MSPs, interested in creating a new recurring revenue stream and increasing customer value?

Productivity and Work Analytics: The Next Managed Service Practice

Joel Abramson, CEO5 min read

The MSP industry is hyper-competitive. MSPs must differentiate themselves from the other 100 competitors in their region, who essentially all offer the same services—managed IT, security, automation, on-premise and cloud services, etc.

When analyzing your competitors, ask yourself, "How unique is my MSP value proposition for new and existing customers?"

At Produce8 , we believe the future of work requires MSPs to cross the chasm from providing technology products and services to becoming business productivity experts.

The history of the MSP model

Over the past two decades, the MSP model has grown through three main phases:

Managed IT and security: In the 2000s, managed services saw traditional value-added resellers (VARs) and system integrators shift from one-off, break-fix IT support to monthly recurring revenue models.

Pioneered by RMM and PSA platforms, this transition enabled remote monitoring, management, and automation of service delivery, fostering proactive support. These platforms have since become industry leaders, expanding into security, business applications, data backup, and more.

Cloud applications: In 2011, the launch of Microsoft 365 caused concern in the industry regarding the future of MSP services. What would MSPs manage if everything shifted to the cloud and large vendors offered their own remote managed services?

Despite these fears, the industry thrived. MSPs began delivering more value through virtual chief information officer (vCIO) services and developing business applications in areas like ERP, CRM, and cloud services. By the end of the 2010s, digital marketplaces for cloud apps and related services had become more prevalent.

Cybersecurity: MSPs have always offered information security services for SMBs, but demand for advanced MSSP cybersecurity services has surged in the past five years.

At MSP events, cybersecurity vendors now dominate half the tradeshow floor. Despite significant opportunities, the typical MSP do-it-yourself model faces challenges in profitability, liability, and scalability.

There’s no doubt that cybersecurity has revitalized the typical MSP vCIO service. However, beyond the challenges of building a cyber practice and the scarcity of qualified resources, most business owners view cybersecurity as a necessary evil. The conversation is generally negative, as most small and medium businesses believe they already pay their MSP for security.

So, what’s next for MSPs?

MSP clients are ready to understand productivity

Productivity and work analytics discussions are new and compelling to business owners who care about their workers. Who better than your vCIO, who guided the business through its digital transformation, to deliver this new, high-value service? Consider the discussions and ancillary revenue opportunities that can arise from having data that shows how an organization utilizes its tech daily.

MSPs must be experts in productivity and work analytics

Productivity is a complex metric to measure for both the people and technology that businesses invest in. Interestingly, the digital transformation SMBs have undergone actually provides most of the data needed to shift productivity measurement from anecdotal to data-driven.

To achieve this, MSPs must offer a work analytics platform like Produce8 , which collects data from three main sources:

  1. Interactions and time spent in applications and websites, calendar information, and calls/meetings data
  2. Business impact reporting, such as the cost of meetings across the organization, application usage, and collaboration overload
  3. Metrics to make informed decisions and show the impact of changes

Produce8 allows end users to control their data, a critical step for employee adoption within an organization. While productivity and efficiency are business priorities, digital well-being, better workflow, meeting overload, and employee sentiment and experience are what drive end-user adoption.

Offering this solution to your customers allows you to transform into a new practice area that differentiates you from the competition, helping you win new customers and retain and expand your current MRR base.

On top of addressing the productivity challenges from legacy tools, leveraging the Produce8 work analytics platform will also prepare you for the next frontier of technology: AI.

What is Managed AI?

Managed AI refers to the provision of artificial intelligence (AI) services and solutions for your clients. These services typically include the deployment, management, and optimization of AI technologies to meet the specific needs of businesses. By including work analytics in these offerings, you can ensure that AI tools are properly adopted by your client and are driving your intended results.

Generative AI (GenAI) and Large Language Models (LLM) are here, and there’s no doubt they will change the world, including the MSP universe. While the current AI focus is more consumer-related or involves basic use cases like call centers, the rapid pace at which large technology vendors are innovating and investing means new applications of AI are emerging constantly. Interestingly, the primary use case for AI is productivity.

In this era of AI, MSPs will need to reinvent themselves once again. Many manual tasks, such as helpdesk support, will be automated. Digital marketplaces and Software as a Service (SaaS) vendors may increasingly encroach on MSP territory. And SMBs will require fewer people to accomplish the same amount of work.

We believe thought-leading MSPs that embrace productivity and work analytics today will be well-positioned to address the number one challenge with AI: creating guardrails for its usage within a business.

Managed AI service providers that utilize work analytics will understand how hundreds of technology applications are used, where best to leverage AI, and how to measure its impact on employee work patterns.

Getting Started with the Produce8 Partner Program

Becoming a productivity expert for your customers requires the same "building-a-new-MSP-practice" mentality and methodology you used when you first entered the managed IT arena, built your business application practice, or developed your MSSP cybersecurity practice. Like RMM/PSA, digital work analytics is a platform investment, not just another widget in your tech stack.

As a result, the Produce8 Partner Program combines our work analytics platform, purpose-built for MSPs, with a comprehensive set of technical, go-to-market, and partner development resources. And it’s all supported by a team of experts.

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