The increasing complexity in IT is good news for IT service providers. They are in demand like never before as the trend moves towards Managed Services. But the question arises for classical resellers who want to develop into managed service providers: What do I focus on? And how do I convince my customers about the new services?
What business megaships took on board long ago, the SME fleet can no longer avoid so pluckily. Even small organizations have to upgrade their IT. But most cannot afford to buy the relevant systems directly and look after the IT themselves. So they are not interesting to classical resellers as potential clients. But this is where there is massive market potential worth billions. Managed service providers (MSPs) make first-class solutions affordable even for SMEs and thus generate ongoing and reliable revenues for themselves with veritable prospects for further upselling.It is clear from the most recent Datto study “Global State of the MSP” (June 2020) that the industry has already recognized this opportunity: 84% of those surveyed are convinced that now is the best time to set up as a universal link between clients and manufacturers.
MSPs are already recruiting more than half of their clients from medium-sized enterprises (companies with up to 150 employees) but are moving their future transactions above all to small and micro-businesses (89%). This is accompanied by an entrepreneurial spirit that is triggering existing system houses in particular. They are now asking about the focus areas on which they should specialize and the arguments that they should use for their sales teams. It goes without saying that time and again clients solidify their benefits on three familiar issues: Security, cost efficiency and reducing workload—ideally all combined with each other. Three sample service scenarios show how this move can be a success:
Virtually all software is now offered for use with time-limited licenses. And the various devices are full of diverse applications for any number of purposes. There are plenty of pitfalls here that can drive costs up quickly if you lose the overview. The keywords are: Resource management and IT compliance. Those who discover unused software in good time can prevent unnecessary investment in expensive licenses that at the end of the day would only worsen profitability rather than bring real benefit.
At the same time the right license management tool helps to minimize liability risks, hunts down out-of-date software without manufacturer support and skilfully avoids threatened license violations. Using powerful license management, managed service providers are now able to cleverly manage the clients’ software—no matter how extensive their IT structure is. There are immediately several advantages for the clients:
- On the one hand they no longer need to buy the right solution for themselves and do not have to apply time, human resources or expertise to operate it. In return for a comparatively small monthly fee, however, legal security and quality standards are ensured whereas the permanent inventory can lower the cost burden for licenses by up to 30%.
MDM and Patchmanagement
With the progressive diversification of the devices used in a company—stationary desktop PCs are accompanied by laptops, tablets, smartphones, smartwatches and ever more IoT devices—the pillars of IT security soon start to creak loudly. It is barely possible to ensure that all software is up-to-date in a practical manner any more. This is no longer necessary if the MSP keeps an eye on all of its clients’ IT assets and ensures they are up-to-date with routine patch management.
For this not only permits security gaps to be repaired actively, it also enables the standardization of the software portfolio and common versioning on all devices including mobile ones, optimizing IT security in a very decisive manner—any risks can be identified more quickly and resolved immediately. After all, careful strategic patch management goes far beyond the simple installation of current patches. It also takes on their management, planning, and testing—a daily task that the clients no longer need to concern themselves with. From the start standard processes are established that ensure additional efficiency, in particular through significantly fewer support requests and the automatic elimination of disturbing program errors.
Homogeneous IT Management
Let’s look at a specific sample application for managed services: Schools. The pandemic has surprised many educational institutions and digitalization has become a top issue in this important area. IT is certainly not a proven competency of teachers so the need for support is correspondingly large. But there are neither the people nor the time available—not to mention the relevant budgets. An MSP can step into the breach as a genuine expert: With precisely the IT services that schools require, as well as the required flexibility to close any gaps in the current IT environment of their clients, they also provide the expertise to appropriately expand the available IT and teach staff how to handle it confidently.
An all-encompassing, carefree package can be assembled. This starts with the hardware required—as a system house or classical reseller this is base business—and continues with complete device or asset management for the school, from the pupils’ tablets via the teachers’ laptops to the servers in a back room. With software deployment and patch management they will ensure that all the programs are always up-to-date with the same status. The mobile user management module retains an overview and the system for managing security policies retains control. The use of application usage analytics avoids unnecessary idling or over-capacities while, in contrast, any bottlenecks are always rapidly highlighted. As the cherry on the cake, a helpdesk ensures constant communication and guarantees fast response times and, thanks to remote administration, is also possible for the MSP from almost anywhere in the world. This does not cost the school the earth. As they only pay for what they actually use the school can concentrate on their “core business”. But for the MSP, who wants more than one school as a client, this is a sustainable business model with plannable, repeat income and strong customer loyalty.