Thousands of IT service providers across Europe are at risk of throwing potential profit down the drain because they are not investing in technology that will make both theirs and their customers' lives easier.
There is no doubt MSPs and IT service providers are in growth mode, but they are faced with an increasing number of growth-related challenges such as shifting customer demands, employee training and retention and outdated manual processes that are eating into profitability.
This is backed up by the findings of Metrics that Matter™ - a study carried out by Autotask and analyst partner Decision Tree Labs, which questioned around 1,000 key decision makers in MSP and IT service providers globally. This included US, Europe (Benelux, DACH, UK and Ireland) and APAC-based respondents.
The figures revealed that IT service providers are losing an average of 10 hours a week of billable time, because they are not investing in technology such as automation and remote monitoring and management (RMM) that will help them scale their operations and give them a competitive advantage. Spending this time on manual tasks also impacts their ability to keep existing customers happy with current service level agreements, and being so bogged down in processes limits their time to spend attracting new customers.
Around 73 per cent of the 1,000 respondents admitted they were losing time because of data entry into manual systems. A further 70 per cent are losing time because they can't schedule and dispatch technicians in time, and 68 per cent are losing billable hours because of maintenance of on-premises hardware and software (see graph).
With the growth of Internet of Things (IoT) and a glut of connected devices appearing in the workplace, endpoint management is also an area that could be a game changer for the channel. According to Gartner there will be 26 billion endpoints by 2020.
Autotask's data (see graph), also revealed that 35 per cent of respondents said the number of endpoints they are managing over the past year have grown between five and 15 per cent, 20 per cent said between 16 and 25 per cent, and eight per cent said they had seen 26-50 per cent growth, so the demand is definitely there and growth is rapid.
With reference to customer satisfaction, this is a key driver for growth. Unhappy customers will take their business elsewhere. It is essential that MSPs and IT service providers endeavour to keep their customers motivated and loyal.
Communication is a vital part of maintaining customer satisfaction and attracting new customers, and that trend is also shifting with the times. Autotask's study revealed that in 2016, 46 per cent of respondents were using customer surveys to improve satisfaction scores, but in 2017, 52 per cent of respondents said that social media - Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn - was their biggest channel to reach customers, offering almost real-time feedback and clear metrics.
Growth is always a challenge, but by investing wisely in the right technology and skills, and communicating regularly with customers, MSPs and IT service providers can continue to build their businesses for many years to come.
Indeed, Autotask's Metrics That Matter study concludes: "As the sector and the businesses in it mature, forward-thinking IT service provider leaders must embrace the tools that will help them scale their operations. Automation will be a key competitive advantage, those who employ tools such as RMM will eliminate inefficiency that hurts profitability, while optimising technical time and capturing billable hours.
Prepare to make the most of opportunities by investing in the talent and systems you need to meet increased demand and scale your business."