In anticipation of CPI's European MSP Innovation Awards next month, we talk to the MD of T-Tech, which has been shortlisted for the Industry Specialist award.
1) What will a successful MSP look like in three to five years' time?
The MSP space will be a highly skilled sector, with many advancements ensuring business continuity. A successful MSP will have application-specific engineers and industry experts at its core. Automation and proactiveness will be at its centre, with developed technology and more defined processes, as well as predictable prices alongside a stable service.
For an MSP to be successful, they need to continuously improve and develop not just their services, but also their long-term strategy, to ensure an overall better client experience.
2) What has been the most important development in the MSP space over the last 12 months?
Automation and integration of vendors and or services, for example Office 365 and Microsoft. We all know that placing an order can be an onerous, manual activity. Microsoft and distributors have built integrations that now save time, reduce effort and ensure revenue is fully recouped.
3) If an MSP had to invest in just one new technology, which one should they pick and why?
Client service automation - for example, things that make the client experience better and allow more self-service. Whether that is through the use of a virtual workforce, or artificial intelligence, an automated process that allows for a more advanced experience for the user is the future.
4) Do you think MSPs should be outsourcing core functions such as their helpdesk and security services?
No I don't. Outsourcing is for non-core functions; things that can be remediated without having an immediate effect. But if your client system goes down, and you're not in control, this causes a lot of problems.
Customers want to build relationships with their provider and know they can trust them should any problems arise. Especially with regards to security services; businesses need to be able to depend on their provider to keep their systems fully protected. Location is also important here - customers like being near to their provider, rather than having to talk to them with a time difference.
5) What's the biggest threat to an MSP's business today?
Vendors and other MSPs. The market is very competitive, and there are so many options for the customer when they go out to tender. Also, as the market grows, more MSPs are broadening their services and this is what makes it hard to keep up.
Then there is the common threat that customers will go directly to the vendor rather than through a service provider. If this was always the case then all MSPs would be going out of business, which is why MSPs need to remain competitive. And this goes back to the original threat of being able to keep up. It's an ongoing cycle that will always be a challenge for MSPs.