The shift toward managed security services in the middle market

Managed services are helping companies address cybersecurity and labor concerns

May 18, 2023

Key takeaways

The business world is becoming more digital, leading to potential cybersecurity gaps

More digital deployments and the labor market have made hiring and retaining talent difficult

Managed security services provide increased flexibility, cost-containment and enhanced resources

Cybersecurity consulting Cybersecurity Managed services Digital transformation

Managed services strategies have been key to the success of many middle market companies for years, delivering additional resources and valuable experience while supplementing internal personnel when and where organizations need it. Managed services have historically been associated with technology tools and applications, but now the approach includes IT security services, which offer similar advantages for companies.

The business world is becoming more digital every day, and with increasing employee and customer expectations, companies cannot risk being left behind. That influx of innovation has created a considerable amount of strain on the internal resources of middle market companies. In many cases, organizations do not have in-house experience managing emerging tools and platforms, leading to potential cybersecurity gaps.

In addition, the rise in digital deployments and a tight labor market have created an environment for qualified talent in which many middle market companies find it difficult to compete. Or, if personnel can be brought in, they are difficult to retain. A revolving door of never-ending hiring, training, and transferring the right knowledge to new personnel is often costly and counterproductive.

“In the middle market, some organizations have zero IT people on staff, and some have a few, but not enough to cover their entire environment,” said Steve Kane, RSM director and managed security services lead. “Paying whatever the market demands for them and then training them, keeping them up to date on emerging trends and threats on top of needing to spend on tools—it often becomes too costly. It’s too much upkeep when there’s already proven solutions in a managed security setting.”

Managed security services come in many forms. Strategies can either be deployed in-house or remotely, providing advanced resources for critical areas, including monitoring, patching, and advanced threat detection and response. Managed services providers typically have access to a higher level of tools, insight, and experience than middle market companies can typically take advantage of internally.

For example, RSM Defense is RSM’s managed security services platform, with military-grade tools and advice from experienced professionals. The platform’s goal is to block an adversary’s advantage with solutions that include embedded machine learning algorithms to detect anomalies within a business environment and artificial intelligence to rapidly discern friend from foe and initiate the necessary response.

Middle market companies want solutions that address their needs in a cost-effective manner. They do not have the time or the people to deal with refreshing hardware or staying on top of the latest trends. They are looking for a one-stop shop with a reliable cost structure to make problems go away.
Daniel Gabriel, RSM principal and North American cyber transformation lead

Incorporating a managed security services component into a company’s security program provides inherent flexibility. The organization can adjust the scope of services based on specific needs, scaling up or down quickly to adapt to changes in business objectives.

“If a company has a monitoring problem, a service can deal with that,” said Gabriel. “If they have identity management problems, a service can help them there as well.”

A managed solution is also not an all-or-nothing proposition. Companies have access to necessary resources to support their security strategy, and providers can work hand-in-hand with existing internal personnel as a vital component of their team. In these situations, having a single provider that can help a company consume an expansive set of managed services adds efficiency and scalability not only from a cost perspective but also from the service synergy and cohesiveness perspective that companies should expect.

Gabriel outlined how that scenario commonly works. “If you already have people on staff, you can elevate their role a bit more,” he said. “If they have a background with a specific tool or activity, they could become the coordinator with the third party,” he said. “Or they could become an expert-level individual that receives information when an issue is identified and acts upon it. It allows the organization to get more value out of its people.”

With the continued deployment of digital technology, the need for managed security services will continue to grow. The combination of cost containment, flexibility, leading tools and advice will become a pillar of more middle market cybersecurity strategies in the future.

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