In this blog post, System Surveyor’s Co-Founder and VP of Growth Maureen Carlson shares her observations on how the right technology can help Managed Service Providers overcome pain points to drive more annual revenue and efficiently deliver services.
Greetings, readers! Our team has been traveling to several conferences and shows across the U.S. in recent months, gathering insights from industry leaders and virtually holding conversations with active members of our user community to determine more ways in which we can help alleviate stressors and drive growth for their businesses. For me, that means it’s demo season — something I love to do!
The other day, after giving maybe my 7th demo of the week, something occurred to me. I’d spoken to probably eight leaders of managed services providers (MSPs) and managed security providers in a short span of time.
Now, you might not think that’s unusual, but it was for me or at least I noticed it more than typical. System Surveyor has worked with MSPs here and there, but most of our customers are either system integrators in physical security or AV, or their in-the-field counterparts, the corporate and campus security leaders at institutions and businesses with significant physical security needs.
So, hearing from so many self-proclaimed managed services providers in a short span was unusual — and it got me thinking about the unique needs of this space and how a digital tool is an ideal solution for the MSP market.
Our existing customers tell us all the time how valuable System Surveyor is for them, primarily as a digital tool for designing systems collaboratively with client businesses. And as I thought about the demos I’ve given lately (to customers in both camps — system integrators and MSPs), I identified several common themes from the sales cycle:
- Both groups are looking for a mobile software platform that’s easy to use
- Both need simple visual design tools so they can sell to and collaborate with their target customers
- Both benefit from a tool that improves their ongoing service delivery and customer experience
And once I put it that way— well, it’s no surprise that more and more managed services firms that not only provide physical security but also a host of other IT-related services are coming our way.
Today’s post is all about MSPs, their pain points, and how a digital visual design tool can help them drive more revenue and deliver services more efficiently. One of our customers, Konica Minolta has led the way as an MSP using System Surveyor – check out their case study.
Managed Services Providers: The Industry in a Nutshell
I’m mostly speaking to managed services providers in this post, and you all certainly don’t need me to define what you do. Feel free to skip to the next heading if that’s you.
But for the sake of others reading, here’s a brief summary of the MSP industry.
Managed services providers offer specific service areas to other businesses, meeting specific needs, usually ones that fall outside the client business’s core competencies. The services offered could be just about anything, but far and away the most common is IT Systems (and the many sub-specialties within that broad umbrella).
Managed IT is such a large part of this market that when you see “managed services provider”, you can assume we’re talking about IT professionals.
MSPs assist businesses of all sizes, from small and medium businesses to global enterprise organizations. Most MSPs focus on a subset of the market or may niche into a specific industry to meet the needs of their ideal customer.
MSP marketing strategies include tailoring their offerings to meet a prospective client’s business goals. Included within the broader IT support umbrella are a range of service offerings, including cloud services, security services, compliance requirements, printer and telecom services, remote monitoring, an MSP help desk replacement solution, and more. Larger MSPs that support multi-site clients (such as restaurants and retail) may also offer wide-scale deployment services via the use of a contingent workforce.
Businesses choose an MSP partner to help them focus on their core business, realize cost savings, and lower maintenance costs. They let the managed IT firm handle IT, deployment, security (including both cyber and physical security, usually) and more so that the business can focus on what it does well, rather than on fixing IT problems. Some get vertical about what markets they serve and focus on major providers of long-term care or other specific industries.
Industry Pain Points, and What MSPs Need to Solve Them
The managed services industry encounters numerous points of stress throughout each customer journey. Some of these are simply the cost of doing business, but with others, the pain can be lessened with the right tools in place.
Designing Technical Systems for Non-Technical Buyers
First, by the nature of the business model, most MSPs are working with companies that don’t have a ton of technical IT staff. For SMBs that outsource all their IT, there might not be a single employee that “speaks IT.”
The MSP business must come in and design very technical systems and policies — and then sell the end customer on the value of those solutions. Sometimes communicating these value propositions in clear, non-technical language is nearly impossible, so a natural gap between perspectives can be inevitable.
The non-technical buyer persona may not understand a spec sheet or a technical diagram. They may not want to wade into the details of what a particular access control system does compared to another. Yet they often do want to be involved in the system design at some level.
MSPs need a visual collaborative tool where they can design and display the physical components of an IT buildout, including hardware such as Wi-Fi access points and connected physical security devices like cameras and access control points. By designing these systems visually in System Surveyor, MSPs can quickly share, communicate, and collaborate with their customers using a visual language that non-technical users can follow.
Overseeing a Breadth of Services, All Under SLA
Next, managed services can be a very broad term, as can managed IT and security. If you’re a full-service firm, business growth relies on your ability to support and oversee a wide range of services — including areas of strength or specialization, along with other areas where your firm isn’t as strong.
Most MSP contracts include SLAs, agreements that stipulate acceptable downtime and other similar metrics. And these tend to cover everything — both what you’re great at and what isn’t an area of focus.
Outside of specific industries, most MSPs don’t focus heavily on physical security, but it can account for as much of 20 percent of their work. Whatever’s in the SLA about physical security could become a liability in the event of a breach or failure.
Manually keeping this security infrastructure up to date is far too complex. Using System Surveyor, you can create a digital as built that contains key information like age of devices, location, and device type. Digital systems and tools will keep your team on track — and in compliance with your SLAs. There is a convergence of technologies and everything from video surveillance cameras to WiFi hotspots may be part of your oversight and services.
Reducing Truck Rolls Despite Growing System Complexity
Every extra roll of a truck is a massive opportunity cost for your business. Yes, escalating gas and travel costs are a part of this, but personnel costs can be even more significant. Put simply: when you roll a truck back to last week’s installation, you’re not working on this week’s installation.
You want to get as efficient as possible with your installs and service calls, yet the stuff you’re installing just keeps growing in complexity. And often the information you have on hand about existing equipment isn’t very good.
You can probably tell where I’m going with this already: when you have better collaborative visual tools, you and your end client are on the same page from the start, reducing on-site surprises. You’re also better prepared before you roll the truck or pull in a subcontractor because you have a better blueprint for the project.
Larger MSPs often rely on third-party contractors for some deployments. Equip your outsourced deployment teams with System Surveyor, and everyone can literally be on the same page throughout the installation. Your contractors (or even your in-house installers) no longer wander around a client’s business or facilities looking for existing equipment. Now they know exactly where every device is.
Gaining Mobile Visibility without Sacrificing Security
Throughout every part of the managed IT ecosystem, mobile visibility makes a difference. From your first on-site visit with a prospective client to follow-up visits, maintenance calls, and emergency fixes, you’re always looking for more visibility, not less. And you want that visibility to be both mobile and secure.
Site plans, contracts, and anything else related to a client or physical space are of limited value when they’re in a filing cabinet at your office. The same is true if they’re in a folder on your server. You want your team to have access to all that information when they need it, including while mobile. And there aren’t many good automation solutions to this problem.
The status quo in the system integrator world is emailing around PDFs. We don’t need to tell you why that’s a bad idea; you already know. Yet members of your team might be guilty of the same thing, feeling like they don’t have an alternative.
System Surveyor provides an ideal solution for viewing and interacting with system plans on the go without sacrificing security. Users can access secure documents from the cloud from an iPad or other mobile device. You can invite your customers, vendors, contractors, and anyone else involved to work with you in the files as well.
System Surveyor and Managed Services Providers: A Great Fit
If you’re a leader at a managed services provider and you’re looking for more powerful tech tools that increase visibility and accuracy, System Surveyor has a lot to offer.
While a lot of the manufacturers that you work with offer basic design tools – as an MSP – you own the whole enchilada. So, it might be in your best interest to have an application that has breadth and can help you design and manage in one application:
- IT and Communications
- Building Management
- Video Surveillance, Access Control & Intrusion Detection
- Fire and Facilities Equipment
- And more.
In fact, it may allow you to truly get the full picture of your customer’s environment – which they see as value, and you get to run more profitable projects.
Like I said at the start, I’ve been talking to a lot of MSPs recently, and I’d love to talk to you, too. Let us show you how System Surveyor can help resolve the stubborn pain points you and your team are facing.
~ By Maureen Carlson, Co-Founder and VP of Growth