At ATB Technologies, we’re proud to serve businesses in the St. Louis area with IT support that gives them an advantage.
We offer the following IT services:
- Managed IT services (helpdesk, onsite support, proactive monitoring, and more)
- Business data analysis
- VoIP solutions
- Cloud storage
- Cloud backups
- Cybersecurity services
If you’re looking for support you can trust, we’d love to set up a free consult.
Over nearly 20 years of serving the St. Louis area, we’ve found that the quality and efficiency of your IT systems is directly related to the ease of communication and comfort your team has with their IT provider.
When needs are understood, they can be solved. That’s why we hire for communication skills and focus on customer service.
It’s also why we’ve created this IT support overview page.
The IT industry is packed with jargon. It can be complex. It’s often intimidating. But it doesn’t have to be. With that in mind, we’ll tackle some common IT questions that local businesses have, like:
- What is IT support?
- What is managed IT support?
- How much does IT support cost?
- Is outsourced or internal IT support better?
- Is onsite or helpdesk IT support better?
- How does IT support impact cybersecurity?
- What are managed backups?
- What are the top IT support companies in St. Louis
- What is ATB Technologies’ service area in St. Louis?
The goal is to provide you with a comprehensive look at IT support in St. Louis in the hope that, with a better understanding, you’ll be better equipped to make decisions that best serve your business.
Ready? Let’s dive in.
What is IT support?
It may seem obvious, but it’s helpful to define our terms to start. So, when we say IT support, what do we mean?
Let’s start with the first half of the phrase. “IT,” an acronym for “information technology,” was first noted by Merriam-Webster in 1978. It’s lost some of its specificity over the years, but, originally, information technology was “the technology involving the development, maintenance, and use of computer systems, software, and networks for the processing and distribution of data.”
Of course, today, the clarifying prefix “information” can seem redundant, since pretty much anything you can plug in (or charge wirelessly, for that matter) can be connected to the internet. If it’s collecting or sharing data, it’s IT.
The second half of the phrase is the word support, which means “to assist or help.” Taken at its most basic level, then, IT support is help with technology. Or, to be more precise: “technical help provided by computing experts.”
In a practical business context, it’s a team or department associated with an organization that provides technical help and knowledge in designing, implementing, and maintaining technology systems.
So, that’s IT support at a high level (you can see a more detailed definition of the term here). As we’ll see shortly, this can include a great variety of services and can be delivered in a wide variety of ways.
What is managed IT support?
Managed IT support (or managed IT service) is a model of IT service that packages a variety of IT service solutions into a fixed monthly price. For instance, at ATB technologies, our managed service offerings can include:
- Help Desk Support
- Onsite Support
- Proactive Monitoring 24/7/365
- Network Security
- Cloud Support
- Email Support
- Central Storage (Nimble, EMC)
- Business Continuity
- Device Integration
- Unified Communications
And more, with solutions tailored to the needs of the business. Again, these are delivered on a fixed monthly basis. So, each month, our engineers administer strategic IT services. At the end of each month, we provide a detailed report into IT activity, prevented issues, and network health.
Companies who offer service under this model are called managed service providers, or MSPs.
What are the benefits of managed IT support?
This service model has been increasingly preferred by IT firms and their clients for several reasons:
The managed IT model aligns the incentives of IT providers with their clients.
This is the big one, and a variety of benefits flow from it.
Here’s the gist: Under traditional models, IT companies work at hourly rates as services are needed (this is called a “break-fix” model). But this tends to incentivize providers to spend more time onsite. In other words, IT companies are better off if more things break.
And, as a client, you’re incentivized to avoid calling for service as much as you can, which probably means you’re trying to work around issues instead of getting them fixed.
Managed IT is a fixed cost. So, for the provider, there’s incentive to keep systems from breaking. For clients, there’s no reason to dread calling IT, and systems run more smoothly.
The managed IT model is predictable.
The break-fix model makes IT unpredictable. One month, there may be only a few minor service calls – but the next month, there may be an expensive disaster. These fluctuations make planning and budgeting difficult.
The managed service model makes IT predictable because each month the cost is the same.
How much does IT support cost?
This, unsurprisingly, is one of the major questions businesses often have when considering IT support: how much does it cost?
The answer, equally unsurprisingly, is that it depends.
Obviously, there are a ton of factors at play on both sides of the service. The business needs will shape what services are required, and the provider may have discounts (or, conversely, fees) for different service packages or solutions.
In general, these are some of the factors that’ll be in play:
- How many servers are being supported?
- How many workstations?
- How many users?
- Are there remote users?
- What technology is the business using?
- What degree of onsite help is needed?
- Is a helpdesk needed?
- What level of network monitoring is needed?
- Are there compliance standards?
- Will the support include hardware or software setup?
- Will support include strategic planning or simply maintenance?
And that’s really just a start. So, again, the cost of IT support can vary greatly.
But with all of that said, it’s still helpful to have some hard numbers to work with. So, here are a few:
Desktop support: We’ve seen companies offer support at $20 per desktop (honestly, it wasn’t very good support at this price) and $100+ per desktop.
Server support: We’ve seen server support at $100 per month (again, low-end) and up.
Network support: We’ve seen network support at $300 and into the thousands per month.
Now, these don’t reflect our prices. And these numbers are impacted by a huge range of factors, as we’ve iterated a few times. At the end of the day, asking how much IT support costs is like asking “How much will it cost to go on vacation?”
If you want a more meaningful idea, a conversation is a great place to start.
And if you’d like more insight into how to set an IT budget, check out this article.
Is outsourced or internal IT support better?
Is it better to hire internally for IT support? Or is it better to outsource support to a provider?
In reality, there’s a time and place for each.
Internal IT resources offer two main benefits.
- First, they’re likely able to be onsite more frequently than an outsourced solution (although outsourced providers may have comparable capabilities).
- Second, they’ll be able to be immersed in a single business environment at the deepest level possible (although the best IT support companies are perceived as being part of the businesses they serve).
However, hiring for IT also comes with three main drawbacks.
- First, it’s typically less cost-effective; when salary, benefits, and onboarding processes are taken into account, hiring an IT technician nearly always costs far more than outsourcing IT support.
- Second, hires typically bring less expertise into the role than outsourced partners; no one hire can be an expert in every area of IT, while outsourced partners have the knowledge of an entire team at the ready.
- Third, hires are less available outside of normal hours, whereas outsourced providers can respond to needs 24/7.
Additionally, it’s worth noting that these solutions aren’t mutually exclusive. Some of the most effective IT support is delivered through a combination of internal and outsourced solutions.
For instance, if internal techs are able to handle onsite tickets but don’t have expertise in network planning, an outsourced provider can supplement the internal department with strategic expertise. Or, if an IT director has a grasp on strategy but lacks the resources or time to execute, an outsourced provider can help.
Overall, hiring for IT support offers the potential for deep expertise in a limited area. Outsourcing IT support tends to be more cost-effective, offers a far greater breadth of capabilities at comparable strategic depth, and removes availability concerns.
Is onsite or helpdesk IT support better?
Should organizations opt for onsite IT support or go with remote IT support via a helpdesk? Here, again, there is a time and place for both, and there are benefits and drawbacks to each service.
Helpdesk support offers the benefit of efficiency. Users can call in from any location at any time to receive support for a wide variety of issues – from lost passwords to system errors. Accordingly, the solution is cost-effective and often fast.
But helpdesk support has two main drawbacks:
First, the nature of service delivery can make it less relational than onsite support. Consequentially, some needs that might have been discovered by an onsite technician might go unaddressed if a helpdesk is the only support option. Second, there are some support needs that still require a technician onsite (like hardware issues, for instance).
Onsite support, on the other hand, tends to be more relational and more strategic. An onsite technician is able to develop rapport and relationships with employees, which can lead to technology improvements and a higher level of service. Onsite visits may also uncover issues that wouldn’t otherwise have been reported. It also tends to be well-suited to address any higher-level tickets that may arise.
Onsite support has two main drawbacks. First, it’s slower (since the tech has to take time to travel to the site). Second, it tends to be more costly.
The bottom line, though, is that it’s usually best to have both modes of support.
Like hiring and outsourcing, helpdesk and onsite tech support aren’t mutually exclusive. Actually, the two modes of support are complementary to each other, and the best IT solutions typically offer both.
Accordingly, most managed service providers offer a helpdesk for employees to call into and also provide regular onsite support as appropriate.
Read more about how to choose between helpdesk and onsite support here.
How does IT support impact cybersecurity?
A few years ago, cybersecurity was kind of a buzzword. Now it’s just a fact of life. It’s become absolutely foundational to business IT strategy, which is no surprise given that 62% of businesses report experiencing phishing attacks.
But there’s still a good bit of obscurity around what, exactly, cybersecurity is and entails, especially if information technology support isn’t your day job.
Let’s unpack it a little bit. Cybersecurity has to do with protecting your systems and data from breaches and hacks. There are two main types of cybersecurity events:
Malware attacks. Malware is “the collective name for a number of malicious software variants, including viruses, ransomware and spyware. Shorthand for malicious software, malware typically consists of code developed by cyberattackers, designed to cause extensive damage to data and systems or to gain unauthorized access to a network.”
Data breaches. You know, like the infamous Equifax breach. Breaches occur when supposedly secure data is exposed. This can happen via malware, via poor system design, or via malicious actors (i.e. a disgruntled employee abusing their administrative access to expose data).
Cybersecurity activities are purposed to prevent these attacks from occurring and to minimize any damage if they do. Services generally include things like:
- Proactive network monitoring
- Disaster recovery (managed backups, cloud services)
- Anti-spam software implementation
- Virus protection software implementation
- Strategic planning (for system design, security measures, and incident response)
- User training
Overall, a proactive cybersecurity strategy can go a long way toward minimizing the danger and damage of a cyberattack. Read more about how cybersecurity impacts St. Louis IT support here.
What are managed backups?
Managed backups are an important component of IT support in general and a key in cybersecurity preparedness in particular.
As a concept, backups are fairly straightforward: they’re multiple versions of the same thing so that if one version gets destroyed or compromised, there’s still an undamaged version. In IT, this idea is referred to as redundancy, and it’s best practice for pretty much any system or dataset.
Backups can be stored onsite (meaning that they’re on a server on the business’s premises) or in the cloud (meaning that they’re on a server in a data center). Generally, a combination of onsite and cloud backups is recommended; in the event of a physical disaster like a fire, the cloud backups are unaffected. Image-based backups are the best option for quick recovery.
There’s a fair amount of detail involved in backing things up correctly (words like deduplication, offsite replication, RTO, and RPO offer an idea of the process’s complications), but, in general, the basic outcome is always that there are multiple versions of the same thing.
The word “managed” simply implies that the backup process is operated by an IT provider.
In other words, if your business chooses managed backups, you won’t have to do much of anything, but you’ll be able to have confidence that your data and systems won’t be lost in a security incident.
What are the top IT support companies in St. Louis?
Finally, as you consider how to move forward with your IT support needs, here are a few companies that have established a solid reputation for service in the St. Louis area.
A quick framework for evaluating IT companies: we believe that communication, locality, and expertise are the three crucial components in providing quality IT. We think of them as three boxes to check. Each of the companies below is presented with that framework in mind.
1. ATB Technologies
Sure, we may be biased, but we wholeheartedly believe in our ability to serve St. Louis businesses with great IT.
Our focus is on people-first solutions that give businesses an advantage.
As we mentioned upfront, that’s why we hire for communication skills and focus on customer service. Communication is the difference between uncovering the perfect IT solution for your business or leaving your biggest IT needs unmet. Our people are experts, too – on average, each has a decade of experience. We strive to build trust with our customers so we can deliver solutions that truly help them.
That focus has paid off; since 2002, the vast majority of growth has happened through referrals from satisfied local clients, as our company has developed a reputation in St. Louis for going above and beyond to get things done right.
We believe we check all three boxes – expertise, locality, and communication. You can learn more about our company here.
We appreciate GadellNet’s approach to IT support. From their home page:
“We don’t think of our clients in terms of ‘users’ or ‘tickets’. They are people with goals that we help them reach. They’re also people who don’t necessarily understand technology. And that’s ok, because we do. So when we get a call, chat, or email that something’s not working – we respond first with compassion followed by a relentless drive to quickly get them back to what they do best.”
A commitment to service like that is what you should prioritize as you’re looking for IT support in the St. Louis area. These guys definitely check the “communication” box.
3. Computer St. Louis
These guys have St. Louis in their name, so you know they’re committed to serving the area. While they stay local, they work with a wide variety of businesses, as they describe on their about page:
“Computer St. Louis is an IT solutions company that offers a wide array of products and services for small business owners up to enterprise clients with 1,500+ employees. As your IT partner, we share your dreams and devise a technology plan that aligns with your goals, boosts efficiency, increases productivity, and maximizes profit. We stay up-to-date with the latest technology developments to provide you with best-in-class solutions that drive measurable results.”
The approach is commendable, and these guys definitely check the “local” box.
(But, again, we believe that in terms of checking all three boxes, ATB is the leading option.)
Ready to Get Started with IT Support in St. Louis?
As you consider IT support for your St. Louis organization, our hope is that this guide has been helpful. If you’re ready to take the next step toward better tech support, we’d love to hear from you.
Set up a free consultation today.
What is ATB Technologies’ service area for IT support?
We serve mid-sized and enterprise businesses in the following St. Louis municipalities:
Country Club Hills
Country Life Acres
Crystal Lake Park
Glen Echo Park
Town & Country
Velda Village Hills
Village of Pasadena Park
Village of Vinita Terrace
We also serve all of the neighborhoods in St. Louis, as well as the following counties:
- St Charles County, MO
- Madison County, IL
- Jefferson County, MO
- St. Clair County, IL
- Franklin County, MO
If you have questions about whether or not your business lies in our service area, please reach out and our team will get back to you quickly.
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