Everyone's talking about AI for MSPs. What does AI really mean in IT?

Illustration: Ram Prasath


The buzz around AI and machine learning refuses to quiet down. In recent years, professionals from a diverse array of industries have been taking interest in AI, ML, automation, and cybersecurity, and the manner in which these technologies are transforming the way people live.

From AI-enabled virtual assistants making everyday jobs easy to service management tools empowering businesses to achieve unmatched profitability and productivity, the benefits of AI for enterprises are enormous.

Studies show that by 2035, Artificial Intelligence will help up to 16 industries bolster profitability by 38% (Accenture).

Among the industries that stand to significantly benefit from AI and machine learning is the IT service management (ITSM) sector. In fact, vendors providing managed services are already leveraging artificial intelligence and ML algorithms in their offerings as part of their ITSM tools. From streamlining anomaly detection to providing proactive resolution through effective categorization of tickets, AI is helping MSPs automate a range of functionalities and help users solve problems. 

As managed service providers targeting IT service delivery excellence and business, there's a great deal you need to understand about adopting ML algorithms and natural language processing in your business model. 

In this article, we'll deep-dive into the subject to explore what AI really means for MSPs.

The Role of AI and Automation in ITOps

AI technologies are poised to influence several key IT service delivery operations, accelerate business decision-making, and boost profitability. They have a host of benefits for industries looking to undertake. digital transformation and modernize their IT infrastructure. 

AI helps businesses scale their operations while ensuring cybersecurity to safeguard organizations for the future

As per Kiersten E. Todt, chief of staff at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, "when we're looking at what the technologies of the future are, it's baking security and safety into technology so that safety and security aren't an option."

Even CIOs are now leveraging AI to boost the efficiency of service management processes using natural language processing (NLP) and other ML models. It gives them a deeper, real-time understanding of operations so they can proactively respond to challenges and augment employee productivity.

Plenty of technologies are emerging that promise enhanced productivity, short resolution times, and streamlined processes. 

ML and AI are playing an instrumental role in curbing cyber attacks via automated security technologies. They help MSPs proactively detect vulnerable accounts and allow businesses to develop counteractive measures to trigger protective action.

This in turn ensures organizations become cyber resilient which is the need of the hour for businesses. Cyber resilience refers to a series of security-intensive, dynamic processes that follow the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) service lifecycle for implementation. It involves devising cybersecurity strategies and prototypes that are executed and regularly improved to ensure business continuity in tough times.

Here, artificial intelligence and ML algorithms play an integral role in helping businesses survive disruptive environments through continuous monitoring and identification of security threats.

5 Ways in Which AI is Helping IT MSPs Drive Success

Here's looking at the ways IT technologies are driving operational excellence for MSPs:

1. Intelligently categorizing tickets with the help of chatbots

Chatbots are playing an instrumental role in categorically sorting incident tickets in an ITSM environment which makes it significantly easier for MSPs to respond to client requests. For instance, if a client were to raise a ticket seeking a resolution for a certain query, they would be instantly attended to by a virtual agent that would categorize the incident and accordingly direct them to the concerned team. 

The chat interface is dependent on machine learning to route incoming tickets and requests to appropriate technician groups. This helps MSPs save time and boost the efficiency of processes. 

2. Automating basic tasks

Technicians have a set of issues that face on an everyday basis. They know these issues in and out, and could probably fix them in their sleep. But working on these issues repeatedly can become dry and monotonous. With an automated system that converts resolution emails to articles or templates, these solutions can be documented, creating an extensive repository of incident solutions for your MSP.

Once a vast knowledge base is created, every time a new request is received, AI and machine learning-based systems can scour through the repository for similar tickets and provide a resolution that is fitting for the issue at hand.

This not only increases the efficacy of your resolutions but also reduces the time that would otherwise be spent concocting a resolution from scratch. 

3. Providing top-level cybersecurity solutions via AI and automation

One of the key areas where AI and automation have had a major impact is cybersecurity. As modern businesses are becoming data-driven and adopting remote, digital-first solutions, there is a stark increase in cyber threats. This has left businesses across all sorts of verticals around the world vulnerable to an array of digital threats such as malware, ransomware, and more. 

ML and AI are playing a crucial role in curbing cyber attacks with the help of automated security technology that proactively detects vulnerable accounts and allow businesses to develop counteractive measures to trigger protective action. 

In addition to prevention, AI bots also help businesses respond to cyber attacks by securing systems the moment an account is compromised. Anyone affected by the defect in question is immediately informed which ensures businesses avoid further harm.

4. Automating manual and complex processes

Most operations at IT MSPs are resource-intensive; they demand time and staff to complete tasks. With ML algorithms that can watch and learn from humans how a certain task is approached and executed, many complex tasks can be automated for the future. This includes identifying patterns in human response and execution and learning to provide intelligent suggestions regardless of what the issue is. 

AI and automation hold potential in making use of available data to connect the dots and create patterns in behavior over time, with the help of ML-based intelligent models. 

AI and automation equip businesses with data mining capabilities with the help of ML-based models which present advantages in a range of IT service delivery aspects. These include endpoint management where patches are deployed at appropriate times to reduce the risk of failure and security information management which involves intelligent detection of ticket data to avoid repeat incidents. 

Doing so automates a range of IT operations — from dispatching regular firmware upgrades to leveraging AI-based predictions to prevent outages and downtime.

5. Bolstering decision-making and operational efficiency

AI can streamline service request management, change and asset management, and other functionalities by helping organizations become automated and data-driven.

This includes introducing auto-approvals and effective routing of workflows to augment the quality of service delivery. It also means predicting problems to promptly respond to incidents and reduce unnecessary disruptions.

Any SLA violations that could result from illicit mining of data are flagged and workflows are modified in real-time without risking serious ramifications. Plus, AI algorithms ensure smart asset management to facilitate profitable asset performance.

The primary goal of AI and automation is to help MSPs free up resources to redirect toward core aspects of their jobs.

Why do MSPs Need to Adopt AI and Automation?

For MSPs to deliver on the cybersecurity front and meet client expectations, they need to stay on top of projects and deadlines. Here, being dependent on manual processes and not adhering to standard protocols can have a massive impact on productivity and operational efficiency. From customer services being affected to troubleshooting operations getting delayed, a lack of automation can hamper profitability and customer experience on the whole. 

In such a case, MSPs can hardly remain competitive and hope to excel in their domain. 

However, challenges associated with traditional operational practices can be overcome with the help of AI-powered automation.

Here's how AI can benefit MSPs in improving customer experience, increasing productivity, and boosting overall profitability:

1. AI-powered automation reduces repetitive tasks

MSPs relying on manual processes are usually held back by time-consuming, repetitive tasks which eat into their resources. Identifying processes and operations that can be automated allows MSPs to direct their employees towards more important functions that necessarily require human attention. For instance, such as strategy building, data analysis, decision-making, and so on.

Another area of businesses that greatly benefits from automation is billing and invoicing which can be carried out with utmost precision and accuracy.

2. Process optimization

AI empowers businesses with analysis tools that pave the way for optimized distribution of workload to different departments. It is key to providing better and quicker services to customers as vendors have comprehensive clarity on which resources to utilize at which point to service different customers simultaneously. An example here is leveraging AI-powered chatbots to promptly respond to general queries. This inevitably leads to customer satisfaction and promotes customer retention. 

3. Cuts down costs, saves time, and boosts productivity

As you automate repetitive tasks, you save significant time and effort that would otherwise be spent on manual labor. 

With the burden of tedious tasks lifted from employees' shoulders, they can attend to tasks that require human intervention. This is key to making operations less time-consuming, cost-efficient, and boosting overall team productivity.

4. Improves the quality of your services

With AI gathering valuable insights and information on customers and generating reports, businesses are better informed about their services and can strive to improve the quality of their services. They can proactively respond to customer queries, offer real-time resolutions, and curb abandonment rates in the process.

Automation in ITOps and workflows effectively reduces mean-time-to-repair (MTTR) and drives up customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores.

5. Ensures water-tight security

As AI takes over industries and operations, the threat of automated cyber-attacks has increased. However, with AI-backed cybersecurity solutions to counter attacks on networks and devices, MSPs can routinely scan premises for anomalies and identify the root cause of security concerns. This helps prevent similar incidents in the future plus equips MSPs with top-level security measures.

While AI isn’t a magic wand that can help solve all your operational problems with a single flick, it shows tremendous potential. It shows us the possibilities of machine-driven intelligence that can support us in truly useful ways, constantly pushing beyond what we thought was possible through technology. It’s still early days for AI, but there’s a whole lot of magic in store.


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