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2020 was, most definitely, a difficult year. No matter the sector, companies faced the most significant operational shifts in their histories. And, as the way businesses work changed, so did the services and expectations of MSPs.
On the surface, this sounds like trouble. No one likes change, after all, and MSP, service providers and network providers haven’t emerged from the Coronavirus unscathed, with one-third reporting a loss of revenue up to 50% in the first half of last year. But, as we turn our attention to 2021, many predict performance improvements of up 40%. And, 66% plan expansion to make that possible.
This isn’t difficult to picture. As companies shift towards remote working tools and techniques that they’re entirely unprepared for, the need for expert services elsewhere grows. Hence why more than 75% of service providers state that remote working is the best revenue-generating opportunity.
That said, this is very much make or break. Those who cannot adapt to change will be left behind, and so will those who do not understand their customers well enough to provide relevant service improvements. Monitoring and data collection sit at the heart of success. But traditional monitoring tools simply don’t seem up to this increasingly vital task. Here, we’re going to look at why that is, and what you can do to master monitoring in 2021 and beyond.
The trouble with traditional monitoring tools
Service providers are no stranger to network monitoring, and standard monitoring tools capture huge amounts of data that could be put to commercial use if appropriately accessed. The problem is twofold:
- Traditional monitoring software is too complicated — delivering technical dashboards that need to be configured and interpreted using skills that customer-facing commercial teams generally do not have.
- Traditional monitoring tools capture and present large volumes of data, rather than focusing on providing specific insights on which action can be taken — overwhelming even technically-minded users.
Realistically, these two points are interlinked. By focusing on detail and data volumes, traditional monitoring software captures relevant and critical information, but struggles to present that data in a way that can impact commercial outcomes.
“Information” is not monolithic. We think there is value in distinguishing between three levels of information, which will further illustrate this point.
- Data: This is unprocessed information — all of the component pieces. For example, you call history on your mobile phone, without any other context, is data. Traditional monitoring tools are very good at capturing data, but it’s not particularly useful on its own.
- Analytics: This is categorised information, helping you start to make sense of data. For example, your call history sorted by who you called (frequency, length, cost, etc) is analytics. Traditional monitoring tools generally have analytics capabilities, but they aren’t always the most straightforward.
- Insights: This is contextualised information that uses analytics to derive actual strategy. For example, if your call history revealed that you frequently make international calls and your phone provider offers an international calling plan that would save you money long-term, the cross-referenced suggestion that you should purchase this plan is an insight.
What businesses need are tools that produce more than raw data or analytics, and deliver insights able to direct meaningful decision-making and actions. This third step is where traditional monitoring tools let down service providers, and it’s what service providers need in order to transform monitoring into growth.
How Highlight changes the game
Having worked with service providers for decades, at Highlight, we set out to develop software that could take the power of traditional monitoring and package that in a solution accessible to commercial teams and customers.
Everything we do is targeted towards strategies that get straight to the point and enhance user engagement on a broad scale. We aren’t going to tell you that no other tool can match our functionality. But we can definitely say that there are three critical capabilities that you need from monitoring tools to drive growth, and we build our platform around these pillars.
- Insights first, data later
Our entire ethos works around providing you, and your customers with data-driven insights that are linked to outcomes. This is a goal we achieve in a range of ways, including:
- Top-down thinking
- White space analysis
- Reconciliation of costs and revenue
Our heat tile interface takes these benefits even further, with the option of different logins for each user. As well as providing easy remote access, this allows for a segmented data approach, ensuring that each team member accesses only what they need, preventing data overload and letting them focus on the insights and data that is relevant to their customers and their job.
- Non-technical interface
Highlight provides a number of different preconfigured views that all offer simple access to needed data, analytics and insights. Ranging from real-time monitoring to SLAs and performance test, each interface and/or application is designed to be used without a technical background. This placed monitoring results in the hands of commercial teams, allowing them to use that network data to drive commercial conversations.
- Customer-facing tools
Our non-technical interfaces extend past your technical and commercial teams to your customers themselves. This enables commercial teams to more effectively communicate with customers — showing them insights with data visualisation, rather than having to create slide decks or explain their thought process.
The sales value of these capabilities has both short- and long-term implications. Simply improving communication is the most direct outcome. However, by providing customers with value-added insights about their networks, and tools that improve network visibility, you can differentiate the entire experience of being your customer — driving long-term growth and help combat network commoditisation through customer experience.
Using data to drive growth
So, how do these features help you to drive the growth that ultimately marks your success? The answer is simple, and it’s all about how you use the insights you glean from that all-important raw data.
Unlike traditional monitoring tools, Highlight is specifically tailored towards results for you and your customers. And, that holds value from a growth perspective for a range of reasons, including:
- Upselling and cross-selling: Like everyone else, service providers have had to diversify recently, and the ability to upsell and cross-sell services is fundamental. After all, you’re 60-70% more likely to sell to existing customers right now. At least, you are if you know those customers, and their needs, inside out. And, the right insights are a critical and underused sales enablement strategy for service providers.
- Auditing and demonstrating: While there’s only a 5-20% likelihood of selling to new customers at the moment, Highlight can help here, too. Specifically, you need to identify and show where exactly your value lies from a customer perspective. This is a goal that traditional tools are out-of-touch with, making onboarding trickier than ever. We’ve helped reinvent MSP sales strategies largely with the help of the insights mentioned. Our cloud-based platform also helps a great deal here by providing ease of access but, at their heart, insight-led real numbers have to be the best onboarding tool you’ve got.
- Differentiating experience in a commoditized market: Commoditisation has long been a problem for service providers, and this is especially the case post-2020. Sadly, standing above the crowd right now is harder than ever, and you need to take pains to differentiate. Again, the skim-surface approach of traditional tools will never do that, but the data and insights available with the help of Highlight can. Namely, differentiation comes from your ability to:
- Create experiences
- Understand customers
- Repurpose information
Data doesn’t cut it — insights are what count
Big data has been a buzzword for years now and it became even more so in a year where companies are changing their landscapes altogether. But, big data alone simply doesn’t provide the scope or usage that your customers need right now. In fact, old methods mean around 99.5% of big data goes to waste!
By finding a way to create insights instead, you can thus ensure your services soar rather than plummet as we enter 2021, the year where service providers look set to turn it all around. That goal will never be possible with traditional, and largely outdated, monitoring tools that focus on data collation alone.
At Highlight, we have more than two decades of experience where valuable insights are concerned. And, with our experts on hand to help you use your data rather than lose it, any losses you’ve suffered this year will soon seem like a drop in a much more lucrative ocean. Get in touch if you want help understanding how our insights-first approach to monitoring and commercial growth can help you, and get started improving your customer relationships today.
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