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PORTSMOUTH, N.H. – The evolution of managed IT services over the past decade has given small businesses and nonprofit organizations the capability to have technological depth and dependability of larger corporations. This development also has been a largely untold and little understood story.

While small- to medium-sized businesses, nonprofit organizations, school systems and municipalities depend more than ever on secure and highly functional IT systems for growth and productivity, the outsourcing model of ‘fix it when it breaks’ has largely passed. According to IT backup and security blog Channel Check, there were more than 40,000 Managed IT service firms in 2012 and many have transformed into a professional services model with a wide range of service options and retainer-like fee structures.

In partnership with managed IT service companies such as Neoscope Technology Solutions, small businesses can focus on their core capabilities and leave the IT expertise and potential hassles to professionals who handle IT issues 24/7, 365 days a year. They can also avoid the continual frustration of the so-called break-fix model of fixing software, networking or security problems as they emerge – like calling in a plumber to repair a water leak – which can be financially costly and detrimental to productivity.

“We often surprise our clients with the depth of proactive partnership we provide and how it’s a win-win addition to their business,” says Neoscope President Timothy Martin who founded the company in 2006 to provide a proactive, flat-fee model. “We have strong relationships with our 80 clients and many of them have been with us for years. When we say partnership, we mean it. From an operational standpoint, our chief technology officer is their chief technology officer. Our expert IT team of certified professionals becomes their expert IT team.”

On the financial side, Martin explained, “our guaranteed service agreement and monthly flat-rate model is a 30 to 50 percent cost reduction from traditional support plans. You have a predictable monthly fee and we are accountable for keeping systems at peak performance while resolving issues quickly, often without the client even knowing there was a problem. From the beginning, we showed clients that we were not in the business to profit from their pain.”

The town of Salem, N.H. has been a client since 2012 when Neoscope became the town’s IT department. Salem’s IT infrastructure now performs far better than at any time in the past, according to town officials, and employee productivity and satisfaction has significantly increased.

We are saving over $200,000 per year, mitigated major security risks, and have a better onsite and offsite backup of critical information,” said Keith Hickey, Salem’s town manager.

Martin said Neoscope’s partnership with the town of Salem is a case study of how managed IT services should work. Neoscope hired a local IT professional to be onsite full-time. The residents and taxpayers of Salem have benefited from greater IT planning, strengthened security, enhanced productivity, managed costs, and long-term network viability protections. “Because of our hands-on approach, we have institutional knowledge of each town department,” Martin said. “We know the people, the processes and the technology they rely on.”

Neoscope has become one of the leading managed IT firms in Northern New England, Martin believes, by focusing on proactive customer service and leveraging technology for its clients. The $2 million annual revenue company has also taken steps to improve its strategic planning through rigorous self-assessment. “We hired a consultant that came from one of our larger IT competitors. During his 90-day contract, he helped us work on operational efficiencies in order to deliver services like a $100 million company would,” Martin said.

Neoscope’s success and reputation have not gone unnoticed in the industry. Martin has been approached by two prospective buyers but said he declined the offers. “We are determined to remain a community-based boutique IT company,” he said. “We think of our employees, clients and vendors all as family who all contribute to our success. We are focused on community involvement. We hire local interns and want to keep jobs here in New Hampshire.”

In 2013, Neoscope was recognized as one of the MSPmentor 250, the annual list of the top 250 global managed service providers. It was also recognized in 2013 as a CRN NEXTGEN 250 company for being on the cutting edge of technology and IT business solutions. Martin said the honors validated their customer-centric approach. “We call our people ‘intrapreneurs’ because they are entrepreneurs within the organization in the sense that they think about our client businesses first and foremost,” Martin explained. “They figure out how to adapt technology to help their clients succeed and not the other way around.”

Client demand and growth has led Neoscope to double its revenues and it staffing over the past five years.  Martin said Neoscope has 15 IT engineers who each have 7 years to 15 years of experience and it recently filled two vital positions. IT entrepreneur Danny Stamp joined the company as its first Chief Technology Officer and IT veteran Audrey Parsons was appointed Service Desk Coordinator to enhance the service delivery segment of their business. He said the addition of Stamp and Parsons puts Neoscope in a strong position for its next stage of rapid growth.

“Our clients are small businesses, nonprofits, law and medical practices, school districts and municipalities,” Martin explained. “We have never had a ‘one size fits all’ solution. We do thorough assessments and create custom service plans to meet unique IT needs and budgets.” To better serve a growing client base in the New Hampshire Seacoast region, Neoscope moved in 2011 from Derry to its current location at Pease International Tradeport in Portsmouth. Neoscope has a national presence. Though most of its clients are located in New Hampshire and Northern New England, these clients have regional offices in California, Virginia, Ohio, Nevada, China, Vietnam and Mexico.

The IT needs for their clients match the growth and complexity of technological change as even small business networks have expanded dramatically. Martin said the evolution of Cloud architecture has changed the dynamics of server infrastructure – including the vital questions of server location or if a virtual server will do the job. Hardware and software upgrades, telephony and video reliability, data backup and storage have all become part of day-to-day operations. Additionally, even small networks are vulnerable to security challenges as virus and worm attacks proliferate on networks that now include desktop computers, tablets and smartphones.

“It’s no longer just a matter of keeping the servers up and running and having email available,” Martin said. “Our clients depend on us for a wide platform of solutions.”

Neoscope has also been tapped to handle more serious situations. For example, in the spring of 2013 Martin and his team were called into a ‘Code Red’ situation when the school district network in Salem, N.H. was paralyzed when a computer virus infected up to 80 computers and 2,000 workstations. The school district’s IT department was undergoing a leadership transition and unprepared to handle the extent of the disruption.

Martin said the IT security beach in Salem was not atypical for smaller organizations even if complete disruptions are rare. “Networks of all sizes are under attack,” he said. “You have to be proactive and monitor that stuff on a daily basis around the clock before it cripples your organization.” Neoscope came in and within the a few days got the school district network running. Martin explained that they put security protocols and a centralized systems management in place for the district’s new IT director who arrived a few months later. In addition to bridging the gap between IT directors in Salem, Neoscope performed a similar, critical role for the school district in Windham and recently performed a full IT assessment for the Pelham School District.

Martin said Neoscope will add professional staff and products as client needs diversify and grow. For example, the new CTO Danny Stamp will oversee an emerging R&D effort at the company. Martin is not surprised by his company’s growth because he believes they have positioned themselves correctly in their market with the right staff and partners to achieve their goals. “The need for professionally managed IT services has become an indispensable part of business success. We give our clients peace of mind so they can focus on what they do best,” he said.

By Michael McCord