MSP Cybersecurity: Automating Your Way to Profits
Research conducted by the IT analysts at Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), and called out in a recent blog post, highlights one of the most vexing problems for MSPs: how to select an endpoint security solution that doesn’t eat into profit margins when it comes to management. ESG’s research may not be surprising to those exposed to word-of-mouth from MSPs themselves, but it’s helpful to put numbers to problems springing from false positives, reimaging, integration, and automation (or lack thereof).
So let’s take a look at survey results and see what might be done to remedy some of the pain MSPs feel in managing endpoint solutions, so they can provide clients with protection that’s both more effective and profitable.
The story of a survey: According to the survey of 385 cybersecurity and IT professionals…
- 25% reported spending what they determined to be “too much time” investigating alarms, many of which turned out to false positives.
- 23% admitting to reimaging infected endpoints “regularly,” an expensive admission.
- 19% suggested that better automation and integration could eliminate some of the manual processes they currently feel burdened by.
Automating your profitability
As mentioned, these numbers touch on a familiar sticking point for MSPs. It’s well known that, as competition in the sector grows, there’s relentless pressure to preserve profit in the face of ever-tightening margins.
Operational efficiency is the key to making this happen, and automation is the key to achieving operational efficiency. Reducing the time technicians spends on tasks lowers the cost of the service and frees up personnel for revenue-generating activities like sales and marketing.
Here’s how to make it happen:
- Decide what processes to automate– Start at the beginning. Consider which monotonous processes you and your team regularly engage in—software updates and patches, disc cleanup, planned backups, customer report generation and delivery—and make a list of those that could possibly be automated. Defining the challenge is the first step in discovering the technical solutions for overcoming it.
- Use tools for delivering services proactively– Remote monitoring and management (RMM) tools allow MSPs to proactively provide services like diagnostics and preventative maintenance for clients. Professional Service Automation (PSA) tools streamline administrative tasks for technicians. In addition to increasing customer satisfaction and retention, when technicians allocate less time to these tasks, valuable time is freed up.
- Move to the cloud– If you haven’t yet, the time is now. Besides the fact that an endpoint security solution should allow you to benefit from collective threat recognition of all endpoints using a solution simultaneously, cloud-based endpoint security is capable of integrating with other tools we’ve already covered, like RMMs and PSAs. The cloud is also key to automating many repetitive services like scheduled backups, which you’ll be thankful for in the event ransomware comes knocking for clients.
- Use APIs and scripts to automate routine tasks– In addition to the cloud, many of the routine tasks described above can be automated with application scripts and programming interfaces (APIs). Client onboarding may be the single most promising application for APIs and scripting. Just imagine being able to onboard clients with a single click. Instead of a technician spending hours bringing each new client online, security deployment time is reduced to seconds. Billing and professional service reports can be generated in this way, too.
- Automate communications– Especially after the sale. Cross-selling layered security solutions will help you enhance your effectiveness and further increase profitability. By automating sales and marketing communications, you’re showing clients you’re there for them without shouldering a heavy administrative load. Customer surveys, requests for feedback, and special offers will give you an indication of how you’re performing in the eyes of your clients and allow you to tailor your offerings based on real feedback.
Thanks to ESG for helping to quantify what we know to be a major pain point for MSPs: preserving profitability in the face of rising operating costs. Through automation, it can be done. Hopefully, we’ve provided some helpful tips for getting started. If you have any questions, or if you’d like to talk about getting your business started down the road to increased profitability through automation, contact us.