MSPs must embrace AI and machine learning (ML) as they offer a "massive ROI" for the channel's customers, according to WWT's professional services area VP Jeff Wynne.
In an interview with CPI, Wynne said that channel players must be open to emerging technologies, whether they are incumbent MSPs or new players to the game.
"The incumbent MSPs, as well as the upstart MSPs, are going to have to embrace ML and open API structures. As new technologies come in, it gets more and more difficult to tell a client, ‘that's fantastic but my managed service offering really is just in box A. Boxes B, C and D, I don't touch'. But these are what's hot, what's driving massive ROI for the clients, and so we as the managed services channel have to be open to these new technologies and figure out how they're going to fit in our platforms."
The good news is that a lot of MSPs are already starting to embrace this idea by looking for a shared analytics entity or ML engine.
But, he added, it's still early days. One area where MSPs would benefit from being engaged with ML in this way is in incident response. Rather than logging an incident at tier one, then moving it to tier two, tier three and then four, using ML could enable a more "agile" way of reacting, Wynne said.
"What if we embrace more of the agile methodology, and we attack this with the right resources at the right time? Can we drive costs out there, can we drive quicker resolutions for our clients? These are the elements that I'm seeing in the marketplace from my competitors, as well as internally at WWT - people trying to embrace different models, because they understand they have to change."
When it comes to making these changes, Wynne noted that larger and smaller channel players have different advantages.
For the larger players, lower unit costs are at play because of their "large, already-embedded base that can learn a lot of those lessons". However, implementing new automation technologies over such a large business is a much greater undertaking than for smaller players, who have more agility.
WWT itself is working with the notion of "freedom and flexibility", allowing clients to decide how they consume the MSP's services.
"What we mean by that is, we still put together the standard ‘monitor, manage, remediate' service, the ticketing and the 24/7 support, those all exist, but it's giving the clients an opportunity to have more of the pick-and-choose about what areas they are going to work with. Think about it as a spectrum - one end of the spectrum is whole managed services, where you handle everything.
"The other end of the spectrum allows us to enable the client, which might be something as simple as we augment you with WWT experts that are part of your service management team, or it might be leveraging our Advanced Technology Center and having the labs do tests before you drop new code into your own environments."
Wynne noted that this approach lends itself to a much broader conversation about what the client's environment is like and what they need from their MSP.
When it comes to the AI and ML piece, Wynne said WWT is focused on what the firm can do to enhance its capabilities in both areas, something he said the MSP believes "very, very strongly" in.
"That's how we're going to compete - through meaningful automation, not just broad automation, not thousands, but 10s or dozens of very specific [automation pieces] meaningful to our client base."
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