Winning the Talent War With AI and Automation

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In the last several years, managed service providers (MSP) faced many new challenges as they look to expand their services portfolio and client base. These include:

  • Protecting their clients from growing numbers of increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks
  • Ensuring their clients’ systems and data are secure in a remote / hybrid work environment
  • A shortage of global tech talent that is predicted to intensify over the next 10 years 

So, the $64 million question of 2022 is: How do MSPs do more — way more — with way less? There is only one answer: Improving your technology with automation and artificial intelligence (AI).

Increasingly Sophisticated Cyberattacks

Cybercriminals are launching more sophisticated, clever attacks because they are using automation and AI themselves. Long gone are the days when a hacker would focus on just one individual or one business. Now with the use of automation, they can scale their attacks with less effort, which is why the industry is now seeing upwards of 500,000 new threats every day.

What’s an MSP to do? Fight fire with fire! By automating tasks and integrating AI and machine learning (ML) into the solutions you use to deliver cybersecurity services to your clients, you can identify and stop many attacks before they affect your clients’ end users. You do not need to rely on people power — you do not need to hire more technical personnel and you also eliminate human error.

Patching is a good (and simple) example of the power of automation. With automated patching and vulnerability assessments, you can ensure that your clients’ software is always up to date and eliminate potential security gaps.

The Challenge of a Remote/Hybrid Workforce

The “work from anywhere” business model has challenged your clients by creating a more diverse IT infrastructure. In a remote work environment, businesses don’t know which laptops their employees are using to access company data. Instead of using the corporate laptop, they could be using a personal device. They may not be backing up their work or if they do, they may backup to a USB drive that also holds their vacation pictures. Candid Wüest, Acronis V.P. of Cyber Protection Research comments, “What MSPs need is complete visibility into what the remote worker is doing, because it is getting complex and distributed. In some cases, employees may not even be connected to the corporate network. If you are blind, you cannot protect your infrastructure.”

Many MSPs and businesses have attempted to address the challenge of a hybrid work model by throwing more IT resources at the problem. Unfortunately, this approach isn’t scalable. The industry faces a massive shortage of talent. This is why innovative MSPs are addressing these security issues by integrating technologies that automate backup, security and manageability. By doing this, backup happens without even clicking a button, and if a ransomware attack succeeds, any files that have been tampered with will automatically be restored. Ultimately, this integration helps the MSP save time and ensures the security of their clients’ systems and data.

The Shortage of Tech Talent

Between the increasing number of sophisticated cyberattacks and the challenge of a hybrid work model, the IT talent shortage is certainly not helping the situation. By the end of 2020, there were 1.4 million unfilled computer science (CS) jobs in the U.S., while there were only 400,000 graduates that year. In a recent survey conducted by Korn Ferry, 62% of respondents agree that they have never faced a talent shortage like this before, and while 33% of respondents indicated that the talent shortage would limit their organization’s growth in 2018, an astounding 75% of respondents believe the shortage will limit their growth in 2022.

There are many articles written that discuss ways to overcome the talent shortage: entice IT candidates with better benefits and salaries; improve training; provide employees with a sense of control and influence; and offer better career paths. These candidates are also looking for an “environment for success.” They want efficient work processes and collaborative support from co-workers so they can perform their best. Tier 1 ticket work is not going to provide that. This is where automation and AI come into play. 

The combination of these two technologies upgrades an IT technician’s job by eliminating low-level manual tasks that are repetitive, time consuming and prone to human error. This allows your IT technician to focus on higher-value, mission-critical job responsibilities that can further your clients’ organizational growth, enhance IT team collaboration and improve your employees’ career trajectory. 

Final Thoughts

Automation and AI enable you as an MSP to better identify and stop attacks that impact your clients’ businesses, minimize your clients’ service interruptions and help them avoid data loss. However, integrating automation and AI into your services is more easily achieved if you are using less tools. Today, MSPs use an average number of four vendors to provide cybersecurity, backup and disaster recovery (DR) services, and 30% reporting using more than five vendors.

Tool sprawl (as it’s affectionately called) creates an entire new set of challenges. Not only does more tools make it more difficult to incorporate automation and AI, they mean higher costs. Over the past two years, the average cost for an MSP to provide cybersecurity, backup and  DR services increased 19%. More tools also create inefficiencies that can negatively impact response times. 

By consolidating tools and incorporating automation and AI, MSPs can better protect their clients against cybersecurity breaches, data loss and downtime. For example, a recent survey revealed that MSPs who use only one or two vendors had significantly fewer concerns about experiencing an attack in the next 12 months, as compared to those using five or more vendors. Finally, fewer tools also means less need for specialized IT talent to manage all these tools. 

The changing cybersecurity landscape coupled with the move to a remote / hybrid work model is putting additional stress on MSPs who are already fighting a talent war. Automation and AI — along with tool consolidation — can help win the talent war in 2022 and beyond. 

Acronis brings a unique combination of automation, AI integration and consolidation with Acronis Cyber Protect Cloud, providing all the prevention, detection, response, recovery and forensics capabilities MSPs need to safeguard their clients’ workloads, lower risks, improve productivity and ensure their clients’ organizations are #CyberFit.

This guest blog is courtesy of Acronis. Read more Acronis guest blogs hereRegularly contributed guest blogs are part of ChannelE2E’s sponsorship program.