By Karen Falcone, Sr. Director of Product Marketing at Juniper Networks
To survive in today’s highly competitive market, managed service providers (MSPs) need to differentiate from the competition, offering the latest and greatest capabilities to customers. At the same time, they need to find a way to decrease their costs and complexity to remain profitable. They are running a business, after all.
The tough question is - how can this be done? Service needs continue to expand, there is a continuing need to hire talent (and a problem finding said talent), and costs for equipment are increasing. Many MSPs find themselves stuck and unable to expand.
The answer is twofold: (1) streamline management with tools such as remote provisioning and enhanced visibility, so MSPs can monitor service levels and quickly make adjustments (which will lower costs and increase customer awareness of the importance of quality service); and (2) enable an easy growth path for customers to upgrade - but on their schedules, when they’re ready.
Improving Management Tools
It’s not typically the first action considered by MSPs when trying to solve the scaling issue but investing in expanding the processes that serve clients can be one of the most effective solutions.
The process of managing client implementations can be one of an MSP’s biggest expenses. Traditionally, proper management and maintenance would require coordinating several different technologies from different vendors, all with their own portals or management procedures. Improved visibility and remote provisioning capabilities will help MSPs to keep maintenance and management costs in check, while easily improving service levels.
Remote visibility into activity and service levels has historically been limited, if available at all, and regular time on-site was expected just to maintain the status quo. Now imagine multiplying this by several clients and it’s easy to see how scaling becomes impossible.
This no longer needs to be the case, however. Modern network technologies allow ongoing management and maintenance to be streamlined into a straightforward process, built around real-time visibility into all client operations. With a single-pane-of-glass view for the MSP, it becomes easier to add additional clients into the mix, as each new client doesn’t exponentially increase the difficulty of the management process.
Additionally, because the visibility process is streamlined, MSPs should be able to identify potential problems - both security issues or network slowdowns - faster and mitigate them quicker than previously possible, even addressing some proactively.
Remote provisioning is another critical capability for MSPs to embrace, which will pay off in terms of both easing the amount of time and resources needed to roll out new equipment and services for a client - and demonstrating just how easy it is for their MSP partner to quickly upgrade their systems.
In the past, it was a time-consuming process to roll out new equipment and ensure it met all of a client’s network and security policies. Again, this meant spending time on-site to coordinate service or equipment provisioning and decommissioning. Not only was the process inefficient, but it also was costly - and could be stretched out based on employee availability. With remote and hybrid work becoming a larger factor, the timetable to do this in person could go on for days or weeks.
Remote provisioning can change that. It allows for easy upgrades done from the central location of the MSP and can be scheduled as customer needs evolve. This lets MSPs and their clients easily improve the services offered as needed, not on a regular multi-year depreciation schedule, helping to ensure employees are getting the best networking experience possible at all times.
Expand And Differentiate Service Offerings
For the MSP, the ability to be more efficient and effective in all actions will be a differentiator in itself. Adding proactive troubleshooting to the mix can heighten awareness among customers that they are indeed working with the correct partner and the correct technology stack.
Because of this focus on experience, MSPs also will find themselves with an easier path to expand their services and upsell customers on new features and equipment.
As an organization improves management and maintenance, it can spend less time and money on mundane and redundant tasks such as onboarding new equipment or reviewing each alert. Many tasks can be automated, which frees up valuable time and resources to be used on designing and rolling out new products and services to customers.
In this way, MSPs and service providers can bring customers the latest innovations - while, at the same time, their businesses can easily scale to support these expansions. Because the MSP has eliminated unnecessary complexity and cost, not only can it scale better, but there is also less of an emphasis on adding new customers as fast as possible.
The improved operations and service quality free up an MSP’s staff to take the time to design a specific technology and service roadmap for each customer and guide them along the path - on their timetable - not the MSPs.
Combining a renewed focus on the customer experience with improvements to internal operational efficiency provides an opportunity for MSPs to improve the service quality delivered, improve the upsell process and ensure their business can scale as needed when needed.
About The Author
Karen Falcone serves as Sr. Director of Product Marketing for AI-driven SD-WAN, and Service Provider as a Channel at Juniper Networks. Prior to this role, Karen served as Vice President of Marketing at 128 Technology, which was acquired by Juniper in 2020. Karen is enjoying her tenure at Juniper Networks, having been a member of the Unisphere Networks team acquired by Juniper in 2002. Karen holds a BA in Finance and an MBA in Marketing from Bentley University.