What are IT Consulting Services and What are the Benefits?
More and more businesses are facing the same dilemma. They have historically handled all their business operations in-house – from stock management to IT. But as companies grow larger, things can start getting out of hand. IT projects become too complex for a single IT specialist to tackle, systems begin to crumble and unplanned downtime becomes the norm.
Does any of the above ring a bell? If it does, don’t worry you’re not alone. The simplest way to solve this issue is by enlisting the services of an IT consultant to get your systems in order. Read on as we discuss the role of IT consultants and the advantages of having them on your side…[AH1]
What is an IT consultant?
An IT consultant performs the same tasks as a business or financial consultant – but in an IT environment. They are professionals who give expert advice, training or support for IT systems and operations. Basically, IT consultants help clients figure out how their IT systems can bring them closer to achieving their business goals. They can streamline processes for your organisation and in turn improve your efficiency.
Sometimes, IT consultants are experts in very specific fields – such as cyber security, cloud computing or managed services. But you don’t really want your cyber security consultant and your cloud computing consultant to be different people working separately. It’s best practice to avoid working with too many independent IT consultants, as this can lead to contradictory policies being implemented.
Instead, you should enlist the help of a company that can provide fully-fledged IT consulting services. A full-service IT consultant will cover all the bases and ensure that all your policies complement each other to create a consistent approach to information technology.
But what else can IT consulting services do for you? Let’s have a look…
What are the benefits of IT consulting services?
It’s not hard to see why many companies are realising that they need expert support for their IT projects. As businesses grow, their IT operations become more convoluted. This presents a series of challenges that can be unsurmountable to tackle in-house, from cyber security threats to intricate cloud migrations.
Fortunately, all you need to overcome all these challenges is the help of an IT consultant. Let’s see how this kind of expert service can help you.
Smooth transition to remote working
Take a quick glance at the revenue change statistics for IT consulting services in the UK and something will stand out immediately. There was a huge uptick in revenue from 2020 to 2021, with the IT consulting industry hitting an all-time high. Why did this happen? The answer is very simple – because of the increase in remote working.
In March 2020, the vast majority of UK organisations were forced to implement remote and hybrid working options with no previous experience. This led to a steep increase in IT downtime and cyber security attacks, with a 50% increase in breached data compared to 2019. By the end of 2020, it was clear that remote working was here to stay. Businesses would have to start implementing new measures and policies that ensured a smooth transition from the office to workers’ homes.
Most multinational companies with dozens of IT specialists managed their transition to remote working in-house. But what about small and medium businesses with a small IT team? For them, their best option was to resort to IT consulting services. And it worked. In a recent survey of small and medium business owners, 75% of the respondents said that every employee in their business now works from home.
How did IT consulting services help small and medium businesses to transition effectively to remote and hybrid working? It’s simple. Firstly, they implemented security measures that addressed the main security risks of remote working, such as VPNs or two-factor authentication. Secondly, they equipped them with the right tools to overcome the communication challenges that remote and hybrid working present.
In a few words, IT consultants ensured that remote employees in small and medium businesses worked as safely and as collaboratively as they did in the office.
Boost productivity by making IT a key part of your business strategy
Many business owners stuck in the past see IT services as a means to an end. For them, computers and networks are the tools they use to achieve their business goals – nothing less, nothing more. On paper, there’s nothing wrong with this way of thinking. However, it can deter a business from truly implementing IT services into its core processes.
By helping you make smart technological decisions, IT consulting services can enhance your business processes – in turn ramping up your productivity. For example, an IT consultant will observe your weekly tasks and let you know which of them you should automate. This will save you time and money, as it will free your staff to focus on tasks that are harder to automate – such as sales or customer service.
A fully-fledged IT consulting company won’t stop at making recommendations. Once they have delineated a plan to improve your productivity and efficiency, they will equip you with all the necessary software and hardware you need. On top of that, they will also provide role-based training to make sure that none of your employees are left behind.
The IT industry evolves at a faster rate than any other field. New technologies and life-changing applications are developed every other day. Unless you’re an IT specialist, you can’t possibly keep track of all these developments. That’s why bringing in a well-versed IT consultant can make such a big difference. Any person working in IT consulting services will have decades of experience, meaning they’re well equipped to face all of your IT challenges.
Full project management
Many business owners feel like their IT systems are hindering their company’s growth. And yet, they keep trying to fix things in-house instead of choosing to alleviate workload by relying on consultancy experts. But why fight an uphill battle with IT when you can just delegate to a team of senior consultants and focus on what you’re good at instead? One of the best things about IT consultants is that they often offer full project management services.
This means that you won’t have to worry about your IT systems and networks anymore. Your consultants will step up and figure out how to get your company where you want it to be. It doesn’t matter what project you’re embarking on. From full cloud migrations to installing a completely new ERP, your consultant can help you with all your IT ventures.
And if you don’t need your IT consultant to take over your entire IT department, don’t worry. Most IT consulting agencies can manage your IT systems within an existing support framework.
Review and identify areas of improvement
You can’t see the whole picture if you’re standing too close to it. Want to know which areas and processes you should be trying to improve? In that case, you need an outsider with plenty of experience to take a look at your company. An IT consulting agency won’t have any vested interests – meaning they won’t push for a hard sale of a product.
Instead, they’ll provide you with an honest review and help you assess risks and fix gaps in your IT processes. Having an IT expert undertake an external assessment of your company will give you the chance to look at your operations through a fresh pair of eyes.
Yes, hiring IT consulting services will require you to spend money upfront. But let’s look at the big picture instead of focusing on the short term. An IT consultant will streamline your operations and help you automate cumbersome admin tasks – meaning you could see a boost in productivity. Apart from that, hiring an IT consultant from time to time will eliminate the need of paying a full salary to an IT employee that you might not need full-time.
Basically, you can think of hiring IT consulting services as making a very safe investment. If it works out, you’ll reap the benefits. If you don’t, you can just decide to move on at any point.
IT consulting services aren’t just about increasing your productivity and implementing smarter ways of working. They’re also about creating a safer workplace that keeps hackers and other cyber criminals at bay. A fully-fledged IT consultant can enhance your defences by identifying blind spots in your cyber security strategy. On top of reviewing your business processes, your IT consultant can conduct a survey on your cyber defences and point out areas of improvement.
It is recommended practice to work with an IT consulting company that also offers cyber security services. That way, your business and security strategies will be completely aligned. Not only will this lead to company growth, but it will allow you to minimise security breaches and keep your reputation intact.
To make things clearer, we’ve singled out a few ways in which IT consulting services can help you strengthen your cyber security strategy.
Data compliance refers to the formal standards that organisations must follow to ensure that sensitive data is kept secure and private. After years of a chaotic free-for-all, governments are finally clamping down on data compliance breaches. All UK companies need to abide by GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) rules or risk hefty multi-million penalties. By identifying potential vulnerabilities in your systems, IT consulting services can save your business from the reputation crisis and financial disaster that go with security leaks.
Protection from real threats
Thanks to the wonders of modern cyber security technologies, a full-service IT consulting agency can put your defences to the test by mimicking a real cyber-attack. For example, they can assess the security of your computer systems by conducting penetration testing. This kind of test is a simulated cyber-attack that identifies flaws and risks in a company’s security strategy. Once your IT consultants perform the test, they will come up with an efficient defence plan to protect you from real threats.
Managed security services
Once your IT consultants have identified the flaws within your cyber security strategy, they will put a series of measures in place to strengthen your defences. For example, your consultants can install a fully managed firewall on every single device connected to your network. This will enable you to monitor your network traffic and stop malicious viruses, protecting you from inside and outside threats.
Apart from firewalls, your IT consultants might also offer services such as managed anti-virus or SIEMs (Security Information and Event Management). This will give you the choice to have a round-the-clock response system in place to keep you safe 365 days a year, 24 hours a day.
According to the UK government’s Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2022, phishing attempts represented 83% of cyber security threats in the past year. This means that more than 4 in 5 cyber-attacks target employees directly, hoping that their lack of IT-savviness makes them open malicious e-mails or hand over their login details.
How do you prevent this from happening? Unfortunately, not even the best e-mail filter and phishing prevention tools will stop every single phishing attempt. Your best option here is to equip your employees with all the necessary skills to detect phishing attempts. How? By making them take part in a cyber security awareness training course.
A quality cyber security awareness training programme will include features like simulated phishing attacks, on-demand video training and role-specific advice.
Let the experts handle your IT services
Want your business to grow organically and sustainably? Then it’s time to start driving productivity from your end users by giving your entire IT strategy a re-think. At OGL IT, we offer bespoke, industry-specific IT consulting and infrastructure analysis services for all sorts of businesses. From strengthening your cyber defences to handling your cloud migration, we have a wide array of services at your disposal to take your business to the next level.