Emerging Technologies: 3 Steps to Cut Through the Hype
How do you stay on top of emerging technology for your clients? With a constant pipeline of new solutions and buzzwords, Managed Service Providers (MSPs) are tasked with understanding the need, use cases, and application of new technologies. Clients expect their MSP to protect and enable their business. So when a new threat reveals itself, or innovation excites an industry, MSPs have an opportunity to educate themselves and their clients on how to best meet the moment.
Charlie Tomeo, Axcient’s Chief Revenue Officer, recently appeared on The MSP Initiative podcast with host George Bardissi, to discuss staying on top of technology. “As an MSP, what’s your process? Evaluation, testing, figuring out the pricing scheme to make sure it makes sense, and then rolling it into your client agreements. How do you manage that?” asks Charlie. He’s putting forth three steps for MSPs to compare the latest and greatest against what’s real, and what’s best for your business and your clients.
Why is this important?
Remaining aware of developing technology, even on a high level, is valuable for MSPs because of your role as an IT leader. If a client comes to you for guidance and you don’t know what they’re talking about, it could impact their perspective. At the same time, it’s ok to say, “no, I’m not up on that, but I’ll get back to you.” The worst thing you can do is respond too quickly with a solution that hasn’t been properly vetted. Some MSPs can get distracted by the profit potential of a willing client wanting a new tool, but if it’s not sound, you’ll be paying the price later.
You don’t need to be an expert at all technologies – that could be impossible today – but having an understanding and a perspective on application for your clients shows dedication. It’s a good sign for clients to see that you’re constantly researching on their behalf. Utilize these three steps to keep a flow of information coming in without getting overwhelmed or over zealous with shiny new solutions.
Step 1: Evaluate
The first step is to evaluate what’s out there and that can be a cumbersome job on it’s own. With the digital transformation on a roll, remote workers, and rising cyber-attacks – many targeting MSPs directly – there’s a juggling act to keep it all within context. Create a process for it at your MSP to ensure it doesn’t fall by the wayside.
- Who is responsible for evaluation? Some MSPs have dedicated individuals or groups tasked with discovering and evaluating changing technology. It is their job to bring attention-worthy information and technology to step two for review.
- Where and how will you get information? Conferences and events, peer groups, webinars, podcasts, product demos, and thought-leadership content are all designed to educate. Identify reputable resources and engage enough to understand how and why current use cases are being discussed.
- Do the use cases apply to the problems you solve? Cut down on the industry chatter and focus on the mission of your MSP and your clients. Don’t waste time if it doesn’t apply to you.
- How will you get past the marketing? The message you receive from marketing and advertising may be enough to pull you in, but don’t let it deceive you. A paper eval is a good place to start, but a product demo will show you what’s really possible with solutions.
Step 2: Review
Once your internal team becomes aware of new technology that may have application with clients, or is something the MSP business should understand, it needs to be reviewed. You don’t want to wait until you absolutely need something because an incident has already occurred, or clients are asking you where the technology is. The consequences of not knowing what’s going on in your industry can cost you in resources and reputation.
- What is your review blueprint? How often do you review things – monthly, quarterly, bi-annually?
- Who is involved in determining the business application? Of course technicians should have a say, but what about sales and marketing? Operations? Executives?
- From a cost perspective, is it worth it? A new solution requires time for training, onboarding, marketing, and navigating new vendor requirements. If only 10% of clients use it, the cost to your MSP is probably higher than the margins.
Step 3: Adopt
When bringing a new solution or technology into your service offerings, you need to think long-term. There’s the initial roll-out behind the scenes, typically involving technician training and operational logistics. Then explaining the change to clients and marketing to prospects, and finally, use of the product and measuring value.
- Are you equipped to add to your reference architecture? There’s a fine line between giving clients what they need and falling victim to vendor sprawl. Too many solutions can stall profits while adding to management costs. An all-in-one solution is a win-win!
- What is the cost structure for you and clients? Is the new solution going to be standard or an add-on? If it’s standard, are you absorbing the cost because you’re saving money elsewhere? Or are you passing that on? What does that look like?
- How are you communicating with clients? Warn clients of any changes, especially to their bill, at least 90 days ahead of time. Explain the value of the new solution, how it offers further business protection, and why the change is taking place now (i.e. rising cyber-attacks).
- What are you doing to protect yourself from opt-outs? Allowing clients to opt-out of security measures can put your MSP at risk when an incident occurs. Not only could it affect your cybersecurity insurance, but also your reputation and relationship with clients. Help them understand the risks and rewards, and require liability waivers to convey responsibility for the future.
Emerging technology is exciting and valuable for MSPs, so give it the attention it deserves. Make technology evaluation, review, and adoption part of your internal processes to ensure growth in the right direction. Axcient’s latest technology, x360Recover – Direct-to-Cloud is an all-in-one solution for business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) on a single, unified platform. Deliver multiple use cases with one solution – including endpoint backup, no-appliance BDR, turn-key BDR, and public or private cloud backup. It’s saving MSPs up to 55% in monthly costs without expensive hardware, onsite visits and maintenance, and vendor management. Get a Free Trial Now or Schedule a Demo to see how much you could save.