an email address, if you have a Facebook [inaudible 00:00:14:33], then you have some IT needs, if you have a computer in your company. And so Jason put together some tips here, what to look out for, so mistakes to avoid when you are looking for an IT service provider to help you.
Jason: And so some of the mistakes... And we've gathered this information over many years. That businesses make when looking for an IT person is, they sometimes think that IT is just IT. Everyone does the same thing it's just IT. And they don't really vet their provider, they don't really look online to see what services they offer, is it going to align with their services. You got to do your research, just like anything else, we all research cars when we buying. We all research TVs, when we purchase a new TV. Why not vet somebody that's going to be there to support your business and make sure it's... Going to do what it needs to do-
Sam: And when you're shopping for something that you may not know a lot about. It's important to know the right questions to ask. If you don't know anything about cars at all, it's probably a bad idea just to walk onto a dealership lot and say, " I just need something with four wheels and tell me how much it costs " its probably going to be a bad strategy.
Dan: I Just something red, just give me something, that's what I need.
Sam: Right, red's is faster.
Jason: And that's something that we really take pride in over here at Bit-Wizards, because we'll be the first ones to tell you if we are not even in the same ballpark as what you're trying to accomplish. We provide a very specific service and if you just want this, then we're not the right fit. And we'll be the first person **crosstalk** another direction.
Dan: **inaudible** that's being honest.
Jason: Yeah, we would rather be up front, lose the relationship before we start dating than have a bad breakup.
Dan: Good analogy and everybody can relate to that.
Sam: Vince and Lewis are the owners of this company, the CEO and the COO. And I've heard them many times, they're software developers by trade. And I've heard them say this many times, someone will come to them and say, " I need a piece of custom software." " Okay, this is what we do. Let's talk." And they say, " Well, I need something that will balance my books and I need it to do my accounting." And the first thing they'll say is, " Have you heard of QuickBooks?" Because we want to make sure we provide the right solution for our clients. And so when it comes to it, we have the same things in place that we do to make sure that we're good fit.
Jason: The other thing that companies are doing is, they're not even asking what the size of the IT support team is. You might get this guy that's... Or this it company, that's got three IT support guys, and they've got 50 clients. So what kind of attention are you going to get? Are they scaling with you? So they don't ask that question, and then quickly find out that it's a week, two weeks before they can get their password reset.
Sam: We've run into that with several of our clients where they came to us, simply because they had hired some IT assistance, they'd partnered with a local managed service provider. The problem they had was their response times, because the team they had, weren't really big enough to support their company. There are several local IT providers were we ended up talking to them, we realized that we're actually... It's the owner who knows a lot about computers and they'll keep a few people on hand to be able to call up when they're an emergency. But if all of their clients have an issue at the same time, then they're up the creek because they don't have enough resources. Make sure you're checking the provider's website to see they... Do they have their pricing? Are they upfront about it? The next thing on there is, make sure you check the size of their support team, make sure that they can support you and all of their other clients at the same time. So you don't get to be the one at the back of the line, waiting for someone to come help you reset your password so you can get your work done.
Jason: And them companies aren't looking at a detailed proposal, they're not really sure what they're getting, and that should be a big red flag for anything that you're buying. If, it's a rush to sign. You want to make sure that you understand exactly what you're getting. And then if the company is solely focused on price of IT services, we say this a lot... It holds true with most things, is you're going to get what you pay for. If you're going to hire the teenager, that's in the high school that lives down the street, that's your buddy's son. Yeah, you might pay him $15 an hour, but you're going to get $15 an hour type of service. And you're going to have to wait until he gets out of seventh period.
Sam: Actually a really good point that Jason brings up there, is when you're shopping around for it support, of course, everyone is concerned about the bottom line. That is absolutely important. That's why we say make sure that you can have an honest, transparent conversation with them about what their rates are, but just as important as that, is to not focus solely on the price because you have other objectives here. There's a difference between the value and the price. You want to make sure that you're getting the value that you're looking to get from your IT provider. Not just, whatever's the cheapest thing on the block, because that may not be the best option for you. In other aspects of your business, you're probably looking for a bookkeeper that's going to understand your business. You're not just looking for some kid who got out of high school and has Excel on their computer and they can take care of balancing your books more for you. You're looking for someone who can actually provide that service. You need to check the contract, make sure there are no hidden costs or fees in there because a lot of times when it's a very low budget IT solution, they've had to bury a lot of those costs elsewhere. So make sure they're up front and make sure that you're understanding the value you're getting. Of course, price is always part of the decision making, but when you hire reputable, managed IT service company, you find they'll have packages that will fit your needs with your budget in mind. And so these are important questions to ask when you start asking around about IT needs.
Jason: And then the last thing I've got here is, businesses sometimes only focus on the problem at hand. They're not focused on preventing what actually caused that problem. If you go to the doctor because something's wrong and they just fix what's wrong and it keeps happening, you're going to be going back to that doctor a lot. And you're **inaudible** spending quite a bit of money, fixing the issue and not solving the problem. So businesses really need to think about, how did we get here? And how do we prevent that in the future when talking to an IT firm.
Sam: That's a good point, because I worked with an investment firm one time that they got a virus. And so their internet was turned off because their server was sending out emails to everybody and start spamming everybody. They didn't mean to, but they got this virus, the hackers got into their server and used it to start sending out spam. The internet provider cut them off. They called us up, I went out there and I helped them eradicate the virus, get them back up and running. I had a sit down talk with the owner and said, " You know, you really should get ongoing maintenance, so that this stuff doesn't happen again. Let it, let us come in here and manage your server for you and your workstations. We'll put our anti virus in there. We'll make sure everything's backed up. So this doesn't happen again." And he's like, " Well, it's just not in my budget at this time." And then almost to the week, 12 months later, I got a call again. And they said, " Well, it happened again. But this time we got ransomware " and I said, " I'm so sorry to hear that." He said, " Well the first mistake I made, was not hiring you guys a year ago." So he goes, " Let's fix this now and let's get you guys handling our IT." And so I like Jason's point here is, as you're looking for this, there's a good chance you're looking for it help because you've got a little bit of a price is going on right now. Whether it's a virus or recently **inaudible** whose whole network was zapped by lightning and everything went down the credit card readers and the firewall and the switches and everything else. So of course there's something going on, but don't just focus on the short term, fix to that. Look at the long term IT you have for your company and what that's going to look like.
Dan: Good point. All right guys, let's move onto the next subject.
Announcer: Bit-Wizards, from the spell book.
Sam: All right, from the spell book is were we take a geek speak term. A lot of times it's an acronym and it's something that we talk about a lot in the technology world, the common layman or the technical Luddite may not be familiar with. Today, though it isn't an acronym, but it is something you may have heard of. And the term is SharePoint Online. We've talked about it on this show quite a bit. And it's easy for me to forget that a lot of people out there, actually don't know what SharePoint is because when I first started working a bit was theirs. That was my job here was to be the SharePoint person. But SharePoint is a cloud based service that integrates with Office 365 and it helps businesses share and manage their content, their knowledge and their applications. And then it empowers their teamwork, helps them quickly find the information they need. And it enables seamless collaboration across the entire organization. Now SharePoint's been around since 2001, and it's primarily used as a document management and storage system, but it's very, very configurable and you can use it however you want it to be used. Microsoft states, SharePoint now has 190 million users. It's amazing considering that you may have never heard of SharePoint. The reason why, is even just a few years ago, if you want to SharePoint, you we're talking hundreds of thousands of dollars in hardware and software for your company just to get started. And then you also had to have that one neck beard, anti-social nerd guy to run it all because he was the only one who knew how to run it. And Microsoft now has included SharePoint with Office 365. If you have Office 365, and if you're a business, you don't have Office 365, you need to right now... But you already have it included and you should definitely be taking advantage of this SharePoint platform to take your business to the next level. If nothing else, just using it to store all of your company documents, gives you a huge level of security and enables you to get compliance. If you have any kind of government regulatory compliance for your organization or for your market, then SharePoint gets you so far into that already. And we understand that at Bit-Wizards, so we helped all of our clients get their content moved into SharePoint and how to use it properly. How to setup permission so that people aren't finding the documents that are not supposed to have access to, like their fellow employee salary information, but also have easy access to the information they need. When I was writing the outline for today's radio show, I did it all in SharePoint. I sent it over to Jason. I sent it to you, Dan. All of this was happening in SharePoint on the backend for us. I wanted to clarify that, if you have Office 365, you already have SharePoint. You should get in touch with us. We will help you use it and, if you don't have Office 365, you should absolutely get in touch with us, so we can help get your business setup using the right tools.
Dan: Yeah, 365 is a wonderful product, it is great.
Sam: It really is. Yep, I'm a big fan.
Dan: Plus you stay **inaudible** date, with that you're always getting **inaudible** update with Word and everything else that is involved in 365. You pay a monthly fee for it, but it's always updated. You're not having to buy the program or re-buy the program.
Sam: That's absolutely right. We don't have to deal with going to Best Buy and copying down that long serial number of letters and numbers and everything, and then trying to install it on your new computer and you come to find out oh you can't, it's already been activated somewhere else. All of that goes away with Office 365, you pay a very low monthly subscription and you get access to the latest versions of all of Microsoft's tools, Word, and Excel, and PowerPoint and Publisher, and all of that. As well as the enterprise class, email and document storage systems in Exchange Online and in SharePoint Online and on Onedrive Online. It is an amazing value for the money, it really is and every business should be using Office 365 for their company.
Dan: Yeah, Sam, I want to thank you for getting me started on that on my computer, because that has been a wonderful product. It is great. So anyway-
Sam: You very welcome.
Dan: I do know that you guys like to take a moment and say, thank you to one of your customers and who is it this week?
Jason: This week is a customer we're working with and we're excited about this one. It is the Hsu Educational Foundation. The Hsu Educational Foundation was founded by Dr. Paul Hsu, a successful immigrant tech entrepreneur and community leader. Dr. Hsu, a true example of the American dream has long given back to his community in support of students and education. In 2007, Paul was appointed by President Bush in the associate administrator of the small business administration's office of the government contracting and business development. Wow. [ crosstalk 00:27:59].
Dan: He got it out too.
Sam: That is pretty cool that Dr. Hsu was appointed by President Bush to be the associate administrator for the SBA. That's amazing to me.
Jason: They're over there on a ready [ inaudible 00:28:10 ]. Nope, they're on, yeah they are ready [inaudible 00:28:15]. They're doing some really cool things. They've got this beautiful brand new building, where they're going to teach kids how to ethically hack and they're talking to us about, okay we're going to teach kids how to ethically hack. How do we teach them not to hack our own network while they're here or to prevent that from happening. They're going to do drone races. They've got partnerships with the Air Force, with **inaudible** with the local companies and large enterprises. This is a good thing for our neighborhood and I'm kind of wishing I could go back and do this as a high schooler. Every time I go over there, I want to race a drone.
Dan: All right guys, we're out of time, but thank you. Both Sam and Jason, you guys are very informative as always. I always look forward to next Tuesday because unfortunately we're out of time. But thanks guys, appreciate it.
Sam: Thank you very much.
Dan: And for those **inaudible** wherever, you're listening to Bit-Wizards Tip of the Ward. Our news start 12:16. We'll be back tomorrow morning at seven o'clock.