Leveraging Next-Generation MSPs for Agile Business Strategies
Managed Service Providers (MSPs) have taken on a whole new role in the IT service and support business—that of the Agile Business Enabler. And this moniker isn’t just another marketing buzzterm, it’s a real thing. Since Chuck Calio has told us What a next-generation MSP looks like and Timothy Tsao has told us not only what a next-generation MSP looks like but also how it acts, I’ve decided to focus on one particular aspect (#4) of Timothy’s described actions—agility.
In my opinion, agility is the most important “action” that an MSP can take to increase its business by enabling its customers to become more responsive to marketing campaigns, to changing business needs, and to the needs of its customer’s customers.
Business agility is the ability of a business to respond to, to act on, and to predict business trends. Whether those trends are driven by new technologies, by the latest fad, or by the season; businesses need to respond quickly and decisively to these changes. The role of the MSP is to enable their customers to do this seamlessly and without intervention.
The best strategy for MSPs to enable businesses to become agile is to create customer portals that allow for automated infrastructure management. Many MSPs already have such portals in place but perhaps the missing link is the scalability of the solutions offered to customers.
As Timothy Tsao suggests, one way to offer agile solutions is to invest in next-generation systems and storage that allow customers to “spin up client applications and new services in minutes, not days.”
That single term, “investment” is the most important one in that sentence. As both Tsao and Calio state, cloud services are trending toward commoditization. Investment in next generation technologies requires capital expenditure, which means a lag time between that investment and its financial return. This situation often results in a fiscal Catch 22. You can’t invest until you have the business justification for it and you can’t acquire new business until you’ve made the investment.
I believe that MSPs must take the risk and invest in a “Field of Dreams” approach to acquiring new business and enhancing services for current customers.
The way MSPs become next-generation MSPs is through investment and through this new agility-enabled approach to their customer’s businesses. In other words, for MSPs to realize a next-generation shift, they must focus on their customer’s businesses and their customer’s customers. That, in part, is how I define “next generation.” The MSP must not only invest in new technology but also must focus on that next generation of customers.
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet.
I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.