I got a call from NCR this week. I used to cover them pretty darn closely when I was with InformationWeek... back in 1995. Still, I respect the company and I used to interview CEO Bill Nuti when he was with Symbol Technologies and Cisco Systems. But back to the story at hand: NCR is launching NCR Predictive Services -- a managed service for Automated Teller Machines, self-checkout terminals, etc. NCR claims the managed service will predict failures before they happen. Sounds a little like artificial intelligence -- the HAL 9000 for managed services. But do Predictive Services work? And will the technology trickle down to smaller MSPs?
According to NCR, the new service is initially available for NCR SelfServT Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and NCR SelfServT Checkout self-checkout terminals. According to a prepared statement from NCR:
"NCR Predictive Services works by gathering and analyzing a wide variety of data from NCR self-service devices. This information is then combined with the insights of the NCR Services data warehouse, which maintains operational data from more than 2 million consumer points of service and 12 million annual service actions around the world."
Business Intelligence Meets Managed ServicesTranslation: It sounds like NCR is combining managed services with business intelligence and business analytics. NCR says a major U.S. supermarket chain has already deployed the service for thousands of self-checkout lanes. For those concerned about customer privacy, NCR says the system does not gather, store or analyze data regarding the individual users of self-service devices.
NCR goes on to offer a practical example of how the service can work:
"NCR will track component activity, such as receipts printed in a self-checkout terminal or ATM. When the printer nears the end of its lifecycle, or exhibits early signs of failure, the printer can be proactively replaced before the failure occurs...When an anomaly is detected, the predictive system will suggest a resolution, which could include dispatching a service technician or starting a remote diagnostic session with an NCR technical expert.Sounds pretty impressive. But it also sounds a little like the HAL 9000... and we all know how that story turned out.
RMM Software as a Predictive SystemKidding aside, I wonder if NCR will ever roll the service out for channel partners to resell. Also, I concede: I don't know if RMM (remote monitoring and management) software providers already offer such capabilities. But the NCR Predictive Services launch has inspired me to find out.
I think RMM software providers are in a position to offer similar predictive systems to small business MSPs. Imagine if RMM systems from thousands of MSPs gathered customer device information and stored the information in a central cloud. If the RMM provider promised to protect individual MSP information and end-customer information, perhaps all that data could be used for so-called predictive services.
On the other hand, maybe an RMM-developed system wouldn't work because there are too many different types of third-party devices to monitor and track. The NCR example, you'll notice, only involves the latest NCR devices. It's a controlled NCR-centric system.
Meanwhile, I've reached out to MSPs that specialize in the banking and financial services vertical -- to see if they manage end-point devices like Automated Teller Machines (ATMs). Dan Holt, CEO of HEIT, says his company manages security & Host Intrusion Prevention (HIPS) on ATM's, but HEIT doesn't manage the actual ATM devices.
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