Digitally driven businesses across a diverse array of fields face the twinned challenges of rising costs and increased competition. In order to stay competitive, managed services providers (MSPs) need to offer their customers innovative services that are at least as good as—or better than—their peer businesses. However, doing so today typically calls for investment in new technology, new digital strategies, and new proficiencies among team members—driving up costs and raising overhead.
Now, business leaders are looking to digital process automation to help resolve these challenges. Digital process automation, which automates critical business functions through cutting-edge technology, represents a dynamic way forward for teams that want to do more with less. In fact, 74% of organizations report actively looking for new use cases for automation, demonstrating its growing popularity. Between 2017 and 2019, the percentage of companies using automation for core business processes rose from 16% to a staggering 50%.
How IT process automation can help MSPs compete
One area of process automation—IT process automation, or ITPA—represents a unique opportunity for MSPs. Tasked with monitoring customer networks, managing complex digital infrastructure, and protecting companies from cybercriminals around the clock, MSPs have to be everywhere at once. With ITPA, however, MSPs can automate routine functions and give their teams a comprehensive view of their customers’ digital infrastructure, allowing them to take a more strategic and proactive posture against threats and potential issues.
For MSPs, the competition is getting tight. Spurred by the SaaS, IaaS, and PaaS revolutions, an increasing number of companies are becoming comfortable turning to third parties to help them manage critical parts of their business needs. With IT management chief among these, savvy MSPs need to consider how they can deliver better service to their customers without raising costs for their teams. By investing in IT process automation throughout your tech stack, MSPs can do more with less while keeping their customers’ networks safe, secure, and productive.
1. Boost your team’s productivity
While workplace technology has changed dramatically over the past several years, many of the routine tasks that employees perform have not. In fact, 90% of employees report being burdened with boring and repetitive tasks—tasks that could easily be automated. This means worker productivity is being squandered on simple tasks that, while important for daily operations, don’t require close personal attention to be completed successfully.
This is especially true for MSPs managing multiple customers’ complex networks. Tasked with monitoring the minutiae of off-site digital infrastructure, MSPs that haven’t invested in ITPA likely have employees spending valuable time on time-consuming, repetitive tasks. For example, technicians might devote large chunks of their time to personally monitoring network KPIs. While this is an important part of MSP due diligence, it shouldn’t require countless tech hours to do.
Instead, IT automation can give your techs tools to make their jobs easier. Rather than handling every tedious task on their own, techs supported by ITPA can streamline patching, make ticketing easier, and get a better overall understanding of customer networks at a glance. Overall, this kind of support can make your team more productive by allowing them to focus on the bigger picture while knowing that everything is taken care of at the granular level.
2. Improve the quality of your services
As more and more players enter the MSP space, companies need to ensure they’re offering their customers the highest quality of service possible in order to retain business. However, putting greater pressure on IT professionals to meet these standards isn’t always effective. With research showing 68% of workers have suffered from work overload because they have too much on their plate, it’s clear piling on more responsibilities can be counterproductive.
This is especially important considering the kind of work MSPs do. Customers turn to you to safeguard their most valuable proprietary information, to keep digital infrastructure functioning properly so they can meet their growth goals, and to protect them from a wide range of online threats. Maintaining a high standard of service is a must—and improving upon it calls for organizational investments to make sure nothing falls through the cracks.
Accordingly, MSPs should consider how IT automation can help. Rather than adding staff you can’t afford or over-burdening your existing team, automating key parts of network monitoring and maintenance can help your techs stay on the ball without setting unrealistic expectations. ITPA software can also help them maintain the highest possible level of service across larger and more ambitious contracts by giving them the automation capabilities they need to handle complicated tasks from one centralized dashboard.
3. Make the most of client cloud platforms
MSPs are often tasked with managing complex digital environments with even more complex questions of cloud integration and platform interoperability based on their customers’ existing services. This is particularly true for organizations that want support from their MSPs handling their transition to the cloud, as more and more businesses are beginning to shift their digital operations offsite.
While the cloud may be easy to use when everything is going well, handling a customer’s transition to the cloud and monitoring ongoing performance afterward can be challenging. Ensuring that heritage platforms and cloud-enabled applications are interacting properly can be incredibly complex, as can managing a virtualized environment around the clock. For MSP employees navigating public and private clouds on multiple customer networks, things can quickly become overwhelming.
By investing in IT automation, MSPs can streamline the set-up, monitoring, and management of their customers’ cloud networks. Automated IT tools can handle configuration tasks that would otherwise require countless tech hours. Plus, they can set rules, update devices in bulk, and support cloud-connected devices across your customers’ facilities. With this level of support, MSP techs can keep complicated cloud environments running smoothly without overloading themselves and having things fall through the cracks.
4. Lower costs for yourself and your customers
For MSPs looking to stay competitive, offering customers the highest possible quality of service at a reasonable price is a must. However, organizational networks are becoming increasingly complex as cloud computing, the Internet of Things, and evolving BYOD policies up the ante for MSPs tasked with keeping their customers’ digital infrastructures functioning properly.
Keeping tabs on all of these moving targets is challenging and handling them all manually would be enormously expensive for your business. These expenses would then inevitably be passed on to your customers, which organizations will only tolerate up to a point—especially given the wealth of MSPs options in a rapidly expanding field.
With automation, MSPs can meet these challenges while streamlining their own business. Investing in the automated tools needed to handle complex network monitoring and maintenance tasks without having to significantly increase your overhead is a strategic way to meet customer needs while lowering costs for everyone involved.
5. Punch above your weight
While MSPs have long offered customers bespoke, comprehensive services tailored to their specific needs, the MSP market is rapidly changing. Larger enterprises are moving into the MSP space, looking to replace experienced, small-to-midsize MSPs that have built their brands on providing carefully personalized support to their customers. Instead, these new entrants to the market will try to woo customers with lower costs—even if the quality of service isn’t the same.
For MSPs determined to punch above their weight and remain competitive in an increasingly crowded market, automation is essential. Automated tools throughout the MSP tech stack allow modest teams to take on bigger and bigger customers without having to compromise on the quality of their service or the level of personalization they want to offer. Instead, IT professionals can do more with less, keeping their customers’ networks safe and secure without being forced to fold under pressure from larger competitors.
Investing in the right MSP ITPA tools
As the MSP market becomes more saturated and the responsibilities your team become more complex, automation tools for MSPs are going to be a necessity for those who want to stay in the game. For key decision-makers prepared to invest in automated tools for their teams, N-central® from SolarWinds® should be at the top of your list.
With SolarWinds N-central, MSPs can streamline critical IT business functions, allowing them to immediately begin monitoring and managing networks across Windows, Mac, Linux, and VMware. N-central will allow them to automate patch management, backup and recovery, Linux task automation, and remote monitoring. IT professionals using N-central can map client network topologies to develop a better understanding of their needs, fortify security profiles with built-in web protection and antivirus, and automate key tasks with a drag-and-drop editor that doesn’t require code. For MSPs committed to staying ahead of the curve, N-central from SolarWinds can help you get the most out of IT automation.