How To Cut Costs with Remote Management Capabilities

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Solution providers can reduce hardware and OS repair times by taking advantage of the remote management tools they already have. Here, Townsend, the director of MSP and SMB marketing for Intel Corp., offers some tips on remote management.—Jennifer Bosavage

The new MSP and IT consultant equation is getting harder to solve: One of you, plus more of everything else, has a tendency to equal chaos. From malware attacks to data disasters, from blue screens of death to cloud computing, your customers need your help more and more. That’s supposed to be a good thing for your business, right?

Well, yes, if you can manage things without a truck roll or hours and hours of troubleshooting – especially because CompTIA’s 2011 “Trends in Managed Services” study shows that 31 percent of SMBs surveyed pay their managed services provider or IT consultants a flat quarterly fee—no matter how much service they use—or don’t use.

Michael Nelson, president of TLC Tech, a managed service provider in the Sacramento, Calif. area says, “All potential customers already use technology as a tool in their business,” he explains. “Our role is to simplify, simplify, simplify—make our customers’ technology so simple that they can forget it and focus on their business.”

The company achieves this by doing more monitoring, remediation, and repair remotely. This approach to simplification led TLC Tech to adopt hardware-based remote management tools for their PCs. “Doing more maintenance remotely means we can stay out of the customers’ way. Doing more repairs remotely means a customer with a problem is back up to speed faster—often much faster.”

Of course, this also means that the TLC Tech’s technicians are much more productive. “If a machine is blue-screened or hung, we can manipulate the BIOS, boot to a remote ISO image, and even reload an OS if needed—all remotely,” explains Nelson. “These capabilities really extend our reach. It means we don’t have to roll a truck or bring the machine into our facility to work on it. The amount of time saved is a big deal,” Nelson concludes.

Contrary to what you may believe, taming the forces of chaos doesn’t require a large outlay of cash. You can reduce hardware and OS repair times by taking advantage of the remote management tools you already have. Here are a few tips that you might consider for doing more remotely:

1. Take advantage of setup and configuration software.
Imagine how much more quickly deploying new systems would go if you could automatically discover, setup and configure, and maintain a secure connection to every managed device on your network. If just one of your customers refreshes their PCs, this simple step could save you hundreds of hours.

Next: Two more tips when implementing remote management solutions.
2. Make use of KVM (keyboard video mouse) tools.
With the ability to “see” and “control” a user’s computer, you can begin to diagnose hardware and software problems remotely. However, software-based KVM capabilities don’t really give you a true graphic user interface view of the PC you are working on and they don’t maintain the connection through reboot cycles (which we all know can occur several times when diagnosing and repairing a PC). Hardware-based KVM, on the other hand, connects easily, maintains the connection through reboot cycles, and gives the technician a full GUI view of the PC through all states, even beyond the firewall.

3. Deliver enhanced security services.
Use your management console software to push out security patches to your customers who have PCs with remote management capabilities—even if the PCs are turned off. This one simple step not only keeps your customers safer, but can also reduce by 83 percent the time it takes to reach 95 percent patch saturation, according to MSPs and IT consultants we interviewed. That makes a huge difference to your customers, too, especially when you consider that in 2010, the Ponemon Institute reported that a typical data breach cost U.S. companies an average of $204 per compromised record.

Those are just a few ideas for how you can tweak your operations using tools you already have to improve staff productivity and deliver real dollars directly to your bottom line.

By improving productivity internally, you also improve your customer service and client results – which, in turn, drives more business. Nelson says it best, “We’re able to take better care of the customer, with over 80 percent less downtime and fewer interruptions—all of which mean they can be more productive. This is something that customers notice, and it’s huge from a sales perspective.”

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