By George Anderson
In my experience, the most important considerations for managed service providers, when making decisions about tools and partnerships, are automation and ease of integration. That will only become more so as competition grows among MSPs — with new providers angling for your customers’ business, service differentiation and competitive pricing are key. You need flexible tools that simplify management and, as a result, lower operational costs.
What competition? Many distributors, agents and value-added resellers are transitioning to MSP models. They’re quickly learning that success in delivering the reliable service customers seek, and thus earning regular, dependable revenue, depends on shaping repeatable, scalable service offerings. They must deliver consistently, with predictable results and low management overhead. That requires smart use of RMM and PSA tools.
I see lots of new MSP toolsets entering the market that combine multiple functions. For smaller shops, the attraction of these innovative “Swiss Army knife” solutions, often delivering broad functionality at a reasonable cost, is first and foremost that they allow MSPs to compete more easily and reliably against larger, more established competitors. My company, Webroot, recently integrated with Kaseya. We selected Kaseya because we realized that flexibility, personalization capabilities and the ability to operate outside the walled gardens of standard software solutions is a key component of profitability. When selecting tools to support a move to a services model, constantly strive to eliminate manual tasks and automate repetitive ones. Not only will that reduce costs, automation is the key to reducing human error.
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In addition, one of the first rules of salesmanship is letting the customer “touch” or interact with the product. Integrations give MSPs an avenue to let customers touch the service value they deliver. They get an up-close view of the service delivery, while the MSP gains a resource for reports, dashboards and billing.
Marketing automation also helps to level the MSP playing field. Providers need to recruit new customers and grow. Often, the technical personnel at an MSP don’t have the skills or resources to handle their own marketing, and they cannot afford to build out a marketing department. Marketing automation is beginning to address this issue.
There are numerous other areas that lend themselves to automation, including software updates and patches, regular disk cleanup, secure backups, reporting, ticket processing, and more. Collaboration tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams are gaining a lot of traction as they help facilitate easy collaboration between all members of an MSP team, regardless of location.
Developing an MSP business is a journey. Besides the day-to-day work, MSPs need to constantly assess their services, costs, tools, skills and future vision. Although that vision may continue to change, automation and integration are the touch points that can make that vision a reality.
Having worked in business development, strategic alliances and marketing roles for Computacenter, Europe’s leading systems integrator, as well as global product marketing for Clearswift, George Anderson has been with Webroot for the past seven years. He is currently the product marketing director for Webroot’s business division, which covers endpoint, web, mobile, and DNS security solutions, and network behavior analytics.
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