The Future of MSPs: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Author: Guy Nadivi, Sr. Marketing Director, Ayehu

Leading analyst firms are forecasting a lot of turmoil ahead for MSPs, so I thought it would be well worth exploring not only the ramifications of this expected market upheaval, but also how smart MSPs can actually take advantage of it.

Are any of you fans of old westerns?  I’m personally a big fan of movies about the old west, an interesting time in American history.  Western cinema, as many of you already know, often depicts harsh wilderness landscapes where people end up in a shootout, fighting over something that’s important to them.

One of the best examples of Western cinema is a classic movie called “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly”.  Maybe some of you have seen it.  Back when I still purchased DVDs, this was actually the first DVD I ever bought. 

This movie title, “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly” is an apt metaphor I’m going to use to help me describe the current situation in the MSP market, where much like the old west, many MSPs find themselves in a shootout over something very important – market share.

Let’s start with ‘The Good.’  According to MarketsAndMarkets, a research and advisory firm focused on B2B markets, “The managed services market is expected to grow from over $180 billion in 2018 to $282.0 billion by 2023, a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 9.3%.”  That’s a pretty good market to be in.

Here’s the ‘The Bad,’ though. According to Gartner, “…as competition heightens, service providers will be forced to aggressively roll automation out across their client base and service lines because, if an existing provider is slow in implementing automation, this will leave that account quite vulnerable to competition, proposing a strong artificial intelligence proposition with the possibility of a vendor switch.”  In other words, Gartner’s saying that MSPs who don’t start introducing automation & AI to their customers, are now at risk of being left by that customer for another MSP that does.

And here’s ‘The Ugly.’ Again this is from Gartner and please note, this is advice they’re giving to sourcing executives at enterprises that hire MSPs.  “Understand the provider’s service capabilities, product development plans and AI roadmap to be able to negotiate effective reductions associated with new technology. Otherwise, consider moving away from the service provider if investments are lacking, lagging, or the service provider is not actively sharing the benefits with the client.” 

That last part might require a bit of explanation. Gartner is telling customers that they should EXPECT their MSP vendor to start automating their service offerings, and begin sharing the benefits of automation back to the client in the form of reduced charges. If an MSP doesn’t do that, they’re explicitly telling sourcing executives to go find another MSP that does!

Some of you might now be realizing seeing why I’m using the old west as a metaphor for the MSP market.  There’s a big shootout coming among MSPs that don’t start rolling out effective automation for their clients.

Here’s another one. The Good – according to Gartner, “Many of the large players in the Gartner Magic Quadrants that address IT infrastructure have rolled out intelligent automation that provides for effective management of the data center, end user, service desk and applications. The rollouts have been in the operations area and have reported improvements of 30% cost savings with 30% gain in service quality.”  So the organizations that have started automating are seeing significant benefits, meaning that automation is working really well.

But, also according to Gartner, here’s the The Bad – “Reconcile with the fact that revenue cannibalization is bound to happen in the near term because of automation. Instead, prepare to divert cost savings into fueling new projects. This is the best way to protect your turf.”  Interpretation: Gartner is telling MSPs that automation will cause unavoidable revenue losses in the immediate future, but your best bet for safeguarding market share is to invest in new automation projects now.

Finally, here’s The Ugly, and this too is from Gartner, “Use forward pricing to reap the benefits of artificial intelligence in your infrastructure outsourcing deal.” BTW – this is another Gartner recommendation specifically addressed to sourcing executives.  They’re advising them to incorporate the expected savings of artificial intelligence, and by inference automation, into their outsourcing deals REGARDLESS of whether or not their infrastructure provider offers it.  Meaning that whether or not automation and AI are part of an MSP’s strategy, the market will be expecting it to be, and that will put further downward pricing pressure on a business with already thinning margins.

Let’s do just one more of these.

The Good.  Gartner says, “Those providers that invest early will see their business flourish for a few years, and then will land in a position where the business around those services is underpinned by a positive and sustainable margin performance. Yes, it will be transactional and maybe per quantity in nature, but it will be nevertheless sustainable.”  So if you make the investment in automation now, you will reap the profitable benefits down the road in a SUSTAINABLE way.

Here’s The Bad.  “Those that fail to invest will see quick revenue erosion, followed by margin erosion, because they will be forced to lower prices without being able to enjoy the reduction in delivery costs that automation can offer.”  So again, they’re saying the market is expecting MSPs to provide automation, and will also expect lower pricing going forward, regardless of whether or not the MSP even offers automation.

And here’s the last Ugly.  “It will not be a question of getting to ‘smaller but sustainable,’ but a case of exiting with a strong focus on damage limitation.”  This advice from Gartner basically boils down to a warning that if you’re not going to start using and offering automation soon, you should consider getting out now while you can still get some value for your business.  Pretty dire warning!

Now that you’ve heard what the experts think, if you’re an MSP is it time to hit the panic button? 

NO!  Don’t panic.  Not yet anyways.

Let’s return again to our old west theme.  Back in those days when people went to the local saloon to enjoy some recreational fun, everybody played the same card game just like they always did. 

In modern times, up until recently, the game was always the same for MSPs too.  Now though, the MSP game is changing.

In fact, thanks to automation and other technologies, the MSP game is changing dramatically and everybody is being dealt a new hand. If you’re an MSP, your new hand in this new game means a new opportunity to increase market share!

Just to be absolutely clear about the changing game for MSPs, let me illustrate what exactly is changing.

Traditionally, the MSP game was about filling up massive cubicle farms to provide services with inexpensive labor.  Unfortunately, that’s just not sustainable anymore. Even if you’ve got a supply of the absolute cheapest labor and you can double up people in each cubicle, there’s one inconvenient fact that can’t be escaped – people don’t scale very well.

That includes even your very best data center workers, who can only handle so much. Today, analysts and thought leaders are telling companies to walk away from these kinds of outsourced deals, no matter how cheap your labor is.

And why are they recommending that?

Because the new reality is that digital labor is MUCH cheaper.  Not only that, but digital labor takes no vacations, or coffee breaks, or sick time, and it never has mood swings.  It’s always available, 24/7/365 and unlike people, it is extremely scalable.

The new game for MSPs is Automation-as-a-Service.  Leveraging digital labor to provide a much better offering, and doing it for even less than before.

Remember, in this new game MSPs are expected to play, Gartner and others are telling your customers that what they should demand from you is more quality, increased speed, and better results, all at a lower cost.  The only practical way an MSP can do that is with automation.

Back once more to the old west.  One of the really great stories in the history of that time period was the gold rush.  The gold rush of the 1800’s made a lot of MSPs very rich.  Yes, you read that right – MSPs.  Except back then, M.S.P. stood for Mineral Searching Prospectors.  (Alright, maybe I’m the only one who thought that was kind of funny.)

Today’s gold rush doesn’t involve any shovels or pick axes or specialized pans for sifting gold nuggets out of rivers.  That’s because today’s gold rush is in automation powered by AI.  Ayehu predicts that between now and about the middle of this century, a lot of MSP’s are going to get very rich by using an enterprise automation platform to provide Automation-as-a-Service for their customers.

Before diving into that though, I’d like to talk just a little bit about open source automation.

If there’s one character from the old west that best epitomizes the idea of working with open source software, it’s undoubtedly the blacksmith.  Everybody knows what blacksmiths did back then, right?  They took a piece of metal, and forged it into something like a horseshoe.  And by forging I mean they did a lot of hammering and a lot of sweating.

That’s exactly what you’re going to do with open source software.  Except instead of hammering, you’re going to be doing a lot of coding, but you’ll still probably do a lot of sweating too, just like the blacksmith. 

Maybe that’s appealing on some level.  Build it yourself and take full pride in forging an automation tool that does exactly what you want.  Except the problem there is that while you’re hammering away on your keyboard just to build the automation tool itself, your competitors are using commercial-grade automation software like Ayehu that works right out-of-the-box and is fully supported by the publisher.  That means your competitors are orchestrating actual workflows for their customers that are up & running quickly and in production to start earning those customers an ROI.  The best way to stay competitive as an MSP is to go with the tool that’s already proven itself and can earn a fast ROI for your customers.

Remember – generally speaking, your customers aren’t worrying about the plumbing.  They just want you to give them hot water.

Let’s discuss a couple of use case examples.

The first use case is a major international financial services firm, with what can only be described as a colossal environment:

  • They have over 60,000 servers
  • They also have over 10,000 database instances
  • And they have nearly 500 supported applications!

Their challenge was the high cost of monitoring and maintaining this massive infrastructure.

Using Ayehu’s automation platform, they realized:

  • A 40% improvement in MTTR
  • A 90% improvement in response times
  • And together, those two yielded a 15% cost savings in year one!

Not a bad return on investment, and a huge win for our MSP partner that delivered these results to this customer.

The second use case involves one of the largest department stores in America.  Not quite as big as the previous company, but pretty big nonetheless.  Their infrastructure included:

  • About 20,000 servers
  • Nearly 6,500 database instances
  • And all this was spread out between 2 different datacenters!

Their staff was spending a lot of time and effort on manual, repetitive tasks that were impacting their resolution times.

After Ayehu was deployed, they experienced:

  • a 95% improvement in MTTR
  • a 1,500 man-hour reduction of effort in Year 1
  • and a savings of nearly half-a-million dollars!

Quite an impact.

The final case study I want to share with you shows the power of automation in reducing the cost of operations for the MSP.  This case study comes from a global MSP partner of ours who’s among the largest $ multi-billion MSPs.

They were looking to reduce operations costs and improve their margins at one particular client where they had a multi-year contract with a project value of $11.6 Million per year.

After implementing Ayehu at that customer to automate numerous repetitive manual processes, their operational costs steadily dropped each year until by the 3rd year of their engagement, they were saving 35% in costs using Ayehu automation, all of which dropped straight to their bottom line.

And thanks to Ayehu, they were able to deliver a 30% FTE optimization while increasing their SLA performance by 98%.

As you can imagine, now that this MSP has mastered our automation platform with such success, they’re going to be aggressively competitive in the market place.

Speaking of SLAs, I should also point out that incorporating automation into your managed service practice will allow you to say goodbye to SLA penalties and missed targets. As previously mentioned, automation never takes a break, and it also remediates incidents much faster.  That more than anything will give your MSP practice its best shot at hitting its KPI goals. Typically with automation, you can reduce ticket-handling time for incidents down to seconds.

BTW – Since offering automation will alter your cost structure as it did for the MSP above, it will open up many more opportunities for you that were not previously economically profitable.  Automation will also enable you to generate more business opportunities from your existing customer base.  On average, our partners tell us Ayehu has increased their MSP wins by about 10x.

Q:          What’s your onboarding program like & how long does it take?

A:           Onboarding generally takes 6 weeks.  During that time we’ll put your team through training, help you get your own Ayehu environment up & running, and hold your hands helping you build your first workflows.  We’ll also help you build POC’s with your clients, and enable your success however we can.

Q:          What’s the difference between your solution and a freebie Open Source Software download?

A:           It depends on what open source software you’re referring to.  In general though, open source software means you’re doing all the heavy lifting of building out your own tool.  So be prepared to do a LOT of coding.  We’ve invested over a decade of man hours building out the Ayehu automation platform and it’s ready to go out-of-the-box right now without any coding.  The first question you should ask yourself then is, would you rather invest your time & effort reinventing the wheel, or using the wheel that’s been on the market for over 10 years to start adding value to your clients from day one?

Q:          How should an MSP determine when to use Ayehu versus some other automation tool?

A:           That depends on what it is you want to automate.  There’s a lot of different automation tools out there with a lot of different specialties.  Ayehu has a very specific focus on automating IT & Security operations.  We’ve been doing it a long time, we’re very good at it, and we’d be a great choice for any MSP looking for that kind of solution.

Q:          What is the minimum time to learn Ayehu?

A:           Very minimal.  Usually hours, but no more than a couple days.  We like to tell people all the time – take your lowest-level SysAdmin (even an intern), preferably someone who’s never written a single line of code in their lives, and let us train them for just one day.  Afterwards, they’ll probably end up being the most productive person on your IT staff.  Ayehu is very easy to learn.  If you’ve ever used a tool like Visio to build something like an org chart, then you’re already pretty well qualified to build automated workflows with Ayehu.

Q:          What makes Ayehu a platform that MSPs should use, compared to other automation tools?

A:           The Ayehu automation platform is actually designed with MSPs in mind.  So that means features like:

  • Being SaaS-ready which allows an MSP to create their own automation cloud, and since it’s also multi-tenant that means you can partition the same automation cloud out to different customers while managing it all centrally from one instance.  We deliberately made Ayehu an enabler for MSPs that makes it easy for them to offer Automation-as-a-Service.
  • Providing white labeling, so you can rebrand Ayehu as your own tool, which is a great way to reinforce brand loyalty with your customers.

•            Offering a strong partner enablement service that gets you up & running quickly so you can start delivering value to your clients ASAP & begin conquering more market share with automation.

Q:          You mentioned that Ayehu includes AI, but you didn’t give much detail.  Can you please elaborate on what Ayehu’s AI capabilities are?

A:           Ayehu is partnered with SRI International, formerly known as the Stanford Research Institute.  SRI holds something like 4,000 patents worldwide including for things like the original mouse & SIRI, Apple’s conversational AI.  SRI is Ayehu’s design partner, and they’ve designed a lot of the really cool stuff like Machine Learning-driven Dynamic Activity Suggestions.  That means that based on the workflow you’re building, our system provides a real-time recommendation on the next best activity to incorporate into your workflow, based on what we know has worked best for other customers building similar workflows.  That’s been available since last year.

              Another cool AI/ML feature is Dynamic Rule Suggestions, to augment the current static rules we have for triggering workflows. What that means is that when an incident comes into Ayehu, if we have a static rule that matches its profile, then that rule will kick off a workflow to remediate that incident.  Dynamic Rule Suggestions will allow us to suggest rules for incidents that don’t match any rules so they don’t just fall through the cracks.

              By next year, we’ll be offering Dynamic Workflow Suggestions. This is exactly what it sounds like, namely we’re going to be offering real-time suggestions of best practice workflows and workflows that are industry-specific, based on a little understanding of what you’re trying to accomplish.

              So there’s a lot of very cool AI & machine learning features baked into the product and we believe it’s all going to give our customers an insurmountable market advantage.

To see this information in action, click the image below to watch the on-demand webinar.

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Attention MSPs: How a hybrid approach could be your next opportunity

It’s happened time and time again: large corporations wavering between total in-house IT and complete outsourcing, only to discover that neither option provides a truly cost effective and efficient solution. Such was the case with European oil company Rompetrol, who seesawed between both approaches, all the while wasting value time, money and resources only to lose control over their IT altogether. This all changed, however, when CIO Marcel Chiriac took over in 2012.

Upon discovering that the outsourcing firm the company had hired had grossly mishandled things, Chiriac took on the daunting task of getting things back under control as quickly as possible. Weighing his options, and considering the fact that shifting everything back to in-house again that fast would be just short of impossible, Chiriac opted instead for a hybrid IT environment. This provided the “best of both worlds” in terms of control and efficiency.

The first step in the process involved putting together a team of IT professionals with whom he could work to renegotiate contracts with the many software vendors Rompetrol dealt with. Chiriac’s in-house team then had the job of evaluating the state of the company’s IT infrastructure since it had been managed by the previous provider. The results were disheartening. Additionally, the outsourcing provider refused to cooperate with the transition, making the process extremely frustrating and arduous.

Knowing he was working with a timeframe of just 3 months, Chiriac knew that using traditional technologies simply wouldn’t be sufficient to gain control over and document the asset transfer process. He decided that intelligent process automation might be his best option for meeting the tight deadline and getting the company’s IT performance back up to par. The new IT provider got to work extracting the information needed to allow Rompetrol to begin securing their scattered and vulnerable infrastructure.

Perhaps the most important step taken during this 3 month period was the introduction of “virtual operators”. These are essentially just IT service robots which helped to quickly identify the exact network composition. In addition to facilitating the consolidation and optimization of the company’s infrastructure, these virtual engineers also enabled in-house IT professionals to manage incidents more proactively. This allowed problems to be resolved quickly and efficiently, improving performance and service levels.

Within just one month’s time, automated solutions had been put in place for more than 2,000 items, including switches and servers for over 750 of Rompetrol’s gas stations. There has only been one single outage since the shift to the new hybrid model, and it’s succeeded in reducing operating costs by 27%. At this point, the internal IT team is able to focus on further optimization needs.

Beyond what this means for other companies looking to cut costs and improve IT operations, the use of virtual operators is poised to revolutionize things for managed service providers.  Intelligent automation will open up new avenues of opportunity to provide enhanced levels of support, maximize internal resources, lower costs and maintain competitive advantage. As businesses begin to recognize this hybrid approach, they will begin to once again look to managed service providers to help them achieve the best of both worlds in terms of control, IT security and efficiency.

Are you an managed service provider that would like to become part of a success story like that of Rompetrol?  Intelligent automation is the tool you need to jump ahead of the game. Click here to try it free for 30 days.

How (and why) to run your in-house IT like an MSP

For decades, businesses have been turning to MSPs to handle their day to day IT needs. This outsourcing was something that many small to mid-sized companies were forced to do, since housing IT internally wasn’t always an option. The good news is, technological advances have begun to make it possible for companies of any size to affordably manage IT operations in-house – and with the same efficiency and service levels as an MSP.

We’ve written countless posts about how tools like intelligent automation can be leveraged by MSPs to save time and reduce costs. This same concept can be applied to internal IT departments as well. For small to mid-sized businesses that previously relied on external MSPs to essentially serve as their IT office, the reason was typically budget. It was simply more cost-effective to outsource IT rather than to manage it in-house. But with the ability to accurately measure the value of internal IT, more and more smaller companies are recognizing the benefits of keeping things on-site.

The answer to the age-old question of how an internal IT team can match the efficiency of a managed service provider lies in automation. When you are able to automate not only individual repetitive tasks, but entire complex workflows, suddenly the idea of running a busy IT operation doesn’t seem as overwhelming. You no longer face the need to hire more staff than you can afford, and those team members that you do employee will have the ability to focus on critical things that require a human touch, such as analyzing and developing business strategies for future success.

Benefits of Using IT Process Automation to Keep IT In-House

While using MSPs is certainly not a bad option, there are a number of specific benefits that a business can realize by keeping IT in-house. These benefits include:

  • More Control – Outsourcing always requires giving up a certain amount of control. Keeping IT operations internal gives the business full control over all processes and procedures.
  • Flexibility – A quality intelligent automation platform provides flexibility and customization to each business’s unique pain points. That means that your internal IT can be designed specifically for the needs of your organization, unlike an MSP which can only adapt so much.
  • Higher Level of Security – It goes without saying that internal versus outsourced departments always provide a more secure atmosphere. IT operations for industries that deal with more sensitive information, such as the financial sector, benefit greatly from keeping all transactions in-house.
  • Saves Time – Internal IT operations eliminate the need to contact and rely on a third party for support requests, which can save time. The beauty of automation is that it is designed to make IT operations more efficient, so it is inherently a time-saver. Couple this with the fact that intelligent software is doing the heavy lifting, freeing up personnel to be available if and when an issue arises, and you’ve got a highly effective and efficient department that is able to maintain exceptional service levels.
  • Saves Money – Keeping IT internal saves money over time, since you will no longer need to incur the costs of outsourcing to an MSP.

Think your business is too small or lacks the resources to manage IT operations in-house? Think hiring an MSP is the only option? Think again.

With technological advances, namely the rise of intelligent automation, now organizations of any size have the ability to achieve the same operational efficiency with their in-house IT as they would with a Managed Service Provider.

Still not convinced? Take our Next Generation IT Automation platform for a test drive FREE for 30 days. Click here to claim your free trial.

MSPs: How to Cut Costs in 4 Easy Steps

We’ve come a long way since the antiquated automation tools introduced at the turn of the century. Huge, clunky and far-from-perfect, those old tools were enough to get the job done, but thankfully have been vastly improved over the years. Now, automation is intelligent, offering sophisticated solutions in easy-to-use, out-of-the-box products that are affordable and scalable.

Yet, to truly get the most out of intelligent automation – particularly if you are in the highly competitive field of MSP, there is still work to be done. Here are 4 key steps to manage your services in a way that is more efficient and cost-effective.

Stay Proactive – Of course you know what to do in the event that one of your clients’ infrastructure is compromised, but wouldn’t it make more sense to stay one step ahead of the game? That way, instead of having to waste time, resources and money putting out fires, you could resolve issues before they developed into serious problems.

Let’s take the task of patch management for example. If you’re handling this manually, vulnerabilities in the days following a new release could be placing your clients at risk and making your job much more complicated than it has to be. Intelligent automation, on the other hand, allows you to take a proactive approach to patch releases, speeding the process and reducing risk.

Develop and Implement Standards – By developing a check list of technology standards that can be applied across multiple devices and clients, you can remove much of the guesswork from the trouble-shooting process. This will improve customer service levels and streamline your own internal operations.

For instance, you can create a list of back-up and anti-virus processes, recommended amounts of memory, standard applications and configurations, etc. You can then automate the process of auditing these standards accordingly.

Manage Policies – In addition to common standards, there are also a number of policies that must be managed properly, particularly in terms of IT usage governance. It’s critical to ensure that all users remain in compliance with the policies of your customers.

Common policy areas include password refresh, application usage, allowable downloads and access security. By setting up a policy management plan that is proactive and automated, you can prevent unwanted actions and reduce the number of tickets you and your team will have to field.

Review Regularly – While implementing the three steps listed above will dramatically improve productivity and performance, you’ll never get your incoming trouble tickets down to zero (nor should you want to). By reviewing your existing tickets regularly, however, you can effectively identify other areas where automation could help.

What pain points are regularly causing you problems that you might be able to streamline for better results? You may also find through routine reviews that adjusting your standards and policy management in certain ways could further reduce the excess workload that your team is currently carrying.

As any MSP, you’re probably struggling with the need to do more with less. As IT issues become more and more complex, the ability to stay on top of the needs of your clients without having to increase expenditure will be critical to your future success. Intelligent automation, along with these 4 key steps, can help position you right where you need to be to stay out on top.

IT Process Automation Survival Guide

The Secret to MSP Success…

Anyone familiar the role of a managed service provider understands all-too-well the pressure of finding a way to do more with less. It’s really all about efficiency and scalability. The more effective your performance, the more success you’ll achieve. The problem is, achieving this isn’t always easy, particularly when there are tight budgetary constraints involved, because for many organizations, hiring additional staff simply isn’t feasible. The solution? Intelligent automation, and leveraging it to win the race and position yourself firmly at the head of the pack.

Most MSPs agree that when it comes to intense competition and budgetary restrictions, the best and only solution is to invest in intelligent automation. In fact, this is even the case with enterprises that do not struggle with cash flow issues. Even those that can afford to hire additional staff, doing so will inevitably impact the bottom line. By taking a step back and allowing technology to do the heavy lifting, on the other hand, scalability is achieved without the added expenditure of increasing personnel.

Outsourcing or relocating operation centers to other areas of the world may provide a slight advantage in terms of overall cost, but it won’t necessarily level the economic playing field. The ultimate goal of every MSP is to successfully deliver as many quality services as possible while simultaneously utilizing the fewest resources…hence, doing more with less. Tapping into foreign markets and moving your IT department will not achieve this. Only automation will.

That said, it’s also critically important that key decision makers perform their due diligence when choosing an intelligent automation platform to employ. Those who have been most successful in this so-called “survival of the fittest” contest have provided some insight into what to consider during the selection process. Most importantly, keep the concept of scalability in mind. Make sure you choose a product that will be able to bridge the past with the future, integrating with legacy systems while also adapting with your changing business needs as they occur. Flexibility is key.

It’s also incredibly important that the automation platform you choose is robust but easy to implement and use. Remember, you’re going to be relying on this system to handle not just simple, repetitive tasks but also complex workflows that are critical to the success of your entire organization. Do your homework and make sure the product you ultimately select is comprehensive enough to handle anything and everything your business may need, not just today but in the future as well.

There’s no question that intelligent automation is fast becoming the central part of many successful MSP operations, and only those organizations that embrace and act on this will continue to remain competitive. Don’t get left behind! Get on track to a profitable future by investing in AI-powered automation.

Get started today by launching your free 30 day trial of Ayehu. 

Attn: MSPs – Want to Maximize Efficiency and Gain Competitive Advantage? Here’s how.

In years past, businesses had little choice when it came to managing their own internal IT operations. For many, the only feasible option was outsourcing. Today, with so many advancements in technology, the concept of outsourcing has shifted and more companies are bringing these services in-house. So, how can Managed Service Providers compete and stay profitable? The answer is simple. MSPs must find a way to maximize efficiency while delivering the highest value proposition to their customers. And here’s how.

Do More with Less

The first step in staying successful as an MSP is finding a way to get the most out of your employees while also keeping expenditure down. While hiring more staff may seem like the logical solution to staying on top of tasks and delivering exceptional client service, doing so would be too cost prohibitive for most firms – especially in today’s highly competitive landscape.

As an alternative, MSPs can turn to technology and leverage the various tools available to them to help boost productivity without the need to bring on additional employees. Intelligent automation, for example, an excellent solution to this dilemma, as it can eliminat many of the day to day tasks from your team’s to-do list. Not only will this allow you to keep staffing lean, but it also frees up those who would normally handle those repetitive workflows to focus on other, more meaningful business initiatives.

By automating activities such as incident management, the program itself can handle much of the process without the need for human intervention. This improves response time and efficiency levels, which ultimately enhances SLA to the clients.

Make an Offer They Can’t Refuse

One of the reasons the managed service provider industry is considered so risky is because tech advancements, such as cloud hosting, have made managing operations in-house easier and more affordable. To counteract this, MSPs must make what they have to offer too valuable to refuse. Beyond just taking on the task of handling IT operations for a company in real-time, these firms must remain one step ahead. This means taking a proactive approach and identifying and addressing issues even before they occur.

The best tool for this task is again automation. By leveraging a robust intelligent automation product, preferably one that can be integrated with other existing systems. That way, things like alert management can be streamlined to maximum efficiency. This reduces human error and allows problems to be corrected at a much faster rate. When you can effectively demonstrate to a company that is considering hosting IT in-house that your services are much more valuable, you’ll win the battle for survival.

Ayehu for MSPs

To stay afloat in an increasingly volatile, cut-throat environment and disprove the impending “outsourcing is dead” theory, MSPs must continue to adapt. Performance will need to be at its highest with cost at its lowest. The only logical solution to this is intelligent automation. This will provide the edge you need to remain ahead of the pack in the months and years to come.

Are you an Managed Service Provider that is feeling the pressure to perform better? Are you ready to experience what the right automation platform can do for your business? Download your free 30-day trial of Ayehu today!
eBook: 10 time consuming tasks you should automate

Managed Service Providers: Could this be hindering your growth?

Making the transition from basic IT support to a full-fledged Managed Service Provider isn’t necessarily easy. There will inevitably be a number of obstacles to overcome along the way. Thankfully, many have gone before and essentially paved the way for newer players to enter the field. Learning in advance what challenges you can expect and the best way to meet those challenges head on will help you avoid potential pitfalls that might otherwise become a barrier to growth. Let’s take a closer look at the three most common issues today’s MSPs struggle with.

Fear of Change

Let’s face it. Making a major change to your business model is scary. What if things don’t work out? Will you be able to recover? The reality is, however, that success requires a certain degree of risk. If your team is feeling particularly leery of making the shift to Managed Service Provider and/or pursuing aggressive growth initiatives, the key will be communication. Be open, honest and transparent. Acknowledge the uncertainty many of your staff members are experiencing and take the time to address those concerns and put them to rest.

Additionally, there may also be an underlying fear that switching to managed services will result in the loss of business. Chances are very good that this will, indeed happen, as not everyone is suited for an MSP level of support. Understand, however, that while you may very well end up saying goodbye to a small portion of your customers, over time you will gain others to replace them. It’s just part of the shift.

Lack of Differentiation

Without question, the Managed Service Provider field is highly saturated. The organizations that thrive are those that have found a way to stand out from the competition. This is especially critical for those just entering the marketplace. If potential clients can get the same service from an established player that they already know and trust, why would they take a chance on you? It’s up to you to convince them otherwise.

To do so, you must identify what new and better services your company can offer. For instance, if your prospects are seeking growth themselves, focus on services that help maximize efficiency and empower them to achieve those goals. If you’re unsure of what angle to take, tap into your sales team to find out what they’re hearing in the field. Or, better yet – ask your clients and prospects directly.

Underpricing

Finally, there is the challenge of how to appropriately price your services. In fact, making a switch from fixed price to a more profitable pricing model can be a difficult transition. This is often compounded by a mere lack of full understanding and a subsequent underestimation of the true value of the services you will now be providing.

At the end of the day, you want your customers to pay you what you’re worth. If you are undervaluing your services, chances are you are also underpricing yourself, which means you will not be able to achieve sustainable growth. Be honest and do your homework. Figure out what you are worth and what you will need to make in order to bring your business to the next level and then implement the necessary changes to make it happen.

Now that you’ve got a clearer picture of what may be standing in your way, it’s time to get to work turning things around. Here are a few helpful pointers, to overcome these common issues:

  • Evaluate your current business plan and strategy, as well as team member skills and abilities.
  • Utilize technology and tools, like intelligent automation, to make service delivery much more efficient.
  • Build technical credibility through key certifications and specializations.
  • Understand your pricing model to ensure that it properly supports your level of service.
  • Keep in close contact with customers to recognize and capitalize on trends and opportunities. 

Making the transition from basic IT support to full-fledged managed service provider may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, with a well thought out plan backed by a confident team and advanced technology, you will be well positioned to compete in today’s fast growing market.

Want to experience the power of intelligent automation backed by AI technology? For a limited time only, get a free 30 day trial of Ayehu by clicking here.

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How Intelligent Automation Can Boost Profitability for Managed Service Providers

How Intelligent Automation Can Boost Profitability for Managed Service ProvidersOne of the biggest challenges managed service providers (MSPs) face today is striking a balance between routine processes and procedures and the more value-added services that also bring in more revenue. Like it or not, time is extremely limited. Furthermore, in order to meet the stringent demands all managed service providers face, the business itself must be operated as efficiently as possible. Intelligent automation is the solution that can help optimize allocation of resources, thereby creating additional opportunities for more profitability.

There’s really no way to completely eliminate many of the many manual, repetitive tasks that are a necessary component of a managed service provider’s day to day work. The problem is, if you’re not completing these things fast enough and with few to no errors, your business will not be able to stand up against the fierce competition. By automating these tasks and workflows, all of the required work will be completed more quickly and accurately, allowing your company to do more with less and provide the highest level of service available.

Contrary to popular belief, automation isn’t meant to eliminate human workers, and there’s no reason to believe that such a revolution will take place in the MSP realm any time soon. What it does do, however, is empower technicians by allowing them to focus their talents and abilities on more lucrative projects. Meanwhile, the mundane work is handled by machine, the two working in tandem toward the same shared goal. This results in a much more streamlined and productive operation that is run at maximum efficiency and output – something all managed service providers strive for.

Not only can intelligent automation work in conjunction with human technicians, but the right tool can also be integrated with other existing systems and applications to further enhance and extend their capabilities. Whether it’s monitoring software, a helpdesk platform or something else, seamless integration with a comprehensive intelligent automation platform can provide greater visibility and control to further promote and sustain fully optimized, unified operations.

Key benefits of using intelligent automation to support managed service providers include:

  • Increased efficiency and productivity
  • Enhanced accuracy
  • Exceptional customer service
  • Better adherence to service level agreements (SLAs)

Obviously, all of these areas can be directly linked to the business’ overarching goals and objectives. The better your company performs, the greater degree of competitive advantage you’ll be able to maintain. Consistently standing out from the many other managed service providers in such a saturated marketplace is something all firms aspire to do, and intelligent automation can be the catalyst for achieving that goal. And because your talented techs will be freed up to work on more complex tasks and projects, you’ll be able to capture new and better ways to increase profits over time.

How does your company stack up against the rest? Could intelligent automation be the missing piece of the puzzle that will drive your business to the next level? Launch your free product demo today and experience for yourself what a significant and positive impact automation can have on your future success.

eBook: Top 7 Benefits IT Process Automation Provides MSP’s

How to Choose the Right Partner for Your MSP Business

How to Choose the Right Partner for Your MSP BusinessBuilding a profitable managed service provider business requires striking a delicate balance between adding value for your clientele and also adding value for your organization. If the scales tip too far in either direction, your business could easily topple. Part of keeping things in balance involves selecting the right partners who will support and help you achieve your MSP business goals. Here are a few tips to ensure a good fit.

Identify and understand your customers’ needs.

You can’t expect to meet (and hopefully exceed) the needs of your clients if you don’t have a clear and accurate understanding of what those needs are. Do they employ any IT staff in-house or do they rely entirely on your company? Do they have an eCommerce side to their business? Do they work with particularly large files? Different clients will have different needs and require MSP support for different reasons. Understanding these various needs will help you choose a partner that will help you address those needs.

Set your own business goals.

Once you have a clear understanding of what your clients expect from you, the next important step is identifying your organizational goals. Again, the objective is to strike a balance between delivering the best possible service at the lowest cost to save your customers money while also finding a way to do more with less so you can remain profitable. This is why choosing the right vendor is so important. For instance, a partner offering intelligent automation can allow you to work on limited staff to keep operating costs at a minimum while still delivering a high degree of service to your MSP clients.

Schedule a meet and greet.

There are plenty of MSP partners on the market today. Your task will be to shortlist the ones with offerings that most closely align with your clients’ needs and your business goals. Once you’ve got a few narrowed down, it’s a good idea to schedule a meeting with each of them. A great way to meet potential vendors and get a feel for who they are and what they offer is to attend industry events where they are presenting or performing demos. (For instance, Ayehu sponsors, attends and presents at a wide variety of events, offering demos of our intelligent automation powered by AI.) This will give you an opportunity to meet the team, see the product in action and ask any questions you may have.

Make sure it integrates.

One key factor to consider when weighing your options is whether a partner’s product will integrate well with your existing systems, programs and applications. There’s really no point in adopting a technology if it will remain isolated from the rest of your infrastructure. Look for a product, like Ayehu, that integrates easily, seamlessly and quickly with everything from Solarwinds to VMware to Twilio and any other platform you currently rely on. The goal should be to plug and play with as little disruption as possible.

Understand the service requirements for implementation.

The last question you should ask is whether your technicians will need special skills to deliver the solution and, if so, what those skills are. For instance, will your team need to worry about coding or scripting? (Ideally, an MSP solution that requires no coding and offers out-of-the-box templates and functionality should be at the top of your list.) If there is a learning curve, will training be provided? You’ll also want to determine the level of human intervention required. Remember, less is always more in this instance.

Ready to move to the next step? Ayehu’s intelligent automation solution, powered by AI, is designed to help bring your MSP business to the next level. You can be up and running in just minutes, saving time, delivering a higher level of service and freeing up your staff to focus on more critical tasks. But don’t take our word for it. Take Ayehu for a test drive today and experience it for yourself by clicking here!

eBook: Top 7 Benefits IT Process Automation Provides MSP’s

MSPs: Your Continued Profitability Depends on THIS…

MSPs: Your Continued Profitability Depends on THIS...Anyone who understands the role of a managed service provider (MSP) understands the importance of doing more with less. It’s really all about scale and common sense. The more efficient and effective your performance, the more success you’ll achieve. The problem is, achieving a high level of scalability isn’t always possible when budget is involved, because for many organizations, hiring additional staff simply isn’t feasible. The solution? IT automation, and leveraging it to win the race and become the head of the pack.

MSP experts agree that when it comes to stiff competition and budgetary restrictions, the best and only solution is to invest in automation. This is the case even with enterprises that do not struggle with cash flow issues. Even if you can afford to hire additional staff, doing so will inevitably impact your bottom line. If you take a step back and allow technology to do the heavy lifting for you, on the other hand, you’ve got scalability without the added expenditure of beefing up personnel.

The ability to outsource and even relocate operation centers to other areas of the world may provide a slight advantage in terms of overall cost, but it won’t necessarily level the economic playing field. The ultimate goal of every MSP is to deliver as many quality services as possible while utilizing the fewest number of employees…hence, doing more with less. Tapping into foreign markets and moving your IT department will not achieve this. Only automation will.

That said, it’s also critically important that key decision makers do their due diligence when choosing an IT automation product to work with. Those who have been most successful in this battle of the fittest have provided some insight into what to be careful of during the selection process. Most importantly, keep the concept of scalability in mind. Make sure you choose a product that will be able to bridge the past with the future, integrating with legacy systems while also adapting with your changing business needs as they occur. Flexibility is key.

It’s also extremely important that the IT automation platform you choose be robust. Remember, you’re going to be relying on this system to handle not just simple, repetitive tasks but also things that are critical to the success of your entire organization, such as incident management and advanced workflow performance.  Do your homework and make sure the product you ultimately select is comprehensive enough to handle anything your business may need.

As we move forward, there’s no question that IT automation will become the central part of any successful MSPs strategy, and only those organizations that embrace and act on this will continue to remain competitive. Don’t get left in the dust! Get your MSP on track to a competitive and lucrative future by investing in automation.

Schedule your free live demo today to see it in action!

eBook: Top 7 Benefits IT Process Automation Provides MSP’s