The Role of an MSP: The Integrator & The Solution Provider

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Enabling new functionalities and improving efficiency have always been the main goals of technology. The goals of a Managed Service Provider (MSP) are the same in many ways. And, for better or worse, the roles of an MSP have transformed with new developments in technology.

Your MSP back in the good ole days…

In the early days of IT consulting, the role of an MSP involved doing cool stuff. This meant anything from converting a factory from tracking orders on paper, to using a new accounting package, or simply teaching someone how to replace printed orders with emails. These innovations may seem trivial by modern standards, but they were game-changers in their time. And these game-changers completely revolutionized entire industries. Many IT Guys and Managed Service Providers were there to help industries through transitions and guide them on the best course of action. The role of these Managed Service Providers was to get down and dirty into the mechanics of their customer’s business and find out the most effective solutions. These were the solutions that allowed them to accomplish their objectives while using technology to their advantage. 

The technology itself can’t replace your IT guy.

Since the appearance of these innovations, broadband services and the cloud have been in continuous expansion. And new changes (like the explosion of services like Microsoft Teams and Google Gsuite) have come down the pipeline within the past few years that have enabled easy, real-time collaboration between employees – and even between companies.

These massive technology transitions meant a massive transition in the role of an MSP as well. Many MSPs seemed to have concluded that their job was not to get invested in their customer’s business, but simply to become “installers” of commodity IT products. Before, the role of an MSP or IT company would have been viewed without hesitation as an “efficiency consultant” for the business. Today, many view Managed IT Providers as “the guys who come and fix our printer when it breaks”. 

At Hexis Consulting, we often see companies who have been working with an IT firm for years and can’t name a single person they are actually working with. These firms sign the customer up to receive services like Microsoft 365 or Gsuite along with “managed service fees”. Then, they send out their monthly invoice and never speak to the customer again. That is of course unless the customer comes across a printer issue… 

This is not to say that break/fix services are not important. They certainly are, and having skilled IT technicians equipped to handle arising problems is key to having a functioning business. However, if this is the only service that you are engaging an IT Provider for you could be missing out on some very important insights. Your IT Provider should be well suited to walk you through any number of tech-related decisions for your business. 

This is where Hexis Consulting comes in.

Effective managed IT services don’t just provide basic support. They are a resource on anything technical that a customer needs. We have many customers in the manufacturing, warehousing, and other “industrial” industries. It’s not uncommon for many in these businesses to know computer systems (many know PLC programming, and IT is a logical progression). We have even learned a great many things from the “maintenance guy” (i.e. industrial maintenance wizards) at our various customers’ factories over the years. They deal with many things daily that we only ever scratch the service of – even in our deepest late-night Wikipedia nerd rabbit holes. On the other hand, we as the Managed Service Provider, deal with things every day that the customer does not have experience with, nor would they want to.

As a Managed Service Provider, we have to deal with the daily struggles of all types of user-facing applications. And because of that experience, we can properly steer the customer in the right direction. For example, a customer is selecting an application that looks promising upfront but has a horrible technology stack underneath it that is prone to failure. Their MSP should advise the customer against it. When a customer is being overcharged for a telecom service, their MSP should step in and negotiate a better deal or find an alternative. When two software systems will not integrate together nicely and will result in a large amount of data entry (and additional labor expense), their MSP should identify this. And they should ask thought-provoking questions that help inform customer decisions.  

The bottom line: Your MSP should be doing more.

Through this “advisory” relationship (or as the overused industry term goes: “Virtual CTO”), your MSP can install the technology to improve your business’s efficiency. They can also cut your monthly costs – and potentially revolutionize the way that you work – by helping you make informed decisions about your business.  

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