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Acer America
Acer America Corp. is a computer manufacturer of business and consumer PCs, notebooks, ultrabooks, projectors, servers, and storage products.

Location

333 West San Carlos Street
San Jose, California 95110
United States

WWW: acer.com

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April 22, 2022 | Karen Falcone

MSPs Can Scale and Boost Customer Experience with Artificial Intelligence

Adding AI-powered tools to network monitoring and management pays dividends for growing service providers.

The most critical responsibility of an MSP or solution provider is to keep customers’ businesses running smoothly. As providers grow and take on additional customers, this bottom-line responsibility doesn’t change, no matter how large they become. Connectivity, uptime, and the ability to be productive are what customers care most about.

For the solution provider, half the battle is recognizing the need to measure their own success by the experience they deliver customers, and the other half is finding ways to scale effectively while not experiencing any drop-off in the quantity and quality of services provided. Both halves are key to being a successful service provider with long-term, happy customers.

Adding artificial intelligence-powered tools to network monitoring and management enables managed service providers to both scale and improve customer experience.

The Experience Matters

Many service providers are used to measuring success the way they always have—by delivering certain service levels, such as network speed, responsiveness, or download times. These all have their place, but to truly service customers in the modern working environment, service providers need to change the way they approach customer engagements and think like their customers do.

With a mix of employees at home, in the office, and working in remote locations, it’s safe to say that the working environment has changed forever as a result of the pandemic. While this makes it more difficult to measure success in terms of traditional service levels, it also paves the way for an updated approach to measuring success. Employees care about whether they can do their jobs successfully. Can they access their documents and applications quickly and easily? Are their video calls glitch- and drop-free?

Once service providers focus on delivering what customers care about, it becomes much easier to measure themselves against that.

The Need to Scale

In addition to employees being physically spread out, the rise of cloud-based services and applications plus the sheer number of devices connecting to a network increase the management complexity tenfold.

To be successful in scaling the business while providing the services they’ve come to be known for, service providers need to embrace innovative technologies and automation tools. Dashboards that provide a single-pane-of-glass view into all customer engagements are just the starting point to maintaining an excellent experience.

Even with a dashboard, it’s difficult to monitor all customer environments at all times. AI tools can be that difference maker for many service providers struggling to scale effectively without sacrificing user experience. AI can help identify problems, speed troubleshooting, and assist in repairs, decreasing customer downtime. For service providers under pressure to stretch budgets and do more with less, AI can be the difference between a happy customer and lost revenue.

There are three main ways that AI can be a game changer:

1. Network Monitoring and Management – A growing number of customers means an ever-expanding number of networks to view, manage, and maintain. AI can serve as the “extra technician” who constantly monitors each environment and alerts to potential issues that need to be addressed. With AI, service providers can maintain an excellent user experience while technicians work on higher-value tasks and responsibilities.

2. Discovery and Troubleshooting – When problems are reported, speed becomes a factor. How long does it take technicians to not only respond, but to solve a problem? Has the customer been unable to work or unable to open business during that time? AI technology can help identify the specifics around a reported problem, speeding time to resolution

For example, if a customer is complaining about dropped connections in a conference room, AI can help determine if the cause is a bad router, devices that weren’t updated, or a cabling problem. Without AI, each potential cause would need to be investigated until the issue was resolved. With AI, the specific cause is immediately identified and can be addressed and remediated without delay.

3. Making Repairs – The use of AI doesn’t have to stop at the discovery phase—AI tools can help technicians make the actual repairs. Imagine a situation where a problem is identified, but either because of staffing issues, outdated equipment, or even an expert being away on vacation, the technician on call is unsure of how to proceed. AI technology can recommend steps to solve the problem, preventing delays and maintaining customer experience.

As the service provider shifts to a more experience-level way of measuring success, AI can also assist in delivering the expected experience. Service providers would set service-level experiences (SLEs) with customers, replacing the metrics of past approaches. With the assistance of AI, service providers can easily track whether target service levels are being met—and if not, why. For example, understanding that service levels varied, even if they all met the expected threshold, could identify a potential issue that could worsen if not addressed.

A Proactive Future

In addition to speeding identification and repairs of problems, and assisting with staffing-related scaling issues, AI can also change the very way a service provider operates. Service providers have historically been reactive. Now, however, AI technologies can proactively find potential issues, many times before customers are even aware. Proactive network monitoring and management can dramatically cut down on the number of critical problems and issues that develop and create downtime. Furthermore, demonstrating proactivity helps customers understand that their service provider “is always on top of the situation,” strengthening the customer-provider relationship.

KAREN FALCONE is senior director of product marketing for AI-driven SD-WAN, and service provider as a channel at Juniper Networks. Previously, she served as vice president of marketing at 128 Technology, which Juniper acquired in 2020. Falcone holds a BA in Finance and an MBA in Marketing from Bentley University.


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