I’ve written previously about my retro fixation. Besides my collection of retro video game hardware, I have an original Commodore 64, as well as the Apple IIGS I learned to program in Pascal. There is an elegant simplicity to these machines. While incredibly flexible, their limitations meant that there was only so much they could do. Additionally, each machine was entirely fresh when you turned the power off and on again. That limited the number of things that could go wrong!
The early hacker ethos, before “hacker” became a negative word, was about discovery and creation, learning as much as you could about the technology. With these now retro computers, you really could easily learn just about everything they did.
Today’s machines are far more powerful, and the systems they run far more complex. The diagnostic data provided is deep, rich, and sometimes, overwhelming.
Just as the machines have changed, so too has the software solution providers use to manage them. An early computer repair technician would rely on physical repair tools. An early solution provider started with remote control tools, and then moved to remote monitoring tools, before finally advancing to provide automation. Now, those tools are advancing again. Intelligent systems are using data algorithms and machine learning to provide exciting new insights.
Solution providers have had to evolve their business models to keep pace—going from computer sales companies, to service companies, to managed services companies. The next step in this evolutionary ladder is combining these new data insights with business acumen, as the focus becomes less about maintaining systems and more about driving business benefits. Technology has become a core element of just about every business. That change has driven the value of solution providers even higher, as they deliver on the promises of that technology.
How will this continue to change? Solution providers are now focused on being holistic technology providers and delivering business value via technology. That will continue, adding more business services (potentially including HR or process management services), or expertise in specific vertical markets.
Solution providers will look for tools that provide better insights, both on their management technologies as well as how their customers are doing, combining CRM and customer satisfaction with social media information, tracking and ensuring the best customer experience possible.
Customers will expect an even higher level of service, and an experience customized to their needs. Just delivering on an SLA won’t be good enough, as the experience will need to feel intimate and relevant.
There’s a reason nostalgia sticks. The idea of simpler times is always appealing, but the power of the new capabilities drives new experiences. I’ll still boot up my Commodore, but I prefer a world where the information is readily accessible, intelligent, timely, and relevant. So will our collective customers.
Dave Sobel is senior director of Community and Field Marketing at SolarWinds MSP. You can follow Dave on Twitter at @djdaveet
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