This article, sponsored by SolarWinds MSP, looks at how although almost all channel firms have evolved into MSPs, the vast majority are still not offering the kind of automated tools that could allow them to scale their business rapidly while offering customers a better service at a lower cost.
Once prospective managed security services providers (MSSPs) have made the decision to regear their business towards services provision, and retooled their sales and marketing operations accordingly, they may be tempted to feel that the hard work is done. And, perhaps from a human perspective, it is. But now is the time to make sure that your technology platforms begin doing the heavy lifting.
The watchword is automation.
Any form of managed services provision requires a degree of automated delivery. But the rewards - for both MSSPs and their customers - grow exponentially when managed security provision becomes fully automated, and fuelled by data. The proactive monitoring on which all managed services are built allows performance issues - including, but not limited to, security threats - to be identified in real time. This means that resolution can begin immediately. With most problems fixed remotely, this creates a smooth and uninterrupted experience for a customer who may never even be aware of the existence of an issue.
By investing in data-driven automation processes, MSSPs can not only enjoy the same seamlessness, but can also vastly increase their capacity, while generating major new sales opportunities - and cost savings for both themselves and their clients, to boot.
It is often said that data has now become the world's foremost currency. And nowhere is this idea better evidenced than in the world of managed security services. MSSP are constantly processing their customers' data, with huge volumes of information being gathered every hour of every day. The potential knowledge contained in all this data massively dwarfs that of even the most experienced and decorated engineering professionals. Automating the way in which this knowledge is used to solve problems and implement solutions allows MSSPs to improve their service, while greatly expanding their ability to offer it, and to whom. The boost in capacity also brings with it economies of scale which can not only grow sales and save money for managed security providers, but can also allow them to compete more aggressively on price. And a better service plus a lower price adds up to a very happy customer.
While staff technology skills cannot and should not ever be overlooked or abandoned, the fact is that an automated process can deliver a more uniformly reliable service than an engineer. There is a reason they call it ‘human' error, after all. What is more, automating processes can make them quicker and more predictable - hence easier to study and learn from. And having an automated, rather than an employee-led, processes can enable MSSPs to offer their services to more clients, including bigger players across a more diverse range of industries.
A global study of 350 managed services providers conducted last year by SolarWinds MSP found that 72 per cent of respondents that had automated their use of client data had seen an increase in their capacity of at least 25 per cent. This includes almost 40 per cent that have more than doubled their capacity - and all without adding a single extra employee. A similar amount indicated that their use of automation had enabled them to service far more complex technology estates. With the rise of BYOD, the Internet of Things, and smart cities, the ability to with bigger, more complicated, and increasingly diverse IT set-ups could prove incredibly fruitful for MSSPs.
Of course, being able to offer more complex services on a far bigger scale than before - without facing any additional staff costs - offers an obvious increase in revenues and profitability for MSSPs. And the potential big increase in margins gives channel firms the option of providing customers with a lower price, creating even more sales opportunities and the chance to swipe business from less evolved rivals.
So, the channel adds more money to its top and bottom line while greatly increasing its capabilities, while end users get a much better service at a lower cost. When you automate the process of gathering and examining data, and implementing the lessons learned from it, it is clear that everybody wins.
And there is even better news for MSSPs when it becomes apparent how comparatively uncrowded the marketplace is. The SolarWinds MSP study found that almost half of respondents - 46 per cent - do not store any historical performance data from clients. And the vast majority - 82 per cent - of those have no system of automated processes for collating and examining that data and turning it into advice or actions to improve the performance of their customers' IT. With more than nine in ten MSPs currently not offering data-driven automation, channel players that begin their journey now will be a long way ahead of almost all of their rivals.
With a vast and untapped landscape of opportunity stretched out in front of them.
This article was commissioned by SolarWinds MSP