In a world of anywhere, anytime computing, IT pros must go beyond hardware and software and take responsibility for the user experience.
By Mike Cullen
August 30, 2013
Two of the biggest challenges facing managed service providers (MSPs) today are agility and scale. To succeed long term, MSPs need to be flexible and respond quickly to change. Simultaneously, they need to ensure the technologies they use and deploy are able to scale as the business grows, the customers’ networks expand, and user expectations reach elevated heights.
Technology is converging at an insane rate, and the lines between business and personal use are blurred. Two great examples are BYOD, and of course, cloud. It’s no longer a question of if a business will support mobile devices or cloud-based technologies. The big questions are which ones, when, and what is the game plan when it comes time to support them?
Also shaking up service models for MSPs is customers’ growing expectations for anytime, anywhere computing. MSPs are being asked to fire up the same user experience on smartphones, PCs, and tablets. And many vendors, including Microsoft and Live Virtual Help Desk, are selling this experience as part of their pitch.
These factors are placing enormous pressure on MSPs to move from managing hardware and software to managing business and consumer applications, and ultimately taking responsibility for the user experience. That’s a new hat for many MSPs, but one all should aspire to wear as it’s lined with platinum business opportunities and years of customer loyalty.
IT’S ABOUT THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
As technology advances and converges, and people and businesses become more reliant on IT to communicate, work, and play, the need for a trusted and proven service provider to bring it all together and keep it working seamlessly is undeniable. Demand for IT services is growing exponentially, and MSPs who are agile and well positioned to embrace change will see significant gain. Those who are not will keep to business as usual and see their relevancy diminish.
The message is clear: Everything an MSP does should focus on ensuring a better customer experience. Here are a few considerations:
- Be prepared for rapid change. Think about how new technologies affect your business and how your customers will use them.
- You don’t need to know all the technologies, but you do need to understand the workflows: where the complexity lies and how to manage it, or in some cases, remove it entirely.
- It’s not about managing applications, but having the ability to simplify and sustain your customers’ overall compute process.
- The cloud is not utopic, and MSPs need more business automation and management capabilities to keep it clean, secure, and streamlined.
- MSPs have to embrace cloud and play an integral role in the migration. Take the role of an educator and ensure your sales team is talking about it and working hard to keep your customers informed.
- When it comes to mobile device management, don’t go with a per-device cost. Move your model to a single cost per end user. It makes more sense for you and your customers.
Remember, it’s all about being agile yet systematic in the way you approach your services business. The customer experience is one of the most important markers of your success and has to be at the top of your list.
MIKE CULLEN is senior vice president of sales for N-able Technologies Inc., and has been the company’s channel chief since 2001. He has more than 20 years of corporate sales experience and has assembled an equally experienced sales force and partner development team.