Managed Services is now a mature industry, and as it moves further down this maturity path, trying to differentiate or win customers based on lower prices per device monitored can only continue for a little while. As Managed Service Providers race to adopt automation and other workflows to reduce their operating expenses, the price differentiator can only narrow between different providers.
As one would expect, after having squeezed the last drop of overhead from the opex, Service Providers need to start looking at offering higher value and differentiated services to their customers in order to stay ahead. When life began as a VAR many years ago, the focus was on verticals and getting familiar with an industry. Today, with the transformation to a service provider offering varied benefits to the old customers, MSPs need to be able to monitor the custom applications and services within the industry. If you look beyond the email and web services, every one of your customers has a unique IT application or service that is the core of their business – whether its medical billing or an online gaming or streaming video application. Today, most MSPs monitor the IT infrastructure and databases for these custom applications, but few have extended the services for monitoring these custom applications.
Monitoring your customers ‘custom’ applications and services requires a higher value sale – not only does the MSP have to understand their customer’s business and applications that support this service, but they also will need to leverage their monitoring software’s APIs or custom monitoring abilities to monitor relevant metrics from these custom applications. Not only does this require a sales person who can explain the benefits of doing this to the customer, but also a technical person with some programming level skills to use the APIs.
The benefits are obvious – the end customer now has an MSP who can monitor their IT services which directly impacts their business bottom line, and the MSP now has a stronger relationship with the end customer because of the high value provided. Providing some of these service oriented performance metrics on a rich dashboard also raises the visibility of the MSP within the end customer’s senior managers – something they probably were not able to do if only monitoring devices and applications instead of IT Services.
We are already seeing this transition and demand for higher value amonst the MSPs as this industry moves further along the mature phase. Software technology vendors are beginning to adopt technologies such as ITIL BSM into their offerings, since these best practice technologies are essential in order to deliver the customized monitoring services to the end customers.