Eliminating Hidden Costs in MSP Operations

Sep 29, 2021 1:30 pm2:30 PM EST

Summary

BWG & ScienceLogic are teaming up to cover some topical points in the MSP world! Join our conversation with MSP professionals to interact / learn best practices around automating incidents, CMDB updating, reducing MTTR, and how AIOps can generate new business.

BWG Connect & ScienceLogic invite you to participate in an interactive discussion with your peers.

As always, there will be no sales pitches and there is no cost to join.

Discussion Topics

  • Automating the flow of incidents in MSP Operations
  • Automating fault diagnostics for networks, servers and unified communications
  • Eliminating manual CMDB updates and CMDB overages
  • Reducing MTTR for a better customer experience
  • How Ops teams can help generate new business with profitable premium revenue streams

Event Partners

Guest Speaker

Peter Luff

Senior Director, Product Marketing at ScienceLogic

Peter Luff is the Senior Director of Product Marketing at ScienceLogic. ScienceLogic’s team helps IT operations leaders deliver better business outcomes through data-driven automation. Peter promotes adoption of the ScienceLogic monitoring platform for Cloud and Hybrid IT infrastructure at enterprise customers and MSPs.

Peter is a marketing, product house, and channels leader in IT systems and services. He has also created award-winning sales messaging and go-to-market strategies for SaaS and managed services. Previously, Peter was the Director of Marketing and Service Providers at Infoblox and the Global Services Marketing Manager at JDSU Corp.

Event Moderator

Greg Irwin

COO at BWG Strategy LLC

BWG Strategy is a research platform that provides market intelligence through Event Services, Business Development initiatives, and Market Research services. BWG hosts over 1,800 interactive executive strategy sessions (conference calls and in-person forums) annually that allow senior industry professionals across all sectors to debate fundamental business topics with peers, build brand awareness, gather market intelligence, network with customers/suppliers/partners, and pursue business development opportunities.

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Event Information

Sep 29, 2021 1:30 pm - 2:30 PM EST

Event format

Roundtable Layout
Featuring 20+ executives, where everyone can contribute, ask questions and learn from peers
On-Topic Discussions
Q&A format, moderated by BWG Connect with group interaction throughout
Make Connections
Opportunities to network before and after

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Key Discussion Takeaways

Do you ever feel like money is flying out the door from MSP operations, but you don’t know where it’s going? Do you wish there was a way to cut down time on operations and keep your clients happy?

In this virtual event, Greg Irwin is joined by Peter Luff, Senior Director of Product Marketing at ScienceLogic to discuss how to eliminate the hidden costs of MSP operations. Peter talks about how automating processes can be a lifesaver, common challenges within MSP operations, and how to resolve MSP operations security issues.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

 

  • Peter Luff describes how automating MSP operations can save time and money and prevent headaches
  • The steps ScienceLogic took to save Cisco two hours and $70 per ticket
  • The group discusses common MSP problems
  • Challenges of handling MSP operations from home
  • How are companies driving efficiency with their MSP operations?
  • Thinking ahead with cybersecurity
  • Best AI/ML tools for automating ticket handling
  • Combining a flexible workforce with automation
  • What service is resonating most with customers?
  • Peter addresses the hidden costs of MSP

Discussion Transcription

Greg Irwin  0:18

Good afternoon, it's nice to meet everybody. My name is Greg Irwin, I'm one of the partners at BWG, and we were on these column thought leadership groups, it's a fancy way of basically saying, discussion groups where we basically push for stories about what our other organizations are doing, really to everybody's benefit. So what I'm going to do through our session here is really ask the group, what are you doing in terms of managing your MSP operational costs, share, which can obviously hold back everything, anything you can. And I assure you that across the Hollywood Squares here, we're going to learn from some of the good ideas that you all have in terms of managing headcount managing software cost, managing all different aspects that basically go into the margin for an MSP. We are partnered here with Peter Luff over at ScienceLogic. And these guys are the AI ops gurus. With that said, we're going to be touching on AI ops. But that's not the magic wand that we're we're talking about, we're talking about are the tactical projects and changes that organizations can make to to address that MSP cost and Mark, I have a goal that I want everybody to take to heart here during our session, which is pretty simple. You're all giving some of your own time to participate here today, I ask that you all try and make that as productive as possible, by walking away with at least one new idea. And one new contact. And that certainly does not need to be me or Peter, I can be anybody across the group. But please wait, we, we've stumbled into an outstanding group of people here. So take advantage of it. At the end of the call, I'm going to send around a list of everybody's name, not contact info, you can go over LinkedIn. And if you need some help connecting, we'll be happy to do our best here. It's an opt in model, so I'm not publishing people's contact info. With that, let's get the session going. Hey, Peter, this is probably our third time around here. I'm looking forward to it. Give give an intro, your personal intro and a little bit on ScienceLogic.

Peter Luff  2:51

Yes, thank you very much. Appreciate it. Greg, it's been. It's been a good series so far. Thank you, everybody for joining us. My name is Peter. I am at ScienceLogic. I've been with ScienceLogic about seven years, I am Senior Director of MSP solutions. And so I've been working with with our msps ScienceLogic and in previous life for about 20 years, working with msps to help them build new managed service offerings. By helping them define managed services, help them take them to market and get to market quickly. That's really what we do at ScienceLogic with our msps practice that we call MSP jumpstart that helps msps define, build, and deploy, manage services and take them to market quickly. So we can help in a number of different ways. So that's my role. So ScienceLogic has been in business about 18 years. We are MSP specialists. The company was founded by a group of MSP execs that came out of MSP to solve the problem of multi tenancy, building multitalented monitoring that msps can use to avoid deploying a single instance of a monitoring suite. But every single customer they manage, which as you can imagine, was quite painful at the time that a number of other folks have done similar things since but we have a great story on multi tenancy, very partitioning data between half Pepsi and Coke on the same server, they will not see traffic statistics as you can imagine. So we're very much involved in migrating from that we have some enterprise customers too. But MSP is still about two thirds of our business. So the platform that we have the SL one platform is an AI ops based platform applies a lot of machine learning and intelligence, artificial intelligence to to monitor and automate the operational processes involved in running an MSP or an orange enterprise IoT shop. And so we focus very much on the cost savings associated with that. By by especially bringing in new levels of automation that we're not seeing from our competitors So we have a great story around automation. And we'll talk around some of those aspects today because we believe that that can address some of the hidden costs that msps are dealing with on the inside. And in fact, their customers are also dealing with. So we would expect you to see the same things as your customers are seeing. We believe that there are ways to identify that hidden task and address it quite quickly in the areas that we think of, for example, a lot of manual ticket creation, a lot of manual incident handling, a great deal of manual fault diagnostics, and we brought automation to each of these areas. And some of the kind of cost savings can be quite spectacular. So we'll talk about that as we get into some discussion about those pain points. But let me let me turn that back to you for the moment.

Greg Irwin  5:48

I'd like to do you know how I run these, Peter, it's q&a. So I'm going to do I'm going to start that here with you. But I want to remind everybody in this kind of a format, where it's an open discussion, the chat windows really useful. So as we go drop questions, or add your own commentary into the into that little window, it's a good sidebar keeps us on focus. And most importantly, it helps us make sure that helps me make sure that I'm directing us to the topics that you all really care about. So if we're talking about AI, and you want to be talking about headcount, great, we'll redirect. So do me a favor, I have an ask everybody in the window, put in the one thing around MSP ops that you want to hear most about in the session. And it could be something really granular or it could be something really grant, you decide, but put in there, what's the one thing you want to hear across the room? Peter, let's jump in and talk about a story. I always want to do that I always want to go to like a true organization. That's, you know, that struggling for realized in operational benefit. What what what everybody on this call cares about is margin. So there are a couple ways to get at that there are lots of ways to get out that increasing your your revenue attach, or of course managing, managing and getting better leverage out of your people, or your your capital investment. So tell us one story here, not too not too dated, hopefully something in the 2021 where you've seen one of your msps make an improvement. Yes.

Peter Luff  7:35

So this, this actually goes back a little way, but it's continuing. And this is in the area of automated diagnostics for faults, particularly around network devices. But it goes beyond network devices into servers, operating systems, virtual machines, and so forth. But the initial work was done with Cisco and Cisco, our largest customer. For their managed services operations are where they manage some of the world's largest customers, banks, airlines, they manage some some very large customers, as you can imagine. They were they were suffering from extended ticket handling times, in the order of two and a half hours was their average ticket handling time on, for example, on a telco circuit, we worked with them to develop some automations in the product. They use us in conjunction with Splunk. And with ServiceNow. And that's all they use. We've done the same for them on the inside as well at Cisco, it is an enterprise. But they were seeing two and a half hours, ticket time average, we've worked with them to automate and developed pre built automations. Now around Cisco best practices for diagnosing problems and finding those problems quickly on their main line of routers and switches, security devices, Cisco UC devices and so forth. They moved from two and a half hours of trouble ticket handling time down to about 20 minutes. And that was an iterative process. It's taken a couple of years. But they've they've identified a savings of around $70 per incident. And when you have time, so I'm going to dig

Greg Irwin  9:22

in right away. What if the tickets taking two and a half hours, obviously, and goes down to 20 minutes. There are lots of steps that you cut out of the process. So what were the big steps

Peter Luff  9:33

that a particular step that we addressed was the diagnostic process and so when when a problem happened has two aspects to that one is when the problem happens, the technician gets the ticket maybe after 10 1520 minutes, sometimes longer. And he starts going through his runbook of planned steps that he will do so he has to go look at this and ping that and trace out the other and in each case, he has to find Have the credentials to go and looking at that device, run, login to the device, go to the COI, run a show IP, or whatever it's going to be to look at the conditions. And all of that is manual fault diagnostics, pinging trace routing, ns, lookups, and so forth. So we automated not only the lookup process, but the data gathering. So simplistically, we automate it. When we receive an event of a particular kind from a Cisco device, we can automatically for example, ping it, trace, route it, maybe we do an OSPF lookup and download the diagnostic routines for OSPF conditions that took place at the time of the event, not what happens later on, which is 2030 minutes later, when the guy does that all manually, and that conditions on the network may well have changed. And so we're gathering information from the scene of the crime. That gives the technician the right information for what was going on at the time, and can lead to a lot of early diagnosis or full of problems. So we're also we were also speeding up the ticket creation as well. And all of that information was then appended to the ticket and forwarded into ServiceNow, kind of untouched by human hands. So we were able to take out a tremendous amount of time in that process. And they were able to eliminate the use of over 1000 contractors. significant cost savings for for Cisco, and we're

Greg Irwin  11:32

not going to diminish the improvement there. I think, I think my guess is this group gets it. Where am I headed? Imagine that. Cisco, I just get caught on Wow, 1000 person operation, we wish we had 1000 you know, engineers, that we could, that we could help to optimize workflow for how much of an organization do you need to be able to tackle that, I mean, they might just be redefining your runbooks alone might just help the workflow or you know, automating those pops of like credentials, I get it. That's, that can take a lot of time. But you know what I mean, like how big d&b know this is, you could always justify this kind of, you know, those steps

Peter Luff  12:24

to make the improvement. We have people with three, four or five technicians, as opposed to hundreds of technicians, obviously, the Cisco cases extreme. And these are extreme as multiple millions of dollars. But you know, in the case of a smaller MSP, but it works the same way. And this is using Cisco's best practices for network network device diagnostics. It was it's something that can be you can do it yourself around our platform. But you have a lot of scripting to do. We did this in conjunction with Cisco, we now have a library of about 600 tests pre built so comes with the product. And it's it's available for our users to use. And it saves a tremendous amount of time. So that was just one aspect of fall diagnostics that we've automated. And what we've so to bring that up to date with another MSP that we have is using that same routine in Europe. As I mentioned, there's over 600 diagnostics in the in the platform, right, that the this particular MSP, they deployed 38 tests, just 38 of them. And in a trial on a subset of their devices, they reduce their mttr by sorry, they reduce their cost of ticket handling by 31%. In a quarter. They took out a tremendous amount of cost just by applying those diagnostics on just 5% of the of the suite. Now. Maybe only 60% of the suite would apply to the technologies that they were using but I only only use 38 tests so they've got plenty of upside beyond that and tremendous success and we have that in a white paper I can follow that Tony Robbins interested to discuss exactly what those those metrics look like.

Greg Irwin  14:08

Peter great, great way to get started and a big thanks here to Brian Mike rich, Tom, for sure in some some comments. Let the you know what I want to do is I want to bring a couple people in here. So rich if it's okay, thank you for turning your camera on by the way. Nice to see you. Ah, do me a favor, spell or spell out your question. And it's not just for Peter. It's for the group because I want to only hear lots of different ms pull stories.

Rich  14:37

Yeah, which part I had two parts day I ops are where things have come in the last two years. last two years. Yeah. So you know, the reason I asked and Peter and I know each other pretty well from from over the years and stuff we've done before and so I've been in the market for msps for almost 18 years now and between small, medium and large Companies in this last two years have been an interesting pivot for us and worldwide, one that I never thought we would have ever done. And so I'm curious to see if others have done into the whole one, when everybody got sent home 18 months ago, our MSP business changed drastically. Again, I don't know if anybody else's did but you know, we're servicing enterprise clients. And here's the funny part I would have. Two years ago, I would have told everyone on this call, if you ever catch me doing any sort of like supporting users working at homes, individuals, I'm insane, just like fire me and my job instantly. Right. And now we're supporting 10s of 1000s of users working from home in a remote secure environment. And so I'm just curious if it's just because we're dealing with this space, where, you know, we had one client who sent him like 4000 employees, and they're never coming back. So we are now supporting them. The data center is critical, always been critical. But now we're supporting 4000 endpoints for this client. And it's just as critical because their, their call center agents at home. And so I'm just curious if everybody else has seen that shift, or was it just just us for supporting in the

Greg Irwin  16:07

thread I also saw I want to hear others tell, explain what happened, for better or worse out of work from home in terms of operations and operational efficiency? Right there. Lots of things changed. I, I now can make my kids my son's basketball games, which are great. But I'm talking about, you know, a what's really changed in terms of impacting operational performance. Can I get others to jump in on that? Tom, it's a nice picture you got up there? Can I can I invite you to? To share your work from home impact story? Can you hear me cuz I'm having a little microphone issue. Now you're crystal clear, gotcha clear,

Tom  16:50

it might become going in and out. So I'm probably a little unique on this call in that I'm really not too involved in our MSP operations at all, although I've been in the industry a million years and have had run help desks and data centers. So, you know, I certainly have opinions on those things. But

Greg Irwin  17:18

if you don't on this one, we we'd love it. If not, we can get we can get others involved. Yeah, yeah. Let's have somebody else jump in. You got it. Hey, Mike, would you? Would you care to jump in and share your work from home

Mike  17:32

story? Sure. Actually, I think I'm in the same boat is Tom. I am, I am a consulting company that helps companies build their portfolio management office. And one such client that I have, is in fact not putting enough capacity in the area of their MSP as opposed to their other for SaaS products that they that they offer. So they have a capacity issue. As far as working from home just like Tom I'm not involved.

Greg Irwin  18:08

In no worries, I'll keep going. Jennell. Do you have a story for us?

Jennell  18:13

Yeah, sure. So we've been doing MSP for 20 years. So for us, I think the biggest change, because we already use a lot of tools. You know, being in the industry for so long, you kind of have to have a lot of tools to be successful. So it really didn't change from our customers perspective, they all had like, even if they didn't have laptops, because of our tools allow them to connect remotely, the biggest thing that changed for us was that we definitely increased. People really needed us our business like really kind of boomed and that scenario of just giving them access, but we had more end user support for sure. from that aspect. And so the end user experience and priority levels kind of change. And so you're having to manage that and really staff that and really we became a where we just mostly hired our technicians and sell cow we expanded kind of all over and we've also been swimming upstream for MSP clients now because of that,

Greg Irwin  19:22

so alright, Jennell Can I ask if you could share your business boomed What happened to your cost?

Jennell  19:31

So actually, at the time, our class pretty much stayed the same. So it was nice for us, obviously, that we had to kind of counteract that by adding more people, you know, afterwards. So last year was like, kind of more sustain with who we had, but it was really taxing on our boys. So then we started to make a lot more investment elsewhere. So this year has been re investing in To the business mostly and you know, a lot of like, people ads, and you know, leadership and different layers. Okay, I got

Tom  20:09

it. Can I ask Jennell a question?

Greg Irwin  20:11

Yeah, sure. But not and actually, I'm sorry, I have to update my, my name. I'm Greg. I'm using the next. I'm using small bridge here. So I got a

Tom  20:23

Sure. Go ahead, Tom. Yeah, no, I was gonna say to say Jennell. You in the investments did you make did you make them in in technology to be more efficient? Or were they it was all in personnel? Whoa, yeah.

Jennell  20:39

Good. questions there. Yeah, it was definitely a couple. So I think we're the, the technology where we needed to really invest in was additional security kind of tools and kind of really built like building out our managed security offerings. So there's a lot investment therapists, it's really top of mind for customers. The other thing was data insights that we use, you know, a ticketing system, which is can advise, but we needed to be able to pull reports in Power BI, and kind of have that. So we use a company called cognition 360, that builds in all that data, they said in our old our financials and customer profitability, so it really kind of gave us that insight. So that was a big key is just the what customers are doing and where we were kind of transacting and how we were spending a lot of time into it. And then the people it was, you know, just different, all hours were full 24 by seven, so it's not like an on call team. So just making sure teams were staffed appropriately. So looking at call volumes, and then adding the leadership teams to be able to support those team members, as well, as we were adding new individuals, and then just the training as well. So investing in kind of like the training process.

Greg Irwin  21:55

Thanks. Excellent. Thanks, Jennell. Now, thanks so much. Appreciate you joining and sharing. guys and gals. I'd like to keep stirring the pot. So I would love it when others ask questions. Tom, thank you for that. And again, the goals, one new relationship, one new idea. I want to invite in Brian ignat towel, and I'll apologize, Brian, if I'm mispronouncing it, but are you in a spot where you can share a story with us?

Brian  22:25

Yeah, absolutely. And it's, you know, half the families pronounced that way. Half the families pronounced that not that I answer to just about anything. So I always I always argued, I look at this from two aspects, right? The you know, kind of the work from home, how they affect me personally, how they affect our business. Me personally, I've always argued that I could work from anywhere, right. And so I've had not had a problem with regards to that. Now. From the business side, I think a lot of our our employee base was able to work from home and satisfy our customers needs. At the same time. We saw a great uptick in their needs with regards to various parts of our business, you know, some of it was outside the MSP space, so it was inside the MSP space. But I think overall, we found we work probably harder in the last 18 months, then we've probably ever worked in our life. But I don't think it changed. I don't think I really changed our processes and procedures.

Greg Irwin  23:35

Brian, I don't know what everyone else is feeling. But I'm feeling that it seems like everybody is just running like, like mad. And I and I think the MSPs are feeling because we're seeing turnover, real turnover across teams. I don't know if you're seeing that. But it's a challenge

Brian  23:53

that is a new, that is a new challenge. I mean, they do refer to it, you know, the industry first to have the great resignation, right? So people are being drawn away to other companies being enticed away. So, so certainly, turn and employees turn in difficulty in recruiting and hiring. These are all challenges to in order to stay staffed up so that you can, you know, satisfy not only your internal operations, your sales slide, which is why I spend a lot of my time or the operation side, which I interface with quite frequently.

Greg Irwin  24:33

Tell us about your question. MSP Ops, overlapping with billing, and, and Max.

Brian  24:42

I'm always trying to think of a fairly unique question with regards to this and I do spend more than abnormal, I do come in spend an abnormal amount of time on, you know, billing and invoicing and those sorts of things because they do directly impact customer satisfaction and kind of was interested in And, you know, anybody can follow, you know, I've been doing this for 20 30 years, right, you know, monitoring management automation, all the technology side of this right, all the the gear that drive MSP operations and make it efficient, you know, integration, etc. I've been doing this for decades, right? There's still, I think, a challenge out there in the industry of the billing functions of how does the MSP operations translate directly to making sure you're invoicing your customers correctly, and then wrapping back to move that changes, updates, deletes, etc? The changes in their infrastructure? How did those then wrap back into billing because, again, as we looked at the last 18 months, people were making massive changes to their infrastructure to their circuitry to their, you know, in the first six months, there were so many requests in our main services major hosting practice to, oh, my god increased my bandwidth, right? I need my band internet type bigger. Right? Because suddenly, my internet pipe was not suited for work from home. Means changes have to translate very smoothly, very correctly to the invoicing and billing side. You know, otherwise, a you lose money or be you have unhappy customers, right? It's some point somebody's unhappy with the result. Right, either you are they are. So I was interested, kind of in the technology side of how does the technology we're applying for MSP operations? How can I move?

Greg Irwin  26:39

That? I think it's I'm not sure. I, I think it's interesting. Before I'm going to go to Peter on it for a moment, but before I do, Brian, do you see a real inefficiency in terms of, you know, the billing your, you know, your your team spending too much time on it, or not properly recognizing, you know, services delivered?

Brian  27:06

I think in my entire career, I've seen to some greater or lesser degree inefficiencies in this area, right. It seems like it's the tail end of the process that people tend to think about, you know, no, no, not as a necessarily an afterthought. But it does come towards the end of the process of, Oh, yeah. And we have to invoice them and make sure it's right. And, you know, until the customer screens, now customers like a screen if you're not invoicing them, right. But then you have the problem of truing it up at the end, like, Oh, I didn't realize I didn't realize I wasn't invoicing you for that Internet bandwidth increase we did as an emergency change, to satisfy your work from home need in the middle of COVID. And we were all running with our hair on fire. And now, six months later, a year later, how do I go back to you and go oh, by the way, you owe me money. Right. So So? Yeah, I think it's I think it's a pervasive problem I've seen over my entire career.

Greg Irwin  28:08

I ended up getting older gentlemen, here, what I got a lot of use, out of

Peter Luff  28:14

the two out process becomes of the bigger the number becomes feeling longer. We've certainly been involved in some some billing discussions with companies that are hosting, hosting companies and msps. On bandwidth. It's not gonna go into here, Brian, but it might be a good offline offline discussion that we can have.

Greg Irwin  28:34

What do you believe there's an inefficiency here? Do you mean, is this a Is this a sweet spot? For MSPs? From luck?

Peter Luff  28:43

I don't see it necessary. I don't see it everywhere. I see. It comes up now. And again. But it's bandwidth billing is the area that we see. I think it depends on how how MSPs are going to build our customers, but very often it's, it's per device per month is the type of billing so you just need to make sure you have accurate discovery, and make sure you've got a good handle on the number of assets that you're managing, which obviously we can, we can assure that with some very accurate discovery, bandwidth billing is a different question. And that does require, you have to sit on that and monitor it continuously, and then make assessments of how much bandwidth is being used. So that's a slightly different problem from device based billing. So yeah, so we get involved in both of those. Right?

Brian  29:27

Yeah. Which all of those of which all have those occur all day long, right? Of course, yes. Especially if you're, especially if you have your toe in the water have multiple lines of business, which we did.

Peter Luff  29:40

Okay, okay. So you're a multi player. You offer multiple services. Gotcha. Okay. Correct. Yep

Greg Irwin  29:51

Let's keep going around here at John. I'm interested in bringing in if you're able to share an anecdote of what you're doing To drive efficiency in terms of your your MSP ops here,

John  30:07

so we are in an SSP, which is very similar, but also blog key differences. And, you know, a lot of what everyone else is saying here rings true for us as well, we, when the pandemic hit, we actually just kind of kicked off our business, we're about six months into it, and we thought, Oh, no, you know, I'm gonna have to go back and get a real job after just six months, but quite the opposite happened. It's just, it's blown up. And there's been plenty of demand, no shortage of work. And probably one of the, you know, the more interesting challenges we face is, you know, not so much finding customers but finding the right technology partners to work with. But you know, we have to have the right tooling and has to be the right price the right support models and the right you know, it's the right partnership that we get from them. We do happen to service MSPs like we have probably one of our most largest isn't an ISP down in the northwest who has their own MSP clients, they they provide manage firewall manage network connectivity, and and the firewall it kind of bleeds them a little bit into the security space, but it's mostly networking and things like that they provide their downstream clients. And so we service them from a security perspective and then they kind of like, you know, white label our service downstream to their clients as well. And so we see it not just from our perspective, but we see it indirectly through them to is their business is booming, and they're growing, they don't have you know, they have a shortage of team members that can support their their clients and, and ever, you know, we're constantly, you know, a little bit behind the demand, which is where you want to be. And so definitely all thumbs up,

Greg Irwin  31:51

john, what what's, uh, what's a project you're doing internally on the back end to improve your efficiency. So we,

John  32:03

you know, we're probably the most important is starting to implement implement workflow and automation, you know, getting out of using spreadsheets and email. Now we're kind of at that stage of our business, you know, we would love to have that on day one, it just wasn't an immediate need. But we've kind of hit that point in our growth in our scale where using an email and a spreadsheet to track things just doesn't make sense anymore. It's no longer efficient. So we made an investment in JIRA, JIRA is extremely affordable, I'm actually shocked at what you get for the price. We do a lot of work with ServiceNow as well. ServiceNow is, you know, just an amazing tool, it's much more powerful than zero, but also like way more than most people need. And it's also way more expensive than most people can afford. But it's weird, I feel weird saying next we actually do a lot of services around ServiceNow. So I'm a little bit kind of maybe shoot myself in the foot there. It's a great product, a lot of people can't afford it. JIRA, if you have, you don't have the budget for ServiceNow JIRA is an excellent tool. You know, it kind of reminds me of the apple model compared to like Microsoft, you know, Apple gives you just what you need, and they're really good at it. Whereas Microsoft gives you like, the whole buffet and it's, you know, maybe a little watered down and what you know, the features are, or the quality is Nigeria does something very similar. They're you know, we're also starting to invest in writing our own processes and procedures and you know, hiring not just delivery people but back end people who are doing project management and, and more of an overhead cost, things like that.

Greg Irwin  33:35

Any questions you have here for the group? I mean, you're putting this in place I know others have already or are one or two steps ahead of you.

John  33:44

I have a question for the MSPs. Do you you know what areas of cybersecurity you get into at all on your own or with a third party you might partner with to do it together?

Greg Irwin  34:00

Hey, rich, you want to? You want to take a shot there?

Rich  34:04

Yeah, so I'll answer for a worldwide till we partner on it because it is a it's a niche play with higher liability. So we go at it with it with a couple of partners. I don't wanna disclose their name, but we have trusted relationships. So we handle you know, from our perspective, all tier one, any of the infrastructure Server Data Center stuff, but then they handle the incident response for

Peter Luff  34:29

security side. You know, what do you say, we see a lot of msps suddenly starting to put a toe in the water, they want a security security piece to their story. And so it starts out with firewalls, managing firewalls and other security devices, perhaps it's from a device management standpoint. And so we see quite a lot of those customers adding firewalls into their into their portfolio beyond traditional networks. servers and VMs, and so forth. That's where it starts. And then they may they may take on if they can, if they can find and hire the right expertise. Suppose they can develop a managed services security practice. But it starts off with the device level, and then they probably try and work their way up from there.

Greg Irwin  35:17

All right, excellent. JOHN, thank you, Peter. Thank you. Rich. Let's keep going here. Obviously, let's invite you in. Do us a favor, give a quick intro here your focus at TCS? Sure.

Abashi  35:31

So I come from the software industry, we implement, maintain, as well as run platforms for customers. So all these tools that we just talked about, we just maintain that implemented, implement them for the customer? Am I audible? Clearly? Yes, yes, I have some background noise. Okay, I want to go back and talk about my experience when we all were sent back home two years back. So, you know, looking at the volume, we were almost 350,000 people. And we had to face enormous challenge, set up the data center to set up all the remote connectivity. And the most challenging part was the security, you know, we have a lot of sensitive customers. And we had secured places within Office, people used to work on there, and customers were happy, because they know that everything is secure, they don't want me any any risk of the data leakage. Now to keep that also available from home, it was really a huge talent. So we ended up investing a lot. To set up all those security tools, we had to convert all the desktops into thin client. So people had to use those same clients connect from home, so that there won't be any kind of security lapse. So now, you know, we grew to almost half a million. And now we have to go back to office, it's a different challenge now, you know, so I just wanted to share that thought.

Greg Irwin  37:19

Got it, hey, I want to bring us to automated resolution and automated fault detection because all the time that could be spent by one engineer to basically chase you know, a difficult problem or so obviously I'm gonna I'd like to ask you, what investments have you guys made in terms of automating automating some, some workflows, whether doesn't have to be AI to be ml, it could be just scripting, but what have you done in terms of automation.

Abashi  37:53

Within our organizations, we have built a lot of AI best AI ml best tools for automation of tickets handling, so whether it's requests from employees on on any kind of request, whether it's related to HR or related to it, whatever may be the request. So we built those tools that will take the request, it will categorize put it in an automated queue. And and all the resolution also will happen most of the resolutions will happen automatically, by connecting to different internal applications, get dancers, and then send it back to the employees. And we also set up a lot of channels example is a messaging platform using Microsoft Teams, and that was integrated with with the tools so that whenever you send a request over your team's message, that ticket is created automatically. You get the resolution also happening all automated through to this in house, you're like I can't take the name of this. But we do have a bunch of in house tools that were built that uses AI ml takes care of a lot of automations, including the residue solving those tickets. And I see requests from many of our customers. We even want a step further. They don't want us to pay a ticket. They want the resolution to happen instantly. Without even ticket we call that ticket less incident.

Greg Irwin  39:36

I get it, I fully get it. My question is, is there a platform or is there a service desk is this all within your service desk, where does this all run

Abashi  39:49

there is a platform and that's where it is run and then on the top of that we have all this tool and automation tools running

Greg Irwin  40:03

All right. And last one, looking ahead for the next year, what's the priority for your organization?

Abashi  40:09

priorities to get everyone back to work?

Greg Irwin  40:12

Oh, I mean, I mean, in terms of changing operations,

Abashi  40:18

yeah, that that request a lot of changes to the to the operations, some of the things that were done that has to be undone. And then we have to put those see that there is a change to infrastructure to the office space we had earlier that's changing with the infrastructure data center that we had, that's also changing. So there is going to be remodeling of the entire data center, to cater to the people who are going back to the office.

Greg Irwin  40:50

I will come back to Peter Peter, work from home, and the flex work. And given how this is so much a headcount business. It's so overly influential. How do you see the modernization at hand in hand, with that, you know, implementing, you know, a flexible workforce. So, you know, in other words, like organizations, or they're trying to work out the staffing, trying to working on the the hiring and the training, obviously, you don't want to just redo the bad practices, or the bad run books, or the bad tools, or the inefficient tools bad is the wrong word. Have you seen this tie in to a, you know, a modernization process at the same time? Yeah, I

Peter Luff  41:46

mean, I see that there, there are MSPs. And their enterprise customers are just right for automation in all of these areas, and the automation is the is the thing that they're moving on, as opposed to a people related approach, if you see what I mean, it's not so much a skills and people it's more of a, an automation approach. So several people have mentioned automated workflows, I think Brian mentioned that I think Jennell mentioned that automation of workflows is critical. And that's the that's the modernization and transformation that we see happening. So

Greg Irwin  42:19

it's funny, because msps are the technical experts. So I believe most organizations first thought is I can script that.

Peter Luff  42:27

Oh, absolutely. Yes. Until it understands how the script leaves the company. And he walks out with the knowledge. And then it's like, back to the drawing board, as we see a lot of that, especially around open source tools. So there's definitely a shelf life for for those skills. The scripting is where it starts. But yeah, I think more productization of those automation solutions can be can be very profitable.

Greg Irwin  42:55

Yes. Excellent data. Thank you very much. Dale, I'd love to get you into the mix over a data. Let's, let's see if you're on the line here with us. Now I'm here. Good to speak with you. Thanks so much for joining, would you give a little intro.

Dale  43:13

I know, I don't have anything unique. Let me echo some of what's already been shared. We We are a multi service software integrator as well as managed service provider across a variety of industry business spaces. So our services were already remote. We already had delivered many most of our services to remote remote associates, that was not new for us. We were coming through COVID. So that was really not a new manifestation, although some of them motivations were similar in the fact that over that same period of time, we were pressed to automate and you know, take on as much as we could. So we did look at automation, we already had implemented a ticketing solution, you know, solution to do the tracking management. But we also expanded to leverage JIRA, somebody else mentioned that as a, another wealth of insightful tracking that we've gained. That we have the same similar challenge of onboarding new associates or new resources quickly training, you know, covering that training gap or that knowledge gap. We've not really figured that one out perfectly. We've certainly got a training program such and all that. The other point that was mentioned was automation, Greg and they keep trying to beat that one pretty hard. We have in the last year and a half built a number of our risk responses, standard responses and descript We're big in AWS. So we've got several of our standard, you know, response to issues built into Ansible scripts that are, you know, sort of preset predefined, and as well as some documentation to go with. So, yeah, that's, that's where we're at. I don't know that we're the best example for change. But that's where we're at.

Peter Luff  45:22

That's good. That's good. I would certainly be interested in conversation about tying those time to diagnostics, automate the diagnostics and tie that into the remediation scripts that you've already built. And that then you've got front to back from an event coming up, yeah. automate the automate the diagnostics, and then a proportion of those can automatically be remediated without, without human touch.

Dale  45:47

Yeah, that is good insight. Because over the last two years, we have somebody else mentioned that as well. I'm just gonna jump on that bandwagon. We've implemented a number of monitoring diagnostic tools. But yeah, you're correct, Peter, we have not connected the diagnostic directly to the script, you know, we're still have a human sitting in the middle, correlate the two and this certainly is an opportunity for automation, we've not yet taken.

Greg Irwin  46:13

what's what's your opportunity? In other words, I'm sure you look at it, and you see where time is spent, or certain teams, you know, just aren't running the way you want? Or you're not able to upsell the way you want. What's either on the cost side of the revenue side, where do you want to

Dale  46:32

push? I would say we're our challenges on selling the service straight up. Just I guess, so it's more of the revenue side? Sure. I think our cost margins are adequate, appropriate, you know, we're probably not best in the industry, but we're certainly not worst. So it's that's not really our focus. It really is expanding market to, to clients that have a new appetite for this kind of thing. Again, I think others have mentioned that the COVID, in some respects, emphasize this, you know, went from zero to 100. And a couple of weeks, we're still trying to follow up on clients like that, that sort of survived, but now they're trying to figure out, I'd really don't want to do this, I want somebody else to do this for me. So that's, we're still on that sales side of it.

Peter Luff  47:34

Yeah, we see a lot of msps actually expanding their business since COVID. Through through COVID, literally, by switching across to remote remote bi services and new services around VPN. Back to Rich's question, originally, lots of remote access VPN support questions. But then there are service opportunities across the board now. And we're talking to a lot of MSPs, about generating new services and differentiating existing services with some of the things that we can bring to this. And maybe the automation is a part of that. And you can expose the automation to the customer, if the customer is minded to do things himself with a little bit of help from an MSP and as a revenue opportunity there, or it's purely a operating margin improvement story on the inside, if the customer doesn't want to take them handle those intelligent alerts generate, but there's all kinds of revenue generation opportunities that we're, we're following up on with our MSP base. So we're happy to have a further discussion on that day and dig into some of that with it.

Greg Irwin  48:38

I think it's, I think it's worthwhile to spend a minute on where people have seen the revenue opportunity. What's the offer? That's, that that's gaining traction? Because that's the that's the key. Again, I'll put it to the group here. What's the service that hit on is the easiest sell into into your customer base? Jennell would you? cry? I'm sorry, can I put you on the on the spot and ask you? What's the service that's, that's resonating with your customers? Uh,

Jennell  49:14

you mean right now? Like, what are what are they're asking for today, and definitely a lot more around security kind of services, like I say, because it's really kind of been something that we're, we're moving on. So really, just the, that whole side of it. So protecting both a like the end, you know, the end user, you know, all the way up to, you know, their cloud based environments to learn, you know, on premise infrastructure, AI and really kind of providing that level as, as you guys know, that's, you know, probably as an MSP. Essentially we're, you know, getting hit with, you know, customers wanting us to sign all these kinds of forms, from a vendor and security and you know, a lot of The insurance carriers are asking that. So now people are asking the questions, how do we get this to work in there? We're really big in Microsoft, though, to where do our CSP providers, so that's a lot of our business. So, you know, we get, you know, a lot of requests over there have migrations between like wb D to also, you know, like, teams voice now or, you know, a lot of their contracts are coming up, and they're like, why do I need to have all these carriers and vendors, like, you just want to kind of consolidate. So those are the things that come to us a lot, right? Now. If you would have asked me like, probably like a year or two ago, it definitely, definitely would have just been like, Oh, we just need you to just to support our environment, just like breakfast, like helped us level one, you know, two tickets, like now things are becoming more complex. And, you know, because there's more challenges that they're, they're faced with in their organizations, and we're seeing the shift of us being a, like, a piece of the business, like, there was just, it was like a budget. And now it's a strategy we're doing more like CIO vcio kind of consulting and getting in front of the customers, and meeting with our board members, and really laying out that strategic kind of roadmap for the companies and making sure that they're thinking about it throughout the whole process, you know, not more about business outcome driven kind of conversations, I

Peter Luff  51:31

think this fees that go down the path of selling business outcomes are the ones that are going to succeed long term. And I think I see a risk to the to the what I call the general purpose MSP who's pursuing, you know, I'll manage your network devices, or I'll manage your server devices for a buck cheaper than than the other guy, that's a, that's a race to the bottom, you're going to get beaten out on a renewal, you're going to get gained on renewals on price. But if you're selling true business outcomes, then you're going to continue to maintain differentiation, maintain higher price points and avoid getting gained by pure technology vendors who are trying to exact same thing as you but to do it cheaper. So go down exactly the right path, and we see our MSPs that are successful doing exactly that selling business outcomes.

Jennell  52:18

Yeah, that's why we enabled cognition 360 to really kind of take all the data, like how much time we were spending on customers, and like in renewals, and we've always in the past, like, just renewed a customer, because they, you know, have been a client, you know, since like, 2005, you know, we're like, okay, we'll renew you. We started looking at the companies and they're buying and like, what time we're resetting, and like, the old equipment, were they advancing? Were they taking advantage of the new solutions to help them and so that really how to have a better conversation with the customers too, as well. So I agree with that.

Greg Irwin  52:51

Thank you, thanks, you know, a rich, can I bring you in on that same thread? What are you seeing in terms of what your customers need? And then how you're serving it.

Rich  53:01

So it's back to what I started with on the remote users? You know, it's a big thing for us here, here's where it makes it easy for us. I don't think it's going to last forever. But when you talk about business outcomes, those that are easy to transact, and close are those that we can tie back to revenue, either preservation or revenue generation. And so within I mean, your clients revenue, correct? Yeah. So we have a number that are, I think I mentioned a call centers and they have over 7000, call center agents that are remote, an insurance company, they were already half remote. Now they're, you know, 100% remote. And so we built a business case against it that allowed us to show that, you know, we could save I forget what the exact number was, but it was about $2,000 worth of working hours per year that they could then use to either preserve revenue or generate revenue, depending upon what it was. And so that's the first thing that made it easy to move into that space and look at the business side. So it wasn't a cost, it was a revenue equation for them. But I don't think it's going to last I think we saw this, we saw this early in the pandemic, where once you do a really good job of setting up your ROI users, they tend to work with the failover solutions that are out there, you know, from primary ISP to carrier. So the second the second pivot that we're doing right now we're doing it through the end of this year and early next year, is really dealing with end user communications. And so today, we never really take calls from end users. We're not a tier one Help Desk, right? And so, but now you have seven, just imagine you have 7000 users Well, you don't want them to call the IT staff. They're not built for that either. Right? They used to come to an office, and they've got 7000 possible networks that are out there. So we don't want to deal with them either. I don't stand up for that. So we're actually integrating fully automating with Twilio. And we're building our automations around Twilio. So think about like when, you know we lost power a couple of weeks ago and our power company texted me saying we noticed the power problem. And then later on they said please send please send a text back. If it's still out. They communicate with me. I never Call them I felt in communication and it was fully automated. So that's the next level of stickiness as clients

Greg Irwin  55:06

is there is there a human on the back end or

Rich  55:09

so now we're looking at it and building it against. Yeah, so we use your money for automation. And then we use ServiceNow for ITSM. And so it's all going to be completely automated against against the PAP, basically, whatever state they say they're in, that will respond to that put something in maintenance mode automatically, our goal is to remove the human out so that we stay sticky as the MSP because in a year, I don't think they'll need us anymore unless we find a way to add value and tie that back to the business outcome, which is then not getting the calls from their clients. Their own clients write their own, I'm sorry, their own users. So that's where we're going, we've probably got six months of testing before we can release that. But I see us working just like a power company does today, we're 1000s and 1000s of users, but you never have to talk to them, and they get a great experience.

Greg Irwin  55:53

I like that that's really cool. There's there's a great spot, it's not such a hidden cost. That's a huge cost. area. So I actually, I hear the story. Is that gonna result in in a cost savings? I presume so?

Rich  56:08

Well, it's human labor. So the problem is, if you don't do it, you wind up having to staff up your way that you do or the client does, right, they have to step up their their tier one. And it labor is your number one cause even if you offshore it, it's still your number one costs in the business. And so if we can reduce 70 80% of our labor out of it, it's a massive change in the cost. And its costs you're probably not incurring today you've gotten by, but you're going to see it if you have a sustained work from home population that never comes back to work. We did a we did a evaluation 80% of worldwide never wants to go back to an office again. Like imagine what that means, like for just us there were 1000 people, right? So the huge impact to it. Now you've got 1000 networks. Got to deal with

Greg Irwin  56:51

crazy. Awesome, rich, thank you very much.

Tom  56:54

A Peter,

Greg Irwin  56:55

let's let's do a wrap up here. We've talked around high level, we didn't hit automation, the way I think you and I plan you and i, you and i did. I had a plan call before this. And we talked about automated phone resolution. We talked about, you know, if that's not what came up here, and this crowd is talking more about revenue, talking more about tier one response. But let's come back to the main topic, which is hidden costs of MSP operations. Any any you want to have your takeaways in terms of addressing the hidden costs.

Peter Luff  57:32

Yeah, I mean, we're out of time very shortly. So this is real quick. But the kinds of things that we can have further discussion about with with any or all the team here would revolve around ticket handling and incident handling, we see a tremendous amount of hidden costs in incident handling. And typically that there's there's a monitoring system, and there's, there's an ITSM system, typically ServiceNow. And we go in alongside ServiceNow. And we would make that process very seamless, very automated, and reduce the mttr that the customer experiences on the other end of the service. And so that level of automation can apply in terms of the ticket creation, the enrichment of the ticket with diagnostic data that I just mentioned earlier on, it can, it can result in an automated routing, it can result in synchronization with a CMDB, the CMDBs generally have a bad name. And they get a very bad rap because they're always out of date. And the the data inside them is inaccurate. So when we sit down alongside ServiceNow, we typically make ServiceNow look really, really good, with very, very accurate discovery that's transmitted into the ServiceNow CMDB. So now you get more accurate troubleshooting, you eliminate overages and just strip out a lot of costs resulting in mttr reduction for the MSP. So it saves money on the inside. And it's it shows it definitely shows a an improved service quality on the outside to the end customer. And so you know, we'd love to have those kind of discussions. And that's typically how we generate value inside of an MSP. And then beyond that there's a revenue generation dimension to this as well, where we can help to differentiate the service offerings that you have. And we'd love to have those kind of discussions to some more than willing to follow up. And hopefully we'll have some further dialogue. Awesome.

Greg Irwin  59:24

Thank you, Peter. And thank you all for taking some time in joining. I am going to come back around with the list of names. And I'll encourage you to take me up on that offer for one new connection here across this group. With that, we're going to wrap it up. Thank you. I appreciate everybody taking the time sharing, and I look forward to speaking with everybody in the future. Thanks everyone. Have a great day

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