The New MSP Way: Automation, Compliance and Security Awareness
A decade ago, managing IT services largely involved selling products and services designed for tech manufacturers or vendors, and the channel worked on a “break/fix” model of putting out fires as they arose. That was mostly it. But today–with the evolution of RMMs, AI, machine learning and the cloud–the landscape for MSPs has been permanently altered.
Today, MSPs are required to wear a great many hats: virtual CIOs, IT advisers, project managers and security consultants. Understanding technology’s changing role in how managed services are marketed and delivered is critical to standing out in a crowded field. In fact, by 2023, IDC predicts 75% of all IT spending will be on technology that drives digital transformation, opening up big opportunities for the MSPs stocking more solutions than their competition.
MSPs can experience the smoothest transition to this new way of offering managed services by focusing on three tech arenas marked by rapid change: automation, compliance and security awareness.
Automation: The Crucial Ingredient for MSP Business Success
It’s well known that automation can help to cut costs and streamline operations. While this may seem less relevant to MSPs who have focused on relationship-building and quality service as keys to growth and retention, automation can play a role in helping those types of businesses scale, too. To serve their fast-growing clients, MSPs must leverage automation to deliver efficient, timely communication, infrastructure management and cyber security services.
Automation can drive success for both MSPs and their clients, adding value in transformational ways, including:
- Reducing operational costs – Monitor endpoints, respond to alerts and perform device remediation without the increased overhead from additional hires or wasted time rebuilding infected machines.
- Capitalizing on predictability – Standard, automated technology stacks take the guesswork out of provisioning services, while also allowing MSPs to customize these services for individual SMB clients.
- Shortening response times – Speed matters, and with automation the time between assessment and action for security breaches is shortened, resulting in less downtime and reduced risk.
- Improving service performance – With the right automation tools, MSPs can offer their SMB clients powerful predictive AI- and machine learning-driven security to block threats before they cause an issue, saving them time and money.
- Enhancing regulatory compliance – Automation can make compliance an easier objective to achieve. Test automation, automated workflow and auto-remediation, for example, are just a few of the tactics for improving compliance assistance.
To incorporate these benefits into your own business model, MSPs should insist on made-for-MSP, single-pane-of-glass solutions that easily integrate with current tools and technology like RMMs and PSAs.
Compliance Assistance Is a New Necessity for MSPs
As issues of data security gain increasing attention at home and abroad, and the penalties for violating regulations become more severe, compliance training is becoming a critical service offering for MSPs.
While large corporations are able to weather fines meted out over high-profile data privacy regulations, most SMBs aren’t in such a position. Because a single violation could shutter a small business, it’s inevitable that an MSP will at some point be asked to provide regulatory expertise to a client. Rather than see this as a problem, MSPs should take it as an opportunity to provide the services and know-how customers crave, even to position their businesses as a provider of “compliance-as-a-Service” (CaaS) offerings on a regular billing cycle.
Types of compliance to master include:
- GDPR – This law, implemented in 2018, governs data handling and impacts any company that does business in the European Union, even if the company is not physically located in the EU.
- HIPAA – This affects healthcare, including doctors, dentists and other healthcare organizations. Healthcare experiences twice the number of attacks as other industries.
- SOX – This impacts accounting firms or other financial institutions, and requires that financial records are kept for up to seven years.
- PCI – This affects all businesses that hold any form of credit card information in a digital format.
Of course, compliance with security does not make a compelling offering. Just ask the restaurant chain Rally’s. Just this year it suffered a months-long data breach in which its own internal systems were stealing the PCI for its customers.