AI Tools Can Tackle MSP Pain Points: Pia Channel Chief

Pia, a company spun out from an MSP that developed its own automation tool, aims to help solution providers streamline their businesses as issues such as the economy and talent shortages loom heavy.


Tim Coach, Pia

The state of the economy and the ongoing tech talent shortage have MSPs of all sizes grappling with how to do more with less and prioritizing the people they do have, all while still trying to grow their businesses.

It’s these macro issues that have solution providers eyeing automation tools to help fill in the gaps, according to Tim Coach, global channel chief at Pia, an Australia-based developer of AI-based automation for IT service desks.

But in addition to filling in the gaps, automation tools can also help MSPs evolve their businesses by offloading specific tasks, which in turn, can help their employees focus their energies on higher-lever tasks and step up their skillsets, Coach said.

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“One thing we can all agree on is that we care about people. Those are your most valuable assets. How can you allow them the tools to leverage what they have to take your company to the next step?” Coach said Sunday to an audience of MSPs at the XChange August 2023 conference, hosted by CRN parent The Channel Company.

[Related: Pia Looks To Score In North American MSP RPA Business ]

MSPs can use AI to relieve staff of some of their simpler tasks and helpdesk functions so that these firms can evolve their businesses and run more efficiently. It can also help MSPs bring on more clients “without a lot of pain,” which in turn leads to increased profits and growth, Coach said.

People are often an MSP’s most expensive asset, said Justin Ploof, owner of Mull IT, a Nashville, Tenn.-based solution provider that specializes in outsourced IT solutions and elevated customer service experience. Mull IT’s motto is “your business in the front, our IT services in the back.”

The firm is also employing automation where it can to free up the need for human intervention.

“Automate all the things because software is a lot cheaper than people are,” Ploof said.

Pia, an acronym that stands for predictive intelligent agent, started as an automation tool developed by one of Australia’s largest MSP, Virtual IT Group (VITG) when the firm “accidently” developed an enterprise-level AI engine, Coach said.

“We understand the pain points—we’ve lived it [as an MSP] … That’s how [VITG] was able to move to that next step and evolve their business,” he said.

Last year, Pia spun off into its own company. Today, Pia is seeing 8x faster customer ticket resolution times and 400 percent to 500 percent improvement in ticket closure rates. The company is also seeing a 40 percent improvement in staff retention.

“The labor shortage is horrible, and finding technical labor is even worse. You’ve got to keep [employees], you;ve got to evolve them into the next phase of their career, and keep them,” Coach said. “We have to leverage AI as its coming out to benefit us.”