Turn Data into Action: Top BI Solutions for VARs and MSPs

See how your peers turn data into insights to benefit their operations and create customer value.

Business Intelligence

Business intelligence (BI) solutions transform data into actionable insights that help business leaders successfully manage their companies. For value-added resellers (VARs) and managed services providers (MSPs), BI solutions have value as tools they can use in their businesses and solutions they can provide to their customers.

Sharing their thoughts on the value of BI solutions and how to leverage them to grow their businesses are members of The ASCII Group:

What are the specific ways that VARs and MSPs can utilize business intelligence to improve their operational maturity?

Bloomfield: VARs and MSPs can tap into business intelligence to refine their operations by using data analysis for predictive maintenance, better allocation of resources, and smoother service delivery. Analyzing past data helps MSPs anticipate needs, avoid service disruptions, and offer customized solutions, leading to more efficient operations and happier clients.

Durfee: We created a PowerBI dashboard that combines information from our accounting software, CRM, and case management software. Each department has KPIs that are displayed on the dashboard. We update it biweekly and walk through it in a rapid meeting as a team to ensure we are all aligned and addressing any issues.

Rojas: By understanding the critical numbers that drive results in the business, data-driven decisions can be made that lead to more predictable outcomes. Using business intelligence to look at numbers and understand the “story” they are telling is critical for businesses that want to drive continuous improvement.

de Prado: We use BI to learn more about our operations and how we deal with customers. This includes looking at service ticket trends to improve reaction times, customer feedback to improve our service, and internal process efficiencies to help us grow our business wisely. BI helps us find places where tasks can be automated so we can focus our expert resources on tasks that have the biggest effect. This leads to a more refined and mature operational model in the end.

Which business intelligence solutions and services can VARs or MSPs provide to their customers?

Bloomfield: VARs and MSPs can equip their clients with tailored dashboards and reports that provide immediate insights into various aspects of their businesses, from cybersecurity status to compliance levels. Services such as data warehousing, in-depth business analytics, and performance management also play a crucial role, empowering clients to make informed decisions that enhance productivity and increase their bottom line.

Durfee: We work with the Microsoft platform, so we recommend PowerBI and Excel as the two front-end options for visualization and display. Storage would be in the Microsoft cloud, depending on where the data is stored or connected via the Azure PowerBi Service.

de Prado: Our comprehensive BI solutions are tailored to each customer’s needs. These solutions encompass data aggregation platforms that provide a consolidated view of their IT landscapes, analytics services that enable data interpretation, and customizable dashboards for real-time decision-making. By harnessing these tools, our customers can make informed decisions, enhance their IT systems, and anticipate market trends, fostering business growth.

Rojas: The types of business intelligence solutions that a VAR/MSP can provide their customers will vary depending on the VAR/MSP’s operational maturity. This is because a deep understanding of processes and systems is required to consult for another business. So, to provide an “out of the box” solution to a client without an understanding of processes and systems could do more harm than good and, at best, just be a waste of money and time.

Which technologies should VARs and MSPs upgrade with artificial intelligence (AI) tools and services?

Bloomfield: It’s wise for VARs and MSPs to incorporate AI in areas like cybersecurity solutions, network management, and client support operations. AI can elevate cybersecurity efforts by detecting and countering threats more proactively. In network management, AI can automate routine tasks and optimize network performance. AI-driven chatbots can deliver instant responses for client support, improving overall service speed and quality.

Rojas: My experience has shown that repetitive processes, after they are well understood, lend themselves well to having AI tools help with them. However, caution is needed to document the process and think critically about the effect (output) they will produce so that AI tools do not generate potentially embarrassing or wasteful output.

de Prado: A2Z Business IT excels in integrating AI into critical technologies such as customer support platforms, network management tools, and cybersecurity defenses. Our AI enhancements include automated threat detection, predictive analytics for network performance, and AI-driven help bots. These advancements enhance efficiency and safety and elevate the customer experience, showcasing our commitment to delivering cutting-edge solutions.

Where are the most significant opportunities for VARs or MSPs to leverage AI for their businesses or customers?

Bloomfield: There are tremendous opportunities for VARs and MSPs to leverage AI, especially in automated security monitoring, predictive analytics for managing IT infrastructure, and enhancing customer service with AI tools. By adopting AI, MSPs can offer more comprehensive, proactive services like preemptive troubleshooting and tailored customer interactions, significantly improving customer engagement and loyalty.

Durfee: I would start with the free copilot and then move to one of the business application copilots or an AI solution in PowerApps. Training the clients on the pathway to AI is essential as well.

Rojas: Considering that many of these tools are brand new, I would encourage VARs and MSPs to practice on themselves first and think critically about the effects they wish to get from the tools. This process will then help identify opportunities for existing and prospective clients.

de Prado: The biggest chances are in automating routine chores, offering AI-powered cybersecurity services, and giving advice on data analytics. AI-driven cybersecurity, for instance, can find and stop threats before they happen, and AI-enhanced analytics can help our clients find new business possibilities. These uses of AI make things run more smoothly and give our team and clients new ways to grow and develop new ideas.

About The ASCII Group, Inc.

The ASCII Group is the premier community of North American MSPs, MSSPs, VARs and solution providers. The group has over 1,300 members throughout the U.S. and Canada, and membership encompasses everyone from credentialed MSPs serving the SMB community to multi-location solution providers with a national reach. Founded in 1984, ASCII provides services to members, including leveraged purchasing programs, education and training, marketing assistance, extensive peer interaction and more.  ASCII works with a vibrant ecosystem of major technology vendors that complement the ASCII community and support the mission of helping MSPs and VARs grow their businesses. For more information, please visit www.ascii.com.