By Justin Crotty, SVP and GM NetEnrich, Inc.

If you really think about it, what are conventional managed services? They’re the automation of the break/fix services the channel used to call professional and value-add services.  Rather than sending a truck and technician to a customer site every time a server crashed or a switch required resetting, an managed service provider (MSP) technician remotes into the customer site, diagnoses the problem and – nine times out of 10 – fixes the problem before his coffee gets cold.

Of course, that’s a bit of a dramatization.  Not all problems are easily or quickly fixed.

The problem with managed services is that it’s no longer so simple. Today, we’re providing much more than an automated version of break/fix services. The market is pushing MSPs to become trusted advisors. We’re seeing models emerging that reposition managed services as support services (conventional break/fix), as well as application services (management, administration, and hosting) and business services (audits, process and change management, capacity planning, and business operations alignment).

In fact, what the market wants is more than just technology on a stick, but business solutions delivered by professionals who can apply tools to build systems that produce a better operational outcome. So, the goal now is to make sure the server stays up and available 24/7, and make sure the server and its applications are providing a valuable and productive function to the business.

Providing a mix of business and IT services requires an entirely different model and value proposition than what exists today. This involves building new cost structures, skill sets, go-to-market packaging, and customer engagements over what many MSPs may have developed today. It will take investment, but the rewards could be substantial. It’s been proven for years by the billions spent on IT consultancies and BPO providers that business leaders are willing to pay more for consultative professional business services than transactional IT services.

What’s certain is that this evolution will not take place if MSPs are focused only on tinkering inside their NOCs or with their RMM administration consoles, rather than on building an enterprise-class IT operation. MSPs will need to engage in a new level of partnership with those who can help them evolve into business solution providers who are able to profitably and more easily meet the growing needs and expectations of the business leaders they serve.

P.S. If you’re curious about this topic and want to know more, check out this white paper. Learn more about NetEnrich at

NetEnrich was a Gold Sponsor of the March 1, 2012 HP/Axcient Cloud Roadshow in Dallas. Registration is still open for Roadshow events March 7 through March 15 in L.A., Chicago, and New York.