Barry Dowd, SVP Managed Service for MDS Global, has been featured in Walpole Partnership’s Guest Author Series. Read his perspective on Managed Service Providers.
The Rise and Rise of the IT Managed Service Provider (MSP)
The Challenges Facing Service Providers
Reduce costs, improve customer experience, get new products and services to market quickly, embrace new technologies, drive increased revenues, make sure systems are compliant and secure …… all sound familiar? Today’s Service Providers are having to raise their game not only to meet traditional goals but to fend off disruptive new entrants into the market offering improved real-time customer experiences and the ability to manage huge volumes of transactions. Hamstrung by legacy IT infrastructures or ponderous internal transformation programmes, an increasing number of organisations are turning to MSPs to help them deliver.
What Does a Modern MSP Do?
The evolution of the IT Managed Service Provider from the early 1990s continues apace. Previously limited to providing commodity IT services and technological improvement, the modern MSP has developed into a trusted partner that helps an organisation pursue their business goals. The playing field is much wider and, in addition to cloud infrastructure management, the premier MSPs deliver advanced services around application management and monitoring, business processes, data analytics and much more.
Why Consider Using an MSP?
Reducing costs has long been a major reason for partnering with an MSP and that very much remains the case. Whether this is a lower upfront capital investment to launch a new service, a regular and predictable monthly outlay for a defined set of services, or the desire for a reduced Research and Development investment, the drive for a lower total cost of ownership continues to be a major factor in the uptake of Managed Services. When you are a customer of an MSP, payment models are usually flexible with pay as you grow schemes offering welcome financial security.
Whilst cost will always be a factor, surprisingly it has dropped down the pecking order as to why organisations are looking to utilise MSPs. The need to innovate, launch new services quickly and drive revenue growth now top the list. Pick up any industry publication and it will tell you that in order to achieve these goals, transformation to digital service provision is a must, and using an MSP partner to navigate towards this is a safe way to go. A recent Gartner survey shows that 42% of CIOs felt that external providers were vital to creating innovation.
Only slightly behind innovation on the list of drivers to partner with an MSP is the desire for improved “end user” Customer Experience. Customer expectation is increasing exponentially and today demands omni channel interaction (via an application, web, mobile, social media, chatbot etc) with real-time engagement and response. For the Service Provider the integration of traditional contact channels and “on line” digital engagement is key to an improved and unified customer experience. Whilst evolution to digital service provision will be the long-term norm, MSPs can help organisations on their way.
MSPs will underpin and assure your service in several ways. Most will hold quality, security, business continuity and disaster recovery standards ensuring performance, availability and the resiliency of a 24/7 service, 365 days per year. The best MSPs will allow you to tailor Service Level Agreements that are more meaningful to your business goals (e.g. invoices delivered by xxxx, orders processed by xxxx, reports on line by xxxx etc). Some will even offer a Service Level Guarantee with percentage service credits should they fail to meet the agreed standard.
Future Proofed Service
To remain competitive the present day MSPs will continually invest in the latest technologies ensuring your IT services are kept right up to date – and you won’t have to pay any additional fees. Similarly, you will always have access to employees with the latest know-how and a wide range of skills to meet the ever-changing needs of a Service Provider, saving on unnecessary recruitment or the employment of contract resource.
What are the alternatives?
There are of course always choices. Some organisations will evolve their current IT Services over time – but they risk “missing the boat”. Others have been a little more radical by creating a new or “adjunct” system (or in some cases even a new organisation) but convergence of services soon becomes an issue with existing customers. Transforming an IT infrastructure away from a heavy static mode to an agile, standards based, real-time model that can manage high volumes of transactions is no easy task and with the alternatives proving troublesome, partnering with an established MSP (with innovation and assurance at the heart of what they do) is now a popular path to follow.
Barry Dowd is the SVP for Managed Service for MDS Global. MDS Global offers real-time Business Support Systems (BSS) and Analytics as a managed service to Service Providers who monetise Business to Business (B2B), Virtual Network Operator (VNO) and Internet of Things (IoT) – related products and services.