Big Gains Bring More Competition and Challenges to MSPs

The managed services industry is expected to grow--by a lot--in the next few years, which means competition among providers will grow. MSPs must leverage the power of IT automation to streamline and scale their services. Plus, they must continue to deliver and build on the their value to their customers.

July 18, 2014

4 Min Read
Challenges Ahead

By N-able Guest Blog 2

A study by consulting firm MarketsandMarkets projects the managed services industry is set to grow approximately 1,700%, hitting a high of $265 billion by 2018. While the prediction is impressive and encouraging for the managed services industry at large, it also raises concerns for MSPs around increased competition and the overall scalability of their services.

The fact is, when this much growth is projected for a market, there’s no question that new challengers will enter the market. To compete and win against the growing ensemble of established companies breaking into IT managed services – such as copier dealers, VOIP vendors and major IT service providers – MSPs must ensure they are leveraging the power of IT automation to streamline and scale their services. Simultaneously, they must continue to deliver and build on the unique value they bring to their customers.  

Automate Everything but the Customer Experience

IT automation is critical to the success of an MSP for a number of reasons.  First and foremost, it makes scaling and proactively managing IT services faster, easier and more profitable. Second, it helps maximize technician utilization rates, which frees up the MSP’s team to focus on more strategic IT engagements and grow the business with new and existing customers. Another great reason to leverage IT automation is the consistency and measure it delivers to the MSP and their customers.

Today’s business leaders and decision makers want assurances, predictability and sustainable results. By leveraging IT automation to deliver true managed services, MSPs can check these boxes and keep their focus on building the customer relationship–and the business. 

If you’re struggling to scale your services, take an assessment of what can be easily automated with the right technology. When it comes time to evaluate a remote monitoring and management (RMM) solution, here are two critical automation capabilities to look for:

1. Automation has to be easy to implement and to understand, and that means it should not require advanced programming knowledge. Traditional custom “scripts” can be cumbersome, complex, and difficult to understand and maintain. Automation engines that feature simple “drag and drop” functionality are the only solutions that can achieve the simplicity and efficiency MSPs require to compete. They allow you to automate simple repetitive tasks or very complex automation processes. By capturing the knowledge of your most experienced workers, while decreasing your dependence on complicated scripting knowledge, you will be able to implement repeatable best practices at lightning speed and make a major leap forward in delivering a better user experience to your customers.

2. Developing an automation policy library is the most critical step for automating the delivery of your managed services. Your RMM vendor should provide policies based on hundreds of available pre-defined, pre-tested and reusable automation objects. Each object is developed to address a specific task that can then be combined into automation policies and applied to all of your proactive or reactive customers. To be effective, an automation object library must be comprehensive and provide objects that cover the breadth of the business and all areas of IT service delivery. The goal is to free up your technicians from spending time on routine tasks, allowing them instead to focus on providing higher-value services and the best end user experience to your customers.

Differentiating on the Customer Experience

Once an MSP introduces the right IT automation into its managed services practice, delivering exceptional service becomes turnkey, and greater focus can be placed on higher-value services and initiatives–including the customer experience.

As Mike Cullen pointed out in his post in May, one of the biggest competitive advantages that an MSP has over these new competitors is the ability to be flexible and put forth a services plan that fits the needs and meets the business goals of the customer.

By automating a lot of repetitive, routine tasks, you’ll be able to build on this advantage and scale your service more easily to capture a greater share of wallet with existing customers, as well as engage prospects with a stronger value proposition.

JP Jauvin is general manager of N-able by SolarWinds, a global leader in remote monitoring and management (RMM) and service automation software.


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