As I sat through the vendor presentations at the Ingram Micro VTN invitational last week, it struck me that nearly every manufacturer is talking about one common thing – automation. The reasons are fairly simple, but extremely powerful. Automation can drive an efficiency that equals profitability inside not only your customer environments, but your own.
Most MSPs have been drinking the automation Kool-Aid for years now; they understand that tools that automate their own processes and the monitoring and management of their customers’ systems can help reduce labor costs, improve customer service and ultimately, drive a more profitable business because of more efficient use of resources.
But the idea of automation is new for many solution providers who have only recently started to migrate to the recurring revenue model. And it is not a term I often hear from vendors – until this week. Don’t get me wrong, I know the word pops up here and there, but for the most part, vendors are talking about technology power, not elements of their solutions that might help partners do business better. But today, with cloud, mobile and Big Data driving enormous amounts of highly mobile data into customer environments, solution providers are going to need tools that help take some of the hands-on requirements out of IT. Automated reports, automated updates, and automated communication from your technology tools that bring information to you vs. you needing to go to them are going to be essential to solution provider success – and profitability.
The challenge for solution providers if to not only find those “smart” tools that can help lessen the load on their staff, but also to find better ways to manage their own “Big Data” – all that information flowing in from customer environments. To achieve that, you need to identify those areas where automation can help you reallocate staff resources while also improving customer service, which is the Holy Grail. That done, you’ll be able to use your staff in ways that return higher revenues while also staying on top of your customers IT systems with, ideally, even better customer service levels.
Automation – say it with me. Look for that capability in everything from your professional services automation tool to your UPS, and all the mobile devices and servers in between. I promise, the impact will be huge.