Empower MSP London opened with a showing of the company promo video, which as Dave Sobel, Senior Director of Community, said “set the room on fire”.
After Dave’s introductory warm up and house keeping, Mike Cullen, Vice President Sales and Customer Retention, took to the stage to highlight how SolarWinds MSP has been developing over the past year.
“We’ve been busy since the merger,” said Mike. “We’ve been focused on bringing the companies together and using all our combined resources. A lot of technologies have transported across and it’s working really well. We have over 700 R&D developers helping to deliver a simple, powerful and affordable solution.”
The company’s new mission statement is: SolarWinds MSP empowers IT service providers with the technology to fuel their success. “We are setting out to make our products easy to try, implement, use, and sell,” Mike explained. “The fact that we have a profitable global footprint is also crucial for our customers as it shows we’re about for the long term.”
Mike set out a positive prognosis of strong growth for the Managed Services sector. On top of this security is also providing big opportunities for MSPs. Yet there are challenges ahead.
“There are four key challenges facing MSPs,” said Mike. “The movement from on premises to cloud; the rise of multiple device management – MSPs are no longer expected to just cover desktops with the average user having 3.5 devices; the commoditization of services; and the requirement to do more with less.”
To respond to these challenges SolarWinds MSP will be focussing on some key areas including:
1/ User experience UX – this includes the introduction of technologies like NetPath™ and monitoring end user experience.
2/ Automation – with artificial intelligence, machine leaning, and automation converging, the focus is on limiting the human involvement factor and building repeatable processes.
3/ Security – this is the new point of entry for many MSPs looking to start a conversation with customers, allowing them to pull through managed services.
4/ New products – SolarWinds MSP has been focused on reducing cost and introducing security products to support the vision of layered security. In the past few months there have been major developments in MSP Manager™, an imminent launch of Mail Assure™, re-launch of Backup Documents, and the proposed introduction of NetPath.
“To ensure we’re delivering on what we are saying – not just in terms of technology, but also on customer experience – we’re doing a number of things,” explained Mike. “This broadly falls into two key strategies, the importance of building a solid net promoter score, and the further development of the SolarWinds MSP academy.
“On top of extending our existing training and technical certification to all products, we’re also adding a business academy, which offers owners, sales, marketing and security modules. This ensures that the customer is always top of mind,” he concluded.
Continuing the theme of future vision, Mike was followed on stage by futurist Gerd Leonard with a presentation entitled Human-Machine Futures: Opportunities and Challenges.
Gerd opened with the statement that the future is currently happening faster than ever. Things that we thought were just science fiction – like automatic language translation and self-driving cars – are getting better every day.
For companies it used to be that there would be a major business paradigm shift every five to seven years, this is now consistently getting shorter. Although the future is often better than we tend to think, Gerd explained that the problem with such a rapid advancement in technology is that there are a lot of things to worry about in the future – from terrorism to robots taking over.
What we do have to do is ensure that because the technology is becoming so powerful, we have a framework to protect what we are doing. To support this, Gerd sited the William Gibson quote “Technology neutral until we use it.”
We are reaching a pivot point for exponential technological changes. Science fiction is fast becoming science fact – 90% of this is positive. However, Gerd warned, the growth in smart, connected technology, leads to a growing opportunity for abuse.
“Transforming ‘dumb’ businesses into connected, smart businesses is an amazing opportunity,” he said, “but we need to make sure it works, is safe, has value, purpose, and ethics. We need to know who is accountable and where it is going. We’re going to see more changes in technology in the next 20 years than we have in the past 300.”
What Gerd doesn’t see happening any time soon is computers completely taking over. “Is everything simply an algorithm that can be reproduced by computer? I would say not,” he opined. “Silicon Valley may believe we are simply glorified machines. But humans are incredibly inefficient, lie, make stuff up, change their minds and are unpredictable. Computers are binary, which means they are very good at being focused on repetitive, process-driven tasks. What they cannot do yet is build relationships. Our biggest challenge is not that machine will kill us, but that we will become like machines and lose our social, emotional, and intellectual intelligence.”
Over the coming years anything that can be digitised or automated will be – this is part of digital Darwinism. But as Gerd explained, that doesn’t make us useless, it just means that anything that cannot be automated becomes more valuable. Imagination and creativity are the skills of the future.
What do we need to do to deal with this future? Three things:
“Don’t employ technology just to become more efficient – use it do new things,” concluded Gerd. “Don’t use it just to fire people. Come up with new ideas based on technology. Efficiency is for robots… we can go further. The best companies in the future won’t be the ones with best technology and processes, they’ll be the ones with the best ideas. We need to embrace technology not become it.”
Gerd’s book Technology vs Humanity is available now from Amazon®.
SolarWinds MSP considers various features and functionality prior to any final generally available release. As such, comments given in this article are not (nor should they be interpreted to be) a commitment from SolarWinds MSP that it will deliver any specific feature or, if it delivers such feature, any time frame when that feature will be delivered. SolarWinds MSP is always trying to improve and enhance its products. All discussions herein are based upon product team current interests, and product team plans and priorities can change at any time.
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