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Service providers putting funds into AI and automation

Research from Kaseya reveals the top priorities for service providers as we move deeper into the second half

IT service providers are keen to use more automation and artificial intelligence (AI) tools to improve their business fortunes.

According to the latest 2024 Future of IT survey from Kaseya, there has been a shift, with higher levels of investment heading into AI as channel players look for greater efficiencies.

Examples of where the channel has adopted the technology and automated more processes are emerging with more regularity, with the expectation it will speed up processes across partner ecosystems.

The Kaseya report adds to the sense that AI is an area where the channel is expecting the technology to make a positive difference. The firm found that across the Americas, EMEA and APAC, 37% of respondents indicated they are considering investing in AI and machine learning, which is up from the 20% level last year. Three-quarters of respondents view AI as beneficial with the potential to transform their operations, with a small fraction taking an opposing stance.

The technology is being used in sparking efficiency gains and user productivity, and it also puts the channel in a stronger position, being able to demonstrate to customers they understand the potential of AI to help improve their internal processes and the lives of employees.

Service providers are just as keen as customers to use automation to improve business processes. The survey indicated a clear preference for all-in-one solutions that are easier to manage.

Alongside AI, the other main area service providers are focused on is security. Given the number of attacks most service providers are trying to fend off, it’s perhaps no surprise that the focus on defending data is also a high priority. Service providers were looking to invest in security awareness training, email security, penetration testing and vulnerability scanning.

Challenging economic conditions

The channel is continuing to combat challenging economic conditions, with the expectation they will impact software, hardware and headcount investments.

Kaseya also uncovered an emerging trend, with a decent portion of service providers looking for shorter contract periods with vendors. That could be a sign of a desire for greater control and flexibility, but it mirrors the experience service providers are encountering with customers who are also avoiding long-term commitments.

Speaking to MicroScope last week, Fred Voccola, CEO of Kaseya, said MSPs deserved more rewards for the investments they made to help customers.

“If we think about the customers of MSPs, small to mid-size businesses around the world, most of them have three outsourced service providers that they use,” he said.

“They use their legal providers, they use financial/tax providers for counting audits and tax stuff, and they use their IT and security providers, the MSP.

“Without question, the MSP is the most important and most strategic business partner of all of them for SMBs, because without the MSP, their business systems, their industrial systems, they not only do not work, but they’re not protected or secured from the huge macroeconomic existential threat that’s coming from ransomware gangs that are targeting SMB,” said Voccola.

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