3 Tech Distractions Derailing MSPs

Senior Director, MSP Evangelism Dave Sobel
Author: SolarWinds MSP's Dave Sobel

Out of all the key character traits necessary to become a successful MSP, the ability to adapt to change is a must. Over the past few years, the pace of business and development of new technologies has increased at a rapid speed. To stay ahead of the curve, MSPs must pay close attention to how new technologies are evolving and being adopted by end users. However, the focus on the future must be balanced by a watchful eye on the present and the solutions and best practices in play today.

In my travels across the globe, three technology topics frequently appear in MSP circles. Although important, any one of these can derail and distract from the business and your customers if the focus becomes too narrow or all-consuming.

1. Ransomware Prevention

This one might come as a surprise; after all, ransomware is now a billion-dollar-a-year crime and growing daily. Ransomware variants, such as CryptoLocker, Locky, WannaCry, and Petya, have become household names over the past year. So, why shouldn’t MSPs obsess over educating customers about ransomware and protecting them from the latest threats?

The answer is simply that this type of malware is but one of many security threats customers are facing. You can have a 100% effective ransomware-prevention strategy, but if your customer gets hit with a phising attack or social engineering attack, it can be every bit as devastating.

The point is that MSPs should focus on the bigger security picture and implement a multilayer strategy that protects customers from a wide range of threats, including ransomware. Being too tactically concentrated on ransomware alone can make MSPs (and their customers) more vulnerable to other threats.

2. Artificial Intelligence

Automated warehouses, self-driving vehicles, the Internet of Things (IoT)—it’s all powered by artificial intelligence (AI), and it’s revolutionizing business.

A 2017 study by the Boston Consulting Group and MIT Sloan Management Review found that 84% of respondents say AI will enable them to obtain or sustain a competitive advantage. And 75% state that AI will allow them to move into new businesses and ventures.

But, as promising as this new technology is, it can be a stumbling block to MSPs, especially if they get caught up in the gadgets and "things" powered by AI and miss the more significant opportunity, which is using AI to solve business challenges.

It's good for MSPs to have discussions with prospects and customers about AI, but there are many ways to address business challenges, and AI isn't always the only way—or best way—to do it. The key with AI is that MSPs should be looking for tools that are smarter and more efficient for their customers but don't get caught up in whether something uses AI or not. In other words, follow the money, not the marketing.

3. Voice Recognition

Not since the advent of the computer mouse (1968) has a technology come out with as much potential to change the way we interact with computers.

We’re already inundated with voice-recognition gadgets like Amazon Echo, Google Home, and Apple’s HomePod. With a simple voice command, users can hear the weather forecast, find a new recipe, adjust the thermostat in their homes, or turn off a light switch.

Voice recognition technology has been used in warehouses and distribution centers since the late 1990s, although experts say it has yet to reach widespread adoption. There's no doubt this technology will one day live up to its "Star Trek" potential, where the computer readily identifies who's speaking, and it can distinguish between voice commands and conversations between “crew members,” but it's not there yet. What's currently missing is the ability for voice-recognition solutions to understand context and meaning, which are prerequisites for building commands on top of one another.

MSPs shouldn't dismiss voice-recognition technology as a mere parlor trick, but reacting to the home speaker trend by trying to roll out Alexa to your customers isn't likely going to result in a substantial ROI. A better investment of MSPs' time, is to use their own voices to talk to customers and prospects about their business challenges and propose other business solutions to solve those problems. Watch this space, but be critical about your investments.

Bottom Line

Within the next few years, we’re going to see a lot more ransomware, AI, and voice-recognition solutions flooding the market. Some of those products could be the perfect fit to solve some of your customers’ most pressing business challenges. It’s a good idea to keep up with the latest security threats and technology updates, but don’t take such a myopic view that you miss the bigger opportunities in the here and now.

By Dave Sobel, MSP Evangelism, SolarWinds MSP. Read more SolarWinds MSP blogs here.