For years I've been advocating the importance of having a local IT consultant you can turn to, assist with the day to day management of your technology and to advise you on the long term strategy your company should consider for using technology as a tool to grow your business.
Traditionally consultants would wait for your telephone call and come in to the office to fix the specific problem. The good ones would come by your office in a regular basis to ensure everything was working and to scout out any problems before they occurred.
Over the past few years more and more IT consultants are selling remote monitoring and management services for a flat monthly fee. They'll monitor your computers and network for problems and proactively fix them, often remotely.
I'd like to highlight that for years Microsoft's Small Business Server enabled many IT consultants to install a "network in a box" with remote monitoring and repair capabilities. On several occasions I've had the pleasure of participating in Harry Brelsford's SMB Nation - a bi-annual gathering of hundreds of Small Business Server focused IT consultants.
Many companies offer local resellers managed service solutions (such as network monitoring, virus detection, PC monitoring and more) that they can resell to their clients.
What does this have to do with Dell?
Dell has been inching its way to the managed service space for several months. Most recently it launched a pilot program in selected cities, and last month expanded the service nationally. Small or medium sized businesses can have Dell or a local IT consultant affiliated with Dell managed their technology for one fixed price.
Is this new? No. But what makes it new is that Dell is launching it and not only from Dell directly, but also making it available through partners.
I recently had a taste of Dell's support when I needed to repair a Dell Latitude (E6400) that I have on extended loan to review. Dell's phone support was fast (minimal to no hold time) and the chat service was excellent.
If you have not yet put your company on the receiving end of managed services, you should try it. There's a peace of mind in knowing that when something goes wrong, someone knows about it and ideally can fix it before you are aware of the problem. Like a good OnStar commercial.
Ramon Ray is the Editor & Technology Evangelist for Smallbiztechnology.com