For an MSP company, it is easy to see change as “the enemy.” The ever-accelerating pace of change in IT is typically seen as the bane of the engineer’s existence.
Just one or two generations ago, a collection of time-honoured traditional engineering skills was seen as the basis for a solid, long-term career. Years invested in cultivating knowledge and experience gave both individuals and companies a huge advantage over competitors. Today, however, approaches to IT and the tools used in everything from scoping and managing projects to delivering solutions are appearing, developing, and being discarded with a rapidity that ends up eroding the value of much of the hands-on experience gained along the way. To people, this state of affairs can be terrifying. To companies, it can be fatal.
Go With the Flow!
How will your MSP company benefit from this state of affairs? How can you take a situation that looks like a threat and turn it into a powerful ally? The answer is to go with the flow. Try to stand still and you’ll find you’re rapidly moving backwards. You face a raft of challenges today and tomorrow, but it’s no good resenting change. Fail to embrace change and you’ll be left behind.
Automation as an Opportunity
The rapid introduction of automation tools for everything— from the roll-out of desktop environments in the enterprise to server provisioning, security administration, and support— potentially presents a huge threat to many service providers, not least those in the MSP space. It is easy to see automation as a foe. Here, however, lies opportunity.
If you are to survive— let alone thrive— in this age of automation, you need to position yourself as client companies’ partner in an “Automation A-Team.” You are, after all, in the business of providing technology expertise, so who better help your clients deal with the challenges posed by rapid change than you, right?
Automation of a client company’s services is already a key benefit of using a managed service provider. When looking at the scope for automation in your own operations, consider how the automation tools and skills you are applying internally can be useful to your client companies. Approached in the right way, your investment in automation tools and skills can be repackaged, helping client companies avoid re-inventing the wheel.
We may not have quite reached the point where you can release an army of bots into a client’s systems to comb for areas in which your existing automation tools and skills can be applied, but that doesn’t mean you can’t essentially offer the same thing.
Take data-driven automation, for example. The principles of applying data-driven automation within the MSP can just as easily be applied to the client organisation. And, by helping clients leverage your investment in data-driven automation, you strengthen both the relationship and your own brand.
Benefits of Data-Driven Automation
- Objectivity – decisions are based on hard data, not personal biases
- Speed – decisions are made faster than is possible with manual analysis and implementation
- Scalability – do more with smaller teams; ROI improves with scale
- Reporting – makes management more efficient and accurate; no more ‘nasty’ surprises
Challenges to Data-Driven Automation
- Lack of data – the challenge of collecting and processing large amounts of data may be difficult or daunting
- Lack of data integration – systems may be disparate and data formats may be incompatible
- Lack of data framework – it can take a considerable investment of time and resources to implement the necessary processes, algorithms, and programmes
As a managed service provider, you already face the challenges but you also gain from the benefits.
Your clients may already understand their need to implement automation. As an MSP company, you are ideally placed to help them benefit from automation and avoid technology cul-de-sacs. Take the right steps to be that partner and you, too, can enjoy the full benefits of automation.