Small-Business Entree: 'Involuntary' IT Managers Are A VAR's Best Friend


A new Microsoft/AMI-Partners study should give solution providers more ammunition to pitch small businesses that use "involuntary" IT managers to manage IT solutions.

According to the study, small businesses lose $24 billion in productivity each year when IT managers with other responsibilities are forced to manage technical duties, most of the loss due to time away from primary business activities, according to the study.

In addition, many of these "involuntary" IT managers do not feel technically qualified, according to the study, and they are interested in leveraging cloud solutions to manage their IT needs.

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AMI surveyed 538 "involuntary" IT managers at companies with up to 100 employees. The study found that although small businesses spent $83 billion on IT last year, they lost $24 billion in productivity trying to manage that IT infrastructure.

The average "involuntary" IT manager loses six hours per week, or 300 hours per year, of business productivity managing their company's IT, according to the study. A corresponding white paper by AMI-Partners reveals that most of the "involuntary" IT managers are confident in their technical skills, but they feel their productivity suffers when their work time is spent managing IT issues.

John Motazedi, president of SNC Squared, a Joplin, Mo.-based solution provider, said convincing SMBs that it's cheaper, better and easier for a solution provider to manage IT is a fight he fights every day.

"The [end user's] business should focus on what the business does well. I don't practice medicine on my own. We have that challenge all the time," Motazedi said. "They don't realize what they absolutely need until they're so deep into it, when a simple fix by a professional would have saved tons of hours and money and time and productivity."

Solution providers should proactively try to convince small businesses that they can manage their IT more efficiently, said Chris Morton, vice president of MCG Business Solutions, a Mobile, Ala.-based solution provider.

"For the unwilling participant, we usually identify how they are counterproductive because they don't have the desire or the knowledge and it's not cost-effective to have them doing it," Morton said.

In all, 26 percent of those surveyed do not feel qualified to manage IT and 30 percent feel that IT management is a nuisance. Meanwhile, 60 percent of "involuntary" IT managers want to simplify their company's technology solutions to alleviate the difficulty of managing IT day to day, according to the study.

Many small businesses feel they don't have the budget for formal IT support, so they rely on the company's most tech-savvy individual to manage their technology, said Andy Bose, founder, chairman and CEO at AMI-Partners, in a statement.

"As our research shows, relying on an involuntary IT manager can have an adverse impact on small businesses' productivity, which can negatively affect revenue and translates into a very high opportunity cost. These companies can potentially leverage cloud services to alleviate the need for day-to-day in-house IT support with positive impact on their business productivity," Bose said in the statement.

PUBLISHED APRIL 26, 2013