How Next Horizon’s Managed IT
Increases Productivity through Proactivity
Picture it: You’re running a bit behind one day, just about to print out that project overview you promised for a meeting so you can race into the conference room with seconds to spare. You need to pull one last thing from your email to add into the overview. Suddenly, you find yourself locked out of your inbox, with an error message on the screen in front of you and a pit of frustration building in your gut. It’s only in moments like these, when technology turns on you, that you realize how much you rely on your office infrastructure and how much you take for granted that it will run smoothly.
“When managed services are delivered effectively, it works like an insurance policy. If we’re doing our job properly, you should never have to call us for anything other than functional support,” said Harry Ellis, CIO and president of Sanford-based Next Horizon. “We’re there proactively maintaining your infrastructure and security, as well as being ready for those functional calls.”
Next Horizon, a managed IT services provider, works hard behind the scenes for companies ranging from local to national, professional services to healthcare, putting in the effort necessary to make technology effortless for their clients and their clients’ customers. Everyone needs technology, but most people are not technology experts. So it just makes sense that when the (micro)chips are down, you have a team that has already put in the work and has the knowledge that can save you the time, money and patience you often don’t have to spare.
Defining Managed IT
What exactly do managed services entail, and what sets them apart from traditional IT services? Ellis explained it this way: “We’re taking full ownership of whatever we’re performing for the client. We’re giving the client the full gamut of support. On the managed side, we become more proactive than reactive, so we’re constantly working with clients to ensure they’re using the latest versions of software and hardware.”
Based on each client’s unique needs, Next Horizon provides services that fall into three categories:
Think of this as a much friendlier form of consulting the product manual. If you’re wondering how to perform a specific function, a managed IT team can walk you through it. Team members can even turn the support over to a specialized consultant and work with that person to provide answers.
“We become the front line of support for any issues regarding a specific platform,” Ellis said. From handling email issues within a platform like Office 365, to working with distribution lists and groups, managed IT allows all software within a platform to be seamlessly integrated. The platform is monitored to ensure the team is alerted about any problems as soon as they are detected, meaning quicker, more proactive fixes with less loss of productivity.
This refers to the support of the actual hardware, whether that involves a physical workstation or a virtual server like the cloud. From choosing the right hardware, to maintenance and updates, to integration, careful examination of the building blocks of a company’s technology systems means a more sustainable infrastructure.
The Effort Behind Effortless
Staying on top of broader industry changes, software and platform developments, local trends, and a company’s specific needs takes a lot of careful attention — and can mean the difference between a smoothly running IT system and one that feels more like a series of fires in need of being put out.
“It’s a balance between continuing education and service to the customer, and that’s what we do,” said Ellis, whose team regularly attends seminars with vendors and security experts, as well as team compliance and certification courses. Through vetting processes that include beta-testing or using the software in their own offices, they also make sure to get as much firsthand experience with new technologies as possible before recommending them to clients.
That level of proactively staying on top of new technology is a standard Next Horizon has upheld since it was founded almost 20 years ago. The company also prides itself on its high level of customer service — a trait that keeps customers coming back again and again for trusted advice that is hard to find in the ever-changing world of IT. It’s not surprising that Next Horizon’s new customers typically find their way to the company through referrals by other customers.
“Our industry isn’t regulated, so the problem sometimes is knowing who might be giving bad advice,” Ellis said. “That’s where trust and references really are key.”