Managed service providers, or MSPs, operate in a dynamic, competitive market landscape fueled by technology trends and customer demands.
AI and automation are revolutionizing industries across the globe, and the MSP industry is no such exception. AI-based automation is transforming the MSP industry by offering significant capabilities and driving operational efficiencies.
In our era of increased complexity and the need for efficient IT services, AI-based automation has changed the game for MSPs, enabling them to deliver value-added services and propel business growth. MSPs can now scale their operations and improve productivity in order to stay ahead in a rapidly advancing digital landscape.
What is AI-based MSP automation?
The use of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to automate and streamline various tasks and processes in the MSP industry is called AI-based MSP automation. This works by using machine learning (ML), AI algorithms, natural language processing (NLP), and other AI capabilities.
In times of recession, MSPs have to deepen their understanding of the business to lower operational costs and show value to clients to keep the business growing. AI and automation steps in here to help MSPs deliver the best service to their clients by optimizing workflows, enhancing service delivery, and boosting efficiency.
The need for MSP automation and proactive MSP services
The reactive approach, commonly called the “break-fix approach,” means MSPs respond to a query only after it’s raised by the clients, which means they experience more downtime. That’s not a good look for any company, but break-fix also has several other disadvantages.
The reactive approach incurs higher support costs. When MSPs wait for clients to report issues, they must allocate additional resources to handle urgent requests and emergencies. This drives up support costs for the MSP.
Moreover, reactive approaches lack predictability, making it challenging for MSPs to plan resource distribution and address recurring problems. Automation and AI help MSPs move toward proactive service delivery. Keep reading to discover how automation and AI guarantee that MSPs deliver services proactively.
Why do MSPs need AI-based automation?
AI-based automation optimizes routine tasks, reducing manual effort and human error. Let's look at five main reasons why MSPs need AI-based automation.
1. Automate repetitive tasks
Although numbers may vary based on company size, MSPs receive approximately 3000 tickets per month. With such a high number, MSPs have to demonstrate a tangible bump in efficiency while maintaining consistent, high-quality support for all their clients. Luckily for all of us, we live in a time when MSPs can clear off repetitive and mundane tasks from their list with automation.
Automating routine tasks helps your technicians focus on more pressing and complex tasks than the common ones. Your technicians get a chance to figure out more strategic ways to serve your clients and enrich customer satisfaction.
You can make things a little easier on yourself by automating resource allocation. For instance, you can automatically assign incoming tickets to the right agents based on their workload and skillset. Bots can also help resolve common queries with minimal to no human intervention.
While automation used to require expertise and time to set up, professional services automation (PSA) and remote monitoring management (RMM) have simplified the way MSPs carry out their routine tasks.
2. Refine operations
Automation streamlines your business operations, which plays a major role in time management. With bots lending a hand, it’s easy to identify hurdles in the workforce, remove bottlenecks, and save time.
You can use automation to apply more efficient processes by eliminating redundant steps and minimizing manual interventions, ensuring a smooth flow of tasks from one phase to the next. Ticket management, service requests, and routine system maintenance are just a few tasks that MSPs can do on their own.
Automated systems have the ability to perform tasks quicker and with fewer errors than us humans. Getting things done at your business will take drastically less time, and you’ll still deliver the high-quality results your clients demand. That lets your technicians concentrate more on strategic initiatives than spending their time on operational tasks.
3. Manage assets
Managing your clientele’s assets is arguably the core function of MSPs. Manually keeping track of and handling these assets can take a lot of work. Monitoring your hardware and software assets also ensures you stay on top of your cybersecurity issues.
Managing your IT assets makes you more prone to risks and errors, especially if you’re handling assets at scale. The work complexifies when you handle multiple hardware, software, and interconnected networks. Furthermore, there’s the additional task of keeping tabs on future asset requirements and contract renewals.
Automating how you handle your IT assets offers visibility into your hardware and software, and get comprehensive reports on your asset inventory across departments and remote locations.
Automate the process and maintain a paper trail of assets to avoid overbooking or understocking. While automation takes care of the heavy lifting, you can focus on making important decisions for your business.
4. Improve cybersecurity
Automation and cybersecurity are the two most important factors of an MSP. More often than not, clients claim cybersecurity as their major challenge in IT. MSPs handle client portfolios containing sensitive data and IT infrastructure, which must be protected from rising cyber attacks.
MSPs need advanced security tools to protect against cyber threats. These tools deploy automation to identify anomalies and malicious activities to trigger the appropriate response. Automation plays a huge role in bridging the gap between detection and mitigation.
Automation can also deal with the compliance process, another daily mundane task that MSPs face. MSPs can turn to automation to ensure compliance across industries based on the standards.
MSPs should use automation and cybersecurity to enhance safety, mitigate risks, and provide end-to-end protection to clients. This builds a strong foundation for your clients’ complete IT infrastructure.
5. Proactively detect issues
Predictive maintenance addresses problems and avoids costly downtime. AI-based automation uses machine learning models to analyze historical data and predict future trends. This lets MSPs identify potential issues and risks before they occur, including predicting the next failure across devices or customer networks.
An MSP can also use AI and automation to forecast when a piece of hardware or software is likely to fail. They can then proactively replace the failing component, avoiding unnecessary wait times for the customer. Early detection gives MSPs the upper hand in promptly preventing problems from escalating.
How can MSPs make the most of AI and automation?
To make the most of AI and automation, MSPs can implement the following strategies.
Automate your helpdesk
You can automatically categorize and prioritize incoming tickets using AI-powered algorithms based on predefined rules. This routes tickets to the appropriate teams, thereby reducing response times.
Clients can use your AI-powered chatbots to find answers to common questions, troubleshoot basic issues, and access relevant resources on their own. The self-service approach reduces the dependency on human support and provides instant solutions.
MSPs can also take things up a notch by using automation to integrate with tools like network monitoring and management software. These integrations automatically generate a ticket when an issue is detected and ensure a proactive approach to problem resolution.
Make better business decisions with data analysis
One major advantage of AI and automation-driven tools is that they are built to process a wide range of data quickly and accurately. With ML and NLP, they can identify patterns, anomalies, and trends within the data. This helps MSPs gain deeper insights into client behavior, system performance, and emerging issues.
Moreover, automation tools can generate comprehensive reports and visually appealing dashboards. From this, you can get a detailed picture of key performance indicators (KPIs), service levels, customer satisfaction, and other metrics you wish to track.
Scale business operations
AI and automation are proving to be powerful tools in fueling growth. Automation reduces repetitive tasks, which helps technicians use their resources and time more efficiently. With automatic ticket management and resource allocation, MSPs can focus on high-value activities and serve more customers.
By automating tasks like backup and recovery, network monitoring, and patch management, MSPs can deliver their services with improved accuracy, speed, and consistency. When customers know their problems will be treated seriously, they stay loyal to your business – they might even spread the word to their friends and families.
You’ve got a good chance of experiencing cost optimization when you use AI and automation because they cut down on manual labor and make sure you’re distributing resources in the best way.
MSPs should set up automation and AI to gain a competitive advantage and establish themselves as trusted partners in managing clients' IT infrastructure. It opens up more opportunities to rapidly evolve in the digital world.
Offer training to technicians
Automation takes technicians through their training processes, supports skill development, enhances knowledge transfer, and ensures that they’re well-equipped to handle complex IT challenges.
AI-powered bots can learn from each customer interaction. This helps bots improve their customer interactions, and their insight can offer technicians a wide range of information. In turn, technicians can more deeply understand the different types of client queries without having to start a new conversation.
Integrating AI-powered tech with your knowledge base lets you create training resources and documents. It simplifies how you update your knowledge base and ensures that your customers and technicians have access to the most current information. This enables IT to find relevant information easily and troubleshoot issues quickly.
Furthermore, AI platforms can offer personalized and adaptive training. These advanced analytics let MSPs identify areas for improvement and recommend targeted training to their technicians. Tailored training optimizes learning and keeps teams dedicated to developing their skills.
What are the limitations MSPs face while adopting AI?
From automated grunt work to proactive issue detection to happier customers, AI has a lot going for it. But nothing’s perfect, so let’s take a look at some of its less-than-great qualities.
MSPs need to carefully evaluate their business needs, conduct a cost-benefit analysis, and explore different pricing models to get the best out of AI and automation.
Implementing AI can be expensive, especially for small and medium-sized MSPs. For growing MSPs, the initial investment required to implement AI and automation technologies is a huge barrier in the early financial stages.
Ongoing expenses and resource needs are significant and require careful planning. Additionally, you have to find a way to pay for maintenance, training, updating, and integration with existing tools.
AI and automation heavily rely on client details, system logs, and network data – all of which contain extremely sensitive information. MSPs must put into place robust data privacy measures, like encryption, access controls, and data anonymization techniques, to safeguard all private info and adhere to relevant compliance standards.
Maintaining trust with your clients is a significant factor. Failure to secure and protect data can result in legal and character consequences.
While AI and automation are known to improve efficiency and productivity, several factors affect their reliability. MSPs should clearly understand the track record of the AI and automation tools they plan to adopt. Any disruptions in these systems significantly impact the MSP's ability to deliver timely and effective support.
During the beginning stages, these systems require time to analyze and understand data patterns, during which their reliability is a work in progress. Don’t forget to take into account how long the training period will last.
The next steps to adopt AI as an MSP
As an MSP, you might be wondering where you should begin if you want to adopt AI and automation for your business, so we compiled a few steps for you here.
- Understand your business needs. Identify areas where AI and automation can potentially bring the most value and address specific, relevant challenges.
- Look at AI as a resource. Instead of viewing AI and automation as just another tool, see the pairing as a strategic resource designed to help you move through roadblocks.
- Identify potential barriers to our growth. Evaluate the factors hindering your MSP's growth and scalability. Determine if any specific inefficiencies or resource constraints are limiting your ability to deliver services effectively. This analysis helps you prioritize areas where AI and automation can have the most significant impact.
- Find solutions. Once you have identified the bottlenecks, seek out specific AI and automation solutions that can address the issues.
- Maximize productivity and focus on growth. Implement AI and automation technologies to maximize your internal processes. Automate repetitive tasks, improve response times, and enhance service delivery to free up your team's time and resources. This enables your MSPs to focus on strategic initiatives and fuel business growth.
- Use technology to your advantage. Embrace AI and automation as tools that can provide you with a competitive advantage. Explore tools at various price points and choose the right one for your business.
AI and automation offer significant advantages for managed service providers. These technologies empower MSPs to facilitate operations, enhance productivity, deliver proactive support, and make data-driven decisions.
Automation also frees up time so your technicians get to strategize more value-added activities. It enables MSPs to scale their operations, improve service quality, and drive business growth.
However, we have to acknowledge the limitations of AI and automation: cost, data security, and reliability concerns. MSPs must carefully evaluate their specific needs, address these limitations, and implement AI and automation solutions thoughtfully and strategically.
By wielding the power of AI, MSPs stay ahead of the competition, provide exceptional services to their clients, and unlock new opportunities in today's digital landscape.
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