Scaling New Heights

With the right map and guide, CEOs of channel businesses are ready to fully embrace and scale the mountainous terrain of the MSP world. But what about the equipment to help navigate the rocky landscape?

In the 3rd and final part in his series, Predatar’s Alistair Mackenzie considers the top four technological challenges businesses are likely to face when they’re looking to scale their recurring revenue model.

With the increasing drive towards service-led, outcome-based delivery and revenue models, the risk of owning and operating technology is shifting from the consumer to the supplier.  Reducing this risk and fast-tracking evolution to scalable, profitable, service-led technology delivery not only requires the right map and guide, as discussed in the 1st and 2nd part of this series, it requires a secret weapon.  Technology that enables businesses to be more competitive and deliver customer delight.

Technology, however, can have its own unique set of challenges – challenges that can hamper MSPs ability to scale quickly and efficiently.  Here are the top four considerations:

Reducing the risk of information security breaches

How do you ensure your customers have access to everything without being able to view another customer’s data?

As an MSP, acting as an agent or intermediary and potentially servicing multiple, different end user customers, a unique set of problems can present themselves – particularly around segmentation.  If you’re a service provider that owns a server for example, and then rents it out to multiple customers, there is a strong chance of cross-pollination.  This is one of the first principles MSPs must consider as part of their technology solution.   Multi-tenancy can reduce the overall cost for each individual customer, but equally there are risks and MSPs must ensure there is robust segmentation.

Fear of missing out

How do you accurately monitor the use of labour, assets and subscriptions without systems and automation?

In the VAR world, you tend to sell upfront for a known quantity of software, hardware or services.  You agree with the customer the solution package, you put a price on it, the customer checks it and you carry out the transaction – simple.

When you’re delivering technology-as-a-service, the usage of a particular asset or resource that you’re providing on behalf of the customer could be changing on a yearly, monthly, weekly, daily or even hourly basis.  Keeping track of this type of usage is almost impossible without robust systems, tools and automation that can provide real time data, as well as historical information if a customer decides to query something.  Or, maybe you have an army of people whose job it is to constantly review, monitor and deliver reports but even then, how scalable is this option?

Avoiding productivity bottlenecks

Managing 200+ customers simultaneously can seem daunting, but this is the reality of many successful MSPs today.  To ensure you remain profitable as you scale, it’s important to recognise what structure you need to avoid productivity bottlenecks.  The only way MSP businesses can achieve the economies of scale is to consider how they can provide technology-as-a-service cheaper than the customer delivering it themselves.  If an MSP has one technical engineer for example, that engineer can be spread across multiple customers.  If you’re having to employ an Engineer for every customer that you onboard, you’re essentially not going to be any cheaper and the economies of scale that you need to attract the customer in the first place will never be realised.

Automated technologies can build operational workflows to help remove the mundane, manual yet essential tasks an MSP must perform on a regular basis such as system checks or network upgrades.  In turn, your team can then focus on other tasks that are centred around delivering the high quality of service and value add that customers are seeking.

Don’t leave customers feeling underwhelmed

Recognising that the customer must be at the heart of everything it does, MSPs are laser focused on customer success and delight.  Failure to deliver excellent customer service will inevitably reduce trust and brand loyalty.  But how can technology help you to improve customer service?

Let’s consider pizzas for a moment.  For anyone who has ordered online through Domino’s, they will tell you that their experience is seamless.  Not only is it quick, Domino’s has used technology to keep its customers completely in the loop of its internal processes – that is, a virtual window into its kitchen and the cooking cycle of their pizza.  This provides complete transparency and instils confidence that Domino’s will deliver.

MSPs who can provide a similar level of transparency will undoubtedly be the ones who thrive and prosper.   The immediacy of data, stats and reports aligned with the agreed KPIs through technology will build trust and confidence with customers.  Over time, utilising the available data and insights across multiple customers, MSPs can also start to predict behavioural patterns and in turn, provide customers with insights and recommendations based on knowledge they may not necessarily have.  This will serve to enhance the long-term customer relationship and place the MSP favourably as a true, trusted advisor.