Artificial Intelligence is Lending a New Dimension to BPO Managed Services

AI or Artificial intelligence is a rapidly emerging technology in today’s world. Literally everyone wants to automate repetitive processes to gain maximum output, efficiency and cost reduction.

So, what is AI? Artificial Intelligence is a way of making a system, a computer-controlled robot, or a software think intelligently, in a similar manner to which intelligent humans think.

Artificial Intelligence is indeed a highly interesting field of study but also presents many questions? Will Artificial Intelligence ultimately overtake human intelligence? The question of robots holding human beings ransom has already been explored by many popular science fiction authors. Only in the last month, Sophia, a lifelike robot who was the first to get a country citizenship (Saudi Arabia) emerged at a Techfest in India and answered several questions; including a marriage proposal!

AI finds widespread usage areas

Artificial Intelligence has multiple areas of application within fields like information technology (IT), inform-ation technology enabled services (ITES), business process outsourcing (BPO), media, telecom, education, healthcare and defense.

Let’s focus on AI applications within the IT/ITES/BPO sector. Indeed, due to the emergence of AI capabilities in BPOs, services managed by BPOs are finding a new dimension.

AI can make a paradigm shift within the BPO sector

In the coming years, AI capability will be a key criterion in selecting an outsourcing vendor. Currently, close to 70% of BPO engagements in India are based on traditional models, these are likely to undergo transformational changes in the future. A direct impact of this transition towards AI in BPOs will be a 15-17% decline in India’s outsource services industry workforce by 2021. The impact of automation is likely to be mainly on the less-skilled worker. However, companies might move the freed resource from volume-driven work to value-driven and complex jobs thereby adding value to their organization. This will significantly enhance the productivity and efficiency of BPO firms.

All BPO Service Providers incorporating AI and or automation capabilities, at the earliest, are set to gain huge benefits from this emerging trend; mainly due to the lower cost advantages of AI. Many analysts are predicting the AI market will grow by a substantial 50%+ over the next five years.

Service Providers are now implanting AI tools within client premises to troubleshoot basic PC-related infrastructure issues such as PCs not booting up, login issues and virus problems. These may seem to be easy fixes but are indeed a pain point for a company with a PC installed base in the thousands!

 RPA: A key capability needed for outsourcers in the future

Nowadays, more and more companies include ‘Robotic-Process-Automation (RPA) capability’ as a criterion when researching Outsourcing Service Providers. The latter are considering an onshore + automation solution as a substitute to a purely offshore one. They also consider the compliance aspects and productivity benefits of using robots over humans. On a positive note for RPA, this capability can permanently alter the business and pricing models in the ITO/BPO spheres. RPA also allows BPO providers to come up to speed and offer new services to existing clients.

Due to RPA impact, RPA capabilities offered by the service provider (SP) can well be the deal-maker in terms of deciding outsourcing contracts. Traditionally, greater manpower was needed earlier to complete a large volume of work. The emergence of RPA has changed this equation. With enhanced automation and greater processing capacity than humans, routine and rule-based work can be done far more rapidly, thus adding greater value. Emergence of RPA has created a cost differential in outsourcing engagement models.

RPA: An opportunity to extract better value from their staff

Despite the emergence of AI, traditional outsourcing will not become obsolete soon. In fact, RPA is expected to strengthen existing relationships. Deloitte Business-Process-as-a-Service (BPaaS) is investing heavily to further develop its existing RPA capabilities. It has already established several strategic alliances with companies offering RPA platforms, e.g. Automation Anywhere, Open Span, Grid Infocom and Bizagi. To hone its RPA capabilities and push further innovation in its engagements, Deloitte is developing an innovation & automation lab in its Woodmead office in Johannesburg, South Africa. This lab will house state-of-the-art facilities and will have the capability to offer clients a live demonstration of its latest automation tools and smart technologies.

Automation Impact: Innovation will win the battle!

The key advantage will be gained by those investing in the next wave of opportunities, not those stubbornly resisting innovation and obsessively trying to protect legacy business models for whom the death knell has sounded.

Firms with greater IT infrastructure management needs will manage them through better cloud-based orchestration tools. Now, the onus in the service industry is shifting to using only people for tasks requiring human skills unable to be replicated by software. The trend is snowballing as more tools for RPA and autonomics management are being widely adopted by enterprises & service providers alike.

Because of these innovations, service providers really have no options. Their very competitiveness is at stake and they must adopt Intelligent Automation aggressively if they want to remain viable for ambitious clients and competitive with their counterparts.

~ Subrata Sarkar

Managed Security Market Gaining Strength by the Day

Many companies have been the victim of cyberattacks including Malware, Denial-of-Service(DoS) and Ransomware. A recent example being Equifax, where hackers were able to get personal and confidential details of approximately 143 million people. SMBs are more vulnerable to these attacks due to a lack of expertise and budget. Managed Service Providers (MSPs) are leveling the field for SMBs and LBs by providing these specialized security services. The Managed Security market is growing exponentially with the rise in cybercrimes and security threats. Business factors such as meeting the needs of compliance and data protection laws, budget constraints, lack of in-house expertise and increased adoption of cloud services are shaping the future of the Managed Security market.

According to AMI’s Global Model, SMBs around the world are spending approximately $11 Billion on Remotely Managed Security, which is expected to grow at a CAGR of 14% by 2021. The increasing demand from SMBs is the key driver for this growth. As the services offered by SMBs increase, the need for high-level security for sensitive and confidential information is also expected to increase. AMI’s MSP study shows that 22% of an MSP’s total revenue is generated by providing Managed Security Services to clients and it will continue to grow. This is a great opportunity for MSPs to expand their security offerings.

 Region wise, North America is expected to remain the largest market for Managed Security Services as most managed security service providers and technology vendors are based in the US. The U.S. is expected to account for 92% of the market by 2021 for Remotely Managed Security Services.

Challenges:

Data is the new currency in this era and that is the biggest challenge for Managed Security Providers. As the data increases, MSPs find it difficult to provide scalability due to the lack of integration between various security platforms and tools. There are no pre-packaged technologies that fit all the security needs of various types of businesses. These security needs are business specific and require considerable time, effort and monetary investment.

From a SMB’s perspective, there is always a risk involved with the handling of critical information through a third-party security provider, including the risk of sensitive information getting into the wrong hands. So, establishing trust with these businesses is a big challenge for MSPs. Additionally, according to the MSP study over 60% of Managed Security Service Providers find it challenging to maintain close relationship with vendors.

Expectations from Vendors:

MSP’s share in overall revenue for the vendor is growing quickly as SMBs shift their focus to core business offerings and outsource all other IT services required to run the business. Certainly, MSPs are expecting competitive prices and premium customer service from vendors. Additional selection criteria include:

  • Delivering technologically superior platforms and tools compared to other competitors in the market
  • Highly scalable and customizable technology solutions according to the customer’s needs
  • In addition to technology, vendors are expected to carry all the relevant certification and audit credentials to be compliant with the data privacy and security laws especially in regulated verticals such as Healthcare, Banking, etc.

These are a few of the many challenges and selection criteria uncovered in AMI’s MSP study. This research demonstrates that expansion of managed security offerings such as Endpoint Security and Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) could be a major contributing factor in the growth of the managed security market. MSPs should pay attention to several growth factors such as flexibility for changing requirements, high level of automation, regular security testing, quick customer support and the ability to provide end-to-end security solutions. Taking steps in these directions will help MSPs to stay on top in this competitive market.

~Ankit Mehta, Associate

Got MSP?

Managed Service Providers (MSPs) are upping the stakes in the current cloud land grab. By rapidly expanding their portfolio of service offerings they expect to capture larger share of wallet. Their customers are aligned with this approach as they seek out full-service providers able to meet all their technology needs.

A Growing Market

By 2021 MSPs will deliver close to 25% of all technology products and services globally, up from 18% today. This is an impressive business transformation story – thousands of IT resellers and systems integrators (most of them small companies with less than $10M in revenues) have displayed a clear vision and competent leadership in enhancing their organizations’ capabilities and infrastructure to keep revenues growing in this challenging business climate.

The number of MSPs worldwide will grow from 50,000 to 75,000 between 2016-2021, with the total IT products/services they deliver growing from $500 billion to over $1 trillion during the same time.

Their services portfolios, which initially included pure infrastructure services such as storage, security essentials, compute power, web hosting, and application hosting, have now grown to include value add and higher margin services such as disaster recover/business continuity, e-discovery, vulnerability assessment, compliance management, application management, SaaS, and mobile device management among others.

Business Challenges

Despite being in a high growth business, MSPs face tough challenges which require constant attention and fine tuning of their business models. Some of the top challenges are:

  • Differentiating their services from those of other MSPs is a top priority to counter margin erosion and hyper-competition.
  • Absorbing newer technologies, tools, and solutions, packaging them for client consumption, and providing follow up services requires a constant learning and training.
  • Investing in datacenters is yet another critical challenge, which is often detrimental to smaller MSPs.

How Technology Vendors Can Help

Technology solution vendors that are supplying to MSPs can often play a big role in helping MSPs address these challenges. By fully understanding the nature of MSPs operational and business needs, vendors can design their products and programs to enable their MSP customers to win in the market-place.

Key features can be built into products and programs to make them a nuts-to-bolts solution, or packaged to work with other third-party solutions typically used by MSPs. Examples of the types of features that MSPs would like vendors to include in their solutions are:

  • Automation of overall solutions architecture.
  • Automation of customer on-boarding and migration processes.
  • Dynamic and predictive throughput/capability scaling.
  • Performance monitoring and predictive dashboards and controls.
  • Vertical industry-specific sales, marketing, and technical know how.
  • Vertical industry-specific compliance and reporting features.
  • Online university – modular online training videos and certification.

These are some of the insights we have uncovered in our tracking of the worldwide MSP segment. For additional insights and a detailed description of our MSP tracking service and various deliverables click here.

Alternatively, please email John Rezac (jrezac@ami-partners.com) for more details or to schedule a webinar that will walk you through our MSP coverage and insights.

~Deepinder Sahni, SVP

5 SMB Pros and Cons for the Cloud

You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have, the facts of life. The feeling of nostalgia for that staple of 1980s television The Facts of Life notwithstanding, the good and the bad can be applied to that ever-expanding network we call the Cloud. At an event hosted by Rackspace, your intrepid blogger was brought up to speed on recent developments and how the company is working toward its corporate goal of being “The preeminent IT services company in the world”.  The cloud is the primary focus of Rackspace and numerous competing companies all over the world. There are challenges to face but also opportunities to seize. Let’s look at the challenges that Rackspace identified with the cloud and then put an SMB focused lens on reasons for subscribing or not subscribing to cloud solutions.

All data equal?
SMBs are putting data on the cloud

Top Challenges

The topics on analyst day covered all facets of the Rackspace portfolio and numerous employees shared their subject matter expertise. Additionally, several customers shared stories about their transformation with Rackspace and how their business has changed over the years. The cloud presents both an opportunity to customers as well a challenge and we’ll see that difference in position can be a matter of perspective. Continue reading “5 SMB Pros and Cons for the Cloud”

MSPs to capture $1.0T in ICT spending by 2021

Large numbers have a certain aura to them. We almost disrespect these figures by using abbreviations. One trillion dollars written out looks like $1,000,000,000,000 and for those wondering, such a sum would weigh approximately 10,000 tons (9,071.85 short tons) when carried around in the largest denomination US currency currently in circulation, the ever popular $100 bill. To have such transportation and storage problems… For the sake of preserving the “0” key, we’ll stick to the $1.0T abbreviation for the rest of this piece, but there is no shortening the drive of MSPs to capture an increasing share of global information and communication technology (ICT) spending across the SMB and Large Enterprise space.

MSP spending capture growth
$1.0T in spending capture… that’s a spicy meatball

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How are MSPs winning?

There are a host of factors contributing to the rise in MSP spending capture toward the $1.0T plateau. As with any business, Continue reading “MSPs to capture $1.0T in ICT spending by 2021”