With post-Covid-19 pandemic normal, businesses are challenged to uncover new ways to innovate and provide great experiences to customers as well as for employees. It’s a catalyst for change for many organizations and others are losing the race to the virus. As quoted by Satya Nadella, Microsoft has witnessed “2 years of digital transformation in 2 months”. Managed Service Providers can play a crucial role in the business in the current post-Covid-19 scenario. In this article, let’s explore how MSPs can help transform your organization.
Let’s start with the basics.
A Managed Service Provider remotely manages a part of business administration and management (outsourcing) like delivery of services, such as application, network, infrastructure, and security, via ongoing and regular support. This is done on the MSP’s data center or with a third-party vendor, but the MSPs will actively administer things on your behalf.
The demand for managed services has grown exponentially in recent years and is expected to grow even further due to the pandemic. One of the main reasons for this growth is the demand from small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), who require access to the latest technology to maintain a competitive edge in their respective markets. Let’s now look at how MSPs help a business.
As a business grows, your IT needs also grows leading to an increased workload on your existing teams. Without a focus on high skilled work, your team will be unable to scale your operations and will be busy providing support. MSPs help you free up your teams and the expertise that you need. It also means bring the technical and domain expertise from the MSPs. Many MSPs offer talent at a flat/flexible rate thus avoiding training & hiring costs. These specialists include functional, technical, architectural, and training consultants who can support IT needs.
When you sign up for an MSP, usually you will have a Service Level Agreement that ensures the quality of service to your customers. They help to shift from a capital expense model to an operating expense model. You can scale down or up as needed. It’s not just for resources, but also for the services that MSPs provide. Many provide specialized services/tools like proactive monitoring, advanced analytics solution, customized self-service portals, etc. Some of these offerings like proactive monitoring help reduce downtime costs. Rather than waiting for things to go wrong, a proactive approach helps to reduce maintenance/downtime.
While the pandemic has created too many pressures for businesses, the traditional business world was already feeling the pressure. Technology was always disrupting processes with the aid of digital platforms. Cost reduction was always a priority, embracing digital transformation and process efficiency was always on the table, and keeping ahead of the competition was important to have a strategic advantage over others. It’s just that Covid-19 has accelerated and reinforced the pre-existing trends and expectations around return on investment and performance from the management are tougher.
Addressing the challenges
To address the challenges, the first business must look at the true cost of the Covid-19 damages. While the health and safety of employees are key, most organizations struggled with their legacy systems, and all resources were put on a stress test during the volatility. Many were unable to support remote working and thus customers/clients. Hence, going back to the “normal” is not an option, and organizations must either address weaknesses, access new opportunities, or both.
The pandemic has given challenges to most of the MSPs, but most are in a strong enough position to come through the crisis stronger. MSPs that convert challenges into opportunities by creating value to the customer can play a crucial role in the transformation and thus deepen customer relationships.
Being in the cloud helps organizations become more flexible and scale their businesses accordingly to meet market needs and customer needs. The opportunity that lies ahead for MSPs is mostly around remote-work operations in the short term. Today it is around remote work enablement, in the future it may be cloud governance and management.
Investment in technology and adopting digital are key factors to creating a sustainable business and making remote operations more effective. For partners, it’s crucial to continue focusing on providing their clients with the best service offering they can. To differentiate from the rest of the crowded MSP, partners must address issues proactively and provide unique solutions to the customer. The best MSPs will spot these changes in advance and continue to adapt as the needs of their customers change.
For business, the first thing is to have fresh thinking to focus on innovation that will help in the long term. MSPs are a good starting point for your recovery. This is because MSPs not only bring cost efficiency, but they also bring in the domain expertise and technology investment that drive efficiency. They also bring in the agility required for disruption.
MSPs provide fast access to emerging technologies such as AI, Analytics, Automation in a cost-effective approach – no upfront costs, or talent crunch. Many organizations also failed to keep up to the regulatory requirements, and MSPs can ensure compliance with changing industry and regulatory obligations. Your MSP can help you implement robust security controls, policies, and procedures for remote work. Compliance requirements have become more important due to the data security and privacy risks of the remote work environment.
How do to select the right MSP? Below are some of the key things to watch out
- Does the MSP offer a Shared Services Model and a flexible approach?
- What are services offered – mainly on advanced technologies usage
- Does the MSP have a strategic relationship with cloud providers or partners?
- Does the MSP provide enough resources and services to meet the demands of your customer base for the present and the future?
- Does the MSP have a solid backup and disaster recovery strategy?
To sum it all, you need to consider hiring a reputable MSP to ensure that your IT infrastructure is in the right hands. If you still haven’t planned, this might be the right time for you to strategize and plan your digital transformation.
Bharat S Raj, Independent Technologist