MSP Community Blog
The ASCII Blog highlights articles featuring MSP members from our community as well as ASCII staff
Service Desk: The Ins and Outs of Visualizing Data
Where are the opportunities for MSPs to provide data visualization services to clients, and what is the revenue structure like there?
As help desk support shrinks over the next several years and MSPs need to reposition themselves in order not to lose that revenue, being more heavily involved with clients’ business – understanding what they’re doing, how they’re doing it and what’s out there to help them – will mean pivoting services in order to hold on and increase essential revenue.
One of the services that can be derived from getting to know your customers’ business in this way is visualizing data, which can offer a steady revenue stream that is set to grow significantly in the coming years.
Within our own practices, data visualization can enable streamlining and efficiencies by virtue of a single view of multiple data repositories or data points. We use it to monitor how many tickets we have open at any given moment, as well as how many tickets we have closed in the last week to three months.
It gives us a clear understanding of trends within our clients from a graphical perspective, enabling quick, smart, measurable decisions to be made without having to trawl through reams of data points.
When it comes to data visualization and clients, one of the key opportunities for MSPs is the ability to enhance the current services of the managed service model and work with clients to use data they already possess to get to know their business better and so make smarter business decisions.
The MSP’s role will be to get that data into a visual format that will offer insight that can help grow your clients’ business.
For example, we work with a non-profit organization that has multiple charities, which means multiple websites, fundraising efforts, and grant streams.
We use data visualization and analytics to understand how each of these different entities is doing in these efforts – for example, how many donations are they getting from each website? How many clicks? Are they seeing success points from a campaign that they put out there?
We then helped them aggregate information with their QuickBooks – pulling in data from their accounting software to see what their cash flow is and what their receivables are from different activities. Something as simple as this can be hugely beneficial for a client when presented in a simple, graphical format.
Visualizing data: making it happen
The good news for MSPs is that the tools to harness the data visualization opportunity are already out there in the form of Tableau and Office 365’s Power BI.
While Tableau has been a market staple for some time, Power BI is gaining momentum, offering significant opportunity for MSPs to offer data visualization consulting services to clients already in the Office 365 ecosystem.
With the basic version of Power BI being offered for free and being integrated with Teams, organizations can have a Teams channel that has a Power BI dashboard that can pull automatic data in from applications such as QuickBooks, Amazon AWS, Salesforce, Google Analytics and many more.
This makes it simple to set up and operate for clients, allowing for an automatic data extraction that clients don’t even need to think about.
Revenue from visualizing data
As data visualization evolves into a service MSPs offer, the revenue structure is highly likely to be project-based at first. Service providers will work with clients on specific projects, getting to know their requirements and bringing value to information the client already holds.
However, once more and more clients see the value of data visualization and MSPs have more efficiencies and understanding of our clients and their information and how it can feed into data visualization, then it will make sense to tie it into a monthly-recurring-revenue (MRR) platform.
This point will be reached when we can get clients to value data analytics and understand that it’s an ongoing effort that will change and build on a regular basis, with a need for manipulation.
This will allow us to build a set number of hours per month into MRR agreements for data visualization or Power BI consulting or similar.
Data visualization can also be charged at a higher rate than helpdesk support.
The potential for charging a multiple in hourly rate is a lot easier for data visualization work because it’s still very new for many people and those offering this service are still few and far between, so there’s a differentiator at play for MSPs.
Further, such services are likely to see you working closely alongside a much higher level of an organization, such as the CEO, the CFO, or CIO, who are more likely to be seeking expertise of this nature.
Simply put, this kind of work is valued a lot higher than regular technical IT work – it’s a much more consultative approach, which makes the rate you can charge a much higher one.
About the author: Khaled Farhang is the founder and CEO of eGuard Tech Services. He has been a member of The ASCII Group Since 2008.
Reprinted with permission, courtesy Commercial Integrator