The following is an excerpt from a tech trend I wrote: “Making The Case for Managed Services,” which appears in this month’s issue of Business Solutions magazine.
The decision to sell managed services raises many important questions, starting with this one: Would my break-fix customers be better off in a managed services agreement than where they are now? Jason Bystrak, senior director of the Americas at Ingram Micro, responds: “Historically, service providers had to be reactive — clients called when something stopped working, and the service provider had to roll a truck to assess and fix the issue.” There are two problems with this scenario: First, the customer is often already experiencing lost productivity or downtime when it makes the call, which means that by the time the service provider shows up hours later the customer is losing money and in a panic. And second, the service provider is often going into the situation blind. Does the customer have a virus? Is a hard drive full? Did a server motherboard get fried as a result of a power surge? After determining the underlying culprit, the service provider may need to leave the customer’s premises to get the necessary parts to fix the problem, causing further delays and downtime.
“Advancements in technology make it possible now for service providers to proactively detect many of the problems described above before they become full-blown issues and to resolve those issues without truck rolls,” says Bystrak. This remote monitoring and management capability is at the heart of managed services. “These services are typically sold as monthly contracts, which helps service providers plan and align their staffing levels to optimize their bottom lines while at the same time delivering superior service levels to their clients,” says Bystrak. “In addition to improved SLAs [service level agreements], end users benefit from having predictable monthly costs.”
The key issue here is downtime. If you have clients that aren’t negatively impacted when servers are down for several hours — and those companies do exist — then there’s not as much incentive for them to enter into managed services agreements. For those who are dependent on their data and having their IT systems up and running, however, managed services is a no-brainer.