We're of the view that big data is actually pretty boring. The real value isn't in data but how it is used. That means analytics is really the key to using data for business value.
In a recent Q and A, we spoke with LogicNow's Dr Alistair Forbes about how analytics are being used by managed Service Providers to drive greater business value.
What's changed over the last few years that has driven the need to use analytics in the MSP space?
One of the biggest drivers of change in the IT industry in general and for managed service providers specifically has been the fragmentation of IT in terms of platforms, systems and the security landscape.
MSPs have to deal with a far more varied set of challenges and threats and the volume of data generated by the tools they use to manage that has increased dramatically. It is increasingly difficult for MSPs to see the wood for the trees and analytics and machine learning offer qualitatively different solutions to this problem, delivering tailored and actionable insights to MSPs to help them be more effective and more efficient, to do more with less and improve their levels of service and profitability.
What value add is this delivering to service providers and to their customers?
Insights derived from analytics allow MSPs to anticipate and prevent problems more effectively than was possible when the MSP had to dig for information and look for patterns and correlations manually. As a result, their customers' systems are more secure and likely to suffer less downtime and loss of productivity than would otherwise be the case.
Can you describe some specific instances where analytics and automation have made it possible to deliver services that were previously impossible?
Many of the examples are in areas in which, while the information was available, the effort involved in reviewing it and deriving the details necessary to take action is such that it is not done on a regular basis or indeed at all.
An example of this would be identifying vulnerable software or versions of software on machines that do not require it. Scanning through reports to identify where that software exists and should be removed manually is tedious, error-prone and inefficient. Using analytics to identify those systems and take the appropriate remedial action can become a normal part of the working day for an engineer – the right information at the right time presented directly in the interface in which they spend the majority of their working day is a game changer.
Is this creating new revenue streams or just automating old ones?
LogicCards helps with automation and efficiency across the operational activity of an MSP but also provides opportunities to generate new revenue. One example would be highlighting systems that are ageing and out of warranty, providing the data that the MSP can take to their customer to discuss upgrade requirements. Another example would be identification of hardware or software configurations that are vulnerable to security breaches, giving the MSP an opportunity to approach their client about a project to bring those systems to the necessary level of protection.
What's LogicNow's play in this?
LogicNow's analytics capability is delivered through LogicCards, a delivery mechanism that is integrated into the management dashboard that our MSPs use every day to manage their systems. This ensures that the information is very easily accessible, with no need to search for it in reports or in a separate dashboard. It's delivered right where the MSP has to take action and gives them clear signposts as to exactly what the opportunity or issue is, allowing them to act on it quickly and easily.
What's your data and analysis telling us to expect in the coming months?
We're currently monitoring the adoption of Windows 10 and expect to see strong uptake of this in our customers' environments.
After the lukewarm reception to the Windows 8 family of products, Windows 10 delivers substantial improvements in security and manageability so we expect to see more rapid adoption over the next six to 12 months.
We are also seeing the emerging trends in the evolution of security threats and our array of tools helps MSPs both in protecting against them and in making sure they are aware of what is rising in incidence almost in real time, so they can be better prepared in protecting their customers.